California Policy and Politics This Morning

Connerly argues California illegally considers race, gender for redistricting panel -- California illegally considers race, gender and ethnicity in choosing members of a state commission to draw legislative and congressional districts, according to a lawsuit making its way through Sacramento Superior Court. Jim Sanders in the Sacramento Bee -- 3/24/12

Molly Munger tax initiative drive offers workers a chance for free cars -- Michael Arno, whose company is spearheading the drive to qualify Molly Munger's tax measure for the November ballot, plans to give away a car each week in a drawing involving his top signature gatherers. Jim Sanders SacBee Capitol Alert -- 3/24/12

Gov. Jerry Brown's solar power campaign -- Last summer, Gov. Jerry Brown flew to Blythe, in the California desert, to break ground on the largest solar power project in the world. David Siders in the Sacramento Bee -- 3/24/12

L.A. fire Chief Brian Cummings pressed on slow response times -- A sometimes angry Fire Chief Brian Cummings defended his agency Friday against an increasing chorus of criticism over response times, saying to meet the ideal standards would take 89 more stations in Los Angeles. Rick Orlov in the Los Angeles Daily News -- 3/24/12

Religious freedom rally draws a crowd in San Francisco -- A religious freedom rally in San Francisco on Friday attracted nearly 500 people from throughout the Bay Area vehemently opposed to a new federal requirement that insurers provide free contraception to workers. Sandy Kleffman in the San Jose Mercury -- 3/24/12

NRG Energy's $120 million settlement over energy crisis contracts reaps big investment for electric cars -- More than a decade after a handful of energy companies plunged California into a crisis that sent fears of rolling blackouts across the state, the successor of one of those firms has agreed to invest $120 million in recharging stations for electric vehicles. Mike Taugher in the San Jose Mercury Mark Glover and David Siders in the Sacramento Bee Andrea Chang in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/24/12

Drug giant settles probe in CalPERS bribery case -- Caught up in the CalPERS bribery case, a drug-benefits supplier will pay $2.75 million to settle an investigation into its dealings with the man at the heart of the scandal. Dale Kasler in the Sacramento Bee -- 3/24/12

Hiltzik: Jerry Brown schools a WSJ editor on being Jerry Brown -- Few things are more entertaining than watching a debating pro run rings around an opponent. Just ask the witnesses to an encounter staged Friday between Gov. Jerry Brown and Robert Thomson, the managing editor of the Wall Street Journal. Michael Hiltzik in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/24/12

Riverside area is in a campaign vortex -- Several overlapping – and highly contested – local, legislative and congressional races this year will focus unprecedented attention and spending on the area as campaigning escalates before the June and November elections. Voters will be buried in TV ads, mailers, yard signs and visits to their front doors. JIM MILLER and BEN GOAD in the Riverside Press -- 3/24/12

Report reveals data on members of Congress paying family members for work -- Democratic South Bay Rep. Maxine Waters is among the top five members of Congress who paid family members to work for them, according to a report released this week by a nonprofit government watchdog group. Art Marroquin in the Long Beach Press -- 3/24/12

Don Perata & friends paid by Prop. 29 campaign -- Former state Senate President Pro Tem and 2010 Oakland mayoral candidate Don Perata, who helped conceive, introduce and raise money for the tobacco-tax ballot measure on this June’s ballot, has a lot of friends who are making money from the campaign, new reports show. Josh Richman Political Blotter -- 3/24/12

Candidate challenged over 'astronaut' title -- San Joaquin Valley congressional candidate Jose Hernandez flew in space, but his astronaut identity is now under political fire. In a pointed new challenge, a Sacramento law firm is asking a judge to block Hernandez from describing himself as an "astronaut/scientist/engineer" on the June ballot. The lawsuit notes Hernandez has left NASA. Michael Doyle in the Fresno Bee -- 3/24/12

Candidate for North Coast Congressional seat lives outside district -- Republican Michael Halliwell of Cotati, making his fourth run for Congress, acknowledged Wednesday that he does not live in the new North Coast district. GUY KOVNER in the Santa Rosa Press -- 3/24/12

Where does Julio Perez live? (Part II) -- Questions were raised a couple of days ago in a post by my colleague Brian Joseph about whether Julio Perez, candidate for Assembly in the 69th district, actually lives at the Santa Ana house he lists as his residence in candidacy filings. Andrew Galvin in the Orange County Register -- 3/24/12

Rodney Blonien, longtime California state official, lobbyist -- Rodney J. Blonien, a Capitol lobbyist for gambling interests who previously oversaw expansion of state prisons as a top Deukmejian administration official, died March 13 of an apparent heart attack at his Elk Grove home, his family said. He was 65. Robert D. Dávila in the Sacramento Bee -- 3/24/12

Term limits initiative has slim lead, new poll finds -- An initiative on the June ballot to alter California's term limits law has support from a narrow majority of registered voters, according to a new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll. Nicholas Riccardi LA Times PolitiCal$ -- 3/24/12

Voters don't blame workers for pension woes, new poll finds -- California voters do not blame public employees for the state's pension woes and are in no hurry to make steep cuts in the system, according to a new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll. Nicholas Riccardi LA Times PolitiCal$ -- 3/23/12

Santa Clarita candidates forum hints at GOP animus -- It was hard to tell from the candidates forum in Santa Clarita on Friday that the race for an open seat in a newly drawn Assembly district has evolved into full-blown Republican family feud. Jean Merl LA Times PolitiCal$ -- 3/24/12

Six indicted in Coliseum scandal, including two top rave producers -- The indictment, unsealed Friday, caps a 13-month investigation by the district attorney's office, triggered by Los Angeles Times reports on a corruption scandal involving millions of dollars in questionable transactions at one of the nation's most storied stadiums. Andrew Blankstein, Paul Pringle and Rong-Gong Lin II in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/24/12

