California Policy & Politics This Morning   

Koch brothers’ cash will wash over California, experts say -- The billionaire Koch brothers’ intention to spend nearly $900 million on conservative candidates and causes in the 2016 election cycle will unleash a tidal wave of cash that will swamp the political landscape even in solidly blue California, experts said Tuesday. Carla Marinucci in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 1/28/15

Kern County declares a fiscal emergency amid plunging oil prices -- Kern County supervisors declared a state of fiscal emergency at their weekly meeting Tuesday in response to predictions of a massive shortfall in property tax revenues because of tanking oil prices. Tiffany Hsu in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/27/15

Report rips California’s oversight of mental health initiative -- Ten years after California voters passed Proposition 63’s tax on millionaires to fund programs for the mentally ill, the state cannot document whether billions of dollars in funding have improved residents’ lives, according to a new report by the Little Hoover Commission. David Siders in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 1/27/15

U.S. settles suit over misuse of West L.A. veterans campus -- The federal government has agreed to settle a lawsuit accusing the Department of Veterans Affairs of misusing its sprawling West Los Angeles health campus while veterans with brain injuries and mental impairment slept in the streets, people familiar with the agreement said Tuesday. Gale Holland in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/27/15

Herdt: A fatal flaw in state tax reform -- Periodically, whenever state government revenues are riding high or falling fast, big thinkers in California begin earnestly arguing for major tax reform. Timm Herdt in the Ventura Star$ -- 1/27/15

Dispute over leaked FBI affidavit in Calderon case may be headed to L.A. -- A dispute over who leaked an FBI affidavit involving former state Sen. Ronald Calderon appears to be coming to an end in federal court in Sacramento, but an attorney for the lawmaker said the issue will be pursued before a federal judge in Los Angeles. Patrick McGreevy in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/27/15

LAPD officials won’t explain why murder cases were closed -- The Los Angeles Police Department’s high rate of closing certain murder cases surprised law enforcement experts this week. But without more information about why suspects weren’t arrested and charged, observers say the public is left guessing. Mike Reicher in the Los Angeles Daily News$ -- 1/28/15

Final work on Bay Bridge may not be done till June -- The final construction challenge on the new Bay Bridge eastern span — draining, testing and properly protecting flooded steel rods securing the main tower — could take until June to resolve, a bridge engineer told the project’s oversight panel Tuesday. Jaxon Van Derbeken in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 1/28/15

Loretta Sanchez sets timeline for U.S. Senate decision -- As the list of potential suitors winnows, Rep. Loretta Sanchez said Tuesday that she will take several months to decide on a run for U.S. Senate. Christopher Cadelago in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 1/27/15

California plastic bag ban proponents allege fraud in referendum campaign -- Paid signature gatherers deceived voters in trying to qualify a referendum that would overturn California’s ban on single-use plastic bags, according to a complaint environmental groups fighting to preserve the law have filed with Attorney General Kamala Harris. Jeremy B. White in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 1/27/15

Myers: A Gerrymandering Comeback In California … via Arizona? -- Several months of quiet whispers have quickly turned into a resounding buzz — and a nervous buzz, no less — about a case pending before the U.S. Supreme Court that questions whether it’s constitutional for independent state commissions to have the sole power to draw political district maps. John Myers KQED -- 1/27/15

Los Angeles County D.A. Lacey backs Kamala Harris for Senate -- As Antonio Villaraigosa ponders whether to run for U.S. Senate, state Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris is continuing to pick off potential supporters of the former Los Angeles mayor. Michael Finnegan in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/27/15

Taxes, Fees, Rates   

Airbnb under more pressure to pay San Francisco back taxes -- In case you thought the battle over the legality of Airbnb and other short-term rental companies ended when the Board of Supervisors and the mayor struck a deal last fall, think again. Heather Knight and John Coté in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 1/28/15

Economy, Employers, Jobs, Unions, Pensions   

Google warns DMV not to over-regulate self-driving cars -- Google company officials warned the California Department of Motor Vehicles on Tuesday against establishing a government process for measuring the safety of driverless cars. Allen Young Sacramento Business Journal Katie Orr Capital Public Radio -- 1/27/15

