Updates since early This Morning

Pelosi: Swing seats, strong candidates make California a 2012 'battleground' -- While California may not see much action from presidential hopefuls, House minority leader Nancy Pelosi said today she believes a handful of competitive districts will make the state a "battleground" in Democrats' effort to win back control of Congress. Torey Van Oot SacBee Capitol Alert -- 2/10/12

John Burton can't imagine 'hit squad' for Molly Munger -- California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton agrees with Gov. Jerry Brown that Molly Munger's November tax initiative could hurt the governor's bid to raise the state sales tax and income taxes on California's highest earners. David Siders SacBee Capitol Alert -- 2/10/12

California budget still imperiled by cash crunch -- California's tax revenues continue to pour into the state's coffers well below what Gov. Jerry Brown forecast in his budget, a worrisome sign amid indications of an economic upturn. Nicholas Riccardi in the Los Angeles Times Kevin Yamamura in the Sacramento Bee -- 2/10/12

California lawmaker to seek reelection after year in Afghanistan -- Assemblyman Jeff Gorell of Camarillo needn’t worry about those contesting his reelection challenging any of his votes during the last year. That is because he has spent the time out of the country, serving on active duty in Afghanistan. Patrick McGreevy in the Los Angeles Times -- 2/10/12

Federal judge dismisses GOP's political map suit -- A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by a group of Republicans challenging California's newly drawn congressional maps. JUDY LIN AP Jim Sanders SacBee Capitol Alert Jean Merl in the Los Angeles Times -- 2/10/12

California: Mitt Romney's New Firewall -- A couple of Romney’s firewalls have been breached already this primary season. Romney staked out New Hampshire as his initial “firewall”—that “must-win” contest that would fortify his aura of “inevitability. Sherry Bebitch Jeffe NBC LA Prop Zero -- 2/10/12

California Supreme Court's chief justice blasts budget politics -- California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye has assailed the Assembly for passing a bill that would strip power from the Judicial Council she controls, prompting opponents to suggest her tone is inappropriate for the state's top judge. Dan Smith in the Sacramento Bee -- 2/10/12

Obama accommodates religious groups with change to birth control rule -- President Obama said new changes to a health insurance mandate will accommodate concerns about religious freedom without compromising healthcare access for women, even as he complained that critics had turned the mandate into a “political football.” Christi Parsons and Noam N. Levey in the Los Angeles Times -- 2/10/12

Owner of Sierra mine surrenders to face charges -- A man who state and local officials say is running a massive illegal gold-mining operation in California's Sierra Nevada surrendered Thursday to face 14 criminal charges of operating without permits and polluting a creek. DON THOMPSON AP -- 2/10/12

GOP lawmaker takes aim at Democrats' state budget power -- A Republican assemblyman announced Thursday that he will propose a constitutional amendment to require a supermajority vote by the Legislature to pass budget bills and to require the state controller to withhold lawmakers' pay if an approved budget is not balanced. Jim Sanders in the Sacramento Bee -- 2/10/12

Fees stack up, boost cost of traffic tickets -- Take, for instance, when the state passed its handheld cellphone ban a few years ago. Officials trumpeted the fine as $20. More than a few drivers think: What the heck. Worth the risk. But $20 is just the base fine. They call us screaming when they discover the real cost: $166. Tony Bizjak in the Sacramento Bee -- 2/10/12

Brown, Feinstein to address Democrats at San Diego convention -- California Democrats have a lot to celebrate at their annual party convention in San Diego this weekend. They control every statewide constitutional office and both U.S. Senate seats and are poised to pick up a handful of seats in this year’s congressional elections. Anthony York in the Los Angeles Times -- 2/10/12


   California Policy and Politics This Morning

Pete Schabarum, 'father of term limits,' revisits the issue -- The “father of term limits” says he isn’t pleased with the way things turned out. Jean Merl in the Los Angeles Times -- 2/10/12

Are Democrats in Sacramento off the hook on pension reform? -- The decision by a conservative group to drop its pension reform initiatives could mean that Democrats are off the hook for making substantial changes to California's pension system. Steven Harmon in the San Jose Mercury Jon Ortiz in the Sacramento Bee -- 2/10/12

Steinberg 'committed' to passing pension reform before budget -- Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said today that a nonprofit group's decision to scrap a proposed ballot initiative targeting public employee pensions does not alter his commitment to tackle that issue. Jim Sanders SacBee Capitol Alert -- 2/10/12

California Supreme Court's chief justice blasts budget politics -- California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye has assailed the Assembly for passing a bill that would strip power from the Judicial Council she controls, prompting opponents to suggest her tone is inappropriate for the state's top judge. Dan Smith in the Sacramento Bee -- 2/10/12

