Updates since early This Morning

Romney seeks to undercut Santorum on spending in GOP debate -- Wrestling for the front-runner's mantle in the Republican presidential race, Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney clashed fiercely Wednesday night over their conservative credentials and their past support of earmarks as the four GOP candidates met for the first debate in nearly a month. Maeve Reston and Seema Mehta in the Los Angeles Times -- 2/22/12

GOP debate: Gingrich blasts L.A. teachers union -- Gingrich used the matter to slam public teachers unions, accusing them of caring more about their members than children, specifically calling out Los Angeles’ union. Seema Mehta in the Los Angeles Times -- 2/22/12

Republican debate: Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum get personal in Arizona -- Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum tore into each other’s records on government spending, health care, abortion rights and more on Wednesday night, quickly turning the crucial Arizona primary debate into a flurry of charges and counter-charges that reflected the bitter tone of the GOP race. ALEXANDER BURNS Politico -- 2/22/12

CA Finance director pleads no contest to DUI charge -- California state finance director Ana Matosantos pleaded no contest Tuesday to driving over the legal limit for alcohol last year in downtown Sacramento. Andy Furillo SacBee Capitol Alert -- 2/22/12

In curveball, GOP leaders back Gov. Jerry Brown's pension overhaul -- Throwing a political curveball, Republican lawmakers lined up behind Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to overhaul public pensions Wednesday, and called on Democrats to support the leader of their party. Michael J. Mishak LA Times PolitiCal -- 2/22/12

Controller, lawmakers propose energy efficiency program -- California Controller John Chiang is best known as the Grim Reaper of financial news, docking lawmakers' pay during last year's budget dispute and sounding alarms about the state’s cash crunch. But on Wednesday, he joined state lawmakers, labor representatives and business groups to announce legislation aimed at increasing energy efficiency in commercial buildings. Chris Megerian LA Times PolitiCal -- 2/22/12

LAPD chief backs driver's licenses for illegal immigrants -- Wading into a politically charged debate, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said California should issue driver's licenses to illegal immigrants. Joel Rubin in the Los Angeles Times -- 2/22/12

Dinuba native Bustamante eyes 21st District congressional bid -- Cruz Bustamante, the Dinuba Democrat who rose to the second-highest position in state government, is eyeing a return to politics -- as a congressman. John Ellis in the Fresno Bee -- 2/22/12

Supt. Deasy orders new look at L.A.'s teacher misconduct reports -- L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy has ordered his staff to submit or re-submit reports to the state credentialing commission on hundreds of teachers accused of misconduct over the last four years. Howard Blume in the Los Angeles Times -- 2/22/12

California State University faculty to vote on strike -- In the midst of a contract fight, the statewide union representing California State University professors will vote this spring on whether to impose a "rolling" strike at all 23 campuses. Kevin Yamamura SacBee Capitol Alert -- 2/22/12

UC Davis students sue over pepper spraying by campus police -- Three months after being pepper sprayed or allegedly roughed up by UC Davis campus police during a demonstration, 19 students and alumni filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday claiming their free-speech rights were violated. Larry Gordon in the Los Angeles Times Bill Lindelof in the Sacramento Bee -- 2/22/12

CSU to trade ad campaign for cheaper textbooks -- An ad campaign for a certain textbook publisher will appear on California State University campuses this spring in the form of memos to faculty, notices in student newspapers, and posters at bookstore counters. Nanette Asimov in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 2/22/12

D.C. lobbyist to host Jerry Brown fund-raiser -- Brown is also trekking east to raise money for his tax initiative, which he hopes to place on the ballot in November. Anthony York LA Times PolitiCal -- 2/22/12

Brown's tax supporters push back at Molly Munger -- Supporters of the tax measure proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown have gone public with their internal polling in their ongoing effort to persuade the backers of competing proposals to ditch their plans. Torey Van Oot SacBee Capitol Alert -- 2/22/12

Survey Finds Multiple Tax Measures Doomed -- Gov. Jerry Brown has been trying to clear the field when it comes to the November ballot. While his political team gathers signaturesto qualify his measure, Brown knows that chances of his tax plan passing are nil if two other tax proposals appear on the same ballot. Kevin Riggs KNBC Prop Zero -- 2/22/12

