California Policy & Politics This Morning   

Fixing Bay Bridge tower’s lean put crucial rods at risk -- More than half the 400 steel rods that hold the new Bay Bridge eastern span’s tower in place were put at significantly greater risk of cracking when engineers fixed a lean in the landmark tower by tugging it into its proper position, a bridge official revealed Thursday. Jaxon Van Derbeken in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 3/6/15

Caltrans: Bay Bridge safe, despite anchor-rod cracks -- Brian Maroney, chief engineer for the new San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, said Thursday that that even if all the anchor rods that secure the suspension-span tower to its foundation were missing, the bridge would barely budge in a major earthquake. Charles Piller in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 3/6/15

Drone bill gives cops broad power -- Eager to fight more crime from the sky, a law enforcement group has sponsored a bipartisan bill that would give police broad freedom to use drones in California, but privacy advocates say the legislation could open the door to mass government surveillance. Chris Nichols UT San Diego$ -- 3/6/15

Has California's Leading Latino Politician Missed His Moment? -- Antonio Villaraigosa decided not to run for Senate and may run for governor in 2018. But his path might be blocked by newer rising stars. Andrea Drusch National Journal -- 3/6/15

Harrison Ford Seriously Injured in Plane Crash -- Actor Harrison Ford was seriously injured Thursday when a vintage World War II training plane he was piloting crash landed on a Mar Vista, California, golf course. Andrew Blankstein and Hasani Gittens NBCNews -- 3/6/15

Republican Rocky Chávez launches bid for Boxer seat -- Assemblyman Rocky Chávez formally entered the contest to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer on Thursday, offering himself as a pragmatic leader focused on strengthening national security, educational opportunities and the state economy. Christopher Cadelago in the Sacramento Bee$ Carla Marinucci in the San Francisco Chronicle Michael Finnegan in the Los Angeles Times$ Chris Nichols UT San Diego$ Josh Richman Political Blotter Marisa Lagos KQED -- 3/6/15

As assemblyman, Rocky Chavez has focused on veterans, education -- During his tenure in the Legislature, Assemblyman Rocky Chavez, who announced a bid for U.S. Senate on Thursday, has established himself as a moderate Republican with an interest in veterans affairs and education. Melanie Mason in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/6/15

Ferguson, Mo.'s, alleged revenue scams echo in southeast L.A. County -- e U.S. Justice Department report on the Ferguson Police Department -- which among other things alleged police targeted blacks and used arrests as a revenue-generating scheme -- echoes some incidents that occurred over the last decade in southeast Los Angeles County. Shelby Grad in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/6/15

Report touts high-speed rail achievements, identifies challenges and risks -- The California High-Speed Rail Authority issued a progress report to state legislators this week describing progress made in recent months, acknowledging ongoing hurdles and providing an update on the cost and schedule of California’s proposed bullet train. Tim Sheehan in the Fresno Bee -- 3/6/15

Assemblyman Wagner has big fundraising lead in Senate contest -- State Assemblyman Don Wagner (R-Irvine) has jumped out to a big fundraising lead over two other GOP candidates in Orange County vying for an open seat in the state Senate. Patrick McGreevy in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/6/15

Walters: 2 governors confronting universities -- Jerry Brown and Scott Walker would seem to have little in common other than both govern states with big dairy industries and Brown won his one and only 1980 presidential convention delegate in Walker’s Wisconsin. Dan Walters in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 3/6/15

California prisons have released 2,700 inmates under Prop. 47 -- California’s prisons have released 2,700 inmates after their felonies were reduced to misdemeanors under a ballot measure that voters approved in November, easing punishment for some property and drug crimes. Melody Gutierrez in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 3/6/15

California Politics Podcast: UC Budget Battle -- Tensions flare in the fight over UC tuition; also, the passing of an influential education lobbyist. John Myers KQED -- 3/6/15

Death penalty's unlikely foes: The victims' families -- The family of a woman killed in Orange County’s deadliest mass shooting has joined the fight to eliminate California’s death penalty, saying it’s a broken system that re-traumatizes families. Kelly Puente in the Orange County Register$ -- 3/6/15

