California Policy & Politics This Morning   

California bullet train project scores major court victory -- In a major victory for California’s bullet train project, an appellate court Thursday overturned a lower court ruling that found the state failed to comply with the law in developing a funding plan for the $68 billion line between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Ralph Vartabedian in the Los Angeles Times$ Jessica Calefati in the San Jose Mercury$ -- 8/1/14

Sacramento County sheriff acknowledges possession, use of cellphone surveillance technology -- The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department acknowledged this week that it possesses and uses surveillance technology that allows detectives to collect location data from the cellphones of investigative targets, possibly doing so without a court order. Kim Minugh in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 8/1/14

San Jose police drone inflames surveillance-state rumblings -- San Jose police say what is believed to be the Bay Area's first police drone will only be used for bomb cases. Critics fear it's the first step toward streamlined spying on residents and gathering information without a warrant. Robert Salonga in the San Jose Mercury$ -- 8/1/14

Union: Employees forced to falsify suicide-watch documents -- The union representing California state psychiatric technicians says that two of members were forced to fake inmate suicide-monitoring records and were then disciplined when video recordings revealed the false documentation. Jon Ortiz in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 8/1/14

Caltrans muzzled Bay Bridge critics, report says -- Caltrans sought to silence engineers who voiced concerns about cost overruns or construction defects on the new Bay Bridge eastern span, forcing several of them from the project, according to an investigative report prepared for a state Senate committee. Jaxon Van Derbeken in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 8/1/14

Senate report: Caltrans ‘gagged and banished’ Bay Bridge critics -- A California Senate report released Thursday said that Department of Transportation managers “gagged and banished” at least nine top experts for the new $6.5 billion San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge after they complained about substandard work by the Shanghai, China, firm that built much of the span. Charles Piller in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 8/1/14

Senate reports are critical of Bay Bridge construction oversight -- Two reports prepared for a state Senate committee reiterate that the new eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge is safe, but note problems with transparency, oversight of engineering flaws and purported retaliation against top project employees who raised concerns. Lee Romney in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 8/1/14

Technical panel praises and criticizes Caltrans on Bay Bridge -- A technical review of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, released Thursday by a panel of engineers formed by the state Legislative Analyst’s Office, provided a mixed review of problems facing the new span – praising some actions by the California Department of Transportation and questioning others. Charles Piller in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 8/1/14

PUC releases report on generator failure at San Onofre nuclear plant -- State utility regulators, after denying a pair of records requests from activists and reporters, released a controversial study from a scientist about the cause of the catastrophic failure of the San Onofre nuclear power plant in early 2012. Marc Lifsher in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 8/1/14

Tesla breaks ground in Reno for Gigafactory, speeds up Model S production -- The electric-car car maker also said that it had broken ground in Reno, Nevada, on a site that could "potentially be" the location for the Gigafactory, a massive battery factory the company plans to build in partnership with Panasonic. But Tesla said that locations in four other Southwestern states remain possibilities. Dana Hull in the San Jose Mercury$ Dale Kasler in the Sacramento Bee$ Aaron M.Kessler in the New York Times$ David R. Baker in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 8/1/14

California appeals court says Citizens United measure should stay on ballot -- A California appeals court on Thursday tossed out a lawsuit seeking to block a ballot measure asking whether Congress should overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United campaign finance decision. Christopher Cadelago in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 8/1/14

In little-scrutinized state races, Chiang and Jones bank millions -- Two little-scrutinized races for California treasurer and insurance commissioner reflected a trend marking nearly all of the statewide contests this year -- Democratic dominance and Republican struggles to raise cash, according to campaign finance reports filed Thursday. Seema Mehta in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 8/1/14

GOP candidates for controller, secretary of state end June in debt -- The Republicans vying to be controller and secretary of state entered the general election in the red, according to campaign finance reports filed with the state Thursday. Seema Mehta in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 8/1/14

