Updates since early This Morning

State lawmakers want answers on prison spending -- When California’s prison system ran into the red last year, lawmakers forked over an additional $380 million. But now lawmakers say they can’t get answers on where the money went, and prison officials have missed two deadlines to explain the spending. Chris Megerian LA Times PolitiCal -- 3/1/12

Hurdles mount for Gov. Jerry Brown's budget -- There's a tug of war over state spending every year, but the setbacks are adding up to a bumpy road to this summer's deadline to pass a budget, which will need to close an estimated $9.2-billion deficit. Chris Megerian LA Times PolitiCal -- 3/1/12

Ogilvy named tentative winner of health exchange PR contract -- Ogilvy was chosen this week by the California Health Benefit Exchange to create a statewide marketing, outreach and education strategy designed to help reduce the number of Californians lacking health insurance. Jim Sanders SacBee Capitol Alert -- 3/1/12

California colleges take back seat to California prisons -- San Francisco State University President Robert Corrigan, who is retiring this year, and Provost Sue Rosser noted today in Washington that California is spending nearly as much money on prisons ($8.7 billion, or 9.45 percent of its budget), as it does on all of higher education ($9.3 billion, or 10.1 percent of its budget). Carolyn Lochhead Chronicle Politics -- 3/1/12

Steinberg: Fish & Game Commission head acted 'like a jackass' -- Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg joined the debate today over the embattled head of the state Fish and Game Commission's Idaho cougar hunt, blasting Dan Richards for acting "like a jackass." Torey Van Oot SacBee Capitol Alert -- 3/1/12

California death penalty -- Supporters of a proposed initiative to repeal the death penalty in California plan to begin turning in nearly 800,000 voter signatures today in hopes of qualifying for the November ballot. Torey Van Oot SacBee Capitol Alert Carol J. Williams LA Times PolitiCal -- 3/1/12

Debate over death penalty resurfaces in California -- There are two competing approaches: repeal or repair. Which direction California takes, if either, will probably remain unanswered until fall. Michael Gardner UT San Diego -- 3/1/12

Gay marriage supporters urge court to reject latest Proposition 8 appeal -- Gay marriage advocates on Thursday urged a federal appeals court to reject a bid to reconsider last month's ruling striking down California's voter-approved ban on same-sex nuptials. Howard Mintz in the San Jose Mercury -- 3/1/12

Norm Waters -- Former Democratic Assemblyman Norman Waters, who served 14 years as a legislator, died at his Amador County home this week at age 86. Jim Sanders SacBee Capitol Alert -- 3/1/12

Andrew Breitbart dead -- Andrew Breitbart, already an increasingly prominent player in the political and media influence game, never had a moment quite like the one on June 6, 2011. Michael A. Memoli and Robin Abcarian in the Los Angeles Times -- 3/1/12

Wildermuth: Mountain Lions are State’s Most Political Animals -- Dan Richards is quickly finding out what many Californians already knew: the mountain lion is the state’s most politicized animal. John Wildermuth Fox & Hounds -- 3/1/12

strip bar measure -- Cheap thrill? Forget it. The cost of nude entertainment in California would rise under legislation that seeks a pound of flesh for, well, a pound of flesh. Assembly Bill 2441 would slap a $10-per-person tax on nightclubs, bars or restaurants that combine booze with live nude entertainment. Costs could be passed on to customers. Jim Sanders SacBee Capitol Alert Michael J. Mishak LA Times PolitiCal -- 3/1/12


   California Policy and Politics This Morning

Brown steps up efforts to squelch competing tax hike proposals -- On a recent evening, a dark sedan glided to the curb at a two-story Craftsman off Crenshaw Boulevard near the Santa Monica Freeway. It carried Gov. Jerry Brown and his top aide, fresh off a day of squiring the vice president of China around Los Angeles. Nicholas Riccardi and Anthony York in the Los Angeles Times -- 3/1/12

California delta tunnel plan would increase pumping -- The amount of water pumped out of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta would significantly increase and some species would be harmed if massive tunnels are built to move water around the fragile ecosystem, according to thousands of pages of documents released by state officials Wednesday. Wyatt Buchanan in the San Francisco Chronicle Matt Weiser in the Sacramento Bee -- 3/1/12

