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A Snapshot of California Public Policy and Politics

California Policy and Politics Saturday

UC officials charge that academic workers’ strike over pro-Palestinian protests is illegal -- As the 48,000-member UC academic workers union announced a Monday strike at UC Santa Cruz over alleged free speech violations during pro-Palestinian protests, the University of California on Friday filed a labor complaint to stop what they say is an illegal action, heightening tensions roiling the university system. Jaweed Kaleem and Paloma Esquivel in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/18/24

UCLA Academic Senate rejects censure and ‘no confidence’ vote on Chancellor Gene Block -- On a “no confidence” resolution, 79 faculty members approved, 103 opposed, five abstained, and seven members were present but did not vote, with 43% of representatives voting against UCLA’s top leader. Jaweed Kaleem, Teresa Watanabe in the Los Angeles Times$ Jill Cowan in the New York Times$-- 5/18/24

Inside a Gaza hospital: A Los Angeles doctor’s story -- Mohamad Abdelfattah, a critical-care doctor, was in the southern city of Rafah with no way of leaving. He was at the end of a two-week trip volunteering in one of the few hospitals that has remained open in the besieged city. Thomas Curwen in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/18/24

California addressing larger budget gap than what Gov. Gavin Newsom’s plan estimates, report says -- The Legislative Analyst’s Office projects the new budget proposal contends with a $55 billion shortfall for the upcoming fiscal year, which beings July 1. Newsom’s plan said it was overcoming a $44.9 billion gulf. Stephen Hobbs in the Sacramento Bee$-- 5/18/24

Sisters in Christ group pays property taxes on Senate candidate Steve Garvey’s home -- The taxes on the home listed as Steve Garvey’s Palm Desert address are being paid by Sisters in Christ LLC, an organization that includes his sister-in-law as a manager. The group, based in Utah, has paid $119,203 since 2017 in taxes on the property, according to Riverside County Treasurer-Tax Collector records. David Lightman in the Sacramento Bee$-- 5/18/24

After Assembly issues apology for California’s role in slavery, some reparations bills die in Senate -- The California Senate killed some reparations bills for Black residents on Thursday amid a budget deficit after the Assembly issued a formal apology for slavery. Mackenzie Mays in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/18/24

Hep A

L.A. County investigating reported hepatitis A case at Beverly Hills Whole Foods -- Officials said they were investigating a reported case of hepatitis A affecting an employee of a Beverly Hills Whole Foods, just days after announcing that several cases had been detected among unhoused people in L.A. County. James Queally in the Los Angeles Times$-- 5/18/24


California’s effort to plug abandoned, chemical-spewing oil wells gets $35-million boost -- The Biden administration funding is among the “largest ever in American history to address legacy pollution,” U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland said. Hayley Smith in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/18/24

California school district becomes first in nation to go all electric buses -- The days of diesel fumes choking the air for hundreds of Bay Area students appear to be in the rearview, thanks to a partnership deal struck by Oakland Unified School District. Andrew J. Campa in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/18/24


OpenAI CEO Sam Altman says he can no longer eat in public in S.F. -- OpenAI’s Sam Altman reveals how fame has altered his personal life and discusses the new AI model, GPT-4o, on a new podcast. Aidin Vaziri in the San Francisco Chronicle$-- 5/18/24


As job growth in California falls back, unemployment rate remains highest in the country -- California posted another month of anemic job growth in April, keeping the state’s unemployment rate the highest in the country, 5.3%, the government reported Friday. Don Lee in the Los Angeles Times$-- 5/18/24

Bay Area and California add jobs in April — but the gains are puny -- East Bay leads Bay Area in April, South Bay is flat, San Francisco area loses jobs. George Avalos in the San Jose Mercury$-- 5/18/24

San Diego jobless rate falls to its lowest level all year. Leisure, hospitality hiring lead the pack -- The San Diego region gained 6,600 jobs in April. The unemployment rate was 4.1 percent, its lowest since summer 2023. Phillip Molnar in the San Diego Union-Tribune$-- 5/18/24

Troubled EV maker Fisker closing Manhattan Beach headquarters -- Troubled EV maker Fisker Inc. is closing down its Manhattan Beach headquarters and moving employees to La Palma in Orange County in a bid to save money and stave off bankruptcy. Laurence Darmiento in the Los Angeles Times$-- 5/18/24


