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FIRES: The number of missing stands at 196 and the Butte County Sheriff's Office has cleared all areas of discernible remains, although cautions evacuees that they may encounter bone fragments as they return. Many of the 196, if not most, were horrifically incinerated. In perhaps a huge blow to the rebuilding of Paradise, Adventist Health's Feather River Hospital may not re-open, reports Risa Johnson of the Chico Enterprise-Record:
"Feather River Hospital is the top employer in the town of Paradise with about 1,000 part-time and full-time employees. Beyond its main facilities, the hospital also has laboratories in Chico and Magalia and provides services including home health.
The lower level of the hospital on Pentz Road suffered extensive damage and many outbuildings, including offices, were destroyed, Kinney said. Structures still standing include the cancer center, the emergency department, the maternity ward, the outpatient surgery center and the large clinic on Skyway, Kinney said. While the birth center is intact, it suffered from water damage.
Camp Fire update: 88 fatalities, 18,804 structures destroyed; 153,336 acres; 196 persons unaccounted for; 100% contained
Happy Thursday to you. You are almost there! I know after last week, five days seems extraordinarily long. Ugly news for Sacramento commuters this morning from the California Highway Patrol:
Due to the crumbling roadways the #4 and #5 lanes of northbound I-5 from L street on-ramp to Richards Blvd are closed with a Caltrans hard closure.
Avoid I-5 through downtown, use I-80, Business 80 and Hwy 50 as alternate routes.
Richards Blvd. off ramp remains open.
This will be a long term closure and will have a significant impact on traffic through the downtown freeway system.
Great news for the first real Christmas of Downtown Commons, the downtown shopping and entertainment venue that replaced Downtown Plaza. The Kings are home tonight against the Western Conference leading Clippers and Saturday night against the Pacers.
My damn "e" key is being pissy this morning after returning to normal for a week, again now requiring me to hold it until the damn vowel pops up, totally screwing my touch typing and slowing me to a crawl. Meanwhile, since I started writing at 5, we have been through like four news cycles.
CADEM: Late yesterday, the Los Angeles Times published its thorough story by Melanie Mason on the allegations against California Democratic Party chairman Eric Bauman. They are numerous and people were publicly willing to share their accusations. The article gets A1, above-the-fold treatment in today's print edition.
They are detailed and, in many cases, with corroboration. Sacramento Bureau Chief John Myers tweets:
"These kinds of stories are meticulously reported. This one was 2 wks of diligent reporting and fact finding. We had several calls over the holiday and a lot more work in recent days by @melmason, @philwillon, @allisonwisk and @shelbygrad, among others"
Bauman is on leave and plans to seek help on health and alcohol issues. He has until December 6 to respond to the Statement of Charges sent to him by party secretary Jenny Bach, who sent the charges filed by party second vice-chair Daraka Larimore-Hall.
During Bauman's leave until the party's next Executive Board meeting, second vice-chair Alexandra "Alex" Gallardo-Rooker is acting chair. She is a longtime party leader, a Latina who grew through the ranks of the Communications Workers of America and is now a legislative advocate for the union.
Critics of Bauman, many of whom were not supporters of his close election as chair in 2017 are saying "we told you so" and calling for his immediate resignation. As someone who covered that election for you, from what I could tell, these issues were whispered about but not a driving factor in the chair's race.
There are petitions circulating that call for his resignation, although I haven't seen one circulating seeking a special meeting of the Executive Board, which requires 50 signatures of board members with a time and a place (Art. IV, Sec. 7). It's one thing to sign an online petition; it's another to make a deposit for hotel space.
Added at the end of writing: This morning, governor-elect Gavin Newsom called for Bauman's resignation, which will now likely be quickly forthcoming and details are likely being negotiated as I type. While the governor-CDP chair relationship is nothing like President-DNC (when it's a Dem Prez), Bauman won't ignore the incoming Democratic Party governor who currently has 61.8% of the vote, including likely mid-80s support from Dems based on the final PPIC vote.
Those going ape-shit on social media and counting the minutes until resignation need to take a day to just breathe. Apple Watch, can you help with that? The same would be true if this were a GOP leader.
