Newsom calls for jail reforms after newspaper investigations
Sac Bee's JASON POHL: "California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday demanded more accountability from his state community corrections board and called for more frequent jail inspections, tighter oversight and stricter standards for how sheriffs run local lockups.
His calls followed a yearlong McClatchy and ProPublica investigation into county jails that showed that there are no limits on how long sheriffs can hold mentally ill inmates in extreme isolation, that violence goes unchecked in many lockups and that state inspectors are powerless to enforce their own standards.
Newsom in his 2020 budget proposal said he wanted to “strengthen the state’s oversight of county jails.” His plan calls for the state board that oversees jails, the Board of State and Community Corrections, to take more aggressive and transparent steps when its inspectors find conditions that violate state standards."
The delta's sinking islands
The Chronicle's PETER FIMRITE: "A fight over the management of a diked island in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta is shining a light on a growing conundrum for California water managers, farmers and environmentalists over the best way to restore natural habitat on cropland created more than a century ago by draining marshes.
The courtroom battle over 9,000-acre Staten Island is the latest conflict in the delta over farming, wetlands and the aging levees that, besides preventing flooding, preserve a way of life on the man-made islands.
The suit, filed in 2018 by a group called the Wetlands Preservation Foundation, accuses the California Department of Water Resources and the Nature Conservancy of failing to adequately protect wildlife or employ sustainable agricultural practices on the property, one of the largest of 57 reclaimed islands and tracts in the delta."
Admissions scandal: Charged parents try to drag USC into the fray
LA Times's JOEL RUBIN/MATTHEW ORMSETH: "From the start, federal prosecutors have tried to make the college admissions case a straightforward story about greed.
But in the nine months since, the case has turned murky.
In the government’s telling, wealthy parents, college coaches, and others conspired with William “Rick” Singer, a Newport Beach consultant who used bribes and fraud to rig college entrance exams and buy spots at top-tier schools for the children of clients."
FEMA says it may bill fire victims if it can't get $4B from PG&E
The Chronicle's JD MORRIS: "Federal officials say Pacific Gas and Electric Co. owes the government nearly $4 billion, and if they can’t get the payment request resolved as part of the utility’s bankruptcy case, they may later have to ask wildfire victims for a portion of the money instead.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency wants reimbursement from PG&E to cover costs from the government’s response to fires in 2015, 2017 and 2018. Under PG&E’s current plan to resolve its bankruptcy, any payment to FEMA would have to come from the $13.5 billion the company intends to reserve primarily to settle claims from fire victims.
Victims’ lawyers are battling FEMA’s claim, which would consume nearly 30% of the settlement. But FEMA told The Chronicle that it is compelled to seek compensation from PG&E. Otherwise, individual victims would be on the hook if they get settlement money that duplicates funds already paid by the federal government, according to Bob Fenton, the agency’s regional administrator."
Newsom wants to simplify the state's cannabis rules: 'The devil is always in the details'
Sac Bee's ANDREW SHEELER: "California Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to bring all of the state’s cannabis licensing programs under one roof, aiming to better coordinate a complicated mix of regulators.
In his 2020-21 budget plan, Newsom is proposing to create a Department of Cannabis Control.
It would assume licensing authority from the three existing agencies, the Bureau of Cannabis Control, under the Department of Consumer Affairs; CalCannabis, under the Department of Food and Agriculture; and the Manufactured Cannabis Safety Branch, under the Department of Public Health."
Electric scooter injuries have soared, UCSF study finds
The Chronicle's MALLORY MOENCH: "Electric scooter-related injuries resulting in hospitalization more than tripled over five years nationwide, a new report by UCSF revealed.
“We know for sure that there has been an explosion of riders in the past couple years,” said senior study author Dr. Benjamin Breyer, an associate professor of urology and chief of urology at UCSF partner hospital Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center. “We see that more in a big increase in the number of injuries.”
The study didn’t differentiate between owned and rented scooters and is not specific to San Francisco. The results showed nearly 40,000 injuries in the past five years, increasing from 6 per 100,000 people in 2014 to 19 per 100,000 in 2018. The number of hospital admissions — meaning injuries severe enough to require further medical attention — soared by 365% to nearly 3,300, the study found."
Newsom's budget calls for hundreds more firefighters
Sac Bee's ANDREW SHEELER: "Gov. Gavin Newsom is calling for the state to add hundreds of more firefighters to its largest force, Cal Fire, aiming to improve wildfire suppression.
The proposal to hire 677 more firefighters would boost Cal Fire’s capability to quickly respond to fires during peak seasons, according to the governor’s 2020-21 budget.
The budget says the permanent firefighter positions would be added over the next five years."
Tight polls, impeachment, billionaire wild cards: Uncertainty reigns in the 2020 Democratic race
LA Times's JANET HOOK: "As Democrats’ top presidential candidates prepare to meet for the last debate before voters start weighing in, the primary contest remains one of the most unpredictable in decades — a contest not likely to end anytime soon.
In the absence of a commanding front-runner, and with a plethora of well-funded candidates in the top tier, party activists say they have less certainty about the outcome than at any time since 1992, when Bill Clinton ultimately won in a crowded field.