Economy, Employers, Jobs, Unions, Pensions    

Are soaring pension and administration costs at heart of UC budget fight? -- This week, the University of California announced it would cap enrollment for in-state students at some campuses. Anthony York Grizzly Bear Project -- 3/6/15

Drug, criminal background tests for Uber and Lyft -- The drive to treat Uber and Lyft more like taxi companies has sparked another California bill requiring drivers to undergo drug and background tests. Jeremy B. White in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 3/6/15

American Apparel worker files complaint accusing company of intimidation -- A worker at American Apparel has filed a charge against the Los Angeles apparel marker, alleging that a company security guard "accosted and interrogated" her after she attended a meeting to discuss workplace issues. Shan Li in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/6/15

Apple Pay Stung by Low-Tech Fraudsters -- The Apple Pay system itself hasn’t been penetrated by hackers. Rather, fraudsters are entering stolen card data into phones, which can then be used to make purchases without a physical card being present. Robin Sidel and Daisuke Wakabayshi in the Wall Street Journal$ -- 3/6/15

San Francisco plans to move entire homeless encampments into housing -- Greg Fairrer lay facedown on the sidewalk in the Mission District on Thursday while one block away San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee was trumpeting what could be Fairrer’s salvation — a homeless-aid Navigation Center designed to move entire homeless encampments from sidewalk to permanent homes in just 10 days. Kevin Fagan in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 3/6/15

Animal rights groups can sue Napa restaurant over foie gras -- An animal-rights group can sue a Napa restaurant that served foie gras in what the restaurant’s chef described as a Boston Tea Party-style protest against California’s now-suspended ban on the delicacy, a state appeals court ruled Thursday. Bob Egelko in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 3/6/15

Slackening demand from China hurting a variety of U.S. industries -- With its economy slowing amid a global glut of commodities, China is ordering less and driving steep price cuts for many goods — hurting a range of American industries such as scrap-metal dealers in Los Angeles, manufacturers in the Midwest and cotton farmers in the Mississippi Delta. Don Lee in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/6/15

Education 

In U.C.L.A. Debate Over Jewish Student, Echoes on Campus of Old Biases -- It seemed like routine business for the student council at the University of California, Los Angeles: confirming the nomination of Rachel Beyda, a second-year economics major who wants to be a lawyer someday, to the council’s Judicial Board. Until it came time for questions. Adam Nagourney in the New York Times$ -- 3/6/15

Entrances to UC Santa Cruz Cleared; Student Protest Ends -- University of California, Santa Cruz officials say student protesters against tuition increases have cleared both entrances to campus. About 75 student protesters blocked both entrances for most of Thursday to protest tuition hikes. Associated Press -- 3/6/15

Republicans’ bills would change teacher tenure, layoff laws -- Assembly Republicans announced bills Wednesday that would change state laws that establish teacher tenure and a layoff system based on seniority – two employment protections for teachers that a California Superior Court judge threw out in his sweeping Vergara v. the State of California ruling last year. John Fensterwald EdSource -- 3/6/15

UC improves its investment returns but still lags behind other schools -- The University of California’s $13.1 billion endowment produced better investment returns last year but still trailed most of the other richest colleges in the country, new financial data shows. Lance Williams Center for Investigative Reporting -- 3/6/15

Drought   

El Nino finally here; but this 1 is weak, weird and late -- A long anticipated El Nino has finally arrived. But for drought-struck California, it's too little, too late, meteorologists say. Seth Borenstein Associated Press Geoffrey Mohan in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/6/15

Rising temperatures are amplifying drought effects, study finds -- Climate change is increasing the risk of severe drought in California by causing warm periods and dry periods to overlap more often, according to a new study. Bettina Boxall in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/6/15

Immigration / Border 

Central Valley congressmen epitomize California GOP's immigration woes -- No lawmaker worked harder than Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Tulare) to distance himself from the right flank of his party when it risked shutting down a crucial government agency this week to fight President Obama’s immigration policy. Noah Bierman in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/6/15

