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Well, it's another smoky morning and the Legislature wil be back in a week. Tomorrow is the state campaign finance reporting deadline, and I'll get to the races I'll be looking at in the reports and other news after the jump. However, we must start with the fires, as they will be a top issue when the two houses return next week.
I may not be comprehensive today. I've been writing nonstop (except for coffee refills) for 6.5 hours and I feel like I'm just skimming the surface. ¡Lo siento mis amigos!
FREE POLITICAL ADVICE: I'm on lots of congressional fundraising lists and they are issuing their pleas. This morning, Josh Harder (D), challenging Jeff Denham (R) in CA10, sent a message talking about the scorching days. Yesterday, the firefighter who died fighting the Ferguson Fire was transported to a hero's welcome by fellow firefighters as we was taken to the Stanislaus County Coroner's Office in Modesto--the heart of CA10.
I don't write to pick on Harder or to assist Denham, as this is only one over the last few days from both parties of the many targeted races with fundraising operations based in Washington, DC that are completely disconnected from what's going on in California. I haven't seen any emails to the same lists mentioning the fires or, most importantly, the four deaths of firefighters so far.
It just looks utterly stupid.
No, firefighter deaths shouldn't be mentioned in a fundraising message, but rather a separate message.
Don't get me wrong, as lots of state and local legislators have been working hard on this in their districts, with state legislators of both parties setting aside their last ten days of recess to assist constituents. Bravo!
Note: In the stats below, there are inconsistencies in data reported. That's because each incident command reports different information to CAL FIRE or US Forest Service (Cranston, Ferguson).
CARR FIRE (Shasta/Trinity): The headlines from the state's largest fire yesterday were mixed. It slowed down yesterday and moved primarily west into Trinity County away from the more populated Redding area. However, another deceased victim was found yesterday, bringing the number to six (four civilians, two firefighters), making it tied for 13th deadliest in California recorded history. At least six were still missing as of yesterday. It is also now the 11th most destructive wildfire in California recorded history. This morning, some evacuated areas were re-opened. I don't know it well enough to understand what percentage of evacuees this accounts for.
Trinity had to deal with sustained power outages after the power plant at Trinity Dam was shut down.
This morning, a VA Outpatient Clinic opened at 351 Hartnell Avenue in Redding to serve veteran victims of the Carr Fire. Services provided by the clinic will include primary care, urgent care, pharmacy, mental health, dental, and social work; Veterans with scheduled appointments will be able to access cardiology, eye, physical therapy, chiropractic, urology, podiatry, and dietary services. Veterans seeking to confirm appointments or inquire about services should contact our Call Center at 1-800-382-8387.
The looting problems continue, with two more arrests this morning. While looting in any natural disaster is not uncommon, the city's well known problem of meth likely increases it. Drug addicts of all kinds steal, although meth is known for some of the most fearless stealing (i.e. scrap metal from freeway guardrails). I'm not stereotyping, but just acknowledging the problem.
CRANSTON FIRE (Riverside County): Most of the evacuation order for Idyllwild and Pine Wood have been lifted.
FERGUSON FIRE (Yosemite area): The Ferguson Fire burning in the wildlands around Yosemite had another casualty yesterday as Brian Hughes, a captain with the Arrowhead Interagency Hotshots employed by the National Park Service, lost his life as a tree fell on him. As he was brought to the Stanislaus County Coroner's Office, his brothers and sisters from the local department in Modesto stood atop their engines to give him a hero's honor.
(Photo by Brad Torchia/Courtesy of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks)
"Yosemite National Park announces Yosemite Valley will reopen to all visitors at 4:00 pm on Friday, August 3, 2018. Limited visitor services will be available inside Yosemite Valley, including campgrounds, lodging, and food service operations. Due to continuing firefighting operations along the Wawona Road, the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias and the Wawona Road (Highway 41) from the South Entrance of Yosemite National Park to Tunnel View will remain closed until further notice. For information on Yosemite National Park, go to: nps.gov/yose or call 209-372-0200."
MENDOCINO COMPLEX (Lake/Mendocino): Much of the attention yesterday shifted from the Carr Fire, which was moving toward west into mostly wildlands to the quick-growing convergence of the Ranch and River fires that started in Mendocino County and moved into Lake County. Most of the communities on the north side of California's largest natural lake are under mandatory evacuation, including the county seat of Lakeport. As of this morning's reports, firefighters have held the line keeping the fire out of the communities.
Significant employers Sutter Lakeside Hospital, Robinson Rancheria Casino and Hotel, and Running Creek Casino are all in the mandatory evacuation area. Dozens of inns and restaurants where employees rely on tips are as well. Tips aren't covered by unemployment. Major stores such as CVS, Safeway, and Grocery Outlet are closed as well. While Lakeport has only about 4,800 permanent residents, this is the peak recreation time for the lake, which swells the population.
