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PG&E is expected to plead guilty today to 84 separate involuntary manslaughter charges. This is the most fatal corporate crime in U.S. history and will be the final issue the utility company deals with as it finally emerges from its Bankruptcy protection. But it’s also separate from that case, the plea from a publicly traded company in criminal court. It relates to the Camp Fire in Paradise in 2018, the deadliest fire in Calif. history which devastated the town and surrounding towns as well. The utility will pay a $4 million fine too. The utility company will also fork over more than $25 billion to settle claims with survivors, local governments and insurance companies; and they have to pay a $1.9 billion penalty from the California Public Utilities Commission.

A new outbreak of Covid-19 in Sonoma County. The public health officer is still planning to allow more businesses to reopen even though a winery had an outbreak of cases. Dr. Sundari Mase has not given the name of the winery, just says employees are in production not in a tasting room or area with direct contact with the public. She says they’re conducting a “large-scale” investigation to find who may have come into contact with the workers the last two weeks. It’s the second winery in as many weeks. 14 employees at the other winery got infected May 29th. But she never gave the name of that winery either. She is allowing the opening however of fitness centers; museums; entertainment centers, campgrounds; and hotels and short-term home rentals.

The Golden State Killer case looks to have been solved. The man accused, former police officer Joseph James DeAngelo Jr., is pleading guilty to avoid the death penalty. The 74 year old will confess to 13 murders and at least that many rapes June 29th. The Press Democrat reports on the plea deal, which sources told the paper, they were not allowed to even divulge. They say DeAngelo agreed he would admit the crimes, even ones he was not charged for, because the statute of limitations had expired. He was accused of crimes between 1973 to 1986 in more than a dozen California counties.

The Gov. says he won’t cut funding after all for some programs due to coronavirus after an outcry. The cuts in the Governor’s budget proposal to childcare and health insurance for low-income older adults because the state has an estimated $54.3 billion budget hole. The Governor’s budget would have meant fewer elderly folks could get Medicaid and that would have supposedly saved the state almost $68 million. Plus, he proposed 10% in cuts for childcare programs, but after working with lawmakers, he agreed those cuts did not have to happen after all. The legislature is supposed to approve a new operating budget in coming days, but legislative leaders have not finalized a deal with the Governor, who can sign, veto, or change anything the Legislature sends to him anyway.

Two more cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in Lake County. Our neighboring County catching up to Mendocino, they have 34, we have 39 cases. No word on where the new Lake County cases were confirmed. But of all of them, four are active and 30 have recovered. We have no current hospitalizations in either County. The Lake County Public Health Officer says they’ve tested more than 3,400 residents and 149 tests are pending. Calif. has confirmed more than 155,000 positive cases and more than 5,100 people have died.

PG&E has the green light to come up with new microgrids which the company says will bring down the amount of customers affected by public safety power shutoffs. The utility says it will also help those who have to deal with the intentional power shutoffs. If you recall we had several last year, some back to back with only a couple days of power between them. The company says they must continue in wildfire weather, but their new Community Wildfire Safety Program includes the new grid technology, hardening the electric system, and performing enhanced vegetation management. The company says that would mean shorter and smaller public power downs.

A drive thru wildfire preparedness event for the town of Cobb which was devastated by the Valley Fire almost five years ago. This was supposed to be the 3rd annual community-organized wildfire preparedness event on Cobb Mountain. The pandemic canceled regular preparations so instead organizers put together the first annual Drive Thru Wildfire Preparedness Fair. The Record Bee reports there was a grand opening ribbon cutting ceremony of the new Fire Safety Center at the new Cobb Resource Hub. There were also evacuation kits handed out for participants.  

Some dents in the new budget for the City of Clearlake. The proposed budget is supposed to be approved by the city council in just a couple of days. The City Manager says the pandemic wrecked what was supposed to be a banner year for the city after years of devastation from fires and floods. He says the impact of the shelter in place order which closed businesses will be felt for some time. City revenues could take on a 10 percent hit, so they’ve cut back on all non-essential spending, put a freeze on some construction projects and the same for unfilled city positions.

The state’s biggest police unions say want police reform. The unions ran full page ads in various major newspapers after protests related to the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis and now the death of a black man in Atlanta. The ad in the newspapers said, in part, that they have an “obligation as a profession and as human beings to express our sorrow by taking action.” To start, they plan to compile a database of former police officers fired for gross misconduct so other law enforcement agencies won’t hire them. And they’ve also called for a national use-of-force standard.

Vaccinations for kids in the time of the pandemic went way down. The shots that kids normally get in early years apparently were put on the backburner as families had to contend with statewide stay home orders. Vaccinations for children in April down more than 40% compared to the same month a year ago. The info from the state Department of Public Health for children ages 0 to 18 included nearly a dozen legally required shots for kids who go to public school in California.

Police on the lookout for a sex offender they say used a flashlight to beat his wife in Willits. Cops say he cut off an ankle monitoring devise he was wearing and ran from the scene about a week ago. The wife of John Couthern says he got out of prison in January after a 22 year sentence. She married him while he was in prison but they agreed last month the marriage was not working, but they couldn’t do anything due to the pandemic. Police say they found the woman bleeding profusely from her head and holding her head with a bloodied towel. She went to the hospital and police went to locate Courthern. He’s listed on the Megan’s Law website for his past crimes including molestation and kidnapping. His picture can be seen on the Red Headed Blackbelt news site.  

Temporary traffic lights in the city of Ukiah while construction on the Streetscape project continues. The new flashing signals at State and Perkins/Standley streets. The city reports they will make adjustments as needed as they see too many people are blowing through the intersections without stopping.  Workers doing Pipe bursting on State Street which means traffic will be disrupted during the construction work. They will allow pedestrian access to businesses, but warn it’s messy work. The work this week on State Street between Church Street and Henry Street and the intersections of State and Church streets, State and Perkins streets, State and Standley streets, and State and Smith streets between 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. thru Friday.

The number of cases of COVID in Mendocino County jumped by 6. The Public Health Officer says it’s due to the graduation party where someone contracted the infection while folks gathered without masks on, and a church service. There wasn’t much more info on the church though. The County has set up more testing for anyone who has attended a graduation service or church services in the Ukiah Valley. The public health office will have testing from 4:30-7pm tomorrow and Thursday morning from 7-10. Mendocino Voice says they spoke to the public health office about recent protests to see if any cases have turned up, and they say test results starting to come in from the Bay Area does connect the protests with some increased spread.

Pacific Gas & Electric has admitted in court they were responsible for the death of 84 people due to the Camp Fire in Paradise in November 2018. The PG&E CEO Bill Johnson was in court and entered the 84 guilty pleas to involuntary manslaughter. The Camp Fire was blamed on their equipment and an old electrical grid. He said in court, “our equipment started that fire” then he apologized directly to victims’ families. The company had to admit wrongdoing as part of a deal that brings the case to a close and an end to the Chapter 11 bankruptcy they filed in January of 2019.  The Butte County Superior Court Judge read each fire victim’s name as pictures were flashed in the courtroom on a big screen. A grand jury indictment is also supposed to be released blaming corporate misconduct by the utility for the fire.

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