The probe into the fatal Oakland 'Ghost Ship' warehouse fire gives conflicting impressions of the building's owner.
ANNA M. PHILLIPS, JACK DOLAN and PAIGE ST. JOHN with L.A. Times: "From the moment tenants met Derick Ion Almena, they knew he wouldn’t be an ordinary landlord."
"The 10,000-square-foot warehouse he oversaw in Oakland’s Fruitvale neighborhood was overflowing with elaborate decorations, broken musical instruments, beat-up furniture and woven rugs. It struck some visitors as an exotic maze, and others as a terrifying fire hazard, as ungovernable as the personality of the man who operated it."
"As firefighters continued Tuesday to sift through the remains of the worst structure fire in the U.S. in more than a decade, more details have emerged about Almena, who ran the warehouse, known as the Ghost Ship, as a physical extension of himself."
READ MORE related to Oakland 'Ghost Ship' Fire: Refrigerator may be origin of Oakland warehouse fire -- JESSICA LYNN with Daily Californian; Oakland FD's troubled building inspection effort -- MATIER & ROSS with The Chronicle; Oakland fire: First-responders describe somber victim search, personal impact -- ROBERT SALONGA with EBT; Oakland fire: Mayor announces $1.7m grant to help artists -- KATRINA CAMERON with EBT
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield, who has demanded that Obamacare be abolished, might be surprised to learn that his own district will be hit the hardest in California if the health system disappears.
From the Bee's Dan walters: "As McCarthy was speaking in Washington, 2,377 miles away in Sacramento, the liberal California Budget and Policy Center was releasing a report on Obamacare’s import to low-income residents, revealing that McCarthy’s district could feel the state’s greatest impact of the repeal he advocates."
"The ACA gave states the option of expanding Medicaid – called Medi-Cal in California – to a new cohort of low-income residents whose incomes had been too high to qualify previously."
"This economic segment has been dubbed “the working poor” and its members historically comprised a large portion of the state’s medically uninsured."
Donald Trump is scheduled to meet with Silicon Valley leaders next week.
QUEENIE WONG in Mercury News: "President-elect Donald Trump is known for making headlines with his social media posts, but apparently when it comes to meeting tech leaders, he still prefers communicating the old-fashioned way: in person."
"The Republican politician reached out to tech leaders to attend a “roundtable” in New York on Dec.14. Reince Priebus, the incoming White House chief of staff; Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law; and Peter Thiel, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and investor who’s part of his transition team, signed the invite, according to USA Today and The Wall Street Journal. An agenda for the meeting hasn’t been released."
"San Jose tech firm Cisco confirmed to this newspaper on Tuesday that its Chief Executive Officer Chuck Robbins has been invited and plans to attend."
Poverty statistics in the Bay Area aren't reflective of the struggle of 30% of its residents, who are doing worse than official reports indicate.
GEORGE AVALOS with Mercury News: "Close to 30 percent of the Bay Area’s residents aren’t able to make ends meet as they contend with high housing costs, suggesting poverty is more widespread in the region than official reports indicate, according to a study published Wednesday."
"The report by JobTrain, a Menlo Park-based nonprofit organization, estimated that 29.2 percent of Bay Area residents, or roughly 1.45 million people, are not self-sufficient. Self-sufficiency, the study’s authors said, is defined as having a stable place to live and being able to cover the basics for survival."
"JobTrain hopes its report, “The Broken Pathway: Uncovering the Economic Inequality in the Bay Area,” will highlight the challenges facing many residents of the nine-county region."
As California fights back against a Trump administration's regressive campaign promises, Santa Ana declares itself a sanctuary city in defiance.
CINDY CARCAMO with L.A. Times: "Santa Ana City Council members voted Tuesday to declare Orange County’s second-most populous city a sanctuary city — a largely symbolic gesture to protect immigrants who are in the country illegally."
"The move is in direct defiance of President-elect Donald Trump, who was critical of illegal immigration and sanctuary cities during his campaign."
