Hackers attacked California DMV voter registration system marred by bugs, glitches
From the LAT's JOHN MYERS: "California has launched few government projects with higher stakes than its ambitious 2018 program for registering millions of new voters at the Department of Motor Vehicles, an effort with the potential to shape elections for years to come."
"Yet six days before the scheduled launch of the DMV’s new “motor voter” system last April, state computer security officials noticed something ominous: The department’s computer network was trying to connect to internet servers in Croatia."
“This is pretty typical of a compromised device phoning home,” a California Department of Technology official wrote in an April 10, 2018, email obtained by The Times. “My Latin is a bit rusty, but I think Croatia translates to Hacker Heaven.”
PG&E now faces criminal probe in Camp Fire, victims' lawyer says
The Chronicle's DALE KASLER: "In what could be a significant new legal headache for PG&E, a lawyer representing wildfire victims said Tuesday that the utility is being investigated for possible criminal conduct in the start of the Camp Fire, which killed 85 people and destroyed much of the town of Paradise."
"Addressing a bankruptcy court hearing on PG&E’s plans to pay an estimated $235 million in employee bonuses, wildfire victims’ attorney Dario de Ghetaldi said a Butte County grand jury is probing the Camp Fire, the most destructive wildfire in California history. Potential liabilities from the fire have already driven the utility into bankruptcy."
"He offered no further details but told a reporter the probe is in its early stages. PG&E declined to comment, and Deputy District Attorney Curt Worley had no comment either. Butte authorities declined to prosecute PG&E following a minor fire in 2017, instead cutting a deal that called for the utility to spend $1.5 million on fire safety programs."
Making history: Our first online census
LISA RENNER in Capitol Weekly: "Most of us are already doing a lot of business online, from ordering products to banking to even filing our taxes. Now we will be asked to do one more task over the Internet — fill out a U.S. census survey."
"The next census, the all-important survey conducted every 10 years and next scheduled in April 2020, will be the first to be conducted largely online. People who choose not to will be able to respond over the phone or by mail."
"The goal of conducting online is to save money and increase participation. These days people are increasingly reluctant to answer surveys and the cost of collecting their data is rising. The Census Bureau estimated that moving the survey online will save an estimated $5.2 billion compared with the 2010 census survey methods. Every person who fills out the survey online eliminates the need for a census worker to contact them and follow up on the phone or in person."
Lori Loughlin, 15 others indicted on new charges in college admissions scandal
From the LAT's MATTHEW ORMSETH, JOEL RUBIN AND RICHARD WINTON: "Actress Lori Loughlin and 15 other parents implicated in the college admissions scandal have been indicted on charges of money laundering and fraud conspiracy, federal prosecutors said Tuesday."
"The indictments unsealed Tuesday do not preclude deals for the holdouts. But unlike the parents who agreed to plead guilty a day earlier, members of the group indicted Tuesday — which also includes Loughlin’s husband, designer J. Mossimo Giannulli, financier Douglas Hodge and Hot Pockets heiress Michelle Janavs — now face two charges: fraud conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy."
How a tiny California school district sparked calls for a charter crackdown
CALMatters' RICARDO CANO in Capitol Weekly: "One was a charter school operator desperate for authorization after years of rejection by multiple school districts. The other was a teeny district in the rural high desert, hemorrhaging students, facing insolvency and in dire need of revenue."
"The Albert Einstein Academy of Letters, Arts and Sciences and the Acton-Agua Dulce Unified School District at the northern edge of Los Angeles County answered each other’s prayers in 2013 when they partnered. In a novel use of California’s charter school rules, the district agreed to oversee Albert Einstein’s elementary charter school even though it sat far outside Acton-Agua Dulce’s geographical boundary, and was inside the attendance area of another district that had already denied an Einstein petition."
"In return, Acton-Agua Dulce collected oversight fees of 3.5% of the school’s revenue, a formula that officials quickly replicated with more charter authorizations. By 2015-16, the district had approved and was collecting fees from a whole stable of charters, netting an additional $1.9 million in revenue."
3 million Californians might have to go back to the DMV after ID failure
Sacramento Bee's BRYAN ANDERSON/ALYSSA HODENFIELD: "More than 3 million Californians who obtained new identification cards to comply with a federal mandate might have to return to the Department of Motor Vehicles because the state did not adhere to Homeland Security guidelines when it developed the program."
"The Department of Homeland Security on Monday sent Gov. Gavin Newsom a letter notifying him that the DMV failed to require Californians to provide adequate verification of their residences when they sought so-called Real ID cards."
"The letter says that Californians with Real ID cards must provide more information to the DMV."
Unusual help for domestic violence survivors
JESSICA HICE in Capitol Weekly: "When Nilda Valmores was growing up, her grandmother explained she would be a “good Filipino wife” if she accepted how a future husband treated her."
"Even if he slapped me, cheated on me or whatever; I would have to just be quiet and pray. That was her experience, but I told her that it would not be mine,” she said."
"This is an issue that does not discriminate against gender, race, language or age. I’m personally fortunate that my husband, my dad, and my three brothers have been good, respectful men,” Valmores said. But she knows not everyone experiences this."
Police oppose it, but California use-of-force bill advances
Sacramento Bee's HANNAH WILEY: "Mothers, brothers, sisters and friends of police shooting victims showed up at the Capitol on Tuesday — wearing t-shirts with their loved ones’ names, their organizations’ slogans and “Let us Live” hats — to tearfully share their stories and send a message to California lawmakers: Pass Assembly Bill 392."
"Police know the magic words. ‘I fear for my life,’” said one mother whose son was shot and killed by police."
"This was my son who was executed in Stockton, California,” another woman cried out, holding up a photo of her child."
