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Oct 9, 2018

How energized are California voters? Mail balloting will give an early answer


The Chronicle's JOHN WILDERMUTH: "A record number of vote-by-mail ballots will be landing at California homes this week as early voting begins across the state for the Nov. 6 midterm elections."


"With about 13 million of the state’s 19 million registered voters receiving those mail ballots, politicians across California will get an early read on the direction of a number of nationally watched races, said Paul Mitchell, vice president of Political Data, which provides voter information to campaigns and other political organizations."


"Although officials don’t count any ballots before the polls close on election day, the returned ballots themselves provide plenty of information, Mitchell said. By matching ballots against registration forms, “we’ll be able to see things like whether Millennial voters are turning out or if Latinos are voting,” he said."



Capitol Weekly's JESSICA HICE: "The California Public Utilities Commission is poised to decide the formula that determines how much consumers are charged by the big investor-owned utility companies, or IOUs—such as Pacific Gas & Electric or Edison, for example—when the customers switch to local community energy programs."


"It’s a complex issue, but one with major implications for consumers’ pocketbooks."


"If an IOU customer decides to leave and switch to a local community-run program, an exit fee called a “power charge indifference adjustment,” or PCIA, is charged. This charge, posted on every investor-owned utility bill, compensates the utility company for energy contracts bought in the past that are still in effect."


READ MORE related to Energy & Environment:Tubbs Fire: Survivors once again -- The Chronicle's LIZZLIE JOHNSONFiguring on climate change: Model outputs vary, but worries are real -- Water Deeply's TOM PHILP


Newsom, Cox spar over income inequality, California affordability


Sacramento Bee's ANGELA HART: "Gavin Newsom and John Cox traded barbs Monday in what was likely the only gubernatorial debate ahead of the Nov. 6 general election, with Newsom chastising Cox as a Donald Trump-backed Republican with thin policy plans, and Cox countering that Newsom and his fellow Democrats have rendered California unaffordable."


"I hope that we can compare and contrast...our specific tangible plans, because there’s a profound contrast,” Newsom said during the hourlong debate aired live on KQED public radio, criticizing Cox for pressing for solutions to the state’s housing affordability and homelessness crisis without offering detailed policy ideas."


"He criticizes and identifies problems, but with all due respect, doesn’t have the details and the strategies to actually solve them,” said Newsom."


READ MORE related to governor's campaign: Here's why you won't find Gavin Newsom's campaign statement in the California voter guide -- The Tribune's ANDREW SHEELER; Cox really wants to discuss affordability + Morse, McClintock get testy -- Sacramento Bee's BRYAN ANDERSON


California Lottery cops questioned a $2M jackpot. Then they lost their jobs.


Sacramento Bee's ADAM ASHTON: "The California State Lottery has paid more than $500,000 to settle lawsuits filed by two former investigators who claimed they were fired for calling attention to jackpots they believed the lottery improperly awarded to recipients who could not prove they were winners."


"The two ousted lottery cops had flagged a $2 million jackpot in 2015 and a $750,000 prize in 2016 that they argued should not have been paid."


"It was a travesty the way they were both handled,” said Steve Tacchini, a retired San Francisco police captain and former lottery deputy director. A third and related lawsuit from another former investigator is still in play."


Given Duncan Hunter's indictment, is the House race even a contest? For folks in Ramona, the answer is nuanced


LA Times's ROBIN ABCARIAN: "How conservative is Ramona, Calif.?"


"At the Turkey Inn, the town’s oldest watering hole, there’s a portrait of President Trump in a place of honor above the cash register. “We’re just a good, down-home blue-collar bar,” bartender Erin Smidt said. “Lots of vets and military, and lots of people mad at the NFL for not airing the national anthem."


"Across town, at the VFW post, there’s a Jane Fonda target on the men’s urinal."


SF officials running tests on drinking water in Sunset after complaint about pesticides


The Chronicle's KURTIS ALEXANDER: "San Francisco water officials said Monday night they’re testing drinking water in the city’s Sunset District after receiving a report from a customer who said her water “tasted funny."


"Officials with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission said the tests are “out of an abundance of caution” and that they have no evidence of water quality issues."


"But the customer who said she complained, Mel Scardina, told The Chronicle on Monday night hat officials told her they found pesticides in water around the Sunset."


Non-citizens may have been added to voter rolls, DMV says


Sacramento Bee's BRYAN ANDERSON: "An internal audit from the California Department of Motor Vehicles released Monday shows about 1,500 customers may have been improperly registered to vote."


"Approximately 1,500 customers may have been registered to vote in error,” the DMV wrote in a letter Monday to the Secretary of State’s Office. “This error has been corrected and is separate from the processing error we notified you about in writing on September 5.” Non-citizens are among the affected customers, according to Jessica Gonzalez, a DMV spokeswoman."


"In early September, the DMV revealed it sent 23,000 erroneous voter registrations. These additional 1,500 errors occurred when DMV technicians processed customer requests at field offices to change voter eligibility responses on driver license applications."