California gas prices could go up thanks to a little-known program -- A little-known climate program could make gasoline more expensive in California next year — but exactly how much is unknown. One expert says the program, known as the Low Carbon Fuel Standard, could boost prices at the pump by 9 cents per gallon next year if air quality regulators approve updates to help the state meet its climate goals. Julie Johnson in the San Francisco Chronicle$-- 5/18/24


Teachers criticize Newsom’s budget proposal, saying it would ‘wreak havoc on funding for our schools’ -- California’s largest teachers union on Friday turned up the pressure on Gov. Gavin Newsom, announcing a public campaign aimed at blocking part of his plan to balance the budget because they say it “would wreak havoc on funding for our schools.” Adam Beam Associated Press -- 5/18/24


New Mexico weighs whether to toss Alec Baldwin criminal charges in ‘Rust’ shooting -- New Mexico First Judicial District Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer on Friday said she would soon make a ruling on whether grand jury proceedings against Baldwin were conducted in a fair and impartial manner. Meg James in the Los Angeles Times$-- 5/18/24


Supporters say ‘warmhearted’ Mexican Mafia member deserves bail. Wiretaps reveal murder threats -- Prosecutors say Johnny Martinez was caught on a wiretap boasting of several murders, but he still has prominent voices calling for his release, including two L.A. County probation officials. Matthew Ormseth in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/18/24


California bans salmon fishing for the season in Sacramento-area rivers and Klamath basin -- This is the second consecutive year the commission has voted to ban in-river salmon sport fishing in the Klamath River Basin and Central Valley rivers, according to a news release from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Rosalio Ahumada in the Sacramento Bee$-- 5/18/24

Capitola Wharf, wrecked in huge winter storms, set to reopen after $10 million upgrade -- Historic structure, popular with tourists and locals for generations, is a landmark in Monterey Bay. Paul Rogers in the San Jose Mercury$-- 5/18/24

Arellano: L.A.’s only Spanish-language children’s bookstore will soon get más grande -- Cool stuff was everywhere I looked. A compendium of Latin American folk tales. A young-adult version of radio legend Maria Hinojosa’s memoir. Picture books teaching Spanish speakers words in Nahuatl and Maya. Gustavo Arellano in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/18/24


California Policy and Politics Friday

Sonoma State University president resigns following Israel boycott debacle -- Sonoma State University President Ming-Tung “Mike” Lee stepped down Friday, one day after California State University officials placed him on leave for unilaterally announcing that the campus would sever academic and financial ties with Israel. Nanette Asimov in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 5/17/24

David DePape sentenced to 30 years in prison for S.F. hammer attack on Paul Pelosi -- David DePape, the man convicted of breaking into the home of House Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi and bludgeoning her husband with a hammer was sentenced to 30 years in prison Friday by a federal judge. Annie Vainshtein in the San Francisco Chronicle$ Hannah Wiley in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/17/24

$20 billion: The Delta tunnel’s new price tag -- The centerpiece of California’s water wars pits Gov. Newsom against local communities and environmentalists. A new report says the benefits of the tunnel exceed the cost since other water supplies would cost more. Rachel Becker CalMatters Ian James in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/17/24

Kamala for governor? She jokes, but the state lacks a giant -- The contest to succeed Gavin Newsom in the nation’s biggest, bluest state is already turning bitter. And it’s still more than two years away. Christopher Cadelago Politico -- 5/17/24

California’s staggering budget deficit squashes hundreds of bills -- The state’s multibillion-dollar shortfall shapes which spending bills survived the ‘suspense file’ hearings by the Assembly and Senate appropriations committees. Alexei Koseff, Sameea Kamal CalMatters -- 5/17/24

Single-payer healthcare meets its fate again in the face of California’s massive budget deficit -- The latest attempt to bring a single-payer healthcare system to California failed in the state Legislature on Thursday, undercut by its steep price tag as lawmakers struggle with a mounting budget shortfall. Anabel Sosa in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/17/24

California bill to scrutinize new electric charge dies in Assembly committee -- The Assembly Appropriations Committee on Thursday killed a highly watched bill that would have required legislators to study and review a controversial new electric charge recently approved by the Newsom administration. Melody Petersen in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/17/24

California psychedelics bill that would bring ‘magic mushrooms’ into the mainstream fails – again -- The legislation called for creating three new government entities to regulate psychedelic-assisted therapy. Anabel Sosa in the Los Angeles Times$ Lindsey Holden, Andrew Sheeler in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 5/17/24

