Democrats' spending list needs to be 'whittled down,' Gavin Newsom says
Sacramento Bee's SOPHIA BOLLAG/ALEXEI KOSEFF: "California lawmakers had been in session for just 24 hours by midday Tuesday, and majority Democrats had already proposed tens of billions of dollars in new state spending."
"As Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom made the rounds at the Capitol, he had a message for them: No."
“All of this will be whittled down and we all will live within our means,” he told The Sacramento Bee as he left a meeting with Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins. “We’re not going to deviate from being fiscally prudent."
Kamala Harris aide resigns after harassment, retaliation settlement surfaces
Sacramento Bee's ALEXEI KOSEFF: "A longtime top staff member of U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris resigned Wednesday after The Sacramento Bee inquired about a $400,000 harassment and retaliation settlement resulting from his time working for Harris at the California Department of Justice."
"Larry Wallace, who served as the director of the Division of Law Enforcement under then-Attorney General Harris, was accused by his former executive assistant in December 2016 of “gender harassment” and other demeaning behavior, including frequently asking her to crawl under his desk to change the paper in his printer."
"The lawsuit was filed on Dec. 30, 2016, when Harris was still attorney general but preparing to be sworn in as California’s newly elected Democratic senator. It was settled less than five months later, in May 2017, by Xavier Becerra, who was appointed to replace her as attorney general."
Early primary ratchets up the pressure
Capitol Weekly's CHUCK MCFADDEN: "Because it’s set an earlier date for primary election voting, California is now destined to play a more important role in 2020’s presidential campaigns. Candidates who ignore that new fact of political life will “get their asses kicked,” says one of the state’s top political consultants."
"People in California are voting on the morning of the Iowa caucuses,” added campaign strategist Ace Smith."
"Moving the 2020 primary election to March 3 – for years, it’s been in June — means presidential hopefuls must now be cranked up and visible in California in 2019. The primary also will feature races for the state’s congressional districts."
Alex Villanueva, the county's new top cop, has been quietly fighting for a political win for decades
LA Times's MAYA LAU/MARISA GERBER: "Alex Villanueva has long known the feeling of not fitting in."
"He ran from bullies as a young boy in New York, before moving to Puerto Rico where he quickly had to learn Spanish. He would walk to school along sugar cane fields there, reading books the whole way."
"As a deputy in the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, he was ridiculed for writing a report accusing his bosses of discriminating against Latinos."
With 11 names left, search for wildfire missing winds down
AP's JANIE HAR/PAUL ELIAS: "The search for people unaccounted for after the deadliest U.S. wildfire in at least a century is winding down in Northern California, with just 11 names left on a fluctuating list that once approached 1,300 and prompted fears that hundreds had died in the flames."
"The declining number released late Monday came as a relief in the Paradise area as it reels from the wildfire that killed at least 85 people and destroyed nearly 14,000 homes."
"Families, friends and even long-ago acquaintances have been peppering social media with pleas for help finding people. Sometimes they had no more than a first name to work with."
READ MORE related to Camp Fire Calamity: Will Camp Fire refugees reignite Sacramento's slumping home sales market? -- Sacramento Bee's TONY BIZJAK; Carr 'firenado' in Redding was just the second recorded event of its kind, scientists, say -- Sacramento Bee's HANNAH DARDEN; Search dogs and archaeologists look for cremated remains amid a wildfire's debris - LA Times's DAVID MONTERO; 150 minutes of hell -- The Chronicle's LIZZIE JOHNSON; FEMA: $33M approved for Camp Fire survivors in Butte County -- The Chronicle's LAUREN HERNANDEZ
He's a US soldier deployed on the southern border -- and an unlawful immigrant
WaPo's ALEX HORTON: "The U.S. soldier was ready to deploy across the world at a moment’s notice, but when the orders came down weeks ago to mobilize on the southern border, it sparked a flash of concern."
"He knew the mission was in support of border agents combing harsh borderland terrain to arrest anyone unlawfully in the country."
"People like him."
California high court signals possible agreement with state on worker pension rollback
The Chronicle's BOB EGELKO: "Confronting a public pension system with rising deficits, the California Supreme Court seemed inclined Wednesday to approve some legislative reductions in future retirement benefits for hundreds of thousands of state and local government workers, but not the far-reaching cuts backed by Gov. Jerry Brown."