Record iPhone Sales Drive Blowout Quarter for Apple -- Apple said Tuesday that it sold 74.5 million iPhones during the three months that ended Dec. 31, beating analysts' expectations for the latest models of Apple's most popular gadget, introduced in September. Brandon Bailey Associated Press -- 1/27/15

Yahoo to spin off Alibaba stake into a separate company -- Yahoo Inc. made investors happy by announcing a spinoff of its nearly $40-billion stake in Alibaba Group Holding, but the move won't add money to Yahoo's coffers — or mask the company's continued problems with its core business. Andrea Chang, Tracey Lien in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/27/15

Ex-techies have high hopes for investing in the cannabis field -- Seibo Shen made a lot of money in tech — he was an early employee at four startups that were acquired or went public. But for his latest venture, he didn’t just want to “add another zero to my bank account.” He wanted to rekindle that startup thrill while selling a product he truly cared about. Joe Garofoli in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 1/28/15

OC Weekly has been put up for sale -- Voice Media Group, the owner of 11 alternative papers across the country, including LA Weekly and OC Weekly, announced Tuesday that it intends to "explore new strategies for its publishing assets, including the sale or acquisition of alternative publications and other digital businesses." First on the market is OC Weekly, the Orange County paper where Gustavo Arellano is the editor. Kevin Roderick LA Observed -- 1/27/15

Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac regulator defends 3% down payment mortgages -- The regulator for bailed-out housing finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac told lawmakers Tuesday that new programs to back mortgages with down payments as low as 3% had enough safeguards to make them as safe as loans with higher down payments. Jim Puzzanghera in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/27/15

UC doctors stage one-day strike at student-health clinics -- About 125 doctors and dentists staged a one-day strike Tuesday at student health clinics at 10 UC campuses as part of a contract dispute between the union and the university system. Larry Gordon in the Los Angeles Times$ Paul Sisson UT San Diego$ -- 1/27/15

California’s jobless rate falls, but still nation’s 2nd highest -- Although California’s unemployment dropped fractionally to 7 percent in December, the state stands alone with the nation’s second-highest rate, exceeded only by Mississippi’s 7.2 percent. Dan Walters in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 1/27/15

California still has nation’s largest manufacturing sector -- Although California’s industrial sector has been declining for decades and today employs just 8 percent of the state’s workers, it still generates a very large portion of the state’s economic output, a new Census Bureau report indicates. Dan Walters in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 1/27/15

Illustrating the transformation of California’s economy -- While there are national and global pressures on manufacturing, they are acute in California. We have cutting-edge safety and environmental regulations, high costs of living, and a large underclass that does not have the training to serve the demands that manufacturing requires. Anthony York Grizzly Bear Project -- 1/27/15

Amazon loosens free shipping restrictions on orders of at least $35 -- The Seattle company has offered free shipping on qualifying orders over $35, but with a catch -- all products in a basket had to come from the same seller. Shan Li in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/28/15


CSU commits to 100,000 more degrees earned by 2025 -- California State University will aim to produce an additional 100,000 degrees earned over the next decade, Chancellor Timothy P. White announced Tuesday, calling on Gov. Jerry Brown and the state to support the “ambitious next phase” of CSU’s student completion efforts. Alexei Koseff in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 1/27/15

California officials preparing for rise in new teacher jobs -- With the economy now improving, school districts have ramped up hiring and California is poised for a turnabout in teacher credentialing. Adolfo Guzman-Lopez KPCC -- 1/27/15

Orange County schools expand program to serve after-school supper -- As the sun began to set, an after-school worker rolled out carts onto the courtyard to rows of students and started handing out meals – salami, turkey and ham sandwiches, baby carrots, ranch dressing and fat-free milk. Sarah Tully in the Orange County Register$ -- 1/27/15

Former Stanford swimmer accused of raping unconscious woman on campus -- Brock Allen Turner, 19, is expected to be formally charged Wednesday with five felony counts, including rape of an unconscious woman, rape of an intoxicated woman and two counts of sexual assault with a foreign object, the Santa Clara County district attorney’s office told The Times. Matt Hamilton in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/27/15

Rural communities struggle to provide after-school programs -- When school lets out, many children in rural communities must take a long bus ride home, miles from their nearest neighbor. They don’t play basketball with their friends, do art or science projects with the local community group or get help with their homework. Most go home to families with limited resources, struggling to make ends meet. Susan Frey EdSource -- 1/28/15