Walters: California’s lagging economy hinders efforts to close state budget deficit -- As Gov. Gavin Newsom and state legislators spend the next few weeks fashioning a state budget that’s plagued by a multibillion-dollar deficit, they can’t count on a booming economy to make their task easier. Dan walters CalMatters -- 5/17/24

Congress investigating UCLA over treatment of Jewish students amid pro-Palestinian protests -- A congressional education committee is calling on the school to turn over documents regarding an ‘inadequate response to antisemitism’ amid violent clashes on campus. Richard Winton in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/17/24

Supreme Court rejects payday lenders’ challenge to Obama-era consumer protection bureau -- The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the U.S. consumer protection agency that was created under President Obama and congressional Democrats to protect Americans from financial scams. David G. Savage in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/17/24

Barabak: Champagne wishes and caviar dreams ... of a Senate seat in Wisconsin? -- Orange County banking executive Eric Hovde is running for Senate in Wisconsin, where the Republican was born and raised but fairly scarce in recent years. Democrats are trying to make his California ties an issue. Mark Z. Barabak in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/17/24

Hiltzik: Column: Inside the effort by two Beverly Hills billionaires to kill a state law protecting farmworkers -- The billionaire owners of Wonderful Co. — grower of almonds and pistachios — say a California farm labor law is unconstitutional. Michael Hiltzik in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/17/24


Biden’s move to reclassify marijuana could lead to lower prices in California -- The move could help struggling weed businesses in California, possibly lead to lower prices for consumers and potentially enable more research into the herb’s potential. Joe Garofoli in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 5/17/24

Border Patrol

Federal watchdog: Border Patrol critical incident teams operated in San Diego and beyond without oversight -- The first of seven critical incident teams was created in the Border Patrol’s San Diego Sector in 1987. Border Patrol headquarters did not oversee the units. Alex Riggins in the San Diego Union-Tribune$ -- 5/17/24


Police remove protesters from UC Berkeley building, dismantle encampment -- At least 15 pro-Palestinian protesters who participated in a takeover of an abandoned UC Berkeley building near the campus were arrested Thursday after police cleared the encampment, which was set up a day earlier. Eli Rosenberg, Daniel Lempres, Jessica Flores in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 5/17/24

47 arrested in UCI protest, encampment crackdown Wednesday; Chancellor says ‘I’m brokenhearted’ -- UC Irvine Chancellor Howard Gillman called Wednesday a “sad day for our university” after police arrested 47 people and cleared a Gaza Solidarity Encampment that had been on the campus for more than two weeks. Jonathan Horwitz, Hanna Kang in the Orange County Register -- 5/17/24

UC regents again postpone vote on policy to restrict some faculty speech -- The University of California’s board of regents on Thursday again postponed a vote on a controversial policy to restrict faculty departments from making opinionated statements on the homepages of university websites. Michael Burke EdSource -- 5/17/24


California promised a higher minimum wage for health care workers. Will Newsom delay it? -- A higher minimum wage for health care workers that Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law is set to take effect in two weeks, but he is racing to delay it because of its potential impact on the state budget deficit. Ana B. Ibarra CalMatters -- 5/17/24

San Diego Unified rescinds almost all teacher layoffs -- An agreement with the teachers union saved some educators from layoffs. Meanwhile, about 60 non-educator employees are still set to be laid off. Kristen Taketa in the San Diego Union-Tribune$ CalMatters -- 5/17/24


S.F. homelessness rises despite city spending hundreds of millions of dollars, new count shows -- Despite a massive increase in homelessness funding, San Francisco saw a 7% surge in its unhoused population over the past two years, reversing the gains shown in its last count, according to preliminary data from a one-night snapshot released Thursday. Maggie Angst in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 5/17/24

L.A.’s accidental homelessness ‘czar’? U.S. District Judge David O. Carter -- Two federal lawsuits challenging the homelessness practices of Los Angeles city and county and the U.S. government have allowed U.S. District Judge David O. Carter to assume powers that make him as close as it gets to the ever wished-for homelessness czar. Doug Smith in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/17/24


This California city is the fifth fastest growing in the U.S. -- Double the people, double the housing. That’s just what happened to Lathrop, a suburban city about 10 miles south of Stockton, over the last decade. Christian Leonard in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 5/17/24


