Good morning, California

“Our vehicles can safely handle fog and light rain, and testing in those conditions is included in our permit,” Waymo said Tuesday.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles’ permit allows Waymo to run up to 40 fully autonomous cars on city streets and highways with posted speeds up to 65 mph, with no human behind the wheel, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Edison acknowledges a role in Thomas Fire

California wildfire

Southern California Edison acknowledged Tuesday that its equipment likely ignited part of last winter’s massive Thomas fire that killed two people and, ultimately, was blamed for a mudslide that killed at least 21 people in Montecito.

The company made the admission in its quarterly earnings statement; its stock dipped in after-hours trading. The final investigation by Ventura County is not yet complete, but the utility’s statement offers a clue about the investigation’s direction.

Fire investigators have removed Edison equipment at two ignition points. The company said it “will not be able to determine the specific cause” until it can analyze that equipment.

The L.A. Times: The 281,893-acre Thomas fire ranks as the second-largest in California history. In addition to killing two people, it destroyed 1,063 structures. It also was a focus of legislative hearings this year into fire liability and how utilities can harden their equipment to avoid future conflagrations as climate change worsens fire risk.

Democratic Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson of Santa Barbara responded to Edison’s statement, telling me:  “We need to—we must—hold utility companies like Edison accountable and ensure they are taking the necessary steps to adapt to the changing climate.”


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An Assembly Republican could be collateral damage

Matthew Harper often wears a hat.

Republican Assemblyman Matthew Harper cruised to victory with 59.5 percent of the vote in his Orange County District in 2014 and 56.2 percent two years ago. Now, he faces the backwash of what Democrats hope will be a “blue wave.”

Assembly Democrats hope to gain a two-thirds majority in Tuesday’s election and see Harper as an opportunity.

His problem: Although Harper of Huntington Beach occupies a seat in what traditionally has been GOP turf, his district is encompassed by those of congressional Republicans Dana Rohrabacher and Mimi Walters. Democrats are focused on both as they seek to take control of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Harper: “Anytime someone spends $1 million against you, you have to be concerned.”

Harper has a conservative voting record and is known for denouncing Democrats’ bills. Few of his measures make it past their first hearing.

When he comes up with an idea, Democrats tend to seize it. He had a bill this year to require suicide-prevention-line phone numbers to be printed on student I.D. cards. His version died. A similar measure by Sen. Anthony Portantino, a Democrat from La Cañada Flintridge, became law.

Money matters. Harper has raised $566,000, compared with $1.2 million raised by his opponent, Yale-educated businesswoman Cottie Petrie-Norris. Independent campaigns funded primarily by organized labor have spent another $400,000-plus to unseat Harper. Expect a close outcome.


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Democrats’ edge: volunteers

Hoping to defeat several congressional Republicans, the California Labor Federation and billionaire activist Tom Steyer’s NextGen America today will announce a final weekend push to knock on 90,000 doors and call tens of thousands more voters.

As many as 20,000 volunteers will spend this weekend talking in person and by phone to people who are likely to vote for Democrats in seven congressional seats where Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump in 2016, Labor Federation spokesman Steve Smith said. Labor has spent $5 million in a year-long effort to identify and motivate voters.

Smith: “There has never been a field program with the breadth and scale, or with the amount of money devoted to it. … A lot of races don’t hinge on field operations, but close races do.”

Get-out-the-vote efforts are a labor-intensive type of campaigning, unlike the high-cost television ads for which California is known.

Democratic candidates benefit from the efforts of California’s 2.5 million union members, plus activists affiliated with such groups as NextGen, Planned Parenthood and Equality California.

California Republicans have no comparable force of volunteers.

Newsom, Cox on the California Dream

In different ways, Democrat Gavin Newsom and Republican John Cox are promising to help restore the California Dream, acknowledging that the state’s long-treasured promise of homeownership and economic mobility is in danger.

The California Dream project, a collaboration among CALmatters and public radio stations, delved into the candidates’ views on how to go about making the dream a reality for more Californians.

Read and hear KPBS’ Amita Sharma’s report here.

What Hiram Johnson wrought

Hiram Johnson

Hiram Johnson, elected governor in 1910, was a progressive whose California Dream included a direct-democracy system that would challenge the corrupt influence of powerful interests, and return power to the people.

He was no saint, journalist Joe Matthews wrote in his book, “California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It.” But he has had an enduring impact on our democracy.

Johnson might not recognize what came of the initiative process. But because of that change 107 years ago, voters will decide 11 ballot measures, as KPCC’s Meghan McCarty Carino explains in the latest California Dream installment.

To read more, please click here.

Commentary at CALmatters

Christopher Damico: I had been shaving my neck a month earlier when I felt a lump that was out of place. When it didn’t go away, I decided to have it checked out. My doctor wasn’t alarmed. He thought it was a cyst and recommended that I have it removed. On that day in 2007, the doctor delivered the news: I had Stage 4 squamous cell cancer in my throat. I was 45 and a father of three young kids.

Dan Walters, CALmatters: Voter participation is the key to whether Democrats score big in California congressional races. Republicans hope a gas-tax repeal measure will lure GOP voters and save targeted seats.

Please email or call me with tips, suggestions and insights, [email protected], 916.201.6281. Thanks for reading, please tell a friend and sign up here.

See you tomorrow.