The Roundup

Feb 12, 2018

State probes Aetna

California Department of Insurance opens investigation into Aetna

The Chronicle's TRISHA THADANI
: "The California Department of Insurance opened an investigation into Aetna after a doctor formerly employed by the insurer made an admission under oath: He never looked at patients’ records before deciding to approve or deny care as a medical director."


"The investigation, reported by CNN, was opened after former Southern California medical director Dr. Jay Ken Iinuma said he relied on information from nurses when deciding to approve or deny a case — rather than looking at the records himself."


"California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones told CNN that his office is looking into how common the practice of defaulting to nurses’ reviews and recommendations is within Aetna, the third-largest insurance supplier in the U.S."


Oroville Dam: One year after crisis, distrust lingers, big questions remain


Chico ER's RISA JOHNSON: "Today marks one year since water spilled down the Oroville Dam emergency spillway for the first time in history, spelling near-disaster for nearly 188,000 residents downstream."


"As erosion on that unlined hillside intensified on Feb. 12, water headed upward toward the concrete weir and there was fear that uncontrollable releases from the reservoir behind it would come crashing down on the cities below. Residents were given just one hour to evacuate that afternoon."


"One year later, distrust in the state Department of Water Resources remains prevalent in the community. Some hope the department improves on the transparency front and takes critics more seriously. For others, the damage seems irreversible."


READ MORE related to Energy & EnvironmentHow has spillway affected Oroville's economy? -- Chico ER's LAURA URSENYHydrogen truck explosion prompts evacuations in Diamond Bar -- SGV Tribune's BRIAN DAYMinute by minute: What if Oroville Dam's spillway had failed one year ago? -- Sacramento Bee's NATHANIEL LEVINESF moves to build water system to fight fires when the worst hits -- The Chronicle's DOMINIC FRACASSACalifornians voted to spend billions on more water storage. But state government keeps sitting on the cash -- LA Times' GEORGE SKELTONHow microplastics are contaminating seabirds in remote regions of Alaska -- Oceans Deeply's YERETH ROSEN


ICE arrests of 'noncriminal' immigrants double under Trump


WaPo's NICK MIROFF/MARIA SACCHETTI: "A week after he won the election, President Donald Trump promised that his administration would round up millions of immigrant gang members and drug dealers. And after he took office, arrests by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers surged 40 percent."


"Officials at the agency commonly known as ICE praise Trump for putting teeth back into immigration enforcement, and they say their agency continues to prioritize national security threats and violent criminals, much as the Obama administration did."


"But as ICE officers get wider latitude to determine whom they detain, the biggest jump in arrests has been of immigrants with no criminal convictions. The agency made 37,734 “noncriminal” arrests in the government’s 2017 fiscal year, more than twice the number in the previous year. The category includes suspects facing possible charges as well as those without criminal records."


READ MORE related to Immigration: White House floats an offer to keep legal immigration at 1 million per year instead of cutting it -- Tribune's BRIAN BENNETT


Legislators struggle to deal with colleagues accused of sex harassment


CalMatters' LAUREL ROSENHALL: "Under investigation for sexual harassment — including allegations that he invited a young staffer to come home with him — state Sen. Tony Mendoza agreed on Jan. 3 to take a monthlong leave of absence from the California Legislature."


"But a week later, the Democrat from Artesia (Los Angeles County) showed up in the Capitol and lingered until the leader of the Senate told him to leave. Mendoza instead returned to his district and resumed routine duties: He presented resolutions to community groups, spoke at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day event and escorted high school seniors on a district tour. His staff even sent out emails recruiting interns for the spring semester."


"Mendoza’s behavior showed he had “no decency and little respect for the institution,” state Senate Pro Tem Kevin de León said last month. Even so, the Senate refused to use its constitutional authority to formally suspend him."


Police raid San Diego cannabis dispensaries, owner's El Cajon home


Union-Tribune's PAULINE REPARD: "San Diego police raided two dispensaries this month, in the Midway district and in North Park where two cannabis rights advocates protested and used a bullhorn to warn those inside of their rights."


"A woman with the bullhorn also jeered at the officers, calling them “thieves” for having guns drawn when they entered Patient First Choice dispensary in an alley off University and Arnold avenues."


"Officers on the narcotics unit served warrants at the dispensary and the owner’s El Cajon home, off Greenfield Drive, about 7 a.m. Thursday, police Lt. Matt Novak said in a statement."


