* Updates Since Early This Morning

Assembly passes bill to spend redevelopment funds for housing -- About $1.4 billion in redevelopment funds for low- and moderate-income housing would continue to be spent for those purposes under legislation approved today by the Assembly. Jim Sanders SacBee Capitol Alert -- 3/26/12

Panel finds new Bay Bridge is safe, although news story questions panel's objectivity -- The structural integrity of the $6.3 billion new east span of the Bay Bridge was not undermined by a Caltrans inspector who submitted false data on three other projects -- but not the Bay Bridge, an outside panel of engineers has concluded. Meanwhile, a Sacramento Bee story raised questions about the objectivity of that four-person engineering panel. Denis Cuff in the San Jose Mercury -- 3/26/12

San Francisco slayings suspect avoided deportation in 2006 -- The suspect in last week's slayings of five people in San Francisco was ordered deported in 2006 after he served a prison term for robbery and assault, but because his native Vietnam would not issue travel documents for him, immigration officials had to let him go free, officials said Monday. Kevin Fagan, Henry K. Lee, Justin Berton in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 3/26/12

Officer engaged in racial profiling, LAPD probe finds -- A white police officer targeted Latino drivers for traffic stops because of their race, a Los Angeles Police Department investigation concluded -- marking the first time the agency has found one of its officers guilty of racial profiling. Joel Rubin in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/26/12

Folsom Assembly candidate's pledge could mean backing rival -- Republican Assembly hopeful Andy Pugno kicked off his campaign today with a pledge that could leave him backing his rival over his own candidacy in November. Torey Van Oot SacBee Capitol Alert -- 3/26/12

Assemblyman Chris Norby may face new ethics hearing on motel stay -- State Assemblyman Chris Norby (R-Fullerton) may not be out of the doghouse with the state ethics agency over his use of campaign funds to stay in an Orange County motel, even after an administrative law judge said his action was proper. Patrick McGreevy LA Times PolitiCal$ -- 3/26/12

Controversial cougar kill spawns proposed ban on hunting with dogs -- Unable to get a Fish and Game official to resign for killing a mountain lion outside the state, two lawmakers on Monday introduced legislation that would prohibit the use of dogs to hunt bear and bobcat in California. Patrick McGreevy LA Times PolitiCal$ -- 3/26/12

Ex-school cop to pay $309,000 in restitution for hoax shooting -- Jeffrey Stenroos, the former Los Angeles school police officer who staged his own shooting last year in a bizarre hoax that caused three schools to be locked down and forced closure of streets across the the western San Fernando Valley, will pay the city a lump sum of $309,000 in restitution, authorities said Monday. Andrew Blankstein in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/26/12

Orange County Firm Wins Public Contracts Even When It's Not Best Qualified -- Roger Faubel Public Affairs, one of the county’s most high-profile public relations firms, has received lucrative contracts in recent weeks from two of the county's most powerful boards. Yet in neither case was the firm initially rated as the most qualified among bidders. TRACY WOOD VoiceofOC.org -- 3/26/12

34 years later, a tax revolt in reverse? -- One of the backers of the original "millionaire's tax" proposed by the California Federation of Teachers recently told me that Gov. Jerry Brown was at risk of repeating a mistake he made in his first go-round in the governor's office: underestimating the extent of a wave of public sentiment about taxes. Timm Herdt in the Ventura Star -- 3/26/12

Donnelly gets fine, probation after no-contest plea to gun charges -- Assemblyman Tim Donnelly pleaded no contest today to two misdemeanor gun charges stemming from the discovery of a loaded firearm in his carry-on bag before he boarded a flight for Sacramento. Jim Sanders SacBee Capitol Alert Michael J. Mishak LA Times PolitiCal$ -- 3/26/12

