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Lessons from disastrous wine country fires helped in battling Southern California infernos -- Both sieges began in darkness with fierce winds that made the flames impossible to stop. Hurricane-force gusts pushed the flames over highways that should have been barriers and into neighborhoods so quickly that officials said they were helpless to protect the homes in their path. Paige St. John and Sonali Kohl in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/16/17

Roaring winds raise fire concerns across Bay Area -- Gusty northerly winds are blowing across the Bay Area, reaching up to 53 mph and prompting the National Weather Service to issue red-flag fire warnings for areas above 1,000 feet of elevation. Sophie Haigney in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 12/16/17

After California's most destructive fire season, a debate over where to rebuild homes -- After a destructive wildfire swept from Calabasas to Malibu in 1993, the head of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy stood on a mountaintop on live TV and made a radical proposal. He called for a “three-strikes” rule to limit the number of times recovery funds could be spent to help rebuild a home destroyed by wildfire. Doug Smith in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/16/17

As housing prices rise, 17,000 Bay Area workers commute from the Sacramento region -- The weekday commute to the Bay Area from the Sacramento region isn’t easy. It can range from a 90-minute train ride to Richmond to a multi-hour slog to Silicon Valley. Phillip Reese in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 12/16/17

Lopez: Her six-hour commute each day seems crazy, but her affordable rent is not -- She doesn’t need an alarm clock, Carolyn Cherry says. Her brain is programmed, by years of routine, to sound an internal alarm just before 3 a.m. Steve Lopez in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/16/17

Westside families sue over construction next to school -- The cause for concern is a large apartment development that would be built adjacent to the campus. A fence is all that separates the construction site from the kindergarten play area, potentially exposing the students to toxic dust and other harms, according to the lawsuit filed by attorney Olu K. Orange, a parent at the school. Howard Blume in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/16/17

Nonprofits brace for drop in giving as many taxpayers lose incentive under GOP plan -- Under the Republican tax overhaul, a significant number of households will lose the tax benefit from charitable giving because they will no longer itemize their deductions. Ed Fletcher and Ellen Garrison in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 12/16/17

The essential tradeoff in the Republican tax bill, in one chart -- Republicans are paying for a permanent cut for corporations with an under-the-radar tax increase on individuals. Andrew Van Dam in the Washington Post$ -- 12/16/17

Why Democrats failed to tank tax reform -- The tax fight has all the ingredients that helped Democrats kill Obamacare repeal: party unity on Capitol Hill, energized liberal activists and legislation that polls in the toilet. But this time it doesn’t appear to be enough. Elana Schor and Heather Caygle Politico -- 12/16/17


California Policy & Politics This Morning  

Rep. Speier: ‘Rumor on the Hill’ is Trump to Fire Mueller Before Christmas -- Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-San Mateo) told KQED Newsroom on Friday that she believes Republicans are trying to shut down the House Intelligence Committee’s probe into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 elections. KQED -- 12/16/17

New SANDAG Board Chairman On Climate Change: ‘It’s A Debatable Issue’ -- Del Mar Mayor City Councilmember Terry Sinnott was unanimously elected the new board chairman of the San Diego Association of Governments on Friday, taking the helm of the county's lead agency in charge of meeting state climate goals. But in a brief interview after his election, Sinnott declined to acknowledge the scientific consensus that climate change is caused by human activity and the burning of fossil fuels. Andrew Bowen KPBS -- 12/16/17

A major change to Proposition 13 takes its first step toward the 2018 ballot -- Proponents of making a dramatic change to California’s landmark Proposition 13 property tax restrictions took their first step to getting a measure on the November 2018 statewide ballot Friday. Liam Dillon in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/16/17

From Hillary Clinton and Kamala Harris to 10,000 teenage girls: 'Speak up' -- Female politicians are used to finding themselves in rooms full of men. But on Friday, two of the nation’s most prominent political women got the chance to address 10,000 girls. Sonali Kohli in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/16/17

GOP tax bill could trigger $25 billion in cuts to Medicare -- The GOP tax bill, finalized Friday, could lead to large cuts in Medicare spending starting in 2018 — prompting concern among consumer groups and policy experts that the health insurance program for seniors may be weakened as a result of Republicans’ push to lower corporate tax rates. Catherine Ho in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 12/16/17

