California Policy and Politics Today

Democrats see California as cash cow for elections -- California Democrats, while acknowledging their solidly blue state will not be a presidential election battleground, marshaled forces this weekend for another critical 2012 battle: maximizing the Golden State's role as a powerhouse fundraiser to fuel the re-election of President Obama and return Rep. Nancy Pelosi to the speakership of the House of Representatives. Carla Marinucci in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 2/11/12

Al Franken ribs California Democratic Party chair John Burton -- California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton isn't cursing much this weekend. David Siders SacBee Capitol Alert -- 2/11/12

Whitney Houston, superstar of records, films, dies -- Whitney Houston, who ruled as pop music's queen until her majestic voice and regal image were ravaged by drug use, erratic behavior and a tumultuous marriage to singer Bobby Brown, died Saturday. She was 48. NEKESA MUMBI MOODY AP Gerrick D. Kennedy in the Los Angeles Times -- 2/11/12

Brown sidesteps tax initiative at party convention -- Gov. Jerry Brown outlined an optimistic political agenda for California Democrats at their party's annual convention Saturday, pitching his accomplishments and goals as he sidestepped an internal party squabble about whether Democrats should support his tax initiative or those being offered by two other Democratically-aligned groups. JULIET WILLIAMS AP -- 2/11/12

Dueling tax hike measures pushed as Democrats hold convention -- More than 2,000 California Democrats gathered in San Diego this weekend for their state party convention, giving leaders a chance to rally the faithful and rub elbows with powerful, well-heeled interests. Anthony York in the Los Angeles Times -- 2/11/12

Kamala Harris pledges to double down on lender abuse cases -- California Attorney General Kamala Harris said today she is "doubling down" on prosecutions of predatory lending and other cases of lender misconduct in the wake of the $26 billion mortgage settlement announced last week. Torey Van Oot SacBee Capitol Alert -- 2/11/12

Feinstein says Obama contraception compromise 'can be lived with' -- U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein expressed disappointment in the compromise the Obama administration announced on its birth control coverage mandate for religious-affiliated institutions Saturday, but said the decision "can be lived with." Torey Van Oot SacBee Capitol Alert -- 2/11/12

Mitt Romney bounces back, wins Maine caucuses -- Reversing his embarrassing string of setbacks earlier this week when he lost Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri to Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney eked out a narrow win in the straw poll tied to Maine's multiday caucuses Saturday, defeating Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, who was the only other candidate to actively campaign in Maine. Maeve Reston in the Los Angeles Times -- 2/11/12

Jerry Brown sidesteps taxes, says 'marching orders' coming -- While supporters of a competing "millionaire's tax" waived banners outside, Gov. Jerry Brown acknowledged today having a "few issues" with his own bid to raise taxes. David Siders SacBee Capitol Alert -- 2/11/12

Van Jones: 'Millionaire tax' will energize young voters -- Jones, the guest speaker at the Friday night kick-off of the state Democratic Party convention in San Diego, told attendees that a tax on top earners would motivate young voters facing large student loan debt and dismal job prospects in a down economy. Torey Van Oot SacBee Capitol Alert Carla Marinucci Chronicle Politics Chronicle Politics Christopher Cadelago UT San Diego -- 2/11/12

CalBuzz: Live from San Diego: The Demo State Convention -- The Calbuzz National Affairs desk is in place at the San Diego Convention Center, and chairman John Burton has just hit the stage: “Jesus,” is the first word out of his mouth, as he engages in a brief wrestling match with the podium microphone. Jerry Roberts and Phil Trounstine CalBuzz -- 2/11/12

State of the GOP race: Romney's ahead, Santorum has momentum -- Rick Santorum piled up wins this week, but not delegates, and it looks like Mitt Romney is in for a much longer struggle than he'd anticipated. Robin Abcarian in the Los Angeles Times -- 2/11/12

Pelosi: Swing seats, strong candidates make California a 2012 'battleground' -- While California may not see much action from presidential hopefuls, House minority leader Nancy Pelosi said today she believes a handful of competitive districts will make the state a "battleground" in Democrats' effort to win back control of Congress. Torey Van Oot in the Sacramento Bee -- 2/11/12

