Around The Capitol

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The Nooner for Tuesday, September 8, 2020, presented by SYASL Partners

  • COVID-19
  • Wildfires
  • Electricity
  • Crazy train
  • Remittances
  • Cakeday and classifieds

Happy Taco Tuesday! I'm thinking tonight is a fish taco kind of evening and I have some cod filets in the freezer. I need not tell you about the weather, but on my morning walk, it was snowing ash here. It's actually better than the weekend, but that's not saying much. With the winds, today is particularly scary. At least the sun was not burnt orange this morning. It's the little victories in 2020.

BTW, please wake me up when September ends.

The election is eight weeks from today. This has to be one of the longest election seasons in history.

This morning's The Daily from the NYT was particularly good. It was about a death of a mentally ill or substance abusing Black man at the hands of Rochester, NY police and why it took five months to learn about it. I listen to lots of podcasts, but this is one of the best.

Happy first day of school, or not. I feel for you parents and teachers with so much uncertainty.

Tens of thousands of families in Sacramento are dealing with a new layer of uncertainty one day before Sacramento City Unified schools are set to begin their first full days of online instruction.

The district delivered a cease and desist letter to the Sacramento City Teachers Association calling on the union to use the district’s distance learning schedule. But some teachers on Monday said they instead plan to move forward with schedules they collectively created together as a union and are different than the district’s plan.

While the district and teachers union entered state mediation last week, the district adopted a distance learning plan Saturday after starting the school year two days before without one. The announcement included a list of start times for each school and all grade levels. The district serves roughly 42,000 students.

It's a complete clustrerf***. Parents don't know if they can go to the office or what time they need to be home. I have no doubt that the school district is doing all it can do, but 2020 is just so, well, 2020. What we need to remember is that service workers are paying the biggest price. There is no such thing as tele-working for many of these employees. 


-The numbers: 34 more Californians lost their lives to COVID-19 yesterday, bringing the total to 13,762. As with weekends, an important caveat is that with the holiday yesterday, it's likely that reports are low and will be carried forward the next couple of days.

-Apples and pumpkins: In the Bee, Jason Anderson looks at the plight of seasonal farmers with crops ready to pick and with traditional events on the farm.

While Fog Willow Farms in Wilton awaits approval from Sacramento County health officials, a couple of the most popular agricultural tourism destinations in neighboring counties are opening for the harvest season with COVID-19 provisions in place.

Apple Hill in El Dorado County is open daily and Bishop’s Pumpkin Farm in Yuba County is preparing to open next weekend. Dave’s Pumpkin Patch in West Sacramento has announced it will remain closed until November, but Fog Willow Farms owner Joe Cates hopes his family-run farm will open in October, so other families have time to pick out pumpkins for Halloween.

“Right now the county isn’t letting us open,” Cates said. “You can go to a bar and drink outside on their patio, but you can’t go to a pumpkin farm with your kids in the open air with 7 acres. We’re in continuous talks with the county as we speak. Hopefully we get to open soon.”

Cates said he received approval from the Sacramento County Environmental Management Department on Thursday. He is awaiting approval from Sacramento County public health director Dr. Olivia Kasirye.

Cates said school field trips bring about 30,000 children to Fog Willow Farms every year. Half of those field trips were canceled in the spring when schools closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Cates expects most schools to cancel field trips this fall as well, but he still hopes to welcome families to the farm from Oct. 1 to Oct. 31.

WILDFIRES: I've heard a variety of numbers this morning about the quantity of fires in California. We'll just say "dozens." The good news is that the wind is mostly in NorCal with the "Diablo winds." The Santa Anas (or Santanas as people are apt to debate) seem to be relatively calm at 7mph in SoCal and the temperatures are moderate. That's a bit of good news in this otherwise awfuly year.

For AP, Sanchez and Weber report on the awful situation in California, particularly as crews try to rescue folks from the back-country in the High Sierra.

Helicopters rescued more people from wildfires Tuesday as flames chewed through bone-dry California after a scorching Labor Day weekend that saw a dramatic airlift of more than 200 people and ended with the state’s largest utility turning off power to 172,000 customers to try to prevent more blazes.

Three early morning helicopter flights pulled another 35 people from the Sierra National Forest, the California National Guard said.