Air regulators ding California Tesla factory over air pollution -- In an ironic turn, Tesla — the U.S.’ biggest manufacturer of electric cars — is Lindsey Holden And Andrew Sheelerfacing accusations of harming air quality and endangering public health. Tony Briscoe in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/17/24


Social media app banned at some colleges made its way to an S.F. high school: ‘Recipe for disaster’ -- The platform, founded by two Stanford University dropouts in 2021, is banned at colleges in Florida and North Carolina. But now it’s showing up at high schools across the country. Jill Tucker in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 5/17/24

LAUSD police deployment to 20 schools collapses after one day amid opposition, confusion -- L.A. school board members say they did not know in advance of a police deployment to 20 troubled campuses -- and some are unhappy about it. Howard Blume in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/17/24

California public school enrollment drops again, but transitional kindergarten is up -- Enrollment at California’s public schools continued to decline this year, but by only .25%, or 15,000 students, state data showed, a much slower pace than the steep declines experienced during difficult pandemic years when classes were forced online. Jenny Gold in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/17/24

UCLA must pay $30M to UC Berkeley over Pac-12 divorce -- The Bruins’ exit left Cal behind in a collapsing athletics conference. Blake Jones Politico -- 5/17/24

These California schools connect kids to community services. Will they survive budget cuts? -- Gov. Gavin Newsom launched the community school initiative with $4.1 billion in grants to connect students and their families to medical care, counseling and other services. Carolyn Jones CalMatters -- 5/17/24


Brass knuckles, body cams and bad behavior: LAPD probe links troubled Valley gang units -- Officers from the LAPD’s Mission and Foothill divisions allegedly engaged in illegal searches, turned off their body cameras and stole items from people they stopped. Libor Jany, Richard Winton in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/17/24

Massive budget cuts leave California domestic violence survivors with few options -- Programs that serve victims of domestic violence are bracing for unprecedented cuts that will also affect rape crisis hotlines, child abuse centers and legal service providers across California. Sonja Sharp in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/17/24

Mayor Bass orders police ‘surge’ on Metro bus and rail routes amid spike in violence -- Amid a spike in violence on trains and buses, Mayor Karen Bass calls in more police patrols. The fatal stabbing of a 66-year-old subway rider put the transit agency on edge last month, as pressure grew to respond. Rachel Uranga in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/17/24

Secret FBI files allege former L.A. City Atty. lied to feds, likely obstructed justice. He denies it. -- Feuer, who has not been charged with any crimes, maintained his innocence this week. Dakota Smith, Matt Hamilton in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/17/24

Fresno ex-Congressman TJ Cox takes plea deal in federal fraud, money laundering case -- Charges date back to business Cox was conducting in 2018, documents show, and when he was a Democratic candidate and then congressman for a San Joaquin Valley district from 2019 to 2021. Gillian Brassil in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 5/17/24


Sony warns tech companies: Don’t use our music to train your AI -- Sony Music Group is sending letters to 700 artificial intelligence developers and music streaming services warning them to not use its artists’ music to train generative AI tools without its permission. Wendy Lee in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/17/24


Steph Curry just bought a building in S.F. Here are his plans for it -- The property, located at 600 20th St. and within walking distance of Chase Center, home of the Warriors, traded hands for $8.5 million — nearly six times higher than what it sold for in 2021. Real estate agency Touchstone Commercial Real Estate Partners brokered the deal, but declined comment. Laura Waxmann in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 5/17/24


Capitol Annex Swing Space evacuated after arrival of suspicious package, California officials say -- The California Capitol Annex Swing Space was evacuated Thursday evening after a suspicious package was delivered, according to memos sent by state Senate and Assembly officials. Authorities tested the package and determined its contents were not dangerous, and the evacuation was lifted. Ishani Desai, Lindsey Holden in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 5/17/24

Las Vegas’ Mirage Resort to close after 34-year run. Volcano to go dormant -- Once hailed as “Las Vegas’ first 21 Century resort,” The Mirage Hotel & Casino confirmed Wednesday that its iconic volcano outside of its front entrance is going dormant less than a quarter of a century into the new millennium. Andrew J. Campa in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/17/24

Lopez: At Homeboy, the scoop on Father Greg and his latest honor, from those who know him best -- When Father Greg Boyle of Homeboy Industries was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Biden on May 3, I thought about dropping by to talk to him, but then I hesitated. Steve Lopez in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/17/24