Newsom, teachers union and charters strike deal to give districts more power over new schools
Sacramento Bee's SOPHIA BOLLAG: "Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday announced a deal among education advocates at the Capitol on a bill to give school districts more power to reject charter school applications."
"Newsom’s office says the agreement reached on Assembly Bill 1505 will make it easier to close low-performing charter schools. The California Charter Schools Association, which dropped its opposition to the bill, said it will protect high-performing charter schools and gives them an avenue to appeal rejections."
"The agreement among the charter advocates, the state’s biggest teachers union, the governor’s office and key lawmakers represents a breakthrough on one of the most contentious issues at the Capitol."
PG&E offers forecasts on power blackouts for wildfires. Here's how to find out if you're next
Sacramento Bee's DALE KASLER: "Facing criticism over its wildfire blackout policy, PG&E Corp. this week launched a “weather awareness” website to give customers warnings of up to seven days ahead of deliberate power shutoffs."
Z"The site offers detailed weather forecasts across PG&E’s territory, with information about temperature, humidity, winds and other factors that could prompt the beleaguered utility to cut off electricity."
"As it happens, the website showed that no power shutoffs are expected over the next week, despite an increased chance of wildfire activity. Much of Northern California sits under a “red flag” warning from the National Weather Service, with forecasters predicting that lightning strikes could start wildfires in the Sierra Nevada and elsewhere."
BART's extension through San Jose chosen to receive $125M federal grant
The Chronicle's RACHEL SWAN/LAUREN HERNANDEZ: "BART’s long-awaited extension through downtown San Jose, meant to serve a new Google campus with up to 25,000 employees, is poised to get a $125 million windfall from the federal government to bring its construction plans into reality."
"The Federal Transit Administration picked Valley Transportation Authority — the Santa Clara County agency that is funding and building the BART San Jose extension — for a pilot program to fast-track funding for major transportation projects. VTA requested about $1.4 billion in federal funding for four new stations and a track that will loop west and then veer north to wind up in Santa Clara, as well as other infrastructure. The agency will collect the $125 million grant announced Wednesday when it meets all the requirements to proceed to a construction agreement."
"Once the project is complete in 2026, officials estimate it will carry 52,000 riders each weekday and cut back 27 million miles of car travel annually by encouraging people to ride mass transit instead. It’s also expected to reduce vehicle fuel emissions by 22,340 metric tons each year."
Newsom drops plan for California homelessness czar
The Chronicle's ALEXEI KOSEFF: "Gov. Gavin Newsom has abandoned a campaign promise to appoint the state’s first homelessness czar and will instead rely on a task force and staff members to guide his response to the growing crisis in California."
"During his 2018 campaign for governor, Newsom said he would hire a “Cabinet-level secretary committed to solving the issue, not just managing it."
"But at an event Tuesday, Newsom told reporters that he was instead consulting with a homelessness task force that he announced in February, led by Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas."
READ MORE related to Homelessness: Judge keeps restrictions on downtown LA homeless sweeps -- LA Times's GALE HOLLAND; Scathing new audit finds deep operational failures at LA's top homeless outreach agency -- LA TImes's DOUG SMITH
SMUD chief made nearly $580,000 last year -- among highest in California
Sacramento Bee's MICHAEL FINCH II: "Among the many well-paid public employees in the region, Sacramento Municipal Utility District chief executive Arlen Orchard stands out. He earned more than any other “special district” employee in the county and more than any other municipal utility leader in the state."
"The CEO of the nation’s sixth-largest community-owned electric utility pulled in $579,391 last year, according to a trove of data released by the State Controller’s Office Tuesday detailing compensation for hundreds of “special district” public agencies around the state."
"The new database offers a comprehensive look at salary and benefits for more than 159,000 employees that account for close to $9 billion in wages and $2.5 billion in benefits. The report looks specifically at special districts — government agencies created in local communities for specific purposes, such as utilities, transit agencies, water, fire and sanitation districts."
Vaccine activists rally at Capitol in last-ditch appeal
Sacramento Bee's ELAINE CHEN: "Hundreds of vaccine-skeptical families made a last-ditch appeal on Wednesday to California lawmakers, asking them to kill a proposed law that would restrict vaccine medical exemptions for children attending schools."
"The odds are against them."
"Gov. Gavin Newsom has already signaled that he’d sign Senate Bill 276, which is intended to protect children from preventable diseases and is backed by California lawmakers who believe “unscrupulous” doctors have been distributing exemptions for dubious reasons."
