* Updates

California voters still support Jerry Brown's call for tax hikes -- But skepticism about how lawmakers would use the money could derail the governor's plan, and winning over independents is key, poll finds. Anthony York in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/29/12

Assembly passes controversial 'cap-and-trade' auction measure -- The Assembly passed hotly contested legislation Tuesday to regulate and restrict how money generated by California's new "cap-and-trade" program of marketing carbon emissions can be spent. Jim Sanders SacBee Capitol Alert -- 5/29/12

Bill to force companies to share retirees' benefits falters in CA Senate -- A union-backed bill to require public companies to disclose in their annual statement the names of the five most highly compensated retirees fell one vote short in the state Senate Tuesday, but will be reconsidered by week's end. Hannah Madans SacBee Capitol Alert -- 5/29/12

California Senate supports streamlining teacher removal over crimes -- The state Senate passed a measure Tuesday that would make it easier to remove teachers from the classroom when they are accused of sexual abuse or violence against students. Patrick McGreevy LA Times PolitiCal$ -- 5/29/12

California Senate passes framework for sports betting -- The California state Senate on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved legislation that would legalize sports betting in California if federal law is also amended. Hannah Madans SacBee Capitol Alert -- 5/29/12

Richard Riordan launches effort to court Latinos for GOP -- Former Los Angeles Mayor Richard J. Riordan’s political moderation and penchant for reaching across party lines hasn’t always sat well with many of his fellow California Republicans. Jean Merl in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/29/12

Ties between Donald Trump, Mitt Romney good for Obama -- The way the Obama campaign sees it, every day that Mitt Romney and Donald Trump share a headline is a good day. Tuesday was a very good day. Kathleen Hennessey in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/29/12

Donald Trump: Is this birther worth the baggage for Mitt? -- There’s no sane political reason for Mitt Romney to be palling around with Donald Trump — who is hosting a fundraiser for him today in Vegas. And he’s the star of the “Dine with The Donald” money-raiser for Mitt. Joe Garofoli in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 5/29/12

State Senate acts to restrict cash demands over disabled access -- The state Senate on Tuesday acted to address concerns by small businesses that they are being shaken down by attorneys who demand payments while threatening lawsuits over relatively minor disabled access violations. Patrick McGreevy in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/29/12

State voters of two minds about legalizing online poker, poll finds -- A new poll indicates that voters have mixed feelings about an idea being considered to generate income for the cash-strapped state: legalization of online poker and other forms Internet gambling. Anthony York in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/29/12

CA specialty plate program gets little oversight -- California's specialty license plate program has raised roughly $250 million for a variety of popular causes, from promoting the arts to preserving Lake Tahoe. Yet there is virtually no independent oversight of how organizations spend the money. HANNAH DREIER Associated Press -- 5/29/12

Scathing report on judicial bureaucracy bolsters rebel judges -- The years-long political war among California's judges took another turn Friday, when a special commission appointed by Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye to investigate the Administrative Office of the Courts delivered a scathing report that, in effect, agreed with rebel judges. Dan Walters SacBee Capitol Alert -- 5/29/12

Ex-Caltrans chief tapped to lead high-speed rail project -- Facing a crunch time push to launch a $69 billion bullet train, the California high-speed rail board on Tuesday hired a new CEO who has spent years consulting on the mega project and was previously head of Caltrans. Jeff Morales will lead the California High-Speed Rail Authority after serving as an executive with the project's lead consultant, Parsons Brinkerhoff. Mike Rosenberg in the San Jose Mercury David Siders SacBee Capitol Alert Ralph Vartabedian in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/29/12

Tobacco companies spend $40 million to defeat smoking tax -- Big tobacco still has the clout to put up a big fight. Phillip Reese in the Sacramento Bee -- 5/29/12

San Jose pension fight could have nationwide implications -- Should San Jose's Measure B pass, as Mayor Chuck Reed and the business and taxpayer groups behind it expect, it would be a key test of a city's authority to reduce future pension costs that exceed expectations and revenues, despite earlier promises to employees. Government employee unions maintain that the measure is illegal, unfair and unnecessary. John Woolfolk in the San Jose Mercury -- 5/29/12

