* Updates Since Early This Morning

Kinde Durkee: Guilty plea likely in $8M embezzlement -- Kinde Durkee, the California political operative at the heart a major embezzlement scandal, is expected to plead guilty later this week to stealing more than $8 million from her clients, including Sen. Dianne Feinstein and other California Democrats, according to sources close to the case. JOHN BRESNAHAN and JONATHAN ALLEN Politico Torey Van Oot SacBee Capitol Alert Patrick McGreevy and Richard Simon LA Times PolitiCal$ -- 3/27/12

Magic Johnson-led group is picked as Dodgers' next owner -- The group, headed by the Lakers legend known for community involvement, agrees to pay $2 billion for the team. The sale, if approved, would end contentious McCourt era for the storied team. Bill Shaikin in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/27/12

Bay Citizen, Center for Investigative Reporting to Merge -- The Bay Citizen on Tuesday enters the second phase of its young life, surrendering its independence in exchange for a partnership with an older, more established journalistic entity as its parent organization merges with the Center for Investigative Reporting. DAN FOST Bay Citizen -- 3/27/12

Mitt Romney's 4-car fantasy home -- At Mitt Romney’s proposed California beach house, the cars will have their own separate elevator. There’s also a planned outdoor shower and a 3,600-square foot basement — a room with more floor space than the existing home’s entire living quarters. REID J. EPSTEIN Politico -- 3/27/12

Feds: California nuke plant to remain shut for probe -- The troubled San Onofre nuclear plant in Southern California will remain shut down while investigators try to solve a mystery inside its massive generators — the rapid decay of tubing that carries radioactive water, federal regulators said Tuesday. MICHAEL R. BLOOD Associated Press Abby Sewell LA Times PolitiCal$ -- 3/27/12

Herdt: Legislators ignore a low-hanging tax -- Here's one thing that wouldn't change if California voters June 5 approve the $1 per pack increase in cigarette taxes embodied in Proposition 29: Smokers in Kingman, Ariz., could still drive over to Needles and pick up a carton of Camels and pay less in taxes than they would have paid in Arizona. Timm Herdt in the Ventura Star -- 3/27/12

California Judicial Council halts court case management system -- Capping years of sometimes bitter controversy inside and outside the judicial system, the state Judicial Council voted Tuesday to halt deployment of what was to be a computerized case management system linking every California court in paperless operation. Dan Walters SacBee Capitol Alert Patrick McGreevy LA Times PolitiCal$ -- 3/27/12

Judge tentatively rules for California in school funding suit -- In a court battle that could shape how schools are funded, a judge tentatively ruled Tuesday that California lawmakers can reduce education funding by diverting state revenues into new pots of money. Kevin Yamamura SacBee Capitol Alert -- 3/27/12

Local officials balk at bill to require them to spend more on transit -- When the Legislature enacted a law three years ago requiring that all large counties spend their entire share of Transportation Development Act money on transit services, it gave Ventura County a pass. Timm Herdt in the Ventura Star -- 3/27/12

Justices signal deep trouble for health care law -- The fate of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul was cast into peril Tuesday as the Supreme Court's conservative justices sharply and repeatedly questioned its core requirement that virtually every American carry insurance. The court will now take up whether any remnant of the historic law can survive if that linchpin fails. MARK SHERMAN Associated Press CARRIE BUDOFF BROWN, JOSH GERSTEIN and JENNIFER HABERKORN Politico David G. Savage and Noam N. Levey in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/27/12

John A. Pérez launches fight to alter tax formula for scholarships -- Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez is drumming up public support for legislation touted as a billion-dollar relief plan for college students that is sure to be a Democratic centerpiece this year. Jim Sanders SacBee Capitol Alert -- 3/27/12

State teachers union backs Republican for Assembly seat -- The California Teachers Assn., traditionally a big backer of Democratic candidates, has endorsed a Republican for an open Assembly seat in a GOP stronghold, the organization has confirmed. Jean Merl in the Los Angeles Times$ Kevin Yamamura SacBee Capitol Alert -- 3/27/12

California bill would make teacher-student relationship a felony -- A Republican lawmaker announced legislation Tuesday to make it a felony for a K-12 teacher to date a student regardless of age, responding to a high-profile case at a Modesto high school in which the student is an adult. Kevin Yamamura SacBee Capitol Alert -- 3/27/12