"The justices heard arguments in Los Angeles on the right of public employees to buy additional retirement credits while still employed. A 2004 state law allowed employees with at least five years of service to purchase up to five years of additional credits — commonly labeled “airtime” — before retiring. Under this plan, a 20-year worker could qualify for a pension based on 25 years of contributions. Legislation signed by Brown repealed that law in 2013."
"The issue before the court was whether the repeal applied to employees who had been hired before 2013. A union of 6,000 state firefighters, backed by other labor organizations, argued that workers still on the job had a right to pension benefits that were in effect when they were hired or were added during their employment."
Grand jury investigating USC gynecologist accused of sexually abusing hundreds of patients
LA Times's HARRIET RYAN/MATT HAMILTON: "Los Angeles County prosecutors have convened a grand jury to hear evidence about Dr. George Tyndall, the USC gynecologist accused of sexually abusing hundreds of patients during three decades at a campus health clinic, according to two sources familiar with the case."
"The panel began calling witnesses last month, the sources told The Times. On Wednesday, reporters observed the sex crimes prosecutor overseeing the Tyndall investigation in conversation with clinic employees outside the grand jury room in a downtown Los Angeles criminal courthouse. One of the clinic employees was summoned into the grand jury room for more than 90 minutes while others were told to return later to testify."
"The prosecutor, Deputy Dist. Atty. Reinhold Mueller Jr., declined to comment on the grand jury, but confirmed that he and two other prosecutors were assigned to the case."
SF auto break-ins: UC study finds police foot patrols helped decrease larceny crimes
The Chronicle's EVAN SARNOFFSKY: "The San Francisco Police Department’s recent strategy to reassign dozens of officers to neighborhood foot beats has contributed to a significant decline in thefts and assaults, a new study released Wednesday found."
"The report by UC Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy found that daily incidents in San Francisco of larceny theft — which include vehicle break-ins — dropped nearly 17 percent, and assaults dropped 19 percent in the months after Chief Bill Scott reassigned 69 officers to foot patrols on Sept. 1, 2017."
"The strategy nearly doubled the number of officers walking neighborhood beats. Many are deployed to property crime hot spots that include tourist attractions where out-of-town visitors time and again fall victim to teams of stealthy thieves."
Muni driver shortage almost twice as bad as officials stated, city analysis says
The Chronicle's RACHEL SWAN: "The driver shortage in San Francisco’s bus and rail system is nearly twice as bad as officials claimed during a crippling summer slowdown, according to a report released Wednesday."
"The city’s budget and legislative analyst revealed the new number during a tense Board of Supervisors hearing to determine reasons for the driver deficit, which has caused delays and overcrowding. While San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency chief Ed Reiskin focused on the difficulty of recruiting and training employees, Muni operators pointed to low pay and dangerous working conditions that chase people out of the job."
"If I were looking for a job today, I wouldn’t come to Muni,” said cable car operator Greg Ellis. “It’s dangerous, the pay is no good and if there’s a fight on the bus, you’re expected to intervene. Then you’re disciplined for intervening."
New push underway to expand preschool for low-income children in California
EdSource's ZAIDEE STAVELY: "Even before California’s next governor takes office, the pressure is already mounting for him to follow through on campaign promises to improve access to preschool for the state’s 4-year-olds."
"Governor-elect Gavin Newsom made expansion of early education programs a major part of his campaign, but what form that will take will become clearer when he releases his proposed budget for the next fiscal year in January."
"Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, a longtime advocate for early education, introduced three bills this week to expand preschool programs, improve preschool facilities and increase reimbursement rates for preschool teachers."
Saudi-funded lobbyist paid for 500 rooms at Trump's hotel after 2016 election
WaPo's DASVID A FAHRENTHOLD/JONATHAN O'CONNELL: "Lobbyists representing the Saudi government reserved blocks of rooms at President Trump’s Washington, D.C., hotel within a month of Trump’s election in 2016 — paying for an estimated 500 nights at the luxury hotel in just three months, according to organizers of the trips and documents obtained by The Washington Post."
"At the time, these lobbyists were reserving large numbers of D.C.-area hotel rooms as part of an unorthodox campaign that offered U.S. military veterans a free trip to Washington — then sent them to Capitol Hill to lobby against a law the Saudis opposed, according to veterans and organizers."
"At first, lobbyists for the Saudis put the veterans up in Northern Virginia. Then, in December 2016, they switched most of their business to the Trump International Hotel in downtown Washington. In all, the lobbyists spent more than $270,000 to house six groups of visiting veterans at the Trump hotel, which Trump still owns."