* Updates Since Early This Morning

Villaraigosa walks out after 'gang rape' remark on transit tax -- Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa briefly walked out of a transportation committee meeting Thursday after another elected official used the term “gang rape” in a reference to a transit sales tax championed by the mayor. Ari Bloomekatz in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 4/19/12

State ethics czar wants disclosure when campaigns pay bloggers -- Alarmed that political groups are secretly funding bloggers and Internet websites to promote or attack candidates, the head of the state’s ethics watchdog agency said Thursday that she will ask that such payments be disclosed. Patrick McGreevy LA Times PolitiCal$ -- 4/19/12

New Chief to Oversee Private Vocational Schools -- Bay Citizen investigation prompts change in leadership. JENNIFER GOLLAN Bay Citizen -- 4/19/12

Senate GOP cries foul over procedural move on mortgage bills -- The Senate moved forward today with plans to direct mortgage reform proposals sponsored by Attorney General Kamala Harris to a joint legislative conference committee, passing placeholder legislation over objections from Republican lawmakers who said the upper house was manipulating the legislative process. Torey Van Oot SacBee Capitol Alert -- 4/19/12

Shannon Grove says Dems hijacked her 'good government' bill -- Republican Assemblywoman Shannon Grove, who is spearheading an initiative drive for a part-time Legislature, accused Democrats of hijacking one of her "good government" bills at a committee hearing Wednesday. Jim Sanders SacBee Capitol Alert -- 4/19/12

Independent candidates to highlight new top-two election system -- Some of California’s newly minted political independents are gathering in San Diego on Thursday to tout the state’s new open primary system and the growing importance of voters who are not affiliated with a state-recognized party. Jean Merl LA Times PolitiCal$ -- 4/19/12

Wildermuth: Anti-Rail Forces Are No Friends of the Central Valley -- If you read Mac Taylor’s latest screed against the proposed high-speed rail system, you’d think that the only way its construction would make sense is if it connected the Bay Area and Los Angeles without touching down in any those inconveniently rustic spots between the two megaplexes. You know, kind of like the airlines do now. John Wildermuth Fox & Hounds -- 4/19/12

Social media protections for job, college applicants advances -- A Senate committee gave the green light today to legislation that would block public and private universities and employers from seeking access to applicants' social media accounts. Torey Van Oot SacBee Capitol Alert Michael J. Mishak LA Times PolitiCal$ -- 4/19/12

California Lottery swaps ad amid controversy over slap scene -- The California Lottery is taking down a new television ad that the California Legislative Women's Caucus said inappropriately "glamorizes violence." Torey Van Oot SacBee Capitol Alert -- 4/19/12

State prison healthcare still needs independent oversight, report says -- California should allow independent oversight of inmate healthcare when the prison medical system is released from federal control, according to a report released Thursday by the Legislative Analyst's Office. Chris Megerian LA Times PolitiCal$ -- 4/19/12

Early OK for San Diego County redistricting reform -- Following the lead of California voters, San Diego County supervisors are pushing for a local independent commission to draw political boundary lines. Michael Gardner UT San Diego -- 4/19/12

Reagan statue proposed for California's Capitol -- Doug Elmets, a Sacramento public affairs consultant who worked in Ronald Reagan's White House, thinks it's about time to erect a statue of his old boss at the state Capitol - and more than a few lawmakers agree. David Siders SacBee Capitol Alert -- 4/19/12

Jeff Randle named senior adviser to Mitt Romney campaign -- Jeff Randle sure can pick a toughie. With the Republican presidential primary race all but locked up for Mitt Romney, it was announced today that the Sacramento-based GOP strategist will be a senior adviser to Romney's California campaign. David Siders SacBee Capitol Alert -- 4/19/12

The San Francisco Examiner Just Bought the San Francisco Bay Guardian -- The owners of the San Francisco Examiner just bought the San Francisco Bay Guardian, according to two sources. Rachel Swan East Bay Express -- 4/19/12

 

   California Policy and Politics This Morning

Stalled mortgage bills headed for joint conference committee -- Opposed by powerful business and finance groups, key mortgage reform bills sponsored by Attorney General Kamala Harris are headed for a joint legislative conference committee. Jim Sanders SacBee Capitol Alert -- 4/19/12

State challenges local redevelopment budgets -- In the flurry surrounding the end of redevelopment, 60 state Department of Finance officials are scouring local redevelopment budgets to determine whether their claims about existing debts and obligations are legal. Kendall Taggart California Watch -- 4/19/12

Skelton: Is kicking the state's neediest 'manning up'? -- The governor was off base in telling the Legislature to 'man up.' He's the one who's hiding behind the voters in trying to raise taxes. George Skelton in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 4/19/12

