• School Inoovation and Achievement
  • School Inoovation and Achievement

Updating 12/27 . .   

Assemblyman Sebastian Ridley-Thomas is resigning -- Assemblyman Sebastian Ridley-Thomas abruptly announced his resignation from the California Legislature on Wednesday, citing health reasons. Ridley-Thomas, a Democrat from Los Angeles, informed Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount) Tuesday night. John Myers and Melanie Mason in the Los Angeles Times$ Taryn Luna and Christopher Cadelago in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 12/27/17

‘We have tapped into something’: Impeachment drive builds digital army to take on Trump -- It's placed at his fingertips a potentially powerful tool: an email list of millions of motivated activists whom he can reach instantly for organizing and fundraising and that could become the hottest trove of data in Democratic politics since the email list that Bernie Sanders’ insurgent campaign against Hillary Clinton collected in 2016. Carla Marinucci and David Siders Politico -- 12/27/17

From buying bullets to job-hunting: How California’s new laws could change your life in 2018 -- Every year, the California Legislature passes hundreds of bills, ranging from technical clarifications to funding proposals that keep the state running. How have they changed your world this time? Here are some of the new laws – the useful, the controversial, and the downright quirky – taking effect on Jan. 1, 2018. Alexei Koseff in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 12/27/17

Skelton: Santa can't fix these problems with California's state government -- Several items on my Christmas political wish list never got delivered. Maybe next year. But probably not. Some of the items are just too expensive politically for the legislative elves to package up and give out. George Skelton in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/27/17

Walters: Will California spend its surplus, or save it? -- In November, the Legislature’s budget analyst, Mac Taylor, issued his annual “fiscal outlook” that sets the stage for the next state budget cycle. In early January, Gov. Jerry Brown will offer his own fiscal outlook as he proposes a 2018-19 budget, his last. Dan Walters Calmatters -- 12/27/17

Bakersfield focus in bullet train battle -- At the heart of the dispute over California’s bullet train project is Bakersfield, where a legal battle has sent ripples through the multibillion-dollar system. Dorothy Mills-Gregg Capitol Weekly -- 12/27/17

Asylum seekers overwhelming US processing in San Diego ports -- So many people fleeing persecution in their home countries have asked for help in San Ysidro in recent weeks that federal officials have not been able to process all of them, leaving some stranded and running out of money while they wait in Tijuana. Kate Morrissey in the San Diego Union-Tribune$ -- 12/27/17

Pot bust in Mendocino County pits legit industry against law enforcement -- After being pulled over Friday outside Ukiah in a truck hauling 1,875 pounds of cannabis, employees with a Mendocino County marijuana distribution company showed a CHP officer a county-issued business license and documents for their medical marijuana collective. Julie Johnson in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat -- 12/27/17

San Diego's marijuana tax will be a windfall, but officials wonder how big -- Estimates presented to the City Council this month predict $5.5 million per year initially, with steady increases up to $13.7 million in the budget year that ends in June 2023. David Garrick in the San Diego Union-Tribune$ -- 12/27/17

Tokyo-bound flight turns around after 4 hours, and Chrissy Teigen wants to know why -- A Tokyo-bound flight turned around and flew back to LAX after an apparent mix-up between a passenger and the flight crew, authorities said. Frank Shyong in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/27/17

Ballot measure adds twist to San Francisco race for District 2 supervisor -- A candidate in a tightly contested race to represent San Francisco’s Marina district is financing a June ballot measure to set lifetime term limits at the Board of Supervisors, which would disqualify his main challenger. Rachel Swan in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 12/27/17

Residents line up to pay tax bills early after Trump tax plan alters deductions -- Residents lined up before the doors opened Tuesday at the Sacramento County Administration Building to do something people aren’t normally so eager to do: pay their taxes early. Many were intent on saving money while they can. Hudson Sangree in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 12/27/17

White college grads' distaste for Trump hurt GOP in 2017. Will it flip control of Congress to Democrats in 2018? -- White college graduates in America’s suburbs have turned hard against Republicans in elections around the country and threaten to upend the party’s control of Congress in the 2018 midterm elections. Michael Finnegan in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/27/17

California salmon lose way after ride downstream in drought -- A desperate decision to truck California's native baby salmon toward the Pacific Ocean during the state's drought may have resulted in generations of lost young salmon now hard-pressed to find their way back to their reproductive grounds. Associated Press -- 12/27/17