READ MORE related to Cannabis: Should veterans be allowed to use medical cannabis for post-combat stress? -- LA Times' DAVID S. CLOUD; For legal cannabis, some new wrinkles: older users -- Union-Tribune's PETER ROWE; Cannabis will be "way bigger" than craft beer, Lagunitas Brewing founder tells cannabis industry leaders -- The Cannabist's ALICIA WALLACE; OP-ED: Cannabis is now legal in California. Continuing to punish prior offenders is cruel and unnecessary -- LA Times EDITORIAL BOARD; Relaxation reaches new high: Legal weed in California gives ganja yoga a boost -- Sacramento Bee's MICHAEL MCGOUGH; San Francisco allows pot-smoking lounges. Is Sacramento next? -- Sacramento Bee's BRAD BRANAN


After Las Vegas massacre, Congress has failed to act on 'bump stocks.' But states and cities are taking the lead


LA Times' KURTIS LEE: "For once, a mass shooting seemed to create a bipartisan consensus — rare in the polarized debate over gun control — that something had to change."


"In the days after a gunman killed 58 people at an outdoor country music festival on the Las Vegas Strip in October, members of Congress set their sights on "bump stocks," devices that allow a semiautomatic firearm to mimic a fully automatic one."


"Lawmakers called for more regulation of bump stocks and even outright bans. They vowed — Democrats and Republicans alike — to make the issue a legislative priority."


Break for ex-Panther who sued Oakland: Jury didn't hear about other dustups


The Chronicle's MATIER & ROSS: "The knockdown of Elaine Brown by Oakland City Councilwoman Desley Brooks that resulted in a $3.77 million jury verdict against the city wasn’t the first time the former Black Panther leader charged she was the victim of an unprovoked assault."


"Two years before the 2015 dustup with Brooks at a barbecue restaurant, Brown claimed she was knocked to the floor by a valet at the Waterfront Hotel in Jack London Square. Although Brown demanded a six-figure settlement from the hotel, the valet and a witness indicated that she was as much the aggressor as the victim — the valet said she called him a “little bitch,” and the witness said Brown called her a “white bitch."


"Brown also cut loose with a string of profanities at California Highway Patrol officers six months after the hotel incident, when they arrested her on suspicion of driving under the influence after she steered her car into the mudflats on the east side of the Bay Bridge, the CHP said."


Butte County supervisors look at online home rental rules


Chico ER's STEVE SCHOONOVER: "Proposed regulations on online renting of homes or rooms to vacationers will get a first look by the Butte County Board of Supervisors Tuesday."


"Online services like Airbnb, VRBO, HomeAway and similar companies have created a market where people can rent out their homes or rooms in their homes for short periods."


"While this is a source of income for the property owner, it can create noise, traffic and other problems for neighbors. Such operations also don’t pay the transient occupancy tax assessed on people staying in commercial lodgings."


READ MORE related to Economy: Disneyland announces an opening date for its new Pixar Pier -- OC Register's MARLA JO FISHER; Many Chinas, many tables -- The Chronicle


Getting homeless people off California streets is tough. One lawmaker has an idea.


Sacramento Bee's ANGELA HART: "As housing costs soar across California, homelessness is increasing – especially in big cities – while it has shrunk in most of the nation."


"The problem, seemingly intractable, must be addressed statewide, rather than just city-by-city, to make a real dent in the number of people sleeping on the streets, says San Francisco Assemblyman David Chiu."


"Chiu is making a major push this year for legislation and funding to build housing, measure public dollars spent by cities and counties to combat homelessness, and collect data on services used such as emergency room visits and shelter stays."


READ MORE related to Housing & Homelessness: State lawmakers want to restore an urban renewal and affordable housing program. But it's complicated -- LA Times' LIAM DILLON


What if we all plant lawn signs telling speeders to slow down? City considers campaign


Sacramento Bee's TONY BIZJAK: "Lawn signs are popular for political campaigns. But how about signs in front yards citywide telling drivers to slow down?"


"City officials say they are considering a campaign to do just that."


"It’s not such a far-fetched idea. Some residents already put signs out front with messages like “Slow, Children Playing,” and “Drive like you live here,” and even “Drive Like Your Pets Live Here."