Nancy Pelosi backs Obama's birth control policy -- President Obama, in a compromise aimed to quell criticism from church leaders and conservatives, said Friday that he will allow Catholic institutions in California and across the nation to opt out of a federal requirement that religious-based employers provide free birth control to their employees. Carla Marinucci, Joe Garofoli in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 2/11/12

Perez: Corporations not people 'until Texas executes one' -- Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez may be nowhere more popular than at a labor caucus meeting at a Democratic convention, and so it was that he received a standing ovation here this afternoon and tried out a one-liner on the crowd. David Siders SacBee Capitol Alert -- 2/11/12

Marine killed by Orange County deputy outside school wasn't armed, sheriff says -- A Marine sergeant fatally shot by an Orange County Sheriff's deputy in a dark San Clemente high school parking lot this week was not armed and the incident doesn't appear to be alcohol- or drug-related, sheriff's officials said. Nicole Santa Cruz in the Los Angeles Times -- 2/11/12

Gov. Jerry Brown signs bill restoring school-bus money -- Gov. Jerry Brown today signed legislation restoring $248 million for school buses after rural and urban districts complained that the midyear cut would sink their budgets. Kevin Yamamura SacBee Capitol Alert -- 2/11/12

Gov. Jerry Brown handing out more pardons -- The newly pardoned class includes a flower shop owner, a property maintenance supervisor and a conservationist, all convicted of drug or property crimes for which they were sentenced decades ago. David Siders in the Sacramento Bee -- 2/11/12

Myers: Dems Day 1: Come Together, Right Now -- At every turn in the early hours of this 2012 California Democratic Party convention, you could hear party leaders urge the donkey-loving conventioneers to unite and fight. And yet even on day one, there were clear signs that there's a lot for Dems to sort out before it's all over... a lot of debating before they can come together for the election season ahead. John Myers Capitol Notes -- 2/11/12

California Democratic Party's John Burton doesn't see 'hit squad' out for Molly Munger -- California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton agrees with Gov. Jerry Brown that Molly Munger's November tax initiative could hurt the governor's bid to raise the state sales tax and income taxes on California's highest earners. David Siders in the Sacramento Bee -- 2/11/12

Area lawmakers move on without car perk -- Soon after the Legislature sold off lawmakers’ vehicles on orders of a voter-created state panel, Dutton spent $12,681 in campaign funds to buy back the SUV with 108,000 miles on it, according to his latest campaign-finance report. JIM MILLER in the Riverside Press -- 2/11/12

GOP lawsuit over California's congressional maps is dismissed -- A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by a group of Republicans challenging California's newly drawn congressional maps, the California Citizens Redistricting Commission announced Friday in its latest court victory. JUDY LIN AP -- 2/11/12

California budget still imperiled by cash crunch -- California's tax revenues continue to pour into the state's coffers well below what Gov. Jerry Brown forecast in his budget, a worrisome sign amid indications of an economic upturn. Nicholas Riccardi in the Los Angeles Times BRIAN JOSEPH in the Orange County Register -- 2/11/12

Work on California water bill exposes D.C. divide -- Controlling California water can seem like a covert affair on Capitol Hill. If you're not in the club, you're left in the dark. Republican lawmakers led by Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Elk Grove, have been quietly overseeing the rewrite of a huge California water bill since last summer. The bill could shape everything from the San Joaquin River to Sacramento Valley water deliveries. Michael Doyle in the Fresno Bee -- 2/11/12

Book review: 'Killing the Messenger' by Thomas Peele -- The murder of Oakland journalist Chauncey Bailey and a family's violent rise to prominence is given gripping life. Scott Martelle in the Los Angeles Times -- 2/11/12

   Economy - Jobs

Problems cast shadows of doubt on solar project -- The unexpected deaths of kit foxes and discovery of ancient human settlements threaten to delay or even cancel a $1-billion, 250-megawatt installation on federal land in the desert near Blythe. Louis Sahagun in the Los Angeles Times -- 2/11/12