Sacramento arena talks progressing, council hearing pushed back -- Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson and NBA Commissioner David Stern issued a joint statement today calling arena negotiations constructive and laying out a two-week timeline for an arena deal. Tony Bizjak and Dale Kasler in the Sacramento Bee -- 2/22/12

Obama taps Villaraigosa, Longoria, others to co-chair campaign -- Seven Californians, including Los Angeles’ mayor, its top labor leader, two Hollywood stars, a billionaire entrepreneur from San Francisco, the state’s attorney general and the first Chinese American congresswoman, joined President Obama’s campaign Wednesday as national co-chairs. John Hoeffel in the Los Angeles Times Torey Van Oot SacBee Capitol Alert -- 2/22/12

Sharon Runner announces she won't run for re-election -- Republican Sen. Sharon Runner, who is awaiting a lung transplant for a rare autoimmune disease, announced today that she will not seek re-election in November. Torey Van Oot SacBee Capitol Alert -- 2/22/12

Boxer tied for 5th most liberal U.S. senator -- California Democrat Barbara Boxer has long been considered one of the U.S. Senate's most liberal members, but according to the National Journal, she's in a five-way tie for being the 5th most liberal senator. Dan Walters SacBee Capitol Alert -- 2/22/12

Fox: Ringside at the Berman vs. Sherman Heavyweight Bout -- One could imagine a capacity crowd at the old Olympic Auditorium venue for many an LA boxing match, with the turnout at Temple Judea in Tarzana last night to see Democratic Congressmen Howard Berman and Brad Sherman slug it out in a debate. Republican Mark Reed was on the scene, too, and he got in a few sharp blows. Joel Fox Fox & Hounds -- 2/22/12

Oceanside family seeks to ban pushpins -- Brightly colored pushpins used to place art work, days of the week and numbers on bulletin boards can camouflage a deadly choking danger to toddlers. Michael Gardner UT San Diego -- 2/22/12


   California Policy and Politics This Morning

Sparks fly in second Berman-Sherman debate -- A panel of questioners from the Jewish Journal, which organized the forum, devoted nearly two-thirds of the 90-minute forum to questions on foreign policy, especially on Iran and Israel. Jean Merl in the Los Angeles Times -- 2/22/12

Barbara Boxer endorses Howard Berman, knocks Brad Sherman mailer -- U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-California) has decided to endorse Rep. Howard Berman (D-Valley Village) in his bruising intraparty fight with Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) for a newly drawn San Fernando Valley congressional district seat. Jean Merl in the Los Angeles Times Kyle Trygstad Roll Call -- 2/22/12

California's top labor official quits -- Ronald Yank told Department of Personnel Administration staff on Tuesday that he's leaving. The Brown administration, which hadn't named a successor to the key post as of late Tuesday afternoon, declined to make Yank available for an interview. Jon Ortiz in the Sacramento Bee -- 2/22/12

Gay-marriage foes to ask appeals court to review Prop. 8 ruling -- Opponents of same-sex marriage said Tuesday they planned to ask a federal appeals court to reconsider this month’s 2-1 ruling that struck down Proposition 8, California’s 2008 ballot measure that banned gay marriage. Maura Dolan in the Los Angeles Times LISA LEFF AP Howard Mintz in the San Jose Mercury -- 2/22/12

Herdt: The perils of two routes to tax increases -- Here's the scenario: You're in a bunker with your allies and there are two routes out that lead to the place you all want to go. One route is narrow, uphill and intersected by two rivers that will be treacherous to cross. The other is wide and has no visible obstructions, but very likely is booby-trapped. Which one do you take? Timm Herdt in the Ventura Star -- 2/22/12

Walters: California's red light cameras in jeopardy -- The battle over the cameras that many California cities and counties use to nab motorists who blow through red lights or – more commonly – make rolling stops for right turns has raged in the Capitol for several years without resolution. Dan Walters in the Sacramento Bee -- 2/22/12

Feds ask judge to drop California postal records suit -- The battle lines have been drawn in an unusual public records spat between a state agency responsible for upholding election laws and the U.S. Postal Service. Corey G. Johnson California Watch -- 2/22/12

Los Angeles Mayor Sets Sights on a Bigger Stage -- Antonio R. Villaraigosa was elected mayor of this city in 2005 on a wave of excitement that began collapsing within two years, as he confessed to an extramarital affair with a television reporter, struggled to run City Hall amid an economic downturn and disappointed supporters who thought he was drawn to the glamour, rather than the grit, of the job. ADAM NAGOURNEY in the New York Times -- 2/22/12

