Cutting the juice

Feb 7, 2019

PG&E expands power shut-off plan: All electric customers could be impacted 


From the Chronicle's J.D. MORRIS and PETER FIMRITE: "Any of Pacific Gas and Electric Co.’s more than 5 million electric customers could have their power shut off during dangerously dry and windy weather as part of an expanded wildfire prevention program the utility outlined Wednesday."


"PG&E stressed that it is not considering shutting off power to all customers at once and said people who live in high-risk fire areas are still the most likely to be subject to an intentional outage. But because PG&E’s new wildfire prevention plan envisions more than quadrupling the miles of power lines eligible for planned blackouts during extreme weather conditions, many more people could be affected, the utility said."


"PG&E was required to submit the plan to the California Public Utilities Commission because of SB901, a law passed last year in response to the state’s 2017 wildfires, many of which were caused by the utility’s equipment. The commission must still publicly review and approve the fire prevention plan — and the plans of the other utilities that had to submit one — but a PG&E spokeswoman said the work the document highlights is ongoing."


READ MORE related to Energy & EnvironmentGas line explodes in SF, sends people running for their lives -- The Chronicle's GWENDOLYN WU/LAUREN HERNANDEZ/DOMINIC FRACASSAPG&E safety record in dispute in probation case -- The Chronicle's BOB EGELKO;  California revels in a rare wet winter, and more storms are in the forecast -- LA Times's JAVIER PANZAR/RONG-GONG LIN IICalifornia wildfires: Get ready for bigger, broader PG&E blackouts this summer -- Sacramento Bee's DALE KASLER


Most Californians like Gov. Newsom's $209B budget proposal, survey says


Sacramento Bee's SOPHIA BOLLAG: "Most Californians support Gov. Gavin Newsom’s first budget proposal, especially his plans to increase funding for early childhood and higher education, according to a survey by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California."


"The survey found seven in 10 California adults support the $209 billion spending plan Newsom unveiled last month. It represents his opening proposal for negotiations with the Legislature that will continue through June, the deadline for them to reach a deal."


"His education proposals were especially popular, with more than three-fourths of respondents favoring his plans for children and college students."


California voters optimistic about state's direction, but not America's


The Chronicle's JOE GAROFOLI: "Most California voters approve of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s budget priorities, believe he’ll work well with the Legislature and are optimistic about the state’s overall direction, according to a new poll."


"That flash of enthusiasm is the opposite of what they feel about the rest of the country, according to the survey released Wednesday by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California."


"Two-thirds of likely voters surveyed say the country is on the wrong track, 47 percent say race relations in the U.S. are worse than they were a year ago and only 18 percent believe the new Congress and President Trump “will be able to work together and accomplish a lot in the next year” — the lowest level the institute has recorded on that question in 12 years of polling."


$185M windfall wasn't enough -- so SF Supes increase pot by $52M


The Chronicle's TRISHA THADANI: "Apparently, a $185 million windfall wasn’t enough to address San Francisco’s problems. So on Wednesday, the Board of Supervisors’ Budget and Finance Committee grew the pot by plucking $52 million from the city’s rainy-day reserves, which are usually saved for a recession."


"If approved, the $52 million will create the Teacher and Early Care Educator Unappropriated Emergency Reserve Fund for teacher and early child care worker salaries through 2021."


"The additional spending is in an amendment, authored by Supervisor Gordon Mar, to a supervisors’ proposal to divvy up the windfall among homeless services, housing, energy independence and teacher salaries. The committee passed it unanimously and will hold a special meeting Monday to vote on the entire proposal."


Trump says Gov. Newsom 'agrees with me' on California forest problems


The Chronicle's ALEXEI KOSEFF: "President Trump asserted Wednesday that Gov. Gavin Newsom agrees with his belief that California has not done enough to prevent severe wildfires."


"Speaking to a group of regional newspaper reporters in the Oval Office, Trump said Newsom had recently called him and “he was very nice. He was extremely nice."


"He was very respectful as to my point of view. I think he agrees with me,” Trump said. “I respect the fact that he called. The forests are, because of whatever reason, are extraordinarily flammable, to put it mildly."


SF officials undaunted by Trump admin move to stop safe-injection site in Philadelphia


The Chronicle's BOB EGELKO: "The Trump administration is going to court to stop a safe-injection site from opening in Philadelphia, saying it would violate federal drug laws — the same action it has threatened to take against San Francisco, which plans to open one or more spaces offering clean needles, syringes, medical care and counseling to drug users."