Proposal to establish rights for domestic workers splits lawmakers -- Proponents say it would extend basic protections to more employees, but opponents say it would drive up costs. Patrick McGreevy in the Los Angeles Times -- 2/11/12

California exports hit all-time high in 2011 -- While segments of California's economy stumbled along on shaky legs last year, Golden State exporters rang up record numbers in 2011. Mark Glover in the Sacramento Bee -- 2/11/12

Hiltzik: Mortgage settlement is great — for politicians and banks -- The settlement mostly requires mortgage lenders and servicers to comply with what I would have thought was already the law, which prohibits, you know, criminal fraud. Michael Hiltzik in the Los Angeles Times -- 2/11/12


Banks: Pioneers of LAUSD desegregation -- A bus ride from Watts 40 years ago took African American students to a Van Nuys high school, and into the future of an integrated L.A. Unified. Sandy Banks in the Los Angeles Times -- 2/11/12

San Francisco State students gain voice for tuition frustration -- It began with an argument. San Francisco State University President Robert Corrigan stood outside the administration building on a warm, December day before a crowd of angry students and refused to sign their petition demanding that university trustees rescind tuition increases. Nanette Asimov in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 2/11/12

   Health Care

Crowding hampers L.A. County hospitals' handling of mentally ill -- Psychiatric patients at Olive View-UCLA Medical Center and Harbor-UCLA Medical Center often sleep on mattresses on the floor. A complaint to supervisors calls conditions 'dangerous and unsanitary.' Anna Gorman in the Los Angeles Times -- 2/11/12


Don't expect a 'March Miracle' for Sierra snowpack -- After the driest December in 22 years, and a January that was merely damp, California weather watchers are hungry for any whiff of change in the air. Matt Weiser in the Sacramento Bee -- 2/11/12

Tejon Ranch to pay fine for killing mountain lions -- The corporation, which illegally killed at least 11 cats to keep them away from game wanted by high-paying trophy hunters, must pay $136,500, according to a settlement with the state fish and game agency. Louis Sahagun in the Los Angeles Times -- 2/11/12

Federal agency cites San Onofre for leak -- An ammonia leak that caused an emergency alert at the San Onofre nuclear plant in November was caused by employees who failed to recognize degraded equipment and fix it, federal regulators said Friday. Michael R. Blood AP -- 2/11/12

Clovis sues Dow, Shell Oil over fouled water -- Clovis is suing two chemical manufacturing giants over the toxic remains of a farm fumigant found in drinking-water wells around the community of nearly 100,000 people. Mark Grossi in the Fresno Bee -- 2/11/12


U.S. veteran avoids deportation -- During a good portion of his life, Louis Alvarez was a heroin addict, racking up criminal drug offenses. The legal resident from Mexico eventually faced deportation. However, it was his time in the Marines that led immigration officials to grant him U.S. citizenship two years ago, despite the deportation order. CINDY CARCAMO in the Orange County Register -- 2/11/12


Saunders: To make women safe, we treat them like children -- The domestic-violence case against San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi did not start with a call from wife Eliana Lopez, or neighbors who heard a fight getting out of control at the family's home on New Year's Eve day. Debra J. Saunders in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 2/11/12

Ellen DeGeneres and the suddenly cool JC Penney -- In the blink of an eye, JC Penney has become cool. Yes, that retailing behemoth that has been the home of all things functional but unhip across the decades is suddenly almost as cool, in a corporate way, as Apple. Carla Baranauckas in the Washington Post -- 2/11/12

   POTUS 44

Obama plan seeks to defuse birth control debate -- President Obama offers an 'accommodation' in hopes of ending the debate over a mandate that religiously affiliated groups provide birth control coverage. Many critics welcome the move, but not all. Christi Parsons, Kathleen Hennessey in the Los Angeles Times -- 2/11/12


CPAC: Mitt Romney tells conservatives he's one of them -- Mitt Romney is a conservative. He said so himself, over and over again in a speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington today. Michael A. Memoli in the Los Angeles Times -- 2/11/12

Senate Dems grow optimistic about Obama chances in 2012 -- Senate Democrats are optimistic about President Obama’s chances of reelection and think he could have coattails this November. Alexander Bolton The Hill -- 2/11/12