The Roundup

Feb 13, 2020


Second Miramar evacuee diagnosed with coronavirus. No sign of illness at Travis so far


Sac Bee's DARRELL SMITH/CATHIE ANDERSON: "The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Wednesday that a second U.S. evacuee quarantined at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar has tested positive for the new coronavirus, bringing the number of cases in the United States to 14."


"The agency said the two individuals were housed in separate facilities on the base, and there was no epidemiological links between the two. They returned to the United States on separate State Department-chartered flights from China’s Hubei province, the epicenter of the new coronavirus outbreak."


"At this time. there is no indication of person-to-person spread of this virus at the quarantine facility,” said Dr. Chris Braden, the CDC’s on-site team lead, “but CDC will carry out a thorough contact investigation as part of its current response strategy to detect and contain any cases of infection with this virus."


READ MORE related to CoronavirusUnited extends pause on SFO-China flights for another month due to coronavirus -- The Chronicle's MALLORY MOENCH


Corruption probe: PG&E, major construction firms, nonprofits hit with subpoenas


The Chronicle's DOMINIC FRACASSA: "The San Francisco city attorney’s office issued subpoenas for eight companies and nonprofit organizations Wednesday as part of the ongoing government corruption scandal launched in the wake of former Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru’s arrest on fraud charges late last month."


"The city attorney’s office served subpoenas to “PG&E or any affiliate” Wednesday, along with major construction firms Webcor Builders, Pankow and Clark Construction."


"Waste management company Recology was also hit with a subpoena. Nonprofits the San Francisco Parks Alliance, the Lefty O’Doul’s Foundation for Kids — which has already been implicated in the scandal — and the San Francisco Clean City Coalition were also served."


Another sales tax fight is coming to Sacramento. This one is about your commute


Sac Bee's TONY BIZJAK: "What transportation improvements do Sacramentans want? Are those the improvements their communities really need for healthy long-term growth?"


"It’s a tricky and nuanced question that county leaders with widely differing philosophies are trying to sort through this month."


"Their goal, they say, is to come to an agreement that will allow them to put a sales tax measure on the November ballot in Sacramento County that would generate $8 billion over the next 40 years to expand and modernize the region’s transportation system."


California won’t be a kingmaker on Super Tuesday. But it’s the gatekeeper to the final stretch


From the LAT's GEORGE SKELTON: "California voters are about to discard and qualify some candidates for the sprint to the Democratic presidential nomination."


"Until now, the race has been a slow marathon. But with Iowa and New Hampshire out of the way and Nevada and South Carolina coming soon (Feb. 22 and 29, respectively), candidates must kick into overdrive."


"On Super Tuesday — March 3 — California and 13 other states will hold presidential primaries. They include such wide-ranging states as Alabama, Colorado, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Texas and Virginia."


'She is tired of waiting her turn': Costa stares down liberal challenger


From Politico's JEREMY B. WHITE: "Rep. Jim Costa, an eight-term incumbent, is the latest moderate Democratic member of Congress to be targeted by a base-energizing opponent from the left."


"Fresno City Councilwoman Esmeralda Soria is mounting a spirited challenge to Costa, one of the most moderate California Democrats, powered by a groundswell of local activists and the support of organized labor. And Costa is taking the threat seriously, running negative, personal television ads against Soria."


"California's top-two primary system has in recent years yielded several of the kind of intra-party fights between the left and center that claimed the career of a member of House Democratic leadership in 2018 and endanger the careers of other incumbents this year. In 2018, that meant the outgoing state Senate president unsuccessfully challenging Sen. Dianne Feinstein from the left. Multiple moderate Democrats in the state legislature are facing credible liberal challengers."


'Major developments' could lead to release of convict in 1985 El Dorado Hills slaying


Sac Bee's SAM STANTON: "El Dorado County prosecutors are expected to announce “major developments” Thursday in Placerville involving the 1985 stabbing death of Jane Hylton, a 54-year-old newspaper columnist whose slaying resulted in the trial of a man whose conviction was thrown out last year following the discovery of new DNA evidence."