Dolores Huerta receiving Presidential Medal of Freedom today -- The medal is the country’s highest civilian honor, presented to those who have made contributions to the security or national interests of the United States in world peace, culture and other areas. It was created in 1963 by President John F. Kennedy through an executive order. THERESA CISNEROS in the Orange County Register -- 5/29/12

Quinn: The Real Threat to Obama’s Re-Election -- Could the coming European financial crisis doom President Obama? That’s a question that seems worth asking after a ten day trip to Europe this month. Tony Quinn Fox & Hounds -- 5/29/12

Senate approves San Diego fireworks bill -- The state Senate Tuesday approved legislation that would allow the city of San Diego to host one fireworks show annually without an extensive environmental review. Michael Gardner UT San Diego -- 5/29/12

California 9/11 fund raided for deficits -- After the 2001 terrorist attacks, California lawmakers sought a way to channel the patriotic fervor and use it to help victims' families and law enforcement. Their answer: specialty memorial license plates emblazoned with the words, "We Will Never Forget." HANNAH DREIER Associated Press -- 5/29/12

Facebook option volume explodes as stock hits new low -- A sharp decline in Facebook Inc shares has investors scrambling for options to hedge against further weakness in the company's struggling stock. Angela Moon and Doris Frankel Reuters -- 5/29/12

Facebook's stumble may cool IPOs in Silicon Valley -- The most hotly anticipated technology IPO in years disappointed investors and drew heavy scrutiny from lawmakers and regulators. Fallout may lead other firms to put their IPO plans on ice. Jessica Guynn and Andrea Chang in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/29/12

Tobar: Foreclosures and resulting blight infest once-safe neighborhoods -- Foreclosed homes invite drugs and crime. But the city of L.A. and lenders aren't dealing effectively with the problem. Hector Tobar in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/29/12

Numbed California community colleges prepare for still more budget cuts -- The drain of education dollars from the state's community colleges has raised the specter of campus closures or receiverships, a state college budget officer says. Matt Krupnick in the Contra Costa Times -- 5/29/12

As project nears, Malibu Lagoon activists vow civil disobedience -- With work set to begin this week on the hotly contested clean-up of a pollution-choked salt marsh next to a world-renowned Malibu surf spot, law enforcement officials are bracing for civil disobedience. Tony Barboza in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/29/12

When it comes to fancy fundraisers, Obama’s had his own big list -- Sure, the amazing Chateau Carolands in Hillsborough — 95 rooms, 65,000 sq. ft. — will be the locale for that fabulous fundraiser for GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney on May 30. Carla Marinucci Chronicle Politics -- 5/29/12

Beall accuses Senate rival Coto of campaign law breach -- Assemblyman and state Senate candidate Jim Beall filed a complaint late Monday accusing opponent Joe Coto of unlawful campaign coordination with an independent political committee. John Woolfolk in the San Jose Mercury -- 5/29/12


   California Policy and Politics This Morning

Lawmakers work together to keep state parks open -- California lawmakers have a hard time agreeing on most budget matters, but the effort to keep state parks open is encouraging rare bipartisan deal-making. HANNAH DREIER Associated Press -- 5/29/12

CalBuzz: How Ravel Can Give the FPPC 21st Century Bite -- Ann Ravel, chair of California’s Fair Political Practices Commission, hopes to reinvigorate her agency and make it the nation’s most aggressive public watchdog of campaigns, candidates and consultants, she told Calbuzz in a recent interview. Jerry Roberts and Phil Trounstine CalBuzz -- 5/29/12

GASB pension rules: sticker shock less likely -- New public pension accounting rules scheduled to be issued next month, once expected by some to reveal massive hidden debt, now seem less likely to trigger a shake-up and are even getting applause from pension officials. Ed Mendel Calpensions.com -- 5/29/12

Candidates for 29th Senate District and 55th Assembly District to head to general election -- Four candidates in two state races are cruising past the June 5 primaries and straight into the general election in November. Maritza Velazquez in the Inland Daily Bulletin -- 5/29/12