State courts' top bureaucrat resigns -- A former Alameda County Superior Court executive from Danville resigned his post as the California court system's interim top bureaucrat yesterday, months after an investigative report detailed lavish spending on food, drink and hotels even while cash-strapped courts cut their services. Josh Richman in the Contra Costa Times -- 2/10/12

Walters: Has California killed redevelopment ... or not? -- Redevelopment is dead after more than six decades as a multibillion-dollar government economic development tool. Or is it? Dan Walters in the Sacramento Bee -- 2/10/12

Molly Munger's tax proposal makes her a major player in California ballot wars -- When Molly Munger's name surfaced last year as a potential partner on efforts to provide more funding for schools, California State PTA President Carol Kocivar had to turn to Google to find out who she was. Torey Van Oot in the Sacramento Bee -- 2/10/12

Four Things You Should Know about High-Speed Rail -- If all goes according to plan, San Diegans will one day be able to board a bullet train and get to points north much more quickly than they can now by car or Amtrak. Randy Dotinga Voiceofsandiego.org -- 2/10/12

Obama administration reiterates support for California High-Speed Rail -- Continuing his push for the California High-Speed Rail, Gov. Jerry Brown met Thursday with U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who said President Obama remains committed to the project. BRIAN JOSEPH in the Orange County Register -- 2/10/12

Newsom opens fire on Cal Grant cuts -- Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom is taking aim at the governor’s proposed cuts to higher education, calling on lawmakers to reject them as unfair and shortsighted. Chris Megerian in the Los Angeles Times -- 2/10/12

California Democrats converge on San Diego -- California Democrats will begin sketching out a roadmap to the November election and beyond when they converge thousands strong on the state party convention this weekend in San Diego. Christopher Cadelago UT San Diego -- 2/10/12

Podcast: America's Finest Podcast -- Okay, maybe that's an overstatement. But as California Democrats flock to the sunny environs of San Diego for their annual convention, it was hard to resist a borrowing of the city's famous moniker. John Myers Capitol Notes -- 2/10/12

CalBuzz: Dems in San Diego: Calbuzz Poses the Big Questions -- 1. Will Jerry Brown go negative on Molly Munger and the California Federation of Teachers? 2. Will Howard Berman keep Brad Sherman from getting the state party endorsement in the 30th Congressional District? 3. Will John Burton’s head explode when we ask him if his alleged ballot measure for an oil extraction tax is just a pipe dream? Jerry Roberts and Phil Trounstine CalBuzz -- 2/10/12

Democratic endorsement fights heat up -- Democrats running in three Inland Southern California congressional and legislative seats are trying to lock up support for endorsement caucuses at this weekend's state convention in San Diego. JIM MILLER in the Riverside Press -- 2/10/12


Occupy activist held for violating stay-away order -- One of a dozen Occupy Oakland protesters ordered by a judge to stay away from City Hall was arrested after officers found him in Frank Ogawa Plaza outside the building, police said Thursday. Henry K. Lee in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 2/10/12

Occupy Cal tents return to UC Berkeley -- Occupy Cal members were back at UC Berkeley on Thursday, setting up tents on Sproul Plaza in the same spot where police forcibly removed them last fall. Doug Oakley in the Contra Costa Times -- 2/10/12

Occupy Oakland takes complaints to Grand Lake Theater -- Denied the chance to take their case to the city's Citizens' Police Review Board, Occupy Oakland supporters on Thursday night staged their own forum on police response to their movement. Matthew Artz in the Oakland Tribune -- 2/10/12

   Economy - Jobs

Californians to get up to $18 billion in mortgage relief in settlement with nation's biggest lenders -- The $25 billion national settlement with five large banks announced Thursday will bring struggling California homeowners at least $12 billion in relief, but many say the deal isn't a game changer for the housing market or the economy. Pete Carey in the San Jose Mercury Carolyn Said in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 2/10/12

Kamala Harris has key role in mortgage settlement -- There were two people without whom the $26 billion mortgage settlement would not have been done. One is the attorney general of California. The other is the president of Wells Fargo's home mortgage division. Andrew S. Ross in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 2/10/12

America's Cup may cost city millions, report says -- Hosting the America's Cup could cost San Francisco taxpayers up to $21.7 million if fundraising by an independent committee fails to meet a $32 million target over three years to defray the city's costs of hosting sailing's premier regatta, according to a new report completed Thursday. John Coté, Stephanie M. Lee in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 2/10/12


Banks: Not business as usual at L.A. Unified -- L.A. Unified's swift action in response to the alleged sex abuse at Miramonte Elementary is a striking about-face for a district known for trying to contain scandals by sweeping them under the rug. Sandy Banks in the Los Angeles Times -- 2/10/12

Miramonte teacher was paid $40,000 to drop dismissal challenge -- LAUSD says it paid Mark Berndt to settle his challenge because it was blocked from investigating and defending its firing of the Miramonte Elementary teacher accused of sexually abusing students. Howard Blume, Angel Jennings and Richard Winton in the Los Angeles Times -- 2/10/12

