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The Nooner for Thursday, January 23, 2020, presented by SYASL Partners
PG&E: While Pacific Gas & Electric feels like its getting closer to exiting Chapter 11 bankruptcy with a deal with the company's debt holders, Governor Gavin Newsom is saying "not so fast." Mariso Lagos writes for KQED:
Gov. Gavin Newsom is once again warning PG&E that its current plan for exiting bankruptcy isn’t good enough to get the state’s approval — a sign-off the utility needs in order to access a new $21 billion state insurance fund aimed at keeping it out of bankruptcy going forward.
In a court filing Wednesday, Newsom's lawyers wrote that PG&E hasn’t changed its plan since the governor first raised concerns about it in December.
“I certainly will not be supporting their current proposal,” Newsom said at an event Wednesday in San Francisco. “They've got to step up their governance. They've got to step up their safety investment.”
WILDFIRES: In the SDUT, Rob Nikoleski reports on a proposal to lock up utility executives who falsify wildfire mitigation reports filed with the CPUC. He writes:
By state law, the big three investor-owned utilities in California must file a wildfire mitigation plan with the state to tap into a $21 billion insurance fund if their equipment accidentally sparks a big wildfire.
San Diego attorney Michael Aguirre said Wednesday he wants the Legislature to “add teeth” to the California Public Utilities Code by explicitly stating if CEOs of power companies violate “the truthfulness of the factual representations” of their respective wildfire prevention plans, they can end up in jail for up to one year.
“This creates a pretty powerful disincentive,” said Aguirre. “The difference is, it’s holding an individual accountable. The CEO is where the buck stops.”
The proposed language also requires top executive officers to certify that each plan “fairly presents, in all material respects, the company’s fire safety operations” and the plans have been “fully implemented,” in accordance with the California Public Utilities Commission.
FROM THE DESK OF THE DEAN: HOUSING: In the Times, George Skelton praises Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) for pulling SB 50 (Wiener) from Senate Appropriations Committee as a necessary step to mitigate the state's housing crunch, with a caution:
Still, what Atkins did cannot be an everyday tool for a legislative leader. In a legislature, the committee system is considered practically sacrosanct, a vital ingredient of internal checks and balances. Committee chairs are treated as sovereigns. They’re insulted and embarrassed if a leader quashes their autonomy.
Occasionally when a measure is being strongly pushed by a house leader and is stuck in a committee, the leader will yank the bill’s opponents off the committee and replace them with supporters. But that’s very rare. Even more rare is going around the committee chairman and pulling the bill from his panel.
Atkins also did it once last year when she yanked a “use of force” bill out of Portantino’s committee. That measure was prompted by the deaths of young African American men in law enforcement shootings.
HOUSING: VOUCHERS: Theresa Clift reports for the Bee on the difficulty folks with federal housing vouchers are having finding a place:
At any given time, there are roughly 1,000 people in Sacramento County with housing vouchers who are looking for landlords to accept them, according to the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency. Still widely known by the old name – Section 8 – Housing Choice Vouchers are highly sought-after and a critical lifeline for thousands in a city where rents continue to soar.
A state law that took effect this year is aimed to remove the barriers voucher holders encounter in finding housing. It prohibits landlords from turning away tenants solely because they are using a voucher to pay a portion of their rent. Proving that you’ve been turned down because of the voucher is difficult because landlords can still deny applicants based on poor credit or rental history checks.
Nevertheless, landlords in Sacramento have been breaking one important section of the law. They now are prohibited from posting the common phrase “no Section 8” in their online advertisements for housing, but The Sacramento Bee identified more than 60 online ads for apartments in the area earlier this month that still listed that phrase. As of Wednesday, just under 20 remained.
While some landlords removed their ads after being contacted by The Bee, the widespread belief that a tenant can be denied simply for using a housing voucher appears to have permeated the rental market in the area.
HOMELESSNESS: This morning at 4am, Governor Gavin Newsom joined Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) for the homeless census in downtown San Diego. Meanwhile, Newsom announced yesterday that he was dispatching 30 travel trailers and medical assistance tents to Los Angeles County. Last week, a similar step was taken for Oakland.
For CalMatters, Matt Levin provides recommendations for Gavin Newsom's homelesness "czar," a role the governor is playing himself.
