California Forum

Mueller jumps, tech takes its lumps and the price of gas bumps

Facebook's General Counsel Colin Stretch, Twitter's Acting General Counsel Sean Edgett, and Google's Senior Vice President and General Counsel Kent Walker, are sworn in for a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Russian election activity and technology, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Nov. 1, 2017.
Facebook's General Counsel Colin Stretch, Twitter's Acting General Counsel Sean Edgett, and Google's Senior Vice President and General Counsel Kent Walker, are sworn in for a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Russian election activity and technology, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Nov. 1, 2017. AP

Welcome to Take Two, our weekly sampler of California opinion, drawn from The Sacramento Bee editorial board’s daily opinion-politics newsletter, The Take. Please go to sacbee.com/site-services/newsletters/ to sign up and tell your friends.

Take the stand

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election yielded its first indictments. Also under fire? Silicon Valley social media companies that let themselves be gamed. Facebook told Congress as many as 126 million Americans were exposed to political propaganda produced by a Russian government-linked troll farm. That’s about half the voting population. Twitter found 2,752 accounts linked to that same Russian operation, up from 201 in September. “You created these platforms and now they are being misused,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein fumed to California’s tech giants during hearings, adding, “do something about it, or we will.” The Mercury News warned before the hearings that tech’s critics are massing, even if Facebook’s earnings are soaring. Our fingers are crossed for a middle way.

Take a chill pill

Mueller’s indictments elicited the usual muffled pooh-poohing from the Republicans representing California in Congress. “I think Russia meddles in everyone’s election,” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy scoffed on CNBC. On Fox News, disgraced House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes hinted darkly about unrelated investigations he’s launched into Hillary Clinton and groused about leaks.

Take a hit

Closer to home, California’s new gas tax hike kicked in – not entirely bad news for those, like us, who think their kids and grandkids are safer on roads without potholes. Not so good, though, for professional tax detesters. Jon Coupal, having announced Tuesday that his Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association is joining the effort to qualify an initiative to repeal the gas tax that increased as of Wednesday, told The Take that more conservatives are about to hop aboard. Our guess is that Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista, will fund it. Issa’s chief strategist, Dave Gilliard, is consultant to the initiative. Coupal would not identify the supporters beyond saying they are “congressional Republicans.” Apparently of the non-pooh-poohing sort.

Take a bigger hit

Meanwhile, if you don’t like the $2.40 a week or so extra that 20 gallons of gas will cost you, you’re going to hate what the Trump administration wants to charge middle-class families to get into Yosemite. Under the plan announced last week by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, fees would increase at 17 of the most popular parks, also including Joshua Tree and Sequoia & Kings Canyon. A seven-day pass would jump from $25 or $30 now to a billfold-busting $70 a vehicle and from $10 to $15 to $30 for pedestrians. At least one California congressional Republican had the sense not to pooh-pooh that kick in the wallet. Rep. Tom McClintock, whose district includes Yosemite, cried foul. So did we.

Take your medicine

Though he swears he doesn’t inhale, intrepid Yolo County Supe Matt Rexroad has been focusing a lot on marijuana lately. Rexroad spent several hours at a dispensary, watching seemingly healthy people come in, show their 420 cards, and leave with their medicine. On Wednesday, Rexroad decided to see how easy it would be to get a cannabis card. He turned to Google, found a website and filled out a form, honestly disclosing he had occasional muscle pain, this because he lifts weights at a gym a few times a week. After paying a $49 fee, he got his card in 15 minutes, issued by Dr. Hector Rene Fernandez, California medical license No. A 35906, with an address in Henderson, Nev. Rexroad and Feelgood Fernandez had never met or spoken. A check of Hernandez’s license at the California Medical Board reveals the following: “License status: Delinquent-License renewal fee has not been paid. No practice is permitted.” Rexroad wasn’t planning to use the card, not that any dispensary clerk would think to check Feelgood Fernandez’s license status.

  Comments