Energy traders took California for $866M. Guess who paid for it
Sacramento Bee's DALE KASLER: "For the past decade, electricity traders and generators have taken advantage of a little-known wrinkle in California’s energy market to extract more than $866 million from the state’s power grid."
"Utility ratepayers have absorbed the losses, according to the California Independent System Operator, or ISO, which oversees the sprawling network of power plants, transmission lines and transformers that make up the grid."
"Behind it all, wealthy energy traders and generators have been quietly profiting from a collection of arcane financial contracts known as “congestion revenue rights,” a Sacramento Bee review of financial records and interviews shows."
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Local pension costs grew in California at nearly six times national rate, new data show
Sacramento Bee's WES VENTEICHER: "Median pension costs for local governments grew nearly six times as much in California as the rest of the country over a decade, according to new data compiled by a UC Berkeley professor."
"Median pension costs went up $7,022 per employee in a selection of cities, counties and special districts in California from 2007 to 2016, compared to a national median increase of $1,216, Sarah Anzia, an associate professor of public policy, said Wednesday in Sacramento."
"The rising pension costs have consumed an increasing share of local government revenues, absorbing an additional 2 percent of general revenues over the 10-year stretch in California compared to a national median of 0.7 percent, according to Anzia’s data."
Trump revived the Cadiz water project. Now California has added a new hurdle
LA Times's PHIL WILLON: "A controversial Mojave Desert water project, which has emerged as a major environmental flashpoint between California and the Trump administration, cannot go forward without approval by the State Lands Commission under a new law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday."
"The restriction places a major obstacle to Cadiz Inc.'s long-standing plans to pump desert groundwater and sell it to urban Southern California."
"Newsom said he signed the bill to ensure the Mojave Desert’s fragile ecosystem is protected."
Newsom adds hundreds more firefighters amid fears of 'large and damaging' fire season
Sacramento Bee's WES VENTEICHER/SOPHIA BOLLAG: "California will hire 393 more firefighters in anticipation of an upcoming wildfire season that has the potential to be even worse than last year’s, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday."
"The long rainy season promoted heavy growth of grass and other underbrush in which fires can start and spread once the vegetation dries out. Cal Fire and the state firefighter union have said the state needs more firefighters to face the escalating threat."
"Newsom signed an executive order Wednesday authorizing more seasonal firefighters to boost staffing on a third of Cal Fire’s 340 engines."
Insurance Commissioner accepted, returned more cash from insurers than previously known
From the Union-Tribune's JEFF McDONALD: "California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara accepted tens of thousands of dollars in additional political contributions from insurers than was previously known, according to a state-mandated campaign disclosure released Wednesday."
"The Ricardo Lara for Insurance Commissioner 2022 committee reported that it refunded $83,000 in donations during the six months ending on June 30. More than $13,000 of that apparently was contributed in 2013, when Lara was a state senator from Bell Gardens."
"Lara was elected state insurance commissioner in November after pledging not to accept campaign funds from insurance companies. Recently he decided to returnsome $54,000 from insurance executives or their spouses after The San Diego Union-Tribune reported those donations in early July."
Five takeaways from the Democrats' policy brawls
The Chronicle's TAL KOPAN/JOE GAROFOLI: "This week’s Democratic presidential debates showed that nobody will have an easy road to the nomination."
"Progressives and moderates will brawl until the convention over the best way to deliver health care. Former Vice President Joe Biden tops the polls, but he’s going to have to defend decisions made over five decades in politics — including some that have not aged well. And the most diverse field of candidates in presidential history will ensure that issues long ignored will be discussed."
"Here’s what we learned from five hours of primary debates in Detroit:"
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Quentin Kopp harrumphs again, says he'll run against state Sen. Scott Weiner
The Chronicle's PHIL MATIER: "Former State Sen. Quentin Kopp — the contrarian foghorn of the Sunset — is back in the political game, having taken out papers to run against state Sen. Scott Wiener, a Democrat who favors denser housing development."
"That’s right, I have filed to run against ‘Wienis,’” Kopp, who is 90, said in referring to the lanky liberal Wiener. “This guy is bad news from top to bottom.”"
"Kopp’s decision to challenge Wiener was triggered in part by the senator’s call to replace the Cow Palace’s board of directors with local politicians, a move Kopp called the first step in a “land grab” by developers who have been eyeing the 65-acre site on the San Francisco-Daly City line."