"Ricky M. Davis was convicted in August 2005 of second-degree murder and was sentenced to 16 years in state prison. Davis, 54, had always maintained he was not involved in the slaying and last year his murder conviction was reversed and a new trial was set for April after the Northern California Innocence Project got involved."


"Now, Davis, who is in custody in the El Dorado County Jail, is expected to be released Thursday, according to lawyer Melissa O’Connell, whose work with the innocence project helped lead to the original conviction being overturned."


Housing dispute gears back up over key bill


ANDREA ESQUETINI in Capitol Weekly: "Moments after the state Senate failed to pass SB 50, a bill that would have relaxed zoning laws to combat the state’s housing crisis, Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins vowed to pass housing legislation this year. "


"I want to personally commit to each and every one of you, to the people of California, that a housing production bill to help alleviate our housing crisis will happen this year,” she said."


"But after three attempts — and three failures — to get SB 50 to the governor’s desk, the outlook remains uncertain."


Newsom wants more dyslexia screenings, services for California students


EdSource's CAROLYN JONES: "A new plan by Gov. Gavin Newsom, who struggled with dyslexia as a child, would pay for more screenings and services for the thousands of California students with dyslexia — a condition that advocates say has not received enough attention in schools."


"The California Dyslexia Initiative, which the governor announced last week as part of his 2020-21 budget proposal, would set aside $4 million for screening, professional learning for teachers, research and a conference on dyslexia, a learning disorder that affects one’s ability to read and write. Although the amount is small compared to the overall education budget, it lays the groundwork for future investment and brings much-needed attention to the issue, advocates said."


"This is a very big deal. It’s fantastic news,” said Megan Potente, co-educator outreach manager for Decoding Dyslexia California, an advocacy group that lobbies for better dyslexia services in schools. “Gov. Newsom is bringing more attention to dyslexia than we have seen in decades."


Costs of California's high-speed rail rises, but trains to SF, LA still in the works


The Chronicle's KURTIS ALEXANDER: "The cost of running high-speed trains between San Francisco and Los Angeles has grown — again — to $80 billion, a sum the state is yet to muster for a project that continues to be mired in politics and doubt."


"Still, the financial estimates released Wednesday by the California High-Speed Rail Authority show the agency expects to have enough money to launch at least part of the visionary rail system: 171 miles of service through the Central Valley, connecting the fast-growing cities of Merced and Bakersfield, by 2029."


"Segments to San Francisco and Los Angeles — and ultimately a train that whisks riders between the two coastal cities in 2 hours and 40 minutes — continue to be designed. They’re scheduled to be up and running just a few years after the Central Valley line. That is, if the money can be found."


Appeals court affirms right of transgender students to use restrooms of choice


The Chronicle's BOB EGELKO: "A federal appeals court Wednesday upheld schools’ authority to let transgender students use restrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity, rejecting claims that the policy violated privacy and religious freedom."


"A school district in Oregon was “seeking to create a safe, non-discriminatory school environment for transgender students” with its policy, and did not interfere with any established constitutional rights of other students or their parents, said the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco."


"The right to privacy, under the 14th Amendment, does not include a “right to avoid all risk of intimate exposure to or by a transgender person who was assigned the opposite sex at birth,” Judge A. Wallace Tashima said in the 3-0 ruling, which upheld a federal judge’s decision. The court also rejected claims that the policy exposed students to sexual harassment and violated parents’ right to control their children’s education and upbringing."


Sick of porch pirates? This new bill adds prison time if they get caught


Sac Bee's ANDREW SHEELER: "A California lawmaker has introduced a bill aimed at cracking down on so-called “porch pirates” by making repeat offenses punishable by more prison time."