Well, good czars are hard to find. But that’s partly because homelessness is a complex and difficult problem, with options that range, at best, from imperfect to limited. Some choices might bring people in from the streets over the long term, but are expensive and time-consuming. Others might prevent people from becoming homeless in the first place, but are difficult to efficiently target.
Poll after poll suggests Californians want something done about homelessness, ASAP. So, we’re temporarily making you czar. Here’s a menu of talked-about “solutions” rated with expert input according to speed, cost, and political feasibility. What would be your battle plan?
CALIFORNIA EX-PATS: For the LAT, Molly Hennesy-Fiske looks at the Californians moving to Texas:
When half a dozen California families arrived in a limo-style bus for a daylong tour of suburban homes for sale north of Dallas, the sun was shining but the temperature had dipped below 50 degrees. Some came unprepared for the cooler weather, shivering in hoodies, flip-flops and one in a Dodgers cap.
“Don’t know how much walking I’ll be doing,” said Paul Paone, 57, a grandfather wearing flip-flops and shorts.
Californians have been leaving the Golden State for decades in search of cheaper housing, lower taxes and a different way of life. According to a UC Berkeley poll conducted for the Los Angeles Times last year, more than half of California’s registered voters have considered leaving the state. For thousands, that search leads to Texas. California lost 1 million residents to other states from 2007 to 2016, about 2.5% of its total population, and Texas was the most popular destination, according to a 2018 report from the state Legislative Analyst’s Office. The main reasons Californians cited for wanting to leave: high housing costs (71%), taxes (58%) and the state’s political culture (46%).
CLIMATE RESILIENCY BOND: For CalMatters, Julie Cart reports on the proposals for a "climate resiliency bond":
Competing plans for “climate resiliency” bonds come from three sides of state government: the Assembly, the Senate and Gov. Gavin Newsom.
If any of these proposals are approved by voters in November, the money would be broadly spent, mostly to fund building and retrofitting projects and state grants to communities to prepare for the impacts of climate change.
That’s on top of the $12.5 billion for wide-ranging climate-change programs in the governor’s proposed budget.
ANIMAL SHELTERS: Following the Governor's January Budget proposal to end euthanasia in animal shelters in California, Andrew Sheeler looks at how Newsom seeks to do that.
He’s dedicating $50 million in his 2020-21 state budget proposal to figure out how to achieve his goal.
The money, to be administered by the UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program, is intended to pay for a grant program that over five years would “help local communities achieve the state’s policy goal that no adoptable or treatable dog or cat should be euthanized.” according to the budget summary.
COLLEGE ATHLETES: For the LAT, J. Brady McCollough looks at a company that is trying to get ahead of the implementation of SB 206 (Skinner and Bradford) and laws in other states allowing college athletes to receive compensation for the use of their image, likeness, or name for promotional purposes.
Last fall, after SB 206 became law, Segal, a Denver entrepreneur, founded StudentPlayer.com, a website that employs crowdfunding techniques to connect college athletes with sponsorship opportunities available at schools. In doing so, he created the first known company to take a theoretical concept for name, image and likeness compensation and bring it to life.
Segal ran his idea for the platform by Brad Basmajian, the chief operating officer of Toco Warranty Corporation. Segal is an investor in West Hills-based Toco, which sells vehicle repair coverage. Segal and Basmajian soon agreed: Who better than college athletes, with celebrity status among their fan bases and in some cases nationally, to become the faces and voices behind Toco’s message?
The company committed $100,000 to StudentPlayer.com.
VAPING: For CapRadio, Sammy Caiola writes up the governor's proposal to increase taxes on vaping products containing nicotine to reduce usage. Caiola reports:
Newsom is proposing a $2 tax for every 40 milligrams of nicotine in an e-cigarette. The tax would begin Jan. 2021, and would add to the state’s tobacco product tax, which already applies to the device.
Health advocates say a tax has the potential to deter kids from vaping. Cigarette sales dropped when California raised the tobacco tax in 2017.
“Taxation is traditionally a tactic that we’ve used to combat youth use of tobacco products, and it’s been effective,” said Lindsey Freitas, advocacy director with the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids. “Youth are a lot more price-sensitive to those products.”
However, not everyone believes it's the best strategy.
