How PG&E's historic blackouts will put California's medical emergency planning to the test
Sacramento Bee's CATHIE ANDERSON: "Health care providers and officials around Northern California said that PG&E’s electrical grid shutdown, expected to trigger blackouts in 34 of 58 counties on Wednesday, will test on a grand scale whether residents and medical care facilities have done enough to planning for medical emergencies."
"Placer County is expected to be impacted by the public safety power shutoff event,” said Michael Romero, a program manager with that county’s Health & Human Services Department. “More than 50,000 meters, which could be up to 150,000 residents, could be impacted. Obviously, we’re very concerned with the impact."
"Romero urged residents to formulate a plan for to ensure their health needs would be met. That ranges from keeping food and water on hand to ensuring ensuring you know how to manually open your garage to ordering an additional oxygen tank for a loved one who’s dependent on the equipment, he said."
READ MORE related to Energy/Scheduled Blackouts: Unprecedented power outages begin in California as winds bring critical fire danger -- LA Times's JOSEPH SERNA/JACLYN COSGROVE/PATRICK MCGREEVY; Where PG&E may cut power to over 800,000 in California this week -- Sacramento Bee's MICHAEL MCGOUGH; NorCal braces for widespread PG&E blackouts. Here's what you need to know -- Sacramento Bee's TONY BIZJAK/DARRELL SMITH/MICHAL MCGOUGH; Why PG&E's mass powerdown could last several days -- The Chronicle's JD MORRIS; Flustered residents scramble to prepare for PG&E shut-off -- The Chronicle's JILL TUCKER/JOHN KING
Highway projects could lose gas tax funding as Newsom shifts money to mass transit
Sacramento Bee's BRYAN ANDERSON: "California Gov. Gavin Newsom is directing some money collected through gasoline taxes away from road repairs in favor of rail projects, according to a 200-page proposal from the state’s transportation department."
"Under an executive order Newsom signed last month, Caltrans must “reduce congestion through innovative strategies designed to encourage people to shift from cars to other modes of transportation."
"The plan Caltrans released last week includes money generated through Senate Bill 1 — a 2017 state law allowing California to raise gas taxes for 10 years in order to fund transportation projects."
READ MORE related to Transportation: Selling DMV appointments is now illegal under new law signed by Newsom -- Sacramento Bee's BRYAN ANDERSON; Moving Uber and Lyft at SFO created chaos -- at first. Can LAX avoid it? -- LA Times's LAURA J NELSON
Business interests adjust as Dem supermajorities rule
OPINION: ANTHONY SAMSON/CHRIS MICHELI in Capitol Weekly: "The California Legislature is currently more progressive than ever before, and the business community is adjusting its strategy in Sacramento accordingly. California has long been home to an extraordinarily active Legislature that routinely passes laws with significant and far-reaching impacts on businesses throughout the state, as well as national and international businesses, most of which have an economic interest in the world’s fifth-largest economy."
"And, many of these laws are trendsetters because they impact other states and the national policy agenda, and often serve as the basis for “copy-cat” legislation in those other states or in Congress. Influencing the way in which California legislation is crafted is therefore often an effective way of influencing the policy agenda nationwide."
"For this reason, the business community simply cannot afford to avoid this massive state."
California prisons head acknowledges 'inmate suicide crisis' after reports
The Chronicle's JASON FAGONE/MEGAN CASSIDY: "The number of inmates killing themselves in California prisons is “far too high,” the state admitted in a new report on the worsening suicide problem in California’s correctional system."
"The report confirms a Chronicle investigation that revealed the inmate suicide rate in California prisons has climbed four years in a row and reached an unprecedented peak last year with 26.3 suicides per 100,000 prisoners — substantially higher than the suicide rate in other large prison systems across the country. A total of 34 California inmates killed themselves last year in a system with about 129,000 prisoners overall."
"Ralph Diaz, the state’s top prison official, acknowledged in an interview Monday that California has “an inmate suicide crisis."
Troubling early signs as flu season approaches
The Chronicle's ERIN ALLDAY: "In the first weeks of October, as the days get shorter and crisper and noses stuffier and snifflier, flu-watching season begins."
"Influenza is notorious for being difficult to predict from one year to the next, so there’s no telling yet how this season will compare to previous years’ flu seasons. But that doesn’t stop public health and infectious-disease experts from guessing."
"The earliest signs of the season to come aren’t looking great this year. There are hints that the vaccine may not be as well matched to the circulating flu strains as doctors would like. And there have already been a few influenza deaths in California, much earlier than usual."
SCOTUS signs favorable for including gay people in sex discrimination law
The Chronicle's BOB EGELKO: "The question of whether a 55-year-old federal ban on sex discrimination also applies to sexual orientation and gender identity was argued Tuesday before a Supreme Court that was clearly divided, but that may be willing to interpret the law to protect gays and lesbians."
"During two hours of arguments in the cases of three people who were fired for being gay or transgender, a crucial issue was whether such dismissals are based on sex, which is expressly forbidden by the 1964 Civil Rights Act. And in the cases of two gay men, at least one member of the court’s conservative majority, Justice Neil Gorsuch, seemed receptive."
"When someone is fired because of sexual orientation, “isn’t sex also in play here? ... And isn’t that enough” to be covered by the law, Gorsuch asked the employers’ attorney, Jeffrey Harris. Later, addressing the Trump administration’s lawyer, Solicitor General Noel Francisco, Gorsuch suggested that “one contributing cause (in such dismissals) appears to be sex."