(OP-ED) Exempt health care professionals from AB 5
ROSEANNE HOFFMAN/MARK NEUBAUER in Capitol Weekly: "In an attempt to address some problematic side-effects of a recent California Supreme Court case focusing on the employment of independent contractors, lawmakers have crafted a proposal that would take away our ability to decide how and when we work."
"For years, we have been able to balance our professional work with the needs of our families. Like us, thousands of social workers, nurse practitioners, physical therapists, occupational therapists, perfusionists, optometrists, marriage and family therapists, certified nurse anesthetists, and others, have chosen to work as independent contractors rather than be directly employed by a health care organization or hospital."
"It is on behalf of these health care professionals in California – our colleagues – that we write this piece to advocate for a choice allowing us to achieve a better work/life balance, care for children or aging family members, and improve our quality of life."
Ousted GOP Rep. David Valadao to run for his old Central Valley seat
LA Times's JOHN WILDERMUTH: "Former GOP Rep. David Valadao made it official Wednesday, announcing that he would seek a November 2020 rematch with Democratic Rep. TJ Cox of Fresno, who won the seat last year in one of the nation’s tightest congressional races."
"The Central Valley needs a strong voice they can trust representing them in Congress,” said Valadao, a resident of Hanford (Kings County). “That’s why I’m running."
"Valadao’s decision is no surprise. The former three-term congressman actually filed the required paperwork with the Federal Election Commission on July 16 and has even been scheduling fundraisers before actually opening his campaign."
SF top Dem Campos wants Shanti to pull award to Dede Wilsey -- cites GOP fundraiser
The Chronicle's PHIL MATIER: "The San Francisco Democratic Party chairman is calling on the Shanti Project to rescind its plan to honor socialite and philanthropist Dede Wilsey with a lifetime achievement award. The reason? She was listed as a co-host of a fundraiser for President Trump last month."
"If they don’t rescind the award, then we are calling for all Democrats who oppose Donald Trump to boycott this event,” Democratic County Central Committee Chair David Campos said of Shanti’s 45th anniversary gala in October."
"The boycott threat stunned Shanti Executive Director Kaushik Roy."
Yosemite's review of park concessionaire Aramark slams it for poor service
The Chronicle's KURTIS ALEXANDER: "The company that runs the hotels, restaurants, campgrounds and shuttle buses at Yosemite National Park is failing to meet the park’s customer service standards and faces possible financial sanctions, newly released park documents reveal."
"Performance reviews of Philadelphia-based Aramark corroborate complaints that visitors have increasingly had about food, campground reservations and, most extensively, shuttle service at one of the nation’s busiest and most venerated national parks."
"The shuttles, which ferry millions of people each year to Yosemite’s storied waterfalls and mountain vistas, simply haven’t kept up with demand, the latest review said. Visitors commonly wait 45 minutes for rides, according to the document, and frustration over the shuttles has led to fiery exchanges between drivers and passengers, putting a black mark on many vacations. On one occasion, a group of park visitors formed a human chain across the road to halt a bus that was too full to stop."
99% of public workers who seek student debt relief don't qualify. California wants to know why
Sacramento Bee's HANNAH WILEY: "California is once again urging the United States Department of Education to explain why 99 percent of applicants for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program have been denied, according to a letter sent Wednesday by Attorney General Xavier Becerra."
"Becerra joined Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul in leading a multi-state effort to obtain data that would explain why only 864 of 76,002 of program applicants were approved. Less than 500 of nearly 12,500 applicants have similarly been denied debt relief under the Temporary Expanded program."
"In the letter sent to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Becerra asks the department for “more complete data” on the program to “examine the scope and source of the problems."
READ MORE related to Education: A battle over California charter school.s ends -- for now -- with a deal in Sacramento -- LA Times's TARYN LUNA; UC Berkeley eyes changes to buildings found to be at higher risk of quake damage -- The Chronicle's NANETTE ASIMOV
Trump administration appears to violate law in forcing asylum seekers back to Mexico, officials warn
LA Times's MOLLY O'TOOLE: "From the roadside, Oswaldo Ortiz-Luna offered a box of candy to the cars idling in the golden dust of northern Mexico. His wife hawked another box of sweets farther up the line of traffic, perching their 18-month-old daughter on one hip. Sticky fruit and tears smudged the baby’s cheeks."
"As the sun went down, Oswaldo and his family of six hadn’t yet sold enough candy for the roughly $6 they needed to spend the night at a nearby shelter. They are among the thousands of asylum seekers trapped just beyond the border under the Trump administration’s signature policy — “Remain in Mexico."
