California Policy and Politics This Morning

Primary debuts changes that could give voters fits -- California's June 5 primary will throw voters the biggest election curve they've seen since the 2003 gubernatorial recall saw 135 candidates clog the ballot. John Ellis in the Fresno Bee -- 3/18/12

California candidates set to battle in new political landscape -- The changed primary system and new legislative and congressional districts will probably yield intraparty fights and a lack of third-party hopefuls on the fall ballot. More contested seats are possible too. Jean Merl in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/18/12

Compromise tax measure needs 808,000 signatures -- The measure, announced this week as an agreement among the governor, Democratic leaders of the Senate and Assembly and backers of the millionaires tax, needs approximately 808,000 signatures to get on the ballot. Marisa Lagos, Wyatt Buchanan in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 3/18/12

High-speed rail proponents make changes -- Proponents of California's $98.5 billion high-speed rail project, freshly battered by critics and teetering before the Legislature, are preparing a series of eleventh-hour changes to reduce the project's cost and improve its chance of approval. David Siders in the Sacramento Bee -- 3/18/12

High-speed rail planners focus on running trains to L.A. before Bay Area -- No final decision has been made, but high-speed rail planners are increasingly focused on Southern California as the most financially promising place to build the project's first operational segment. JOHN COX in Bakersfield Californian -- 3/18/12

Walters: Jerry Brown 2.0 finds it tough going -- Does Jerry Brown ever haul his almost 74-year-old body out of bed in the morning, look in the mirror and ask himself why he ever had the notion of running for governor again, three decades after leaving the job? Dan Walters in the Sacramento Bee -- 3/18/12

Foreclosure lawsuit to get another chance -- Michael Boyter walked out of San Francisco's federal courthouse Friday encouraged that a judge had left the door open for him to continue a legal battle against the foreclosure of his Bethel Island home. Carolyn Said in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 3/18/12

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan camp gears up -- Oakland Mayor Jean Quan isn't waiting to see if the recall drive against her qualifies for the ballot - she already has a well-oiled campaign up and running to keep her job. Phillip Matier, Andrew Ross in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 3/18/12

Willie Brown: Ed Lee facing moment of truth in Mirkarimi case -- San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee has arrived at the first moment of truth for his still-fledging administration - what to do about Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi. Willie Brown in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 3/18/12

Saunders: Jerry Brown's tax plan breaks faith with California -- Gov. Jerry Brown likes to talk about "loyalty to California." For Brown, that means that public people should put aside their partisan interests to do what is best for the Golden State. Debra J. Saunders in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 3/18/12

Morain: GOP inflicts its own wounds -- That grinding noise you hear is the sound of Republicans gnawing on one another. Dan Morain in the Sacramento Bee -- 3/18/12

For California's disgraced politicians, the fall hurts -- but just look where they landed -- Nobody runs for office hoping to end up infamous. Famous, maybe. Powerful, often. But never infamous. Josh Richman in the Oakland Tribune -- 3/18/12

The exclusive Q&A with Chuck Quackenbush -- In writing today’s story about disgraced former California politicians, I reached out to former Insurance Commissioner Chuck Quackenbush, who resigned in 2000 amid talk of impeachment – and he answered. Josh Richman Political Blotter -- 3/18/12

Injured and ailing people wait as dispatch problems slow LAFD -- When the machine swallowed her hand, slicing off one finger and mangling the rest, Tania Wafer's co-workers tried frantically to stop the bleeding as a supervisor dialed 911. Kate Linthicum and Robert J. Lopez in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/18/12

Lopez: Weary L.A. firefighters speak up -- Longer runs to emergencies, a dysfunctional dispatch system and aging equipment are among dangerous problems. Steve Lopez in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/18/12

   Economy - Jobs

Pension costs eat at local services in Sacramento region -- The region's local governments will spend near-record amounts this year shoring up pension plans – more than enough to build the proposed new arena for the Sacramento Kings – even as they cut public services. Phillip Reese and Loretta Kalb in the Sacramento Bee -- 3/18/12

Borenstein: Top administrators shamelessly try to cook the pension books -- Solving California's public pension crisis must begin with honest numbers. So when top government administrators, who are supposed to be the neutral brokers, start advocating for cooking the books for political and budgetary reasons, we should be concerned. Daniel Borenstein in the Contra Costa Times -- 3/18/12

   Environment

Scientists Look to Explain Whale Calf Sightings in Bay -- Recent sightings of a gray whale and her infant calf swimming near Alcatraz and Sausalito in San Francisco Bay illuminated a likely repercussion of melting polar ice, scientists said. JOHN UPTON Bay Citizen -- 3/18/12

2 Occupy Oakland protesters hit by car file suit -- Two Occupy Oakland protesters hit by a car as they marched down Broadway during the movement's general strike filed a lawsuit Friday against the vehicle's registered owner. Henry K. Lee in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 3/18/12

   POTUS 44

Obama’s evolution: Behind the failed ‘grand bargain’ on the debt -- President Obama had just arrived home, walking across Lafayette Square after attending Sunday services with his family at St. John’s Church. In the West Wing, Obama ducked into the spacious office of his chief of staff, where he found his negotiating team huddled with two leading Republicans and a passel of aides. Peter Wallsten, Lori Montgomery and Scott Wilson in the Washington Post -- 3/18/12

   Beltway

Santorum-Romney battle reveals stark divide in the GOP -- The big, cheering crowd in the school gymnasium here Friday night spoke to the distance Rick Santorum has traveled since those lonely days when his candidacy was dismissed as a hopeless exercise. It spoke also to the divide that now defines the Republican presidential campaign. Dan Balz in the Washington Post -- 3/18/12

McManus: Will Romney be the GOP's Dukakis? -- There's an old saying in Republican politics: Massachusetts produces only two exports — lobsters and liberals — and neither one travels well. Doyle McManus in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/18/12