California has already set a record with 2 million acres (809,000 hectares) burned this year, and the worst part of the wildfire season is just beginning. The previous record was set just two years ago and included the deadliest wildfire in state history, which swept through the community of Paradise and killed 85 people.

In the Times, a team writes that with the dry conditions and soaring temperature, the National Forest Service has shug many forest areas in Southern California.

Through only early September, wildfires so far this year have burned more than 2 million acres in the state, surpassing 2018 for the most acres destroyed in a year, according to figures from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and Times research.

After historic high temperatures in the region over the weekend, officials with the National Forest Service announced they would temporarily close eight national forests at 5 p.m. Monday because of the extreme heat and dangerous fire conditions. Closing those recreation areas — including the Angeles, San Bernardino, Los Padres, Cleveland, Stanislaus, Sierra, Sequoia and Inyo national forests — will help reduce the potential for human-caused fires, they said.

“Existing fires are displaying extreme fire behavior ... and we simply do not have enough resources to fully fight and contain every fire,” said Randy Moore, regional forester for the Forest Service.

The dramatic closure of the national forests, including all in Southern California, shuts all trails, campgrounds, roads and other developed sites in the forests. For example, hikers holding permits to hike to the summit of 14,505-foot Mt. Whitney in the Inyo National Forest will be turned back.

The Chron tells the story of four backpackers caught in the Creek Fire. The fire northeast of Fresno was 135,523 acres and 0% contained last night.

Meanwhile, the listed cause of the ignition of the El Dorado fire near Yucaipa in San Bernardino county is "Equipment." That's the one started by pyrotechics at a general reveal party. I guess "Stupid humans" isn't one of the state's categories. The NYT reports that it's not the first fire started during a gender reveal shindig.

In April 2017 near Green Valley, Ariz., about 26 miles south of Tucson, an off-duty Border Patrol agent fired a rifle at a target filled with colored powder and Tannerite, a highly explosive substance, expecting to learn the gender of his child.

When placed with colorful packets of powder and shot at, Tannerite can fill the air with colorful residue for gender-reveal parties: blue for boys or pink for girls.

The resulting explosion sparked a fire that spread to the Coronado National Forest. It consumed more than 45,000 acres, resulted in $8 million in damages and required nearly 800 firefighters to battle it. The border agent immediately reported the fire and admitted that he started it, the United States Attorney in the District of Arizona said in September 2018.

The agent, Dennis Dickey, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor violation of United States Forest Service regulations, admitting that he had ignited what became known as the Sawmill Fire, and agreed to pay more than $8.1 million in restitution.

Good luck on getting that money. The NYT article lists several cases in which gender reveal parties have gone awry. I knew having kids is a huge responsibility, but never did I think of this!

As of 11:15am, the ElDo fire is only 7% contained.

ELECTRICITY: Parts of Napa and Sonoma counties had their power turned off during the high winds today, report Cynthia Dizikes and Joaquin Palomino in the Chron. They write:

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. cut power to nearly 171,000 customers across Northern California, including parts of Sonoma and Napa counties late Monday and early Tuesday as the utility company braces for intense winds that could damage its equipment and potentially spark new wildfires.

Electrical services might not resume until late Wednesday, though if winds die down earlier than anticipated it could be sooner.

As many as 172,000 customers across the state could lose power as the utility responds to forecasts of strong winds beginning late Monday night and early Tuesday morning. Combined with bone-dry vegetation and continuing heat, there are red flag warnings across much of the state, with extreme fire risk. The shut-offs are meant to reduce the risk of the utility’s equipment igniting a fire.

This round of shut-offs, affecting 22 counties in all, comes amid several large wildfires, an extreme heat wave, poor air quality and the COVID-19 pandemic, making them even more difficult to deal with than in previous years.

As of Tuesday morning, PG&E’s outage map showed scores of planned outages in effect across the Sierra Nevada, stretching from Shasta County to Tuolumne County.

Below is the PG&E map as of 9am. Here is the live map. Purple triangles upside down are the preventative public safety power shutoffs covering most of the foothills, parts of Sonoma and Napa, Redding, and the North Coast. Green dots are small outages (0-49 customers, yellow are midsize (50-499 customers), and orange are the largest (500-4,999 customers). The largest of more than 5,000 would be a rightside up purple triangle.


