THE BUZZ … GAVIN’S LATEST MOVE — PUNCHING BACK: Gov. Gavin Newsom has emerged from a killer week that included the threat of catastrophic new wildfires, deadline pressure to sign hundreds of bills by Sunday and massive power outage brought on by PG&E.
The week brought questions about his handling of the blackout that affected millions, raising the possibility of political blowback and long-term effects on his political future. By Monday, though, Newsom had moved quickly to quiet critics who said he needed to deliver a tough message to the state’s largest investor-owned utility. In doing so, he began to tackle the complex challenge of ensuring Californians wouldn’t face such hardships again — or hear those dreaded words, “the new normal,” from the lips of state bureaucrats. Stay tuned on that one.
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— PUNCHING BACK: “Gavin Newsom demands PG&E pay $100 to each customer affected by California blackouts,’’ by SacBee’s Bryan Anderson: “‘Californians should not pay the price for decades of PG&E’s greed and neglect,‘ Newsom announced on Monday. ‘PG&E’s mismanagement of the power shut offs experienced last week was unacceptable. We will continue to hold PG&E accountable to make radical changes – prioritizing the safety of Californians and modernizing its equipment.‘”
… Investigation: In a letter to the state’s Public Utilities Commission on Monday, Newsom confirmed that the state would launch an investigation into PG&E’s decision to shut off power and its implementation of the outages that left an estimated 2 million residents and 800,000 customers without electricity.
— FALLOUT: “Shadow of Gray Davis looms over Newsom as outages rock California,” by POLITICO’s Carla Marinucci: Former PUC President Loretta Lynch, who had a front row seat to the 2001 energy crisis that resulted in the ouster of Democratic Gov. Gray Davis: “The problem now is that it’s been more than six months — and Gavin owns the PUC — and what the PUC has been doing,’’ says Lynch. “At some point, the regulator has to use a stick, and not a carrot. PG&E has been cut too much slack, period, by the regulator..and he controls the regulator.”
… ‘UNACCEPTABLE’: “State orders PG&E to reform outage program,’’ by SFChronicle’s J.D. Morris: “The state’s top utility regulator demanded Monday that Pacific Gas and Electric Co. immediately begin overhauling its approach to planned power outages, citing serious concerns about how the company put 738,000 customers in 34 counties in the dark last week.“
“Among the improvements California Public Utilities Commission President Marybel Batjer ordered are that PG&E aim to restore power in less than 12 hours on average, similar to what happens after a storm; develop a better process for sending out maps of areas that will be affected by the outages; and do more to limit the scope of future shut-offs.
— QUOTE OF THE DAY: “If I wanted the power shut off for days by bloated, corrupt utilities enabled by bloated, corrupt one-party politicians, I would have stayed in India.” — RNC member and former state GOP vice chair Harmeet Kaur Dhillon on Facebook.
— TWEET OF THE DAY: Ellen DeGeneres @TheEllenShow: “@GavinNewsom, this is incredible.” — TV star and comedienne cheers Newsom’s signing of bill that bars shaming of poorer kids who can’t afford to buy school lunch. Kim Kardashian and Hillary Clinton also tweeted support.
BUENOS DIAS, good Tuesday morning. Tonight is another big Democratic debate, starting at 5 p.m. PT. Here’s how to watch, via the LA Times. And related: here’s the take from the SF Chronicle’s Joe Garofol on how California billionaire Tom Steyer — hitting the debate stage for the first time — will handle or prepare for zingers. Or not. Joe G. also raises the excellent question as to why the major California issue of homelessness has barely been raised at past Democratic debates.
— WHERE’S GAVIN? Nothing official announced.
— THAT WAS THE WEEK THAT WAS: In a final flurry of action that ended Sunday, Newsom put his signature on bills that banned fur sales and animals from circuses, smoking on the beach and plastic bottles in hotel rooms — and vetoed dozens of others — during a legislative session that enacted 870 bills.