Benioff comes out strong for homeless initiative, although Salesforce would pay big


The Chronicle's KEVIN FAGAN: "Billionaire Salesforce chief Marc Benioff is going all in on supporting Proposition C, the November ballot measure that would tax the biggest businesses in San Francisco to raise as much as $300 million for homeless programs, pledging what amounts to at least $2 million to help pass the measure."


"The entrance of the cloud software mogul into the campaign — his strongest purely political action to date, and one that could cost his company millions of dollars in new taxes — forcefully highlights the split between the two philosophies surrounding the measure."


"One side, led by the city Chamber of Commerce, says suddenly infusing hundreds of millions of dollars into indigence programs would be fiscally irresponsible and would mostly just attract more homeless people to the city. And the other, led by the San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness and community-based organizations, says a surge of funding toward compassionate programs would dramatically clear the streets."


Civil rights attorneys settle lawsuit accusing court of improperly suspending poor people's driver's licenses


LA Times's ALENE TCHEKMEDYIAN: "Civil rights lawyers have settled a lawsuit accusing the Los Angeles Superior Court of improperly ordering driver’s license suspensions for people who couldn’t afford to pay their traffic ticket fines, saying the court has agreed to notify drivers that they can ask a judge to evaluate their ability to pay."


"Courts were required by law to look at a person’s ability to pay a fine before ordering the suspension of a driver’s license,” said Antionette Dozier, an attorney with the Western Center on Law and Poverty, in a statement. “In Los Angeles, they didn’t follow the law."


California community colleges seek larger Cal Grants to cover students' living costs


EdSource's MIKHAIL ZINSHTEYN: "California’s community college system is advancing a bold plan to overhaul how students in the state receive financial aid."


"The proposal would be expensive, estimated to cost $1.5 billion a year, but would change the rules of the state’s main form of financial aid  — the Cal Grant programs — to allow hundreds of thousands of low- and moderate-income students to receive aid to cover not just tuition but also living expenses like housing and food."


"Under current regulations, most Cal Grant money, which is awarded to over 300,000 students, is used to cover tuition. But for many community college students, especially low-income students who are eligible to receive tuition waivers, living expenses comprise by far the largest share of their college costs. In many cases, these living costs can present an insurmountable barrier to attending college."


READ MORE related to Education: California rural education network launches to help isolated teachers share resources -- EdSource's LEE ROMNEY


State's stem cell funds dwindling


DAVID JENSEN in Capitol Weekly: "The Golden State’s stem cell research program is down to its last $144 million after nearly 14 years of financing searches for therapies for everything ranging from diabetes to bubble baby syndrome."


"Funded with $3 billion in November 2004, California’s stem cell agency has yet to back a therapy that is widely available to the public. Its directors are scheduled to meet on Wednesday to approve plans for what could be the last year for new awards."


"Known formally as the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), the agency was created by voters through a ballot initiative. The measure provided $3 billion in bond support but no additional cash beyond that."


Homeless patients were left on the streets by hospitals. This law could end 'dumping'


Sacramento Bee's CYNTHIA HUBERT: "Spurred by news stories about hospitals “dumping” poor people onto the streets, a new law will soon require health care providers to develop specific policies for safely discharging homeless patients."


"Beginning in July, hospitals must document in writing that shelters have beds for homeless patients before sending them to the facilities. Hospitals also must offer homeless patients a meal, appropriate clothing, medications and transportation upon discharge."


"The Sacramento Bee this year detailed several cases in which hospitals left homeless people in tenuous situations, which helped spur Senate Bill 1152 by Sen. Ed Hernandez, D-West Covina."


Death Row inmate's lawyer pushes for DNA test he says will clear his client


The Chronicle's BOB EGELKO: "A Death Row inmate who claims DNA evidence would clear him of four Southern California murders committed 35 years ago appears to have moved a step closer to testing of his own DNA along with that of another potential suspect."


"A lawyer for inmate Kevin Cooper says a second man, whose girlfriend linked him to the possible murder weapon, has made his own DNA available for testing along with Cooper’s. The lawyer, Norman Hile, also says a confidential witness told him the second man has confessed to the killings that sent Cooper to Death Row."


"The development comes as Cooper and his lawyer await Gov. Jerry Brown’s decision on their request in February 2016 to approve the testing of Cooper’s DNA."


With the midterm election a month away, Trump seeks to keep Republican anger high


LA Times's DAVID LAUTER: "With the midterm election now four weeks away and the fight over Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation receding into the past, President Trump and his party have embarked on an effort to keep conservative anger fresh, even at the potential cost of further alienating some women voters."


"The approach reflects a judgment that with an energized Republican base, the party has a chance now to lock down key races for the Senate, protecting its majority there. If the necessary tactics drive some House races more firmly into Democratic hands — increasing the odds that Republicans lose control of that chamber — that’s a risk the party appears increasingly willing to run."


"On Monday morning, Trump denounced the sexual assault accusations against Kavanaugh as a “hoax that was set up by the Democrats,” and warned that his opponents would try to impeach the newly confirmed justice if they won control of Congress."


READ MORE related to POTUS45: Trump is still losing millions at his golf resorts in Scotland -- LA Times's STEPHANIE BAKER; Trump apologizes to Kavanaugh during swearing-in ceremony -- AP's MARK SHERMAN/JILL COLVIN




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