Federal court again blocks California's attempts to cut Medi-Cal -- California’s repeated attempts to cut spending on healthcare for poor residents were halted again last week. The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals denied the state’s emergency effort to suspend an earlier decision by a federal judge in Los Angeles to block the cuts in Medi-Cal. Chris Megerian LA Times PolitiCal$ -- 3/26/12

fundraising totals for top California legislative races -- With just over two months to go until the June primary, some state legislative candidates are boasting six-figure warchests while others find themselves in the red. Torey Van Oot SacBee Capitol Alert -- 3/26/12

Fox: A Special Election Next Year if… -- I picked up a rumor over a month ago that I originally didn’t put much faith in that if tax measures were defeated in November the governor may order a special election in 2013 to quickly put another tax measure before voters. I’m reconsidering and now think its possible. Joel Fox Fox & Hounds -- 3/26/12


   California Policy and Politics This Morning

Strong majority backs Jerry Brown's tax-hike initiative -- Sixty-four percent of those surveyed said they supported the measure that the governor hopes to place on the November ballot. It would hike the sales tax and levies on upper incomes to help raise money for schools and balance the state's budget. Anthony York in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/26/12

California lawmakers' salaries down, but still highest in nation, heading into yearly review -- State-by-state pay statistics will be weighed Friday by the state's California Citizens Compensation Commission, a seven-member panel appointed by the governor to set pay for legislators and other statewide elected officials. Jim Sanders in the Sacramento Bee -- 3/26/12

Schrag: That Mincy Tax Plan: Can’t We Do Better Than The Status Quo? -- The convoluted jockeying among the proponents of California’s various ballot-box tax measures and the incessant lip flapping about which has the best chance with voters must make citizens of any normal democracy think we’re nuts. Peter Schrag Cal Progress Report -- 3/26/12

Ballot designations matter for candidates -- Inland Southern California lawmakers Mike Morrell, Jeff Miller, Bob Dutton and Kevin Jeffries spend a large chunk of their week in Sacramento, voting on bills and sitting through committee hearings as state legislators making base annual salaries of $95,291. All of them want voters this year to view them as something different: businessmen. JIM MILLER in the Riverside Press -- 3/26/12

CalBuzz: Why a Governor’s Party is His Own Worst Enemy -- Throughout 2011, Gov. Jerry Brown’s fundamental antagonist in Sacramento was the Republican minority in the Legislature which refused, under threat of decapitation by the Grover of Norquist, to give him the four votes he needed to place on the ballot a proposal to temporarily extend tax increases that had been approved by his Republican predecessor. Jerry Roberts and Phil Trounstine CalBuzz -- 3/26/12

Some California donors give to 2, 3 GOP presidential candidates -- The Golden State’s primary is two months off, but California Republicans already have pumped more than $26.6 million into the prolonged fight for the GOP presidential nomination. Lance Williams and Agustin Armendariz California Watch -- 3/26/12

Lawmakers look to further limit CSU executive pay -- Several state lawmakers are pushing for a tougher crackdown on California State University executive compensation in the wake of trustees' decision to approve the maximum allowable pay raises for new campus presidents. Erica Perez California Watch -- 3/26/12

San Diego County water authority wants author of transfer study removed -- The San Diego County Water Authority has taken exception to the role of Steven P. Erie, a UC San Diego political science professor, as an author of a $50,000 study of its water transfer deal with the Imperial Irrigation District. BRADLEY J. FIKES in the North County Times -- 3/26/12

Study of water transfer pact commissioned by opponents, documents reveal -- A cabal of 20 agencies controlling the powerful Metropolitan Water District secretly commissioned a purportedly independent study intended to discredit a landmark deal bringing water from the Imperial Valley to San Diego County, the San Diego County Water Authority says. BRADLEY J. FIKES in the North County Times -- 3/26/12

Walters: Big pension conflicts ahead in California -- California's great public pension battles are heating up, and may be headed for some kind of political explosion. Dan Walters in the Sacramento Bee -- 3/26/12

