Updates Since early This Morning

$2 million boost for campaign to require two-year state budget -- A signature-gathering drive received a $2 million boost today in its bid to place before voters a constitutional amendment that would require the state to transition to a two-year, performance-based budget cycle and make numerous other changes. Jim Sanders SacBee Capitol Alert -- 2/16/12

UC Davis probe results delayed until March -- The results of a probe led by former state Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso into November's UC Davis pepper spraying incident have been delayed and won't be available until early March. Hudson Sangree in the Sacramento Bee -- 2/16/12

UC Davis pays $1.35M to settle Title IX case -- The University of California, Davis has agreed to pay more than $1.3 million to attorneys representing three women who had filed gender discrimination claims because the campus did not offer a women's wrestling team. DON THOMPSON AP -- 2/16/12

President Obama wades into shark fin soup fracas -- President Obama, who signed the Shark Conservation Act into law last month, apparently didn't check out the menu before he made a surprise visit Thursday to a restaurant in San Francisco's Chinatown that is among a handful still serving shark fin soup, a delicacy that has been outlawed in California. Carla Marinucci in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 2/16/12

Fighter jets intercept drug plane in Obama airspace over L.A. -- Military fighter jets intercepted a Cessna that violated a temporary flight restriction as the president left LAX, military officials said. It was carrying marijuana. Victoria Kim and Dan Weikel in the Los Angeles Times -- 2/16/12

Brown's budget can't count on cap-and-trade revenue, analyst says -- In another blow to the state budget, the state's Legislative Analyst's Office said Gov. Jerry Brown should not count on $500 million in revenue from California's controversial cap-and-trade emissions control program to help balance the budget. Only one-fifth of that sum could be spent without major hurdles, the nonpartisan office concluded in a report issued Thursday. Nicholas Riccardi LA Times PolitiCal -- 2/16/12

Whitney Houston: John & Ken radio team suspended over drug comments -- John & Ken, the popular KFI-AM (640) radio talk show duo, were suspended by the station Thursday for comments they made about Whitney Houston that some found offensive. Abby Sewell and Richard Winton in the Los Angeles Times -- 2/16/12

Seattle mayor releases arena proposal, says pathway exists to get NBA team -- Seattle officials released the outline Thursday of a proposal to build a new NBA arena in the city. Ryan Lillis in the Sacramento Bee -- 2/16/12

Steinberg: Time to rally behind Jerry Brown's tax plan -- Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said today that it's time to end sparring over competing measures and rally behind Gov. Jerry Brown's tax initiative for the November ballot. Jim Sanders SacBee Capitol Alert -- 2/16/12

Senate leader calls for paring tax proposals on ballot -- Democratic leaders in the Legislature are getting nervous about the possibility of three competing tax measures going onto the November ballot and voters sending all of them down in flames. Patrick McGreevy LA Times PolitiCal -- 2/16/12

Brown softens possible cuts to kindergarten -- Gov. Jerry Brown is tweaking his proposal to cut transitional kindergarten, meaning that schools may lose less money than originally thought. Chris Megerian LA Times PolitiCal -- 2/16/12

Garamendi Introduces Himself ... Again -- Rep. John Garamendi, D-Calif., has already hit the airwaves to introduce himself to voters in his newly redrawn, and more competitive, district. But one of his ads isn't so new. In fact, it's almost an exact replay of a commercial he ran six years ago -- for an entirely different office. Shane Goldmacher National Journal -- 2/16/12

new GOP committee posts for some -- One of the biggest changes was to the Senate Health Committee, where Sen. Tom Harman, R-Huntington Beach, replaces Sen. Tony Strickland, R-Moorpark, as vice-chair. Torey Van Oot SacBee Capitol Alert -- 2/16/12

CMR: Quinn: Undercutting Top Two -- One of the arguments for Top Two was that it would allow more independents to run for Congress and the Legislature because candidates, if they wished, could be shown on the ballot with the words "No Party Preference" next to their names. They also, of course, could show their "preference" for a political party. Tony Quinn Capitol Morning Report -- 2/16/12

part-time CA Legislature -- Making a personal pitch for donations and help, Assemblywoman Shannon Grove has posted an online video designed to bolster her campaign to switch California's Legislature to a part-time body. Jim Sanders SacBee Capitol Alert -- 2/16/12