Californians not giving up trucks, SUVs -- setting up state for failure on climate goals
Sacramento Bee's ANDREW SHEELER: "California is not on track to meet its greenhouse gas emission goals, in part because Californians just aren’t ready to give up their trucks and SUVs."
"A new study by nonprofit group Next 10 and Beacon Economics found Californians in late 2018 owned more gas-guzzling pickups, mini-vans and SUVs than they did five years ago. Those vehicles made up 57.3 percent of new vehicle registrations in 2018, compared to 39.3 percent in 2013."
"The wildfires that scorched California in 2017 and 2018 were another setback, pumping tens of millions of tons of carbon into the atmosphere and offsetting the state’s efforts to curtail man-made greenhouse gas emissions."
Landlords can't discriminate against renters with housing vouchers under new law
Sacramento Bee's HANNAH WILEY: "During his first stop on a statewide housing affordability tour on Tuesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law to prohibit landlords from discriminating against tenants who use housing vouchers to pay their rent."
"Current law already bans landlords from discriminating against a tenant based on his or her source of income. But landlords have to be willing to rent a unit to a family or individual using a voucher. If accepted, the tenant’s program directly pays the landlord what the voucher covers, and the renter pays the rest."
"This law expands the definition of income to encompass “federal, state, or local public assistance and federal, state, or local housing subsidies.” The assistance is generally known as “Section 8” housing, though the law applies to other programs as well."
Firefighting foam leaves toxic legacy in Californians' drinking water
LA Times's DAVID S CLOUD/ANNA M PHILLIPS/TONY BARBOZA: "It was a Sunday tradition at Bethany Slavic Missionary Church. After morning services, Florin Ciuriuc joined the line of worshipers waiting to fill their jugs with gallons of free drinking water from a well on the property, a practice church leaders had encouraged."
"I take it for my office every week,” said Ciuriuc, a 50-year-old Romanian immigrant and a founding member of the largely Russian-speaking church, which claims 7,000 congregants."
"Church leaders boasted it was the cleanest water in Sacramento, according to Ciuriuc. In fact, test results showed the water contained toxic chemicals from firefighting foam used for decades on a now-shuttered Air Force base a mile away. Church leaders say they did not understand their well was contaminated."
Newsom signs law protecting special needs students at nonpublic schools
Sacramento Bee's SAWSAN MORRAR: "Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed a bill that would protect students with special needs at nonpublic California schools, in response to the November 2018 death of a student who was restrained at his El Dorado Hills school."
"Assembly Bill 1172 allows the state Department of Education to immediately suspend or revoke the certification of a nonpublic school if a student’s health or safety is being compromised. Nonpublic schools are generally private, nonreligious schools that contract with local school districts or the county office of education to serve students with special needs."
"The bill, signed Oct. 2, requires nonpublic schools to report incidents involving law enforcement to the Department of Education. Additionally, local educational agencies must make monitoring visits to the school at least once a year."
New law bans cops from using facial recognition tech on body cameras
Sacramento Bee's BRYAN ANDERSON: "California police departments won’t be allowed to use facial recognition software on body cameras for the next several years, under a law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday."
"The bill from Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, takes effect at the start of 2020 and expires after three years. Ting initially proposed a permanent ban on the technology."
"It’s unclear whether a single law enforcement group in California uses facial recognition software in body cameras, but Ting has said he wanted to address a potential problem “before it became a major issue."
Dozens of Bay Area schools -- including UC Berkeley -- cancel classes; Oakland scales back closures
The Chronicle's JILL TUCKER/ALEJANDRO SERRANO: "Schools across the Bay Area are bracing for a power outage, with many district officials warning classes will be canceled during the power outage announced by PG&E Tuesday."
"U.C. Berkeley said that “most of the core campus will be without power starting at approximately 8 a.m.,” prompting the university to cancel classes Wednesday."
"The campus, however, will remain open, though services will be limited. Most student-serving offices will be open, however the Martin Luther King, Jr. Student Union and Eshelman Hall will be closed,” it said in a statement."
LA could ban all e-cigs and vaping devices
LA Times's SOUMYA KARLAMANGLA: "Los Angeles officials are considering banning all e-cigarettes and vaping devices in the city, one of the most extreme proposals yet to curb a nationwide outbreak of lung illnesses linked to vaping."
"Amid reports that more than 1,000 people have been diagnosed with severe lung problems, politicians across the country have been pushing restrictions on e-cigarettes, which have soared in popularity among young people in recent years."
"San Francisco became the first city in the nation to ban e-cigarettes earlier this year. Massachusetts also recently instated a four-month ban on e-cigarettes, while Michigan and New York have outlawed flavored e-cigarette products."
California congressman on Ukraine trip saw fallout from Trump's call
McClatchy's EMILY CADEI: "California Congressman John Garamendi’s trip to Ukraine was planned long before the Eastern European country found itself in the middle of a U.S. impeachment inquiry."
"The timing of the bipartisan congressional delegation’s visit last week, just days after House Democrats announced their impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump, made the subject unavoidable."
"Garamendi, of Walnut Grove, and five other representatives on the trip agreed not to try to investigate allegations related to the president’s possible impeachment. But they did discuss $400 million in American military aid that is at the heart of the domestic political dispute — and how Ukraine urgently needs that money to fight its ongoing war with Russia."
READ MORE related to Impeachment Inquiry: Stanford law expert shoots down impeachment assertions by Trump, Graham, Giuliani -- The Chronicle's BOB EGELKO; Putin seems to be enjoying the Trump impeachment show -- LA Times's SABRA AYRES