* Updates Since Early This Morning

California's budget still mired in dysfunction, S&P says -- Standard & Poors, in a report released Friday, said California remains hardwired for financial dysfunction despite improvements in the state's bottom line. Chris Megerian LA Times PolitiCal$ -- 3/30/12

San Diego suburb defends vehicle impounds -- The north San Diego suburb of Escondido is responding to criticism that its vehicle impounds unfairly target illegal immigrants by saying they have been a drain on city coffers. ELLIOT SPAGAT Associated Press -- 3/30/12

Did Romney PAC violate California law by failing to report $10,000 donation to pro-Prop. 8 effort? -- Did GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s political action committee violate state law by failing to report a $10,000 donation to the National Organization for Marriage just three weeks before the election to decide California’s Prop. 8? Carla Marinucci Chronicle Politics -- 3/30/12

Prosecutors expect to recover little of $7 million in Durkee fraud case -- In accepting former campaign treasurer Kinde Durkee’s guilty plea Friday in a $7-million fraud case, federal prosecutors said it appears she spent almost all of the money, so only a small fraction will be recovered for the 50 victims including Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). Patrick McGreevy LA Times PolitiCal$ -- 3/30/12

Yahoo to begin laying off thousands of workers next week, report says -- Yahoo will begin layoffs of thousands of employees next week and will announce a plan to restructure the company the week after that, according to a media report. Yahoo declined to comment. Reuters -- 3/30/12

Henry Waxman, architect of health care law, believes SCOTUS won't strike down it down -- We probably won’t know the outcome for months, but the U.S. Supreme Court has already taken a preliminary vote on the health care reform law. Rep. Henry Waxman, a California architect of the Affordable Care Act, sees the case as a direct challenge to Congress. Kitty Felde KPCC LA -- 3/30/12

California economist says state should dump Proposition 13 -- Economists generally don’t go into politics, which is probably a good thing for Christopher Thornberg, who has declared war on Proposition 13. Marla Dickerson in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/30/12

SAG and AFTRA members give thumbs up to merger -- Creating Hollywood's largest entertainment union, members of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists have voted overwhelmingly to combine into a single bargaining unit. Richard Verrier in the Los Angeles Times$ Shirley Jahad with Mike Roe KPCC LA -- 3/30/12

Kings owners say they still want new arena in Sacramento but disagree on some financial terms -- Co-owner George Maloof told The Bee that his family is "100 percent focused on Sacramento and getting a deal done in Sacramento." But he insisted the Kings never agreed to pay $3.2 million toward arena pre-development costs. Dale Kasler in the Sacramento Bee -- 3/30/12

Kinde Durkee pleads guilty to $7 million embezzlement scheme -- Democratic campaign treasurer Kinde Durkee pleaded guilty this morning to defrauding her clients of at least $7 million, bringing to a close a case that one official has called the "most extensive campaign treasurer fraud in the history of California." Torey Van Oot SacBee Capitol Alert JULIET WILLIAMS Associated Press Patrick McGreevy LA Times PolitiCal$ Lisa Brenner KPCC -- 3/30/12

Rex Babin, Sacramento Bee editorial cartoonist, dies -- Sacramento Bee editorial cartoonist Rex Babin, whose piercing pen skewered presidents, governors and self-important legislators, died today at his home after a long battle with cancer. He was 49. The item is in the Sacramento Bee -- 3/30/12 Rex Babin Cartoons

Widespread deficiencies found in L.A. County's oversight of abused children -- A report by the state auditor finds that problems with the speed and quality of child abuse investigations remain despite years of promises by the Board of Supervisors. Garrett Therolf in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/30/12

Current TV fires Keith Olbermann -- Current TV has fired Keith Olbermann, citing a lack of “respect” and “collegiality” in its relationship with him, following months of open warfare between Olbermann and Current executives in the press. KEACH HAGEY Politico -- 3/30/12

How much is a campaign treasurer worth? -- The issue of Rep. Buck McKeon's practice of paying his wife, Patricia, rather handsomely from his campaign account is destined to be something Simi Valley voters will hear a great deal about in the weeks leading up to the June 5 primary -- in which Patricia McKeon is a GOP candidate in the 38th Assembly District. Timm Herdt in the Ventura Star -- 3/30/12

California schools poised to get $100 million from tonight's monster Mega Millions jackpot -- Although the odds are 1 in 175 million to win tonight's Mega Millions jackpot which currently looms at $640 million dollars, there is one sure bet: California schools will be receiving about $100 million if someone wins today. Tony Pierce KPCC -- 3/30/12

