The Roundup

Jul 19, 2019

Hostile takeover

Hostile takeover of PG&E? Billion-dolllar hedge funds duel over bankrupt utility


Sacramento Bee's DALE KASLER: "Two groups of multibillion-dollar hedge funds are fighting over control of PG&E Corp. in a battle with huge implications for California’s largest electric utility and the thousands of wildfire victims who hold claims against the bankrupt company."


"What had been a quiet tug-of-war turned into a hostile takeover battle late Wednesday. PG&E’s major bondholders, in a filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, said they’re seeking to buy 85 percent of the utility’s stock for $19 billion. The effort is part of a larger reorganization proposal that would include paying billions to victims of the 2017 and 2018 wildfires."


"They want to own the company essentially,” said Michael Wara, director of Stanford University’s Climate and Energy Policy Program and an advisor to the state Senate on wildfire issues."


State adviser slammed SCUSD officials in fiscal crisis, emails show


Sacramento Bee's SAWSAN MORRAR: "An independent fiscal adviser blasted the Sacramento City Unified School District this spring while it was calculating huge cuts to jobs and programs, saying he had “no confidence” in its business staff or their data."


"It appears to me your staff has again demonstrated that they don’t have the capacity or willingness to produce accurate data,” Mike Fine of the state-created Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team said March 7 in a string of emails to Superintendent Jorge Aguilar and board President Jessie Ryan, expressing distress over the data the district was presenting in its second interim budget report."

California misspent $330M that should have helped homeowners, court holds


Sacramento Bee's SOPHIA BOLLAG: "California must use money it obtained from banks through a lawsuit over unfair mortgage practices to help homeowners after the state’s highest court rejected arguments from Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration that it could use the money for other purposes."


"The state secured the money in 2012 as part of a nationwide settlement with Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Ally Financial."


"California as a whole received $18 billion as part of the settlement, according to Bee archives. Much of that money went directly to homeowners."


California's Democratic seat-flippers are raking in campaign cash


The Chronicle's JOHN WILDERMUTH: "The seven California Democrats who flipped GOP-held congressional seats in November may be at the top of the Republicans’ 2020 target list, but the latest campaign finance numbers suggest it’s not going to be easy — or cheap — to take them out."


"Four of those first-term Democrats each raised more than $700,000 in the quarter that ended June 30, according to figures released by the Federal Election Commission. They were led by Rep. Katie Porter of Irvine, who took in more than $1 million."


"Reps. Harley Rouda of Laguna Beach (Orange County), Josh Harder of Turlock (Stanislaus County) and Katie Hill of Santa Clarita (Los Angeles County) all were among the dozen or so first-term Democrats nationally who cracked the $700,000 barrier."


Mental health workers reject Kaiser contract


SARAH ABDESHAHIAN in Capitol Weekly: "Mental health workers at Kaiser Permanente have overwhelmingly rejected a contract offer — a move that followed months of negotiations between Kaiser and the National Union of Healthcare Workers."


"Negotiations between Kaiser and NUHW are continuing."


"Some 88 percent of the NUHW  psychologists, psychiatric nurses, therapists and others voted last week to reject the contract, according to the union."


New diverging diamond interchanges coming to California  


The Chronicle's MICHAEL CABANATUAN: "A new kind of freeway interchange is coming to California — possibly to Berkeley, in time — and it’s likely to make drivers scratch their heads in confusion."


"It’s called a diverging diamond. To enter the freeway, the cutting-edge interchange requires drivers to veer at a 45-degree angle across the center divide, switching sides with opposing traffic and briefly motoring across as if they are in England."


"By being on the left side, they can then glide left onto the highway without a dangerous 90-degree turn across oncoming cars."


Gun-running Long Beach customs agent had 41 machine guns stashed at home


LA Times's ALEJANDRA REYES-VELARDE: "A U.S. Customs and Border Protection watch commander at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach has admitted to running an illegal gun operation, authorities said."


"Wei Xu, 56, of Santa Fe Springs was arrested Feb. 5 after an investigation involving undercover officers to whom Xu sold three guns out of the trunk of his car, including an “off-roster” pistol not certified for sale in California, according to the U.S. attorney’s office."


