Chinese investors seeking green cards claim Silicon Valley businesswoman scammed more than $45 million
From the Mercury News' ETHAN BARON: "Dozens of Chinese citizens who handed over more than a half-million dollars each to a Santa Clara County businesswoman as investments that would qualify them for green cards under a controversial federal visa program have filed suit accusing the woman of fraud."
"The EB-5 visa program, created in 1990 “to stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investment,” according to the federal government, grants green cards to foreign nationals who create at least 10 full-time jobs by investing in new enterprises. Participants like the Chinese investors who filed the suit must either invest at least $500,000 in a business in a high-unemployment or rural area, or $1 million for enterprises in other areas."
California police agencies holding back misconduct records despite new transparency law
From THOMAS PEELE, TONY SAAVEDRA, IAN WHEELER, SUKEY LEWIS and ALEX EMSLIE in the Chico ER: "Sex, lies and bullets flying wildly. Then there are the stolen drugs, illegal chokeholds, planted evidence, falsified reports and a police officer who lied to move up the adoption list for a puppy."
"Those are among the misadventures uncovered during the first six months of disclosures under California’s new police transparency law, Senate Bill 1421, which took effect Jan. 1. The statute requires police to release long-secret records about officer shootings, use of force, sexual misconduct and dishonesty."
"Yet those disturbing examples of police misconduct have come from a only a smattering of law enforcement agencies around the state."
Native American minority contracts are under scrutiny as officials vow strict enforcement
LA Times's PAUL PRINGLE/ADAM EHLMAHREK: "Federal and state lawmakers and regulators have called for inquiries and tighter minority-certification rules after a Times investigation found more than $300 million in government contracts went to businesses that made unsubstantiated claims of Native American ownership."
"In at least a dozen cases, business owners claimed membership in one of three Cherokee groups that have no federal recognition and are considered illegitimate by recognized tribes and Native American experts. The firms received minority certifications and contracts from federal, state and local authorities, The Times found."
“These reports are deeply troubling," said Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-N.Y.), chairwoman of the House committee that oversees the U.S. Small Business Administration, which certifies companies as eligible for federal contracts set aside for minority-owned companies. “Any form of fraud or abuse in SBA’s programs is completely unacceptable.”
State broadens investigation of California doctors over their vaccination exemptions
California Healthline's BARBARA FEDER OSTROV: "The California agency that regulates doctors is investigating at least four physicians for issuing questionable medical exemptions to children whose parents did not want them immunized."
"The Medical Board of California’s investigations are unfolding amid the nation’s worst measles outbreak in more than a quarter-century, as California lawmakers consider controversial legislation to tighten the requirements for exempting children from the vaccinations required to attend schools and day care centers."
"Last month, the Department of Consumer Affairs, which oversees the medical board, sued in state court to obtain medical records for patients of Sacramento-area pediatricians Dr. Kelly Sutton and Dr. Michael Fielding Allen."
Outlook bleak for California's 2019 fire season
CHUCK MCFADDEN in Capitol Weekly: "Everyone with any knowledge of the subject agrees: California is on the brink of a potentially disastrous fire season. And there is concern that the problem is not going to be solved soon."
"Our best efforts may still be inadequate,” said Michael Picker, president of the California Public Utilities Commission told reporters in June. Forty percent of California is in a fire danger zone, Picker added, and half of the state’s new housing is being built in those danger zones."
“We’re continuing to make the situation worse,” said Picker, whose powerful commission regulates investor-owned utilities in California, including Pacific Gas and Electric Company."
California is moving to ban deepfakes. What are they, anyway?
Sacramento Bee's ANDREW SHEELER: "California lawmakers, citing election integrity, are moving to ban the distribution of “deepfake” video or audio clips aimed at damaging political candidates, drawing condemnation from First Amendment supporters."
"The move comes as lawmakers fear that sophisticated doctored clips, such as one falsely portraying House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as slurring her words, could allow malicious parties to sabotage the election."
"Assembly Bill 730, sponsored by Assemblyman Marc Berman, D-Palo Alto, passed unanimously out of the Assembly and now is being considered by the Senate Committee on Elections and Constitutional Amendments."
California prison guards can't sue state for time spent walking to their posts, court rules
Sacramento Bee's ADAM ASHTON: "The California Supreme Court on Monday rejected most of an 11-year-old lawsuit in which tens of thousands of California state prison guards sought additional pay for work-related tasks they performed before and after their shifts."
"The decision greatly reduces the number of correctional officers who can pursue overtime claims against the state for work they carry out before reaching their posts inside California state prisons, such as retrieving weapons and moving through controlled check points."
"The state Supreme Court’s 5-2 decision held that rank-and-file prison guards represented by the California Correctional Peace Officers Association cannot sue the state for additional compensation."
There's a new way to save for retirement in California. Here's how it works
Sacramento Bee's ANDREW SHEELER: "Nearly half of Californians will retire into economic hardship, and half have no retirement assets, according to the UC Berkeley Labor Center."
"On Monday, the state unveiled a government-run retirement savings program, CalSavers, aimed at helping the 7.5 million Californians who are on their own when it comes to retirement."
"With California’s size and diversity, this pioneering program represents a major milestone — for California and the entire nation,” Treasurer Fiona Ma said in prepared remarks. “Creating CalSavers solidifies our position as a leader in growing the national movement to help all Americans retire with dignity."