California added 99,000 drivers but cut gasoline use in 2011 -- California added more than 99,000 licensed drivers in 2011 but the state still saw a decline in gasoline consumption compared to the year before. Ronald D. White in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/30/12

Brown signs compact for Sonoma County Indian casino -- The compact allows the 1,300-member Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria to operate as many as 3,000 slot machines. Eventually, the casino will pay up to 15 percent of the slot machines' net win to local and state agencies for gambling mitigation programs and services. David Siders SacBee Capitol Alert -- 3/30/12

CSU, UC cuts lead SoCal students to consider black colleges in the South -- Southern California is a major recruitment stop for historically black universities. El Camino College in Torrance is taking advantage of that. It has a new guaranteed transfer agreement with many black schools. Adolfo Guzman-Lopez KPCC -- 3/30/12

Fox: Brown’s Defense of the Millionaire Tax Label Ignores — Taxes -- Governor Jerry Brown’s defense of labeling his tax initiative a millionaire’s tax on the initiative’s website summarizes California’s fiscal problems. Joel Fox Fox & Hounds -- 3/30/12

Jeff Gorell returns from Afghanistan, prepares to rejoin Assembly -- Early Thursday afternoon, Lt. Cmdr. Jeff Gorell, home from a year in Afghanistan, checked out from active duty in the Navy and returned to civilian life as a husband, father, member of the state Assembly and a Californian overjoyed at being back on his native soil. Timm Herdt in the Ventura Star Jim Sanders SacBee Capitol Alert -- 3/30/12-- 3/30/12

Merger Likely to Mean Major Shift in Bay Citizen Coverage -- As the journalism world looks to the nonprofit model for salvation in these challenging times for the industry, one of the oldest journalism nonprofits, the Center for Investigative Reporting, announced Tuesday that it would merge with one of the newest, The Bay Citizen. DAN FOST Bay Citizen -- 3/30/12

Are Stay-Away Orders Against UC Berkeley Students Unconstitutional? -- Protests and UC Berkeley have been synonymous for the past half-century. It thus came as little surprise that one of the most visible clashes between law enforcement and students participating in Occupy Wall Street-affiliated demonstrations took place on Sproul Plaza. Ali Winston East Bay Express -- 3/30/12


   California Policy and Politics This Morning

Brown's administration wants health care change, with or without federal law -- Gov. Jerry Brown's administration vowed Thursday to continue pushing forward elements of the federal health care overhaul in California, even if the U.S. Supreme Court strikes it down. David Siders and Kevin Yamamura in the Sacramento Bee -- 3/30/12

Sensitive personal information missing on 800,000 California residents -- In a puzzling breach of security, computer storage devices containing identification information of 800,000 Californians using the state's child support services have disappeared. Steven Harmon in the San Jose Mercury Jon Ortiz in the Sacramento Bee -- 3/30/12

GOP lawmakers unveil plan to avoid trigger cuts -- Republicans in the Legislature on Thursday unveiled a plan to fund public education at the same levels proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown, but without a tax increase or the threat of automatic spending cuts to schools if voters reject the governor's tax initiative this fall. Wyatt Buchanan in the San Francisco Chronicle BRIAN JOSEPH in the Orange County Register Kevin Yamamura in the Sacramento Bee -- 3/30/12

Brown's finance office questions GOP budget plan -- "A number of these proposals have been overstated in value or blocked by the courts," said Finance spokesman H.D. Palmer. Kevin Yamamura in the Sacramento Bee -- 3/30/12

Walters: Lawmakers yearning for disdain -- Poll after poll has confirmed that California voters hold their Legislature in contempt. Dan Walters in the Sacramento Bee -- 3/30/12

California commission defers action on state officeholder pay -- Much talk, no action -- yet. California's Citizens Compensation Commission spent two hours today discussing state officeholder compensation, but no decisions were made and none of its members suggested raising pay of legislators or other statewide officeholders. Jim Sanders in the Sacramento Bee -- 3/30/12

Judge rules that Jose Hernandez can keep 'astronaut' title on ballot -- A Sacramento judge ruled Thursday that Jose Hernandez, who flew in the space shuttle Discovery three years ago, can use the ballot designation of "astronaut" in his current congressional bid. Jim Sanders in the Sacramento Bee -- 3/30/12

