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IN TODAY'S NOONER:
The Nooner for Monday, December 23, 2019, presented by SYASL Partners
(Thank you to Assembly member Laura Friedman for sharing!)
Well, hello there. Whichever holiday or non-holiday you're observing, I hope you have a great week. I'll still be here because I have no life. Kidding, I'm having a great time with my family in Portland and will hit SoCal the end of next week. I just wake up hours before Mom and thus stick with my routine.
SACRAMENTO INTERGALACTIC AIRPORT: I'm glad I didn't travel in or out of Sacramento Intergalactic Airport yesterday, which sounded like a complete mess after a traffic accident Saturday night severed an AT&T fiber optic cable providing internet service to the Terminal B check-in area. With the busy Southwest and Alaska (largest, but not only) terminal ticket counters unable to print boarding passes or bag tags, it sounded like a total mess, starting last night and lasting all day yesterday, with arrivals and departures either cancelled or delayed up to two hours. This of course caused ripple effects at airports elsewhere as expected planes from SMF weren't arriving.
At 9:08pm yesterday, the SMF Twitter account posted "The AT&T Internet connection has been restored at Sacramento International Airport (SMF). Airlines are working with their internal IT departments to return to the AT&T internet connection and resume normal operations."
All-in-all, it wasn't nearly as bad as being stuck at Dulles Airport for nearly two days during an ice storm (which also essentially shut down ground transportation), one of the reasons I'm happy I don't have the business travel schedule I used to.
Now that things appear to be back to routine today with normal random delays, can we ask how the hell they don't have internet redundancy? For critical operations, not only should there be physical redundancy but provider redundancy.
Let's reflect on the cost of Terminal B where the outage occurred, from Wikipedia (click for citations):
The Central Terminal B complex is three times the size of the original Terminal B with the two parts of the complex – airside and landside – connected by the SMF Automated People Mover. The capacity of Terminal B is 16 million passengers per year, which is not expected to be reached until late in the 2020s. Approximately half of the $1 billion cost of the new terminal comes from a new ticket surcharge of $4.50 per passenger and parking fees. Another quarter of the cost is funded by fees charged by the airport to airlines, which in one case tripled from $6.05 per passenger in 2008 to $19.67 by 2013.
Somebody has some serious splainin' to do...
Several more items, Cakeday, and NEW Classifieds after the jump...
CALIFORNIA POPULATION: I haven't written yet about the latest Department of Finance's latest population projections, with the headline being that California growth if projected to have decelerated to the slowest growth since 1900 because of departures due to the high cost of living and decreasing immigration. People are jumping to conclusions about 2021 redistricting and how many of the state's current congressional seats may be lost and where.
I'm holding off on the issue not because I don't think it matters but rather because these are estimates. They are such with strong methodology, but entirely different than the important than the 2020 Census that will be determine congressional districts under reapportionment and funding for the state under many federal programs. The Census will be an actual count and, indeed, even if we have a very strong and accurate count of every person, we will likely lose a congressional district because of growth over the last decade relatively lower than faster growing states, such as popular California "ex-pat" states of Oregon and Texas. This PPIC publication provides the context.
Ignore the maps that show California can lose 10-11 congressional seats because the Census will only count citizens. There is no way in hell there are two-thirds votes of both houses of the Congress and three-fourths vote of the state legislatures to amend the United States Constitution to provide for political representation in the House of Representatives to be apportioned only on the basis of the number of United States citizens, and no Supreme Court would re-interpret the plain reading of Article I as such.
UTILITIES AND WILDFIRE COSTS: Jeff McDonald writes in the SDUT on how the state's investor-owned utilities managed to persuade the Legislature to shift $13.5 billion in future wildfire cost recovery to ratepayers after years of being rebuffed by Sacramento and the courts for relief. McDonald writes:
Under Assembly Bill 1054, which was introduced, passed and signed into law within a matter of days over the summer, the legal standards have changed.
Now power companies are permitted to get future wildfire damages covered by ratepayers as long as they create a wildfire mitigation plan and receive a “safety certification” from the California Public Utilities Commission, whose regulatory authority dates back to 1911.
“If the electrical corporation has that valid safety certification, the electrical corporation’s conduct would be deemed reasonable unless a party to the proceeding creates a serious doubt as to the reasonableness of the electrical corporation’s conduct,” the bill states.
In short, this way of maintaining the legal principle of strict liability "inverse condemnation" that guarantees recovery for those with property or personal damage caused by utility equipment even when negligence is not found. This is the same principle applied to governmental entities under the takings clause of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, which are imputed to the investor-owned utilities as quasi-governmental actors. Under AB 1054, inverse condemnation stays as the law, although the utilities will be able to recover their liability payout costs from an insurance fund paid for by ratepayers.
It was also a way to put the state in a better negotiating position in the Pacific Gas & Electric Chapter 11 bankruptcy. To qualify for the insurance fund, they must exit bankruptcy by June 30, 2020, and gives the CPUC and governor a much stronger voice in the shape of the reorganization.
AB 5 - ACTORS/MUSICIANS: In the Chron, Joshua Cosman and Carolyn Said report on the actors and musicians affected by AB 5, the bill to codify the California Supreme Court's decision in Dynamex, with industry-specific limited exemptions. The issue is with short-term gig productions and recordings that historically have been non-union side projects.
This was an issue during the Senate Floor debate as Steven Bradford (D-Gardena), who voted for the bill, expressed concerns that he likes to spend some of his non-legislative time as a "gig musician" for studio and other work that the language could end his hobby because he couldn't do that as an employee of the company. Meanwhile, lawyers can continue to work as independent contractors and serve as legislators. He strongly expressed that the issue be back on the table in 2020.
FROM THE DESK OF THE DEAN: MICRA: With the initiative to lift the 1975 cap of $250,000 on non-monetary medical malpractice (e.g. "pain and suffering" and future earnings) now in circulation, George Skelton writes "We're extremely backward on allowing reasonable jury awards for victims of severe medical malpractice." He goes on to discuss the history of the cap and the backers of the new effort to restore the "purchasing power" of the 1975 cap and index it for inflation going forward.
The backers of the initiative have until June 1, 2020 to collect 623,212 signatures and with principle backer Nick Rowley pledging $10 million and the backing of Consumer Watchdog, it should have no problem qualifying but will likely lead to another clash of titans on what could be a $1 billion California ballot (split roll, Uber/Lyft, bail reform, etc.).
NINTH CIRCUIT: For the LAT, Julia Wick looks at the lasting impact of President Trump's reshaping of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, long a liberal behemoth covering eight western states including California and two territories.
This will undoubtedly create more attempts by the California Legislature to test the bounds of federalism. It's a constitutional law geek's dream, even those frustrated with the ideological shift of the circuit and SCOTUS.
CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Christiana Dominguez and Alex Pader!
FAREWELL: League of Women Voters leader and Nooner subscriber Joanne Leavitt of Santa Monica (1940-2019).