Civil rights passion motivates California tax proponent -- After decades as a civil rights attorney, Molly Munger has the resume to prove her devotion to education equality, children's civil rights and California's public schools. Unlike most other activists, she also has a personal fortune to pursue her causes. JULIET WILLIAMS Associated Press -- 3/27/12

APNewsBreak: Report warns of nuke risk in California -- The utility that runs California's San Onofre nuclear plant misled federal regulators about equipment and design changes that are the likely cause of extensive wear on tubing that carries radioactive water, a report commissioned by an environmental group claimed Tuesday. MICHAEL R. BLOOD Associated Press -- 3/27/12

San Francisco sheriff challenges suspension -- San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi on Tuesday formally challenged his suspension as he faces a misconduct charge stemming from a domestic violence case. MARCUS WOHLSEN Associated Press Rachel Gordon in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 3/27/12

Judge blocks importation of lethal-injection drug -- A federal judge on Tuesday blocked the importation of a drug used in executions on grounds the Food and Drug Administration ignored the law in allowing it into this country. Frederic J. Frommer Associated Press -- 3/27/12

Where Are the '100 Blocks'? -- Oakland Mayor Jean Quan is refusing to reveal the location of the crime-ridden blocks that make up her "100 block" strategic crime-fighting plan, despite repeated requests from City Council members and The Bay Citizen. SHOSHANA WALTER Bay Citizen -- 3/27/12

Skeptical Kennedy signals trouble for Obama's healthcare law -- The Supreme Court’s conservative justices sharply attacked the insurance mandate that is at the heart of President Obama’s healthcare law, strongly suggesting Tuesday they are prepared to strike it down as unconstitutional. David G. Savage and Noam N. Levey in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/27/12

Romney raises cash in Stockton, announces California team -- Mitt Romney, speaking at a private fundraiser in Stockton this morning, kept up his criticism of President Barack Obama's recent hot mic incident, while mentioning none of his Republican rivals, attendees said. David Siders SacBee Capitol Alert -- 3/27/12

Appeals court stands united on compensation for bone marrow donors -- Displaying rare unanimity on an issue, the full U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday rejected a request by the federal government that it reconsider a ruling that most bone marrow donors can be compensated for providing life-saving marrow stem cells from their blood. Carol J. Williams in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/27/12

Fox: Poll: Governor’s Tax Proposal Could be Undercut by the Economy and Business’ Response -- The USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll released over the weekend indicated support for the Governor Jerry Brown’s tax increase proposal, but voters’ views on the California economy could reverse those numbers. Joel Fox Fox & Hounds -- 3/27/12

 

   California Policy and Politics This Morning

California legislative Democrats balk at Jerry Brown's budget cuts -- In a show of good faith one year ago, legislative Democrats slashed Medi-Cal, cut universities and reduced welfare grants to slice the state deficit 13 weeks before the constitutional deadline. Kevin Yamamura in the Sacramento Bee -- 3/27/12

Opponents' Web attacks can make things sticky for candidates -- Social media sites are giving politicians myriad new ways to reach voters. But they're also offering platforms to opponents who want to smear them, often anonymously and in ways the candidates have trouble fighting. Jean Merl in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/27/12

She may be candidate Feinstein, but the California senator shuns the spotlight -- Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein sat down at her Capitol Hill home one recent Friday afternoon for a little secret reading. Michael Doyle in the Sacramento Bee -- 3/27/12

Feinstein Tells State Democrats to Stop 'Predatory' Disabled Access Suits -- U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein says if California lawmakers don't act to clamp down on "predatory" disability access lawsuits she may author federal legislation to do just that. Cheryl Miller The Recorder -- 3/27/12

Walters: Tax increase plans will hinge on schools -- Gov. Jerry Brown's hopes of enacting a multibillion-dollar tax increase received a big boost over the weekend from a poll showing that his revised tax plan is favored by nearly two-thirds of voters, having picked up strong support from independents. Dan Walters in the Sacramento Bee -- 3/27/12

State says lax rules might let builders use questionable licenses -- But now the agency, the Contractors State License Board, is looking into a problem of the state’s own making — a program that allows contractors to essentially lease out their licenses. Les Mahler SF Public Press -- 3/27/12

Pipeline regulators propose broader public access -- The state Public Utilities Commission on Monday proposed opening up public access to most records under the agency's purview, a dramatic shift that would allow Californians to view documents detailing the safety records of natural-gas pipelines running under their neighborhoods. Marisa Lagos in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 3/27/12