Rep. Davis seeks $160,000 from former treasurer -- Rep. Susan Davis vowed Thursday to aggressively pursue recovering at least $160,000 in campaign funds allegedly siphoned by her one-time treasurer as part of what officials call the largest embezzlement scheme of its kind in state history. Michael Gardner UT San Diego -- 3/30/12

California lawmakers don hoodies for slain Fla. teen -- California lawmakers are the latest politicians to don hoodies to protest the killing of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin. HANNAH DREIER Associated Press Steven Harmon in the San Jose Mercury -- 3/30/12

Super PAC considering attacks on Stark, Eshoo? -- A national, nonpartisan “super PAC” targeting incumbents on both sides of the aisle reportedly is taking a hard look at two Bay Area House members. Josh Richman Political Blotter -- 3/30/12

Brooks: A Moderate Conservative Dilemma -- Nathan Fletcher was raised in Arkansas, played college baseball in California and enlisted in the Marines as a reserve in 1997. He saw combat in 2004, based in the Sunni Triangle in Iraq. DAVID BROOKS in the New York Times$ -- 3/30/12

CalBuzz: Scalia’s Not-So-Secret Plan for World Domination -- On Monday, some wrong-headed opining in this space (we name no names, sqrjn) challenged the prescient wisdom of Dr. P.J. Hackenflack, who described the Supreme Court’s oral arguments over Obamacare in advance as a “deeply cynical…dog and pony show” staged by black-robed, right-wing “enablers of the Republican party.”Not to put too fine a point on it. Jerry Roberts and Phil Trounstine CalBuzz -- 3/30/12

   Economy - Jobs

Villaraigosa calls for raising retirement age on new employees -- The L.A. mayor proposes raising the retirement age for new employees to 67. With the city facing a $220-million shortfall, he also says layoffs may be necessary. David Zahniser in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/30/12

Heavy truck corridor proposed to boost exports -- Agriculture exporters would like to see a heavy truck corridor created in California that would run from the state's Central Valley to San Pedro Bay to reduce their shipping costs and boost exports through Long Beach and Los Angeles. Ronald D. White in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/30/12

CafePress has lukewarm IPO -- The company and early investors raked in more than $85 million before the stock hit the open market, where it initially found willing buyers. But by the end of the trading session, the stock had slipped below its opening price. Jeremy C. Owens and Peter Delevett in the San Jose Mercury -- 3/30/12

Audit faults Apple supplier's factories in China -- An industry-funded labor watchdog group says it found excessive overtime and problems with compensation at factories that make iPhones and iPads. It also cites health and safety risks for workers. Andrea Chang in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/30/12

   High Speed Rail

Bay Area inks $1.5 billion deal to electrify Caltrain for high-speed rail -- However, lingering questions remain over whether the new plan to run both Caltrain and state high-speed trains on an electric version of the existing two-track system is legal because voters in 2008 approved a high-speed rail line that assumed four tracks. Mike Rosenberg in the San Jose Mercury Michael Cabanatuan in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 3/30/12

   Giving and Receiving

California biotech firms spend $40 million on lobbying in 3 years -- Biotech companies with operations in California – the birthplace of the industry and home to one-third of the country’s biotech firms – spent $40 million on federal lobbying between 2009 and 2011, according to an analysis released yesterday by the Union of Concerned Scientists and Center for Responsive Politics. Bernice Yeung California Watch -- 3/30/12


3 protesters arrested at UC Regents meeting -- Three protesters were arrested Thursday at the UC Board of Regents meeting, when a few dozen activists, some stripped down to swimsuits, called for more transparency in state funding talks and an end to tuition hikes. Vivian Ho, Stephanie Baer in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 3/30/12

California state colleges weigh asking students about sexual orientation -- The voluntary poll would come in response to a law that seeks to gauge the size of LGBT populations and whether they are being adequately served. But some question how the data would be used. Larry Gordon in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/30/12

Lawmakers, regulators focus on private student loans -- As the cost of higher education continues to increase and federal and private student debt nears the $1 trillion mark, lawmakers and regulators are zeroing in on private student loans. Erica Perez California Watch -- 3/30/12

Fensterwald: Districts want shot at NCLB waiver -- State chiefs of education apparently let U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan have it over the idea of letting individual districts apply directly to him for a waiver from the No Child Left Behind law. John Fensterwald educatedguess -- 3/30/12