Controversial California water bill passes US House -- The U.S. House of Representatives has approved a controversial water bill that would block the restoration of the San Joaquin River and give California farmers and urban residents more water. GOSIA WOZNIACKA AP Michael Doyle in the Fresno Bee Richard Simon and Bettina Boxall in the Los Angeles Times -- 3/1/12

Kinde Durkee sued by congresswomen, state senator -- Lawsuits were filed Wednesday by three members of congress and a state senator alleging that campaign treasurer Kinde Durkee stole more than $1 million from political accounts and that the bank they used aided and abetted the scheme. Patrick McGreevy in the Los Angeles Times -- 3/1/12

Lawmakers reject Gov. Brown's cuts to welfare -- An Assembly subcommittee rejected Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed cuts to CalWORKs on Wednesday, dealing a blow to the governor’s spending plan. Chris Megerian LA Times PolitiCal Kevin Yamamura SacBee Capitol Alert -- 3/1/12

California bills aim to end foreclosure abuses -- Dubbed the California Homeowner Bill of Rights, the six measures call for more transparency by banks when dealing with struggling homeowners. Rick Daysog in the Sacramento Bee Marc Lifsher in the Los Angeles Times -- 3/1/12

Foreclosed home sales at deep discounts soar in Sacramento metro area in 2011 -- The study, by Irvine-based RealtyTrac, also suggests the nation's largest lenders will step up sales of troubled properties in the coming months. Rick Daysog in the Sacramento Bee -- 3/1/12

SEIU president tells Jerry Brown's tax-plan rivals to step aside -- Powerful labor leader David Kieffer says proponents of tax measures competing with Gov. Jerry Brown's measure should get out of the way. Kevin Yamamura SacBee Capitol Alert -- 3/1/12

Dreier to retire -- California's seniority standing in the House of Representatives will take another hit, with the announcement Wednesday by Rep. David Dreier, R-San Dimas, that he will be retiring. Michael Doyle SacBee Capitol Alert Richard Simon LA Times PolitiCal Paul Kane in the Washington Post -- 3/1/12

Cougar hunter target of try to oust him from post -- Democratic lawmakers may attempt to oust California Fish and Game Commission President Daniel Richards as early as next week following outrage over his legal killing of a mountain lion on a recent Idaho hunting trip. Marisa Lagos in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 3/1/12

Saunders: Gavin Newsom, a lieutenant who thinks he's general -- Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom began a Chronicle editorial board meeting last week by complaining about his job. Debra J. Saunders in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 3/1/12

California bundlers give more to Obama than in 2008 -- With more than eight months to go before Election Day, California bundlers already might have rounded up more money for President Barack Obama's re-election bid than they did during the entire 2008 campaign, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics. Chase Davis California Watch -- 3/1/12

   Economy - Jobs

California Cities Hit the Wall -- Confronted by declining tax revenue and rising employee costs, Stockton, Calif., is considering bankruptcy—while several other struggling California cities warn they could eventually face the same predicament. BOBBY WHITE and VAUHINI VARA in the Wall Street Journal -- 3/1/12

Stockton votes to stop payments to creditors, start mediation -- Stockton edges toward becoming the nation's largest city to file for bankruptcy as it resorts to a recently enacted law designed to slow that process. Diana Marcum in the Los Angeles Times -- 3/1/12

Stockton mediation first case under new California law -- Beleaguered Stockton is the first California city to test a new union-backed law aimed at protecting public employee contracts by making it harder for municipalities to file bankruptcy. JUDY LIN AP -- 3/1/12

Stockton: work month, get lifetime health care? -- One of a long list of missteps said to be pushing Stockton toward becoming the biggest U.S. city to declare bankruptcy is a promise of free lifetime health care for some workers, estimated to cost $417 million over the next 30 years. Ed Mendel Calpensions.com -- 3/1/12

