* Updates

U.S. attorney fumes at Gov. Jerry Brown's timber deal -- Gov. Jerry Brown has tucked provisions into his budget that would limit payouts in wildfire liability cases, potentially saving timber companies and other major California landowners hundreds of millions of dollars as federal prosecutors pursue record-high damages in court. Kevin Yamamura SacBee Capitol Alert Chris Megerian and Anthony York LA Times PolitiCal$ -- 5/24/12

Charles Reed retires as California State University chancellor -- Charles Reed, chancellor of the California State University System for the past 14 years, announced Thursday that he's retiring as it and other state-supported higher education institutions cope with severe budget cuts. Dan Walters SacBee Capitol Alert -- 5/24/12

State regulators raise existing cap on solar 'net metering' -- In a huge victory for solar customers and the states's growing solar industry, state regulators with the California Public Utilities Commission unanimously voted Thursday to effectively raise the current "cap" on net energy metering. Dana Hull in the San Jose Mercury -- 5/24/12

Wildermuth: Prop. 29 Foes Won’t Say the Word “Tobacco” -- It’s bad enough that political types think that voters are stupid. It’s worse that they depend upon it. John Wildermuth Fox & Hounds -- 5/24/12

Proposition 29 Cigarette Tax: Why it may fail in liberal California -- This millennium has not been kind to cigarette smokers. Each year more locales prevent them from lighting up: restaurants, bars, beaches, parks. Hillel Aron LA Weekly -- 5/24/12

Jerry Brown's 'happy place' has view of ocean, reading material -- Gov. Jerry Brown, on public radio this morning to promote his budget plan and ballot measure to raise taxes, was asked by the host of "Marketplace Morning Report" to reveal his "happy place." David Siders SacBee Capitol Alert -- 5/24/12

Fox: Ads Alone Don’t Push Poll Numbers -- No question drawing attention to a ballot measure is highlighted by an extensive advertising campaign, but it takes more than commercials to move voters – the issues involved in the initiative count. Joel Fox Fox & Hounds -- 5/24/12


   California Policy and Politics This Morning

Approval of Gov. Jerry Brown slips in public opinion poll -- For the first time in a major California poll since Brown took office, a plurality of likely voters disapproves of the job he is doing, according to a Public Policy Institute of California poll released Wednesday. David Siders in the Sacramento Bee -- 5/24/12

Support for new California tobacco tax drops -- A ubiquitous TV ad campaign by tobacco companies has cut significantly into the support for a tobacco-tax initiative with less than two weeks to go before the election. Steven Harmon in the San Jose Mercury John Myers News10 Capitol Connection KATHARINE MIESZKOWSKI Bay Citizen -- 5/24/12

Report: Ending corporate tax breaks would help trim budget deficit -- As lawmakers begin to haggle over the state budget, the California Tax Reform Assn. said Wednesday that they need to eliminate $6 billion in tax breaks for large corporations. Chris Megerian in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/24/12

CalBuzz: PPIC Survey Exposes CA Voters’ Self-Contradictions -- California voters remain resolutely self-conflicted in the face of a $16-billion budget deficit and a pledge by the Legislature to institute automatic cutbacks if new revenues are not forthcoming: maaaybe they’ll approve Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax-hike measure, but if they should refuse they don’t want the spending cuts needed to balance the budget. Jerry Roberts and Phil Trounstine CalBuzz -- 5/24/12

Special-interest spending floods Cailfornia races in new political landscape -- As federal super PACs continue to pour money into the presidential and congressional contests, state-level independent committees are spending big to influence the outcome in California's legislative races. Torey Van Oot in the Sacramento Bee -- 5/24/12

More outside spending in Inland congressional races -- Independent expenditure cash continues to fly in a pair of contested San Bernardino County congressional races, new federal reports show. Ben Goad in the Riverside Press -- 5/24/12

Michelle Rhee's StudentsFirst moves $2 million into PAC -- StudentsFirst, the education advocacy group formed by former Washington D.C. public schools chancellor Michelle Rhee, has poured $2 million into a campaign committee created to influence state legislative races ahead of the June 5 primary. Torey Van Oot in the Sacramento Bee -- 5/24/12

13 candidates turn up the heat in inland congressional race -- Ten Republicans, two Democrats and one independent — at 13, the most in any state congressional race — are vying to represent California's 8th District. Phil Willon in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/24/12

Judges in California Lobby Against Cuts -- A group of California judges this week began lobbying against Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed cuts to state courts, in a campaign led by the chief justice of the state's Supreme Court. JUSTIN SCHECK in the Wall Street Journal$ -- 5/24/12

Democratic War for L.A.'s Richest -- Betsy Butler and Torie Osborn woo the carbon-counting strata of Assembly District 50. Patrick Range McDonald LA Weekly -- 5/24/12

