THE BUZZ: To Californians incensed by their homes going dark during PG&E’s wildfire-preventing power outages, who are feeling “frustrated and angry and fearful,” Gov. Gavin Newsom has a message: Us, too. But in the end, it’s still on me.
It’s hard to find a more reviled California institution these days than Northern California’s bankrupt power supplier. That was true before spiking wildfire risk prompted PG&E to shut off the lights, when they were on the hook for some catastrophic blazes and faced universal condemnation in Sacramento; it’s even more so now. And Newsom knows it.
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“It is infuriating beyond words to live in a state as innovative and extraordinarily entrepreneurial and capable as the state of California, to be living in an environment where we see this kind of disruption and these kinds of blackouts,” Newsom said during a wildfire presser yesterday, lambasting PG&E’s brand of “dog-eat-dog capitalism,” its “corporate greed” and its decades-long habit of “focusing on shareholders and dividends over you and members of the public.”
The tough talk came as hundreds of thousands lost power amid fires igniting around the state, with more outages likely coming, and Newsom wrote California’s three major IOUs to call out the “unacceptable scope and duration” of PG&E outages and the “inconsistent” moves by its SoCal counterparts. He acknowledged that utilities aren’t responsible for “the acuity of a climate crisis” that’s disproportionately affecting fire-prone California. But he said he “will not forgive” PG&E’s failures.
For all that, Newsom acknowledged that, in the eyes of the electorate, the buck stops with him: “No one cares about my outrage — they want me to fix it.”
We’ve heard Newsom direct harsh words at PG&E for months now. His frustration is real, as you can imagine for a rookie governor seeing his ambitious first term agenda overtaken at times by PG&E problems that far precede his election. But it’s also a political necessity: As a KQED poll showed this week, Californians naturally fault their new governor, with nearly half giving Newsom low grades on blackouts.
ALL HANDS: Legislators are trying to be vigilant on the shutoff issue too, with Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins announcing a working group dedicated to power shutdowns.
BUENOS DIAS, good Friday morning. A new era began last night as the Warriors inaugurated their San Francisco arena with a loss to the the ascendant LA Clippers.
— QUOTE OF THE DAY: “End of the day, no one cares about who’s to blame — they want to know what the hell we’re gonna do. And you know the person that’s accountable for doing that? The person that took the oath of office nine months ago in the state of California.” Newsom on the reality he faces.
— TWEET OF THE DAY: Former Newsom campaign manager Addisu Demissie @ASDem on this pic of Rep. Maxine Waters and Mark Zuckerberg: “I just went and made my bed.”
— WHERE’S GAVIN? Nothing official announced.
— GETTING UGLIER: More salacious pictures of Rep. Katie Hill were published yesterday — the latest sign that an increasingly nasty controversy is unlikely to dissipate soon for the first-term Los Angeles Democrat, whose contested reelection push will coincide with an official House Ethics probe into allegations that Hill had an inappropriate relationship with a subordinate.
Hill fought back yesterday, threatening legal action against the publisher of those pictures. She’s already said she notified the Capitol Police and told her constituents that whoever disseminated the photos “should be punished to the full extent of the law.” POLITICO’s John Bresnahan has more on the unfolding legal fight.
— INVESTIGATION: “L.A. councilman Wesson helped apartment executives while his son received rent break,” by the LA Times’ David Zahniser and Emily Alpert Reyes: “Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson’s son received preferential treatment on his rent for years at an L.A. apartment building while his father helped the building’s executives win approval of a controversial high-rise, according to interviews and records reviewed by The Times.”
— “Criminal misconduct by US border officers has reached a 5-year high,” by Quartz’s Justin Rohrlich: “The offenses range from fraud to capital murder.”
— “NorCal GOP congressman joins Republicans who disrupted impeachment deposition,” by the SF Chronicle’s Tal Kopan: “A group of House Republicans that included Northern California Rep. Doug LaMalfa delayed an impeachment-related deposition for hours Wednesday when they burst into the proceedings.”
— “San Mateo County comes under fire for transferring immigrants to ICE,” by the SF Chronicle’s Tatiana Sanchez.
— “Feds Scrap Plan for Massive Shelter for Immigrant Kids in Inland Empire,” by KQED’s Michelle Wiley: “U.S. Rep. Raul Ruiz, a Democrat who represents parts of the Inland Empire and sits on the House subcommittee that oversees HHS, said he thinks the disintegration of the plan is a direct result of the pressure that he and other California lawmakers and activists put on the government.”
— PORTER’S PICK: Harris or Warren? That’s been a big question hanging over Rep. Katie Porter, who was a law school protege of Sen. Elizabeth Warren but worked with fellow Californian and then-AG Kamala Harris on the mortgage settlement. Per CNN, Porter made her choice: she’s backing Warren, another crack in Harris’s California elected official dominance.
— “California’s tough-on-crime past haunts Kamala Harris,” by the LA Times’ Michael Finnegan: “She is counting on strong support from African Americans. But many black voters are wary of her 27 years as a prosecutor enforcing laws that sent African Americans to prison.”
— “Harris Loses Ground in California to Front-Runners Warren and Sanders,” by KQED’s Scott Shafer: “The poll, taken after last week’s Democratic candidate debate, finds Warren is the top choice of 28% of primary voters, followed by Sanders at 24% and former Vice President Joe Biden at 19%.”
— “From Beverly Hills to Miami Beach: who are America’s richest zip codes backing in 2020?” by The Guardian’s Julia Carrie Wong and Peter Andringa.