Judge delays ruling on PG&E's bonus plan
The Chronicle's J.D. MORRIS: "Pacific Gas and Electric Co.’s bankruptcy judge on Tuesday put the brakes on the company’s plan to pay $235 million or more in bonuses to 10,000 employees this year."
"U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Dennis Montali decided at a hearing in San Francisco to delay ruling on PG&E’s proposed cash payments, which were strongly opposed by lawyers representing wildfire victims."
"Montali asked PG&E to come back April 23 prepared to deliver witness testimony to better explain the company’s complicated short-term incentive program. PG&E and an employee union with some members who get the payments have contended they are a normal part of workers’ expected compensation, and an attorney for the company said at the hearing that there has recently been higher than normal attrition at all levels of the utility."
California state audit uncovers cheating workers
Sacramento Bee's ANDREW SHEELER: "California state employers cost the state tens of thousands of dollars in wasted funds by leaving work early, misusing leave time and in one case literally sleeping on the job."
"That’s the finding of a new report from California State Auditor Elaine Howle, which examined more than 800 whistleblower complaints between July and December of 2018."
"The auditor found that 30 employees, in eight departments, cost the state an estimated $150,000 in taxpayer money."
California coffers to swell when billion-dollar firms premiere on Wall Street
The Chronicle's CAROLYN SAID: "California’s boom-and-bust budget could soon get a big boost as companies worth billions of dollars rush onto the public markets, bringing huge tax gains for their home state."
"It will be a very impressive (initial public offering) cycle — in absolute dollar values, possibly the largest California has seen,” said Kevin Klowden, executive director of the California Center at the Milken Institute, a think tank."
"All the newly minted California millionaires and billionaires from the likes of Uber, Lyft, Pinterest, Slack, Palantir and Postmates will generate a windfall; taxes are usually due when employees vest stock awards, sell shares or exercise options."
Twitter reacts to Nunes' McClatchy lawsuit
Sacramento Bee's MICHAEL MCGOUGH: "The morning after U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes announced that he is suing McClatchy, alleging defamation in a lawsuit focusing on the social media reach of the Sacramento, California, company’s publications and reporters, tens of thousands of users are criticizing Nunes via the social media platform Nunes is suing in a separate suit."
"Nunes’ 43-page lawsuit alleged that headlines about a 2016 lawsuit against a Napa Valley winery called Alpha Omega — in which Nunes is an investor — were “part of a scheme to defame Nunes."
"McClatchy operates 30 newsrooms across the nation, including The Fresno Bee and its sister Bee papers in Sacramento and in Modesto."
Sacramento council unanimously approves soccer deal, gets immediate praise from MLS
Sacramento Bee's TONY BIZJAK: "Is Sacramento finally about to become a Major League Soccer city?"
"That question could be answered as early as next week in Los Angeles, when the MLS board of governors meets behind closed doors to discuss adding another franchise to the fast-growing league."
"In an 11th-hour move to improve its chances of being chosen, Sacramento tossed a $33 million deal-sweetener into the mix: The Sacramento City Council voted 7-0 Tuesday night to approve an incentive package to help a local investment group build streets and other infrastructure around a privately financed $252 million soccer stadium in the downtown railyard."
Gov. Newsom promotes tourism to Central America
Sacramento Bee's SOPHIA BOLLAG: "Americans often associate El Salvador with gang violence and migrant caravans. But California Gov. Gavin Newsom says he wants more people to identify the country with something sunnier: surfing."
"El Salvador’s beaches have some of the best waves in the world, a group of Salvadoran entrepreneurs and officials told Newsom during a round table discussion Tuesday."
"They say they want to make the country a tourist destination. And Newsom told them he wants to help."
OP-ED: While Newsom learns about asylum seekers, Trump tries to crack down
The Chronicle's EDITORIAL BOARD:"Gov. Gavin Newsom is spending his first international trip in El Salvador, exploring the reasons why Central American migrants are fleeing their home countries. California has the largest population of Salvadorans in the nation."
"Newsom is getting a crash course in El Salvador’s recent history as well as learning the basics about why migrants are so determined to leave a country plagued by gang violence, climate change, and extortion. He’s also offering a clear counter to President Trump’s ever-hostile immigration actions."
"The one area that California should do more is on immigration policy,” Newsom said on the first day of his visit. “We have a unique responsibility and an opportunity to advance a different conversation."
Uber, Lyft safety in spotlight after student's slaying
The Chronicle's CAROLYN SAID: "A deadly mix-up that led to a college student’s murder has catalyzed a movement asking Uber and Lyft to strengthen safety precautions ensuring riders get in the correct car."
"A Twitter campaign using the hashtag #WhatsMyName urges riders to make sure drivers know who they are, using the first names provided by ride-hailing apps for matched drivers and passengers to identify each other. A related petition that had generated more than 190,000 signatures on Change.org by Tuesday proposes that ride-hailing companies add scannable codes to their apps for stronger verification."
"At the same time, a Los Angeles resident’s bad experience when Lyft offered her a mere $5 credit after a driver harassed her is going viral on Twitter."
NAACP's Amos Brown blasts effort to shut down SF juvenile hall
The Chronicle's JILL TUCKER/TRISHA THADANI: "An effort to shut down San Francisco’s juvenile hall ran into unexpected opposition as it was introduced Tuesday, with the head of the local NAACP lambasting the plan as “pure politics."
"Six San Francisco supervisors introduced the legislation that would close the mostly empty facility within three years and create community-based alternatives, including lockdown environments for youths who require a secure placement."
"But the Rev. Amos Brown, president of the San Francisco chapter of the NAACP, called the idea a “knee-jerk political move,” and decried the fact that the supervisors didn’t engage more community members when crafting the measure."