“I can’t remember a time when I had this many questions before the first votes,” said Rebecca Katz, a Democratic strategist who worked on John Edwards’ 2004 presidential campaign. “Things could play out 100 different ways."
Sacramento likes this tax break. But federal limits still apply
Sac Bee's DAVID LIGHTMAN: "Deducting state and local taxes from federal returns is highly popular in the Sacramento area — but for at least another year, those deductions are going to be limited.
The Republican-authored 2017 tax cut law capped the deduction at $10,000 per return. Twenty-one of the hardest hit districts were in California, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.
“The states affected are generally blue. They were singled out,” saidFrank Sammartino, Tax Policy Center senior fellow."
Federal court stops longline fishing to protect turtles off California coast
LA Times's DEBORAH SULLIVAN BRENNAN: "Longline fishing won’t be allowed off the California coast after a federal district court suspended permits for the fishing method.
In December, the court struck down longline fishing permits that the National Marine Fisheries Service issued last spring, ruling that the service didn’t properly analyze threats to critically endangered leatherback sea turtles.
“The permits were vacated by the court, so the permits are no longer in effect,” said Catherine Kilduff, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, which filed a lawsuit with Turtle Island Restoration Network to challenge the permits."
Newsom sends incident managers to help with Puerto Rico's earthquakes
Sac Bee's SAWSAN MORRAR: "A series of strong earthquakes that have rocked Puerto Rico prompted Gov. Gavin Newsom to announce Saturday the deployment of disaster aid to assist on rebuilding the unincorporated island territory.
The 31 disaster specialists will leave Sunday for Puerto Rico and deploy for 16 days, according to a statement from the governor’s office, and will be led by the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, known as Cal OES. The mission will include emergency and debris management, engineering and safety assessment, planning, and crisis counseling.
Members from California Department of Social Services, CalRecycle, Caltrans, and the Division of the State Architect within the Department of General Service will be among those visiting the island."
READ MORE related to Environment: Exploratorium illustrates dangers of king tides, sea level rise -- The Chronicle's ANNA BAUMAN
Slugfest at a California conference has inspired a politician to propose a new law
LA Times's RUBEN VIVES: "It wouldn’t be the most conventional way for politicians to help create a law.
In May, two councilmen got into an argument at a conference in Indian Wells that turned into a brawl. The slugfest ended up involving four of the politicians from the City of Commerce and left one councilman, Leonard Mendoza, lying on the ground unconscious, his arms and legs splayed out for everyone to see on social media.
There were ripple effects: the California Contract Cities Assn., the nonprofit advocacy group that hosted the conference, suspended Commerce’s membership and a criminal investigation was launched by the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, though no charges have been filed."
Can the insanely-popular e-bike really replace cars in the Bay Area?
The Chronicle's RACHEL SWAN: "When Liza Lutzker threw her daughters a back-to-school party at the Berkeley Rose Garden, she and her husband packed all the provisions on their electric cargo bikes: two boxes of firewood, food for 30 people, a water dispenser, plates, napkins, glasses and two kids.
Then they rode 2 miles from their home on Milvia Street to the terraced amphitheater on Euclid Avenue, high in the leafy-green hills. Six years ago, Lutzker would have hauled everything in a car. Now she travels almost exclusively by foot and bike.
Her family illustrates a culture shift in the Bay Area, where e-bikes, once conceived as a luxury item, are becoming a widely accepted form of transport. Enthusiasts view them as an option for commuters or for weekend warriors who want speed and distance with less work. In the case of cargo e-bikes, they’re a solution for the types of trips that suburban parents once made in minivans: grocery shopping, school drop-off, shuttling kids to soccer games — even getting to BART, which has begun filling its parking lots with housing."
Off-duty LA County sheriff's detective struck and killed after rendering aid
LA Times's RUBEN VIVES: "A car struck and killed a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department detective on Sunday in the Valley Village area after she helped an elderly woman cross the street, authorities said.
The accident occurred around 11 a.m. Sunday at Riverside Drive and Whitsett Avenue as off-duty detective Amber Leist was returning to her car, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva.
Leist, 41, was taken to a local hospital, where she later died of her injuries, Villanueva said during a news conference."
Videos appear to show Iranian police firing on plane-crash protesters
AP: "Iranian security forces fired both live ammunition and tear gas to disperse demonstrators protesting against the Islamic Republic’s initial denial that it shot down a Ukrainian jetliner, online videos purported to show Monday.
Videos sent to the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran and later verified by the Associated Press show a crowd of demonstrators near Azadi, or Freedom, Square fleeing as a tear gas canister landed among them. People cough and sputter while trying to escape the fumes, with one woman calling out in Farsi: “They fired tear gas at people! Azadi Square. Death to the dictator!”
Another video shows a woman being carried away in the aftermath as a blood trail can be seen on the ground. Those around her cry out that she has been shot by live ammunition in the leg."
READ MORE related to Warpath Escalation: Defense secretary 'didn't see' intelligence backing Trump's claim of Iran plot against US embassies -- LA Times's LAURA KING/NABIH BULOS/SARAH PARVINI; San Diego student and 2 family members killed in Ukrainian jetliner crash -- LA Times's GARY ROBBINS