Signing Off From Sacramento -- If you're like me, there are those days you always remember in your life... days where fate kindly turned you the right way. For me the list includes February 10, 2003 -- the day I signed on as the guy in Sacramento for KQED Public Radio and The California Report. John Myers Capitol Notes -- 3/24/12

   Economy - Jobs

Bay Area adds more than 15,000 jobs as employment surges -- The Bay Area economy created 15,400 jobs in February, raising total employment in the region to the highest level in three years, the state's Employment Development Department reported Friday. But despite positive job growth in the Bay Area, the net gain statewide was a mere 4,000 jobs. George Avalos in the Oakland Tribune -- 3/24/12

Mixed signals in California, regional jobless figures -- Just a few months ago, the job market was noticeably heating up, in Sacramento and across the state. Now it's not so clear. Dale Kasler in the Sacramento Bee -- 3/24/12

   Taxes - Fees

L.A. could lose $400 million a year with elimination of business tax -- Dealing a setback to efforts to make Los Angeles more business-friendly, a consultant said Friday that eliminating the business tax would cost the city $400 million a year. Rick Orlov in the Los Angeles Daily News -- 3/24/12


130 LAUSD educators being investigated for possible wrongdoing -- Based on information unearthed in a search of Los Angeles Unified's personnel files, the state teacher credentialing agency has opened investigations into 130 educators and the district has reported some past allegations of misconduct to law enforcement, officials said Friday. Barbara Jones in the Los Angeles Daily News -- 3/24/12

   Health Care

Gastrointestinal bug C. difficile on the rise -- Public health experts have been saying for years that doctors need to scale back on antibiotic use to avoid producing hardier, drug-resistant strains of disease-causing bacteria. Erin Allday in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 3/24/12


Eagles reappear in San Mateo County after nearly century absence -- The nest is tucked deep in a fir tree on the far edge of northern Crystal Springs Reservoir -- hard for humans to see, but with a bird's-eye view of 7.15 million noisy neighbors. Lisa M. Krieger in the Contra Costa Times -- 3/24/12

Sacramento's Regional Transit proposes service upgrades in September -- The worst days of fiscal crisis behind them, Sacramento Regional Transit officials say they finally can do what they and riders have wanted for two years – increase service. Tony Bizjak in the Sacramento Bee -- 3/24/12

Report: San Pablo Bay receives most toxics in state -- San Pablo Bay receives the highest volume of toxic discharges in the state, according to a report issued Thursday. Mark Prado in the Contra Costa Times -- 3/24/12


Occupy activists leave Oakland park -- After inhabiting a city park for one day, Occupy Oakland members folded up their tents and left, but also said they would return this weekend. Justin Berton in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 3/24/12


Pepper spray was needed at UC Berkeley protest, review finds -- Police trying to control a raucous protest at UC Berkeley last fall should have used pepper spray to control students, faculty and others but they were instead limited to jabbing them with their batons, concludes a review of the confrontation released Friday. Doug Oakley and Kristin J. Bender in the Oakland Tribune Nanette Asimov in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 3/24/12

Federal lawsuits filed on behalf of Fresno homeless -- Fresno officials are violating terms of a class-action lawsuit settled on behalf of the city's homeless who were displaced during cleanup sweeps in 2008, an attorney said Friday. Eddie Jimenez in the Fresno Bee -- 3/24/12

Cessna to develop a plan to build business jets in China -- Its joint venture with the state-owned Aviation Industry Corp. of China lays the groundwork for Cessna to become the first U.S. aircraft maker to manufacture business jets in the nation. David Pierson in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/24/12

Orange County Treasurer’s office overcharged investors $2.9 million, rebate sought -- Former Orange County Treasurer-Tax Collector Chriss Street skirted county investment guidelines and overcharged investment pool participants, who are now owed an estimated $2.9 million rebate, according to interviews and county audits. Tony Saavedra in the Orange County Register -- 3/24/12

   POTUS 44

Obama brings race back to the top -- Barack Obama has a reputation for calculation and diffidence — at times well deserved — but on Friday he again demonstrated his instinctive gift for confronting the ugly, divisive, emotional issues that more squeamish politicians evade. GLENN THRUSH Politico -- 3/24/12


Joe Biden warns Florida seniors on GOP efforts -- Vice President Joe Biden’s second speech on the campaign trail Friday was as textbook as they come: He headed to south Florida to warn a crowd of senior citizens Florida that the Republican candidates will dismantle Medicare and Social Security. JENNIFER EPSTEIN Politico -- 3/24/12

Santorum stretches Senate record -- It was a dazzling moment for Rick Santorum: as a freshman senator, he stood on the Senate floor and watched as a senior liberal Democrat finally admitted he was wrong, Santorum was right and it was time for the nation to ban late-term abortion. At least, that’s the story Santorum has told in a number of campaign speeches over the last year. ALEXANDER BURNS and EMILY SCHULTHEIS Politico -- 3/24/12

Saunders: It's all party politics in Washington, D.C. -- House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan introduced a hard-core GOP budget last week. His committee passed the package in a 19-18 vote. Two Republicans voted against it. No Democrats voted for it. Partisanship lives. Debra J. Saunders in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 3/24/12

Santorum gets financial boomlet in San Diego county, state -- Bolstered by strong performances in Minnesota, Missouri and Colorado, Rick Santorum was rewarded with a sizable cash infusion from California and San Diego County last month, but overall remains a considerable distance behind his three Republican rivals and President Barack Obama. Christopher Cadelago UT San Diego -- 3/24/12