Cal Fire said Tubbs Fire wasn't caused by PG&E. Victims win the right to sue utility anyway
Sacramento Bee's DALE KASLER: "Victims of the deadly Tubbs Fire in 2017 won the right to pursue lawsuits against PG&E Corp. on Friday in spite of state investigators’ declaration that the utility wasn’t to blame for the fire."
"Bankruptcy Judge Dennis Montali gave Tubbs victims’ lawyers the green light to take PG&E to court, arguing that the amount PG&E owes those victims must be resolved before the PG&E bankruptcy can be settled. PG&E has said it owes all wildfire victims about $30 billion."
"Montali’s ruling is a victory for Tubbs’ victims lawyers and a setback for PG&E, which had argued that a trial in state Superior Court on the Tubbs disaster would drag on endlessly and hinder PG&E’s ability to exit bankruptcy by next June. That’s the deadline set by the Legislature to allow PG&E to participate in a state-run “wildfire insurance fund” that would pay claims for future fires. Normally the company’s bankruptcy filing would prevent the victims from pursing their lawsuit."
READ MORE related to Energy & Environment: 'Radical' tree trimming: Critics say PG&E's rush to stop fires may hurt California forests -- The Chronicle's KURTIS ALEXANDER; Bears, elk, sharks crown landmark wildlife surge -- The Chronicle's TOM STIENSTRA; New maps show how little is left of West Coast estuaries -- The Chronicle's PETER FIMRITE; Power shutoffs could prevent wildfires, but at what cost to the elderly and disabled? -- LA Times's TARYN LUNA; Polluted weapons sites are home to wildlife, but some question if they're safe enough for humans -- AP
The latest casualty of Trump's trade war with China? California wine
LA Times's MARGOT ROOSEVELT: "Hank Wetzel’s vineyards stretch to the horizon, a swath of green straddling Sonoma County’s Russian River, farmed by generations of Wetzels for half a century."
"It is a long way from Shanghai."
"Nonetheless, seated outside his tasting room on a recent morning, the 68-year-old patriarch of Alexander Valley Vineyards was scrolling through photos from China on his tablet: A shot of his booth at a giant Shanghai trade show, thronged with customers. Another of Chinese restaurateurs sampling wines at a $1,000 dinner he hosted. And several of the pandas at Shanghai’s zoo."
California to Trump: See you in court, with a barrage of lawsuits
The Chronicle's BOB EGELKO: "Xavier Becerra was appointed California’s attorney general in the same month that Donald Trump was sworn in as president. While Trump has devoted considerable time since then to denouncing politicians and judges in California, Becerra has been taking him to court. Repeatedly."
"The former Democratic congressman, elected to a new four-year term in November as the state’s top law enforcement officer, filed his 55th and 56th suits against the Trump administration last week, according to his office’s tabulation. Becerra’s latest challenges to Trump targeted his repeal of President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan and Trump’s new “public charge” immigration policy."
"In his 2½ years in office, Becerra has filed more suits against Trump than any other state attorney general, averaging nearly two per month. Some focus on California concerns, like the state’s strong standards for auto emissions, while others have a nationwide reach, like the rights of pregnant women or transgender soldiers."
Bernie Sanders to hold rally in downtown Sacramento this week
Sacramento Bee's ELAINE CHEN: "Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders will be holding a rally in downtown Sacramento this Thursday, according to an event posting on his campaign website."
"The rally, which will be held in Cesar Chavez Park, is free and open to members of the public, who can RSVP on Sanders’ campaign website. Entry for the rally will start at 4:30 p.m., and the rally will begin at 6 p.m."
"Sanders will be coming from Iowa, where presidential candidates have spent the past few weeks generating support for the February Iowa caucus."
Trump can be beaten, top fundraiser tells Dems, so 'stop wringing your hands'
The Chronicle's JOE GAROFOLI: "Stephanie Schriock is seeing a “shift in the psyche of the Democratic Party” as she travels across the country as president of Emily’s List, the fundraising powerhouse devoted to electing pro-choice Democratic women."
"She hears Democrats fretting that they’re going to lose the 2020 presidential race, even after they flipped the GOP-held House in 2018."
"I hear people saying, ‘OK, 2018 went really well for us, but we’re going to screw this (the 2020 presidential race) up. Trump’s going to win. It’s a disaster,’” Schriock said Friday in San Francisco."
Audit: 60 former Sacramento city staffers may have kept using city fuel after jobs ended
Sacramento Bee's THERESA CLIFT: "Nearly 60 former city of Sacramento employees may have used their old employee ID credentials to fuel up after leaving their jobs with the city, costing the city more than $30,000, a city audit found."
"The audit, released Thursday, found that people used nearly 60 different employee ID numbers or badges to obtain a total of 10,860 gallons of fuel."
"The highest number of badges were used from former police and Youth, Parks and Community Enrichment employees, 18 from each department, the audit found."
How to get extra Social Security benefits if you're married and of a certain age
The Chronicle's KATHLEEN PENDER: "When Alan Waltner retired this year and started figuring out when to take Social Security, he was surprised to learn that he could still take advantage of a strategy — sometimes called a loophole — that Congress closed a few years ago to people born after 1953."
"Waltner was an attorney; his wife is still working as a doctor. She’s 68, he’ll be 67 later this year. The San Francisco couple had been planning to follow the “conventional wisdom,” for those who can afford it, of waiting to take retirement benefits until they each turned 70. That’s the age at which benefits stop growing if you haven’t taken them, Waltner said."
"They changed their minds when they found out Waltner could begin collecting a spousal benefit based on his wife’s earnings now, while letting his own benefit continue growing 8% a year until age 70, at which point he can switch to his own benefit. The only catch is that his wife had to begin collecting her own benefit now, rather than letting it grow until she turns 70."
Slavery's descendants say a reparations check won't make the pain go away
LA Times's TYRONE BEASON: "Five years before the first shots of the Civil War rang out from the harbor here in 1861, alderman Thomas Ryan and a business partner opened Ryan’s Mart at No. 6 Chalmers St."
"Their merchandise was slaves: African men, women and children who were prodded, picked over and auctioned off to the highest bidders."
"The finest adult males could fetch up to $1,600 apiece —$49,000 in today’s dollars. The most able-bodied women could sell for $1,400."
Trump likens buying Greenland to 'a large real estate deal'
AP: "President Donald Trump said Sunday the idea of buying Greenland from Denmark has been discussed within his administration because of the strategic benefits for the U.S. and suggested that the semi-autonomous territory is a financial burden to Denmark."
"Surprise and confusion greeted a Wall Street Journal report last Thursday that Trump has been raising the subject of buying Greenland in recent weeks. Officials in Greenland have said it's not for sale and Trump allowed Sunday that it's not a priority of his administration."
"It's just something we've talked about," Trump told reporters when asked about the idea. "Denmark essentially owns it. We're very good allies with Denmark. We've protected Denmark like we protect large portions of the world, so the concept came up."