The Take: Seeking answers to Ghost Ship fire; waiting for Trump to focus

The Trump Cabinet policies...
The Trump Cabinet policies... johman@sacbee.com

Good morning. On behalf of The Sacramento Bee’s editorial board, welcome to The Take, your opinion-politics newsletter. Please sign up for it here.

Our take


Plenty of blame to go around for Ghost Ship deaths

As the sun set Monday in Oakland, the death toll from a horrific blaze that tore through a dilapidated warehouse known as the Ghost Ship stood at 36. But that number is likely to grow in the coming days as firefighters get back to work searching a building where dozens of young artists lived and served as a venue for illegal dance music raves. The Ghost Ship was a disaster waiting to happen – and everyone who entered the place seemed to know it, for all 10,000 square feet of the warehouse was crammed with propane tanks, exposed electrical wires, old furniture, makeshift bedrooms, instruments and half-finished sculptures. The impulse is to blame the city of Oakland for this horrific fire, but there’s plenty of blame to go around.

Democrats offer bold immigration plan, but at what cost?

Understandably, Democratic legislators have good moral and political reasons for promising to defend undocumented immigrants against Trump administration deportation. But California has many priorities. Before California embarks on a bold new spending program, lawmakers must fully understand its implications. And they shouldn’t promise more than they can afford.

Shawn Hubler

The Oakland warehouse fire was a parent’s worst fear

It isn’t enough to just talk about housing costs and code enforcement and the importance of the arts and who knew what and when they knew it. Those young people who died at the Ghost Ship could have been yours, or mine or anyone’s children. Nothing will change unless we remember who, exactly, was not saved by the grace of God from the worst fear of a parent, whose children, exactly, we have been putting at risk.


Karin Klein: Boycotts have long been used for social change, but the ones against Donald Trump could miss the target.

Bonnie Holmes-Gen and Nick Lapis: The next big step California should take on climate change.

Their take

San Francisco Chronicle: The deadly fire at an east Oakland dance party was beyond horrifying and heartbreaking. What’s worse is that even as the cause and toll were being sorted out Sunday, there was reason to believe that it was eminently avoidable.

East Bay Times: Oakland warehouse inferno was preventable.

Los Angeles Times: California’s Legislature should use its supermajority power judiciously.

The San Diego Union-Tribune: Why Donald Trump education nominee’s agenda is dead on arrival.

Miami Herald: Freedom of speech is our constitutional right, Mr. Trump.

The Charlotte Observer: Let’s make America’s roads, bridges great again.

Chicago Tribune: 75 years later, the hard lesson of Pearl Harbor – and of Sept. 11 – endures.

Syndicates take

Eugene Robinson: How proliferation of fake news presents real perils.

Michael Gerson: What Trump should read before Inauguration Day.

Trudy Rubin: Trump’s loose talk has global reach.

Paul Krugman: The art of the scam.

Charles M. Blow: Trump’s agents of idiocracy.

Letters to the editor

“President-elect Donald Trump is a bull in the China shop of foreign relations, and nothing good will come of his ignorant actions.” Jennifer K. Sommer, Davis

Take a drink

Deputy Interior Secretary Mike Connor, who has spent a decade working on California water issues, visited The Sacramento Bee’s editorial board Monday to update us on the status of the Obama administration’s water-related efforts.

Connor said he and his staff stand ready to brief President-elect Donald Trump’s landing team about California water. So far, however, Team Trump has not sought that briefing, he said in answer to one of our questions. Connor said he’s not concerned, which was diplomatic.

Later in the day outside the Capitol, The Take bumped into Metropolitan Water District chief Jeff Kightlinger and Michael Carlin of the San Francisco Public Utilities District. They’ve heard nothing from Trump’s team and view the silence as highly unusual for a new administration.

We know Trump is busy, what with his tweeting, campaign-style rallies, and photo ops related to 1,000 jobs in Indiana. And the inauguration is 45 days away. That’s plenty of time to become immersed in California’s water issues, right?