"He has been on unpaid administrative leave since his arrest and will be fired, said Ciaran McEvoy, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office."


Border patrol agents changing diapers. Local Democrat describes life in migrant detention


McClatchy's EMILY CADEI: "Sacramento Rep. Doris Matsui confirmed some of the worst accounts of the border patrol centers housing migrant men, women and children who’ve crossed over the southern border, after visiting two facilities in Texas last weekend."


"It was just really kind of surprising in a way you can’t steel yourselves for,” Matsui, a Democrat in her 9th term in Congress, told McClatchy in an interview. “In some cases it felt like a third world country on our side of the border."


"Matsui and a delegation of 19 other Democratic House members traveled to McAllen and Brownsville, Texas to visit Customs and Border Patrol processing centers as well as humanitarian organizations working with migrants seeking asylum in the United States. Matsui was born into a U.S. internment camp for Japanese-Americans during World War II. Her late husband, the former Congressman Bob Matsui, was also placed in one of the camps as a small child."


READ MORE related to Immigration: A whole generation of migrant kids is languishing at the US-Mexico border -- LA Times's KATE LINTHICUM  


Tiny California fire agency overcharged $700K for wildfire work. Are others doing it?


Sacramento Bee's BRYAN ANDERSON: "A fire department south of Lake Tahoe has overbilled government agencies by more than $700,000 in the last three years, according to a report released Thursday by the California State Auditor’s office."


"State auditors say the Fallen Leaf Lake Community Services District, which provides fire protection services under an agreement between federal and state agencies, might have to pay the money back, which would dramatically slash its $1.2 million reserve balance."


"In a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom and legislative leaders, State Auditor Elaine Howle wrote that “the district jeopardized its financial viability because it may have to repay the excessive reimbursement amounts."


Jeff Adachi case: Judge quashes SFPD warrant used to search journalist's phone


The Chronicle's MEGAN CASSIDY: "A judge on Thursday quashed a search warrant used by San Francisco police to search a journalist’s phone in what was part of a controversial investigation into the leak of a police report on the death of Public Defender Jeff Adachi."


"San Francisco County Superior Court Judge Rochelle East issued the ruling in court Thursday afternoon, essentially barring investigators from using any evidence that was obtained with the order."


"East’s search warrant was one of several warrants police used in an investigation into who leaked a police report to freelance journalist Bryan Carmody."


Conservative group paid for pro-fur testimony at the Capitol, California activists charge


Sacramento Bee's ELIZABETH SHWE: "A bill to outlaw the sale and manufacture of fur products drew few opponents in its early hearings at the California Capitol."


"That changed on June 25, when animal rights advocates supporting the measure noticed there were more critics in the room."


"In previous hearings, it was less than five people,” said Matt Johnson, press coordinator for Direct Action Everywhere, a group that says it is seeking “revolutionary social and political change for animals."


Can adopting healthy lifestyle ward off Alzheimer's? UC Davis gets $6M to study it


Sacramento Bee's CATHIE ANDERSON: "The Alzheimer’s Association gave $6 million to the University of California, Davis, to fund its participation in a landmark study that will look at whether older adults can ward off deterioration in their memory and thinking by adopting particular lifestyle changes, the university announced Thursday."


"Over the next 18 months, UC Davis will enroll 400 adults ages 60 to 79 to participate in the U.S. Study to Protect Brain Health through Lifestyle Intervention to Reduce Risk. It’s more commonly known as the U.S. POINTER study, and it’s based on a two-year study of at-risk elderly people in Finland that was called the FINGER study."


Unpublished photos of Apollo 11 recovery come to the surface


The Chronicle's PETER FIMRITE: "Significant artifacts of space history that nobody has seen for a half century might have been lost forever if not for Michael Reese II, who recently rediscovered a box full of photographs of the Apollo 11 moon capsule in his San Francisco home."


"The 49-year-old chef and self-described collector found 19 slides of the historic return to Earth of the craft that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin rode to the moon."


"It was a bonanza for Reese, who gave copies to The Chronicle so that space buffs could reminisce on the 50th anniversary of the moon landing Saturday."

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