"Tuesday’s vote is historic in that it makes Santa Ana the first city in Orange County to grant itself the designation."
A California KKK leader has been arrested over a stabbing that occured before a pro-Trump Klan parade in North Carolina.
JAMES QUEALLY with L.A. Times: "The California Ku Klux Klan leader who led a “white lives matter” rally that erupted in violence in Anaheim this year was arrested last week in connection with a North Carolina stabbing hours before a Klan parade celebrating Donald Trump’s election, authorities said Tuesday."
"William Hagen and a second person were charged with assault after they stabbed another Klan member shortly before the victory parade about 20 miles away in Roxboro, N.C., according to Capt. Frank Rose, who oversees criminal investigations for the Caswell County Sheriff’s Office in North Carolina."
"Hagen and Chris Barker, whom experts described as a national Klan leader, were involved in an argument with Richard Dillon at Barker’s Yanceyville, N.C., home, Rose said. The clash turned violent, and Hagen and Barker are accused of stabbing Dillon several times, the captain said. Dillon was treated for non-life-threatening injuries and released from a local hospital a short time later, Rose said."
SeaWorld has announced that it will be eliminating hundreds of jobs.
LORI WEISBERG with L.A. Times: "SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. announced Tuesday that it is eliminating 320 jobs, part of an ongoing effort to sharply cut its costs."
"In Southern California, about 60 employees will be laid off, according to a notice filed Tuesday with the California Employment Development Department."
California's economy in a Donald Trump era: High risk, high reward.
NATALIE KITROEFF with L.A. Times: "California is at the epicenter of some of the most fundamental changesDonald Trump has proposed for the national economy, in trade and immigration."
"About 40% of all goods arriving in the United States by sea come through the state’s ports. And more than a quarter of all undocumented immigrants in the U.S. live in California, many of them working in agriculture, hospitality and manufacturing. "
"So it shouldn’t be a surprise that the latest report from the UCLA Anderson Forecast found that Trump’s plans for the economy could deeply affect the health of the California economy, the sixth largest in the world, one way or the other."
Profane emails circulating around California's Department of Education has prompted a more thorough investigation into staff.
CHRISTOPHER CADELAGO with Sacramento Bee: "California education officials said Tuesday that they are investigating a staff member for allegedly sending inappropriate emails."
"Such emails are nothing new in the workplace. But the following may be viewed as a cautionary tale."
"One of the probed missives appears to have landed in the inbox of the Community College Equity Assessment Lab, a research laboratory under the Interwork Institute at San Diego State University."
With the legalization of cannabis also comes a new campaign for DUI awareness.
PETER HECHT with Sacramento Bee: "The gathering outside Sacramento’s Memorial Auditorium on Tuesday had the hallmark of most holiday season safe driving events: A gaggle of public safety officials and publicists delivering a stern message about driving sober and sparing loved ones from the tragedies resulting from impaired people getting behind the wheel."
"But this time, the gathering came a month after California voters passed Proposition 64 to legalize marijuana for recreational use. So the standard warnings about drunken driving morphed with new ones about stoned driving."
"And they didn’t stop at single intoxicants. Officials from the California Highway Patrol, the state Office of Traffic Safety and the National Highway Safety Administration also warned of driving under the influence of two or more substances at a time. The agency has created public service spots on driving dangers of marijuana and prescription drugs, particularly when combined with alcohol."
A San Francisco hospital finds itself in legal limbo over a lawsuit related to transgender bias.
BOB EGELKO with The Chronicle: "A federal judge put a transgender discrimination suit against a hospital owned by Dignity Health of San Francisco on hold Tuesday while the U.S. Supreme Court decides whether a Virginia school district can exclude a transgender youth from a restroom that corresponds with his gender identity."
"The suit by Josef Robinson, a nurse at Dignity’s Chandler Regional Medical Center in Arizona, challenges the hospital’s refusal to provide insurance coverage for his hormonal treatment and other medical care and the sex-reassignment surgery his doctors have recommended."