US auditors question California disaster relief funds in reports -- Federal auditors are calling on officials in California to forgo more than $17 million in unused disaster aid set aside following severe storms, flooding and mudslides that occurred in 2005 and 2006. They’re also questioning an additional $13 million used to rebuild a school in San Luis Obispo County that watchdogs say could have been simply repaired. G.W. Schulz California Watch -- 3/27/12

Assemblyman Tim Donnelly gets fine, probation for airport gun incident -- Assemblyman Tim Donnelly pleaded no contest Monday to two misdemeanor gun charges stemming from the discovery of a loaded firearm in his carry-on bag before he boarded a flight for Sacramento. Jim Sanders in the Sacramento Bee Michael J. Mishak in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/27/12

Issa faces Democratic challenger in new 49th -- Democrat Jerry Tetalman has lived in Carlsbad since 1997 and plans on running a grassroots campaign against Issa. Issa is the second richest man in Congress, with his assets totaling roughly $240 million as of 2011. Laura Barron-Lopez in the Orange County Register -- 3/27/12

State political watchdog ramps up enforcement -- Four years ago, the Enforcement Division of the state Fair Political Practices Commission had a sizable backlog of investigations. BRIAN JOSEPH in the Orange County Register -- 3/27/12

California: GOP Ballot Challenge Is Out of This World -- A lawsuit was filed in Sacramento County Superior Court last week challenging the validity of a Democratic Congressional candidate’s stated occupation on the ballot. Kyle Trygstad Roll Call -- 3/27/12

   Taxes - Fees

Committee approves bill to repeal fire fee -- A Republican effort to repeal California’s $150 fire-prevention charge on structures in rural areas cleared its first committee Monday. The unexpected outcome underscores some majority Democrats’ misgivings about the fire fee, just months before officials begin to collect it. JIM MILLER in the Riverside Press -- 3/27/12

   Economy - Jobs

Assembly bill clarifies redevelopment wind-down -- It would give local governments some of the responsibilities formerly held by community redevelopment agencies and clarify how the agencies should be dissolved. HANNAH DREIER Associated Press -- 3/27/12

Billboard campaign takes jab at steel in new Bay Bridge -- With the new span of the Bay Bridge in the background, members of a new campaign that launched Monday called "Should Be Made in America" pointed at the icon under construction as "the most egregious example" of what they're talking about. Eric Kurhi in the Oakland Tribune -- 3/27/12

   Education

Brown’s weighted school formula challenged by English learner advocates -- The governor’s plan for restructuring school funding drew concerns from an unanticipated corner Monday – advocates of English learners who would seemingly benefit from the administration’s proposed weighted funding formula. Tom Chorneau SI&A Cabinet Report -- 3/27/12

Second records request sent to area school districts includes definition of misconduct -- Ten local school districts have been asked to provide copies of complaints of teacher misconduct and records of any actions taken as a result of such conduct. The Public Records Act requests, sent last week by The Sun and the Daily Bulletin, follow queries sent last month to 19 school districts seeking the number of complaints of teacher misconduct in the last five years. Wendy Leung in the Inland Daily Bulletin -- 3/27/12

How much USDA 'pink slime' beef do state schools serve? -- Tomato, tomahto. Pink slime, lean finely textured beef. Whatever you call it, one thing is clear: Many consumers say they don't want it. Joanna Lin California Watch -- 3/27/12

Baron: College demand “unstoppable,” says Kanter -- But access and affordability are limited. Kathryn Baron TopEd -- 3/27/12

Landon: State leaders should embrace what Title I permits: arts funding -- The status quo is “stalemate.” The intention of the federal Title I program is to improve the academic achievement of children in schools with the highest percentages of children low-income families. Joe Landon TopEd -- 3/27/12

   Health Care

Want to lose weight? Add chocolate to diet, study suggests -- According to a new study from scientists at UC San Diego, there is something about eating chocolate that leaves people thinner than those who don't eat it. Susanne Rust California Watch -- 3/27/12

Telemedicine brings pediatric specialists to rural California -- Grace needed a pediatric audiologist to do the tests. But her family lives in the wide swath of California north of Sacramento, where pediatric audiologists – and pediatric specialists generally – are hard to find. Heather Gilligan HealthyCal.org -- 3/27/12

