Good morning, California.

Department of Motor Vehicles investigators said they have checked 5,422 disabled person parking placards since July. Of those, 640 were used improperly.—The Los Angeles Times

DMV Director Jean Shiomoto: “We ask you to save the space for those individuals who legitimately need a disabled person parking placard.”


Another confirmation fight, close to home

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein

Californians can expect a fight and perhaps some payback as President Donald Trump sets his sights on reshaping the San Francisco-based U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Trump has nominated three Southern California lawyers to fill vacant court positions:

California Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris took out-front stands in opposition of newly confirmed Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

  • Feinstein said Wednesday that Trump brushed aside her suggested nominees.
  • Harris’ spokeswoman told The LA Times that “the White House continues to try to pack the courts with partisan judges.”

Traditionally, senators have some say over home-state judicial nominees even if the senators are from a different party than the president. That tradition is going by the wayside.

Feinstein said she urged the White House to consider one Democratic appointee, U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh of San Jose, and a Republican, Orange County Superior Court Judge James Rogan.

  • That’s intriguing: As a congressman, Rogan helped prosecute the impeachment case against President Bill Clinton.
  • Democrat Adam Schiff unseated Rogan in 2000 from the Glendale-area congressional seat and continues to serve in that district.

Numbers: The 9th Circuit has seven vacancies. Trump has criticized it as the most reversed appellate court in the nation. The Sacramento Bee challenged that claim, reporting in 2017 that the 9th Circuit hears 12,500 cases a year, few of which are ever reviewed by the Supreme Court.

 Meet Gov. Jerry Brown's climate concierge

Ken Alex, director of the Governor's Office of Planning and Research

Ken Alex is a quiet force behind much of California’s climate policy. Currently director of the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, the Long Beach native and Harvard-trained lawyer, 61, has toiled behind the scenes in state government for 36 years, though he once considered switching to film school.
  • Chronicling his work, CALmatters environment reporter Julie Cart calls him “equal parts sage counsel, policy wonk and gentle persuader.”
  • He has wrangled nearly $10 million in repayments from companies that disrupted California’s energy markets in the last decade; traveled the globe to help Gov. Jerry Brown forge agreements on carbon reduction; and facilitated the state satellite Brown recently announced to monitor global warming.
  • Insiders call Alex a visionary who’s completely comfortable operating under the radar.

Walking the talk: He commutes two hours from Berkeley to Sacramento by bicycle and train.

Mayors vs. the PUC

The move among California cities away from big, private utilities and toward community-based electricity providers just got a new wrinkle: On Thursday, the California Public Utilities Commission approved a plan to make breakaway customers pay new exit fees.  

  • PG&E and other investor-owned companies welcomed the decision. Not so much, ratepayers looking to community-choice aggregation as a path to greener, cheaper power.
  • The commission says bill increases for break-away consumers would be 1.68 percent in areas covered by Pacific Gas & Electric Co., 2.5 percent in Southern California Edison areas and 5.24 percent in San Diego Gas & Electric’s territories.
  • CleanPowerSF’s 108,000 customers’ bills will rise 8 percent, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Commissioner Carla J. Peterman, the plan’s main author, said the bump is needed to fairly distribute the costs of the grid.

Mayors Sam Liccardo of San Jose, Libby Schaaf of Oakland, and London Breed of San Francisco, called the plan “a severe blow to California ratepayers and the state’s environmental goals.”

The mayors aren’t going away: Expect the Legislature and the next governor to tackle the issue in 2019.

What bad air and toxic dust are doing to kids

Fish remains, Salton Sea.

Children in San Joaquin Valley counties and Imperial County visit emergency rooms for asthma attacks at twice the rate of kids statewide, Kaiser Health News’ California Healthline reports based on data from the state Department of Public Health.

  • There were 69,375 asthma-related ER visits by children, or about 75 for every 10,000 kids, in 2016, the most recent year for which numbers exist. That was a slight improvement from 2015.
  • Fresno County children suffered asthma attacks so severe that they needed to go to ERs at almost twice the statewide rate for the second year running. The San Joaquin Valley has some of the nation’s worst air.
  • Imperial County had the third-worst rate for childhood asthma-related emergency room visits in 2015 and 2016.

California Healthline on Imperial County: “It is battling a rapidly worsening environmental disaster as the Salton Sea dries up, leaving behind dust contaminated with decades of polluted runoff. The wind blows the toxic dust into the air — and into the lungs of local children.”

The 360-square-mile Salton Sea was formed in 1905 when a Colorado River irrigation canal breached and water rushed into the ancient lake bed. The lake is evaporating, leaving behind toxic dust and dying fish.

  • The Legislature and voters have approved $730 million to deal with the situation.
  • Proposition 3 on the November ballot would allocate another $200 million.

The Legislative Analyst reported in August that the state only recently has begun to deal with this.

Commentary at CALmatters

Cheryl Brown: When we discuss long-term care for seniors, we are not just discussing placing people in nursing homes when they need help taking care of themselves. A larger portion of the long-term care discussion involves in-home care services that enable seniors to age in place with dignity and independence.

Dan Walters: Four measures on the November ballot purport to address California’s housing crisis, but they are minimalist at best, and one would make it worse.

Paying attention? Take our news quiz and see

San Francisco suffragettes meet in the early 1900s.

Which state preceded California in passing women’s suffrage? Which environmental group is advertising against Republican Diane Harkey? What Golden State icon now has an interactive 3D hologram? To test your knowledge, please click here.


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See you on Monday.