Sis boom bah: Law would label cheer as school sport -- State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez thinks it’s time cheerleaders get the same respect and support as other high school athletes who play on more traditional sports teams such as basketball, football and soccer. Kimberly Beltran Cabinet Report -- 1/28/15


Plan to raise Shasta Dam takes hit after federal biologists say they can't support it -- Biologists at the main federal agency that oversees the Endangered Species Act have concluded that they cannot endorse a $1.1 billion plan to raise the height of the dam at California's largest reservoir, Shasta Lake, because of its impact on endangered salmon. Paul Rogers in the Oakland Tribune -- 1/28/15

Wildlife Agencies See Collapse of 2014 Winter Run Salmon -- High water temperatures in the Sacramento River last summer and fall caused 95 percent of naturally-spawning winter-run salmon egg and fry to die. Amy Quinton Capital Public Radio -- 1/28/15

California may dam 3 Delta channels, if drought persists -- State water officials say they may dam parts of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta in an emergency measure to protect freshwater used by millions of Californians. Associated Press -- 1/27/15

Sacramentans Cut Water Use To Lowest Level Per Person In 100 Years -- The City reported Monday that the consumption rate of 179 gallons per person per day last year compared to an average rate of 248 gallons per person in 1914. Ed Joyce Capital Public Radio -- 1/27/15

Feinstein hosts 7 California reps in closed-door water bill talk -- The never-sending search for a California water bill showed, perhaps, a little progress Tuesday as seven Democratic House members met for over an hour with Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein. Michael Doyle in the Fresno Bee -- 1/27/15


Obama administration seeks to extend ban on oil-leasing off California coast -- The Obama administration on Tuesday proposed extending a ban on new oil and gas leasing off the California coast through 2022, a recommendation it called "consistent with the long-standing position of the Pacific coast states opposed to oil and gas development off their coast." Timm Herdt in the Ventura Star$ -- 1/27/15

Sea lions starving in mass numbers -- Wave after wave of starving sea lion pups are drifting ashore in what officials said could be an outbreak of strandings similar to that seen in 2013 along California’s coastline. The warmer waters flushed in by El Niño, a periodic marine and atmospheric phenomenon, might be shifting the animals’ food supply. Deborah Sullivan Brennan UT San Diego$ -- 1/27/15

Southern California's Water Supply Threatened By Next Major Quake -- Southern California gets the vast majority of its water from four aqueducts that flow from the north, but all of them cross the San Andreas Fault. That means millions of people are just one major earthquake away from drying out for a year or more. Sanden Totten NPR -- 1/28/15


Measles sufferer visited businesses in Gilroy, Milpitas -- A Santa Clara County resident with a confirmed case of measles visited three retail chains in Gilroy and Milpitas early this month, county health officials said in an advisory. The person went to Costco at 7251 Camino Arroyo and Walmart at 7150 Camino Arroyo in Gilroy from 4 to 6 p.m. on Jan. 18 and went to Dave & Buster’s at 940 Great Mall Dr. in Milpitas a day later from 6 to 9 p.m., officials said. Hamed Aleaziz in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 1/27/15

Kaiser calling parents who refused to vaccinate against measles -- With the number of measles cases edging closer to 100, at least one health care system is planning to robo-call its members statewide, hoping to persuade families who have decided against vaccinating their children to reconsider. Susan Abram in the Los Angeles Daily News$ -- 1/27/15

Poll: Most say restore health aid if court kills subsidies -- More than 6 in 10 Americans would want Congress to restore federal financial assistance for millions buying health care coverage under President Barack Obama's health care law if the Supreme Court invalidates some of those government subsidies, a poll said Wednesday. Alan Fram Associated Press -- 1/28/15

Also . . .

