The Roundup

Nov 27, 2019

Bomb cyclone?

Is the Thanksgiving week storm approaching SoCal really a 'bomb cyclone'?


LA Times's PAUL DUGINSKI: "News organizations, commercial weather forecasters and numerous people on social media have been calling the storm approaching California this week a “bomb cyclone,” but Kathy Hoxsie, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Oxnard, is uncomfortable with that name."


"That’s a little too sensational,” said Hoxsie, who prefers to simply call the system a deep low. “We’re not ready to call it a bomb cyclone. We prefer to shy away from sensational terminology because it doesn’t illuminate what’s really happening."


"What everyone can agree on is that a powerful, cold, low-pressure system packing strong winds will continue to deepen through Tuesday night as it moves down the West Coast. It will bring rain, mountain snow and cold temperatures to Southern California on Wednesday and Thursday."


READ MORE related to WeatherHighway closures, road conditions updates for NorCal -- Sacramento Bee's MITCHEL BOBO


Cows don't have fingers and can't insult Devin Nunes on Twitter, court filing says


Sacramento Bee's HANNAH WILEY/KATE IRBY: "A Democratic strategist is refusing to disclose communications that could reveal the identity of anonymous Twitter users who criticize Rep. Devin Nunes, arguing in a new court filing that the accounts are clearly satirical expressions of political speech."


"Nunes, R-Tulare, has sued Twitter and anonymous social media users who run accounts known as Devin Nunes’ Cow and Devin Nunes’ Mom. Nunes’ attorney last month issued a subpoena demanding records about them from former Democratic National Committee employee Adam Parkhomenko."


"In a new filing to quash the subpoena, Parkhomenko’s attorney argues that the Twitter accounts’ language “does not constitute defamation” and that courts are tasked with protecting anonymous communications in the interest of freedom of speech."


Anthem Blue Cross draws heavy fines in California over how it handles complaints


LA Times's HARRIET BLAIR ROWAN: "One of California’s largest health insurance plans has distinguished itself, and not in a good way."


"The state Department of Managed Health Care hit Anthem Blue Cross with $9.6 million in fines from January 2014 through early November 2019, according to a California Healthline analysis of agency data. That is about 44% of the $21.7 million in penalties the department issued against full-service health plans during that period."


"And yet, Anthem covered only 10% to 13% of Californians with department-regulated plans. An annual average of 3.8 million Californians were enrolled in the plan over the period analyzed."


Recall Newsom? The time is right, say GOP activists


The Chronicle's JOHN WILDERMUTH: "After less than a year in office, Gov. Gavin Newsom is already the target of a pair of recall efforts. But if history is any judge, he might not have to start packing up his Capitol office just yet."


"Since 1911, when the voter-approved recall process became law, there have been 51 attempts to oust a sitting governor. Only one, the 2003 recall of Gov. Gray Davis, succeeded."


"It’s a stretch,” said Garry South, a Democratic consultant who was a top aide to Davis. “California has become a lot more Democratic since 2003,” he said, and a lot less likely to bounce a Democratic governor."


Democratic leader says he will not seek re-election in 2020


Sacramento Bee's HANNAH WILEY: "Assembly Majority Leader Ian Calderon announced on Tuesday that he will not seek re-election next year in his Southern California district, saying he instead plans to spend more time with wife and young children."


"Calderon, a Democrat from Whittier, was elected in 2012 to represent California’s 57th Assembly District in southeast Los Angeles County. Building on his credentials as the “first millennial” elected to the Legislature, Calderon then became the youngest majority leader in March 2016."


"Calderon said in a statement released on Tuesday that he was not seeking re-election because he wants to spend more time with his wife, Elise, and their children."


Schiff's command of impeachment hearing draws Trump's anger and colleagues' praise


LA Times's JENNIFER HABERKORN: "The effort to impeach President Trump still has months to run, but already has produced at least one clear winner: Rep. Adam B. Schiff has emerged from two weeks of public hearings as a rising star among Democrats, one with enhanced power to aid his House colleagues even as he bedevils the president."


"With no special counsel involved in investigating Trump’s actions toward Ukraine, Schiff, a federal prosecutor before he won his Burbank-based congressional seat, has taken the role of lead inquisitor and public face of the probe. He’s the Kenneth Starr of the Trump impeachment — or to use the comparison he would prefer, the Leon Jaworski, special prosecutor during Watergate."