“On the one hand, it might be the case that if you tax the e-cigarettes, kids are less likely to use them,” said Michael Grossman, a professor at City University of New York and an author on the paper. “But on the other hand, adult smokers are going to be less likely to stop smoking based on our evidence. If you really want to target the behavior of kids, there are other ways to do it.”
GOLDBLUM: Upon learning that actor Jeff Goldblum would be in the Capitol yesterday, folks around the building were jumping to IMDB to figure out who he is. The star of the Jurassic Park franchise was in town to advocate for the plastic-reducing SB 54 and AB 1080 that unexpectedly stalled at the end of last year's legislative activity.
more after the jump...
OH, DUNCAN: For the SDUT, Sam Hodges has a documentary series explanation of the fall of former Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Alpine) and the current campaign to succeed him.
GUIDE TO PREZ CAMPAIGN IN CA: For CalMatters, Ben Christopher provides a guide for candidates planning on campaigning for President in California. Many of the tips (such as on early voting) are applicable to all California races.
Our electorate is diverse. Our election procedures, complex. Our population, enormous; our costs of campaigning, even more so. And now that California’s primary has been boosted to March 3, just after the first contests in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, the qualities that make California politics unique might actually matter this time.
So consider this your primer. We spoke to five experts — two Democratic political consultants, a political data guru, a veteran campaign operator-turned-academic and a California elections researcher — to learn more about the dos and don’ts of California presidential campaigning.
ZINGALE: For the Bee, Sophia Bollag reports that Newsom strategist and longtime Capitol figure Daniel Zingale is retiring to focus on family and his health.
Zingale, who turns 60 this year, said he’ll continue to work as the governor’s senior adviser on strategy and communications as Newsom prepares to deliver his State of the State speech sometime in the next several weeks.
Zingale plans to continue informally advising Newsom as a volunteer and is open to working part-time in the future on “anything that comes up where I can be helpful,” he said. Zingale has served in the cabinets of three of California’s last four governors.
muni matters, cakeday, and classifieds after the jump...
SAN FRANCISCO: Evan Sernoffsky writes for the Chron on the increase in fentanyl deaths in SF.
Deadly fentanyl overdoses that began spiking in 2018 appear to have more than doubled last year in San Francisco, a signal the nation’s opioid epidemic has completed its westward expansion, and a grim reality that has left city health, government and law enforcement officials struggling to respond.
The city medical examiner’s office released stunning data this week, showing deaths from fentanyl increased from 90 to 234 from 2018 to 2019, raising concerns and new calls for intervention.
While the rest of the nation was caught in the grips of a deadly opioid epidemic over the past decade, California largely avoided the staggering spike in overdose deaths ravaging the Northeast and Midwest. But San Francisco’s increase in fatal overdoses over the past two years shows the epidemic is now firmly entrenched in the Bay Area and California, officials said.
SANTA ANA: In the Register, Roxana Kopetman reports that the Santa Ana City Council has approved a large apartment project, but whether it will be built is a legal question.
The Santa Ana council gave a developer the green light to build an apartment complex across from the Discovery Cube OC, about a month after some area residents have filed a lawsuit to block its development.
In a 4-3 vote Tuesday night, the council approved the 256-unit complex at 2525 N. Main Street. It’s unclear when construction might start.
The vote comes about a month after a group calling itself “Santa Ana Citizens for Responsible Development” filed suit in Orange County Superior Court, arguing that the development violates the California Environmental Quality Act, which requires public agencies to identify and mitigate significant environmental impacts. The lawsuit, filed on Dec. 19, names as defendants the city and two “parties of interest,” the Discovery Cube OC Science Center and the project’s developer, Ryan Ogulnick.
Discovery Cube officials support the development, which includes a parking lot for science center workers and patrons. The Cube, which for years had been using parking spots at an office building slated to be demolished to make room for the apartments, plans to buy approximately 1.5 acres of the 5.9 acre site.
Developer Ogulnick, who is building the project through a company called AC 2525 Main LLC, said Wednesday that it would take about six months for construction documents to be completed. In the meantime, he said he hopes to find a compromise with residents.
Did somebody say "CEQA for NIMBY purposes"?
CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Blanca Arellano, Michele Gundros, Glenda Higgins, and George Soares!