An abandoned mine near Joshua Tree could host a massive hydropower project
LA Times's SAMMY ROTH: "An abandoned iron mine on the doorstep of Joshua Tree National Park could be repurposed as a massive hydroelectric power plant under a bill with bipartisan support in the state Legislature."
"Senate Bill 772, which was approved by a panel of lawmakers last week with no dissenting votes, would require California to build energy projects that can store large amounts of power for long periods of time. It’s a type of technology the state is likely to need as utility companies buy more and more energy from solar and wind farms, which generate electricity only when the sun is shining or the wind is blowing."
"But SB 772 is a controversial solution to that problem. The bill could jump-start a $2.5-billion hydropower project that critics say would harm Joshua Tree National Park, draining desert groundwater aquifers and sapping above-ground springs that nourish wildlife in and around the park."
California GOP picks favorites for re-flipping seats Democrats won in midterms
From the Chronicle's JOHN WILDERMUTH: "After last year’s midterm drubbing that cost Republicans seven California congressional seats, GOP leaders are going all out to try to show that those Democratic wins were one-off aberrations that won’t be repeated in 2020."
“We’re very confident we can get those seats back,” said Torunn Sinclair, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Congressional Committee.“These are all seats we held in 2016” and for years before that."
"But Republicans don’t hold them now, and that’s just embarrassing for the party. Not only did those flipped seats help the Democrats take control of the House, but they also came from some of the state’s best-known GOP strongholds."
Two Trump nominees confirmed to 9th Circuit Court on party line votes, with third likely to join
McClatchy's EMILY CADEI: "The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is about to have two new, conservative judges join its ranks in California, with a third likely on his way."
"Over the past week, Senate Republicans confirmed conservative Southern California attorneys Kenneth Lee and Daniel Collins to the influential San Francisco-based appeals court, the largest and busiest in the country."
"And after several months of delay, the Senate Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing Wednesday for nominee Daniel Bress, a sign Republicans feel confident about his prospects for confirmation."
State says Trump's highspeed rail cut was payback for border wall battle
Sacramento Bee's SOPHIA BOLLAG: "California in a new lawsuit alleges the Trump administration canceled funding for the state’s high-speed rail project as political retribution for Gov. Gavin Newsom opposition to the president’s border wall plan."
"The lawsuit Newsom’s administration filed in federal court in San Francisco attempts to recover money from the nearly $1 billion contract the federal government canceled last week."
"The state also plans to file a request for a temporary restraining order, which will ask a judge to block the federal government from using the high-speed rail money for other purposes."
Trump wants to cut payments to California for fighting wildfires on fed land
LA Times's JOSEPH SERNA: "The relationship between President Trump and California has long been fraught, but in the aftermath of the state’s deadliest wildfire season, the acrimony is burning hotter than ever."
"In November, as crews battled the Camp and Woolsey fires, Trump blamed the state for “gross mismanagement of the forests” and delivered this ultimatum: “Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!"
"Then, while visiting the devastated town of Paradise later that month, Trump suggested California could eliminate the threat of wildfire by “raking."
Millions of Californians have faulty Real IDs. Here's how to avoid a trip back to the DMV
Sac Bee's BRYAN ANDERSON: "Over the next several months, California’s Department of Motor Vehicles plans to send letters to 3.4 million customers who received Real ID cards prematurely."
"Federal law requires Californians to have that kind of ID by Oct. 1, 2020 to board airplanes or enter federal facilities without a passport. Department of Homeland Security officials determined earlier this year that the California DMV issued millions of cards without asking customers to provide a second proof of residency."
"To resolve the issue, the DMV started mailing notices out to customers on Monday. It will continue sending the letters throughout the summer."
Newsom wants to get to the bargaining table, starting with expired CHP contract
Sac Bee's WES VENTEICHER: "Contracts are expiring this summer for five state worker bargaining units and the state still has no agreement with a California Highway Patrol union whose contract ended nearly a year ago."
"The state’s contract with the California Association of Highway Patrolmen, which represents uniformed officers, expired in July 2018."
"Gov. Gavin Newsom called attention to it in a budget update this month, declaring his administration’s intent to get to the bargaining table."
Kamala Harris, other presidential candidates rack up missed votes in Congress
The Chronicle's TAL KOPAN: "Presidential campaigns are grueling, requiring candidates to engage in near-constant travel around the country to shake hands with voters, promote policies and ask for donations. For sitting members of Congress, that means missing some votes."
"Sen. Kamala Harris, for example, has already missed nearly one out of every four votes in the Senate this year, including one last week to confirm the new No. 2 political appointee at the Justice Department. Earlier in the week, she barely made it back from a campaign trip to New Hampshire in time to a vote on a controversial Trump administration nominee to the San Francisco-based federal appeals court, Kenneth Lee — a pick she had strongly opposed."
Biden's campaign pitch: Make America Normal Again
LA Times's DOYLE MCMANUS: "When Joe Biden entered the Democratic presidential race last month, pundits (including me) questioned whether a gaffe-prone 76-year-old symbol of last-century politics could survive in a next-generation campaign."
"So far, the old guy is proving us wrong."
"Biden has surged to the top of the Democratic field with a well-designed message and an uncharacteristically disciplined campaign. Admittedly, we’re a month from the first debate and eight months from the first balloting. But polls show him winning the support of about 38% of Democratic voters nationwide and in early primary states, well ahead of his nearest rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont."
