State moves toward single water tunnel under delta
The Chronicle's KURTIS ALEXANDER/ALEXEI KOSEFF: "California is moving forward with its biggest water project in decades, a single tunnel beneath the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta that will help move Northern California water south to cities and farms, state water officials said Wednesday."
"The proposal piggybacks on plans by former Gov. Jerry Brown, who wanted to build a pair of 30-mile-long tunnels through the delta but was stymied by funding shortfalls and controversy."
"The project shares the same vision as Brown’s: to halt deterioration of the delta’s fragile ecosystem — the pinch point of the state’s water delivery network — while ensuring adequate water shipments to the rest of the state. But the single, 30-mile tunnel presents an alternative designed to avoid a similar fate as the initial proposal. It has been estimated to cost about $11 billion, about $6 billion less expensive than its parent."
Snow, huge winds and flooding hit Bay Area as storm slams region
The Chronicle's ALEJANDRO SERRANO: "A storm unloaded downpours of rain, fierce winds, a coating of snow and at least one report of thunder and lightning Thursday throughout the Bay Area, leaving roads flooded and testing some drivers’ patience and skill behind the wheel."
"For at least a couple of days, though, the wet winter should subside."
"Mostly dry conditions are likely to return,” said Roger Gass, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. “Friday is looking to be dry for everybody."
Newsom promotes using state-owned trailers to house the homeless
LA Times's TARYN LUNA: "Gov. Gavin Newsom repeatedly promoted a temporary solution to California’s most visible problem this week during a tour on homelessness that began at a shelter in the Sierra foothills and ended in a vacant city-owned lot in the shadow of the Oakland Coliseum: The state would dispatch 100 travel trailers to provide immediate shelter."
"Newsom and his aides publicized their plan again Thursday, posting a video on social media showcasing a caravan of 15 trailers traveling down the highway toward the Bay Area, where the shelters were on display for a news conference."
"We need to tackle the issue of homelessness head on,” the governor tweeted. “Eight days ago, I issued an executive order to rapidly increase housing and shelter options across CA. Just a few days later, we’re deploying trailers to communities in need to provide services & shelter."
California and 13 other states sue to stop Trump's assault on food stamp programs
Sac Bee's JACKIE BOTTS: "Fourteen states, including California, filed suit Thursday against the Trump administration to block a rule that would eliminate food stamps for an estimated 688,000 Americans."
"No one should have to choose between a hot meal and paying their rent,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement. “Yet again, the Trump Administration has failed to offer any legitimate evidence to justify decisions that have real consequences for the health and well-being of our residents."
"The states plus Washington, D.C., and New York City are claiming that the Trump administration failed to follow the steps required to enact such a far-sweeping rule. It’s the latest in a record 65 lawsuits that Becerra has brought against the Trump administration."
Pelosi rips Facebook: 'Their behavior is shameful'
The Chronicle's DUSTIN GARDINER: "House Speaker Nancy Pelosi took another swipe at Facebook on Thursday over the social media giant’s reluctance to police disinformation, calling its executives “accomplices for misleading the American people."
"Pelosi has been angry at the Menlo Park company since it refused last year to take down a video of her that had been edited to make her appear to be slurring her speech. Asked at a news conference Thursday if Facebook and its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, have too much power, the San Francisco Democrat said the firm cared only about making money without regard for the truthfulness of information."
"Pelosi said Facebook has made it clear that “they intend to be accomplices for misleading the American people, with money from God knows where."
Andrew Yang's wife details alleged sexual assault by OB-GYN
AP: "The wife of Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang says she was sexually assaulted by her OB-GYN while she was pregnant with the couple’s first child."
"Evelyn Yang said in an interview televised Thursday by CNN that the assault happened in 2012, and that she was initially afraid to tell anyone. She and 31 other women are now suing the doctor and hospital system, saying they conspired and enabled the crimes."
"Yang said she was encouraged to speak out after seeing the positive reception she and her husband had been getting on the campaign trail by being open about their son’s autism."
California State Fair eyes bailout from taxpayers to avoid insolvency
Sac Bee's DALE KASLER: "Cal Expo, weighed down by years of sagging attendance at the California State Fair, needs a roughly $2.3 million taxpayer bailout to ward off insolvency and a possible shutdown of the fair, state officials say."
"Gov. Gavin Newsom’s budget proposal includes a $1.5 million one-time rescue “to offset short-term funding deficiencies” and $750,000 to study long-term solutions for Cal Expo’s problems."
"The help would be unprecedented. Although Cal Expo is a state agency and received about $15 million for deferred-maintenance projects in last year’s budget, the state has never stepped in to supplement its operating budget, said Tom Martinez, Cal Expo’s chief deputy general manager."
Newsom wants to curb car break-ins by cutting probation. Here's how
Sac Bee's SOPHIA BOLLAG: "Gov. Gavin Newsom’s plan to reform probation in California would dramatically cut the amount of time criminals can spend under supervision, capping the maximum penalty at two years instead of five."