Calderon family looks to extend legacy in California Legislature -- Ian Calderon is the latest family hopeful in California's longest-running legislative dynasty – and fundraising fliers hammer that point home. Jim Sanders in the Sacramento Bee -- 4/19/12

Congressman Pete Stark apologizes for accusing challenger of taking bribes -- Rep. Pete Stark apologized Wednesday for publicly accusing his Democratic challenger, Dublin City Councilman Eric Swalwell, of accepting "hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes" from developers. Josh Richman in the Contra Costa Times -- 4/19/12

L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa focuses on transportation in State of the City speech -- Linking the city's struggling economy and its lack of mass transit, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa used his State of the City speech Wednesday to portray Los Angeles as a metropolis awaiting a promise of better public transportation. Dakota Smith in the Los Angeles Daily News David Zahniser, Ari Bloomekatz and Kate Linthicum in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 4/19/12

California fracking bill would protect industry ‘trade secrets’ -- A California lawmaker working to pass the Golden State's first hydraulic fracturing rules has watered down his landmark legislation, hoping to overcome industry opposition to a measure that would force energy companies to disclose the mysterious mix of chemicals they inject into the ground to tap oil deposits. Michael J. Mishak LA Times PolitiCal$ -- 4/19/12

Bill bars cell service shutdown by public agencies -- BART and other government agencies in California would be barred from shutting down cellular phone networks unless they first obtain a court order under a bill that is sailing through the Legislature. Wyatt Buchanan in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 4/19/12

Anderson, Vargas team to cap state pay -- State employees — even university presidents and top medical doctors — should not bring home more than Gov. Jerry Brown, a Senate Committee agreed Wednesday. Michael Gardner UT San Diego Patrick McGreevy in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 4/19/12

Airport Deal Tests Ed Lee’s Allegiance to Willie Brown -- City settles with contractor in construction project pushed by former mayor. ZUSHA ELINSON Bay Citizen -- 4/19/12

VA: Staff Errors Delay Veterans’ Benefits -- "Quality issues," including staff errors, are a key reason why Bay Area veterans wait 313 days, on average, for the Department of Veterans Affairs to render decisions on their disability claims, a senior VA official told a Congressional committee Wednesday. AARON GLANTZ Bay Citizen -- 4/19/12

Ross Mirkarimi speaks about fight with wife -- Suspended Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi on Wednesday launched a media campaign to tell his version of the events of Dec. 31, which differed dramatically from what prosecutors laid out in their case against him. Heather Knight in the San Francisco Chronicle Julia Prodis Sulek in the San Jose Mercury -- 4/19/12

Senate panel approves newborn-testing bill sought by Camarillo mother -- In July 2002, Rod and Kathleen Scott of Camarillo brought home their daughter, Jacquelyn, from the hospital — a child they and their doctors believed to be "a beautiful, healthy baby." Timm Herdt in the Ventura Star -- 4/19/12

California Senate moves to regulate Buy Here Pay Here car dealers -- A state Senate committee approves a bill that would regulate Buy Here Pay Here used-car dealers, which charge high interest rates and repossess vehicles quickly. Marc Lifsher in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 4/19/12

Gavin Newsom to host Current TV show -- Just a few weeks after its ugly breakup with progressive talk show host Keith Olbermann, San Francisco's Current TV has found another liberal spokesman - this one with a full-time political job - to fill its airwaves: California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom. Carla Marinucci in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 4/19/12

   High-Speed Rail

California high-speed rail chief: Projects often lack sure funding -- After the state's fiscal analyst criticized California high-speed rail for facing "highly speculative" financial prospects, California High-Speed Rail Authority Chairman Dan Richard defended the $68 billion program this morning by suggesting major transportation projects often lack funding certainty. Kevin Yamamura SacBee Capitol Alert -- 4/19/12

Fox: You Can’t Build High Speed Rail with No Money -- The Legislative Analyst’s “concern” that funding is not available for the High Speed Rail (HSR) comes at the same time that the federal government – a source counted on for HSR funds — appears to be turning against the High Speed Rail. Joel Fox Fox & Hounds -- 4/19/12

   Economy - Jobs

Study touts California's clean-tech industry -- California's clean-technology industry is growing and supporting economic recovery in the state, according to a report released today by Next 10, a San Francisco nonprofit that promotes growth of California's clean economy. Mark Glover in the Sacramento Bee -- 4/19/12

   Education

State Attorney General’s Office warns 2-tier pricing for colleges is illegal -- Earlier this month, Santa Monica College Board members decided to charge students several times the normal price for some high-demand classes taught over the summer, setting up a two-tier system. The original idea was to relieve overcrowding, but it set off a violent clash on campus, with some students getting pepper-sprayed. Vanessa Romo KPCC LA -- 4/19/12

