'Fake farmer, real manure'

USA Today 6 days ago

A billboard about U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes accuses him of being a fake farmer. Tesla shoos away authorities looking to investigate reports of millions in stolen copper wire. Pasadena sues itself to block the cannabis industry from expanding.

It's news to get you over the hump day. 

But first, would you live in a community where you can't own a car? Culdesac thinks so, and it wants to take its vision of a car-free (or at least, car-less) society everywhere.

'Fake Farmer, Real Manure' 

Cruise Highway 198 into Rep. Devin Nunes territory and you may get distracted by a billboard: "Devin Nunes: Fake Farmer, Real Manure." The ad is apparently a reference to a dismissed lawsuit challenging the congressman's farmer designation on the ballot. Mad Dog PAC, which lobbies for the removal and impeachment of President Donald Trump, tweeted its delight after the Visalia Times-Delta wrote about it. "Breaking Moos. Our billboard made Devin Nunes local paper." A variety of commenters questioned whether Mad Dog had been sued yet.

Tesla uncooperative in theft investigation

Authorities investigating the alleged theft of millions of dollars worth of copper wire from Telsa's Nevada Gigafactory last year ran into a roadblock — the company wouldn't cooperate with them over fears of bad publicity. That's according to a report filed by Storey County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Brandon Azevedo and obtained by the Reno Gazette Journal. “ … we were advised that this incident had reached Elon Musk himself,” he wrote. “In fear of the ‘PR hit’ this incident could make, Tesla advised that they will not release any hard copies” of information on the subject. Two people who worked at the Gigafactory have filed complaints against the company, alleging Tesla did little to protect its copper wire from rampant theft (the company gets substantial tax subsidies), spied on workers and were engaged in drug dealing. The factory produces battery packs for its electric vehicles and stationary storage systems.

What else we're talking about

Pasadena sues itself to block pot industry

Pasadena's requirements to join the cannabis industry are, some in the industry say, some of the toughest in the state. So it is that a group looking to ease those regulations gathered enough signatures to put a ballot measure on the March 2020 ballot. Now, Pasadena's suing itself to get the measure yanked from next year's election. The city is arguing it's not enforceable or constitutional. The proposed measure would legalize and grandfather in illegal operations, which would then be allowed to operate under a different set of rules. Currently, the city allows for six legal marijuana businesses. For the opportunity to open, there were 128 applications. Multiple parties have sued Pasadena for what they say are overly cumbersome opening and operating requirements.

In related news, SoCal's first drive-thru cannabis shop opens in Desert Hot Springs. It's just the second drive-thru dispensary in the state. Cannabis drive-thrus are technically forbidden under state law. But there’s a narrow exception for applications submitted prior to June 2018. That means dispensaries that didn’t apply for a drive-thru before then can’t create one. The Harborside location is expected to draw heavy traffic from tourists coming to the Coachella Valley.

Atmospheric rivers sound neat, but they're costly

As another wave of winter rain hits California, researchers Wednesday released new findings on a $1 billion a year economic impact of weather phenomena called atmospheric rivers. From 1978 to 2017, flooding caused nearly $51 billion in damages to western states, according to the study published in the journal Science Advances. More than 84% of those damages, or $42.6 billion, were caused by atmospheric rivers. But what is an atmospheric river? Picture a long, narrow swatch of condensed water vapor that really is, essentially, a river in the sky. Once that air hits cooler temperatures, shizamm, you've got fast, hard rain and snow falling. That can cause flooding and mudslides and have other severe consequences. 

Newsom releases 100s of millions in homeless funds

Gov. Gavin Newsom isn't waiting on the Trump administration anymore. Effective immediately, he will start doling out hundreds of millions to cities and counties to help reduce homelessness. Why hasn't the money already been released? Well, the state needs the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to certify the results of the point-in-time survey, also known as the annual homeless count. "They are weaponizing and politicizing this issue, so we will work around them and provide 75% of the funding while we wait for HUD to verify the count numbers," Newsom said. The 2018 count showed about 130,000 homeless individuals in California; 2019 figures are expected to be up by 13.7%. Newsom called on local jurisdictions to get moving. "It is emergency funding ... and I want to see results next year."

One last thing before I go.

Sending a special birthday shout to the Los Angeles Times, which turns 138 years old today. Long live freedom of the press.

Also contributing: Fast Company, Pasadena Star News, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Campaign Zero. 

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