"He characterizes the proposal as one that would actually reduce crime by focusing resources in the first 18 months of probation and freeing up money for other anti-recidivism programs."
"He detailed the plan as part of his 2020 budget proposal. It would shorten the maximum felony probation term from five to two years and the maximum misdemeanor term from three to two years."
Central California DA quits state association over its opposition to criminal justice reforms
The Chronicle's EVAN SERNOFFSKY: "A Republican Central California district attorney made a surprising decision last week to quit the California District Attorneys Association — whose president is Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley — while calling the group “out of touch” in its positions opposing statewide criminal justice reforms."
"San Joaquin County District Attorney Tori Salazar is the only one of 58 district attorneys in the state to abandon her membership in the association, which advocates for legislation in Sacramento, conducts training for prosecutors, produces legal publications and regularly meets to discuss criminal justice policy."
"As criminal justice reform sweeps through California and the nation, I witnessed the CDAA oppose most reform-based initiatives, which tells me the association is out of touch and unwilling to find new approaches to criminal justice,” Salazar wrote in a Jan. 8 letter to O’Malley, stating she would not renew her membership."
Teacher subs may get jobless bennies when not called in summer, court rules
The Chronicle's BOB EGELKO: "Substitute teachers and other school employees may be eligible for unemployment benefits when they’re not called to work in a summer school session, the state Supreme Court ruled Thursday."
"In a case from San Francisco, the court unanimously rejected the city school district’s argument that summer school sessions can never be considered regular “academic terms” that are the basis for unemployment benefits for on-call employees who are not summoned to work."
"A summer session is classified as a “regular” term, making out-of-work employees eligible for payments, if it resembles the normal fall-to-spring term in “enrollment, staffing, budget, instructional program, or other objective characteristics,” Justice Goodwin Liu saidin the 7-0 ruling."
Hollister Ranch sues California, calling new public access law unconstitutional
LA Times's ROSANNA XIA: "In a new twist to one of the most high-profile — and longest — beach access battles in California, Hollister Ranch sued state officials Thursday over a new law designed to open its exclusive coastline to the public after decades of stops and stalls."
"The law, which went into effect this month, declares that the public must be allowed to enter the ranch by land and access some of its 8.5 miles of shoreline by April 2022. Further access would be phased in under a comprehensive plan to be developed in the next two years."
"The law also makes it a crime, punishable by tens of thousands of dollars in fines, for any person or group “to impede, delay, or otherwise obstruct the implementation of” public access to these coveted beaches and surf breaks in Santa Barbara County."
Deadly bacteria persists in water at California prison. State makes a plan to live with it
Sac Bee's WES VENTEICHER: "A bacteria that can cause deadly infections has become an ongoing problem requiring permanent staffing at California’s newest state prison, according to state budget documents."
"California Health Care Facility, a Stockton prison that houses some of the state’s sickest inmates, wants to hire for 15 permanent positions and spend about $4.4 million per year to fight the bacteria, known as legionella, according to a California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation funding request that is part of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s budget proposal."
"The prison declared an emergency in April after two inmates with pneumonia tested positive for legionella. One of the inmates, John Cook, died. The bacteria can make people sick when it is inhaled in water droplets."
UC announces first tuition hike since 2017. It could apply only to incoming students
The Chronicle's NANETTE ASIMOV: "University of California’s regents will consider several price hikes next week that would raise undergraduate tuition for the first time since 2017. But there’s a twist: Only freshmen and transfers might have to pay."
"At their Wednesday meeting in San Francisco, the regents will not only vote on whether to raise prices for graduate students, but will also look at two options for undergrads: raising tuition for all students in each of the next five years by the rate of inflation — or increasing it by more than that just for new arrivals."
"Under the approach for newcomers, which would be new for UC, tuition would stay flat for students as long as they remain enrolled. Prices would rise only for freshmen and transfer students, so the system is called cohort-based tuition."
READ MORE related to Education: UC proposes five straight years of annual tuition increases -- LA Times's TERESA WATANABE
Battle heats up in North Bay over proposed tax extension for SMART train
The Chronicle's RACHEL SWAN: "A sales-tax measure on the March ballot could be a do-or-die vote for Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit, the charming but struggling commuter rail that links North Bay residents to jobs in San Francisco."
"As the clock ticks down to March 3, big players have begun to weigh in. This week a string of anti-SMART ads popped up on local television and radio, decrying the 30-year sales-tax extension — called Measure I — as a blank check with no accountability."
"Sponsored by a committee called NotSoSmart.org, the ads feature evocative images of cars stopped at empty railroad crossings and checks made out to the “SMART Bureaucracy.” Molly Flater, the daughter of the influential Sonoma County developer Bill Gallaher, is funding the effort."
