Good morning, California.
“I believe that the pursuit of truth and right ideas through honest debate and rigorous argument is a noble undertaking. I am grateful to have played a small role in the conversations that have helped guide this extraordinary nation’s destiny.” — Columnist Charles Krauthammer, who died Thursday at age 68.
A truce in the privacy initiative war. Will it hold?
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg's company donated $200,000 to block a privacy initiative. Now, tech companies must decide whether to stand down.
Legislators struck a tentative deal Thursday with an initiative proponent to significantly expand consumers’ privacy rights while averting a costly campaign in a state known for $100 million initiative wars.
San Francisco developer and privacy advocate Alastair Mactaggart spent $3.5 million to gather sufficient signatures to qualify the California Consumer Privacy Act for the November ballot.
His initiative would restrict companies from collecting and selling people’s personal information and expand the right to sue over data breaches. Mactaggart had said he would stand down if he could structure a deal with the Legislature.
Assemblyman Ed Chau, a Democrat from Monterey Park, and Sen. Bob Hertzberg, a Los Angeles Democrat, entered into talks with Mactaggart, businesses and consumer groups.
The result, Mactaggart said in a statement, would grant “powerful rights to Californians: Tell me what you know about me. Stop selling it. Keep it safe.”
Hertzberg said initiatives are almost impossible to fix once voters approve them. “It’s always better to do a legislative deal. We can fix it if we have to.”
Why settle: Mactaggart can avoid a fight he might lose and will get much of what he sought. Consumers would gain the right to know what information companies have collected and deny companies the ability to sell their information.
AT&T, Facebook, Microsoft, Google and other tech companies poured $2 million into a campaign committee to kill the measure. An initiative fight would have cost tens of millions. Also, they could lose and would muddy their brands by fighting consumer privacy.
Tight deadline: Both houses must approve the legislation and Gov. Jerry Brown must sign it by next Thursday, the deadline for pulling initiatives from the November ballot.
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PG&E faces $2.5 billion in fire liability—and counting
Santa Rosa fire aftermath.
Pacific Gas & Electric Company told shareholders it faces no less than $2.5 billion in costs related to the October firestorm.
More to come: The $2.5 billion assessment doesn’t count potential liability from the 200-plus lawsuits that have been filed, nor damages from the the most devastating of the blazes, the Tubbs fire, which swept through Santa Rosa and killed 22 people.
The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection has issued reports alleging that PG&E violated state codes intended to prevent fires in 12 of the 16 October blazes that occurred in its Northern California service territory.
Cal Fire has not issued its finding on the Tubbs fire. The state has been issuing the reports late on Fridays, after the stock markets close.
Geisha Williams, PG&E’s CEO: “Years of drought, extreme heat and 129 million dead trees have created a ‘new normal’ for our state that requires comprehensive new solutions.”
What’s next: PG&E and the union that represents its workers have been lobbying for legislation t0 avoid bankruptcy. Insurance companies, fire victims and their attorneys have been insisting that PG&E provide compensation.
PG&E-backed legislation by Sen. Bill Dodd, a Napa Democrat, cleared a key committee this week. It faces another committee vote next Thursday.
A mom with a modest California Dream faces eviction
Marie Camacho has a modest California Dream: Raising her son in a safe, affordable home, with family, school and her church nearby. Then she got a 60-day notice to vacate her apartment, and she doubts she will be able to afford the rent at a comparable place.
Camacho: “It’s always in the back of my mind: What am I going to do? I don’t want to be homeless.”
In the latest installment of CALmatters’ California Dream project, Chris Nichols of Capital Public Radio explores the problems associated with renting, from the perspectives of tenants and owners.
Voters will get a crack at the issue this November when an initiative will be on the ballot that would authorize cities to expand rent control.
Money matters: AIDS Healthcare Foundation in Los Angeles spent $2.1 million to gather sufficient signatures to qualify the initiative. The same organization sponsored 2016 initiatives to restrict the prices of pharmaceuticals, and to require porn actors to use condoms.
Apartment owners are leading the opposition, raising almost $8 million. Half has come from two real estate investment trusts, Essex Property Trust of San Mateo, and Equity Residential of Chicago.
Housing crisis? Pension debt? That’s complicated. Might as well go surfing.
The Senate will pass as early as next week a bill declaring surfing as the official sport of California, rejecting skateboarders’ plea that their endeavor gain the designation.
Democratic assemblymen Al Muratsuchi, a surfer from Torrance, and Ian Calderon of Whittier, an alumnus of Long Beach State’s surfing team, are carrying the bill.
Assemblyman Travis Allen of Huntington Beach is one of several Republicans who has voted for the measure. Evidently a more successful surfer than gubernatorial candidate, Allen got into the Guinness Book of World Records for being part of the largest group to crowd onto a single surfboard.
This being Sacramento, there is a lobbying element. Nike, Inc., which sells surf gear, is lobbying for the bill and spread $12,000 in campaign donations to legislators last month.
No word on whether Gov. Jerry Brown, who is not a surfer, will sign the measure.
Our news quiz: What is Slurm?
CALmatters’ John Osborn D’Agostino, wanting to know whether you’ve been paying attention, offers this news quiz, which asks questions about net neutrality, PG&E, carcinogens and the sorts of drinks restaurants are being asked to offer kids.
Among the possible answers: Cheetos, Slurm and missing cargo planes.
See you Monday.