Rhee: change teacher tenure rules -- Former District of Columbia schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee urged a Los Angeles audience of educators and parents to pressure state leaders to change teacher tenure and seniority rules. Howard Blume LA Times PolitiCal -- 2/16/12

Fox: With State Pension Initiatives Sidelined, Now Unions Go After Local Measures -- Public employee unions are turning up their offensive to prevent changes to public sector retirement programs. Joel Fox Fox & Hounds -- 2/16/12

Message at POTUS fundraiser: “Orange County is Obama Country” -- President Barack Obama, on the second day of his three city California fundraising trip, opened his schedule with a high dollar breakfast in Orange County. Carla Marinucci Chronicle Politics -- 2/16/12

January home sales hit five-year high thanks to purchases of distressed properties -- January -- typically a slow month for home sales -- had its highest total sales in the Bay Area in five years, according to real estate information service DataQuick, thanks to foreclosures and other distressed properties. Jeremy C. Owens in the San Jose Mercury -- 2/16/12

 

   California Policy and Politics This Morning

Closing of postal centers could cause trouble with mail ballots, Bowen says -- In the last statewide primary election two years ago, more than 12,500 mail-in ballots in Riverside County were nearly invalidated because of what postal officials described as "a change in process" that caused them to be delivered after Election Day. They were ultimately counted, but only after a judge ordered it. Timm Herdt in the Ventura Star -- 2/16/12

Large drop in Riverside County's registration rate -- Recently released state statistics show that Riverside County's voter registration rate is down considerably from what it was a year ago. Jim Miller in the Riverside Press -- 2/16/12

Skelton: Little initiative for change -- California's century-old ballot initiative system is cherished and cockeyed. What began as political reform — giving citizens the power of direct democracy — has become a tool of special interests and a plaything for nut jobs. George Skelton in the Los Angeles Times -- 2/16/12

Approval of National Guard head moves to full State Senate -- The California Senate Rules Committee voted unanimously Wednesday to confirm Maj. Gen. David S. Baldwin, Gov. Jerry Brown's nominee to head the California Military Department, which includes the National Guard. Charles Piller in the Sacramento Bee -- 2/16/12

California gov. to play host to Chinese VP for 2 days -- Gov. Jerry Brown will welcome Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping to California with a tour of the Port of Los Angeles and events highlighting the economic and cultural ties between the world's most populous nation and the U.S. state with the most people and largest economy, the governor's office announced Wednesday. JUDY LIN AP -- 2/16/12

Pandas, policy and fundraising: Newt Gingrich lingers on the money trail in California -- Hopscotching throughout the state this week, Newt Gingrich insisted first that he is staying in the Republican presidential race and second that he may soon take the lead. David Siders in the Sacramento Bee -- 2/16/12

Pelosi digs into California House races -- Seeing California as key to Democrats’ effort to retake the House in November, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is taking an active role in the party’s Golden State strategy, promoting individual candidates and doling out campaign cash as she travels the political circuit. BEN GOAD in the Riverside Press -- 2/16/12

Accused Probation Chief Is Face of Juvenile Justice Reform Effort -- Allegations that Alameda County's top probation official sexually assaulted a female deputy within his department have shocked the Bay Area's criminal justice community and may come as a blow to Gov. Jerry Brown's plans to shut down California's long-troubled youth prison system, observers said. TREY BUNDY Bay Citizen -- 2/16/12

Accentuate the positive: Cities target aftermath of Bell -- As scandals tarring officials at the city of Bell began emerging in newspaper probes two years ago, municipal authorities across California felt the fallout. A suspicious public wondered whether Bell’s problems – pension boosting, voter fraud, expense abuse, salary spiking – had seeped into other cities as well. John Howard Capitol Weekly -- 2/16/12

CalPERS report undermines Gov. Jerry Brown’s pension overhaul plan -- CalPERS has a new report that says California Gov. Jerry Brown's idea to alter pensions with 401(k)-style plans won't help new workers and won't save California money, either. Michael J. Mishak LA Times PolitiCal -- 2/16/12