San Diego Unified, teachers need state to push back layoff notices -- San Diego schools chief Bill Kowba has accepted a challenge from the teachers union to potentially call off a flurry of layoff notices set to go out to educators next month. Now the ball is in the union’s court. Maureen Magee UT San Diego -- 2/10/12

Fensterwald: First round of No Child Left Behind waivers -- In early March, the State Board of Education will decide whether California will apply for the waiver from the No Child Left Behind law that the federal Department of Education awarded to an initial 10 states on Thursday. John Fensterwald educatedguess -- 2/10/12

Baron: College students can’t get “passed” math -- Study finds community college math a barrier to success. Kathryn Baron TopEd -- 2/10/12

Doubling classroom time helps community college students overcome math hurdles -- If you’re having trouble with math, try spending twice as much time in class learning it. Sue Frey EdSource -- 2/10/12

Art Institute investigated by San Francisco city attorney -- The San Francisco city attorney's office is investigating student recruiting practices and job placement reporting at The Art Institute of California in San Francisco and seven other Art Institute campuses across the state, according to a new filing by the for-profit college owner, Education Management Corp. Erica Perez California Watch -- 2/10/12

Rural schools struggle as timber payments end -- Over the past decade, a federal program that’s based on historic timber revenue has cushioned the loss of logging in forest communities. It’s provided nearly $3.8 billion for schools and roads in more than 700 counties in 42 states, including 32 in California. Joanna Lin California Watch -- 2/10/12

   Health Care

Inmate advocates question state's commitment to prison healthcare -- The judge who called California's medical care of inmates cruel and unusual punishment has ordered a plan to return control to the state. But inmates question if improvements will continue without U.S. supervision. Chris Megerian in the Los Angeles Times -- 2/10/12


Five years after the light brown apple moth scare, California quietly stops funding moth-control programs -- Five years ago, after a retired University of California professor found a light brown apple moth in his Berkeley backyard, the state and federal government responded with a blitzkrieg. Paul Rogers in the San Jose Mercury -- 2/10/12

Auto Recyclers Challenged on Potentially Toxic Waste -- Exempt from state rules, shredders have dumped residue in landfills for years. MATT SMITH Bay Citizen -- 2/10/12

EPA finalizes ban on cruise ships dumping sewage in California's ocean waters -- The Obama administration announced Thursday it has finalized the paperwork needed to allow a California law to take effect that bans sewage dumping by cruise ships in state waters out to three miles from the coast. Paul Rogers in the San Jose Mercury Peter Fimrite in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 2/10/12


Court presses Obama on deportation policy -- In an unusual twist, a federal appellate court this week pressed the Obama administration on whether the government will follow its own highly publicized policy of using discretion when reviewing deportation cases. Andrew Becker California Watch -- 2/10/12


Steve Jobs’s unflattering FBI file mentions drug use, 2.65 GPA -- Even before the world knew him as a genius, the FBI had the book on Steve Jobs. In a 1991 background check, the FBI pegged Apple’s co-founder as brash and unlikable and noted his early drug use. Hayley Tsukayama in the Washington Post Jeremy C. Owens in the San Jose Mercury -- 2/10/12

Burning Man festival faces ticket 'fiasco' -- Organizers of the iconic counterculture event Burning Man are scrambling to solve a crisis that some fear threatens the very fabric of the event. Ed Fletcher in the Sacramento Bee -- 2/10/12

Google's first hire, Craig Silverstein, leaves for start-up -- Google's first hired employee, Craig Silverstein, is leaving the tech giant where he's worked since its founding to sign on with the rising education start-up Khan Academy. Nathan Olivarez-Giles in the Los Angeles Times -- 2/10/12

   POTUS 44

Outside California, Obama’s SuperPAC is weak -- A Register analysis of donations to the pro-Obama SuperPAC, Priorities USA Action, shows that 56 percent of its money, $2.3 million out of $4.17 million, came from California. Ronald Campbell in the Orange County Register -- 2/10/12

On Spotify, Obama’s campaign playlist is a mixed bag -- Voters of America, President Obama has made you a mix. Chris Richards in the Washington Post -- 2/10/12


Settlement launches foreclosure reckoning -- The government’s $25 billion settlement Thursday with banks over fraudulent foreclosure practices begins a long-promised reckoning with the financial industry over its role in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, officials said. Brady Dennis and Sari Horwitz in the Washington Post -- 2/10/12

Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign stuck in lukewarm -- Republicans are expressing fresh concerns that Mitt Romney is limping toward the presidential nomination, suffering new blows at the very moment he needs to grow stronger if he is to take on President Obama in November. Amy Gardner and Rosalind S. Helderman in the Washington Post -- 2/10/12