California pension funds target Wal-Mart board -- Citing the retailer's Mexico bribery scandal, CalPERS is joining with other big shareholders trying to oust members of the Wal-Mart Stores Inc. board of directors. Dale Kasler in the Sacramento Bee Marc Lifsher in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/24/12

Orange County candidate removed from local GOP after George Wallace mailer -- Deborah Pauly, the outspoken Villa Park councilwoman who drew community ire when she protested outside an Islamic charity event, was removed this week from a leadership position with the Orange County Republican Party's central committee. Nicole Santa Cruz in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/24/12

Americans Elect, promoting third-party candidates, faces internal rebellion -- A hastily organized contingent of Americans Elect activists is agitating to reverse the group's decision last week to pull the plug on its nomination process after failing to generate sufficient interest in its candidates. Will Evans California Watch -- 5/24/12

Vallejo, California, once bankrupt, is now a model for cities in an age of austerity -- The first couple of years were ugly. After this working-class port city became the largest in America to declare bankruptcy in 2008, crime and prostitution surged as the police force was thinned by 40 percent. Ariana Eunjung Cha in the Washington Post -- 5/24/12


Texas firm targets homeowners with foreclosed 2nd mortgages -- Adding new uncertainty in the state’s ongoing mortgage crisis, a Texas company is aggressively pursuing hundreds of Californians to collect second-mortgage debt – on homes they’ve already lost through foreclosure. RICK JURGENS Bay Citizen -- 5/24/12

Owners owe far more than homes are worth in Sacramento area -- Homeowners in the Sacramento metropolitan area are underwater by $20.7 billion, according to a national study being released today by Seattle-based data company Zillow. Mark Glover in the Sacramento Bee -- 5/24/12

Soured Hopes for Sweet Crop -- The fields here along the Pacific Ocean are world-famous for producing vegetables, but in the past two years strawberries have toppled lettuce as the area's biggest crop. The switch has left many farmers with more cash—and a big headache. JIM CARLTON in the Wall Street Journal$ -- 5/24/12

Siemens lands $73 million sale of light-rail cars -- Sacramento's Siemens manufacturing plant will build 18 of its S70 light-rail vehicles for TriMet in Portland, Ore., under a $73 million contract being announced today. Mark Glover in the Sacramento Bee -- 5/24/12

Comerica report says tech sector drives California gains -- Dallas-based Comerica Bank's California Economic Activity Index broke a streak of flat readings in March, rising nearly two points to 101. Mark Glover in the Sacramento Bee -- 5/24/12

Facebook investors file lawsuits over IPO -- The excitement over Facebook's debut on the Nasdaq stock exchange Friday has given way to investor fury. James Temple, Casey Newton in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 5/24/12

HP hopes 27,000 job cuts revitalize company -- Despite massive workforce reductions in the past that have failed to revitalize the company, Hewlett-Packard executives said the 27,000 job cuts announced Wednesday -- the biggest in its history -- will put the storied but struggling technology giant on the right path. Steve Johnson in the Contra Costa Times -- 5/24/12

Twinkies maker warns 900 in California of layoffs -- Hostess Brands Inc., the maker of Twinkies and Ding Dongs that filed for bankruptcy reorganization in January, has notified 894 workers in California that they may be laid off, a company spokesman confirmed. Mary Ann Milbourn in the Orange County Register -- 5/24/12

Biggest Orange County apartment building boom since ’07 -- Orange County landlords — enjoying few vacancies and rising rents — are starting a modest building spree of new complexes. Jon Lansner in the Orange County Register -- 5/24/12


Poll shows Brown tax measure holding support but a big lift remains -- A new survey suggests Gov. Jerry Brown’s apparent strategy for winning support for his November tax measure may be having the desired effect on voters – although the poll author warns the election is still a long way off. Tom Chorneau SI&A Cabinet Report -- 5/24/12

Brown signs law authorizing $3.5 billion in school deferrals -- A week after it was publicly unveiled – and a day after two Republican lawmakers proposed a constitutional amendment outlawing the practice – Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation Wednesday that would protect the state’s cash flow next year by deferring $3.5 billion in payments to schools during the 2012-13 fiscal year. Kimberly Beltran SI&A Cabinet Report -- 5/24/12

Baron: Closing the bubble in foster care -- Julio is not looking forward to his 19th birthday. On that day in December, he’ll lose his apartment, his living expenses and the support of the state’s foster care system. One month later, in January 2013, the young Modesto man will be eligible to reapply for foster services under AB 12, the California Fostering Connections to Success Act of 2010. Kathryn Baron TopEd -- 5/24/12

Black students in Oakland face harsher discipline -- Black students in Oakland public schools face harsher discipline, miss more school, and are likelier to dropout than white males, according to new research. Mary Flynn HealthyCal.org -- 5/24/12