… For those keeping score, here’s the CalMatters’ bill tracker.
CALIFORNIA FIRSTS: Newsom signed groundbreaking legislation — like a bill that, as the Merc News reported, banned lunch shaming of poor children in schools — a move that got him several celebrity Twitter “atta boys.’’ Another, reported the LA Times, made California the first state in the nation to push back school start times.
On the health care front, California broke new ground with bills requring abortion medication at public colleges and banning smoking on the beach. And the governor signed bills on issues like vaccinations, lowering drug prescriptions costs, mandating health insurance firms cover the cost of fertility procedures undergoing chemotherapy and other difficult therapies. Here’s the SacBee rundown and California Healthline’s analysis of the many health-related bills signed as the deadline went down.
— GAVIN’S VETO PEN: There were dozens of vetoes among them, via POLITICO’s Kevin Yamamura: CA AB211 (19R) by Assemblyman Ian Calderon (D-Whittier) would have allowed an income tax deduction equal to contributions made to the state’s ScholarShare 529 program to defray future higher education costs. More on the vetoes for Pro subscribers. And, via POLITICO’s Angela Hart, Newsom on Sunday vetoed a trio of mental health bills aimed at improving patient care across the state’s fragmented mental health delivery system. More on the mental health bills for Pro subscribers.
— ON THE cannabis FRONT: “Cannabis retailers can donate products to patients next year,’’ by POLITICO’S Alexander Nieves: “Gov. Gavin Newsom late Saturday signed a package of 10 cannabis bills that includes a measure allowing companies to make tax-free product donations to qualified medical patients.“ (Pro link)
— GAVIN’S FIRST RODEO: At the end of his marathon bill-signing, CalMatters’ Laurel Rosenhall takes a deep dive look at Newsom’s first 10 months in office — often characterized by resisting his predecessor and the president.
POWER INQUIRY — “Electrical tower investigated as possible ignition point of Saddleridge fire,” by the LA Times’ Benjamin Oreskes, Leila Miller and Sonali Kohli: “The cause of the fire has not been determined, officials said. But investigators are checking on reports that flames were seen coming from a power line as the fire started Thursday night, after Sylmar residents … told news outlets that they saw a fire burning at the base of the transmission tower near Saddle Ridge Road, an area investigators are examining as a possible ignition point.”
… AND: “Another utility-sparked wildfire? SoCal Edison alerts state regulators it had malfunction at start of Saddleridge Fire,” by the SF Chronicle’s Matthias Gafni.
STEP BACK — “Why not bury California’s fire-prone power lines underground? The reason is sky high,” by the Palm Springs Desert Sun’s Janet Wilson: “Experts say the answer is simple: money.”
… “In a High-Tech State, Blackouts Are a Low-Tech Way to Prevent Fires,” by The NYT’s James Glanz and Brad Plumer: “[T]here are several rapidly developing types of technology that can reduce the need for some of the most dangerous lines and limit the extent of territory left in the dark.”
— ‘THIS DID NOT GO WELL‘: “Inside PG&E’s Blackout Control Room,” by The NYT’s Ivan Penn: “PG&E’s communications and computer systems faltered, and its website went down as customers tried to find out whether they would be cut off or spared. As the company struggled to tell people what areas would be affected and when, chaos and confusion unspooled outside.”
— “Why is Northern California the epicenter of planned power outages?” by the SF Chronicle’s Catherine Ho: “The state’s climate and terrain — dry winds, long periods between rain, and forested mountains — paired with its largest utility, PG&E, lagging behind on updating infrastructure to minimize fire risk has left Californians experiencing new and unprecedented levels of uncertainty around losing electricity.”
