Top California Democrat resigns after sexual misconduct complaints
Sacramento Bee's ALEXEI KOSEFF: "Facing a sexual misconduct investigation and growing political pressure to step down, Eric Bauman announced Thursday that he would resign as chair of the California Democratic Party."
"I have made the realization that in order for those to whom I may have caused pain and who need to heal, for my own health, and in the best interest of the Party that I love and to which I have dedicated myself for more than 25 years, it is in everyone’s best interest,” Bauman said in a statement."
"It marks a swift downfall for the first openly gay leader of the California Democratic Party, who narrowly won a contentious and controversial race for the chairmanship last year."
READ MORE about Eric Bauman: With Bauman out, state Democrats wrestle with a bigger issue: What gave rise to all the bad behavior? -- LAT's JOHN MYERS , PHIL WILLON and TARYN LUNA; One lesson from Bauman’s resignation? #MeToo isn’t going away -- LAUREL ROSENHALL, CALmatters.
CA120: Republicans picked a bad time to stop winning elections
Capitol Weekly's PAUL MITCHELL: "The 2018 election should have been a breeze for California Republicans. But three simultaneous forces, all moving toward Democrats, blew those prospects away."
"While one might think things can only get better for the GOP, there are some serious short- and mid-term obstacles to their recovery."
"The first force in 2018 was the outcome in 2016."
California's late votes broke big for Democrats. Here's why GOP was surprised
The Chronicle's JOHN WILDERMUTH/TAL KOPAN: "California Democrats took advantage of seemingly minor changes in a 2016 law to score their stunningly successful midterm election results, providing a target for GOP unhappiness that is tinged with a bit of admiration."
"Some Republicans have cast a skeptical eye on Democrats’ use of “ballot harvesting” to boost their support. The idea’s backers say it’s just one of several steps California has taken to enable more people to vote."
"Few people noticed when Gov. Jerry Brown signed the changes in AB1921 into law two years ago. In the past, California allowed only relatives or people living in the same household to drop off mail ballots for another voter. The new law allowed anyone, even a paid political campaign worker, to collect and return ballots — “harvesting” them, in political slang."
Workers at most California businesses soon will have retirement plan options
Sacramento Bee's ADAM ASHTON: "A new state-sponsored savings plan let Lorenzo Harris offer his workers something he’s long wanted to give them: A way to sock away money for retirement."
"This program will help us compete in the marketplace,” said Harris, who has led Janico Building Services of North Highlands for the past 33 years."
"His company is the first in the state to enroll in CalSavers, a program that will become mandatory over the next few years for private-sector businesses that are not already offering their own retirement savings plans."
State legislator calls for resignation of bullet train chairman
LA Times's RALPH VARTABEDIAN: "A key Democratic legislator called Thursday for the immediate resignation of the chairman of the California bullet train project, the most powerful reaction yet to a scathing audit of the $77-billion high-speed rail program that is far behind schedule and over budget."
"Assembly Transportation Chairman Jim Frazier said California High Speed Rail Authority Chairman Dan Richard should step down after a hearing on the audit, which asserts the state wasted billions of dollars because of poor management."
READ MORE related to Transportation: Sticker shock -- The Chronicle's RACHEL SWAN; Large I-5 sinkhole forces lane closures downtown, as repair crews scramble -- Sacramento Bee's TONY BIZJAK and MICHAEL MCGOUGH
California lawmakers move to ban flavored tobacco
The Tribune's ANDREW SHEELER: "Six California lawmakers will push for a ban on the sale of flavored e-cigarettes, as well as other flavored tobacco products, in order to curb the usage of those products by young people."
"Sens. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, Steve Glazer, D-Orinda, Anthony J. Portantino, D-La Cañada Flintridge, Connie Leyva, D-Chino and Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, as well as Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, announced Thursday that they plan to introduce a bill banning the sale of such products when the California Legislature convenes next week."
"In addition to banning the sale of flavored tobacco products, the bill also would impose age verification requirements for the online sale of tobacco products, “prompted by new federal figures showing a sharp rise in e-cigarette use by youths, a jump in use of the flavored e-cigarettes by high school students and an increase in underage use of tobacco products overall,” according to a joint statement from the lawmakers."
Historic voter turnout in California fueled by anti-Trump sentiment
Sacramento Bee's BRYAN ANDERSON: "Californians showed up to vote in historic numbers this fall, with the state likely to post its highest turnout for a non-presidential election in nearly four decades."
"Turnout is expected to be around 64 percent this year among those who were registered to vote — the highest rate in a midterm general election since 1982, when 69.8 percent of registered voters showed up to decide hotly contested races for governor and U.S. Senate."
"And as the final votes are tallied in the next few days, the results will show about half of those eligible to vote cast a ballot in November. That could be the highest percentage in a non-presidential election since Ronald Reagan was elected to a second term as governor in 1970."
SF getting a $415 million windfall. How will the mayor and supes spend it?
The Chronicle's TRISHA THADANI: "San Francisco is getting an unexpected $415 million windfall, and the mayor and supervisors already have plenty of ideas on how they might use it."