"The proponents of the injection site share our goal of ending this terrible (opioid) epidemic,” U.S. Attorney William McSwain said Wednesday in announcing the suit against a nonprofit that plans to open the Philadelphia injection site. “But allowing private citizens to break long-established federal drug laws passed by Congress is not an acceptable path forward."


"The suit relies on a federal law that makes it a felony, punishable by up to 20 years in prison, fines and forfeiture of the property, to knowingly operate a “place for the purpose of unlawfully manufacturing, distributing, or using a controlled substance.” Passed at a time of rising crack cocaine use in inner cities, it was aimed at private drug houses, and no court has yet ruled on whether it applies to government-supervised sites aimed at reducing drug addiction."


OP-ED: Alzheimer's funding just first step to aid aging population


JEANNEE PARKER MARTIN in Capitol Weekly: "By including $3 million in annual funding for Alzheimer’s research in the budget, Gov. Gavin Newsom showed he is willing to take action on issues important to California’s fast-growing aging population. Still, the move is only the beginning of what must be a much larger effort to keep pace with our older population’s future needs."


"California’s older adult population is expected to nearly double, growing 90 percent, or by four million people, by 2030. While 14 percent of the state’s population today is over 65, the California Department of Finance projects the proportion to grow to 25 percent by 2050, putting immense strain on personal, private and public resources."


"This rapid growth underscores the need to plan for the proper, dignified care and services that an older population will require. As Gov. Newsom declared on the campaign trail, it’s time for a Master Plan on Aging to guide California responsibly into the future."


BART, Amtrak assess building new shared transbay crossing


The Chronicle's PHIL MATIER: "BART and Amtrak are teaming up on assessing the possibility of building a second Bay Area crossing, one that would give passengers a “one-seat” ride on the Capitol Corridor train from downtown San Francisco to Sacramento."


"That’s the hope,” said David Kutrosky, managing director of the Capitol Corridor."


"The idea would be to run two sets of tracks across the bay, either through a tube or on a bridge."


Do charter schools harm traditional public schools? Gov. Newsom wants to find out


LA Times's HOWARD BLUME: "In the wake of the Los Angeles teachers’ strike, California Gov. Gavin Newsom has joined a push for a review of how charter schools could be causing financial problems for traditional school systems."


"He has asked state Supt. of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond to convene an expert panel, with a report due by July 1."


"As Governor Newsom stated in his first budget proposal, rising charter school enrollments in some urban districts are having real impacts on those districts’ ability to provide essential support and services for their students,” spokesman Brian Ferguson said in a statement."


READ MORE related to Education: SCUSD teachers ask state school chiefs to investigate district, superintendent -- Sacramento Bee's SAWSAN MORRAR/VINCENT MOLESKI


Garcetti orders LAPD to scale back vehicle stops amid concerns over black drivers being targeted


LA Times's CINDY CHANG/BEN POSTON: "Mayor Eric Garcetti has ordered Los Angeles police to scale back on vehicle stops in response to an investigation by the Los Angeles Times showing that an elite unit was pulling over a disproportionate number of African Americans."


"In a written statement Wednesday, Garcetti said he is “deeply concerned” about The Times’ findings that Metropolitan Division officers stop black drivers at a rate more than five times their share of the population."


"Pointing to decreases in homicides and violent crimes last year, Garcetti said that progress in fighting crime needs to come with gains in public trust. He said that reducing vehicle stops, which are perceived by some black residents as racially discriminatory, in favor of other policing techniques will help to build that trust."


READ MORE related to Prisons & Public Safety: 'No more Stephon Clarks:' Lawmakers revive bill to prosecute officers who use deadly force -- Sacramento Bee's HANNAH WILEY; It's a crime to refuse to help the police in California. This bill could change that. -- Sacramento Bee's ANDREW SHEELER


Democrats set their House agenda with investigations into Trump and new legislation


LA Times's JENNIFER HABERKORN/SARAH D WIRE: "A day after the State of the Union address, House Democrats responded Wednesday by launching a counter-agenda, including a series of investigations into the Trump administration and legislation they hope will send a compelling message to voters ahead of the 2020 election."


"Democrats this week will hold nearly half a dozen investigative hearings into Trump administration officials and programs, and convene even more panels to discuss policy issues such as climate change, universal background checks for gun purchases and campaign finance reform — all partisan initiatives."


READ MORE related to National: Democrats mute calls for Va. resignations with power at risk -- AP's ALAN SUDERMAN/NICHOLAS RICCARDI

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