Poachers shoot down anti-poaching drone in the Gulf of California -- The drone belonged to the U.S. conservation group Sea Shepherd, which has two ships in the northern part of the Sea of Cortez as part of an effort to save the critically endangered vaquita porpoise. Laura Tillman in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/27/17

Police: California couple used drone to deliver drugs -- Benjamin Baldassarre and Ashley Carroll, of Riverside, were charged Tuesday with possessing controlled substances for sale and child endangerment. Associated Press -- 12/27/17

Coffey Park restaurants struggle after fire destroys Santa Rosa neighborhood -- When a neighborhood is decimated overnight, what happens to the neighborhood businesses? Coffey Park was an early casualty of the Tubbs Fire, which destroyed about 1,500 homes in the neighborhood during the early morning hours of Oct. 9. Justin Phillips in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 12/27/17

A little hope for a homeless solution: Tiny housing units sprout in the Bay Area -- Nearly two years after a smattering of tiny homes popped up in the Bay Area as a peculiar new way of housing homeless people, the technique is exploding from one end of the region to the other. Kevin Fagan in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 12/27/17

What happens when Trump targets you on Twitter -- The personal attacks from the leader of the free world, blasted out to his 45 million followers, have no real precedent in American politics. They’ve energized the president and his base, outraged his opponents and driven entire news cycles — but also shocked and traumatized those individuals on the receiving end. Annie Karni Politico -- 12/27/17

Updating 12/26 . .   

Good news from the Thomas fire: Favorable conditions and a rescued mountain lion cub -- California’s biggest wildfire on record did not grow overnight, officials said Tuesday morning. The Thomas fire burning in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties held steady at 281,620 acres and was 88% contained, the U.S. Forest Service said. The blaze, which started on Dec. 4, is the largest to burn in California since official record-keeping began in 1932. Joseph Serna in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/26/17

San Francisco, other cities, sue Defense Dept. over gun background checks -- The cities of San Francisco, New York and Philadelphia filed a sweeping federal lawsuit Tuesday accusing the U.S. Department of Defense of failing to live up to its legal duty to notify the FBI when a member of the military is convicted of a crime that would bar them from buying or possessing firearms. Dominic Fracassa in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 12/26/17

Federal court rejects challenge to Trump voting commission -- A nonprofit privacy group cannot stop President Trump’s Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity from collecting millions of voter records, an appeals court ruled Tuesday. Rachel Weiner in the Washington Post$ -- 12/26/17

Do L.A. Unified's daily random searches keep students safe, or do they go too far? -- Kevin Castillo was in his freshman year at Hamilton High School when administrators carrying hand-held metal detectors interrupted his English class to conduct a random search. Sonali Kohli in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/26/17

California Increasing Family Leave Benefits In 2018 -- Imagine being a brand-new dad – with a baby who needs to go to the doctor or hospital every couple of days because of a skin condition, and a mom still recovering from a high fever during childbirth. Ben Adler Capital Public Radio -- 12/26/17

Indica or sativa? Smoke or vape? A beginner’s guide to buying recreational marijuana -- If you have never used cannabis, or if it has been a long time since you have, you need to know that pot isn’t just consumed through joints and bongs anymore. Consumers also use vape pens, edibles and other products. Brad Branan in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 12/26/17

California preps for pot-infused fare, from wine to tacos -- The sauvignon blanc boasts brassy, citrus notes, but with one whiff, it's apparent this is no normal Sonoma County wine. It's infused with THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana that provides the high. Julie Watson Associated Press -- 12/26/17

Meet the 100 top influencers in Orange County -- Some affect life in Orange County on a grand scale. Others contribute in ways you might not notice but truly are important. All of them made a difference in 2017. It’s time to reveal the Orange County Register’s annual selections for the 100 most influential people in Orange County. -- 12/26/17

California teens commit fewer crimes than their parents did -- The Center for Juvenile and Criminal Justice has released a report looking at California's youth arrest rates and rates for various types of crime and found 2016 continued a decades-long decline in both. Rina Palta KPCC -- 12/26/17