California 'maternity hotel' operators may face heat from guests -- At least some of the pregnant women from China caught up in raids this week on so-called maternity hotels, catering to foreign mothers-to-be seeking U.S. citizenship for their babies, are still likely to remain long enough in California to give birth on American soil. Steve Gorman Reuters -- 3/6/15

Environment 

USGS begins crucial study in Hinkley to determine how much chromium-6 was natural -- By the side of a washboard-rough dirt road, in a garage piled high with rocks neatly stored in pizza-sized boxes, the long-awaited study has begun to determine how much of the world’s largest chromium-6 plume is the result of a San Francisco-based utility’s operations and how much was put there by nature. Jim Steinberg in the San Bernardino Sun -- 3/6/15

Health 

Lazarus: A $2,500 tube of cold-sore cream? Now that stings -- A $2,532.80 tube of cold-sore cream is another example of out-of-control healthcare costs in U.S. David Lazarus in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/6/15

Chiropractors lobby against bill ending belief exemptions for vaccines -- Legislation that would do away with personal-belief exemptions for childhood vaccines, filed in response to the recent measles outbreak in California, has quickly emerged as one of this year's most polarizing bills. One interest jumping into the fray: chiropractors. Melanie Mason in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/6/15

Support Wanes For Keeping Doctors Medical Center Afloat Through Parcel Tax -- Now Eric Zell, chair of the hospital’s governing board, says a new poll of likely voters shows they’re even less likely to pass a parcel tax this year. Fewer than half say they’d support a $150 tax, falling well short of the two-thirds needed to pass. Sara Hossaini KQED -- 3/6/15

He’s back: Marty Morgenstern named to health board -- Gov. Jerry Brown has appointed longtime adviser Marty Morgenstern to the board of California’s health exchange, as two former Schwarzenegger administration officials’ terms expire, Brown’s office said Thursday. Morgenstern and Genoveva Islas, a public health advocate from Tulare, replace Susan Kennedy and Kim Belshé. David Siders in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 3/6/15

State sees higher minority, youth sign-ups for health plan -- California did a better job of enrolling more minorities and young people for health care coverage during the second year of expansion, but a shortfall in overall enrollment could lead to increased fees in the future, according to new state data released Thursday. Judy Lin Associated Press -- 3/6/15

Also . . . 

Harrison Ford 'had no other choice' but to land on golf course, rep says -- His World War II-era plane's sole engine lost power around 2:20 p.m., transit officials said. In a recording, the veteran actor is heard alerting the airport's control tower, "Engine failure; immediate return." Just blocks from the runway, the plane clipped a tree at the Penmar Golf Course in Venice, then landed on a fairway. Richard Winton, Matt Hamilton and Matt Stevens in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/6/15

CHP seeks to fire officer in racy photos scandal -- The California Highway Patrol notified an officer based in Dublin that it intends to fire him for his role in a scandal in which officers shared explicit photos that had been taken from female suspects’ cell phones, authorities said Thursday. Henry K. Lee in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 3/6/15

California inmates can appeal compassionate release denials -- The California Supreme Court ruled Thursday that terminally ill inmates can appeal judicial denials of compassionate early release from their prison sentences. Paul Elias Associated Press -- 3/6/15

LAPD investigates officer's shooting of unarmed man after Burbank chase -- As day broke over the normally tranquil Burbank neighborhood off Pass Avenue not far from the sprawling Warner Bros. studios, Los Angeles Police Department investigators were only beginning to piece together the details of how and why a pursuit early Thursday morning ended with a police officer opening fire on the suspect while still seated inside his patrol car. Sarah Parvini and Joel Rubin in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/6/15

POTUS 44     

President Obama plans L.A. trip next week for Democratic fundraiser -- He has no campaigns left to run, President Obama likes to remind audiences of late. But he nonetheless will return to Los Angeles next week to raise money for his party as it gears up for the next presidential race. Michael A. Memoli in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/6/15

Beltway 

GOP leaders to skip Selma event -- Scores of U.S. lawmakers are converging on tiny Selma, Alabama, for a large commemoration of a civil rights anniversary. But their ranks don’t include a single member of House Republican leadership — a point that isn’t lost on congressional black leaders. Anna Palmer, Lauren French Politico -- 3/6/15