Pension measure autopsy shows multiple causes of death -- We're in the ballot initiative wing of the California Political Causes Morgue. On the table, two public pension reform plans that died last week. Scalpel, please: Jon Ortiz in the Sacramento Bee -- 2/16/12

Outraged San Bruno officials claim PG&E delaying settlement of gas-line disaster -- A year and a half after a natural gas explosion in San Bruno killed eight people, indignant officials in the devastated city on Wednesday accused PG&E of delaying efforts to resolve the city's financial claims against the utility. Steve Johnson in the San Jose Mercury -- 2/16/12

   Taxes - Fees

Study: Calif. taxes high, but not the highest -- By some measures, California’s tax burden lands the state in the nation’s top 10 – but you can’t blame Sacramento alone for the ranking. Martin Wisckol in the Orange County Register -- 2/16/12

   Economy - Jobs

San Francisco Audit Finds Irregularities in 99 Percent of Foreclosures -- An audit of hundreds of foreclosures in San Francisco uncovered "one or more irregularities" in 99 percent of the loans, according to a study released Wednesday by the city's assessor-recorder, Phil Ting. RYAN JACOBS Bay Citizen -- 2/16/12

Tesla will help develop new electric Mercedes-Benz -- The Palo Alto automaker also said Wednesday that it expected revenue to roughly triple this year, when it will begin selling the Tesla Model S sedan, its first ground-up design. The company is about to launch production of the Model S at its factory in Fremont, Calif. Jerry Hirsch in the Los Angeles Times -- 2/16/12

In Marin County, poverty exists alongside wealth -- Those wanting to check the socioeconomic pulse of the Canal area of San Rafael need only peruse the bulletin board at The Canal Alliance, a nonprofit center serving the neighborhood’s largely low-income Spanish-speaking population. Patricia Leigh Brown California Watch -- 2/16/12

Foreclosure mediation could save billions -- Thousands of Californians have lost their homes during the housing crisis, wreaking havoc on families, as well as state and local government property tax revenue. But there is an inexpensive solution, according to a report released last week by the National Consumer Law Center. Kendall Taggart California Watch -- 2/16/12

Median home price falls in Southland -- The 3.7% drop in January in Southern California to $260,000 comes as cash-carrying bargain hunters buy distressed homes. Many observers expect the housing market to finally hit bottom this year. Alejandro Lazo in the Los Angeles Times -- 2/16/12

Top city (San Diego) pensioner pulls down $307,000 -- Councilman and mayoral candidate Carl DeMaio commissioned a report from the city’s pension system that showed about 500 retired city employees receiving more than $100,000 a year in total compensation from their pensions in 2011. A former assistant city attorney tops the list, receiving $307,758 annually. Jen Lebron Kuhney UT San Diego -- 2/16/12

   Education

Fensterwald: Brown stretches switch to funding reform -- In the first of what will likely be multiple revisions – Finance Reform 1.01 – the Brown administration has scaled back the first year of phasing in its new school funding system and proposes to hold districts harmless from potential losses in revenue in that initial year. John Fensterwald educatedguess -- 2/16/12

Brown’s plan for new school funding formulas -- At what may turn out to be a landmark hearing in Sacramento today, state senators will review a sweeping proposal by Gov. Jerry Brown to reform California’s notoriously complex school finance system that distributes funds based more on decades-old formulas than on student needs. Louis Freedberg EdSource -- 2/16/12

Aschwanden: Vital student programs may be sacrified on the altar of flexibility -- While the current system of education funding is often cited as “confusing” and “arcane,” in reality it is merely a reflection of the driving forces that have evolved over the last several decades in education – drivers that dictate, without exception, what we value and expect out of the system, and therefore what is taught in the classroom. Jim Aschwanden TopEd -- 2/16/12

State to Shut Down Medical Institute -- The California Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education determined the for-profit school falsely claimed in advertisements that it was accredited, violated student enrollment agreements, and operated MRI technologist and ultrasound technician training programs without state approval, among other problems, according to state documents. JENNIFER GOLLAN Bay Citizen -- 2/16/12

Struggling Hayward schools get $25 million grant -- Larry Romer wants a better future for his son and his hometown in Hayward. The 44-year-old grew up in a neighborhood known as the Jackson Triangle, a diverse and low-income area. Mary Flynn HealthyCal.org -- 2/16/12