Primary won't alter 3 South Bay Assembly races -- In two of the South Bay's four Assembly districts, there won't be any fireworks until after the June 5 primary election. And in another, there won't even be a spark. Art Marroquin in the Torrance Daily Breeze -- 5/29/12

Napolitano, Gonzalez and Miller vying in new 32nd Congressional District -- When the redistricting commission finished drawing the new 32nd Congressional District, it appeared as if it was drawn for a Latino and a Democrat. Steve Scauzillo in the San Gabriel Tribune -- 5/29/12

Most tobacco money California collects doesn't go to prevent or stop smoking, study says -- With California voters poised to vote next week on a tobacco tax hike, a new federal study concludes that the state has used relatively little of the billions of dollars in tobacco money it already takes in to prevent kids from smoking or to help smokers quit. Jon Ortiz in the Sacramento Bee -- 5/29/12

California schools rev up bond drives -- Year after year of state budget cuts have pushed school districts throughout California – and several locally – to ask voters to approve new revenue streams in the form of bond measures for building repairs and new technology. Diana Lambert in the Sacramento Bee -- 5/29/12

Plante: Jerry Brown fondly recalls family visits to Palm Springs -- Of all the visitors who come to Palm Springs, few probably have as vivid a memory of their first time here as the state's No. 1 public official, Gov. Jerry Brown. Hank Plante in the Desert Sun -- 5/29/12


Amazon may request tax sharing deal with San Bernardino -- City officials are not yet formally negotiating a sales-tax agreement with Amazon as the Internet retailer prepares to open a distribution center here, but the company has broached the subject of tax concessions. Andrew Edwards in the San Bernardino Sun -- 5/29/12


CSU spends $2M on presidential home renovations in past decade -- California State University campuses have in the last 10 years spent more than $2 million renovating eight university-owned presidential residences – rehabbing kitchens, expanding garages and even hiring interior designers, according to figures provided by the university. Erica Perez California Watch -- 5/29/12

College system braces for cuts -- The drain of education dollars from the state's community colleges has raised the specter of campus closures or receiverships, a state college budget officer says. Matt Krupnick in the Santa Cruz Sentinel -- 5/29/12

Fensterwald: Figuring out your district’s weighted funding -- The state Department of Finance has released the district allocations under Gov. Jerry Brown’s revised plan for weighted student funding that shaves off the peaks, fills in the valleys and includes other changes that make allotments flatter, arguably fairer and potentially more politically palatable to those who criticized aspects of the formula. John Fensterwald educatedguess -- 5/29/12

Eight superintendents’ CORE push to improve California schools -- Driven perhaps by frustration over what many see as California’s failure to properly prioritize education, eight of the state’s most influential superintendents have taken reform into their own hands. Kimberly Beltran SI&A Cabinet Report -- 5/29/12

New research highlights need for better reporting on chronic absenteeism -- A new report on chronic absenteeism confirms its status as a major barrier to pupil success but says efforts to define the scope of the problem are hampered by a dearth of absenteeism data. Marc Maloney SI&A Cabinet Report -- 5/29/12

Epithet that divides Mexicans is banned by Oxnard school district -- 'Oaxaquita' (little Oaxacan) is used by other Mexicans to demean their indigenous compatriots — who are estimated to make up 30% of California's farmworkers. Paloma Esquivel in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/29/12

New high school academy teaches Oakland teens about land use and community health -- with their neighborhood as a classroom -- You might never know it, but a creek runs underneath a busy stretch of MacArthur Boulevard near Castlemont High School. Cross the street and climb a long set of concrete steps, and you'll see a sweeping view of the San Francisco Bay. Katy Murphy in the Contra Costa Times -- 5/29/12

College summer school in California largely a thing of the past -- Community college students are especially hard hit as many campuses virtually eliminate summer classes because of budget cuts, affecting the students' plans. Carla Rivera in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/29/12

