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My Current Projections:
TRIVIA: In which Assembly district did Hillary win by 6 points, Dems have a +8% reg advantage, but had only one candidate in June? That candidate raised/spent $0 between 4/21 and 5/19 and apparently forgot the July 31 filing deadline. Throw in that the Legislature spent a lot of money to settle harassment/employment complaints against him when he was in the Assembly. And, he's a lawyer.
Happy Thursday to you! It's going to be another beautiful day here in SacTown. Yesterday, crowds came out to the farmers' market at Cesar Chavez Plaza. Today, the Capitol Mall market should be beautiful, as it's forecasted to be 80 at noon. The market (6th/Capitol) runs until 1:30pm.
Yesterday, Governor Jerry Brown appeared at the Office of Emergency Services to tie the wildfires to the issue of climate change. He also pushed for a deal on limiting the liability of utility companies for power-line caused fires, which is certainly going to be one of the most contentious issues in the 25-day sprint ending the legislative session. The governor argues that he needs the partnership with utility companies, particularly Pacific Gas and Electric, to be partners in clean energy and other climate efforts. Of course, PG&E isn't particularly crazy about the governor's initial proposal, but they are desperate for something.
I frankly don't know all the issues as it wasn't something covered in Maggie Johns's torts class at King Hall and my on-the-job education for twenty years was in budget and, well, education. However, as I understand it, one of the biggest points is that utilities can be held liable for fires triggered by power lines, without the plaintiff proving negligence by the utility in maintenance of the lines or trees around them. The utilities want to cap that "inverse condemnation," with a promise of greater planning and state-reported maintenance.
Consumers and insurance companies note that proving negligence after a fire, even if there is proof the fire was connected to a fire line, is extremely difficult. Proving exact weather conditions at the time of ignition, and the exact status of the lines, structures, and trees, may be impossible.
The Bee's Taryn Luna reports that PG&E spent $1.7 million on lobbying in the first six months of the year, with the biggest focus on the wildfire liability issue.
It's going to be a crazy end of session.
CARR FIRE (Shasta/Trinity): This morning's report finds a 10,000-acre expansion and the same containment as yesterday. Additionally, 90 more structures were reported destroyed, including 42 residences, 6 commercial and 42 other. It's unclear whether these are new destructions or an increase in the accounting of the weekend's destruction. The Carr Fire remains the 6th most destructive in recorded California history.
The pattern continues, with firefighters gaining ground during the day with air support, but losing gained ground when the sun goes down, the wind picks, up air support lands overnight.
MENDOCINO COMPLEX (Lake/Mendocino): While there was significant increase in acreage over the last 24 hours, it was mostly in the largely uninhabited Mendocino National Forest, where the terrain is rugged. Containment picked up significantly (24%-39%), and repopulation of the evacuated towns is foreseeable over the next 48 hours. The much talked about flare-up on Tuesday night appears to have only destroyed four more residences and damaged six more. Not to downplay it, but it could have been much worse.
CRANSTON FIRE (Riverside County): The Cranston fire is largely out of populated areas and most evacuation orders have been lifted. All evacuation orders are expected to be lifted by this morning.
FERGUSON FIRE (Yosemite area): As a reminder, if you or any friends have plans for Yosemite this weekend, the valley will not be open until Sunday at the earliest. Aramark, which runs the Yosemite hotels now, is cancelling reservations and contacting guests.
Yosemite National Park announces Yosemite Valley, Wawona Road, the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, the Merced Grove of Giant Sequoias, Hetch Hetchy, and other areas will remain closed to all visitors through Sunday, August 5, 2018 due to continued unhealthy smoke impacts and ongoing firefighting operations. For information on Yosemite National Park, go to: nps.gov/yose or call 209-372-0200. Road Closure map and public health and safety closure.
PROPOSITION 10 (rent control): In the Times, Liam Dillon looks at the big money being raised in opposition to the ballot measure which would partially repeal the Costa-Hawkins Act, yielding more authority to local governments to impose rent control.
Top donors to the campaign include apartment developers Essex Property Trust of San Mateo and Equity Residential of Chicago, which gave $2.3 million and $1.7 million respectively, according to state campaign finance reports released this week. The California Apartment Assn. has estimated its members will raise approximately $60 million to defeat the initiative, Proposition 10.
MR-T/SR-T: So what happened to Sebastian Ridley-Thomas after his abrupt resignation from the Assembly for unspecified health reason, as colleagues were resigning under sexual harassment allegations? The LAT's Matt Hamilton and Harriet Ryan report:
The [University of California], which sits in his father’s district, hired him as a professor of social work and public policy. USC also gave Ridley-Thomas, who lacked a graduate degree, a scholarship to pursue a master’s program in social work, according to sources familiar with the matter.
The unusual arrangement has come under scrutiny in recent weeks as the scandal-plagued university attempts to adopt more transparency in its affairs. Administrators launched an investigation and Sebastian Ridley-Thomas was fired last month, said the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment publicly.
After the internal probe, USC approached the U.S. Attorney’s office in Los Angeles. The university told federal prosecutors it had concerns about a recent $100,000 donation from a campaign fund controlled by Mark Ridley-Thomas.
The gift to USC’s Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work ended up in the account of a nonprofit group outside the university run by Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, according to sources and public records.
Mack Jenkins, head of the public corruption and civil rights section at the U.S. Attorney’s office, confirmed that a lawyer for USC briefed him on the Ridley-Thomas matter and referred it “for criminal investigation.” He declined further comment.
HARASSMENT: A second complaint against former Assembly Appropriations chief consultant Pedro Reyes was found to be legitimate, reports Alexei Koseff in the Bee. Reyes retired from the Legislature last December after being informed of the complaints.
ABORTION: For McClatchy, Emily Cadei writes that, while abortion is unlikely to be outlawed in California even if the Supreme Court overrules Roe v. Wade, there are still likely ways that opponents could restrict access to the procedure.
CEQA: For CALmatters, Dan Walters writes that while Jerry Brown has talked about the reform of the California Environmental Quality Act as a priority, little has been done under his watch. That is, except for fast-tracks of state buildings and sports arenas.
TRUTH IN TAXATION? Joel Fox writes that, while there is a good argument that money is needed in the City of Sacramento and other local governments to maintain services, the issue of pension costs needs to be conveyed to voters as they consider sales tax continuations or increases.
#CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Jose Cornejo!
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Donation From Prominent L.A. Politician Roils Usc, Which Referred Case To Federal Prosecutors
Matt Hamilton, Harriet Ryan @ latimes.com
The $100,000 gift from Mark Ridley-Thomas, sources said, ended up at an outside nonprofit organization run by his son, former Assemblyman Sebastian Ridley-Thomas.
Bolton: Trump 'will Not Tolerate Interference' In U.S. Elections - Politico
National security adviser John Bolton said in a letter to Senate Democrats Thursday that President Donald Trump is doing more to defend U.S. elections from foreign influence than any previous administration, and he offered to hold classified briefings for Congress on the White House's efforts.
Trump Calls On Sessions To Stop Mueller's Russia Probe, Raising Specter Of Attempted Obstruction
Chris Megerian, Noah Bierman, Eliza Fawcett @ latimes.com
Trump is already reportedly under investigation for potential obstruction of the Russia probe led by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. His tweet early Wednesday was the president's most explicit statement to date seemingly aimed at getting his attorney general, the nation's top law enforcement officer, to end the probe.
Trump Pushes for Interview With Mueller Against Lawyersâ
The special counsel has agreed to accept some answers in writing, but the presidentâÂÂs lawyers believe that answering any questions could put him in legal jeopardy.