Newsom wants every 4-year-old in preschool. His budget has money for 10,000 of them
Sac Bee's HANNAH WILEY: "Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to find a way to send every California 4-year-old to preschool, but he says the state just can’t afford the cost — yet."
"Newsom inches toward his big goal in the 2020-21 state budget proposal he released last week. It includes a plan to spend $31.9 million to open 10,000 additional spots for state-funded, all-day preschool. The commitment grows to $127 million in subsequent years, according to the Finance Department."
"He unveiled the preschool money during a press conference detailing the first draft of his $222 billion budget. The second-year governor has promised a three-year strategy to get 30,000 eligible, low-income 4-year-olds into universal preschool in California."
Sanders, Biden, Warren lead new California poll
The Chronicle's JOHN WILDERMUTH: "California’s March 3 Democratic presidential primary looks like a three-way race, with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, former Vice President Joe Biden and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren locked in a tight contest at the top and everyone else trailing badly, according to a poll released Monday by the Public Policy Institute of California."
“There are three candidates in the top tier and then everyone else,” said Mark Baldassare, president and CEO of the institute and director of the poll. “The race is a coin flip and it was that way the last time,” in the institute’s November poll."
"The three top candidates are all well within the poll’s margin of error, with Sanders at 27%, Biden at 24% and Warren at 23% among likely primary voters. Former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg is well back at 6%, followed by Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar at 4%."
Sonoma County prepares legal action against PG&E over Kincaid fire
The Chronicle's J.D. MORRIS: "Sonoma County is preparing to take legal action against Pacific Gas and Electric Co. as it weighs a regional economic blow of some $725 million from last year’s Kincade Fire and a string of forced power outages."
"A majority of the region’s losses came from an estimated $385 million in property damage caused by the fire, which destroyed 374 buildings, according to a new report from Moody’s Analytics. The rest of the impact was the result of lost economic output, Moody’s found — an estimated $235 million in the fire and $105 million across four PG&E power shut-off events in October and November."
"The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors is set to hear about the economic report Tuesday, the same day the board is to vote on a contract related to the county’s decision to pursue litigation against PG&E because of the Kincade Fire."
Workers would still get paid if their boss cancels a shift under proposed law
Sac Bee's HANNAH WILEY: "California workers could still get paid if their boss abruptly cancels their shift under a proposed law backed by a Democratic lawmaker and former union leader."
"Under legislation state Sen Connie Leyva, D-Chino, is announcing on Monday, workers would be entitled to “modification pay” if their shift gets canceled or rescheduled without advanced notice."
"They’d also earn wages for “on-call” shifts, when employees are required to be available without the promise of getting called into work. The legislation would further require employers to hand out schedules at least a week in advance of the first shift on the calendar."
Trump's joint-employer rule curbs wage theft lawsuits, but not in California
LA Times's MARGOT ROOSEVELT: "Say you’re a company that hires a janitorial staffing agency to clean your offices or a security firm to patrol your parking lot."
"Say you’re a retailer that relies on outside truckers to deliver your goods."
"Say you’re a general contractor who hires drywall and electrical subcontractors."
Ban on surgery for intersex children dies in State Legislature
The Chronicle's ALEXEI KOSEFF: "A bill to ban operations that change the genitalia of young intersex children died Monday in the state Legislature after facing strong opposition from medical groups."
"The Senate Business and Professions Committee rejected SB201 by Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, citing concerns that the types of surgeries it would have prohibited were too broad."
"Sen. Steve Glazer, the Orinda Democrat who chairs the committee, said the legislation was a “missed opportunity.” He said he supported the goal of stopping doctors from assigning a sex to children with ambiguous genitalia, but he was uncomfortable banning other operations that fell under the bill’s definition of intersex."
This new law coulud help boost your retirement savings
LA Times's SUSAN TOMPOR: "The rules of the retirement game just got a sizable overhaul in Congress, giving a nod to the reality that many Americans can’t afford to quit working."
"The changes aren’t massive enough to put to rest concerns about an upcoming retirement crisis, in which some forecast a growing gap between the haves and have-nots. Even so, the adjustments are likely to help some households boost their retirement savings."
"The new law, signed by President Trump in late December, is of particular interest to those who work at small businesses, those who steadily work part time at a given company and those who are worried about whether they’re on a bleak path to outlive the money in their 401(k). Eventually, workers may see their 401(k) plans begin to add options that offer annuities within the plans."
California has so much money for these programs it can't spend it fast enough
Sac Bee's SOPHIA BOLLAG: "Even as he announced plans to spend $222 billion in next year’s budget, Gov. Gavin Newsom noted billions of dollars for kindergarten, housing and mental health programs allocated in past years that still haven’t been spent."
"He’s threatening to take millions of unspent mental health dollars back from counties, and proposing new uses for untouched kindergarten funding. He also acknowledged housing money approved last year has been slow to get out the door."
"He pointed to more than half a billion dollars in unspent money intended for mental health services generated by a tax on people who make more than $1 million in a year. Counties need to spend at least $161 million of that money on mental health prevention and treatment services over the next several months or the state will take it back, Newsom said."
Biden wants to cap CA housing costs and fix health care
Sac Bee's BRYAN ANDERSON: "Former Vice President Joe Biden is aiming to woo California voters with a plan to make sure no American pays more than 30 percent of their income on housing."
“Housing should be a right for people,” Biden said. “The idea that you have so many people on the street in California because of the increase in cost of housing, it’s just not right. We’re gonna fully fund housing, and we’re gonna make sure that everyone has access to Section 8 housing. No one should pay more than 30 percent of their income for housing.”