Debate is taking root in Bay Area high schools -- William Hampton, 16, describes high school debate as "the most elite of elite sports. Katy Murphy in the Oakland Tribune -- 2/16/12

   Health Care

Lance Armstrong campaigns for California cigarette tax measure -- Lance Armstrong, the Tour de France champion and cancer survivor, gets behind California's Proposition 29, which would raise taxes on cigarettes to fund cancer research and other programs. Anthony York in the Los Angeles Times -- 2/16/12

   Environment

Study: Sierra snowfall consistent over 130 years -- Snowfall in the Sierra Nevada has remained consistent for 130 years, with no evidence that anything has changed as a result of climate change, according to a study released Tuesday. Peter Fimrite in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 2/16/12

San Francisco Bay: a garbage can for 7 million people -- Bay Area residents pollute San Francisco Bay every year with enough trash to fill 100,000 kitchen garbage bags, according to the first comprehensive study of the volume of litter flowing into the bay. Paul Rogers in the San Jose Mercury -- 2/16/12

Leaked Documents Describe Corporate Agenda to Discredit Climate Science -- The climate corner of the Blogosphere exploded this week with the alleged leak of numerous documents from one of the nation’s most ardent opponents of action to slow global warming. Craig Miller KQED Climate Watch -- 2/16/12

Federal funds for health testing at beaches to be eliminated -- Health testing at beaches in California and across the nation is at risk of being cut back under a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency plan to eliminate federal funds for monitoring whether the water is too contaminated to swim in. Tony Barboza in the Los Angeles Times -- 2/16/12

L.A. air pollution may increase risk of stroke -- L.A.’s smog problem might not be as visible as it was in the bad old days of the 1970s and '80s, but city residents might be at an increased risk of stroke even at levels of pollution that meet EPA standards. Oh yeah, and memory loss. Dean Kuipers in the Los Angeles Times -- 2/16/12

   Occupy

Jimmy Carter casts Occupy movement as successful -- Former President Jimmy Carter said Wednesday that Occupy organizers have created a "relatively successful" movement because they focused national discussion on wealth disparity despite lacking leadership and a unifying set of goals. Greg Bluestein AP -- 2/16/12

   Also..

Audit: L.A. Animal Services missed out on $1.3M in dog license fees -- In another stinging rebuke to the Los Angeles Department of Animal Services, City Controller Wendy Greuel criticized the agency's management for failing to keep an inventory of animals under its control and failing to collect $1.3 million in dog license fees. Rick Orlov in the Los Angeles Daily News -- 2/16/12

Smartphone apps dial up privacy worries -- A new furor has erupted over digital privacy concerns following disclosures that Twitter Inc. and other social networking companies are reaching into people's smartphones and retrieving their personal contact information without getting explicit permission. David Sarno in the Los Angeles Times -- 2/16/12

   POTUS 44

Obama losing financial backing of big San Francisco donor -- San Francisco philanthropist Susie Tompkins Buell, one of the Democratic Party's most generous benefactors, is keeping her checkbook closed when President Obama holds high-priced California fundraisers this week. Carla Marinucci, Joe Garofoli in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 2/16/12

Obama campaign launches first in San Francisco: Technology campaign office -- There’s no shortage of Obama volunteers in politically deep blue California, where his support is higher than elsewhere. But not every volunteer is up for slogging into a local campaign office and banging out a couple hundred rah-rah calls at a phone bank or going door-to-door and talking to strangers. Joe Garofoli Chronicle Politics -- 2/16/12

   Beltway

Congressional negotiators reach deal on $150 billion economic plan -- In a pact early Thursday morning, congressional negotiators gave final approval to an economic plan worth more than $150 billion that would extend a payroll tax holiday and unemployment benefits. Paul Kane in the Washington Post -- 2/16/12

Saunders: President Obama punts on U.S. deficit -- In February 2009, having signed into law his $787 billion stimulus package, President Obama made a pledge to the nation. "Contrary to the prevailing wisdom in Washington these past few years," the president noted, "we cannot simply spend as we please and defer the consequences to the next budget, the next administration or the next generation." Debra J. Saunders in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 2/16/12