How teens are teaching each other the meaning of consent -- Brianna Tuomi remembers the night back in high school when she went to a party and drank for the first time. The then-16-year-old felt flattered when an older boy, a senior, started flirting with her, and then asked her to go for a walk. "I thought it was pretty cool that he chose me," said Tuomi. The pair started kissing, but she said when she wanted to stop, he raped her. Michelle Faust KPCC -- 12/26/17

After devastating Wine Country fires, high school struggles to rewire -- It’s Cardinal Newman High School’s first week back since a huge fire ravaged half of its campus in October, and in the back room of a Catholic church in Rohnert Park, Bernadette Calhoun fiddles with a printer while explaining advanced placement calculus to a group of students. Trisha Thadani in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 12/26/17

Tesla: Still waiting for the Model 3 -- This year upstart automaker Tesla faced its biggest test yet, introducing the Model 3, CEO Elon Musk’s long-promised electric car for the masses. Fans and foes are still waiting for the results. David R. Baker in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 12/26/17

L.A. and its trash haulers are quarreling over customer bills in the city's new recycling program -- Over the last three months, the city’s Bureau of Sanitation and the refuse haulers have been at odds over the hefty new fees showing up on customers’ bills — including one being charged when trash truck drivers use a remote control to open a gate. David Zahniser in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/26/17

Tahoe's Squaw Valley Picked As 1 Of 5 Olympic Training Sites -- ski resort at Lake Tahoe steeped in Olympic history has signed a five-year agreement to be one of the five official training sites for the U.S. ski & snowboard team. Officials at Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows north of Tahoe City, California announced they reached the agreement last week with U.S. Ski and Snowboard based in Park City, Utah. Associated Press -- 12/26/17

L.A. psychologist claims to have left manure outside Steve Mnuchin's home -- A Los Angeles psychologist claims to have left the festively wrapped box of manure outside the Bel-Air home of U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin that spurred a Secret Service investigation, billing it as a political protest against the recently passed tax bill. Emily Alpert Reyes in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/26/17

Sexual harassment victims want assurances Capitol investigations will be independent -- Pamela Lopez says she’s ready to participate in an Assembly investigation, but she wants assurances that the process will be “neutral and independent of the forces of politics.” Alexei Koseff in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 12/26/17

Labor unions see organizing California marijuana workers as a way to grow -- The United Farm Workers, Teamsters and United Food and Commercial Workers are looking to unionize the tens of thousands of potential workers involved in the legal weed game, from planters to rollers to sellers. The move could provide a boost to organized labor’s lagging membership — if infighting doesn’t get in the way. Scott Smith Associated Press -- 12/26/17

5 of 6 candidates for California governor oppose death penalty -- As the death penalty has gradually lost its once-overwhelming public support, it may have also lost its effectiveness as a wedge issue among office-seekers. And evidence of that is in the race for governor of California in 2018. Bob Egelko in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 12/26/17

Push to use pension funds on climate issue grows -- New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo last week proposed a “roadmap” for divesting the $200 billion New York state pension fund from fossil fuel investments, joining a move to use shareholder clout to reduce greenhouse gas-emissions believed to cause climate change. Ed Mendel Calpensions.com -- 12/26/17

Work on the Thomas fire doesn't stop for Christmas -- As the sun rose Monday morning, Pedro Barba had to settle for imagining what his family was doing without him. Matt Hamilton in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/26/17

Growing popularity of granny flats in LA creates niche industry -- This time last year, Andrei Pogany's Los Angeles-based home design business was centered on single-family houses and additions. But in recent months, half of his work has been designing accessory dwelling units, or "granny flats" — which he expects to become an even bigger chunk of his business as Angelenos embrace small backyard homes at a pace not seen elsewhere in California. Josie Huang KPCC -- 12/26/17

Hispennials? Hispanic+Millennials called the future of home buying -- Angelica Higuera, 33, is a public school teacher who, on weekends, cleaned houses and scrubbed toilets to earn extra money. Jose Higuera, 35, is a scrap metal hauler who worked 14-hour days so he could eventually buy six trucks. That’s how the Higuera family finally landed their dream home: a two-story dwelling surrounded by rose bushes on a Yorba Linda cul-de-sac that cost $785,000. Margot Roosevelt in the Los Angeles Daily News$ -- 12/26/17

Updating 12/25. .   