Power for much of Mendocino County was out yesterday for an interesting reason--smoke fried out transformers. You learn something every day. Smoke apparently conducts electricity, per PG&E. Power came back on between 7:45-8:30 in various places, with the village of Mendocino among the last, according to the outage map on PG&E's web site. Mendocino is probably my most favorite spot in California, but I can't imagine being there with no power and no place to eat for miles.
Apparently, power is still largely off in the evacuated areas of Lake County. Evacuees that are low/out of gas are stuck because the gas pumps are off (even if they still have gas), and AAA is not able/willing to provide assistance (likely because their local contracted drivers have been evacuated). Last night, only a casino gas station was operating, and the lines looked like the 70s.
CAMPAIGN FINANCE: RACES TO WATCH: Here are the races I'm most anticipating reading campaign finance reports for when they are filed tomorrow:
* = incumbent
POTUS? In the Chron, Matier and Ross look at how Senator Kamala Harris is elevating her national profile as she mulls a possible 2020 presidential bid. "It’s unlikely she’ll decide on a run until after the November midterm elections, but team Harris is making the moves, just in case."
PROPOSITION 10 (Rent Control): For Politico, Jeremy B. White writes how Democrats are splitting over the measure to roll-back the Costa-Hawkins Act that limits the authority of local governments to enact rent control and the impact thereof on the campaigns of two presidential possibles. Los Angeles Eric Garcetti has endorsed the measure, while Kamala Harris has proposed alternatives, but stopping short of coming out against the proposition.
DMV: The Bee's Bryan Anderson reports that customers are fed up with misleading wait times at the Department of Motor Vehicles, and legislators are hearing it from their constituents.
Tyré Nichols had no clue what he was getting himself into. He went online, arrived at the office at 9:45 a.m. and brought all his necessary paperwork.
He expected to be in and out within a couple hours. And yet, there he sat six hours later, waiting outside the Department of Motor Vehicles in miserable 98-degree heat.
This follows the State Auditor's report that found that a DMV employee slept on the job for nearly four years:
During the investigation, the employee's supervisor stated that because she woke up the employee three to four times each day, she believed the employee missed only 20 to 30 minutes of work time daily. However, four witnesses reported consistently observing the employee sleeping at her desk for hours at a time during work hours, rather than the 20 to 30 minutes estimated by the supervisor. In fact, two of these witnesses estimated that the employee slept for a minimum of three hours each workday because the supervisor did not consistently wake up the employee even when the supervisor was aware that the employee was sleeping.
As of the issuance of the report, the employee was on the job. Whether she is awake or not, that's for next year's audit of improper behavior.
Yet for all the cranes, crews in orange vests, beeping trucks and fresh concrete, it remains far from certain that this project will ever be completed. In addition to the lack of funding, it faces opposition from both Mr. Trump and Kevin McCarthy, the Bakersfield Republican who is the House majority leader.
The continued delays and rising costs have fueled criticism that California, perhaps the most prosperous state in the nation, is squandering money on a transportation project that critics describe as a prime example of big government waste in a state controlled by Democrats.
For all the construction, the project faces the ever-present threat that a future governor may decide that state resources would be better used dealing with, to name one example, the housing crisis. Gov. Jerry Brown, a big proponent, is leaving office at the end of the year.
(I often use the crazy train moniker, but I honestly really don't know how I feel about it. I just don't want to have a "bridge to nowhere" type of project. Maybe Tim Draper can finance it.)
COMMUNITY COLLEGES: For CALmatters, Dan Walters looks at the changes in financing, course delivery, and student support at community colleges and concludes they don't go far enough. "California has a looming shortage of college-educated workers and if the gap is to be closed, community colleges must be full partners and not merely academic stepchildren."
#CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Nancy Bui-Thompson, Matt Cate, Laurette Healey, Cory Jasperson, and Amy Miller!
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Trump Urged By New York Times Publisher To Stop His Inflammatory Rhetoric Against The Media
Laura King @ latimes.com
Trump suggests private talks with New York Times publisher centered on problem of "fake news"; publisher says he "implored" president to eschew "dangerous" rhetoric.
Bannon To Kochs: ‘shut Up And Get With The Program’ - Politico
Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon tore into the powerful Koch political network Sunday, accusing it of undermining President Donald Trump ahead of a midterm election that threatens to derail his presidency.
Calculations Show Bullet Train Can Complete Route Within 2 Hours And 40 Minutes. Reality May Prove Slower
Ralph Vartabedian @ latimes.com
But over the next decade, the state rail authority made a series of political and financial compromises that slowed speeds on long stretches of the track.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg: I Have 'at Least Five More Years' On The Bench - Politico
"My senior colleague, Justice John Paul Stevens, he stepped down when he was 90, so think I have about at least five more years," Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said. | Jim Watson/Getty Images