San Jose Pension System Questioned -- Conflict of interest? That’s the question some officials are asking about San Jose’s pension system after seeing internal city documents uncovered by the NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit. Now we examine the possible influence city officials have had on what’s supposed to be independent information. The internal emails tell the story. Jenna Susko, Julie Putnam and Mark Villarreal NBC Bay Area -- 3/26/12

$1.5 billion Caltrain deal packs some big extras -- That just-announced pact to plow $1.5 billion in high-speed rail money into electrifying Caltrain comes with some mighty major side deals - including a pledge by Bay Area leaders to build a 1.2-mile tunnel through downtown San Francisco to connect the line to the new Transbay Terminal. Phillip Matier, Andrew Ross in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 3/26/12

LAFD Chief Brian Cummings faces predicament on fire response -- In every crisis, there is opportunity. That was the case for Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who got an opportunity last week to show the city that he is still mayor with his handling of the Los Angeles Fire Department. Rick Orlov in the Los Angeles Daily News -- 3/26/12

   Economy - Jobs

State bonds propel road-building blitz across Bay Area -- A 2012 deadline to start work on projects funded by state bonds means major fixes are coming soon to a bottleneck near you. Gary Richards in the San Jose Mercury -- 3/26/12

Short sales speed up in Sacramento-area home market -- This could be the year that short sales go from maddening to mainstream. Hudson Sangree in the Sacramento Bee -- 3/26/12

Lake Berryessa residents face hefty utility fix -- On a sun-dappled hillside on the south end of Lake Berryessa, Stuart Williams thought about the old days before the world, as he and his neighbors knew it, turned upside down. Peter Fimrite in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 3/26/12

Yahoo spurns activist investor, names its own new board directors -- Setting the stage for a battle to control one of the Web's pioneering companies, Yahoo late Sunday appointed three new directors to its board, spurning the slate of candidates pushed by an activist investor who has been critical of the struggling company's turnaround plan. Pete Carey in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 3/26/12

AP Enterprise: Vegas rail: a gamble or good thing? -- On a dusty, rock-strewn expanse at the edge of the Mojave Desert, a company linked to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wants to build a bullet train that would rocket tourists from the middle of nowhere to the gambling palaces of Las Vegas. MICHAEL R. BLOOD Associated Press -- 3/26/12

   Taxes - Fees

Hike cigarette tax another $1 per pack for cancer research? -- We will refrain from painful puns like “smokers are fuming mad” and “cigar aficionados are burning up,” and just tell you that millions of dollars are pouring into California over the latest plan to slap a huge tax on tobacco products. The fight is on. Teri Sforza in the Orange County Register -- 3/26/12


San Francisco schools try to mend problems without suspension -- For two decades, Principal Paul Jacobsen was known as a no-nonsense, cut-to-the-chase, hard-nosed school administrator who didn't hesitate to dole out strict punishment when students broke the rules. Then the San Francisco principal learned about something called the restorative justice approach. Jill Tucker in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 3/26/12

Polling looks good for Brown -- It was a fine weekend for Jerry Brown. He should be elated with the first polling on his revised tax initiative. And the California Teachers Assn., a strong supporter of his first initiative, has come around to back the new version, too, and committed $9 million for the June and November elections. John Fensterwald educatedguess -- 3/26/12

California urged to consider non-seniority-based teacher layoffs -- State legislative analyst's report also says school districts issue more pink slips than needed because of deadline issues and recommends changing the layoff notice deadline. Stephen Ceasar in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/26/12

Michelle Rhee says StudentsFirst organization has 170,000 members in California -- StudentsFirst, a new entrant on the California school reform landscape, has 170,000 members in California, according to its founder Michelle Rhee, the former Washington D.C. schools chief and wife of Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson. Louis Freedberg EdSource -- 3/25/12

Despite Brown’s budget, LEAs should prepare for pre-kindergarten -- That’s the message coming out of Sacramento from key lawmakers, education consultants and legislative analysts attempting to keep their district clients abreast of the state’s ever-shifting budget landscape as it relates to a newly-mandated program known as transitional kindergarten. Kimberly Beltran SI&A Cabinet Report -- 3/26/12