California could suffer an unusually dry winter from San Francisco to Los Angeles -- The situation is a major turnaround from last year, when Northern California was battered by a series of “atmospheric river” storms that helped end the state’s five-year drought. When it was over, California’s northern Sierra Nevada experienced the wettest winter on record, with some ski resorts staying open through the summer. Rong-Gong Lin II in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/25/17

Thomas fire not expected to be fully contained until Jan. 7 -- The largest wildfire on record in California was largely tamed by Sunday as Ventura residents raced around for last-minute holiday shopping and for Christmas Eve church services. Michael Livingston in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/25/17

If you are too drunk on Christmas Eve, AAA will drive you home with “tipsy tow” -- Starting at 6 p.m. Sunday until 6 a.m. Monday, AAA will tow any intoxicated driver’s car back home.The “tipsy tow” service will be available for AAA members and non-members and is free for the first 10 miles of the tow. Beyond the 10 miles, a standard towing rate will be charged. Roadside assistance is not included. Seung Lee in the San Jose Mercury$ -- 12/25/17

Too drunk to drive? New California law could give you a free ride -- Under Assembly Bill 711, alcohol manufacturers and licensed sellers can offer free or discounted rides to transport drinkers home safely through ride-sharing services, taxicabs or other ride providers. Vouchers or codes can be given to alcohol sellers or directly to consumers, but cannot be offered as incentives to buy a company’s product. Daniel Wilson in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 12/25/17

Christmas a time of hope, frustration for homeless -- As countless people throughout the county crammed area malls Sunday for last-minute Christmas shopping, hundreds of others stood in line for a free meal, sought shelter in storefronts and attended church services for warmth. Gary Warth in the San Diego Union-Tribune$ -- 12/25/17

Walters: California ports celebrate a merry Christmas -- Very young children may still believe that on Christmas eve, Santa Claus and his reindeer-drawn sleigh deliver toys that his elves build in a North Pole workshop. Dan Walters Calmatters -- 12/25/17

In California, harassment scandals roil ruling Democrats -- A national reckoning on sexual harassment that got its start in Hollywood is now upending Democratic politics throughout the nation's most populous state. David Siders and Carla Marinucci Politico -- 12/25/17

Trump retweets image depicting ‘CNN’ squashed beneath his shoe -- President Trump on Christmas Eve retweeted a doctored image with the CNN logo imposed on a bloodlike splatter under his shoe, prompting an outcry — with critics deeming the picture and its timing offensive. Amy B Wang in the Washington Post$ -- 12/25/17

Secret Service takes over investigation of package of manure sent to Steve Mnuchin's Bel-Air home -- The U.S. Secret Service has taken over the investigation of a gift-wrapped package of manure sent to the Bel-Air home of U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. The package was apparently intended as a protest. Carlos Lozano and Howard Blume in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/25/17

Departing GOP lawmakers warn that their party could lose majorities in 2018 -- Republicans could easily lose their congressional majorities in 2018, two retiring GOP lawmakers warned Sunday, pointing to a lack of diversity in the party and President Trump’s pattern of catering to his narrow conservative base as likely harbingers of bad news for their party. Karoun Demirjian in the Washington Post$ -- 12/25/17

 

California Policy & Politics This Morning 12/24 

Thomas Fire is 70 percent contained -- Happy holidays to residents of Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, where the Thomas Fire is now 70 percent contained. The fire has burned 273,400 acres making it the largest fire in modern California history. More good news, authorities expect to contain the fire sooner than their previous estimate of Jan. 7, as long as weather conditions remain favorable i.e. no fierce Santa Ana winds. Meteorologists predict 10 mph winds and temperatures in the high 60s to low 70s. KPCC -- 12/24/17

The CSU graduates with the most student debt -- Graduating from college is supposed to open doors to good jobs and living wages. But for many California State University students, a diploma means mountains of debt, not from tuition but from food, housing and other basic needs. Emily DeRuy in the San Jose Mercury$ -- 12/24/17

"You all just got a lot richer,” Trump tells friends, referencing tax overhaul -- President Trump kicked off his holiday weekend at Mar-a-Lago Friday night at a dinner where he told friends, "You all just got a lot richer," referencing the sweeping tax overhaul he signed into law hours earlier. Mr. Trump directed those comments to friends dining nearby at the exclusive club — including to two friends at a table near the president's who described the remark to CBS News — as he began his final days of his first year in office in what has become known as the "Winter White House." Kathryn Watson CBS -- 12/24/17