Google to police: Waze app can't 'track' officers' movements -- Real-time traffic app Waze’s police spotting feature is a deterrent for dangerous driving, not a tool that can “track” police officers, Google officials said in response to concerns from the Los Angeles police chief. Joseph Serna, Richard Winton in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/27/15

(Sacramento) Police chief seeks cameras, more training, diverse recruiting -- The Sacramento Police Department is exploring the use of body cameras on all of its officers, increasing cultural sensitivity training and recruiting new officers from diverse backgrounds, police Chief Sam Somers told the City Council on Tuesday. Marissa Lang in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 1/27/15

Sentence reduction law sparks sharp drop in L.A. County jail crowding -- Los Angeles County’s long-overcrowded jail system saw a sharp decline in new inmates after California voters approved a law last year reducing penalties for a wide array of nonviolent crimes. Abby Sewell in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/28/15

Dodgers minor leaguers suspended for marijuana use -- An increasing number of Americans believe marijuana should be decriminalized, but on Tuesday came a sobering reminder that testing positive for the drug can still have significant consequences. Dylan Hernandez in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/27/15

Fake furniture shop in Gilroy housed $2 million in weed, police say -- None of the duvets or armoires were for sale, but sheriff's investigators said they found $2 million worth of marijuana inside a Santa Clara County furniture store last week. James Queally in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/27/15

Asteroid that brushed past Earth brought a friend: A mini-moon! -- The asteroid that flew past Earth on Monday was not traveling alone. Deborah Netburn in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/27/15

Rialto eyes Cuba for sister city relationship -- The Inland Empire city with a population of about 100,000 says it started thinking about reaching out to cities in Cuba more than a year ago and is making steps now with a trip scheduled for September. Leslie Parrilla in the San Bernardino Sun -- 1/28/15

Riverside's sister city friendship in Vietnam questioned by Orange County -- A week ago, Riverside officials were smiling and shaking hands with officials from Can Tho, Vietnam, as they signed a sister city agreement and unveiled a new sign downtown commemorating the relationship. Alicia Robinson in the Orange County Register$ -- 1/28/15

Two weeks after Zuckerberg said ‘je suis Charlie,’ Facebook begins censoring images of prophet Muhammad -- Only two weeks after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg released a strongly worded #JeSuisCharlie statement on the importance of free speech, Facebook has agreed to censor images of the prophet Muhammad in Turkey — including the very type of image that precipitated the Charlie Hebdo attack. Caitlin Dewey in the Washington Post$ -- 1/28/15

No jail for former CHP officer who shared explicit photos of suspects -- A former California Highway Patrol officer was sentenced to probation Tuesday for sharing racy photographs he took from the cellphones of women who were in custody. Matt Hamilton, Joseph Serna in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/28/15

Wells Fargo museum crashers got the gold but missed the real spoils -- The thieves who crashed a stolen SUV into a Wells Fargo museum Tuesday in downtown San Francisco probably weren’t big history buffs, because the gold they stole was chump change compared to the priceless artifacts right next to their elbows as they scooped up the nuggets. Kevin Fagan in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 1/28/15

POTUS 44    

Obama drops proposal to cut tax benefits of 529 college savings plans -- President Obama on Tuesday abandoned a proposal to end a major tax benefit of popular college savings accounts used by millions of American families after the White House faced mounting criticism from lawmakers and parents. Danielle Douglas-Gabriel in the Washington Post$ -- 1/28/15


Saunders: That other Bush steps in the ring -- Jeb Bush may be the front-runner in the GOP 2016 primary. He is the son and brother of former presidents, who can tap into their vaunted fund-raising machines. In some eyes, the former Florida governor always was the more disciplined, thoughtful and worthy son. Maybe. But Jeb Bush also has a problem: He is a boring speaker. Debra J. Saunders in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 1/27/15

The Rise of Dark Money and the Koch Party -- Financially, the tax-exempt Koch coalition could be as big as either of the two major parties, spending more than the combined 2004 campaign budgets of President George W. Bush and Democratic challenger John Kerry. Koch operatives will poll, track, and target voters—mirroring the activities of a traditional political party. Except for one thing: dark money. Ron Fournier National Journal -- 1/27/15

Abcarian: Hey, GOP: Using Carly Fiorina to attack Hillary Clinton could backfire -- After watching some of the speeches delivered by would-be Republican presidential contenders over the weekend at Iowa Rep. Steve King’s conservative confab in Des Moines, I got to wondering how long it will take Republicans to field a female presidential candidate who actually has a shot at winning. Robin Abcarian in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/27/15

Exclusive: Spending - why 'red' states shoulder the deepest cuts under Obama -- As Washington has tightened its belt in recent years, the budget cuts have sliced most deeply in states where President Obama is unpopular, according to an analysis of federal spending by Reuters. Andy Sullivan Reuters -- 1/28/15