— OP-ED by Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff in The NYT: “We Need a New Capitalism”: “Capitalism, I acknowledge, has been good to me. Over the past 20 years, the company that I co-founded, Salesforce, has generated billions in profits and made me a very wealthy person. I have been fortunate to live a life beyond the wildest imaginations of my great-grandfather, who immigrated to San Francisco from Kiev in the late 1800s. Yet, as a capitalist, I believe it’s time to say out loud what we all know to be true: Capitalism, as we know it, is dead.”
— HEART AND SOUL: “In the rush to harvest body parts, death investigations have been upended,” by the LA Times’ Melody Petersen: “Many forensic experts say organs can be donated with no effect on the autopsy when the cause of a homicide is obvious — such as a gunshot to the head. In those cases, the procurement surgery happens away from the fatal wound. But Southern California medical examiners have also approved donating organs in possible homicide cases in which the cause of death is not clear.”
— ZUCKED UP: “Inside Mark Zuckerberg’s private meetings with conservative pundits,” by POLITICO’s Natasha Bertrand and Daniel Lippman: “The dinners, which began in July, are part of Zuckerberg’s broader effort to cultivate friends on the right amid outrage by President Donald Trump and his allies over alleged ‘bias’ against conservatives at Facebook and other major social media companies.”
— THE WINDY CITY: “How a massive Amazon wind farm promises to change a tiny town in rural America,” by CNBC’s Jacob Douglas: “The Tehachapi Pass is home to one of the largest wind farms in the world. Now a huge tech company is bringing more turbines to the area, and it is going to have an impact on a nearby community.” m
— FOCUS ON SCHIFF: “Why Democrats are sure Adam Schiff is the perfect person to take on Trump,” by NBC’s Jonathan Allen: “Schiff’s style — so measured in tone that his partisan edges can be missed as easily as his dry humor — provides the kind of contrast fellow Democrats hope make the 59-year-old father of two as tough a match for Trump as he was for [James] Rogan.”
— “Macabre Video of Fake Trump Shooting Media and Critics Is Shown at His Resort, by The NYT’s Michael Schmidt and Maggie Haberman: Among the targets — Adam Schiff and Maxine Waters.
— THE RUDY CONNECTION: “California cannabis king linked to Ukrainian who was indicted with Giuliani associates,” by the Sac Bee’s Theresa Clift, Dale Kasler and Ryan Sabalow: “A Ukrainian-born man indicted in a campaign-finance scheme along with two associates of Rudy Giuliani, President Trump’s personal attorney, is an officer in a Sacramento cannabis dispensary controlled by a local businessman with a considerable share of the city’s pot business, records show.”
— NANCY’S NEW CHALLENGE: “New revelations about Trump test Pelosi’s narrow impeachment strategy,” by WaPo’s Rachael Bade: “In solely focusing on Ukraine, Democrats could miss the opportunity to build a stronger case against the president — one that has the potential to sway Senate Republicans who will decide whether to convict Trump if the House votes to impeach. “
— LA TIMES FRONT PAGE … MARK Z. BARABAK: “Joe Biden may be a huge target, but nobody’s knocked him out yet”
— “Hillary Clinton in 2020? You laughed. Donald Trump didn’t,” by former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown in the SF Chronicle: “How else to explain his out-of-right-field tweet Tuesday after yours truly wrote that Clinton would make a far stronger 2020 opponent than any of the Democrats now running?”
— JULIAN’S CA CROWD: Lots of Californians in this new list of endorsements for Julián Castro, reports CBS News’ @ThisalexTin.
— MONEYBALL: GOP Orange County Supervisor Michelle Steel, challenging Democrat Harley Rouda, said she raised over $607,500 in her first full quarter on the campaign trail, endeding the FEC’s third quarter with over $1 million cash-on-hand. Her campaign claims the bottom line makes her “one of the most prolific fundraisers in the country amongst Republican challenger candidates.”
— WATCH: “Is Congressman Costa losing democratic support in the District he’s dominated for four terms?” via YourCentralValley.