Special interests run Capitol, says advocate for part-time Legislature initiative -- The California assemblywoman pushing an initiative for a part-time Legislature said she isn't worried that only $85,000 has been raised for the drive thus far. Jim Sanders in the Sacramento Bee -- 2/22/12

In California, Mitt Romney holds lead, but Santorum gains -- While challengers rise and recede in the Republican presidential primaries, Mitt Romney's sail remains full in California. David Siders in the Sacramento Bee Tom Verdin AP -- 2/22/12

Brown bound for Washington, will meet with Obama -- Gov. Jerry Brown, who has rarely left the state since taking office last year, will travel to Washington this weekend to meet with President Barack Obama and governors at the National Governors Association's winter meeting. David Siders SacBee Capitol Alert -- 2/22/12

California city and county pensions in trouble -- Many of California's biggest local governments spend an average of 10 cents of every dollar covering pension costs, according to a study of the largest independent pension plans released Tuesday. Nicholas Riccardi LA Times PolitiCal JUDY LIN AP -- 2/22/12

CalBuzz: Prezboys in Michigan Melee; Babs Backs Berman -- Tonight’s Republican presidential debate offers the last chance for candidates to make their cases on one stage before next Tuesday’s key Michigan primary. Jerry Roberts and Phil Trounstine CalBuzz -- 2/22/12

Congressman denied Orange County GOP endorsement -- Fourth-term Rep. John Campbell, R-Irvine – who’s helped lead the GOP charge against congressional earmarks – failed to win the endorsement of the Republican Party of Orange County at Monday night’s meeting of its governing Central Committee. Martin Wisckol in the Orange County Register -- 2/22/12

PUC, PG&E revive $3 million records settlement -- State regulators and Pacific Gas and Electric Co. have revived a $3 million settlement over the utility's failure to produce gas-pipeline safety records after the San Bruno disaster - a fine that critics of the company denounced as too lenient. Jaxon Van Derbeken in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 2/22/12

   Economy - Jobs

Gasoline use declines, prices climb as drivers ask: What's up with that? -- As the average price of gasoline zips toward $4 a gallon in California and past $3.50 nationwide, increasingly frustrated motorists are asking questions. Among the most vexing: If we're using less gas, how come prices keep going up? Mark Glover in the Sacramento Bee -- 2/22/12

Greenhouse gas battle could reap billions in auctions -- As California’s attempt to curb climate-changing greenhouse gases ramps up, critical pieces of the landmark law remain uncertain, including the impact of the all-important auctions of hundreds of millions of so-called “emission allowances” that will serve as the spur for utilities, refiners and others to comply. John Howard Capitol Weekly -- 2/22/12


LAUSD substitute kept teaching after 3 abuse allegations -- The substitute teacher quit after the third inquiry and started working in Inglewood schools. Police later found video of him molesting a girl in that district; he was charged, but he fled and is at large. Alan Zarembo, Howard Blume and Richard Winton in the Los Angeles Times -- 2/22/12

LAUSD plan would limit homework to 20% of grade -- Following an uproar last year over a policy that limited homework to 10 percent of a student's grade, Los Angeles Unified officials are recommending a cap of 20 percent, along with guidelines on how much time should be spent on outside assignments. Barbara Jones in the Los Angeles Daily News -- 2/22/12

Community colleges hit by $149-million shortfall -- Officials have little flexibility in responding to the latest cuts because classes are already underway. A decrease in fee revenues and more aid to students complicate financial problems. Carla Rivera in the Los Angeles Times -- 2/22/12

Baron: Unexpected cuts for CA community colleges -- Stop me if you’ve heard this before. California community colleges are facing a midyear budget cut. No, not the $102 million January trigger cut; that’s so last month. This one is being called the “February surprise,” and it triggered this tweet from California Community Colleges Chancellor Jack Scott: Kathryn Baron TopEd -- 2/22/12

Fensterwald: Districts’ funding under weighted formula -- In six years, when Gov. Brown’s proposed new funding system is fully phased in, the average statewide funding per student is expected to be $9,210. John Fensterwald educatedguess -- 2/22/12

GOP frontrunner takes on public education -- The first major discussion of education in the 2012 presidential campaign has centered not on reforms like teacher tenure or what should replace the No Child Left Behind law but on the merits of public education itself. Louis Freedberg EdSource -- 2/22/12

