Opinion

Police block reforms + peace officers group’s clout + National Parks to jack up fees + B Street’s new digs

Our take

Editorials

How rebuilding trust between police, public is really up to California’s Legislature: It took almost two years, but the two officers who killed a mentally ill black man on Del Paso Boulevard are no longer with the Sacramento Police Department. How that happened, we may never know because California’s overly restrictive privacy laws for peace officers are getting in the way.

Take a number: $301,556

Our editorial today urges the Legislature to summon the fortitude to alter privacy protections for cops, but notes that police unions refuse to support any law that would let disciplinary records be released to the public. That’s a reference in part to the clout of the Peace Officers Research Association of California, long represented in the Capitol by Aaron Read & Associates. Read’s firm billed $4.11 million in the first three quarters of the year, placing second among all lobby shops in town after Capitol Advocacy. At $301,556, PORAC is Read’s second most lucrative client, after the union that represents state engineers. Among PORAC’s projects: Assembly Bill 1428 by Evan Low, D-Campbell, seeks to bestow even even greater protection of police, potentially halting the disclosure of the names of officers involved in shootings, the California Newspaper Publishers Association reported. Democrats and Republicans seek PORAC’s blessings. The Assembly passed AB 1428 by a 76-0 vote. The bill stalled in the Senate Appropriations Committee, but no bad idea ever truly dies in Sacramento.

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Columns

Dan Walters, CalMatters: The dramatic rise of the San Francisco Bay Area into a globally important cultural and economic powerhouse deserves a prominent place in any history of California. Why it happened, and why the region zoomed past its much larger rival in Southern California is, among other things, a case study in regional cohesion.

Joe Mathews, Zócalo Public Square: California’s fear of high-rises is making housing crisis worse. This statewide acrophobia has helped fuel a historic housing shortage that holds back our economy, drives up homelessness and forces us into long, unhealthy commutes. Taller buildings provide the population density to support robust public transportation and thriving retail corridors. But California is held back by Munsters-era zoning codes that bar tall multiunit buildings from many neighborhoods.

Leonard Pitts Jr.: Women are defying their own hurt, confusion and humiliation so as to put names and faces to acts of thuggery, piggery and dominance. And their moment of bravery necessitates a moment of soul-searching, especially from men who like to think of themselves as decent and good.

Op-eds

Gregory Favre: Buck Busfield had a dream, one that has been shared fervently by a handful of the original B Street members who remain part of the theater’s family. Their faith in the future may have lived in the shadows of doubt from time to time, but it always found its way back into the light of hope. Now, something is happening.

Mike Testa: The Aftershock Festival in Discovery Park. That event attracted 50,000 people and half of them came from outside of California, with tickets being purchased internationally and domestically in all 50 states. Festivalgoers occupied 60 percent of the hotel rooms in the city and unincorporated areas of Sacramento County.

Samantha Draper: Developers got most of what they wanted in housing reform legislation that Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law this month. And yet the building industry continues to complain about wages that are going to be paid to construction workers on certain projects.

Monica Beas: About 10 percent of UC students are eligible for food assistance. UC President Janet Napolitano and state officials have made this issue a priority, but we need to make sure these efforts actually reach students.

Seth Sandronsky: As the slices of economic pie have shifted from the bottom and middle to the top, political power has coalesced around the fortunate few. The Democratic Party’s movement from the left to the right is a symptom of inequality.

Their take

Santa Rosa Press Democrat: We know who the heroes of these fires are, and they have already started to head home. What we need now is everyone else — working to help rebuild this place we call home. At least we will have the help of someone who has been there before, James Lee Witt.

San Francisco Chronicle: California’s most destructive wildfires caused tragic deaths and widespread displacement in wine country. Unless local leaders move quickly, it could also make California’s housing crisis far worse.

The Mercury News: The U.S. technology industry, personalized as Silicon Valley, is under attack. And it’s not just Steve Bannon ranting about “lords of technology” who steal Americans’ jobs, wealth and opportunity. The reasons for the attacks, some perceived and some real, aren’t new. But they have reached a scale that Bay Area industry cannot ignore.

Denver Post: Seventy-five dollars might not sound like a lot of money to a Washington elite, but it’s real money for low-income families. So call us amazed that the Make-America-Great-Again administration is stiffing poor families who wish to enjoy our most popular national parks.

Salt Lake City Tribune: The National Park Service recently announced plans to increase entrance fees to certain parks during peak visitation season from May to September. It hopes to increase vehicle fees from $30 to $70. That’s a 133 percent increase – more than the typical American family can afford or expects to pay at a public park.

Miami Herald: Kris Kobach has worked day and night to suppress (some) Americans’ right to vote in his state of Kansas, where he’s the Republican secretary of state. He’s working even harder to take his malicious intent on the road, across the country, and with the president’s blessing. His misbegotten efforts are all based on the insidious lie of rampant vote fraud.

Lexington Herald-Leader: A Herald-Leader examination of Kentucky’s vast web of tax breaks — we forgive $13 billion each year, more than we collect — offer grim insight into how privileged companies get huge tax breaks while small businesses and individual taxpayers continue footing the bill for diminishing state services.

Seattle Times: Seattle voters should be sure to cast their ballots — for Jenny Durkan in the race for mayor. Durkan has more than 20 years’ experience as a state, federal and private attorney. Most notably she was U.S. Attorney in Seattle from 2009 to 2014 when her office found Seattle police were using unconstitutional, excessive force.

Syndicates’ take

Nicholas Kristof: Dow Chemical Cos.’ nerve gas pesticide is damaging children’s brains. Yet the EPA approved it.

David Brooks: America’s Judeo-Christian ethic is not in great shape these days. President Trump and Steve Bannon have filled the void with their own creed, which is anti-biblical. The American story they tell is not diverse people journeying toward a united future. It’s a zero-sum struggle of class and ethnic conflict.

Frank Bruni: Why a majority of Republicans and conservative-leaning independents believe colleges have a negative impact on America.

E.J. Dionne Jr.: The U.S. does not need tax cuts now. Reducing government revenues at this moment will do far more harm than good. And this obsession keeps us from grappling with the problems we really do need to solve.

Timothy Egan: President Donald Trump is undermining the American experiment. He has shattered the idea, eloquently expressed by President Barack Obama, that we are not “irrevocably bound to a tragic past.” In the Trump era, we are neck-deep in that tragic past.

Paul Krugman: The benefits from cutting corporate taxes would overwhelmingly flow into after-tax profits rather than wages. The main beneficiaries would be stockholders and about 35 percent of U.S. equities are now owned by foreigners. It would be a windfall to wealthy foreigners, who would probably gain a lot more from the tax cut than U.S. workers.

Dana Milbank: I learned that, earlier in my career, I worked in a place that was the very definition of a hostile work environment – a place that is now one of the most visible examples of the Harvey Weinstein fallout. Worse, one of my dearest friends was a victim – indeed, the one who first went public.

Ruben Navarrette: Conservatives want monopoly on calling others “racist.” They want to be the only ones who get to use the word to end an argument when they seemingly don’t have anything else to say.

Kathleen Parker: The vandalism of the Teddy Roosevelt bronze in front of New York’s American Museum of Natural History isn’t directly connected to the recent flurry of protests against Confederate statues. It is the most recent episode in a protest that gained traction in 2016 by the same groups that also want to change Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day.

And finally

Jack Ohman: The truth is out there in the JFK assassination documents, but it’s hiding in plain sight.

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