Women accuse ICE contractor of brutal treatment in federal court suit
The Chronicle's BOB EGELKO: "Four immigrant women accused a federal contractor Tuesday of “brutal and inhumane treatment” during a more than 24-hour trip from the Bay Area to Bakersfield, including several hours shackled in a broiling, windowless van without access to food, water, medication or a restroom."
"Employees of immigration contractor G4S Secure Solutions ignored the women’s cries for help, shoved and injured one woman who could not walk because of her shackles, kicked another woman, and took away one woman’s asthma inhaler and another’s diabetes medication, the women said in a federal court suit in San Francisco."
In wake of restrictive abortion laws, reproductive rights activists rally at City Hall
The Chronicle's GWENDOLYN WU: "Hundreds of pro-choice supporters gathered Tuesday afternoon in San Francisco to denounce a wave of restrictive abortion laws recently passed in the United States."
"Pro-choice advocates held rallies against recent abortion bans in dozens of cities across the United States on Tuesday, including in San Francisco, Albuquerque, St. Louis and Orlando. San Francisco’s #StoptheBan event drew hundreds of protesters, including Planned Parenthood Northern California, city supervisors and officials."
Caged canine blood colonies face new restrictions under proposed Caliornia law
Sac Bee's ANDREW SHEELER: "California lawmakers approved a bill Tuesday aimed at creating a more compassionate, transparent process for canine blood donation."
"The state Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 202 that defines private blood-collection facilities operating in the state as “captive closed colonies,” and creates a funding mechanism for the creation of “community-sourced” blood banks."
"The bill also requires that commercial animal blood banks to disclose more records through and requires that all feline and canine donors be tested for blood-borne pathogens."
SF cops explain why they raided journalist, cite conspiracy probe
The Chronicle's EVAN SERNOFFSKY: "Under fire for a raid on the home and office of a freelance journalist who refused to identify a confidential source, San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott Tuesday explained the action by saying his department suspected the man took part in a criminal conspiracy to steal an internal police report on the February death of Public Defender Jeff Adachi."
"“We believe the line was crossed,” Scott said. “We believe he took part in this act."
Wine magnate pleads guilty, apologizes in admissions scandal
The Chronicle's MATTHIAS GAFNI: "A San Francisco wine magnate pleaded guilty Tuesday to paying $50,000 for a test proctor to correct his daughter’s SAT scores and agreeing to bribe a University of Southern California athletics department official to secure his daughter’s spot on the water polo team even though she was not a top athlete."
"Agustin Huneeus Jr., 53, already stepped down as CEO of Huneeus Vintners, but on Tuesday he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud as part of the nationwide college admissions cheating scandal."
Uber and Lyft could face tax for snarling SF traffic: 'Everyone needs to pay their fair share'
The Chronicle's TRISHA THADANI: "Uber and Lyft could face a tax in their hometown that would raise millions of dollars for San Francisco’s transportation needs — like fixing bike lanes or increasing traffic enforcement."
"The measure, which Supervisor Aaron Peskin plans to unveil at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, would tax net fares of Uber and Lyft rides between 1.5% and 3.25%, depending on the type of ride. If the measure passes, it is expected to raise between $30 million and $32 million a year."
Calls for Trump's impeachment grow in the House
LA Times's JENNIFER HABERKORN: "Numerous House Democrats on Tuesday demanded immediate impeachment proceedings against President Trump amid White House resistance to their investigations, a marked increase in support for launching an effort to remove the president from office."
"The calls came in response to former White House Counsel Donald McGahn’s refusal to attend a congressional hearing, despite a House subpoena. The snub served as a final straw for several Democrats who were already leaning toward starting an impeachment inquiry."
"There are still many Democrats — chief among them Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) — who are reluctant to pursue impeachment,worried about the political risk of appearing too eager to oust Trump and aware that the GOP-controlled Senate is all but certain to refuse to convict Trump and remove him from office."
Trump's fight with Huawei could threaten internet access in rural areas
LA Times's SUHAUNA HUSSAIN/ALICE SU: "In swaths of rural America, along roads where there are just a few farms or homes within a mile-long stretch, customers are so few that the likes of AT&T and T-Mobile don’t bother to build cell towers for coverage."
"The only operators providing wireless access are small carriers, many of which can’t afford equipment from suppliers such as Ericsson and Nokia Corp. and instead rely on cheaper network infrastructure from Huawei Technologies Co. and other Chinese companies."
"President Trump’s move last week to bar U.S. telecommunications networks from acquiring or using equipment from foreign suppliers left these small broadband companies under a cloud of uncertainty. If they can no longer rely on affordable foreign equipment to run their networks, will they run at all?"
Senior military officials rebel against Trump plan to pardon troops accused of war crimes
LA Times's DAVID S CLOUD: "Current and former military officers urged the White House not to pardon service members and security contractors implicated in war crimes, warning that forgiving their offenses would send a dangerous signal to U.S. troops and potential adversaries."
"Aides to President Trump have been examining high-profile war crimes cases from Iraq and Afghanistan, preparing paperwork so Trump could issue pardons during Memorial Day commemorations next week, according to two senior U.S. officials."
"But the possibility that Trump could issue pardons has brought a flood of opposition from current and former high-ranking officers, who say it would encourage misconduct by showing that violations of laws prohibiting attacks on civilians and prisoners of war will be treated with leniency."