Harris, Newsom report multimillion-dollar campaign war chests -- California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, Democrats who are expected to sail to re-election in November, reported Thursday that they are sitting on millions of dollars in their campaign war chests. Seema Mehta in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 8/1/14

GOP, Democratic leaders pouring money into key state Senate contests -- Political party leaders are funneling large amounts of cash and other resources into three key legislative contests that could decide whether Democrats will regain their supermajority in the state Senate in the November election. Patrick McGreevy in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 8/1/14

Rep. Mike Honda shuts out media from tele-town hall -- Rep. Mike Honda, whose office touts him as “one of the most transparent members of Congress,” held a tele-town hall Wednesday night to speak to thousands of Bay Area constituents — but shut the media out of the call. Carla Marinucci in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 8/1/14

Is ‘top two’ killing third parties? Not really -- While California’s “top two” primary has been bad news for third-party election efforts, some of the advocates for independent candidates are sounding way too confident about how wonderfully well they might have done if only the old system were in place. John Wildermuth in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 8/1/14

PUC judges to issue proposal for fine against PG&E in San Bruno case -- State regulatory judges are expect to issue proposal during August or September for the fines and punishments that PG&E should receive in connection with its role in the fatal explosion of a natural gas pipeline in San Bruno nearly four years ago, according to an official notice posted Thursday. George Avalos in the San Jose Mercury$ -- 8/1/14

PG&E shares plunge as investors ponder new criminal charges over San Bruno explosion -- PG&E shares plunged on Thursday, amid a slump in profits that were weakened by expenses related to improvements to its natural gas system, under scrutiny following a fatal explosion in San Bruno nearly four years ago. George Avalos in the San Jose Mercury$ -- 8/1/14

Occupy activists flock to Sacramento for national meeting -- They gathered Thursday under a stand of redwoods near the steps of the state Capitol, a modest mix of young people and the graying veterans of the progressive and protest movements. They came to Sacramento, in the words of one, to reclaim the public square. Darrell Smith in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 8/1/14

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan lags in re-election fundraising -- New campaign finance reports show Oakland Mayor Jean Quan raising just $86,000 for her re-election in the past six months - falling behind rival candidates Libby Schaaf and Rebecca Kaplan. Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 8/1/14

Kashkari's campaign almost out of cash -- With a little more than three months to go until the Nov. 4 election, Republican Neel Kashkari's campaign for governor is almost dead broke. John Wildermuth in the San Francisco Chronicle Seema Mehta in the Los Angeles Times$ Christopher Cadelago in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 8/1/14

Jerry Brown’s GOP challenger flips script to highlight poverty -- Jerry Brown was in his 30s when, as governor, he decided to spend the night in a crime-ridden public housing project in San Francisco. The Democrat said at the time that he wanted to “experience what other people experience.” Laurel Rosenhall and Christopher Cadelago in the Sacramento Bee$ Carla Marinucci in the San Francisco Chronicle Josh Richman in the San Jose Mercury$ -- 8/1/14

Myers: Can Underfunded GOP Candidate Outflank Jerry Brown on Poverty? -- It was a brief bit of bravado, the kind of thing every politician does. As the applause faded at the beginning of his annual State of the State address on Jan. 22, Gov. Jerry Brown took delight in chastising some of California’s critics. John Myers KQED -- 8/1/14

Kashkari: Brother, Can You Spare a Job? -- I spent a week as a homeless person, looking for work.The 'California Comeback' has a long way to go. Neel Kashkari in the Wall Street Journal$ -- 8/1/14

Billionaire Tim Draper's Mad Plan to Blow Up California -- A billionaire Silicon Valley venture capitalist who hit it big funding Hotmail, Skype, Tesla Motors (TSLA), and Chinese search engine Baidu (BIDU), Draper has gone from Democrat to Republican to Libertarian to Draperist; the Draper party (of one) believes that government’s problem is that it lacks competition. Joel Stein Bloomberg Businessweek -- 8/1/14

