Can't live with Trump, can't live without him: California Republicans' challenging future
From the LAT's CHRISTINE MAI-DUC: "Still smarting from historic losses in the November “blue wave,” Orange County Republicans gathered last month to consider a new leader and direction for the state party."
"Though President Trump wasn’t the topic of discussion in the Costa Mesa hotel ballroom where they met, he was likely not far from anyone’s mind."
"All they want to tell us in the Republican establishment is you need to look and sound more like a California Democrat — to be a ‘Republican Light’ — to get elected in California. Is that true?” shouted former Assemblyman Travis Allen, an ardent Trump supporter running for California Republican Party chairman, before a chorus of “No!” filled the room."
LAPD chief defends Metro division after controversy over stops of black drivers
LA Times's CINDY CHANG/BEN POSTON/JOEL RUBIN: "Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore defended his elite Metropolitan Division officers at a law enforcement conference Thursday, saying they were not engaged in racial profiling despite a Times investigation showing that they pulled over a disproportionate number of black drivers."
"He also said he will meet with community leaders, some of whom have called for Metro to pull out of South Los Angeles, to reassure them that officers are abiding by the Constitution and that the LAPD is committed to youth programs and other ways of preventing crime."
"There is a conversation … that the current presentation of data we are talking about is having a terribly corrosive effect on people of color, particularly African Americans, and that concerns me as a chief,” Moore said during an address to law enforcement leaders at the Los Angeles event."
How Democrats hope to protect California flood money if Trump declares a national emergency
Sacramento Bee's EMILY CADEI: "With another potential government shutdown on the horizon, President Donald Trump remains coy about whether he’ll declare a national emergency to fund the border wall he promised during his 2016 campaign."
"This week, he told reporters that he could use that power and divert money from the Army Corps of Engineers. Democrats worry that could mean taking money away from ongoing projects in Northern California, like raising Folsom Dam."
"Trump insisted in remarks to reporters on Wednesday that even if the White House takes money from the Army Corps, “it’s not going to affect other projects."
READ MORE related to California Water Wars: Californians with bad water ask for help while opposition mounts to Newsom's proposed tax -- Sacramento Bee's MADDY ASHMUN
Cal Fire says PG&E doesn't have to remove all trees above its lines
The Chronicle's BOB EGELKO : "State fire officials have told the federal judge overseeing Pacific Gas and Electric Co.’s criminal probation that California law requires the utility to remove all tree limbs that may topple onto a power line during times of high fire danger — but does not mandate removal of all overhanging trees or limbs, as the judge contended."
"Asked by U.S. District Judge William Alsup to interpret the law that it enforces, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire, said in a filing Wednesday that electric companies, during fire season, are required to cut down all trees or limbs that are within 4 feet of some power lines and within 10 feet of others, depending on the voltage in the line. In addition, Cal Fire said the law requires removal of any trees or limbs that “may come into contact with lines."
"That provision applies to trees that have been weakened by decay or disease and any other trees or limbs that are leaning toward a power line or may fall on it, Cal Fire’s lawyers said. The requirement includes healthy trees that, in the “professional judgment” of competent inspectors, may topple onto a line in high winds, but it does not go so far as to require “trimming or removing every healthy limb that hangs over a power line,” Cal Fire said."
READ MORE related to Energy & Environment: Democrats seek Green New Deal to address climate change -- AP's MATTHEW DALY
SDG&E turns in its wildfire plan for 2019 — and it's different than other power companies in California
From BOB NIKOLEWSKI in the Union-Tribune: "As required by a new state law, San Diego Gas & Electric has filed plans to reduce wildfires for this year with the California Public Utilities Commission, the body that oversees privately owned public power companies in the state."
"But while the state’s other two investor-owned utilities — Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas & Electric — turned in wildfire mitigation plans that called for dramatic changes this year in the way they combat the growing danger of deadly blazes, the SDG&E plan did not."
"That, a power company analyst said, was because SDG&E has already spent more than $1 billion — funded by ratepayers — in measures to make sure a repeat of the 2007 wildfires that ripped through the San Diego area does not happen again."
CW Podcast: Bob Wieckowski on PG&E’s bankruptcy peril
From Capitol Weekly: "State Sen. Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont, is more than just the senator representing California’s 10th Senate District."