READ MORE related to Transportation: Here's the 'artful' way Sacramento is covering bad paint jobs on light rail trains -- Sacramento Bee's TONY BIZJAK; Remember $4-a-gallon gas? Get ready to say 'ouch' -- Sacramento Bee's MARK GLOVER; With Waymo settlement, Uber CEO clears the way for company's future -- The Chronicle's CAROLYN SAID


The unlikely activist

The Chronicle's SARAH RAVANI
: "Sitting in her home last summer, Dolores Piper picked up a pair of scissors and cut the red tape wrapped around a paper bag labeled “South San Francisco Police."


"She had received the package months earlier and left it untouched in a closet. Just opening it and seeing the contents, she knew, would send her flashing back to the worst night of her life. But it couldn’t wait any longer."


"Piper reached inside and pulled out a pair of tattered red shorts. She placed them on her dining table. Reaching in again, she retrieved a pair of underwear stained with blood."


Student who took viral video of teacher rant recognized by grateful veterans in San Pedro


Daily Breeze's DONNA LITTLEJOHN: "A crowd of supporters turned out Saturday to pay tribute to Victor Quinonez, the 17-year-old senior at El Rancho High School in Pico Rivera who captured his teacher’s profanity-laced classroom rant against the military on a secretly recorded video that went viral."


"American Legion Post 61 presented a certificate of recognition in a sunset ceremony on board the Battleship Iowa in San Pedro."


"A humble Quinonez said he appreciated the recognition. “It means the world to me because I’ve always seen these veterans as my heroes, and now that they’re telling me they see me as their hero, I feel very honored,” he said."


READ MORE related to Education: Racially charged science project prompts review of Sacramento's elite academic programs -- Sacramento Bee's DIANA LAMBERT/ANITA CHABRIA


NY AG sues Weinstein Co. for civil rights 'violations,' throwing sale into question


LA Times' RYAN FAUGHNDER: "A $500-million deal to sell Harvey Weinstein's troubled old studio to former Obama administration official Maria Contreras-Sweet hit a major roadblock this weekend after the New York attorney general's office expressed serious concerns about the sale."


"New York Atty. Gen. Eric Schneiderman on Sunday sued the Weinstein Co. and its co-founders, Harvey Weinstein and Bob Weinstein, for "egregious violations of New York's civil rights, human rights and business laws," the attorney general's office said in a statement."


"The Weinstein Co. repeatedly broke New York law by failing to protect its employees from pervasive sexual harassment, intimidation and discrimination," Schneiderman said in a statement. "Any sale of The Weinstein Co. must ensure that victims will be compensated, employees will be protected going forward, and that neither perpetrators nor enablers will be unjustly enriched. Every New Yorker has a right to a workplace free of sexual harassment, intimidation and fear."


His West Wing rattled, Trump casts doubt on aide's exit


AP's JONATHAN LEMIRE: "President Donald Trump on Saturday seemed to frame the downfall of a pivotal aide accused of abusing his wives as a character assassination, adding to the tumult that has engulfed the White House, splintered the staff and imperiled chief of staff John Kelly's hold on his position."


"Trump vented in a tweet that appeared to take aim at the rising #MeToo movement about sexual abuse and echoed his own denials of sexual impropriety in the face of accusations from more than a dozen women."


"Peoples lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation," Trump wrote. "Some are true and some are false. Some are old and some are new. There is no recovery for someone falsely accused - life and career are gone. Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?"


READ MORE related to POTUS45/KremlinGate: White House response reflects obstacles facing abused women -- AP's JULIET LINDERMAN; Who is Rachel Brand, and how does her resignation affect Mueller's Russia investigation? -- NBC News' STEVE VLADECK


Russian airliner crashes moments after takeoff, killing 71


AP's JIM HEINTZ: "A Russian airliner that had just taken off from the country's second-busiest airport crashed Sunday, killing all 71 people aboard and scattering jagged chunks of wreckage across a snowy field outside Moscow."


"The pilots of the An-148 regional jet did not report any problems before the twin-engine aircraft plunged into the field about 40 kilometers (25 miles) from Domodedovo Airport, authorities said."


"The Saratov Airlines flight disappeared from radar just minutes after departure for the city of Orsk, some 1,500 kilometers (1,000 miles) to the southeast."

Ed's Note: The Roundup is compiled by Associate Editor Geoff Howard. Comments? Complaints? Suggestions? Email him at

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