Walters: The dog days of summer bring us speculative scenarios -- You can credit ancient Romans with naming what we now call the “dog days of summer.” Dan Walters in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 8/1/14

Rep. Mike Honda gets his House district wrong — listen to voicemail -- Seven-term Rep. Mike Honda is in a spirited re-election battle with fellow Democrat Ro Khanna to represent California’s 17th Congressional District in the South Bay. That’s the 17th District — although on his DC office voice mail, Honda invites his constituents from the “15th District” to get in touch. Oops. Carla Marinucci in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 8/1/14

Sen. Leland Yee pleads not guilty to racketeering charge -- Suspended state Sen. Leland Yee Thursday pleaded not guilty to racketeering charges newly added to a federal case accusing him of accepting thousands of dollars in bribes and offering to set up international arms deals. Jeremy B. White in the Sacramento Bee Howard Mintz in the San Jose Mercury$ Patrick McGreevy in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 8/1/14

UCLA chancellor says damages from water pipe break in the tens of millions of dollars -- Scores of utility workers struggled Wednesday to plug leaking valves in Westwood after Tuesday’s ruptured water main spilled more than 20 million gallons onto Sunset Boulevard and portions of UCLA grounds. Brenda Gazzar, Jason Henry and Mike Reicher in the Los Angeles Daily News$ -- 8/1/14

UCLA flood from water line rupture is red flag for L.A. infrastructure -- As UCLA tallied the damage from rampant flooding triggered by the rupture of a 90-year-old city water line, Los Angeles city leaders on Wednesday were once again confronted with the consequences of deferred maintenance on the city's aging infrastructure. Emily Alpert Reyes, Matt Stevens in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 8/1/14

L.A. street repair agency riddled with problems, audit finds -- City auditors revealed Thursday that the bureau charged with fixing and maintaining Los Angeles' streets is beset with problems that include failing to collect or spend hundreds of millions of dollars, keeping shoddy records and neglecting to address the most heavily trafficked roads first. Emily Alpert Reyes, Ben Poston in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 8/1/14

Taxes, Fees, Rates   

Treasurer Lockyer: Push to extend Prop. 30 taxes inevitable -- State Treasurer Bill Lockyer said Thursday he predicted an inevitable political push to extend the 2012 tax hike known as Proposition 30, but he expects the measure will return to voters before it expires in two years. Allen Young Sacramento Business Journal -- 8/1/14

Economy, Employers, Jobs   

City probe calls for anti-nepotism reforms at LAFD -- The Los Angeles Fire Department needs new rules to prevent conflicts of interest and reform a firefighter hiring process “tainted” by concerns of nepotism, according to a new study by the department’s top watchdog. Ben Welsh in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 8/1/14

Million-dollar-plus home sales hit record in Bay Area -- In the nine-county region, 5,734 homes sold during the April-through-June period for at least $1 million, according to CoreLogic DataQuick. The previous peak was 5,699 in the second-quarter of 2005. Steve Johnson and Pete Carey in the San Jose Mercury$ -- 8/1/14

Million-dollar home sales hit seven-year high in California -- The number of homes that sold for $1 million or more in California hit a seven-year high in the second quarter, and sales north of $2 million reached a new record. Tim Logan in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 8/1/14

Future of Squaw Valley tied to pair of proposals -- Two proposals being put forth in Placer County are tied to who determines future development in Squaw Valley: County officials, or a newly formed city encompassing the popular getaway spot. Ben van der Meer Sacramento Business Journal -- 8/1/14

Kodak to keep making movie film, with Hollywood's support -- Kodak's sales of motion picture film have declined 96% in the last 10 years because of a widespread conversion to digital displays of movies worldwide, according to data provided by the company. Saba Hamedy in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 8/1/14


Brown administration looks to diminish influence of API -- Move over API. You’re not the top dog for determining school success anymore, the president of the state’s Board of Education said this week. Kimberly Beltran Cabinet Report -- 8/1/14