Capitol Weekly Podcast: Elaine Howle on redistricting
Capitol Weekly STAFF: "The U.S. Supreme Court’s split decision Thursday on the states’ gerrymandering of political districts was the perfect set-up for today’s episode of the Capitol Weekly Podcast: State Auditor Elaine Howle sat down with Capitol Weekly’s John Howard and Tim Foster to talk about the process for choosing the 14 members of the California Citizens Redistricting Commission."
"That panel will draw the maps for political districts — including legislative, congressional and the Board of Equalization districts — for the 2022 elections, based on U.S. Census figures."
"It’s a daunting, complex and enormously important task. Already, since mid-June when the window for the application period began, more than 2,700 people have applied to be members of the commission (!)."
On the Sacramento block where Officer Tara O'Sullivan died, a dark history
The Chronicle's MATTHIAS GAFNI: "More than a year ago, long before Adel Sambrano Ramos allegedly shot and killed Sacramento police Officer Tara O’Sullivan in the backyard of his North Sacramento house, another man just two doors down was hatching a plan to shoot three women."
"It was the residence of Albert Wong, the 36-year-old former Army infantryman who gunned down three female counselors at a Yountville veterans program, according to public records and neighbors."
"In his corner house on the 200 block of Redwood Avenue, police say, Wong studied murder-suicides on his computer on March 8, 2018, before leaving the next morning to shoot up his former Wine Country treatment center."
READ MORE related to Prisons & Public Safety: Ahead of Fourth of July, Cal Fire seizes 15,000 pounds of illegal fireworks at Nevada border -- Sacramento Bee's MEGHAN BOBROWSKY; Facing budget crunch, Sheriff's Department ends contract with program that tracks gunshots -- Sacramento Bee's MEGHAN BOBROWSKY
Freshman House class brings less wealth and different economic perspective to Congress
LA Times's JENNIFER HABERKORN: "When wages temporarily stopped for thousands of federal workers during the government shutdown in January, nearly 100 lawmakers signed over or donated their paycheck to show solidarity."
"But Rep. Sharice Davids (D-Kan.), elected just weeks earlier, literally couldn’t afford the gesture."
“If you’re a member of Congress who can say: ‘I can forgo an entire paycheck,’ more power to you,” she said in an interview in her Capitol Hill office. But “this incoming class had probably quite a few people who were not in a position to say I will forgo a paycheck after having not worked for” months because of the demands of the campaign."
Here's why SF's $12B budget seems bigger than it is
The Chronicle's TRISHA THADANI/DOMINIC FRACASSA: "San Francisco’s Mayor London Breed is expected to sign the largest budget in the city’s history in a few weeks at more than $12 billion."
"It’s more than recent budgets for small states such as Rhode Island, Maine and Delaware."
"And it prompts the question: Why does a city with a multibillion-dollar budget have so many gripping problems on its streets?"
New rules will give AG Barr more say over immigration courts
The Chronicle's TAL KOPAN: "Attorney General William Barr has moved forward with a regulation changing the way immigration courts handle appeals, expanding the ability of those courts and the attorney general himself to issue decisions that bind the way all immigration judges must decide cases."
"The final version of the regulation, which will be published Tuesday, backs away from several other changes that the department had proposed. Immigration advocates and attorneys raised concerns that those changes would give the appellate body too much discretion over precedent."
"Barr’s first major regulatory change to the immigration courts continues efforts started by his predecessor, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, to tighten the ways immigrants can pursue a right to stay in the country. As first reported by The Chronicle, the regulation was originally proposed during the George W. Bush administration and was revived under President Trump."
READ MORE related to Immigration: Donald Trump threatens to upend California's health care plan for undocumented immigrants -- Sacramento Bee's SOPHIA BOLLAG
He took on same-sex marriage. Now he wants to reserve the right to clear out homeless camps
LA Times's GALE HOLLAND: "More than a decade ago, Los Angeles stopped putting people in jail for sleeping in the streets — a compromise laid out in a court settlement that halted police enforcement of laws barring encampments in public spaces until the city could build more housing for homeless people."
"That 2007 settlement, commonly known as the Jones agreement, came the year after a ruling from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that found L.A.’s sweeps of homeless encampments on skid row were cruel and unusual punishment. Last September, in a case from Boise, Idaho, the same court issued a similar ruling, saying that prosecuting people for sleeping on the sidewalk when there are not enough shelter beds or housing was unconstitutional."
"The latter ruling turned what was supposed to be a stopgap arrangement in L.A. into a sweeping and potentially open-ended curb on police powers in nine Western states, including in California, where an affordable housing shortage and an explosion of homelessness has made providing sufficient shelter a tough — if not impossible — proposition."
90 Sacramento-area schools don't meet vaccine guidelines. Are they 'tinder of a disease wildfire?'
Sacramento Bee's HANNAH WILEY: "Amid the worst national measles outbreak in a quarter of a century, more than 90 Sacramento County schools do not have vaccination rates high enough to achieve community immunity against the preventable disease."
"More than a dozen of these schools are private and charter schools that reported a disproportionate number of the county’s 309 medical exemptions."
"Some of these schools dipped slightly below 95 percent, the threshold considered necessary to defend sick kids who can’t get shots, according to 2018-2019 school year data from the California Department of Public Health."
After growing for decades, Antarctic sea ice suddenly plunged. Scientists are stumped
LA Times's SETH BORENSTEIN: "The amount of sea ice circling Antarctica has suddenly plunged from a record high to record lows, and scientists are baffled by the turn of events."