"Biden touted his housing plans Friday night in Nevada during an interview on The Bee’s “California Nation” podcast — his first interview of the 2020 election season with a California news organization, according to his campaign."
PG&E nuclear plant closure would cause rate increases
The Chronicle's JD MORRIS: "The closure of California’s last nuclear power plant would cost Pacific Gas and Electric Co. customers $112.5 million annually under a regulatory settlement the utility recently reached with various groups."
PG&E customers would pay through 2027 to shut down the Diablo Canyon plant in San Luis Obispo County if the five-member California Public Utilities Commission signs off on the settlement. The entire closure would cost an estimated $3.9 billion, about $1 billion less than PG&E originally sought.
Monthly bills for the average PG&E customer would rise 59 cents under terms of the deal, or $7.08 per year, according to company spokeswoman Hillary Bouchenot. PG&E has already set aside about $3 billion in customer money to fund the plant’s decommissioning, Bouchenot said in an email."
Here's what Newsom wants to do about unpaid traffic fines
Sac Bee's TONY BIZJAK: "Turning right on a red light without fully stopping will cost you $500 in California. Parking blocking a wheelchair access curb could get you a $1,100 ticket. Is your license plate paint peeling? Some car owners have been hit with a $1,000 ticket for that."
"State officials who set those fees are now acknowledging that the high amounts are threatening the financial stability of lower-income drivers who can’t afford to pay those amounts."
"In his state budget proposal, Gov. Gavin Newsom is calling on judicial authorities to create a statewide program that will allow some of California’s poorer drivers to have their traffic citation amounts cut by 50 percent or more."
Planning Commission president to step down, run for SF supe
The Chronicle's DOMINIC FRACASSA/TRISHA THADANI: "Myrna Melgar plans to step away from her role as president of the San Francisco Planning Commission in the next few weeks to run for the District Seven seat on the Board of Supervisors."
"Melgar, a self-described “planning nerd,” has worked on the commission for 3½ years, during which she’s cultivated a reputation as an amenable, even-keeled voice on the often divisive body. District Seven includes the Inner Sunset, Parkmerced, Parkside, Lakeside, Forest Hill and West Portal, among other neighborhoods."
"The Planning Commission has experienced some recent turnover and tumult. Former commissioner Rich Hillis gave up his seat in September to seek out the Planning Department’s top job. Planning Director John Rahaim will retire in February. Commissioner Dennis Richards is expected to relinquish his seat on the commission after entangling himself in a thorny property dispute. He took a leave of absence last month that he said would last until mid-February."
SF DA Boudin hires 4 attorneys after 'Friday Night Massacre'
The Chronicle's EVAN SERNOFFSKY: "San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin hired four attorneys Monday, including two from the public defender’s office, while promoting several veteran prosecutors into management positions after a controversial purge last week."
"His Friday firing of at least seven prosecutors, including three attorneys in management positions, drew widespread attention from both Boudin’s supporters and opponents who are closely following his early moves in office."
"Boudin called the firings, which came two days after he was sworn in, “difficult staffing decisions” as he begins advancing the progressive vision of his campaign."
LA Metro's plan to fix plummeting ridership: More buses, fewer stops on major streets
LA Times's LAURA J NELSON: "Los Angeles County transportation officials on Monday unveiled plans for more frequent bus service on more corridors, a change they said could help reverse a steep decline in bus ridership."
"If approved, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s plan would be the first overhaul of the region’s bus network in more than 25 years. Riders would see changes on the street by the end of next year, officials said."
"The plan calls for buses that arrive every 10 minutes or less — and in some cases, as frequently as every five minutes — on 29 major routes. About 83% of Metro riders could walk to a bus stop with that level of service, compared with 48% now, officials said."
Several inches of rain, 'more than normal' snow expected to hit NorCal
The Chronicle's ALEJANDRO SERRANO: "Weather officials expect a storm from the Pacific Northwest to wallop the Bay Area with widespread rain and whipping winds Wednesday, while dumping up to two feet of snow in some Northern California communities."
"Temperatures will remain cool Thursday morning after the cold front leaves up to 2 inches of rain in the North Bay and up to an inch in San Francisco, according to the National Weather Service. The coastal mountains could receive up to 3 inches of rain."
“It’s all beneficial,” said Matt Mehle, a meteorologist with the weather service. “This is not an atmospheric river. We are not forecasting any catastrophic flooding or anything to that effect."
Russians hacked company key to Ukraine scandal
AP's FRANK BAJAK: "A U.S. cybersecurity company says Russian military agents have successfully hacked the Ukrainian gas company at the center of the scandal that led to President Donald Trump's impeachment."
"Russian agents launched a phishing campaign in early November to steal the login credentials of employees of Burisma Holdings, the gas company, according to Area 1 Security, a Silicon Valley company that specializes in e-mail security."
"Hunter Biden, son of former U.S. vice president and Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden, previously served on Burisma's board."
Idea to dismiss impeachment articles cools in the Senate
AP: "Senate Republicans signaled they would reject the idea of simply voting to dismiss the articles of impeachment against President Trump as the House prepares to send the charges to the chamber for the historic trial."
“I think our members generally are not interested in the motion to dismiss. They think both sides need to be heard,” Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), who is part of GOP leadership, said Monday."
"It will be only the third presidential impeachment trial in American history, a serious and dramatic endeavor coming amid the backdrop of a politically divided nation and the start of an election year."