More than half the money, which is coming from excess revenue in a county education fund, must go to budget reserves, the Municipal Transportation Agency, public libraries, tree maintenance, public schools and child care and youth services under rules set by the City Charter."
"Left over will be $181 million that Mayor London Breed and the Board of Supervisors may spend."
Regulators back tough PG&E probe after fires; protesters demand 'Justice for Paradise'
The Chronicle's J.D. MORRIS: "California regulators gave broad support Thursday for expanding a safety investigation into Pacific Gas and Electric Co. to include recent wildfires, as protesters demanded that the utility be held responsible for the disasters."
"The comments from leaders of the California Public Utilities Commission came after their meeting in San Francisco was disrupted by more than 30 activists who blamed PG&E for the recent Camp Fire in Butte County and last year’s North Bay firestorm."
"Demonstrators unfurled a large red banner and other signs echoing their calls for a government takeover of PG&E and for state officials not to rescue the embattled utility financially. PG&E could face billions of dollars in liability if its equipment is deemed responsible for sparking the Camp Fire."
Fire, then floods: Evacuations and road closures
From ROBIN EPLEY at the Chico Enterprise-Record: "Exactly three weeks after the Camp Fire flattened the town of Paradise, floods Thursday afternoon caused road closures and evacuations in the same area that burned."
"Lower Butte Creek Canyon was evacuated because of rising water, Highway 99 was closed south of Chico for a couple of hours, and the Chico Police Department issued a flash flood alert for southeast Chico, east of Bruce Road from Chico Canyon Road to Skyway."
"Nearly 100 cars were trapped for at least an hour on Honey Run Road, as two separate debris flows and flooding blocked cars from evacuating safely. At one point, officials from the Butte County Sheriff’s Office confirmed the backup was two miles long. Paradise, at one point, received more than an inch of rain in an hour."
Paradise police are patrolling a city that no longer exists, with tears and resolve
LA Times's CINDY CHANG: "Policing a town empty of people and absent of crime was never part of Officer Perry Walters’ training."
"Before fire leveled the town of Paradise, Calif., the calls that crackled over Walters’ radio were familiar to every American cop — domestic violence, disturbing the peace, drugs, burglary, vandalism."
READ MORE related to Camp Fire Calamity: Deputy's body cam captures harrowing escape from deadly NorCal fire -- LA Times's RONG-GONG LIN II/PAIGE ST JOHN
Rain triggers debris flows as storm rolls across fire-scarred regions of California
LA Times's HANNAH FRY/ALENE TCHEKMEDYIAN: "A cold front that brought wind and heavy rain to California on Thursday unleashed debris flows in fire-ravaged neighborhoods, triggering evacuations and school closures as crews up and down the state rescued people trapped in homes and cars and, in one case, a man clinging to a tree in the Los Angeles River."
"In Southern California, the storm dumped a significant amount of moisture on the Holy fire burn area, where a mixture of fast-moving mud and branches tore down a creek in Trabuco Canyon. Other flows powered through Lake Elsinore — where crews rescued an elderly man who was stuck in Rice Canyon and removed two feet of mud from the garage of someone’s home — and closed a portion of Temescal Canyon Road in Corona."
Oakland police monitor finds officers used force without reporting it
The Chronicle's KIMBERLY VEKLEROV: "The independent monitor overseeing reforms in the Oakland Police Department found additional evidence that officers pointed their guns at suspects or used force on them without reporting their actions as required."
"Court-appointed monitor Robert Warshaw said that in a sampling of cases he reviewed, all uses of force by police officers were warranted and in line with department policy. It was the lack of reporting their actions that violated the rules, he wrote in a court filing this week."
"His findings could ultimately call into question Oakland’s celebrated drop in police use-of-force. According to the department, incidents fell 75 percent from 2012 to 2017. Warshaw’s probe into the numbers is ongoing."
READ MORE related to Prisons & Public Safety: SF's Hall of Justice evacuated after 'incendiary device' ignites; arrest made -- The Chronicle's EVAN SERNOFFSKY
'You don't bulldoze people.' California highway homeless camps grow dangerous
Sacramento Bee's ERIN TRACY/ADAM ASHTON: "In tears, LaTonya West begged to dive into a trash compactor and search for the purse she believed a Caltrans employee had just tossed into the machine."
"West, homeless for the past 15 years, knew that losing her handbag would be a severe setback. She’d need weeks or months to get a new credit card and build the kind of cash she’d kept with her. She pressed a Caltrans supervisor leading a cleanup of the roadside camp in Berkeley where West lived that June afternoon."
"I asked him, ‘Please, it has everything I need,’” she remembered. “He looked so sad. He said, ‘It’s too late.’ I was in tears and I said, ‘That’s a shame."
Trump admin is preparing to extend troops' stay on the border
LA Times's DAVID S CLOUD: "Pentagon officials are considering whether to keep U.S. troops along the southwest border an additional 45 days, potentially extending a controversial mission to assist the Border Patrol into next year, U.S. officials said."
"The 5,800 troops now deployed in California, Arizona and Texas are scheduled to depart Dec. 15. But the Department of Homeland Security, parent agency of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, has opened discussions with the Pentagon about delaying their departure until late January, according to an official who was not authorized to speak on the record."