Should Trump declare California a national disaster to help homeless? One congressman's idea
Sac Bee's KATE IRBY: "A California congressman wants to allow states to apply for emergency funding for homelessness crises in the same way they’re granted funding for natural disasters like wildfires or hurricanes."
"Promoting the idea as a way to “bridge the gap between Washington and Sacramento,” Rep. Josh Harder, D-Turlock, announced he was introducing the bill Tuesday. It would allow governors to declare homelessness crises as a state of emergency to receive additional federal funding."
“If we can declare an emergency after a natural disaster which leaves people without homes, we should be able to do the same thing for an economic disaster,” Harder said."
Elementary school kids douses as jet dumps fuel before LAX emergency landing
LA Times's COLLEEN SHALBY/RUBEN VIVES/ANDREW CAMPA: "An airplane returning to Los Angeles International Airport on Tuesday morning dropped jet fuel onto a school playground, dousing several students at Park Avenue Elementary School in Cudahy, officials said."
"Delta Flight 89 — a Boeing 777 — had taken off from LAX with more than 140 passengers on board and was en route to Shanghai when it turned around and headed back to the L.A. airport."
"Shortly after takeoff, Flight 89 from LAX to Shanghai experienced an engine issue requiring the aircraft to return quickly to LAX,” Delta said in a statement released Tuesday night. “The aircraft landed safely after a release of fuel, which was required as part of normal procedure to reach a safe landing weight. Delta is in touch with Los Angeles World Airports and the L.A. County Fire Department as well as community leaders, and shares concerns regarding reports of minor injuries to adults and children at schools in the area."
CA120: The math of the march primary
From Capitol Weekly's PAUL MITCHELL: "As we barrel toward the March 3 primary election, most eyes are on national and statewide polls showing a tight contest between four top contenders, with the latest Capitol Weekly polling showing Senator Bernie Sanders with a slight lead over Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Vice President Joe Biden, followed by Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of Southbend, Ind."
"But California’s Democratic primary isn’t won at the “national poll” level, or even at the “statewide poll” level – it’s won through a complicated, proportional, delegate-allocation procedure that affects campaign strategy and could muddy the final election results."
"So get ready for some numbers — a lot of numbers."
California tries to save law it calls crucial tool in housing crisis
The Chronicle's ALEXEI KOSEFF: "The state is stepping into the legal battle over a proposed condominium project in San Mateo to defend a California law that prevents cities from rejecting multiunit housing that meets their local building rules."
"Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed Monday to intervene in an appeal of the case, in which a San Mateo County judge ruled to narrow the scope of the decades-old law. Developers and advocates for more housing construction have warned that the judge’s decision could have sweeping implications for the state’s ability to force communities to build their way out of California’s affordability crisis."
"Becerra said the law, the Housing Accountability Act, is an important tool to ensure new housing is constructed throughout the state as California grapples with a multimillion-unit shortage. State officials estimate that more than double the current rate of production is needed to keep up with demand."
California health care premiums rose -- are RX costs the primary culprit?
Sac Bee's CATHIE ANDERSON: "The California Department of Managed Care put out its second report aimed at increasing transparency on prescription drug costs, but perhaps the most startling revelation from the document comes in a footnote showing that health plans greatly expanded their reporting the data."
"Insurers build a margin of profit into their annual premiums, and in 2018, they more than doubled the profits they received, driving it up to $2.75 billion from $1.01 billion the prior year. Regulators said in the 14th footnote that three health plans accounted for the increased profit of roughly $1.74 billion."
"A DMHC spokesman said that state mandate prevents them from providing the names of the three health plans. The law requires that information be aggregated to ensure that it cannot identify individual plans."
SF DA Boudin launches diversion program for parents facing criminal charges
The Chronicle's EVAN SERNOFFSKY: "San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin on Tuesday announced the creation of a diversion program for primary caregiver parents of minor children — his first policy since being sworn in last week, and an issue that’s personal."
"Boudin is the son of incarcerated parents, who were imprisoned when he was an infant for acting as getaway drivers in an armored car robbery in upstate New York in 1981 that left two police officers and a security guard dead."
“I grew up visiting my parents behind bars,” Boudin said in a statement announcing the policy. “I know the kind of trauma the sudden loss of a parent can have on a child and the kind of resources that are needed to make that child whole again. This is about taking responsibility, protecting the sanctity of the family, and ensuring innocent children are not condemned to repeat the mistakes of their parents."
Richmond City Council bans coal shipments from port despite legal threats
The Chronicle's SARAH RAVANI: "The Richmond City Council voted Tuesday to ban coal shipments out of a private port despite threats from the port owners that they would pursue litigation if the ordinance passes costing the city millions."
"The ordinance gives businesses three years to phase out coal and petroleum coke, a byproduct of oil refining. The legislation targets a port operated by Levin-Richmond Terminal Corp., which last year loaded almost 1 million metric tons of the fuel bound for Japan and South Korea."
"The vote occurred nearly a month after Mayor Tom Butt delayed the vote in hopes of coming to an agreement with port owners."
Hotel workers in Sacramento finally get panic buttons after years of waiting
Sac Bee's THERESA CLIFT: "All 80 hotels in the city of Sacramento will soon be required to provide “panic buttons” to protect workers from sexual assault and harassment, under an ordinance the City Council approved Tuesday."
"The vote comes nearly two years after Sacramento County Board of Supervisors approveda similar ordinance that did not include hotels in city limits."
