Air pollution, amputation & ferrets

Good morning, California

“Even though they probably will be illegal to own and possess in California, now you (President Trump) put us in the predicament of having to find them.” — Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who joined a suit filed in Seattle challenging the Trump administration’s attempt to lift a ban on posting plans on the Internet for how to make guns using 3-D printers.

Trump moves to lower fuel standards, enraging CA officials

LA smog, 2006.

The Trump administration proposed revamped—and loosened—fuel mileage standards Thursday, and challenged California’s authority to regulate air pollution within its borders, CALmatters’ Julie Cart writes.

History: In 2009, President Obama ordered that fleets get an average 54.5 miles a gallon by 2020. That rule relied on emission standards set by a bill by then California Sen. Fran Pavley.

Cart: The long-anticipated Trump proposal freezes fuel-efficiency standards at an average of 35 miles per gallon. That’d be a blow to California’s ambitions for limiting planet-warming greenhouse gases.

Gov. Jerry Brown:  “Motorists will pay more at the pump, get worse gas mileage and breathe dirtier air. California will fight this stupidity in every conceivable way possible.”

Former Gov. Schwarzenegger: “I am sick and tired of these fake conservatives who believe in states’ rights to make their own policies — as long as state policy is to pollute more.”

Careful what you wish for: Automakers had embraced the Obama standards. When Trump took office, car companies sought a delay in implementation. Trump seized the opportunity to unwind part of Obama’s legacy and jam California, a state he lost by 4.27 million votes.

Automakers sent Brown a conciliatory letter Thursday saying they’re committed to “a future with greater electric vehicle penetration.” Separately, they urged Trump to work with California to “avoid a protracted and disruptive legal fight.”

California wants to save your toes and legs

More than 12,000 Californians lost toes, feet, and legs to amputation because of unchecked diabetes in 2016, many of them low-income residents who may not have had regular access to preventive medical services.

In the latest installment of CALmatters’ series, “The Hidden Cure: Wellness,” my colleague David Gorn explores the beginnings of a $5 million a year program to help diabetics who are Medi-Cal enrollees improve their health through diet, exercise, and other lifestyle improvements.

Why this matters: 2.5 million Californians have been diagnosed with adult diabetes. Low-income patients are 10 times as likely as their wealthier counterparts to lose a toe, foot or leg, Gorn writes. The state expects to save about $45 million a year.

P.S. The investigative journalism site,, reports that lower-limb amputations increased by 31 percent from 2010 to 2016 statewide. In San Diego County, the increase was more than twice that: 66.4 percent. It increased by almost 82 percent in Humboldt County and 72 percent in El Dorado County, inewsource’s map shows.

Where charter schools’ campaign money went

Wealthy charter school advocates spent $22.43 million in a failed independent campaign to get former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa into the runoff for governor, and ended with a debt of $620,782, final campaign finance filings show.

Teachers unions and other labor groups teamed with a few wealthy donors, health insurer Blue Shield and Pacific Gas & Electric to spend $6.6 million to help the top vote-getter, Democrat Gavin Newsom, campaign finance reports filed earlier this week show.

The pro-Villaraigosa campaign spent $16 million to boost the former LA mayor; $4 million to attack Newsom; $1.89 million to muddy second-place finisher, Republican John Cox, and $241,000 to help Cox’s rival Orange County Republican Travis Allen. Villaraigosa placed third, 840,000 votes behind Cox.

The biggest winners: Television stations. Canal Partners, a company that purchases airtime, grossed $15.9 million but spent most of that on television ad buys.

What’s next: The costly proxy war between teachers unions and advocates of charter public schools, many of which are nonunion, will resume in the race for Superintendent of Public Instruction between charter supporter Marshall Tuck and Assemblyman Tony Thurmond, a Richmond Democrat.

The politics of ferrets

A political action committee exists to help legalize ferrets.

Gavin Newsom has raised more than $22 million for his run for governor. Patrick Wright hopes he notices one donation of $125 from his Ferret PAC.

Wright, who answers his phone “Ferrets Anonymous,” has been on a mission for 25 years to persuade California’s legislators to legalize ferrets as pets, without success. He hopes Newsom will change that if he is elected governor.

Wright told me: “He accepted the money. Sometimes they return it. I got a nice thank you note.”

Then again, the Newsom campaign has not returned Wright’s calls or responded to his pleading tweets. Wright also approached Republican John Cox, Newsom’s opponent, at a campaign stop at Rudfords Diner in San Diego, and asked for his support:

“He looked at me like I had three eyes.”

State scientists and environmentalists oppose legalizing ferrets, believing they will escape and do what their cousins the weasels do: reproduce and hunt prey, including burrowing birds and other native critters. Although Newsom’s spokesman opted against discussing the topic in any detail with me, Wright should not count on Newsom reversing that stand.

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See you on Monday.

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