"Sen. Brian Jones, R-Santee, introduced Senate Bill 979 as a means of dealing with “habitual offenders who keep dodging real punishment for their actions."


"While the advent of increasing home delivery of goods has benefited consumers, retailers, and the economy in general, it has also lead to increased theft of packages from outside Californians’ homes,” Jones said in a statement. “This ‘porch piracy’ epidemic is serious and needs to be addressed by our criminal justice system. Current law is weak on the punishment of this type of theft but this bill will increase the consequences significantly."


California lawmaker introduces genetic privacy bill


Sac Bee's ANDREW SHEELER: "A proposed California law would prohibit DNA testing companies like Ancestry and 23andMe from sharing customer DNA information with outside parties without their consent."


"Senate Bill 980, sponsored by Sen. Thomas Umberg, D-Santa Ana, comes amid questions about the safety and security of DNA data. The Pentagon in December issued guidelines asking service members not to use direct-to-consumer DNA testing kits due to security issues, according to Yahoo News."


"The fact that the Pentagon just warned all of the country’s military personnel to avoid home DNA tests should raise bright red flags for all consumers,” Umberg said in a statement. “Direct-to-Consumer genetic testing companies have, to date, gone largely unregulated by either state or national governments. This has led to the disclosure of consumers’ private biological information to third parties."


Federal judge orders ICE to reinstate national immigration hotline for detainees


The Chronicle's TATIANA SANCHEZ: "A federal judge issued an order this week temporarily reinstating a national hotline for detained immigrants that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement shut down in August, shortly after the popular Netflix series, “Orange is the New Black” aired a show about it."


"Judge Andre Birotte Jr. in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles issued a preliminary injunction Tuesday ordering ICE to immediately reinstate the hotline until a case against the federal agency by an Oakland nonprofit, Freedom for Immigrants, is resolved."


"At issue is a toll-free, confidential hotline that until 2018 existed in over 200 facilities across the country and handled up to 14,000 calls a month. At that time, ICE shut it down in all but eight facilities in Florida. Then, two weeks after Netflix featured the hotline in a show last summer, ICE shut down the hotline in the remaining detention centers."


When is volunteering mandatory in state offices?


Sac Bee's WES VENTEICHER: "For some state workers, the emails are familiar. They might be blasted out from a department head or be filtered down with a nudge from a mid-level manager. The subject line might read, “seeking volunteers."


"Some employees have written The State Worker saying they feel like the requests feel more mandatory than voluntary. Sometimes a manager’s solicitations for donations for events or causes can feel the same way."


"Emails exchanged by workers at the California Prison Industry Authority ahead of a former manager’s retirement party last year reflected that pressure."


Monsanto cancer case pits federal product label against California law


The Chronicle's BOB EGELKO: "As Monsanto challenged a $78.5 million damage award to a Bay Area groundskeeper who was stricken with cancer after spraying the company’s herbicide, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra stepped into the case Wednesday, telling a state appeals court that the verdict was validly based on state laws requiring warning labels for cancer-causing chemicals."


"The 2018 verdict was the first of three, all in the tens of millions of dollars, in Bay Area trials of suits by users of the glyphosate herbicide, widely sold as Roundup, who were later diagnosed with cancer. A central issue is whether the suits could rely on California law, which classifies glyphosate as a carcinogen, or should have been dismissed under federal law because the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency considers it a safe chemical."


"In a filing with the First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco supporting the plaintiff, Dewayne “Lee” Johnson, Becerra’s office argued that the EPA’s statements about glyphosate, and its approval of a product label without cancer warnings, “do not carry the force of law."


Matt Haney has become the most visible SF supervisor. Is he eyeing the mayor's office?


The Chronicle's DOMINIC FRACASSA/TRISHA THADANI: "Ever since winning a spot on the Board of Supervisors by a landslide just over a year ago, Supervisor Matt Haney has quickly established himself as one of the most visible and outspoken public officials in San Francisco."