   Health Care

Kids' access to health care a concern under Brown's budget -- Low-income children in rural California communities are in jeopardy of losing their doctors and health care plans under Gov. Jerry Brown's budget proposal, state lawmakers, doctors and health advocates say. Stephanie Snyder California Watch -- 5/29/12

Insurers forcing patients to pay more for costly specialty drugs -- Anthem Blue Cross, Aetna and other health insurers are increasingly shifting more prescriptions for complex conditions to a new category requiring customers to shoulder a larger share of the medication's cost. Chad Terhune in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/29/12

Medicare fight hits House, Senate races -- The battle over Social Security and Medicare has been resurrected in House and Senate races across the country, with candidates and their allies stretching the truth as they squabble with opponents about who would inflict the most damage on the nation's seniors. Josh Lederman The Hill -- 5/29/12

Loan forgiveness program to recruit doctors has few takers -- When the taxpayer-funded Peninsula Health Care District established a loan program to attract new physicians in 2003, officials promoted it as a way to address doctor shortages in parts of San Mateo County. JENNIFER GOLLAN Bay Citizen -- 5/29/12


SoCalGas tests unusual solar air conditioner -- Southern California Gas Co. is trying out an unusual new technology that uses the sun’s rays to provide air conditioning as well as power. Nancy Rivera Brooks in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/29/12

Wind farms considering detection systems to prevent bird deaths -- Adding bird detection systems could protect wind farms from litigation in case of deaths of threatened species. Louis Sahagun in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/29/12

U.S. Tuna Has Fukushima Taint -- Pacific bluefin tuna migrating last year from coastal Japan to the waters off Southern California contained radioactive cesium isotopes from the Fukushima nuclear disaster, scientists reported Monday. ROBERT LEE HOTZ in the Wall Street Journal$ -- 5/29/12

National parks brace for cuts but not closures -- Visitors to California's national parks may notice more trash on the trails, longer lines at service booths and fewer rangers this summer as the pinch of the federal government's budget problems grows increasingly difficult to overlook. Claire Veyriras in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 5/29/12


Cop who alleged improper helicopter rides settles with Glendale -- A former Glendale police officer will receive a $450,000 settlement from the city after alleging in a lawsuit that he faced retaliation for raising concerns over officials allegedly auctioning rides in the department's helicopter to charity groups. Veronica Rocha in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/29/12

   POTUS 44

Obama: We Must Be 'Nation Worthy Of Your Sacrifice' -- President Obama paid tribute Monday to the men and women who have died defending America, singling out Vietnam war veterans as an under-appreciated and sometimes maligned lot and saying that should never happen again. KEN THOMAS Associated Press -- 5/29/12


Romney warns against defense cuts, says US still faces global threats -- Mitt Romney warned against shrinking the U.S. defense budget on Monday, pledging to maintain America's status as the world's "strongest" military power. Ben Geman The Hill -- 5/29/12

Mitt Romney's high-end fundraiser riles critics -- With Democrats portraying Mitt Romney as an out-of-touch millionaire and "vulture capitalist" from his years at Bain Capital, the GOP presidential candidate may be handing opponents some ammunition when he holds a fundraiser Wednesday at a 65,000-square-foot estate that's opulent, even for upscale Hillsborough. Carla Marinucci in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 5/29/12

Obama team struggles to find 2012 reelection campaign theme -- President Obama’s campaign has yet to find a clear 2012 reelection slogan that carries the heft of 2008’s “Change You Can Believe In,” raising worries among his supporters — and hopes among Republicans — that he is having trouble articulating a concise case for a second term. Niall Stanage and Amie Parnes The Hill -- 5/29/12

Saunders: Elizabeth Warren is not a dumb blonde -- It's hard to figure who looks the worse in this story - Elizabeth Warren or Harvard Law School's affirmative action policies. Debra J. Saunders in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 5/29/12

College transcripts replace birth certificate for Obama detractors -- Now that the issue of the president’s birth certificate has been laid to rest (mostly), some conservatives are turning their attention to a new obsession: Barack Obama's college transcripts. Robin Abcarian in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/29/12