The new normal

Aug 7, 2018

249 nights away at California fires: Firefighter families cope with a 'new normal'


Sacramento Bee's ADAM ASHTON/RYAN LILLIS & Sierra Star's WILLIAM RAMIREZ: "Melissa Morgado began 2018 trying to solve an arithmetic problem: How many nights did she and her firefighter husband spend apart because of work in the previous year?"


"He was gone for the hot summer months, of course, and again for most of October, and then 19 more days in December when deadly fires broke out on the Central Coast."


"Her tally hit 249 nights, the most she and her husband spent apart in his 14 years at Cal Fire."


READ MORE related to Fire SeasonTrump wants to clear more trees to halt fires. The feds need to spend more, experts say. -- McClatchy DC's EMILY CADEI/KATE IRBY; 53 firefighters from Australia and New Zealand arrive in Redding -- Sacramento Bee's KELLEN BROWNING; Trump says California's water policies are making the wildfires worse. Is she rigfht? -- Sacramento Bee's DALE KASLER; Smoke prompts Sacramento County health alert -- Sacramento Bee's HANNAH HOLZER; Mendocino Complex now largest wildfire in California history, Cal Fire says -- Sacramento Bee's JULIE SCLAFANIA; Trump's California wildfire tweets show he's enlisted in state's water wars -- The Chronicle's KURTIS ALEXANDER; California groundwater law means big changes above ground, too -- Water Deeply's MATT WEISER; Delta Breezes are dying and that could be bad news for an imperiled fish -- Water Deeply's TOM PHILP; Out-of-control brush fire burns 4,000 acres in Orange County; canyon residents evacuated -- LA Times's JAMES QUEALLYU/JOSEPH SERNA/ALENE TCHEKMEDYIAN/SHELBY GRAD


A California special election could put someone in office for just three weeks


LA Times's COLLEEN SHALBY: "When state Sen. Tony Mendoza resigned from office in February after sexual harassment allegations surfaced against him, voters in the Artesia Democrat’s district were tasked with electing his replacement."


"What has unfolded in the six months since his departure has left his constituents with a confusing course on California’s political process, and a handful of potential outcomes to fill the Senate seat — including a possibility that the winner of a Tuesday special election runoff could represent the district for just three weeks."


California felony-murder law challenge backed by US court


The Chronicle's BOB EGELKO: "A federal appeals court cleared the way Monday for a constitutional challenge to California’s broad felony-murder law, which classifies unintentional killings during the commission of an “inherently dangerous” felony as second-degree murder, punishable by up to life in prison."


"Hundreds of inmates are serving lengthy prison terms under the law, which goes further than laws in other states in treating all participants in crimes as murderers if someone is killed. The state Senate has passed legislation that would narrow the law to exclude those who had not actually committed the killing or acted with “reckless indifference” to human life. Prosecutors oppose the measure, and its future is uncertain."


Siskiyou-area tribe's reinstatement questioned


LISA RENNER in Capitol Weekly: "A move to restore federal tribal recognition to a long defunct Siskiyou County Indian rancheria has received a major blow."


"Research done by a college professor indicates no Indian ever lived on the 441-acre Ruffey Rancheria outside Etna. Stephen Dow Beckham, a history professor at Lewis & Clark College in Oregon and an expert in American Indian history, said there is no evidence that any group of people considered themselves part of a Ruffey Rancheria tribe or set up a tribal government or had a relationship with the federal government."


"This is an attempt to resurrect a tribe where there was no tribe,” said Josh Saxon, executive director of the Karuk Tribe, which hired the professor to investigate the tribe’s legitimacy."


SF business tax ballot measure could result in middle class job flight


The Chroniocle's TRISHA THADANI: "San Francisco’s narrowing middle class, already squeezed by the high cost of living could take another hit if a new business tax is approved in the November election, according to the city’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development."


"The measure, approved for November’s ballot last month, would levy an average of about 0.5 percent gross receipts tax on companies that make $50 million or more in revenue. In return, it would roughly double the city’s funding for housing and homeless services, such as 1,000 extra shelter beds and services for the mentally ill."