"As the District Six supervisor for such neighborhoods as the Tenderloin, South of Market and Civic Center, Haney oversees one of the most troubled swaths of San Francisco. In the past year, he has approached the job with boundless energy and a laser-like focus on the city’s most pressing issues: homelessness, mental health and drug addiction."


"While his supporters applaud his stamina, his critics say he has stoked division in City Hall by constantly dressing down city leaders, claiming they are ineffective. His criticisms of mayoral departments are often perceived as a rebuke of the mayor herself."


NTSB: Preliminary report shows engine failure as cause of fatal Auburn plane crash


Sac Bee's MACK ERVIN III: "The preliminary reports into the fatal Auburn plane crash in January shows that engine failure was the main cause of the accident, according to the National Transportation Safety Board."


"The crash happened shortly after the Stinson Vultee V-77 took off from Auburn Municipal Airport at 9:45 on Jan. 24, according to the release. Witnessed reported hearing the plane’s engine backfire and stutter before shutting off completely."


"The pilot, Anthony Lawrence Wright, radioed to the airport saying the engine had died and then saying they were going down in the trees."


READ MORE related to Transportation: BART has lost nearly 10 million passengers on nights and weekends. Can it lure them back? -- The Chronicle's RACHEL SWANBay Bridge bus lane would require 1/5th of drivers to ride bus instead -- or face epic traffic jams -- The Chronicle's RACHEL SWAN


PG&E equipment catches fire in SF, power outage shuts down ballet performance


The Chronicle's LIZZIE JOHNSON/STEVE RUBENSTEIN/LAUREN HERNANDEZ: "More than 9,000 homes and businesses in San Francisco lost power on Wednesday night when equipment in an underground Pacific Gas & Electric Co. vault caught fire."


"San Francisco fire Battalion Chief Mark Hayes told The Chronicle a power surge in an underground vault prompted a “small fire,” which firefighters extinguished."


"At the corner of Laguna and Hayes streets, firefighters blocked off the intersection with flares and yellow caution tape. Workers from at least two blue PG&E trucks were examining an electrical transformer, which onlookers had said popped earlier in the night. Workers lowered themselves underground through metal coverings in the sidewalk and investigated the area."


Meet the planning chief Mayor Breed tapped to shape SF development and build 50,000 homes


The Chronicle's JK DINEEN: "Mayor London Breed has appointed a longtime ally and former planning commissioner to head the planning department, an agency charged with shaping San Francisco development as the city’s housing crisis persists."


"The appointee, Rich Hillis, is executive director at Fort Mason Center for Arts and Culture and has held several senior positions at the city’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development. He left the Planning Commission in September after seven years to become a candidate to lead the department."


"Hillis replaces John Rahaim, who announced his retirement in September after 12 years as the city’s chief planner."


To ease its homeless crisis, Berkeley will open city-owned lots for 25 RVs


The Chronicle's SARAH RAVANI: "To begin addressing its homeless crisis — and the human waste and complaints that go with it — Berkeley will soon allow 25 RVs to park overnight in six city-owned lots, the City Council voted this week."


"Under the plan, approved Tuesday by an 8-1 vote, the city will give priority to RV dwellers with children, people who work or study in Berkeley, and former city residents. Those eligible can park in six city lots for up to three months but will have to leave during business hours."


"While there, residents will receive social services and help finding work or a permanent place to live."


Magnitude 4.0 earthquake strikes Hollister


The Chronicle's QUAKE TRACKER: "A magnitude 4.0 quake shook Hollister on Wednesday evening."


"See details about this earthquake on The Chronicle's Quake Tracker."


"The United States Geological Survey detected the quake at 7:33 p.m. with an epicenter 13.0 miles southeast of Hollister. With a magnitude of 4.0 and depth of 4.35 miles, this quake could be felt near the epicenter but damage to structures is unlikely."

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