California’s final monarch butterfly count is in, and it’s even better than last year

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- The final tallies are in, and it’s been another good year for monarch butterflies in California. In total, 335,479 of the important pollinators were counted across 272 overwintering spots across the state from Nov. 12 through Dec. 4, according to the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, an international nonprofit organization that organizes the counts annually. That’s a notable jump from 2021, when 247,237 were counted in California, and 2020, when 1,899 were counted, according to the Xerces Society’s data. “We can all celebrate this tally,” said Emma Pelton, a s...

Warden at troubled California women’s prison faced sexual harassment, misconduct lawsuits

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Investigations at California’s largest prison for women into sexual abuse and assault claims are continuing, and the acting warden who oversaw a probe that identified at least 22 potential victims has been moved out of the prison. Acting Warden Mike Pallares, who referred the case to the Madera County district attorney for prosecution, has been accused of misconduct in two previous lawsuits and by a current inmate. He no longer works at the Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla, where the scandal spilled into the open in late December. “We thank him for his tim...

New California Congressman Kevin Kiley is using his new position to ‘expose’ Gov. Gavin Newsom

WASHINGTON — Now that he’s a congressman with a national megaphone, Rep. Kevin Kiley’s eager to describe over and over how he sees Gov. Gavin Newsom ruining California. Four days after taking office, the Republican vowed on his blog: “I will continue to do everything I can to expose Newsom’s failures, using all the new tools at my disposal to hold him accountable. Our movement for sanity in California will continue to grow.” Asked by The Sacramento Bee to describe the new tools he could use to battle Newsom, a Democrat, from a continent away, Kiley cited his ability to talk to a wider audience...

California makes big increase to 2023 state water allocations after soaking storms

California’s torrential storms from late December through early January will allow the State Water Project to deliver nearly 1.3 million acre-feet of water throughout the state this year – six times as much as projected before the storms, state water officials said. Entrenched in a third consecutive year of severe drought conditions, the California Department of Water Resources on Dec. 1 announced it would be able to deliver only 5% of water supply requested for 2023. The State Water Project stores and delivers water to 29 water agencies that serve 27 million Californians. But now, the state s...

Plea deal expected for Sacramento-area defendant in Jan. 6 Capitol riot

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — An apparent plea deal has been negotiated with one of the four Sacramento-area defendants in the Jan. 6 Capitol Riot and may be finalized in court in Washington, D.C., next month. Sacramento Republican activist Jorge Aaron Riley is expected to plead guilty to a single count of obstructing an official proceeding at a hearing in February, his attorney, Tim Zindel, confirmed Thursday following a brief court hearing held via Zoom. Riley faces a five-count indictment that also charges him with disorderly conduct, entering a restricted area and demonstrating in a Capitol buildin...

These California Democrats want to raise billionaires’ taxes. Will they succeed this time?

Raising taxes on the super wealthy is a hurdle that even the nation’s most left-leaning states have yet to overcome. But that hasn’t discouraged a coalition of Democratic California lawmakers from trying again. Assemblymember Alex Lee, a San Jose Democrat, has reintroduced a bill that would tax California’s billionaires at a rate of 1.5% starting in 2024. In 2026, those worth over $50 million would face a 1% tax. “For far too long we’ve allowed income inequality to deepen and fester in this state and in this country, where the rich get wealthier and the middle class shrinks and falls further b...

California school district transitioned child without telling parent, lawsuit alleges

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A conservative legal group has filed a lawsuit against the superintendent and school board members for the Chico Unified School District, alleging that a district employee helped a fifth grade student transition their gender identity without informing the child’s parent. The Center for American Liberty, founded by attorney Harmeet Dhillon, who is campaigning to be chair of the Republican National Committee, filed the lawsuit on Jan. 6. It contends that in 2021, an 11-year-old fifth grade student told a school counselor that they were transgender, prompting the counselor an...

Biden’s papers are no Trumpian scandal, but that won’t matter to conservatives

Every day now seems to hold some fresh, grim reminder that the American government is run by three children stacked inside a trench coat. No other explanation could plausibly explain the antics and hypocrisy we’re forced to endure. After four long years of the presidency from hell, Americans found out about the obscene number of top secret and classified documents found at former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort — more than 300, lying about in open boxes — when he brazenly ignored a subpoena and the estate was searched by the FBI. And yet, Trump still swaggers around his golf courses...