California teachers could face quicker discipline -- Two bills intended to streamline teacher discipline got a mixed response in the California Legislature on Wednesday. Chris Megerian LA Times PolitiCal$ -- 4/19/12

Fensterwald: Faster firings in ‘egregious’ cases -- The Senate Education Committee voted unanimously Wednesday to make it quicker and cheaper to suspend and fire teachers facing a narrow range of “egregious” misconduct charges that include sex, drugs, and violence. John Fensterwald educatedguess -- 4/19/12

New Chief to Oversee Private Vocational Schools -- Laura Metune on Wednesday became the new chief of the California Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education, the beleaguered state agency charged with overseeing the state’s vocational and for-profit colleges. JENNIFER GOLLAN Bay Citizen -- 4/19/12

UC Davis Police Chief Annette Spicuzza to resign -- The UC Davis police chief who led the department during its controversial pepper spraying of campus protesters will resign Thursday, university officials confirmed. Joe Garofoli in the San Francisco Chronicle Sam Stanton in the Sacramento Bee -- 4/19/12

FBI looking into CSUSM election tampering allegations -- The FBI is looking into what may be the largest theft of Cal State San Marcos students' computer passwords in the school's 23-year history, authorities said. TERI FIGUEROA in the North County Times -- 4/19/12

   Health Care

CA to test HIV treatment pill for possible preventative use -- A pill which has long served as treatment for the HIV-positive may now work on double-duty as an HIV preventative. Paige Osburn and Bianca Ramirez KPCC LA -- 4/19/12

Creative Movement: Transportation and the Elderly -- When Aghavni Davis gave up driving because of failing eyesight, she never imagined the strain it would put on her ability to stay healthy. Matt Perry HealthyCal.org -- 4/19/12

   Occupy

Occupy Santa Rosa targets sleep law with City Hall 'flash nap' -- Occupy Santa Rosa staged a brief sleep-in or "flash nap" in front of Santa Rosa City Hall on Tuesday to protest laws against sleeping in public. The item is in the Santa Rosa Press -- 4/19/12

   Immigration

House Republicans back Homeland Security powers in border parks -- The legislation involves 54 national parks within 100 miles of the borders with Mexico and Canada, including Joshua Tree, Saguaro, Acadia and Glacier. Julie Cart in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 4/19/12

Ex-ICE intelligence chief charged with embezzlement -- A former intelligence chief for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is accused of embezzling more than $180,000 stemming from a travel voucher fraud and kickback scheme that has defrauded the government of more than $500,000. Andrew Becker California Watch -- 4/19/12

   Also..

Something fishy in the seafood? -- Oceana, an international ocean-protection group, reported it collected seafood samples at grocery stores, restaurants and sushi spots in L.A. and Orange counties in the spring and winter of 2011. The goal was to determine whether the food was accurately labeled under state and federal law. John Howard Capitol Weekly -- 4/19/12

Pot backers plan Friday protest in Oakland -- The future of Richard Lee's cannabis-related entities remains in flux after a federal raid earlier this month left some of them with little more than their office furniture. Matthew Artz in the Contra Costa Times -- 4/19/12

Kim Kardashian needs dose of reality regarding Glendale mayoral run -- News that Kim Kardashian is thinking of running to become Glendale's mayor makes one wonder what would happen if her political dream comes true. Bob Strauss in the Los Angeles Daily News -- 4/19/12

Discriminatory lenders beware: Consumer watchdog is cracking down -- Lenders who discriminate on the basis of certain demographics when dealing with auto loans, mortgages, credit cards, student loans and more are now in the cross hairs of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Tiffany Hsu in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 4/19/12

The Scandal Roiling the L.A. County Assessor's Office Suggests Your Tax Bill Is All About Who You Know, and How Much You've Donated to Assessor John Noguez -- Owen Harris has a reputation within the Los Angeles County Assessor's Office for being a stickler. Middle-aged, balding, with close-cropped gray hair, he's a supervising appraiser — one whom tax agents bitch about when they get together. Gene Maddaus LA Weekly -- 4/19/12

   POTUS 44

Saunders: Obama's medicalization of America's war on drugs -- President Obama's drug czar, Gil Kerlikowske, doesn't like the term "drug war." He argues that none of the smart guys in law enforcement uses it. Debra J. Saunders in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 4/19/12

   Beltway

The fight for 'The Persuadables' -- Upscale, college-educated white voters and the blue-collar working class are on opposite ends of the economic spectrum. Their political interests often clash. They don’t always support the same candidate. But for the purposes of the 2012 campaign, they fall squarely into the same category: "The Persuadables." ALEXANDER BURNS Politico -- 4/19/12