Meanwhile, power is out in parts of Los Angeles and Orange counties, albeit not preventative like the PG&E territory in NorCal.

CRAZY TRAIN: The Times's Ralph Vartabedian writes that California's high-speed rail project that has been scaled down faces significant cost issues.

It was just last year that Gov. Gavin Newsom said he would need to downsize California’s ambitious bullet train project, because the state could afford only a limited system from Merced to Bakersfield.

But even the viability of that scaled-down $20.4-billion plan is becoming uncertain as construction costs rise in the San Joaquin Valley, expected revenues are under pressure and land acquisition problems continue to mount.

The changing conditions have prompted the California High-Speed Rail Authority to launch a comprehensive reassessment of its plans, said Chief Executive Brian Kelly, who is facing tougher questions by state leaders, given the austere outlook.

REMITTANCES: In the LAT, Wendy Fry and Alexandra Mendoza look at the rise in remittances to Mexico during the pandemic, even while immigrants are among the hardest hit by COVID-19.

The COVID-19 pandemic has slammed many of the immigrants who bused tables, picked crops and stood shoulder to shoulder in factories. But many have kept working in what are considered essential — if risky — jobs. And through the summer, Mexican immigrants like Alaníz living in the United States sent home record sums of money to their families, defying predictions that so-called remittances would plummet.

Mexico received $3.53 billion in remittances in July — most of it from the U.S. — a 7% increase over the same month in 2019, Mexico’s central bank data showed.

Even as the unemployment rate in the United States soared to 14.7% in April, and the World Bank predicted global remittances would tank by about 20%, Latinos working in the United States baffled economists by sending more money home to Mexico and Central America than ever before.

In March, remittances hit their highest level since record-keeping began in 1995, surging 36% to $4 billion. July was the third-highest level on record, central bank data showed.

Meanwhile, Kim Bojórquez writes in the Bee about a new study of the disproportionate impact of the wildfires on the state's farmworkers.

Its authors, Michael Méndez, an assistant professor at the University of California Irvine, Genevieve Flores-Haro, of the Mixteco/Indigena Community Organizing Project, and Lucas Zucker, of the Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy, argue the state should do more to provide more disaster preparedness to undocumented immigrants.

“Disaster exasperates existing disparities,” said Méndez, first author of the study.

Méndez said these disasters are foreseeable and called for local and state governments to plan ahead for all communities, including immigrants.

cakeday and classifieds after the jump...

Probolsky Research

CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Barry Jantz, Evan McLaughlin, Assembly member Freddie Rodriguez, and Cathy Unger!


Add your classified now both in The Nooner and online for $50/week or $150/month by emailing, with a headline, a summary of up to 200 words, and what you'd like the end date to be. You can attach a PDF or provide a link for a bigger job description/info to apply. [Other advertising options]

California Council on Science and Technology briefing

On Monday, September 14th, at 12:00 PM, the California Council on Science and Technology hosts a panel of experts to discuss the role of app-based contact tracing as part of a strategy to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Assembly Member Jacqui Irwin will moderate. Please register here.

Automobile Club of Southern California (AAA): Legislative Advocate

Represent and advocate for the interests of Automobile Club of Southern California (AAA) members and policyholders before the Legislature, Administration, state agencies, industry and trade associations, and related forums. Based in Sacramento. Excellent salary and benefits.

Between 1-3 unfurnished offices are available for sublease in the Wells Fargo office building, 400 Capital Mall Sacramento, CA 95814. The offices are approximately 12’X10’ each. Internet, gym. 24/7/365 key card access; professional offices. One year lease preferred. $1,500 per office. Contact Tricia Horan at or 415-919-7990 with questions.
Offices available for sublease: Meridian Plaza

Between 1-3 offices are available for sublease in the Meridian Plaza office building, 1415 L Street, two blocks from the Capitol. The offices are approximately 150 SF each. Internet, gym, partially furnished (desk, chair, bookcases) are included. 24/7/365 key card access; floor-ceiling windows facing Sierras; professional offices. One year lease preferred. $1,500 per office. Contact Jane at or (415) 577-9734 with questions.

Photos: 1 | 2 | 3

Political Data Inc.
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