LAUSD will pay $200,000 settlement over alleged sexual harassment by former Superintendent Ramon Cortines -- Los Angeles Unified will pay $200,000 and give lifetime health benefits to settle a sexual-harassment allegation filed by a facilities executive against retired Superintendent Ramon Cortines, officials said Wednesday. Barbara Jones in the Los Angeles Daily News -- 5/24/12

   Health Care

Lopez: A second opinion about the PSA prostate cancer test -- So the PSA test for prostate cancer should be abandoned, according to a government advisory panel? Not in the opinion of highly regarded Santa Monica urologist Milton Krisiloff, who was my doctor in the late 1990s when I lived on that side of town. Steve Lopez in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/24/12


California Fish and Game sues U.S. Army Corps over levee trees -- The state of California sued the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Wednesday to fight rules that could eliminate trees on levees in Sacramento and statewide. Matt Weiser in the Sacramento Bee -- 5/24/12

Protesters ask Edison to decommission San Onofre nuclear plant -- Environmental and anti-nuclear activists gathered at Southern California Edison headquarters in Irvine on Wednesday calling for the San Onofre nuclear plant to be decommissioned and for the utility to implement more extensive conservation programs. Abby Sewell in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/24/12

L.A. makes history with ban on plastic bags at stores -- Los Angeles became the largest city in the nation to approve a ban on plastic bags at supermarket checkout lines, handing a hard-fought victory to environmentalists and promising to change the way Angelenos do their grocery shopping. David Zahniser and Abby Sewell in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/24/12


Workplace fatalities rise in confined spaces -- From a Napa winemaker to a paint manufacturing employee in Fullerton, seven Californians died last year while working in a confined space – an uptick in a category of workplace fatalities that are readily preventable, experts said. Bernice Yeung California Watch -- 5/24/12

Bay Area residents sue process servers for failing to deliver lawsuits -- In February 2011, a process server working for ABC Legal Services filed a document with the Alameda County Superior Court saying he had personally served Fremont physical education teacher Matthew Walker with a lawsuit over an unpaid $2,340.76 personal loan. Bernice Yeung California Watch -- 5/24/12

Sacramento Bee, LA Times sue to force UC disclosure of pepper spray officer names -- The Sacramento Bee and the Los Angeles Times filed suit today against the University of California Board of Regents in a bid to force the release of police officer names that have been kept secret from the public since last November's pepper-spray incident on the UC Davis campus. Sam Stanton in the Sacramento Bee Lee Romney in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/24/12

LA Times editor in chief is on Twitter - and gets hacked -- Davan Maharaj has only posted 26 tweets thus far — including two today noting that he has had to change his password. Kevin Roderick LA Observed -- 5/24/12

Berkeley police chief defends actions in search for his son's iPhone -- Denying that his son received preferential treatment, the Berkeley police chief Wednesday defended using 10 officers to knock on doors in search of the teen's stolen cellphone. Angela Woodall in the Contra Costa Times -- 5/24/12

Orange County HDTV maker Vizio sued by MIT over patents -- Vizio Inc., Irvine maker of high definition TVs and other electronic devices, is being sued on claims of infringement on four patents held by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. JAN NORMAN in the Orange County Register -- 5/24/12

Orange County congressman’s dispute with Karzai escalates -- It’s been clear for a while that Rep. Dana Rohrabacher and Afghan President Hamid Karzai weren’t going to be sharing jokes over tea – especially since Karzai blocked Rohrabacher from even entering Afghanistan last month as part of a congressional delegation. Martin Wisckol in the Orange County Register -- 5/24/12

   POTUS 44

Obama Touts ‘Extraordinary’ Accomplishments at California Fund-Raisers -- President Obama spent his evening Wednesday trolling for campaign funds amid the cultural and high-tech glitterati of Northern California, arguing that his accomplishments had been “extraordinary” but warning that it may take even beyond a second term to complete them. PETER BAKER in the New York Times$ -- 5/24/12

President Obama's cash crusade gets under way -- President Obama's 16-hour Bay Area fundraising whirlwind, which began Wednesday and is expected to net more than $4 million, confirms a sobering fact of the 2012 campaign: California voters with a checkbook in hand are much more likely to see the president in the flesh. Carla Marinucci, Joe Garofoli in the San Francisco Chronicle Josh Richman and Stephen Tung in the San Jose Mercury David Siders in the Sacramento Bee -- 5/24/12


Saunders: The House's octogenarian incumbents -- When Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., lost the GOP primary to challenger Richard Mourdock this month, Beltway types saw the voters' verdict as a victory for the Tea Party and a defeat for the kind of Republican who could work across the aisle. Debra J. Saunders in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 5/24/12

Democrats stiffen spine on sequester -- Power in Washington these days is most defined by saying “no,” which helps explain why Speaker John Boehner felt compelled last week — in the middle of May — to bring up a wintry debt ceiling fight more than six months away. DAVID ROGERS Politico -- 5/24/12