Defying Trump again, Jerry Brown pardons immigrants about to be deported -- Escalating the state’s showdown with the Trump administration over illegal immigration, California Gov. Jerry Brown used a Christmas holiday tradition to grant pardons Saturday to two men who were on the verge of being deported for committing crimes while in the U.S. Christopher Cadelago in the Sacramento Bee$ Kate Mather in the Los Angeles Times$ Sam Whiting in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 12/24/17

Myers: As year ends, California lawmakers are graded by the people who might count the most: interest groups -- There were 2,980 bills introduced and debated in the California Legislature in 2017, a bumper crop of proposals and symbolic, formal resolutions. But in raw political terms, some bills mattered more than others. John Myers in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/24/17

Man accused of plotting San Francisco terror attack was depressed over losing custody of children, family says -- Days before he was charged with plotting a terror attack, Everitt Aaron Jameson went with his father and some friends to an Oakland Raiders game. His father said everything seemed fine and that his son expressed no anger and plans for violence. Rong-Gong Lin II, Rubaina Azhar and Shelby Grad in the Los Angeles Times$ Rob Parsons in the Merced Sun-Star -- 12/24/17

Willie Brown: ‘Caretaker’ mayor for San Francisco? It’s a terrible idea -- Picking a nonpolitical “caretaker” as interim mayor of San Francisco until the June election may sound like a good idea, but it’s not. Let me say up front that I hope the Board of Supervisors picks acting Mayor London Breed as interim mayor. I will support her if she chooses to run for mayor in June as well. Willie Brown in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 12/24/17

Walters: 2018’s slate of ballot measures still cloudy -- With 2018 just days away, we pretty much know who will be running for which major California offices next year – except for the intentions of billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer, who’s making all the moves, but remains coy about what, if anything, he’ll do. Dan Walters Calmatters -- 12/24/17

Nearly 2,000 pay tribute to fallen firefighter Cory Iverson -- Friends, family and fellow firefighters bade an emotional farewell Saturday to Cory Iverson, the 32-year-old San Diego County fireman who died battling the Thomas fire nine days ago near Fillmore. About 1,800 filled the Rock Church in Point Loma to hear eulogies, highlighted by a promise from his widow, Ashley. Roger Showley in the Los Angeles Times$ Brianna Flores KPCC -- 12/24/17

LAPD bomb squad investigates suspicious package addressed to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin -- The Los Angeles Police Department’s bomb squad was dispatched Saturday to the Bel-Air neighborhood of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin after receiving a report of a suspicious package addressed to the federal official. Carlos Lozano in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/24/17

$1.3 million lottery ticket sold in Julian -- A Mega Millions lottery ticket worth almost $1.3 million was purchased in Julian in advance of Friday night’s lottery drawing. J. Harry Jones in the San Diego Union-Tribune$ -- 12/24/17

Nolte: Holiday warmth cuts through season’s chill -- Most of the time, San Francisco is a cold city. The citizens hurry past the homeless as if they were not there, “not even enough time to be disdainful,” in the words of Jack Kerouac. It is particularly tough at Christmas. That is why in North Beach they hold a special holiday dinner for anyone who wants to come by — homeless people, old ladies who live in single rooms and have nowhere to go on the most celebrated of days, young men and women who have drifted west after their families have thrown them out, people without friends. And other men and women who come to join them for a Christmas meal, and help out. Carl Nolte in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 12/24/17

Memorial honors 210 homeless people who died on the streets of Orange County -- Candles flickered in remembrance of transient people who died this year in Orange County during the Homeless Persons’ Inter-religious Memorial Service held in the arboretum at Christ Cathedral in Garden Grove. Kathleen Luppi in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/24/17

Facing a bitter desert chill, the Antelope Valley’s homeless find help in a rare 24-hour shelter -- The plug had long been pulled from the old health center on 60th Street West, its main building and structures on flat desert land sat dark and empty for a while. Then in November, members from the Salvation Army came in and turned the lights back on. They hooked up the gaslines for heat, lined up almost 100 cots, moved in the mobile showers and parked a kitchen on wheels at the curb. Susan Abram in the Los Angeles Daily News$ -- 12/24/17

