CalWatchdog Morning Read – January 10

  • After SF rail system hack, concerns remain
  • Recent storms wash away drought in Northern California, SoCal issues remain
  • Crunch time for Raiders, Chargers
  • Newsom pitches CEQA to fight Trump wall
  • Tobacco tax proponents fined for failure to disclose Tom Steyer support in ad

Good morning! Lots going on today. Gov. Brown will introduce his budget this morning, while his nominee for attorney general, Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Los Angeles, receives his first hearing.

But beyond the day’s headlines, six weeks after some 900 computers used by the San Francisco Municipal Railroad were hacked with ransomware, many concerns remain about the incident — especially as coverage of U.S. cyber vulnerabilities has become more extensive than ever.

San Francisco’s light-rail system, known as Muni, faced an emailed demand from an unknown hacker that he be paid about $73,000 in bitcoins if it wanted to regain control of the computers.

Apparently in fear that more computers had been hacked than the ones displaying a message, “You Hacked, ALL Data Encrypted,” the transit agency shut off ticket machines and fare gates at rail stations from the morning of Friday, Nov. 25, through Sunday, Nov. 27, allowing passengers free rides that weekend.

The following Monday, Muni officials announced that not only had they not paid the ransom, they never even considered paying it, confident in their tech prowess. Many targeted companies and organizations feel they have no choice. Last April, the Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Los Angeles paid nearly $17,000 in bitcoins to recover access to data that had been encrypted by hackers.

Federal and state security officials have kept mum about the attack since it happened.

CalWatchdog has more.

In other news:

  • “The powerful storms that soaked Northern California over the past week did more than trigger power outages, mudslides and flash floods. They sent roughly 350 billion gallons of water pouring into California’s biggest reservoirs — boosting their storage to levels not seen in years, forcing dam operators to release water to reduce flood risks and all but ending the five-year drought across much of Northern California, even though it remains in the south, experts said Monday.” The San Jose Mercury News has more. 

  • “The fate of two of California’s four NFL teams should become much clearer this week. The Chargers have to decide by Sunday, Jan. 15, whether to exercise their option to share a $1.7 billion stadium being built in Inglewood by the Rams or to stay in San Diego despite voters’ sharp rejection of a Nov. 8 ballot measure to use an increase in the hotel room tax to contribute hundreds of millions of public dollars to build a billion-dollar-plus stadium in the city’s lively downtown.” CalWatchdog has more. 

  • “President-elect Donald Trump’s plan to build a wall along the border will run into resistance in California, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom said in an interview with The Golden State podcast. The state could sue under the California Environmental Quality Act or its federal equivalent, said Newsom, utilizing a common tactic to delay or kill all sorts of development projects around the state.” The Los Angeles Times has more. 

  • “Backers of a recent tobacco tax initiative ballot have agreed to pay a $2,500 fine for failing to identify that billionaire Tom Steyer was a major funder of the campaign in a YouTube video that urged voters to support the measure, according to documents released Monday.” The Los Angeles Times has more. 


  • Assembly will hold 9 a.m. hearing on the appointment of Rep. Xavier Becerra to state attorney general.

Gov. Brown:

  • Unveiling the proposed state budget today at 11 a.m. in Sacramento. 

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