Newsletter: Today: Trump’s Border Plans Hit a Wall for Now
President Trump says he hasn’t given up on funding for a wall, but that’s not his only border initiative that’s run into problems.
Trump’s Border Plans Hit a Wall for Now
About 800,000 federal workers are cleared to come back to work today, after President Trump agreed with Democrats on Friday to end a 35-day partial government shutdown without getting any money for his desired wall along the border with Mexico. Still, Trump has vowed not to give up the fight, and his acting White House chief of staff warned that the president could bring about another shutdown or declare a national emergency if he doesn’t get “his $5.7 billion” for the wall. As it turns out, this isn’t the only border security plan that the Trump administration is having problems executing: Two years after the president signed orders to hire 15,000 new border agents and immigration officers, the administration has spent tens of millions of dollars but has thousands more vacancies than when it began.
-- While Trump’s border wall demand shut down the government, his company fired undocumented workers in New York. Some had worked for the Trump Organization for more than a decade.
-- Former Starbucks Chief Executive Howard Schultz says he’s seriously weighing a run for president as an independent. Reaction from many Democrats was not exactly warm.
The Pluses and Minuses of Early Momentum
It’s been one week since Sen. Kamala Harris announced on Martin Luther King Jr. Day that she would be making a run at becoming the nation’s first black female president. Yesterday, she formally launched her bid with a speech in her hometown of Oakland that never mentioned Trump by name but was aimed squarely at him. Some observers are even calling her the Democratic front-runner. But with the primary votes still more than a year away, getting out front first doesn’t necessarily pay off — and has plenty of downsides.
Facing the Heat in Sacramento
California has more than 250,000 miles of power lines and 4.2 million utility poles; the state Public Utilities Commission has 19 people to do on-the-ground safety audits and spot checks, as well as investigate fires. That, combined with a lack of sophisticated technology, means regulators rely on something of an honor system when it comes to making sure trees and vegetation are cut back from the lines. But after a series of unprecedented wildfires, lawmakers are reconsidering the options for oversight. In 3½ years, equipment owned by the state’s three largest utilities ignited more than 2,000 fires. The number of citations: nine.
Newsom’s Two Big Tests So Far
Gov. Gavin Newsom has been in office three weeks, but already we’re getting a sense of how he operates in a crisis. During the Los Angeles teachers’ strike, he offered a mostly muted response publicly, while behind the scenes he and his staff played a pivotal role in helping to resolve the dispute. Now, with the state’s largest utility, Pacific Gas & Electric, on the verge of filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy because of potential wildfire liabilities, Newsom is weighing how to respond.
OUR MUST-READS FROM THE WEEKEND
-- Could the now-ended L.A. teachers’ strike increase the possibility that voters might roll back parts of Proposition 13?
-- As Joshua Tree National Park reopens with the end of the government shutdown, there’s anger over damage to the environment and the local economy.
-- In the heart of California, a sheriff is making the case for a middle ground on immigration. Columnist Steve Lopez went to Tulare County to find out more.
-- Baghdad is reemerging from 15 blood-soaked years, but many are realizing now that the city barely functions anymore.
-- Inside the maiden voyage of the Nieuw Statendam, the new Holland America cruise ship.
-- L.A. County’s Board of Supervisors is expected to vote Tuesday on a motion that would challenge the recent reinstatement of a deputy sheriff who was fired in connection with allegations of domestic abuse and stalking.
-- Occidental College President Jonathan Veitch, who weathered turbulent campus protests over sexual assault and racial inequity, will step down next year, the school’s board of trustees says.
-- Of the 12 people killed at Borderline Bar and Grill, Telemachus Orfanos was the last to be laid to rest. His family planned it as a celebration with music and dancing, because Orfanos would have wanted it that way.
-- New details in the case against a Navy SEAL charged with multiple war crimes have emerged during a hearing at Naval Base San Diego. Among them: that seven Navy SEALs have been granted immunity to testify for the prosecution.
HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS
-- At the Screen Actors Guild Awards, “Black Panther” took the night’s top award for film ensemble. Columnist Glenn Whipp breaks down what the SAG winners could mean for the Oscars.
-- The documentary “Leaving Neverland,” which details the allegations of two men who say they suffered years of sexual abuse by Michael Jackson, has sparked a backlash among some Jackson fans after its premiere in the Sundance Film Festival.
-- Lyn Kienholz, a fierce advocate for California artists and the founder of the California/International Arts Foundation, has died at 88.
-- Authorities say a man suspected of killing his parents and three other people in Louisiana was arrested when he showed up at his grandmother’s house in Virginia.
-- Two bombs exploding minutes apart tore through a Roman Catholic cathedral in the Philippines, killing at least 20 people and wounding 111 others.
-- In Brazil, the search for hundreds of missing people continues after a massive dam collapse. Officials raised the confirmed death toll to nearly five dozen.
-- The battle for control of Venezuela turned to the armed forces, with President Nicolas Maduro attending army exercises and supporters of opposition leader Juan Guaido urging soldiers to reject the socialist leader.
-- Four years after Russia annexed Crimea, the peninsula remains in limbo.
-- The Navy’s newest destroyer, the Michael Monsoor, is as much an experiment as a ship-killer … and an expensive one at that.
-- Germany, one of the world’s biggest consumers of coal, will shut down all 84 of its coal-fired power plants over the next 19 years to meet its international commitments in the fight against climate change.
-- When the Rams and Patriots play in the Super Bowl on Sunday, Jackie Slater will be the man in the middle: watching the Rams, with whom he spent his entire 20-year career and became a Hall of Famer, versus his son, Matthew, who plays for the Patriots.
-- The Lakers and Clippers are among the teams with big decisions to make at the Feb. 7 NBA trade deadline.
-- Why sexually harassing politicians, unfortunately, should be able to use campaign funds for their legal defense.
-- Finally, the Supreme Court is taking up gun rights again. It’s a chance to establish a framework for the protection of the 2nd Amendment.
WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING
-- Tom Brokaw says he feels terrible his comments that Latinos should work harder at assimilation “offended some members of that proud culture.” (Associated Press)
-- When it comes to screen time, we have a long way to go to understand not just how much we spend online, but also how we’re spending it. (Wired)
-- The fight to repatriate African skulls held in European museum collections. (Vice)
ONLY IN L.A.
Alan Canter started as a pickle packer and delivery boy in his father’s restaurant — Canter’s Deli — when it first moved to the Fairfax area from Boyle Heights in the early 1950s. Even as he kept his family’s legacy alive and built an L.A. institution, it was all about the details for him: hand-cutting the fruit cups and tending to the equipment. On Friday, Canter died at 82. His son Marc was back at work the next day: “Yesterday when he passed, things kept coming up left and right, and you just have to deal with them. That’s what my father did all his life, and that’s in our blood.”