Battle over Charles Manson's body has become 'like a circus,' Kern County official says -- Even in death, Charles Manson is proving to be troublesome for authorities. Joseph Serna in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/24/17

Taxes, Fees, Rates, Tolls, Bonds 

Can you pre-pay your 2018 taxes to avoid the GOP tax bill? Here’s what you need to know -- Many Bay Area homeowners are rushing to pay their spring property tax installments in an attempt to squeeze a last deduction in this year before the GOP tax plan takes effect. But there’s still a lot of confusion over what taxpayers can pay in advance and what they can’t. Casey Tolan in the San Jose Mercury$ -- 12/24/17

Economy, Employers, Jobs, Unions, Pensions  

Self-driving car tech will accelerate in 2018 — but expect crashes, too -- Fleets of self-driving cars are expected to arrive in major cities over the coming years, following the technology’s acceleration in 2017. Carolyn Said in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 12/24/17

Wildfire  

Low winds offer reprieve in fight against Thomas fire -- Low winds helped firefighters make progress against the epic Thomas fire on Saturday, and favorable weather should provide further relief over the Christmas holiday, authorities said. Michael Finnegan and Andrea Castillo in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/24/17

Hotels remain home for many Sonoma County fire refugees in holiday season -- At first, the temporary lodgings were kind of cool, despite being brought on by an unthinkable disaster. After the October wildfires destroyed his Santa Rosa home, Andy Luttringer checked into the Flamingo hotel, one of the city’s most iconic inns with its pink neon sign and resortlike amenities that drew Hollywood stars of yesteryear. Paul Payne in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat -- 12/24/17

Cannabis 

California's top marijuana regulator talks legalization -- California's legal pot market opens for business on Jan. 1. The day will be a milestone, but what exactly will happen then and, especially, in the weeks and months to come is unclear. Lori Ajax is the state's top pot regulator and has been at the center of the effort to establish rules for a legal pot economy valued at $7 billion. Michael R. Blood Associated Press -- 12/24/17

POTUS 45  

Despite White House denial, some find Trump’s comments about black immigrants believable -- The White House is disputing a New York Times report that President Trump allegedly made offensive comments about black immigrants — specifically Haitians and Nigerians. But low confidence in the president combined with his history of controversial comments about immigrants and black people have led some to approach the White House's denial with disbelief. Eugene Scott in the Washington Post$ -- 12/24/17

12 things we can definitively say the Russia investigation has uncovered so far -- To review everything we've learned about Russia this year, let's rewind to May. That was a big month President Trump, who fired his FBI director because he thought “this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story." His own administration didn’t see it that way. A few weeks later, the No. 2 at the Justice Department, Rod J. Rosenstein, appointed a special counsel to ramp up the FBI’s existing investigation into “this Russia thing.” Amber Phillips in the Washington Post$ -- 12/24/17

Federal judge partially lifts Trump's latest refugee restrictions -- A federal judge in Seattle partially blocked U.S. President Donald Trump’s newest restrictions on refugee admissions on Saturday, the latest legal defeat for his efforts to curtail immigration and travel to the United States. Yeganeh Torbati Reuters Josh Gerstein Politico -- 12/24/17

Beltway 

Charities fear tax bill could turn philanthropy into a pursuit only for the rich -- Many U.S. charities are worried the tax overhaul bill signed by President Trump on Friday could spur a landmark shift in philanthropy, speeding along the decline of middle-class donors and transforming charitable gift-giving into a pursuit largely left to the wealthy. Todd C. Frankel in the Washington Post$ -- 12/24/17

 

-- Saturday Updates 

California Senate Democrats are considering some ideas to counter the GOP tax plan -- Democrats in the California Senate are planning to write legislation to lessen the effects of the elimination of popular tax breaks in the GOP’s overhaul of the federal tax system. To finance broad-based corporate tax cuts and reductions in individual tax rates, the GOP plan caps the deductibility of state and local income and property taxes — a benefit used often in suburban areas of California. Liam Dillon in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/23/17

Landmarks in ashes, and of memory, confront fire victims in a traumatized Ventura -- Two weeks after the Thomas fire, nearly everyone in Ventura has a story to tell. With more than 500 homes lost and 27,000 residents evacuated, no one is a stranger to this disaster. They turn to one another in restaurants and diners, checkout lines and the post office and share their stories as if words could lay a foundation for their new lives. Thomas Curwen in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/23/17