"By July 14, all hotels will be required to give housekeepers buttons at no cost to the employees, according to a city staff report. Workers will be able to press the buttons if they are about to witness an act of sexual harassment, such as masturbation or someone exposing themselves. The buttons send a signal to on-site staff to intervene immediately."
Caltrans would send social workers to homeless camp cleanups under proposed law
Sac Bee's WES VENTEICHER: "Caltrans would have to help homeless people find housing before clearing their tents from state property under a new proposal in the California State Legislature."
"The proposal would create a new classification of workers at Caltrans who would visit the people living in homeless camps and attempt to connect them with housing and supportive services before maintenance crews clear the camps."
"It would also require Caltrans to post a link on its website for people to report homeless camps and require the department to send workers to assess reported camps within 24 hours."
Former LAPD officer charged after accusations of sex assault and blackmail made by fellow detective
LA Times's JAMES QUEALLY: "A former Los Angeles police officer will face criminal charges related to allegations that he sexually abused and beat another LAPD detective, according to a law enforcement official and the victim’s attorney."
"Daniel Reedy, a veteran officer who retired last year, will face up to nine criminal charges related to accusations that he used blackmail to coerce Det. Ysabel Villegas into sex and later threatened to leak sexually explicit photos of her to her family, according to a law enforcement official familiar with the investigation."
"The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they did not have authority to discuss the case, was unable to describe the exact criminal charges against Reedy. Villegas’ attorney, Lisa Bloom, also said Reedy would face criminal charges in a statement Tuesday."
Dems release new documents on eve of impeachment trial
AP's MARY CLARE JALONICK/ERIC TUCKER: "House Democrats have released a trove of documents they obtained from Lev Parnas, a close associate of President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, including a handwritten note that mentions asking Ukraine's president to investigate “the Biden case.”
"The documents, obtained as part of the impeachment investigation, show Parnas communicating with Giuliani before the removal of Marie Yovanovitch, who was the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. A man named Robert F. Hyde disparaged Yovanovitch in messages to Parnas and gave him updates on her location and cell phone use, raising questions about possible surveillance."
"Democrats released the files Tuesday as they prepared to send articles of impeachment to the Senate for Trump's trial. The documents add new context to their charges that Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate Democrats as he withheld military aid."
Michael Avenatti arrested on suspicion of bail violations, prosecutors says
AP: "Michael Avenatti, the embattled former attorney for the porn actress Stormy Daniels, was arrested Tuesday evening in California on suspicion of bail violations, according to a court filing by federal prosecutors."
"The arrest came as Avenatti was appearing before the State Bar Court in Los Angeles, which is conducting disciplinary proceedings related to multiple criminal cases that have been filed against him in California and New York, the Daily Beast reported."
“I understand that Mr. Avenatti has been arrested by the federal authorities for violating the terms of his release,” attorney Steven Bledsoe, who represents Avenatti in the State Bar case, told the Daily Beast after being present for the arrest."
So many questions remain about Dems, and voting's about to begin
The Chronicle's JOE GAROFOLI: "That was it. Tuesday was the last Democratic presidential primary debate before California voters can start casting ballots on Feb. 3, and amazingly — after a year’s worth of campaigning — there are still so many questions about the candidates. Here are some of the big ones:"
• Joe Biden, how can you tout your foreign policy expertise when you backed the Iraq War? The former vice president called President Trump “dangerously incompetent” for ordering the killing of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani. In seeking to highlight his foreign policy experience, Biden said Trump was risking blundering into a war in an unstable region.
But some opponents, notably Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, have gone on the attack against Biden, saying it’s hard to trust his foreign policy instincts given that he voted in the Senate to give then-President George W. Bush the authority to invade Iraq in 2002. Although he now calls it a “mistaken vote,” Biden backed the war even as it started to go bad and its main justification — Iraq’s alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction — proved unfounded."
READ MORE related to Democratic Debates: Bloomberg's faced on a meatball? His social media staff had some fun during the debate -- LA Times's MELISSA GOMEZ; Debate delves into sexism in politics, testing Warren-Sanders pact -- LA Times's MELANIE MASON/SEEMA MEHTA
This contractor says he can build Trump's border wall faster and cheaper than the US can
LA Times's MOLLY HENNESY-FISKE: "President Trump took office vowing to build “a big, beautiful wall” along the 1,954-mile U.S.-Mexico border, but so far the federal government has managed to build only about one mile of new border wall."
"Texas may be the biggest obstacle. Unlike in other states, most of the United States borderland in Texas is privately owned, which has delayed construction by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Federal lawyers have had to comb property records, track down landowners, make offers to buy the land and — if owners refuse to sell — file lawsuits to seize the land."
"Tommy Fisher, a contractor with a Trump-like knack for dealmaking, says he can do much better."
New US-China trade deal leaves the thorniest problems unresolved
LA Times's DON LEE: "After nearly two years of a bruising trade war, the new U.S.-China trade deal to be signed Wednesday gives President Trump some immediate benefits and allows both sides to put off the most difficult issues."
"But below the ceremonial veneer of a White House signing event and Trump’s extravagant tweets on his achievement, the hard reality of the so-called Phase 1 agreement is that it does not even begin to address the potentially dangerous gulf that exists between the United States and China on trade and economic policy."
"The two nations remain on the cusp of long-term decisions that will have potentially harsh consequences for both."