Because the party now compensates its chair to be full-time, which started under Art Torres and I thought was a good idea, the separation needs to be handled in a legal sense. That takes more than five minutes. Bylaws don't supersede state employment law or federal constitutional rights.
I'm not a "thoughts and prayers" guy but as most of you know, I'm a recovering alcoholic and, while it's great now (for us, we would say "today"), it's been a very rough road. I don't know Eric enough to diagnose him, but it is a human tragedy for all involved and should be recognized as such.
So, he is very likely to step down and I sure as hell hope there is no dancing on his political grave and I hope he recovers healthy, contrite, and able to use his political strategy brilliance somewhere in some capacity.
GARCIA: Meanwhile, yesterday, the report emerged of the independent investigator taking a second look at the harassment allegations against Assemblymember Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens). Alexei Koseff reports in the Bee:
"The investigator concluded that “while in a state of inebriation, you encountered Mr. [Daniel] Fierro in the dugout, grabbed his arm for support, put your hand on his back and were overly familiar with him in a way that you would not have been had you been sober,” [Speaker Anthony] Rendon wrote. “However, the preponderance of the evidence did not support a finding that you touched Mr. Fierro on his buttock or genitals or that this was a sexual encounter.”
Garcia said in a statement that she was “pleased that the investigation has concluded."
“Unfortunately, while I disagree with some of the other specific findings, I believe that enough taxpayer dollars have been spent on this investigation,” she said. “I again apologize if language I used in the past made anyone feel uncomfortable. I look forward to continuing to serve my constituents as an advocate for good government, environmental justice, and on women’s issues.”
THE FRESHMEN ARE COMING! Seniors, get out the trash cans, Vaseline the lockers, pay off hotel housekeepers to short-sheet their beds, and otherwise prepare your other pranks for the newbies. The Legislature is being sworn in on Monday at noon. No, there won't be any drama like on December 5, 1994 in the Assembly. BTW, California State Library legislative historian Alex Vassar had a great "Where Are They Now?" piece on Paul Horcher last year for Capitol Weekly.
Here's a look at the "new faces" doc I will send to Nooner Premium subscribers on Monday. This is the quick version. The more detailed two-pager for each member that I'm working on, which will have office information and the final election results and more information about the district and member coming as the new session begins in earnest (well, sort of) January 7. Election results are certified on December 14.
BALLOT UPDATE as of November 29, 2018
TURNOUT as of November 2, 2018
AND THEN THERE WAS ONE...
DE LEÓN AND LA-LA LAND - OK...OK...WHAT'S NEXT: A correction to yesterday's item: Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas is termed-out in 2020 and not 2022. Thus, Councilman Herb Wesson may run for his supe district in March 2020 and Ridley-Thomas may run for mayor in June 2022. The mayoral election will be on the same ballot as, most likely, Gavin Newsom's re-election. That could keep Newsom out of what could be an ugly mayoral race with de León, Ridley-Thomas, and likely a female in an election leading to a November runoff.
FROM THE DESK OF THE DEAN: In the Times, George Skelton writes "Even in this bluest of states, the one-party control of California just won by Democrats is phenomenal. The 2018 elections fulfilled a best-scenario dream for the party and became a worst nightmare for Republicans."
But...but Skelton points out that Democrats have blown dominance before. Will they do it again?
WHY BOTHER? For CALmatters, Ben Christopher looks at how the GOP voters cast ballots in Dem-on-Dem races. In short, many just didn't.
More below the jump...
THE OTHER CAPITOL: Yesterday was good news/bad news for the California congressional delegation's influence in the 116th Congress. While Nancy Pelosi easily won the nod of the caucus to return to the Speaker's chair, she will need to twist 15 of the 32 members who did not vote for her in caucus to cast a vote for her on the floor. While she lost about twice that number of supporters in the 2016 Democratic Leader vote, she needs a majority of the 435 House members rather than just a majority of the caucus. Those members whose votes she is seeking want Pelosi to identify a retirement date following her statements that she sees herself as a "transition Speaker" for the 116th.