"Republicans from Trump on down accuse him of unfairness and bias. Schiff’s fellow Democrats, however, have heaped praise on the way he kept Republicans at bay and maintained control during the impeachment hearings while generating enough news to keep the inquiry — and his name — in headlines for weeks on end."


READ MORE related to Impeachment Hearings: Two budget officials say they resigned after becoming frustrated over the hold on Ukraine military aid -- AP


New LADWP commissioner works for a company that markets water and power


LA Times's SAMMY ROTH/DAKOTA SMITH: "Mayor Eric Garcetti’s latest appointee to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s board of commissioners is a top executive at a company that markets water and power and has a history of trying to make deals with government agencies in Southern California, including LADWP."


"Nicole Neeman Brady serves as principal and chief operating officer at L.A.-based Renewable Resources Group, which develops solar energy facilities and has bought and sold lands with valuable water rights."


"The City Council confirmed Neeman Brady’s appointment without discussion earlier this month."


SF supervisor calls homeless crisis a 'zombie invasion' in 2015 email


The Chronicle's TRISHA THADANI: "District Two Supervisor Catherine Stefani likened San Francisco’s homelessness crisis to a “zombie invasion” and compared the city to an “insane asylum,” in a 2015 email unearthed in a recent court filing against her."


"The email was included in an October complaint filed on behalf of her tenant, Clifton Thomas. The tenant — who lives above Stefani in her Cow Hollow apartment building — unsuccessfully sued her in August over an alleged wrongful eviction in 2016. In the new complaint, Thomas alleges that he did not receive a fair shake in court and will seek a new trial in San Francisco Superior Court Wednesday."


"Thomas claims that Stefani and her family — who own the property on Greenwich Street in a trust — are negligent landlords. He claims that the family failed to make necessary upgrades to the property and did not secure the door with a deadbolt, despite the property’s history with break-ins."


Trump's top border official broke FBI rules to fund happy hours


The Chronicle's TAL KOPAN: "President Trump’s top border official broke federal ethics rules in a previous job by seeking sponsors to buy alcohol and fancy food for FBI happy hours, according to a watchdog report exclusively obtained by The Chronicle."


"Mark Morgan, acting commissioner of the Customs and Border Protection agency, continued asking the outside entities to pay for the social events even after being warned it was against federal rules, the Justice Department’s inspector general found."


"The previously unreported finding raises questions about the Trump administration’s vetting process for top officials. Although Morgan’s role is typically subject to Senate confirmation, Trump has not nominated him for the job. That has circumvented the traditional review by the Senate — leaving it unclear whether the ethical lapse was ever known to the administration."


UC workers sue their union, saying it still charges fees struck down by Supreme Court


Sacramento Bee's WES VENTEICHER: "A UC Davis Medical Center worker is suing his union, saying AFSCME 3299 made it difficult for him to leave and is still charging him fees."


"Terrance Marsh, a brain scan specialist at the Sacramento hospital, left the union in February after four months of trying, according to a legal complaint filed Tuesday with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California."


"Once he managed to leave, the union informed him he would have to pay a “service” fee equal to his membership dues, according to the complaint. The UC system is still collecting the fee despite his repeated efforts to stop paying it, the complaint says."


California looks at billionaire Michael Bloomberg with skepticism and indifference


LA Times's MARK Z BARABAK/MELISSA GOMEZ: "Richard Springwater was out gathering provisions for a Thanksgiving feast — 20 people, he’ll bake, his wife will cook — when he paused near the city’s waterfront to consider Michael R. Bloomberg and his money-gushing run for the White House."


"He understands why the former New York City mayor elbowed his way into the crowded Democratic race: doubts that any of the other 17 candidates are capable of beating President Trump."


"But Springwater fears that Bloomberg may unsettle the race, handing the nomination to the more left-leaning Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, thus costing Democrats the White House."


UC Davis police officials warn of scam promising employment opportunity to students


Sacramento Bee's MITCHEL BOBO: "Several students at University of California, Davis, have become victims of an email scam luring them with the promise of a fictitious job, according to the UC Davis Police Department."


"Police Chief Joe Farrow detailed the scam in a message to the campus community Tuesday, saying the incident was reported by two students in as many days. Farrow said students were contacted via email about being hired for false employment opportunities, for which they are being sent advanced payment."


