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E-129 - Saturday, October 26, 2019, presented by SYASLPartners
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RECENT AURAL PLEASURE: Have a new pod episode related to California politics and policy that you'd like listed? Email Scott.
IN TODAY'S NOONER:
Happy Saturday! ¡Lo siento! to Gmail users for the 6pm delivery of The Nooner yesterday. That was all Gmail. Along with my Gmail copy of The Nooner (I receive it at three addresses on different services for monitoring), I got several other messages at that time sent midday. I just hope you didn't wait for The Nooner before having lunch.
AWARDS: Voting has closed in the 2019 Legislative Golden Bear Awards. In the end, 633 Nooner readers voted, casting 8,426 votes, or 13.3 category ballots cast per voter. That's great! I didn't vote, but I can tell you that those garnering the most votes in the categories is a diverse, impressive array of folks. In short "You did good, kid."
Thank you all! I think Gibran and I will record the podcast announcing the awards on Wednesday for Thursday morning release.
Lots of critical news after the jump...
FIRE AND POWER: While there is a respite in the winds and power has been mostly restored in the service areas of the three investor-owned utilities, PG&E may begin the new public safety power shutoff (PSPS) this afternoon as winds are expected to pick up again. In the PG&E territory, the only area remaining turned off is Sonoma County, mostly because of the ongoing Kincade Fire rather than current weather conditions.
The Sonoma County cities of Healdsburg (est. pop. 12,251) and Windsor (est. pop. 28,565) were put under mandatory evacuation this morning.
These numbers were literally announced as I was moving to editing (which I indeed do on "good" days). The PSPS today through Monday could be of broader, longer, and more significant than the one earlier this week and approaches the one earlier this month. The estimates were just increased to 940,000 customers, which translates into roughly 2.8-3.5 million people. (The number of people per customer account varies widely and isn't perfect and often reported differently.)
In comparison, the outage Tuesday-Thursday this week affected approximately 178,000 customers and the one October 9-13 affected 738,000 customers.
The last update I saw from PG&E (and state and local electeds, emergency services, and media are getting them several times a day) estimated the arrival of the high winds at 6pm today, with power shutoffs beginning a few hours in advance and beginning to the north of the PG&E service area and proceeding south.
Below are the times estimated for de-energization, although weather events could lead to acceleration, delay, or other changes. The all clear window for inspections and re-energization is projected to be 2pm Monday.
Here are the preliminary forecasted outage maps by county. Like Tuesday's event, the outages are scheduled in geographic stages rolled out according to risk. Please note that all of these have accelerated since the scheduled was announced yesterday:
Let's look at the latest on the current two largest fires:
Kincade Fire (Sonoma County), as of 10:28 am 11/26:
Tick Fire (Los Angeles County), as of 7:21am 11/26:
The sustained winds in Sacramento proper (not included in power shutoffs) for tomorrow are forecasted at 28 mph with gusts up to 45-50mph. The hills to the north, east, and west will likely be far greater, with Redding facing gusts of up to 50-60mph.
There's another wind event 10/29-30 that you can see in the NWS 7-day forecast, although I haven't seen anything official relating to electricity for that event. The PSPS plans for the utilities call for notices beginning at 48 hours before a possible shutoff.
In the Los Angeles Times, Marisa Gerber and James Rainey report that the confluence of power outages and "fire weather" has identified a major probem in emergency plans--lots of folks under a mandatory evacuation alert didn't know it because their power was out and those who did faced the danger of driving through the dark to escape the danger zone. They write:
"California has built much of its emergency response system around the premise that alerts and evacuation orders will be received by residents with cellphones or landlines. But landline technology has changed, and telecommunications companies are increasingly relying on internet technology, which is subject to power outages, to serve households with voice calls.
Utilities say they are working to address such challenges. A spokesman for Southern California Edison said a “critical-care customer” program offers advance warning to people who need further assistance in the event of an outage. But it’s unclear whether most customers in need of such service are aware that the program is available, or whether the warning time is enough."
One thing I've heard is people thinking they are fine because their computer's battery lasts six hours but forget that their internet router requires juice for continued service.
Meanwhile, John Myers and Taryn Luna for the LAT look at who is calling the shots on power shutoffs -- it'd not the politicians who many are pointing the fingers at.
For CalMatters, Julie Cart and Judy Lin have an outstanding explainer on the increasing prevalence of wildfires. Here's another shout-out for the nonprofit news org. I was privy to the initial discussions about the organization's creation, and the backers pitched it as being as much about "explaining" the news as traditional "reporting."
They are doing it fantastically with some of the best journos in the biz. Support them!
(Of course, you can support my work as well while you have your card out.)
JUDICIAL APPOINTMENTS: Amid the news cycle raining down on us like the fall leaves from the trees, Gavin Newsom appointed a diverse array (professional and personal) of 11 superior court judges among seven counties.
EDUCATION BOND: Yesterday, the Secretary of State assigned the number to the lone measure on the March 3, 2020 ballot, the $15 billion education bond. Of course, it's "Proposition 13" as the warm up act for a possible debate over changing Proposition 13 as it pertains to commercial and industrial property in November.
CA25 (Santa Clarita-Palmdale): Many of you have already listened to the Nooner Quickie podcast that I recorded with GOP political consultant Mike Madrid yesterday. The allegations/facts are not pretty. They involve divorce, alcohol, and depression. For longtime readers, you know that I personally won't be throwing stones (fortunately, my ex- is a amazing, accomplished woman about whom I have not an ounce of things negative to say).
Rather, as we talked about on the pod and as I've told Democrats in that district, following the House Ethics Committee investigation into an alleged improper relationship between the congresswoman and a member of her congressional staff, the House of Representatives will make a judgement. There is no recall of Members of Congress and the House judges its own members. The problem for Katie Hill is that, given the impeachment hearings, this couldn't have come at a worse time. Speaker Nancy Pelosi will be judged to see how she handles the situation, in the same way that Republican leadership stripped Duncan Hunter of his committee assignments pending the campaign finance trial.
Is it fair since there is a long history of men getting away with worse--including legislative lions? Of course not. It sucks.
But, given recent years of hyper-scrutiny--most often from the left--and younger members elected who have lives which have been chronicled electronically, this is likely the new normal. Madrid made that observation when we talked yesterday on the pod recorded at Darna.
Rep. Hill may survive. She could be ousted from the house and re-elected by her constituents regardless. There are Nooner readers in the district who were elated about her 2018 election. They need to focus on their infrastructure to elect their nominee next year, whoever she or he may be. Similarly, Republicans hoping to return the district to the GOP need to focus on their own infrastructure as building a campaign solely about defeating Hill because of the "story" may in the end be a lot of wasted time.
Regardless of what happens in the political sphere, I wish the best for Hill and it has nothing to do with political parties of a congressional seat. We are all human and she will need love and support regardless of what transpires.
CAKEDAY and CLASSIFIEDS after the jumpity jump...
I am sure there is a lot more out there but, with six hours and my ten fingers, the above is what I've come up with this morning. Stay tuned to my Twitter feed for further updates throughout the day.
#CAKEDAY: Light those candles for John Finley, Niesha Fritz, and V. John White!