Federal-state split over cameras in courtrooms
The Chronicle's BOB EGELKO: "California’s Supreme Court has been televising its hearings for years, hoping to make the sometimes-obscure legal process more accessible to the public. So have the high courts of Canada, Great Britain and Brazil, and the largest U.S. appeals court, the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco."
"The public tuning in and learning about the workings of the court, I think that’s essential,” former California Chief Justice Ronald George said in a recent interview."
"The U.S. Supreme Court, on the other hand, forbids all cameras — still or live — on the grounds that they might encourage grandstanding by the participants and “sound bite” coverage by TV networks. As then-newly appointed Chief Justice John Roberts put it in 2006, “We don't have oral arguments to show the public how we function. We have them to learn about a particular case in a particular way."
UC outsources thousands of jobs to private contractors. Is that a good idea?
LA Times's MARGOT ROOSEVELT: "Maria Torres loves her job."
"A surgical technologist at UCLA’s Santa Monica medical center, the 54-year-old mother of two makes sure operating rooms are sterile, protecting patients against wayward germs. She assists physicians as they repair hernias, operate on cataracts and fix injured knees. She comforts the fearful. She coaches medical students on how to scrub their hands."
"And, after 13 years on the job, Torres makes a decent wage: $29.72 an hour plus benefits. “It’s amazing to work at such a prestigious place,” she says. “When I got hired there, I was so proud."
DMV wants $2.2M to register voters ahead of 2020 election
Sacramento Bee's BRYAN ANDERSON: "California’s Department of Motor Vehicles is asking lawmakers for a budget boost of $2.2 million to help it register voters ahead of the state’s March 3, 2020 primary."
"It’s a fairly small sum, but it follows a $242 million increase in the DMV’s budget that Gov. Gavin Newsom granted the department in June."
"Lawmakers and Newsom allocated more money for the department because it is handling a crunch of customers seeking so-called Real ID cards that Californians will need by October 2020 to board airplanes without a passport. The DMV’s total budget this year is $1.36 billion."
Newsom blocks parole for man convicted of 1989 Santa Cruz County murder
Sacramento Bee's SOPHIA BOLLAG: "Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday blocked parole for a man convicted of a 1989 murder in Santa Cruz County, arguing the convicted killer is still dangerous."
"The man, Lance Badgett, admitted he and his brother plotted to kill and dismember their friend, Michael Palmer, to prevent him from outing them to authorities. Then-19-year-old Badgett and his brother, John, were hiding out in California with Palmer, trying to evade Texas authorities who had warrants for the brothers’ arrest."
"Badgett shot Palmer in the head and his brother dismembered the body, according to Newsom’s office."
California banned plastic bags. So why do stores keep using them?
The Chronicle's DUSTIN GARDINER: "Three years ago, California voters upheld a state law prohibiting single-use plastic grocery bags. Environmentalists declared victory. Business groups cried government overreach."
"But for all the furor, shopping bags made from plastic film remain commonplace in checkout lines across the state."
"Supporters say the law’s impact has been a proverbial mixed bag: While the number of plastic bags used in the state has decreased by as much as 80%, the “ban” is far from sweeping."
Power shutoffs kept downed trees and limbs from creating fire risk 190 times, PG&E says
Sacramento Bee's WES VENTEICHER: "If PG&E hadn’t shut off power in Northern California in late October, downed trees and limbs likely would have caused sparking on power lines 190 times, according to a Friday court filing from the utility."
"The filing provides a new data point as the utility defends its decisions to enact the wide-ranging, disruptive shutoffs on windy and dry days last month against harsh criticism from Gov. Gavin Newsom and lawmakcccers."
"In response to questions from a federal judge, PG&E reviewed damage to its lines after the shutoffs of Oct. 23, 26 and 29. The shutoffs each affected from 178,000 to 970,000 customers and thousands of miles of power lines from tche Sierra foothills to the North Bay."
Flipping Orange County was key for Democrats. Now the trick is to keep it
The Chronicle's JOE GAROFOLI: "Harley Rouda knows it took a little luck, a wacky opponent and a wave election for the 57-year-old Democrat to be elected to Congress last year in one of Orange County’s most reliably Republican districts."