READ MORE related to Local: Mayor Breed has a new person in charge of SF's emergency response -- The Chronicle's DOMINICC FRACASSA


Apple, Facebook and other tech companies delete content from Alex Jones


LA Times's CRAIG TIMBERG/ELIZABETH DWOSKIN/HAMZA SHABAN: "Major technology companies including Apple, Facebook and YouTube deleted years of content from conservative conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and his Infowars platforms over allegations of hate speech, a sudden clampdown that is fueling the growing debate over how big technology companies choose to censor."


"The move was unusual for its sweep and speed, suggesting a new assertiveness by technology companies that in the past have worked to avoid alienating conservatives, who often assert that left-leaning Silicon Valley is biased against them. The removals appeared to be prompted by more users flagging Infowars content for policy violations."



Who is an employee? New standard for 2 million workers spurs clash at California Capitol


Sacramento Bee's ALEXEI KOSEFF: "Ashley Hutton Stanfield’s favorite thing about her job is the freedom to work in the “nooks and crannies of my day."


"Four years ago, after leaving her career at a medical devices company to raise her children, Stanfield became a sales consultant for Arbonne International, a multi-level marketing firm that makes beauty and nutrition products."


"Stanfield said she coaches about 1,000 clients per month on how to use and sell a 30-day health regimen. But she can manage her business from the dining room of her Fair Oaks home, between dropping her kids off and picking them up from camp, or take a phone call while running on the treadmill at the gym. She has leisurely breakfasts with her family in the morning and finishes up what she needs to after putting her two daughters to bed."


Stuck in abuse relationships, some H-1B spouses seek outlet in work


The Chronicle's TRISHA THADANI: "The spouses of H-1B visa holders called the shelters and domestic violence programs because they felt trapped. Stuck in abusive relationships, with a visa status that didn’t allow them to work, they were beholden to their abusers for everything. Money. Food. The right to stay in the country."


"One woman’s husband hit her even when she was pregnant. Another was rarely allowed out of the house alone. The women spoke of extreme isolation, threats of deportation, forced sexual encounters. Even when some called the police, they rarely pressed charges: Their H-4 visas depended on their spouses’ H-1Bs. And if their spouse was arrested, where would that leave them?"


“How could I press charges?” a woman named Nisha — a pseudonym — said, sitting in her lawyer’s office as the sun poured in on a recent afternoon. “I wasn’t independent. I was new to this country. If I tell you to arrest him, how will I survive here?”


Wish you could hire someone to wait in line at the DMV? Now some Californians can


Sacramento Bee's DON SWEENEY: "Anyone stuck in hours-long lines at a California Department of Motor Vehicles office has likely wondered at some point whether it’s possible to hire a stand-in."


"Now at least some Californians can."


"On Friday, YoGov unveiled a “DMV Line-Waiting Concierge” program allowing anyone with business at one of 13 Bay Area DMV offices to pay the site around $25 an hour to send someone to wait in line for a drop-in visit. It’s not clear how much the line-waiters earn."


READ MORE related to Transportation: California legislators try to draw the line on DMV's endless waits -- The Chronicle's KATHLEEN PENDER


Brown appoints four to UC Regents


From the Chronicle's NANETTE ASIMOV: "Gov. Jerry Brown appointed his finance director as a University of California regent Monday, and three others to spots on the powerful higher education governing board — including a union activist with the Service Employees International Union."


"Brown named Michael Cohen, 45, of Sacramento, who has been director of the state Department of Finance since 2013, has been a budget executive with the department, and held jobs with the state’s Legislative Analyst’s office. Cohen has registered no party preference."


"For years, Brown has clashed with the regents over financial matters. While the regents have consistently threatened to raise tuition if increases in state funding were not forthcoming, Brown has succeeded in keeping tuition flat in exchange for small increases in state funding tied to inflation. Cohen’s appointment appears to be an effort to install a like-minded thinker onto the board."


READ MORE related to Education: UC Davis health care workers say their proposed wage increase is 'garbage' -- Sacramento Bee's CATHIE ANDERSON


For years, Richard Gates was at Paul Manafort's side. On Monday, he began testifying against him


LA Times's CHRIS MEGERIAN: "Whenever Paul Manafort needed Richard Gates, he seemed to be there for him."


"Gates helped Manafort run his consulting business in Eastern Europe. He served as Manafort’s deputy on Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, carefully steering the candidate through the fractious Republican National Convention."


READ MORE related to POTUS45: West Hollywood may urge removal -- LA Times's LAURA NEWBERRY

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