Newspaper alleges test scores in 40 California districts “suspect” -- Based on an intensive national investigation, a report in the Atlanta Journal Constitution titled “Cheating Our Children” says it has found “high concentrations of suspect math or reading scores in school systems from coast to coast,” including in 40 California school districts. Louis Freedberg and Sue Frey EdSource -- 3/30/12

Concerns hover over illegal school fee legislation -- A new bill that seeks to crack down on illegal school fees is moving through the state Legislature, but it faces a lukewarm reception from lawmakers and some education groups. Corey G. Johnson California Watch -- 3/30/12

California names 31 schools in Santa Clara County, 6 in San Mateo County, Distinguished Schools -- For their innovative programs and help in narrowing the achievement gap, 31 schools in Santa Clara County and six in San Mateo County have been named to the 2012 California Distinguished Schools list by the state Department of Education. Sharon Noguchi in the San Jose Mercury -- 3/30/12

40 LAUSD schools earn high honors -- Forty elementary schools in Los Angeles Unified and several others in neighboring districts were among the 387 California Distinguished Schools announced Thursday by state Superintendent Tom Torlakson. The item is in the Los Angeles Daily News -- 3/30/12

Community to say goodbye to pioneering San Bernardino educator -- San Bernardino will bid farewell Friday and Saturday to Dorothy Inghram, the beloved trailblazing educator who died March 14 at age 106. Michel Nolan in the San Bernardino Sun -- 3/30/12

   Health Care

San Onofre would be under microscope in cancer risk study -- As residents of San Clemente agitate for independent radiation monitoring, and as Irvine officials call for decommissioning, and as the feds say that San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station will stay dark until the mysteries behind its latest problems are unraveled, a new report lays out just how very hard it would be to determine if living near a nuclear plant is really hazardous to your health. Teri Sforza in the Orange County Register -- 3/30/12


Prestigious panel agrees: Delta is stressed, with no easy fix -- A comprehensive new study on the Delta's environmental problems concludes there is no easy fix, only hard choices, if California wants to restore fish species and still satisfy its water demands. Matt Weiser in the Sacramento Bee -- 3/30/12

Latest buzz on bee decline: Maybe it's pesticides -- A common class of pesticide is causing problems for honeybees and bumblebees, important species already in trouble, two studies suggest. Seth Borenstein Associated Press -- 3/30/12


Many Bay Area deportation cases will be dropped in June -- The federal government will begin closing hundreds of Bay Area deportation cases in June, allowing some illegal immigrants a partial reprieve if they have strong community ties and no criminal record. Matt O'Brien in the Santa Cruz Sentinel -- 3/30/12


Obama nominates Yvonne Burke to AMTRAK post -- President Obama has nominated former U.S. Rep. Yvonne Brathwaite Burke, a trailblazing fixture in Los Angeles area politics, to the AMTRAK board of directors, the White House announced Thursday. Jean Merl in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/30/12

Johnson: Oakland has more than its share of Trayvon Martins -- The slaying of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin has jolted the American public from its apathy, and there is righteous public outrage from coast to coast. Chip Johnson in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 3/30/12

A vibrant voice chronicles the renaissance of downtown L.A. -- The human cyclone known as Ed Fuentes — photographer, muralist, blogger and more — cherishes the area's history as much as its emerging arts community. Larry Harnisch in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/30/12

   POTUS 44

Obama: Oil companies 'hitting the American people twice' -- President Barack Obama repeated his plea Thursday for lawmakers to repeal billions in annual incentives for big oil companies ahead of a doomed Senate vote on the matter. DARREN GOODE Politico -- 3/30/12


Republicans retreat on gay marriage -- Just a few years ago, House Republicans were trying to etch their opposition of gay marriage into the Constitution. Now? They’re almost silent. JAKE SHERMAN and ANNA PALMER Politico -- 3/30/12

Santorum evokes Reagan with a stop for jelly beans -- Rick Santorum, in an uphill battle for the Republican presidential nomination, on Thursday chose an unorthodox location - the Jelly Belly factory in Fairfield - to channel the spirit of Ronald Reagan and attack Mitt Romney. Carla Marinucci in the San Francisco Chronicle Torey Van Oot in the Sacramento Bee Kimberly K. Fu in the Oakland Tribune Josh Richman in the Contra Costa Times Seema Mehta in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/30/12

Paul Ryan budget launches new battle -- With their budget in hand, House Republicans now face an intense two months of committee activity in which spending cuts must be fleshed out together with a quick-strike deficit-reduction package intended to substitute for automatic reductions from defense in January. DAVID ROGERS Politico -- 3/30/12