Here's the route and road closures for Sacramento's 4th Women's March
Sac Bede's JAYSON CHESLER/VINCENT MOLESKI: "The 2020 Women’s March Sacramento will take place Saturday, with a 1-mile march downtown from Southside Park to the California state Capitol."
"A rally begins at the park 9 a.m., with speakers, music, sign making and food trucks. The fourth annual march departs Southside Park at 10:30 a.m., and should arrive at the west steps of the state Capitol by 11:30 a.m."
"The first Sacramento women’s march led 20,000 people up to the Capitol steps in January 2017, in the wake of President Donald Trump’s inauguration, as similar marches took place across the country."
Former LA County Sheriff Lee Baca must report to prison by Feb. 5th, Judge rules
LA Times's ALEX WIGGLESWORTH: "Former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca must report to prison by Feb. 5 to begin serving a three-year sentence for his role in a scheme to obstruct an FBI investigation of abuses inside the county’s jails, a judge ruled Thursday."
"The ruling by U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson came three days after the U.S. Supreme Court denied a last-ditch, longshot request to review Baca’s case."
"Baca, 77, who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, was sentenced in 2017 after a jury found he oversaw the plan to interfere with the jails investigation and later lied to prosecutors about his role in the scheme."
Former sheriff's deputy who lied about being shot by a sniper is arrested
LA Times's RICHARD WINTON/JACLYN COSGROVE: "A former Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy who lied about being shot by a sniper, a fabrication that prompted a massive law enforcement response to hunt down the perpetrator, was arrested Thursday."
"On Aug. 21, Angel Raul Reinosa, then a 21-year-old deputy assigned to the department’s Lancaster station, radioed into dispatch that while on his way to his car in the station’s parking lot, he was hit by rifle fire from a nearby apartment building. He claimed the protective vest he was wearing stopped a shot to his chest, while another bullet had grazed his shoulder."
"Soon, law enforcement officers swarmed the area, using binoculars to scan the building for a possible sniper. The SWAT team and armored vehicles were also at the scene, and the public was told to avoid the area. The mayor of Lancaster quickly blamed the incident on people with mental illnesses who live in the apartment building."
Oakland gets FEMA trailers to house 70 homeless people, plus state funds
The Chronicle's SARAH RAVANI/ANNA BAUMAN: "Gov. Gavin Newsom concluded his weeklong statewide homelessness tour Thursday in East Oakland, where he announced that Oakland would receive 15 state-owned trailers to house up to 70 homeless people."
"A day earlier, Caltrans transported the former Federal Emergency Management Agency trailers to a vacant city-owned lot on Hegenberger Road near the Oakland Coliseum."
"We own this issue,” Newsom said. “It’s the issue of our time. This happened on our watch. None of us are naive about the challenge in front of us and none of us are stepping aside and waiting for someone else to solve it. We recognize our responsibility at all levels of government."
Wave of laptop thefts in Bay Area feeding massive black market
The Chronicle's ANNA BAUMAN: "Thieves are snatching laptops from unsuspecting victims with alarming audacity and violence, officials say, driven by a lucrative Bay Area black market where crooks can fetch $500 for a new Apple computer that could end up in Asia."
"Two recent high-profile Oakland crimes — a deadly laptop grab at Starbucks and a bus-stop shooting sparked by a computer theft — offer a glimpse into a growing regional trend that has put people on edge."
"I’ve been hugging my laptop a little closer,” said Caroline Steel, 23, while working on a Mac at Haus Coffee in San Francisco’s Mission District. Signs warning patrons of computer snatchers went up in June after the coffee shop was hit repeatedly by thieves, a barista said."
Chief justice, senators sworn in as Senate begins historic impeachment trial of Trump
LA Times's JENNIFER HABERKORN/SARAH D WIRE/ANNA M PHILLIPS: "For only the third time in American history, the Senate on Thursday began considering articles of impeachment to determine whether the president should be removed from office."
"Despite the partisan nature of the House’s inquiry last month and a simmering debate over whether the Senate should subpoena witnesses in the trial, the sense of history and gravity struck lawmakers of both parties as the trial began with a choreographed ceremony. Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. was sworn in to preside, and he in turn asked lawmakers to take an oath to deliver “impartial justice."
"When the chief justice walked in, you could feel the weight of the moment,” said Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.). “The eyes of history, you felt it, are upon you."
Ukraine opens probe on possible surveillance on former US ambassador
AP: "Ukrainian police said Thursday they have opened an investigation into the possibility that the U.S. ambassador came under illegal surveillance by an unknown party before she was recalled from her post in May."
"The announcement came two days after Democratic lawmakers in the United States released a trove of documents that showed Lev Parnas, an associate of President Trump’s personal lawyer, communicating about the removal of Marie Yovanovitch as the ambassador to Ukraine."
"The Ukrainian Interior Ministry, which runs the police forces, said in a statement that Ukrainian police “are not interfering in the internal political affairs of the United States."