— RED TO BLUE LAND: “Supporters and opponents of Trump face off outside Rep. Katie Porter’s Irvine office,” by the LA Times’ Ben Brazil.
— SHE’S DONE: “DA Stephan quits GOP, saying her voter registration became a burden on the job,” by the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Michael Smolens: “Stephan becomes the latest high-profile officeholder in San Diego to leave the GOP, following City Councilman Mark Kersey, now an independent, and Assemblyman Brian Maienschein, a Democrat.”
— “More than half of Latinos in California struggle to stay afloat, report finds,” by the Merc’s Erica Hellerstein: “The study, released Thursday, found broad swaths of the state’s largest ethnic group living in economic insecurity and earning significantly less than Californians overall, even as many work multiple jobs to try to make ends meet.”
— “Californians Are Fleeing the State’s Progressive Policies,” by Steven Greenhut for Reason: “We’ve reached the tipping point, where California’s progressive political imperatives are having such glaring real-world repercussions that it’s hard to keep ignoring them.”
— “Why are these L.A. people sleeping in stacked pods? It’s not just the cost of housing,” by the LA Times’ Nita Lelyveld.
— “California finds widespread water contamination of ‘forever chemicals,’” by the LA Times’ Anna Phillips and Anthony Pesce.
— TRUCKIN’: “Elon Musk says Tesla ‘cybertruck’ to be unlike any other vehicle on the road,” by the Merc’s Rex Crum.
— THE $90 MILLION COMEBACK: “Disgraced Google Exec Andy Rubin Is Trying To Make A Comeback. He Was Quietly Shown The Door At His Venture Firm Earlier This Year,” by BuzzFeed’s Ryan Mac: “Andy Rubin, the former Google senior vice president whose $90 million exit package caused a worldwide employee walkout at the search giant last year, quietly left Playground Global, the venture firm he founded, in May according to documents viewed by BuzzFeed News.”
— “Is Facebook the Wild West of political advertising?” by The Merc’s Casey Tolan: “The company — which has faced allegations of liberal bias from conservatives — has stressed that it wants to stay away from fact-checking candidates’ ads. Ads from politicians won’t be subject to the same rules against misinformation that most other ads on the platform are, the company announced last month.”
— FOUL BALL: “NBA Stars Study Hollywood’s Playbook in China,” by WSJ’s Ben Cohen, Erich Schwartzel and James Areddy: “The NBA’s stumble in China has a dramatic prequel: Hollywood’s early foray into the Chinese market came with its own collisions of free speech and authoritarian politics with billions of dollars at stake.”
— “Cannabis industry fearful local vaping bans could spread throughout California,” by POLITICO Pro’s Alex Nieves: “Over the last two weeks, more than 50 companies, including some of the state’s largest firms like Eaze and Terra Tech, have signed onto letters imploring Newsom to partner with industry in creating new regulations for vape manufacturers and to increase enforcement on the illicit market.” Pro link.
— CHRONIC TROUBLE: “Marijuana Madness Turns Into a Cannabis Crash,” by WSJ’s Jacquie McNish and Vipal Monga: “Share prices of marijuana producers tumbled last week, some by nearly 40%, after a string of disappointing quarterly reports and mounting skepticism about the industry’s rosy growth forecasts.”
— “Man connected to campaign scheme held in Calif.,” via The AP.
— “Attorney for implicated Angels employee: Tyler Skaggs ‘an addict who overdosed,’” by the LA Times’ Mike DiGiovanna.
— “40 horses were rescued from a burning ranch in California,” by CNN’s Alaa Elassar.
At the Broadway penthouse of John’s Grill owner John Konstin Sunday to watch the Fleet Week airshow and the Blue Angels scour the San Francisco skies: State Sen. Scott Wiener, acting District Attorney (and DA candidate) Suzy Loftus, Carolyn Tyler, Carolyn Zinko, Don Sanchez, Lee Houskeeper and Giants announcer Renel Brooks-Moon.
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