Newly elected Gil Cisneros (D-Yorba Linda) was the lone new California Democrat to vote against Pelosi, and he will soon encounter Hurricane Nancy.
Meanwhile, Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) lost to fellow Congressional Black Caucus member Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) for the position of House Democratic Caucus chair, and Pete Aguilar (D-Redlands) lost his bid for caucus vice-chair to Katherine Clark (D-MA). Jeffries is seen by many as future Speaker material, while Aguilar was seen as too moderate for those on the left. Aguilar has been pushing a bipartisan DREAM Act bill along with Jeff Denham (R-Turlock), who lost this month.
THE OTHER HOUSE PARTY: In the Times, Mark Z. Barabak and Sarah D. Wire write that current House Majority Leader and soon-to-be in the minority Kevin McCarthy (D-Bakersfield) faces a reckoning after he strongly encouraged his fellow California House Republicans to vote on bills that became poisonous in the election. Half the delegation is not returning, two through "retirement" and five through losses.
(NO) SMOKIN' IN THE BOYS ROOM: This morning per a release "Senators Jerry Hill, Steve Glazer, Anthony J. Portantino, Connie M. Leyva and Scott Wiener with Assemblymember Kevin McCarty announced today they will introduce a bill when the Legislature reconvenes next week to prohibit sales of flavored tobacco products – including flavored electronic cigarettes – in retail stores and vending machines to halt an upswing in nicotine consumption by youths."
This follows local ordinances, including a sweeping one in San Francisco approved by voters in June. The SF measure was strongly opposed by industry and convenience store owners. The release this morning from Hill's office states:
"Under the state lawmakers’ proposed bill, retail stores and vending machines in California would be prohibited from selling flavored tobacco products. The legislation would cover flavored e-cigarettes, e-hookahs, e-pipes and other vaping devices as well as flavored smokable and nonsmokable products, such as cigars, cigarillos, pipe tobacco, chewing tobacco, snuff, dissolvable tobacco and tobacco edibles. Violators would face civil penalties ranging from $400 to $600 for the first incident to $5,000 to $6,000 for a fifth violation in a five-year period.
The bill would also require sellers and distributors of tobacco products online or by mail, phone or fax to verify that California buyers are 21 or older before the sale is complete. In addition, the legislation would require the shipped package of goods to be conspicuously labeled: “CONTAINS TOBACCO PRODUCTS: SIGNATURE OF PERSON 21 YEARS OF AGE OR OLDER REQUIRED FOR DELIVERY.” The signature is to be obtained before the delivery is complete. Violations of the requirements by sellers or distributors would result in civil penalties, ranging from $1,000 to $2,000 for the first incident to $10,000 for a fifth violation within a five-year period."
This could be one of the bigger legislative fights of the new session. While the growth in e-cigarettes has been most notable, the biggest opposition money is still traditional, with RJ Reynolds's Newport menthol brand holding the position as the second largest cigarette brand (14%) behind Marlboro (30%) in the United States. Menthol cigarettes are particularly popular in the African-American community, largely due to marketing that some identify as predatory that started during the civil rights movement.
The threats of menthol bans is already clobbering tobacco stocks following the election. In 2009, Congress gave the Food and Drug Administration the authority to regulate tobacco products after in 2000 the U.S. Supreme Court held in a 5-4 decision in Food and Drug Administration v. Brown and Williamson Tobacco Corp. that Congress had not included such products in the agency's regulatory authorization.
The U.S. Senate remains in Mitch McConnell's hands, whose Kentucky still has tobacco as a top 5 crop. However, House Democrats now drive the appropriations process, and the stock market thinks that the election change alone will push the largely independent FDA to act on menthol. FDA regulation of cigarettes is something over which the GOP can shut down the government.
Well, I feel I totally just scratched the surface this morning, but the hamsters are ready to run the wheel to get this out to Nooner Premium. Cakeday after our great sponsor, Probolsky Research. Thanks Adam!
#CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Barry Brokaw and Cally Wong!
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MATTHEW CHOI @
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