"He’s also a bankruptcy lawyer, giving him an unusual insight into Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s recent bankruptcy declaration. And he also crosses paths with PG&E — and other utilities and energy producers — by virtue of his position as chair of the key Senate budget subcommittee that deals with energy and resources, among other topics."
Border security deal seems near, easing shutdown concerns
AP's ALAN FRAM/ANDREW TAYLOR: "Congressional bargainers seem close to clinching a border security agreement that would avert a fresh government shutdown, with leaders of both parties voicing optimism and the top GOP negotiator saying he believes President Donald Trump would back the emerging accord."
"It could take days to nail down final details and unexpected problems could develop, especially with Trump's penchant for head-snapping changes of mind. Even so, participants said a handshake could come any day on a spending package for physical barriers along the Southwest border and other security measures that would end a confrontation that has dominated the opening weeks of divided government."
"The president was urging me to try to conclude these negotiations and this is the most positive meeting I've had in a long time," lead GOP bargainer Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama told reporters after discussing the parameters of the potential pact with Trump in the Oval Office."
CA bill would force phone companies to crack down on and put an end to robocalling
Sacramento Bee's ANDREW SHEELER: "A California lawmaker has submitted a bill that would require telecommunications companies to crack down on “neighbor spoofing” robocalls that are designed to appear as a local caller."
"Senate Bill 208, sponsored by Sen. Ben Hueso, D-San Diego, gives telecom companies until July 1, 2020, “to take the steps necessary to stop these illegal scams."
"It also calls on the California Public Utilities Commission and the California Attorney General’s Office to collaborate in punishing companies that fail to stop the calls, according to a statement from Hueso’s office."
SF picks up $44.5M in federal funding to help homeless
The Chronicle's KEVIN FAGAN: "San Francisco received more money than any other California county except Los Angeles in this year’s round of federal homeless funding grants, and much of that will go toward dozens of programs to house people permanently."
"The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded San Francisco more than $44.5 million this year, up from $41.5 million last year."
"In all, the nine-county Bay Area scored $149 million in homelessness grants, which are announced in January and are the single biggest disbursement of funding for homelessness from the federal government. Alameda County and its major cities got $33.6 million, the second most in the region."
READ MORE related to Housing & Homelessness: Bay Area housing prices push low-income minorities farther out, study finds -- The Chronicle's KIMBERLY VEKLEROV
Former Rep. John Dingell has passed away at the age of 92, enjoying the privilege of being the longest-serving US lawmaker whose career spanned nearly six decades.
The Chronicle's MIKE HOUSEHOLDER/DAVID EGGERT: "Former U.S. Rep. John Dingell, the longest-serving member of Congress in American history who mastered legislative deal-making and was fiercely protective of Detroit’s auto industry, has died. The Michigan Democrat was 92."
"Dingell, who served in the U.S. House for 59 years before retiring in 2014, died Thursday at his home in Dearborn, said his wife, Rep. Debbie Dingell."
"Dubbed Big John for his imposing 6-foot-3 frame and sometimes intimidating manner, a reputation bolstered by the wild game heads decorating his Washington office, Dingell served with every president from Dwight D. Eisenhower to Barack Obama."
Bezos accuses Nat. Enquirer of extortion over intimate photos
WaPo's PAUL FARHI/SARAH ELLISON/DEVLIN BARRET: "Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos said Thursday that he was the target of an extortion and blackmail effort by the National Enquirer, which he accused of threatening to publish intimate pictures of him unless he backed off an investigation of the tabloid."
"In an extraordinary post to the online publishing platform Medium, Bezos said the Enquirer and its parent company, American Media Inc., made the threat after he began investigating how the tabloid obtained text messages that revealed his relationship with former TV anchor Lauren Sanchez."
Whitaker agrees to testify before Congress, ending standoff
WaPo's KAROUN DEMIRJIAN/DEVLIN BARRETT: "The House Judiciary Committee chairman said late Thursday that a standoff with the acting attorney general had ended in an agreement for Matthew Whitaker to testify publicly Friday, setting up a potentially dramatic confrontation over President Trump and the special counsel investigation into the 2016 campaign."
"Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) announced on Twitter on Thursday evening that Whitaker "will appear tomorrow morning at 9:30 am," capping a dramatic daylong standoff over whether Whitaker would scrap his appearance entirely over the Democrats' threat to subpoena him."
"Whitaker had said earlier Thursday that he would not appear before the committee as scheduled unless committee Democrats gave him assurances he won't be subpoenaed."