CSU to pay $2.5 million to family of slain mentally ill student -- The California State University Board of Trustees will pay $2.5 million to the family of a mentally ill graduate student shot and killed two years ago by Cal State University San Bernardino police. Veronica Rocha in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 8/1/14

Importance of talking to infants now on TV -- The message that it’s critically important to later learning for parents and caregivers to speak, sing and read to young children has hit prime time. Lillian Mongeau EdSource -- 8/1/14


California breaks drought record as 58% of state hits driest level -- More than half of California is now under the most se -- 8/1/14vere level of drought for the first time since the federal government began issuing regular drought reports in the late 1990s, according to new data released Thursday. Joseph Serna in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 8/1/14

California’s Biggest Water Source Shrouded in Secrecy -- Public information about groundwater is sketchy, even in regions where over-pumping is a chronic problem, according to the report from Stanford University’s Water in the West program, a project of the Woods Institute for the Environment and Bill Lane Center for the American West. Lauren Sommer KQED -- 8/1/14

Immigration / Border

As Time Runs Out, Congress Is Gridlocked on Immigration Reform -- On Thursday, Republicans in the Senate stymied the bill that would have allotted $2.7 billion to resolving the issue of Central American minors illegally crossing the border into the U.S., which many politicians have deemed a national crisis. P. Nash Jenkins TIME -- 8/1/14


California's proposed 2015 Obamacare premiums to rise 4 percent in 2015 -- Healthcare premiums will rise an average of 4.2 percent in 2015 on California's Obamacare insurance exchange, the largest of the state marketplaces established by President Barack Obama's healthcare reform, state officials said on Thursday. Sharon Begley and Caroline Humer Reuters Christopher Cadelago in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 8/1/14

California exchange insurance rates for 2015 draw mixed reaction -- The 4.2% increase in Obamacare insurance rates in California for 2015 announced Thursday drew an enthusiastic reaction from activists and insurers. But there was also some skepticism. Soumya Karlamangla in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 8/1/14

Also . . .

Same TV news crew victimized again in Oakland -- The same KPIX-TV news crew that was attacked and had a camera stolen during a live broadcast in Oakland in 2012 had their personal items stolen Thursday when thieves broke into their van in the city, police said. Henry K. Lee in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 8/1/14

DMV says 'no' to vulgar vanity plates -- For many Californians, a vanity license plate is a conduit for personal expression - a nickname, a tribute to a pet or a hobby, or an ode to a lover. But some plates are too rude for the road. Kurtis Alexander in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 8/1/14

NSA / Surveillance   

Judge: U.S. Search Warrants Apply to Emails Stored on Foreign Servers -- A district court judge ruled Thursday that Microsoft must comply with law-enforcement demands even for user data stored on servers in Ireland. Dustin Volz National Journal -- 8/1/14

POTUS 44    

Obama to sign executive order requiring companies to fess up bad behavior -- The “Fair Pay and Safe Workplace” measure will also give federal agencies more guidance on how to consider labor violations when awarding federal contracts and “ensure that all hardworking Americans get the fair pay and safe workplaces they deserve,” the White House says. Lesley Clark McClatchy DC -- 8/1/14


CIA apologizes, admits it improperly searched Senate computers -- The CIA on Thursday acknowledged that its employees inappropriately searched and pulled files from a Senate computer network set up as part of an inquiry into the CIA’s secret Bush-era interrogation program. Kathleen Hennessey in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 8/1/14

Republicans deliver another self-inflicted wound -- Republicans may yet win the elections in November. They may end up in control of both houses of Congress come January. But in the final week before a lengthy August recess, they have shown a remarkable capacity to complicate their path to victory. Dan Balz in the Washington Post$ -- 8/1/14

Cantor, Ex-Majority Leader, to Leave Congress Early -- The early departure of Eric Cantor, the Virginia Republican, could allow his successor to participate in the lame-duck session of Congress this fall. Steve Kenny in the New York Times$ -- 8/1/14