California Policy & Politics This Morning   

Kamala Harris sees safeguards in D.A.s prosecuting police killings -- The furor over the non-indictments of white police officers for killing unarmed black men in Missouri and New York has led to widespread calls for states to take such cases away from local district attorneys, who work with police every day and often depend on their support for re-election. Bob Egelko in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 12/22/14

Tackling the big debt that lawmakers let balloon -- The debt or “unfunded liability” state Controller John Chiang reported last week for state worker retiree health care, $72 billion, is larger than the unfunded liability for state worker pensions reported by CalPERS in April, $50 billion. Ed Mendel Calpensions.com -- 12/22/14

CPUC’s farewell for Michael Peevey is stage-managed to a T -- Even with the cloud of San Bruno and way-too-cozy PG&E e-mails hanging over it, the California Public Utilities Commission made sure Michael Peevey’s final meeting as president had a happy ending — in fact, the agency pretty much staged it. Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 12/22/14

How Barbara Lee’s 30-year Cuba campaign paid off -- The April 9, 2009, memo has a simple title: “Reflections by Comrade Fidel.” In it, the Cuban leader documents a meeting at his Havana home with East Bay Rep. Barbara Lee, a woman he lauded for great “political courage” as the then-leader of the Congressional Black Caucus, and for more than two decades an activist for normalizing relations with the island nation. Carla Marinucci in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 12/22/14

Skelton: An upside of high-speed rail? It's more traveler friendly than flying -- In the holiday spirit, here's something cheerful to say about the California bullet train if Gov. Jerry Brown ever gets it assembled: It would be a whole lot more passenger-friendly than demeaning air travel. George Skelton in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/22/14

With team’s move, San Francisco toy drive missing help from 49ers fans -- It used to be easy to get thousands of toys for San Francisco kids living in public housing. City police officers would simply show up to a 49ers game — one where fans had been told in advance to bring a game or ball or teddy bear — and watch the toy bins fill up. Jill Tucker in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 12/22/14

Decker: Demographic shifts bring change to policies on Cuba, drugs, gay rights -- Writing about politics inspires a certain amount of déjà vu, time and again. Last week, like many before, served as a case in point. Cathleen Decker in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/22/14

Orange County delegation frowns on budget -- The last-minute budget bill signed into law by President Barack Obama last week would never have passed Congress if it had been up to Orange County’s House members. Martin Wisckol in the Orange County Register$ -- 12/22/14

Economy, Employers, Jobs, Pensions   

Highland Park renters feel the squeeze of gentrification -- The hilly neighborhood northeast of downtown Los Angeles has become increasingly attractive to those who are being pushed east by escalating home prices and rents in places such as Hollywood, Silver Lake and Echo Park. Tim Logan in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/22/14

Studies tout value of state's almond growers, green energy, Latinos -- It's that time of year when public relations firms roll out impressive numbers to boost clients' images at the Capitol. Marc Lifsher in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/22/14

Hollywood Hills residents angered by plan to close 101 offramp -- A plan to permanently close a major offramp from the Hollywood Freeway to make way for an expansion of Universal Studios is fueling outrage from residents who say it will cut off their community. Hailey Branson-Potts in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/22/14

California puzzles over safety of driverless cars -- California's Department of Motor Vehicles will miss a year-end deadline to adopt new rules for cars of the future because regulators first have to figure out how they'll know whether "driverless" vehicles are safe. Justin Pritchard Associated Press -- 12/22/14

Education

LAUSD board members look to slow charter school expansion -- Los Angeles Unified school board members plan on taking a harder look at approving new charter schools, because they fear their expansion will cripple the district’s ability to educate children by diverting precious state funding. Thomas Himes in the Los Angeles Daily News$ -- 12/22/14

2-year colleges will get chance to offer baccalaureates in some areas -- Under a new state law, Crawford might be able to stay put and get a four-year degree at Cypress. The community college is one of 36 campuses and districts that have said they plan to apply for an opportunity to offer four-year degrees. Jason Song in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/22/14

LACER Afterschool Programs give students a reason to go to class -- Aaron Cornejo could hardly believe it when he saw his report card with all A's and Bs for the first time. Taylor Goldenstein in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/22/14

Drought  

Recent storms send Yosemite waterfalls rushing back -- The water dropped, a pure white ribbon fluttering down-down-down a towering granite wall. Diana Marcum in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/22/14

Immigration / Border

Posada Christmas Pilgrimage Reunites Family, Friends at U.S.-Mexico Border -- “For 21 years San Diegans and Tijuanans have been coming together along this border to celebrate Christmas,” says Christian Ramirez of the American Friends Service Committee, an advocacy group that helps organize the annual La Posada Sin Fronteras. Steven Cuevas KQED -- 12/22/14

Environment

West Sacramento says no to ethanol trains --The city of West Sacramento and a Texas-based gasoline company are battling over whether it’s riskier to ship large amounts of ethanol through city streets on trains or on tanker trucks – a dispute that last week spilled into court. Tony Bizjak in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 12/22/14

L.A.'s messy ways now on city radar -- In the final days of the year, many of L.A.'s streets and sidewalks are littered with discarded furniture, mattresses, oversized televisions and other household objects. David Zahniser in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/22/14

Health

Brace yourselves for a nasty flu season in Bay Area -- Christmas, New Year’s, the last nights of Hanukkah — there’s a lot of cause for celebration over the next week or two. And, sorry to be a downer, that’s a lot of potential exposure to the flu. Erin Allday in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 12/22/14

Resveratrol benefits explained -- The antioxidant resveratrol activates an ancient stress response mechanism in human cells, say scientists at The Scripps Research Institute. Their research helps explain the health benefits attributed to the chemical, commonly found in the skins of dark grapes and wines made from these grapes. Bradley J. Fikes UT San Diego$ -- 12/22/14

Also . . .

Ex-US Diplomat Urges Caution on Cuba -- A former American diplomat who for years worked for the U.S. government while in Cuba issued a strong word of caution regarding the move toward normalization of relations between the two countries. Conan Nolan NBCLA -- 12/22/14

POTUS 44    

Hollywood's fickle friend -- For most of the past decade, Hollywood has loved Barack Obama, opening its hearts, homes and wallets to him since his days as a candidate for the Senate from Illinois. And Obama has loved Hollywood back — not so much. Todd S. Purdum Poliitico -- 12/22/14

Obama: North Korea Hack 'Cybervandalism,' Not An Act of War -- For as outspoken as President Barack Obama has been about the gravity of North Korea's hack of Sony Pictures, in which he said the United States "will respond proportionally," he said Sunday that he doesn't consider the cyber intrusion "an act of war." Allen McDuffee National Journal -- 12/22/14

Beltway

The 113th Congress Was the Second Least Productive in History -- If not for President Obama signing 61 bills into law late last week, a new heir to the title of "Do-Nothing Congress" would have been named. David Knowles Bloomberg Politics -- 12/22/14

Republicans eye obscure budget tool to repeal ObamaCare -- Republicans on and off Capitol Hill are rallying behind using a rarely-deployed budget tool next year to dismantle ObamaCare. But the issue of how to use “budget reconciliation” has divided Republicans, with some calling for it to be implemented to overhaul the tax code or to push through major energy reforms. Scott Wong The Hill -- 12/22/14