— JUUL BACKS OFF, via POLITICO’s Victoria Colliver: Juul had been set to face off against the city of Livermore in March over the East Bay city’s e-cigarette ban, but the San Francisco company on Thursday decided to drop its bid to overturn it. Livermore in July became the second U.S. city — after San Francisco in June — to pass an ordinance banning the sale of all vaping products until they underwent review by the FDA. And Livermore also became the second city to be targeted by Juul in the ballot box after a referendum qualified for the March 3, 2020 election. Juul did not contest a similar ordinance passed in Richmond.
— CASH DASH: “Gavin Newsom raked in campaign money amid Trump feud, legislative deadlines,” by the Sac Bee’s Sophia Bollag: “During that time, Newsom’s sent several fundraising emails to supporters highlighting his ongoing opposition to Trump administration policies.”
— GET READY: “PG&E Preparing for ‘Large-Scale’ Shutoffs Across Northern, Central California This Weekend,” by KQED’s Miranda Leitsinger: “The utility said the widespread power cuts could be of the same size as the ones in early October — which impacted more than 700,000 customers — but of longer duration.”
… “PG&E says high-voltage lines were still on when Kincade Fire started,” by the SF Chronicle’s J.D. Morris: “Investigators have not yet determined cause of the Kincaid Fire, which had swelled to 10,000 acres by Thursday morning. And PG&E’s acknowledgment that transmission lines were still on is by no means an admission that the company’s equipment started the fire.”
… NOT AGAIN: “Fearing flames in the distance, Tubbs Fire survivors: ‘just can’t believe I’m seeing this again,’” by the Merc’s Julia Prodis Sulek.
— AS GOES SO GOES: “New Jersey bill would allow college athletes to earn endorsement money,” by POLITICO’s Carly Sitrin: “Similar bills are also being considered in Florida, New York, South Carolina, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and by Congress.”
— NOT JUST UBER: “Tesla fined for misclassifying janitors as independent contractors,” by POLITICO’s Ian Kullgren.
— “Is your city ready for California’s next recession?” by CalMatters’ Judy Lin and Elizabeth Castillo: “California might be enjoying a historic economic expansion, but pockets of the state could be devastated in the next recession and at least 18 cities are even now at high risk of fiscal distress, according to a first-in-the-nation dashboard released Thursday by State Auditor Elaine Howle.”
— PRICKLY PROBLEM: “Swarm of sea urchins wreaks destruction on US West Coast, “ by The AP’s Gillian Flaccus and Terence Chea: “Tens of millions of voracious purple sea urchins that have already chomped their way through towering underwater kelp forests in California are spreading north to Oregon, sending the delicate marine ecosystem off the shore into such disarray that other critical species are starving to death.”
— “Central Coast project would raise water bills, endanger aquifer, opponents say,” by CalMatters’ Kate Cimini: “Activists and local government officials across Monterey County have banded together to fight a proposed desalination plant that could double the cost of water for some residents and endanger an aquifer that serves low-income communities.”
— “A Single Attorney Has Filed More Than 50 Lawsuits Under New Section 8 Discrimination Law,” by the Voice of San Diego’s Ashly McGlone and Jack Molmud: “San Diego city leaders approved a new ordinance last year that brings steep penalties to landlords who discriminate against tenants based on their source of income, including housing assistance from government programs for low-income individuals such as Section 8 vouchers.”
— “Senators ask for national security probe of TikTok,” by POLITICO’s Doug Palmer: “TikTok is owned by Beijing-based technology company ByteDance, which operates several other content platforms in China. Bytedance says TikTok does not operate in China and stores U.S. user data in the U.S., but the senators said that does not alleviate their concern.“ (Pro link)
— “Senators Ask FTC to Investigate Amazon Over Capital One Hack,” by WSJ’s Robert McMillan: “In a letter dated Thursday, Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, and presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) said Amazon had failed to protect its customers from a known security issue in its cloud-computing system, where Capital One Financial Corp. stored the information.”
— STRIPE SETS OUT: “2nd most valuable U.S. startup to leave SF as city loses another headquarters,” by the SF Chronicle’s Roland Li: “The company will move more than 1,000 employees just 10 miles south of its current South of Market headquarters, which it plans to vacate.”
— “Google Removed Questions About Its Hiring Of A Former DHS Staffer Ahead Of An All-Hands Meeting,” by BuzzFeed’s Ryan Mac and Caroline O’Donovan.
— VAPES APLENTY: “Los Angeles Vape District A Black-Market Gateway,” by California Healthline’s Heidi de Marco: “A five-block section of downtown Los Angeles that used to be part of the city’s Toy District has become ground zero for the nation’s counterfeit cannabis trade.”
— “How Bernie Sanders would legalize marijuana,” by POLITICO’s Mona Zhang.
— “Disney Is Quietly Placing Classic Fox Movies Into Its Vault, and That’s Worrying,” by Vulture’s Matt Zoller Seitz: “The decision to broaden Disney’s artificial scarcity tactic to include thousands of movies released by a onetime rival is a wounding blow to a swath of theatrical venues that used to be able to show them, and where film buffs were able to see them with an audience.”
— “Sacramento’s downtown could double in size. The first step: a Major League Soccer stadium,” by The Sac Bee’s Tony Bizjak and Marcos Bretón.
— “Police respond to shooting outside San Francisco’s Lowell High School,” by the SF Chronicle’s Evan Sernoffsky.
— “Newly Uncovered Cases of Patient Abuse at Laguna Honda Bring Incident Count to 130,” by KQED’s Tara Siler.
— “The Race to Chase,” via the SF Chronicle.
— “Clovis is mostly white and that’s no accident, says group suing the city over housing,” by the Fresno Bee’s Manuela Tobias.
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