"Under the Migrant Protection Protocols — better known as Remain in Mexico — Trump administration officials have pushed 37,578 asylum seekers back across the U.S. southern border in roughly seven months, according to Homeland Security Department reports reviewed by the Los Angeles Times. One-third of the migrants were returned to Mexico from California. The vast majority have been scattered throughout Mexico within the last 60 days."
READ MORE related to Immigration: New citizenship rules for children of US military members cause confusion -- AP
'Big numbers' settlement reached in suits over SF's leaning Millennium Tower
The Chronicle's MICHAEL CABANATUAN: "A tentative — but still secret — settlement has been reached in lawsuits over the sinking and tilting Millennium Tower, a San Francisco Superior Court judge announced Wednesday."
"Details of the settlement, the product of more than a year of mediation, will be worked out over the next 90 days, and would settle suits by all but one homeowner against the Transbay Joint Powers Authority, Mission Street Development and other parties."
"Nobody would discuss the specifics of the settlement because it is still in confidential mediation, but attorneys for Millennium homeowners said they were “extremely pleased” and described the awards as “big numbers."
Deputy who allegedly faked being shot by a sniper is fired from LA County Sheriff's Department
LA Times's RICHARD WINTON/MAYA LAU/HANNAH FRY: "A sheriff’s deputy who allegedly faked being shot by a sniper and was previously investigated for dishonesty by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department officials has been fired."
"Angel Reinosa, a probationary employee who had been with the Sheriff’s Department for about a year, became the subject of a criminal investigation last week after he said he was shot by a sniper outside the sheriff’s Lancaster Station — a claim that officials said he later admitted was untrue."
"Saying he had taken “swift administrative action in the matter,” Sheriff Alex Villanueva announced at a news conference Wednesday that Reinosa was no longer employed by the department or the county. Villanueva declined to elaborate on the deputy’s departure."
Craigslist founder Craig Newmark donates $250,000 for election security
The Chronicle's JOHN WILDERMUTH: "Craig Newmark thinks election security should be a nonpartisan effort, so he’s put up $250,000 to make sure it’s seen that way."
"The San Francisco founder of Craigslist gave the money to the National Election Defense Coalition, a nonprofit group in Davis that focuses on making the machines that count the votes more accurate, more trustworthy and better able to resist hackers from inside or outside the country."
"Attacks against our voting system and voting rights put the integrity of this country’s democracy in serious jeopardy,” Newmark said in an email exchange. “Election officials and other organizations that help to facilitate our voting process can be at risk of hacking by foreign and domestic adversaries."
Investors fell for a star-studded Netflix film. It was a $14-million scam, prosecutors say
LA Times's ALEJANDRA REYES-VELARDE: "A Manhattan Beach man who allegedly scammed $14 million from investors by falsely telling them their money would be used to produce a feature film distributed by Netflix has surrendered to federal authorities."
"Adam Joiner, 41, who turned himself in to authorities on Tuesday, was charged with wire fraud, money laundering and aggravated identity theft, according to the U.S. attorney’s office."
"He was released from custody on Tuesday afternoon on $350,000 bond."
Trump heading to Bay Area for September fundraiser, GOP donors told
The Chronicle's JOHN WILDERMUTH: "President Trump is expected to make a fundraising stop in the Bay Area in mid-September, vacuuming up cash in a dark-blue state that he has virtually no chance of winning in 2020."
"In what was little more than a “Save the Unknown Date” message, GOP donors were told of the upcoming presidential visit, but were given no information about exactly where and when it would happen."
"These things are intentionally vague” until right before the event, said a Republican who received the invitation."
READ MORE related to POTUS45/KremlinGate: Is President Trump falling out of love with Fox News? -- LA Times's STEPHEN BATTAGLIO
Mountain lion reported in city limits; Sacramento police and wildlife officials on alert
Sacramento Bee's VINCENT MOLESKI/RYAN SABALOW: "Officers spent Wednesday evening in a south Sacramento neighborhood searching for a mountain lion after a woman called 911 to report spotting a cat the size of a large dog walk across a fence."
"Three police cruisers, an animal control officer and a state game warden headed to the area of Elder Creek Road and Cougar Drive just after 5 p.m. in the Southeast Village section of the city. A reverse-911 call was placed to residents in the area."
"Patrick Foy of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife said that his agency’s personnel assisted Sacramento Police and Sacramento County Animal Control officials in an hourlong search and could not confirm a mountain lion was in the area."