Vargo: Opportune time to rethink accountability and factor in improvement -- California is apparently passing up the opportunity to request a waiver from the No Child Left Behind law, setting up another round of schools and districts to be labeled as failing. Merrill Vargo TopEd -- 2/22/12

   Health Care

Major Medi-Cal changes raise questions -- Sweeping changes for the state’s medical program for the needy are taking shape, even as legislative advisers and advocates raise major questions. Christina Jewett California Watch -- 2/22/12

State rates health plans on quality measures -- California's largest health plans have improved their care for diabetic patients, but many need to do better at treating children with throat infections, testing for lung disease and helping people overcome drug and alcohol addictions. Sandy Kleffman in the Oakland Tribune Chad Terhune in the Los Angeles Times -- 2/22/12

Traffic at port, border, tied to asthma -- San Ysidro School District Nurse Anita Gillchrest can tell when the air quality in the area near the U.S. Mexico border is bad: the number of asthma interventions needed for the district’s 5,700 students triples and quadruples. Marty Graham HealthyCal.org -- 2/22/12


ethics storm over climate change documents -- For the past two decades, Peter Gleick has earned a reputation as a nationally known expert on water and climate issues, winning a MacArthur "genius award," penning a long list of scientific articles and testifying before Congress. Dana Hull and Paul Rogers in the Contra Costa Times -- 2/22/12

Citrus pest discovered near Lindsay -- One of the citrus industry's most feared pests has been found in a Tulare County citrus grove and agriculture officials are hoping it's an isolated find. Robert Rodriguez in the Fresno Bee -- 2/22/12

EPA to drill 30 new wells in Burbank, Glendale, NoHo -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will drill about 30 new wells deep below the San Fernando Valley next month to better define a toxic underground chemical plume that regulators admit they still don't understand. Melissa Pamer in the Los Angeles Daily News -- 2/22/12


LA Supervisors issue apology for forcing thousands of Latinos back to Mexico in 1929-44 -- More than 80 years after their predecessors helped push people of Mexican descent out of Los Angeles County, the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to issue a formal apology. Christina Villacorte in the Inland Daily Bulletin -- 2/22/12


Berkeley victim's call for help went unheeded -- Thirteen critical minutes elapsed between the time a Berkeley hills homeowner called police about a trespasser and an attack by the intruder that left the man beaten to death, sources close to the investigation said Tuesday. Henry K. Lee in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 2/22/12

To Tony Lopez, with love -- My dad never called a tow truck. That would have cost too much. Steve Lopez in the Los Angeles Times -- 2/22/12

Antipoverty program leaders charged -- A husband and wife who headed an antipoverty program in Alameda County were indicted Tuesday for allegedly misusing more than $200,000 in taxpayer money, which prosecutors say they spent on travel, meals and home repairs. Phillip Matier, Andrew Ross in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 2/22/12

Vallejo marijuana dispensary raided -- The operator of one of Vallejo's more prominent medical marijuana dispensaries was arrested Tuesday, following a raid on his home, business and associated properties by federal, state and local law enforcement agents. Jessica A. York in the Contra Costa Times -- 2/22/12

America's Cup team offers a peek -- Reporters and just a handful of photographers were ushered past razor-wire fences, "No Trespassing" signs and "Top Secret" banners to get a glimpse of the carbon-fiber hulls taking shape in a warehouse at the end of Pier 80. Julia Prodis Sulek in the Contra Costa Times -- 2/22/12

   POTUS 44

Obama to propose lowering corporate tax rate to 28 percent -- Obama will propose lowering the nation’s tax rate to 28 percent. At the same time, however, he will seek to increase the amount of revenues raised overall through corporate taxation by eliminating numerous deductions and loopholes that save companies tens of billions of dollars a year on their tax bills, according to a senior administration official. Zachary A. Goldfarb in the Washington Post -- 2/22/12

President still tuneful -- The crooner-in-chief was at it again on Tuesday evening. For the second time in recent weeks, President Obama hit the high notes, this time singing a few lines of "Sweet Home Chicago." Amie Parnes The Hill -- 2/22/12


Santorum steps into new debate role -- There will be four men and one moderator on stage at Wednesday night’s GOP debate in Arizona. But it’s Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum who will be the main attractions. MAGGIE HABERMAN Politico -- 2/22/12