"Democrats here aren’t waiting around for any of that to happen again. They are registering voters at a furious pace to try to keep their historic flip of four Orange County congressional seats from being a one-hit wonder, and to help Democrats nationally hang onto control of the House that they took back from Republicans in 2018."
"The result: There are now nearly 12,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans in Orange County. It’s a slim advantage in a county of 3.1 million people, but it’s the first time Democrats have held a lead of any size in 41 years."
Just how selective have UC schools become? Top students feel the pressure
The Chronicle's NANETTE ASIMOV: "Madeline Bedwell’s dad went to UC Berkeley. Her mom attended UC Santa Barbara. Her uncle graduated from two UC schools, including UC Davis Law School."
"But even with that history, Madeline, 17 — a flute player with A-minus grades at San Francisco’s Ruth Asawa School of the Arts — faces more daunting odds than her parents did of getting into either of their schools or the three other University of California campuses she’s just applied to."
"You know, at the time my husband and I went to UC schools, if you had good grades, you went to a UC school — and you thought your kids would go there,” said Madeline’s mom, Joanne Bedwell, a physical therapist in San Francisco. “But as we’ve gotten closer to this process, we’ve learned how competitive it’s gotten. Today, I would have never gotten into UC Santa Barbara."
Here's what your community will get if you vote for Sacramento's transportation sales tax
Sacramento Bee's TONY BIZJAK: "City and county leaders in Sacramento are in the midst of debating a sales tax measure for the November 2020 ballot that would fund a long list of projects transportation projects, from freeway interchanges and bridges to sidewalks near schools."
"Measure A could raise more than $8 billion through a half-cent sales tax over the next 40 years."
"The decision to place a measure on the ballot will be made next year by the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors, if the project list is approved in coming weeks by the Sacramento Transportation Authority board. The STA board is made up of council members from cities around the county as well as members of the county board of supervisors."
SF Bay dredging fuels an unexpected concern: climate change
The Chronicle's KURTIS ALEXANDER: "What began as an unremarkable bid to deepen a shipping channel in San Francisco Bay, making it easier for cargo vessels to come and go, has become a flash point in the debate over climate change."
"Environmental groups are blasting plans by the Army Corps of Engineers to dredge 13 miles of waterways inside the Golden Gate because the work would benefit ships delivering oil to East Bay refineries."
"At a recent public meeting, more than 100 people packed a library in Pinole to voice their concerns that the proposal would encourage the oil industry to expand, hastening greenhouse gas emissions and global warming. A petition delivered to the Army Corps with 20,000 signatures seeks to “stop Trump from dredging San Francisco Bay."
What caused record-breaking 'bomb cyclone' storm to explode in California?
JOHN LINDSEY in Sacramento Bee: "Meteorologists often express air pressure in units called millibars."
"The standard atmospheric pressure is 1,013.25 millibars or 29.92 inches of mercury at sea level. Depending on the surrounding atmospheric conditions, levels above this may be considered areas of high pressure."
"High pressure usually produces clear and dry weather. On the flip side, depending on the surrounding atmospheric conditions, levels below standard atmosphere are areas of low pressure."
Oakland police commissioner in dustup at son's school; City Hall takes notice
The Chronicle's PHIL MATIER: "Oakland Police Commissioner Ginale Harris found herself being confronted by San Francisco police after allegedly forcing her way into her son’s school and calling the director a “devil” and “slave owner."
"But the episode didn’t end there. It also drew the attention of officials at Oakland City Hall."
"The incident occurred on Nov. 14 at 3:53 p.m., when phone calls from the Mission Preparatory School on York Street prompted about a half-dozen officers from Mission Station to converge on the public charter school."
Impeachment inquiry enters new phase. Will the White House take part?
LA Times's LAURA KING: " President Trump this week faces a dilemma central to the impeachment inquiry against him."
"He could opt to have his legal team take part in the next phase, a move that some of the president’s backers warn would grant the impeachment proceedings greater legitimacy. Or the White House could continue to reject any involvement, potentially allowing key elements of a Democratic-crafted narrative of official misconduct by the president to go largely unchallenged."
"An early indication of Trump’s leanings came Sunday evening, when the White House said it would not take part in the first public hearing this week by the House Judiciary Committee. In the longer term, whichever course the president chooses will carry risks for both sides in historic proceedings that have so far broken down almost exclusively along partisan lines."