State education data system, CALPADS, makes critical turn -- The state’s much-maligned student longitudinal data system still has many critics and a long road ahead before fulfilling its many promises – but there appears to be strong evidence the program is finally working as designed. Tom Chorneau SI&A Cabinet Report -- 3/26/12

LAUSD's Academic Decathlon leader looking for solution to $400,000 budget problem -- The longtime coordinator of Los Angeles Unified's wildly successful Academic Decathlon hopes to strike gold -- not just at next month's national competition but in his quest for donations to continue the program in 2012-13. Barbara Jones in the Los Angeles Daily News -- 3/26/12

   Health Care

Healthcare access limited in East Valley -- Fifty-six-year-old old breast cancer survivor Lucia Guevara lives in a tiny three room trailer with her husband, plus her daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter. Suzanne Potter HealthyCal.org -- 3/26/12


After failing to reach goals, California attempts to jump-start its 'Hydrogen Highway' -- Eight years ago, former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger drove a hydrogen-powered Toyota Highlander to UC Davis and, with TV cameras running, promised to build a "hydrogen highway" to help usher in a green revolution in California. Paul Rogers in the San Jose Mercury -- 3/26/12

Farm bureau suffers setback in keeping solar projects off farmland -- A Fresno County Superior Court judge told the California Farm Bureau Federation that it didn't have the right to sue Fresno County over a solar project the county approved in August. Specifically, the judge said the farm bureau didn't have legal standing in the case because it couldn't show that the bureau or its members were directly harmed. Kurtis Alexander in the Fresno Bee -- 3/26/12


Young immigrants' legal status threatened by parents' choices -- Jiovanna Campbell came to the U.S. illegally when she was 3, and stayed except for one childhood trip back to Mexico. That visit is hindering her shot at legal status. Paloma Esquivel in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/26/12

Orinda same-sex couple fights deportation -- Brian Willingham may have been able to prevent his husband Alfonso Garcia's deportation for now, but the Orinda couple's fight against his expulsion is far from over. Jennifer Modenessi in the Contra Costa Times -- 3/26/12


Feds' crackdown is a bummer for Oakland marijuana university -- For the school renowned as the Princeton of Pot and the Harvard of Hemp, the high times have wafted into a downer. Peter Hecht in the Sacramento Bee -- 3/26/12

Unlocking Possibilities -- All across California, school districts are hammering out contracts with city agencies to split the costs and responsibilities of opening their gates to the public after hours. Robert S. Ogilvie HealthyCal.org -- 3/26/12

   POTUS 44

Obama Adviser Tries to Tie Paul Ryan Budget Plan to Mitt Romney -- President Barack Obama’s senior adviser, David Plouffe, repeatedly denigrated House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) just-released budget plan on Sunday news shows and sought to tie it to presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Abby Livingston Roll Call -- 3/26/12

A daunting Obama ground game awaits Romney -- A GOP primary fight devours time and money while the president's campaign pours millions into a national field effort. Matea Gold and Melanie Mason in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/26/12


Romney won't easily wipe away Etch A Sketch image -- A number of Democratic presidential candidates have had Tylenol moments in recent years: John Edwards' $400 haircut, Michael Dukakis' tank-and-helmet photo, Howard Dean's scream. Carla Marinucci in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 3/26/12

Rep. Mike Honda presents his 'Budget for All' as counter to GOP plan -- Two vastly different visions of how the government should spend its money were introduced in Congress this past week -- and one of them has Bay Area roots. Josh Richman in the San Jose Mercury -- 3/26/12

Speaker Boehner goes toe-to-toe with Obama over Keystone, rising gas prices -- If you want to see Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) get riled up these days, ask him about President Obama's energy policy. Russell Berman The Hill -- 3/26/12