Amid Thomas fire, farmworkers weather risks in Oxnard's strawberry fields -- As the Thomas fire raged in the hills above Oxnard, shops were empty and streets were silent. Smoke shrouded the seaside town, making it dangerous to breathe without respirators, according to public health officials. But in the vast strawberry fields outside town, work continued as usual. Melissa Etehad in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/23/17

After a Wildfire, Making a Holiday Among the Ashes -- This was supposed to be the Ekblad family’s first Christmas in their new home, a four-bedroom near a park in Ventura, that they stretched their budget to buy. Leila Fadel KQED -- 12/23/17

California Fire Victims Put Up Christmas Trees Where Homes Once Stood -- What was once a crowded row of houses along Hopper Avenue in Santa Rosa, California, is now a vast dirt plain. But in empty lot after empty lot, people have put up Christmas trees. Red ribbons and shimmering silver tinsel defy the landscape. April Dembosky NPR -- 12/23/17

The N-word. A hanging panda. Deputy’s lawsuit says co-workers’ racism went on for years -- A former African American Butte County Sheriff’s deputy who alleges he was racially discriminated against for years, including being called the N-word by a co-worker, will likely receive a jury trial in Sacramento federal court after recent mediation failed to resolve the case. Anita Chabria in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 12/23/17

Videos showing violent arrest of a black motorist renew concern about Pasadena police tactics -- It should have been the most minor of traffic stops. But an encounter between two Pasadena police officers and a black motorist last month has reignited the nation’s heated debate over how police use force and sparked outrage in a city with long-simmering complaints about how law enforcement treats African American men. Makeda Easter and Richard Winton in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/23/17

Eleventh woman accuses San Diego County sheriff's deputy of sexual misconduct -- An 11th woman came forward this week with allegations against a San Diego County sheriff’s deputy, saying he improperly groped her during an encounter in Lakeside almost two years ago. Jeff McDonald in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/23/17

Lopez: Living in a parking lot amid Santa Barbara's wealth is a kind of middle-class homelessness -- Kathy is a senior citizen, Marva is a nurse, Santiago is a chef and Luis is an eighth-grade student. All of them live in Santa Barbara with one thing in common. When night falls, they head to designated parking lots and sleep in their vehicles, all clients in the city’s Safe Parking program. Steve Lopez in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/23/17

Berkeley homeless camps take 21st century approach with solar power -- A group of homeless people are pioneering what they say is a sustainable, if minimalist, 21st century camp model in this often trendsetting city by installing solar panels to charge cellphones and computers, power a few nighttime reading lights, and otherwise stay globally tuned. Tom Lochner in the San Jose Mercury$ -- 12/23/17

Pender: IRS won’t force workers to submit new W-4 payroll tax withholding forms -- On Friday, President Trump signed the biggest federal tax overhaul in three decades and readers, understandably, have lots of question about it. Today I’ll answer one about how it will impact payroll tax withholding and another on prepaying your property tax through an escrow account. Kathleen Pender in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 12/23/17

‘Santa Baby’ composer Phil Springer, 91, still can't figure out why his sexy Christmas song endures -- Phil Springer maneuvers his knobby but agile fingers across the keys of the upright piano in his daughter’s living room and croons the opening lines of the Christmas song so sexy that when Eartha Kitt recorded it for the first time in 1953 it was banned in parts of the South: Randall Roberts in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/23/17

Facing Republican attacks, FBI’s deputy director plans to retire early next year -- Andrew McCabe, the FBI’s deputy director who has been the target of Republican critics for more than a year, plans to retire in a few months when he becomes fully eligible for pension benefits, according to people familiar with the matter. Devlin Barrett and Karoun Demirjian in the Washington Post$ -- 12/23/17

Frustrated and Defiant, Trump Reshapes U.S. Immigration -- Haiti had sent 15,000 people. They “all have AIDS,” he grumbled, according to one person who attended the meeting and another person who was briefed about it by a different person who was there. Forty thousand had come from Nigeria, Mr. Trump added. Once they had seen the United States, they would never “go back to their huts” in Africa, recalled the two officials, who asked for anonymity to discuss a sensitive conversation in the Oval Office. Michael D. Shear and Julie Hirschfeld Davis in the New York Times$ -- 12/23/17