Half of California's private sector workers have no savings for retirement, study says
Sacramento Bee's DARRELL SMITH: "Millions of California workers have no money saved for retirement, are doing little to catch up or are shut out of employer-offered savings plans altogether, a newly released UC Berkeley study shows."
"It turns out that California private sector workers are not merely behind on saving for retirement; half do not own retirement assets and most are currently not saving for retirement at all,” wrote Nari Rhee, Retirement Security Program director at UC Berkeley’s Center for Labor Research and Education. “With half of California private sector workers lacking retirement assets, the state is at risk of each generation retiring less prosperous than the last."
"It’s a looming crisis, the study suggests, with potential long-term consequences for a graying California."
This California town wants to be a 2nd Amendment 'sanctuary city' for guns and ammo
LA Times's HANNAH FRY: "The blistering sun hung high above the barren landscape, 118 degrees of scatter-the-critters hot, as Tim Terral loaded a magazine into his 9-millimeter pistol."
"He narrowed his eyes, fixing his gaze on a target before a succession of pops cut through the silence. Bull’s-eye."
"Satisfied, Terral wiped a bead of sweat off his brow and cocked his head to the side, a coy smile spreading across his slender face."
UC and union reach tentative labor deal offering 20 percent-plus raises over 5 years
Sacramento Bee's CATHIE ANDERSON: "The University of California has reached a tentative contract agreement with the union representing roughly 13,000 health care, research and technical employees, giving them wage increases of 20 percent or more over a five-year period, a university representative said Wednesday."
"The University Professional and Technical Employees-Communications Workers of America 9119began voting on the contract on Tuesday, and that will continue through Aug. 7 on UC campuses all around California."
"We are very pleased to have reached these agreements with UPTE, giving our employees the competitive pay and excellent benefits they so deserve,” said Peter Chester, the university’s executive director of labor relations, in a prepared news release. “These employees make significant contributions to UC’s mission and we deeply appreciate their hard work and dedication."
The Gilroy killer's mind: FBI follows digital trail in quest for answers
The Chronicle's MATTHIAS GAFNI: "FBI investigators have recovered digital conversations, social media and other communications by the Gilroy Garlic Festival shooter and are studying them to try to determine a motive or ideology behind Santino Legan’s carnage, the agent in charge of the investigation said Wednesday."
"We’re looking at multiple threads of conversations that he’s had,” said John Bennett, special agent in charge. “However, we’re still not comfortable in saying it’s an ideology one way or another."
"Bennett, who runs the San Francisco FBI office, spoke to reporters at the site of Sunday’s shooting that killed three young people and injured 12. He said investigators have not determined Legan’s motive, and that reports that he said linked the shooter to an interest in white supremacy and Islamic extremism were “erroneous and incorrect."
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LA hit with another legal claim in DWP case, with claims of 'wrongful acts and omissions'
LA Times's DAKOTA SMITH: "A onetime Department of Water and Power customer whose lawsuit over his inaccurate bill triggered a FBI investigation at City Hall has filed a new claim against the city."
"Attorneys for Antwon Jones say in the claim that the city of Los Angeles — including the DWP and city attorney’s office — knowingly encouraged and participated in the “wrongful acts and omissions” by attorney Paul Paradis and others to defraud him."
"The city and others also breached their fiduciary duties to Jones, according to the claim, “unjustly enriching themselves” at his expense."
Nearly 100,000 millennials in the Sacramento area live at home. Why your kids can't move out
Sacramento Bee's TONY BIZJAK/JAIME DING/PHILLIP REESE: "Mary Thammavong is a 29-year-old electrician who helped build Golden 1 Center arena. But she’s never lived away from home, and although she’d love to discover herself as an adult by living alone, she isn’t sure if she can afford it yet."
"Wendy Tram, a 24-year-old accountant, has never left her parents’ south Sacramento home, and sees no reason to until she gets married."
"And Robert Larson, a 27-year-old North Highlands maintenance worker living in his childhood home, marvels at how fast a decade has passed since high school. But time is in fact passing: He just noticed his first gray hairs."
COLUMN: With drug-import proposal, Trump embraces a longtime Democratic policy
LA Times's DAVID LAZARUS: "President Trump would prefer that you think he’s working tirelessly to protect Americans from soaring drug prices."
"His administration announced this week it wants to create a system that allows people to legally access lower-cost prescription meds from Canada."
"For too long American patients have been paying exorbitantly high prices for prescription drugs that are made available to other countries at lower prices,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar."
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