Drought busters? Why Northern California storms could mean temporary relief in 2023

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The hazardous weather bearing down on Northern California has flooded overwhelmed rivers and creeks, toppled trees and knocked out power to a storm-weary region. It also could be a short-term drought buster. Following a wet and windy weekend, the region is facing yet another wave of extreme storms. Heavy rain and wind are forecast at least through Tuesday, with showers, Sierra snow and flooding concerns persisting throughout the week. “The conga-line of atmospheric rivers along the Pacific jet stream is likely to continue for the next week or two,” John Abatzoglou, a clima...

Overtime law was supposed to help these California workers. Many make less money now

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — As a 2016 California law requiring agricultural employers to pay overtime continues to roll out in 2023, farmworkers and employers say the policy is costing them money. “Last year was one of the worst years that we ever had financially,” said Marco Mendoza, a farmworker based in the Fresno County city of Kerman in an interview with The Bee/Fresnoland on Tuesday. Farmworkers say since the new law passed, they’re largely not being paid overtime, and their hours – and take-home pay – have been reduced as a result, making it harder to cover basic living expenses such as food a...

In response to insurrection, Gavin Newsom will march to state Capitol Jan. 6 for inauguration

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Gov. Gavin Newsom, who assailed conservative Republican leaders and their policies while celebrating California’s progressive values during his first four years in office, is launching his second term in similar fashion. On Friday, Newsom will kick off his second inauguration with a march to the state Capitol, where he will be sworn in for another four years in California’s highest elected office. The celebration falls on the two-year anniversary of the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, giving California’s Democratic governor another opportunity to portray th...

Ex-future Speaker Kevin McCarthy? There’s a lesson here. And a chance for Democrats to lead

There’s this Luke Combs lyric that popped to mind on Tuesday as I watched ex-future House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s dream die: “I ain’t gotta see my ex-future mother-in-law anymore,” says one of country music’s only celebratory breakup songs. “Oh, Lord, when it rains it pours.” McCarthy, poor lamb, was the last to know that the office he’d already moved into was not yet his. Even if the Bakersfield Republican does somehow grab the gavel now, he’s so weak that it won’t be for long. And it’s not at all surprising that Donald Trump sees McCarthy in mortal political peril and for an entire day asks...

As California pursues aggressive climate goals, what happens to its oil and gas workers?

As California transitions away from fossil fuels in the years ahead to pursue aggressive climate goals, an increasing number of oil and gas workers across the state will be forced to put their skills to use elsewhere. But just how many workers will be affected and how difficult will it be for them to acquire new jobs earning comparable salaries? A new analysis released Tuesday offers a rosier forecast than previous predictions. The report, produced by the nonpartisan think tank Gender Equity Policy Institute, counted about 59,200 workers directly employed by the oil and gas industries in Calif...

Sacramento region braces for next big storm as flood evacuations continue

Still recovering from a powerful atmospheric river system that caused widespread flooding and power outages and led to at least two deaths, Northern California is again bracing for another severe storm. The Sacramento area started to see early signs of recovery Monday after a New Year’s Eve storm breached levees, overflowed rivers and triggered evacuations across the region. But light rain returned in the afternoon, and another strong storm on the horizon stood to create similar, if not worse, conditions. South Sacramento County residents in Point Pleasant were still under an evacuation order ...

Failure of levee 'imminent' as Sacramento County urges residents in southeast to seek higher ground

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Residents in an area of Wilton in southeastern Sacramento County have been told to seek higher ground ahead of what county emergency officials said Saturday night was an “imminent levee failure” on a portion of the Cosumnes River. The Sacramento County Office of Emergency Services issued the advisory around 9:30 p.m. following a flash flood warning from the National Weather Service for the breach. The river at Wilton Road in the area of the advisory was observed at 76.20 feet — nearly 3 feet above flood stage and 25 feet above the river bottom — according to the county’s r...