   Environment

L.A. more densely populated than N.Y.C.? Believe it -- When it comes to density, Southern California is No. 1. U.S. Census figures released Monday peg the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim area as the most densely populated area in the country. Dakota Smith in the Los Angeles Daily News John King in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 3/27/12

Coastal Erosion in San Francisco Prompts Planning and Debate -- San Francisco’s Ocean Beach is eroding; that’s not up for debate. But planners are still figuring out the best way to handle the erosion that’s already happening, and how to prepare for sea level rise. Molly Samuel KQED Climate Watch -- 3/27/12

Chromium 6 study gets another look -- The controversial chromium 6 background level study is going to get another look - scientists plan to see if there is anything about it that can be salvaged. The 2007 study determined the naturally occurring background level of chromium 6 in Hinkley's groundwater was 3.1 parts per billion. Jim Steinberg in the San Bernardino Sun -- 3/27/12

   Immigration

San Francisco slayings suspect avoided deportation in 2006 -- The suspect in last week's slayings of five people in San Francisco was ordered deported in 2006 after he served a prison term for robbery and assault, but immigration authorities had to let him go free because his native Vietnam would not take him back, officials said Monday. Kevin Fagan, Henry K. Lee, Justin Berton in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 3/27/12

   Also..

LAPD officer profiled Latinos in traffic stops, internal probe concludes -- Officer Patrick Smith is alleged to have stopped Latino motorists because of their ethnicity and falsified his records to say they were white. A disciplinary panel could vote to dismiss him. Joel Rubin in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/27/12

Ex-school police officer to pay $309,000 in shooting hoax -- Jeffrey Stenroos will make a lump sum payment to compensate for the costs of responding to his fictitious story of being shot while investigating reports of a car burglar. Andrew Blankstein in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/27/12

Khalil Shaheed, Oakland jazz trumpeter and educator, dies at 63 -- A genre-bending trumpeter known for his ability to bridge distinct styles, Khalil Shaheed had a passion for music matched only by his desire to teach. Jennifer Modenessi in the Contra Costa Times -- 3/27/12

Stray bullet grazes fisherman one-quarter mile from the shooting -- A 34-year-old man spent Sunday night at the hospital after a bullet from a drive-by shooting a quarter mile away grazed his head while he was fishing on the shore of San Pablo Bay. Karl Fischer in the Contra Costa Times -- 3/27/12

   POTUS 44

Obama gives GOP 'flexibility' ammo -- Republicans used an unscripted remark by President Obama on Monday to label him as someone who could easily change his positions if he wins reelection. Amie Parnes and Jeremy Herb The Hill -- 3/27/12

Obama makes light of open-mic flap with Medvedev -- At the start of the Nuclear Security Summit here, Obama was about to sit down when he saw Medvedev two seats away. Obama said: `Wait, wait, wait, wait,' and then moved to cover up his microphone in jest. BEN FELLER Associated Press -- 3/27/12

   Beltway

Romney trumpets rush of conservative endorsements -- The former Massachusetts governor highlighted the ongoing primary slog as the conservative chorus behind him grew, along with worry that the drawn-out nomination fight will damage their likely nominee against President Barack Obama. Campaigning in California, Romney made an appeal to primary voters in a contest still two months away on June 5. Kasie Hunt Associated Press -- 3/27/12

Romney rips health-care law in San Diego -- Mitt Romney criticized President Barack Obama’s national health care overhaul at a campaign event Monday in San Diego, casting it as part of an extensive federal imposition into economic freedoms unseen in the nation’s history. Christopher Cadelago UT San Diego -- 3/27/12

Romney campaign SUV burglarized in San Diego -- Personnel from Mitt Romney’s advance team had their rented SUV burglarized Friday while eating dinner in downtown San Diego, police said Monday. Christopher Cadelago UT San Diego -- 3/27/12

Saunders: Romneycare versus Obamacare -- President Obama keeps trying to give former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney credit for the Affordable Care Act, which tells you how unpopular Obamacare is. Debra J. Saunders in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 3/27/12

Romney, in CA, endorsed by McCarthy & Fiorina -- Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who’s campaigning and fundraising in California today and tomorrow, this morning announced the endorsements of House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy and 2010 Republican U.S. Senate nominee Carly Fiorina. Josh Richman Political Blotter -- 3/27/12