"According to police, before the checks arrive, students are told that, due to an error, the check was issued at double the intended pay rate. Police say students are then instructed to deposit the checks into their accounts, but to wire the extra money to an account provided by the scammers."


Strained by wildfires, LA County firefighters want voters to approve a tax increase


LA Times's MATT STILES: "The Los Angeles County Fire Department plans to ask voters for more money next year, as commanders scramble for more resources to respond to increasingly destructive wildfires and a growing volume of medical calls."


"A proposed parcel tax, which the L.A. County Board of Supervisors is expected to consider next week, would collect an estimated $130 million a year from most residents in the department’s 2,300-square-mile jurisdiction — a sprawling area that runs from Malibu to Pomona and includes the county’s beaches."


"Department officials say the extra revenue would be used to hire more firefighters and paramedics, and to finance equipment and infrastructure improvements for new communications technology."


Are drug-addicted mothers liable for babies' deaths? A legal and ethical debate rages


LA Times's ALEX WIGGLESWORTH: "Chelsea Becker was ready for Zachariah. She’d bought a crib, a car seat and clothes."


"Here’s your baby brother,” she’d whisper to her 16-month-old son Silas, and the child, her youngest, would hug her stomach."


"But alone at a friend’s house in September, the 25-year-old knew something was wrong."


Sonoma County Habitat for Humanity nears collapse after expansion


The Chronicle's JK DINEEN: "Habitat for Humanity’s Sonoma County affiliate says it is suspending home-building and laying off most of the staff at the end of the year. The collapse follows a period of aggressive growth followed by a precipitous drop in donations."


"The layoffs at the nonprofit affordable housing builder, which relies on volunteers to construct homes for low-income families, will include about a dozen staff members, including CEO Harold Duncan, who has been in the job for less than two months."


"It’s a horribly tough situation — so very tragic,” said Tim Leach, Habitat’s board president."


Fog brings poison mercury to Santa Cruz Mountains -- mountain lions are suffering


The Chronicle's PETER FIMRITE: "Three times as much mercury has been found in mountain lions in the Santa Cruz Mountains than in their inland brethren, and the likely culprit is coastal fog, a first-of-its-kind study by UC Santa Cruz has found."


"The fog is apparently pulling mercury out of the ocean and dripping it over the coastal mountains, a potentially lethal problem for cougars because it bioaccumulates in their fat and could eventually contribute to their demise, the study, published Tuesday in the journal Scientific Reports, concluded."


"Mercury poisoning is known to cause memory and motor coordination problems and has been shown in studies in the Florida Everglades to cause reproductive problems in pumas. Mercury can come from natural sources, but researchers said most of the mercury currently in the atmosphere comes from burning coal."


In SF, bikes aren't a preferred means of travel. Can the city change that?


The Chronicle's PHIL MATIER: "In yet another effort to get people out of their cars, San Francisco is gearing up to install a record 100 new bikes racks a month in the coming year. How quickly the new racks fill up, however, remains to be seen."


"Cyclists are frustrated,” Supervisor Rafael Mandelman said. “We have seen rack after rack for rental bikes and scooters being installed, but there are still places that have no place for a regular bike to park."


"Brian Wiedenmeier, executive director of the politically powerful, 10,000-member San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, agreed."


Flooding causes severe delays on Muni in SF


The Chronicle's MICHAEL CABANATUAN: "Flooding in the San Francisco subway Wednesday morning between the Church and Van Ness stations has delayed Muni Metro service, officials said."


"Trains in the subway were switching back at Church Street as of 6:30 a.m. and riders were advised to transfer to the F-Market, J-Church or N-Judah lines. Northbound T-Third trains are turning around at Embarcadero and Harrison Street. Muni is providing bus shuttles between West Portal and Market and Steuart streets."


Trump says US to designate Mexican cartels as terrorist groups


LA Times's PATRICK J MCDONNELL: "Mexican authorities were seeking a high-level meeting with their U.S. counterparts Tuesday following President Trump’s revelation that Washington planned to designate Mexican drug cartels as foreign terrorist organizations."


"The statement — made by Trump in an interview with Bill O’Reilly, the former Fox News host — appeared to stun Mexican officials, who have already declared their opposition to the idea."


"Absolutely, they will be designated,” Trump said of the Mexican cartels, according to a transcript of the radio interview posted on O’Reilly’s website. “Look, we are losing 100,000 people a year to what is happening and what is coming through from Mexico."

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