State data suggests special districts faring better -- New state data suggest that California special districts and their employees have weathered the economic downturn better than some of their government counterparts in cities and counties. JIM MILLER in the Riverside Press -- 3/1/12

public share of Sacramento arena at nearly $256 million -- As Sacramentans debate how much they should be asked to contribute to a new downtown arena, city officials Wednesday pegged the planned facility's public price at $255,530,000. Tony Bizjak, Dale Kasler and Ryan Lillis in the Sacramento Bee -- 3/1/12

High-speed rail construction delayed -- With a long-standing federal deadline breathing down its neck, California's polarizing $100 billion bullet train suddenly got a much-needed reprieve Wednesday when the Obama administration eased the target date for starting construction. Mike Rosenberg in the San Jose Mercury -- 3/1/12

San Francisco school board drops seniority in layoffs -- The San Francisco school board set aside seniority rights Tuesday night to save the jobs of 70 low-seniority teachers in 14 low-performing schools. Many of the teachers were brought in just last year to help improve the schools. Jill Tucker in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 3/1/12

President can't put lid on gas prices, experts say -- Soaring gasoline prices tempt politicians in a way that many can't resist. David R. Baker in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 3/1/12

California gas usage was falling even before price hikes -- Even before the current surge in gasoline prices, motorists throughout California were cutting back at the pumps. Mark Glover in the Sacramento Bee -- 3/1/12


Community college leaders warn against proposed funding model -- A new bill aims to once again reform the way California community colleges are reimbursed for the education they provide, and college leaders are not happy about it. CLAUDIA MELÉNDEZ in the Santa Cruz Sentinel -- 3/1/12

Community colleges could take over some LAUSD adult programs, says Little Hoover Commission -- Community colleges should take over some adult school programs from cash-strapped school districts like Los Angeles Unified as California's financial crisis lingers, a state watchdog agency has recommended. Barbara Jones in the Los Angeles Daily News -- 3/1/12

L.A. Unified head seeks end to misconduct file rule -- John Deasy says unproven allegations of misconduct against teachers should not be removed from personnel files after four years. The rule dates back to a teachers' contract in the early 1990s. Howard Blume in the Los Angeles Times -- 3/1/12

Baron: Community college placement exams fail -- Tens of thousands of California community college students may be wrongly assigned to remedial English and math courses based on placement exams that are flawed. Kathryn Baron TopEd -- 3/1/12

Senate leader wants task force to improve school seismic safety -- The chairwoman of the state Senate disaster preparedness committee is calling for new building standards and an overhaul of California's seismic safety law in the wake of a California Watch investigation and a scathing audit that found significant flaws in the state's oversight of public school construction. Corey G. Johnson California Watch -- 3/1/12

Parent volunteers help fill gaps at schools hit by budget cuts -- Step inside any public school these days, and you’ll likely see parents working alongside the staff. Eleanor Yang Su California Watch -- 3/1/12


Lawmakers call for audit of developmental center police -- California lawmakers have asked for a state audit into police investigations of suspicious patient deaths and injuries at institutions for the developmentally disabled. Ryan Gabrielson California Watch -- 3/1/12

Marijuana dispensaries warned of federal charges -- U.S. attorneys sent letters Tuesday to more than 50 marijuana dispensaries in San Bernardino, Fontana, Colton and Bloomington threatening criminal or legal action in federal court if the dispensaries stay open. Ryan Hagen in the San Bernardino Sun -- 3/1/12

Hunter, Bilbray urge action on Soledad cross -- A pair of San Diego County congressmen urged federal officials to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the case of the cross on Mount Soledad in La Jolla. Christopher Cadelago UT San Diego -- 3/1/12

   POTUS 44

Montana judge admits sending racist email about Obama -- Montana’s chief federal judge Wednesday admitted forwarding an email to friends about President Obama that appears to equate African Americans with dogs and raises questions about the president’s mixed racial ancestry. Kim Murphy in the Los Angeles Times -- 3/1/12


Republicans' hopes for recapturing control of Senate dim -- Meanwhile, the exit of Sen. Olympia Snowe has dampened the mood of both parties. The era of moderates in the Senate appears over. Lisa Mascaro and Michael A. Memoli in the Los Angeles Times -- 3/1/12