UC regent who asked to hold actress’s breasts is considering resigning -- The University of California regent who was recorded last year asking an actress at his podcast company if he could hold her breasts said Friday he’s considering resigning amid calls for him to step down from the powerful panel. Nanette Asimov in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 12/16/17

Thousands of mourners pay respect to Mayor Ed Lee at San Francisco City Hall -- Thousands of people, from street cleaners to famous politicians, streamed into San Francisco City Hall on Friday and filed past the casket bearing the body of Mayor Ed Lee, many whispering prayers for the man whose unexpected death cast a pall over the city he led for six years. Sophie Haigney, J.K. Dineen and John Wildermuth in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 12/16/17


Winds, danger return as Thomas fire takes aim at Santa Barbara County -- Spotters are in place. Hillsides have been scrubbed of as much flammable vegetation as possible. And now it’s time to see whether it was all enough to stop the deadly Thomas fire from wreaking additional havoc. Joseph Serna and Brittny Mejia in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/16/17

Army of firefighters takes on still-growing California fire -- The fourth-largest wildfire in California history continues to grow and threaten thousands of homes despite armies of fire crews and fleets of bulldozers and aircraft. Although Santa Ana winds eased on Friday amid the blaze northwest of Los Angeles, they are expected to return with a vengeance over the weekend. And the fire is so large that winds on one end may be gustier than those on the other side. Associated Press -- 12/16/17

PG&E may shut off power lines to prevent fires in this weekend’s wind storm -- With another windstorm bearing down on Northern California, Pacific Gas and Electric Co. warned Friday that it may take a step it has long resisted — switching off power lines to prevent wildfires. The utility, California’s largest, reported that it may turn off some lines if winds grow extreme. It is a step PG&E would rather not take, because it may mean cutting off power to police and fire stations or hospitals. David R. Baker in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 12/16/17

Power pylon seen sparking at start of Creek fire is owned by L.A. Department of Water and Power -- The owner of a small ranch on Little Tujunga Canyon Road said she was awakened early Dec. 5 by a panicked call from her mother, who said sparks were coming off the steel pylon as a line came loose and “was smacking the hill.” Looking outside, Gail Thackray said, she saw much the same scene: “There was fire concentrated over there and sparks coming off the pylon…. It spread each direction.” Paige St. John and Brittny Mejia in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/16/17

San Diego To Get New Firehawk Helicopter To Fight Future Wildfires -- The City Council voted unanimously this week to spend $19.8 million to buy a firefighting helicopter, which will increase the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department's aerial fleet from two to three. KPBS -- 12/16/17

Without Tourists and Customers, Ojai Businesses Face a Tough Holiday -- Mason is among the business owners in this picturesque tourist town now bracing for a tough holiday season. Smoky skies from the still-raging Thomas Fire have forced the closure of local hotels, and many businesses in town fear it could wreak havoc on holiday tourism. Stephanie O'Neill KQED -- 12/16/17

Most SoCo Alert calls failed to connect in first hours of Sonoma County wildfires -- During the first hours of the deadly October wildfires, Sonoma County failed to connect with 54 percent of telephone numbers in a database used to send government alerts to the public during emergencies, according to new data released by the county Friday. The performance of the county’s warning system, SoCo Alert, was hindered by damaged cellphone towers and burned utility lines, said Chris Helgren, the county’s emergency services manager. Nick Rahaim in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat -- 12/16/17

Economy, Employers, Jobs, Unions, Pensions  

This police chief can only be fired if he commits a crime. It has to be a felony -- When Baldwin Park rehired Michael Taylor as its police chief, the city included a provision in his contract that makes him exceedingly difficult to fire. Benjamin Oreskes and Adam Elmahrek in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/16/17

Uber spied on rivals, stole trade secrets, letter alleges -- A damning letter written by the lawyer for a former Uber security manager claims that the ride-hailing company secretly spied on rivals; destroyed, concealed and falsified evidence; and engaged in other illegal behaviors like wiretapping. The letter, which put the brakes on a trial scheduled to begin this month in a case in which a sister company of Google alleged that Uber stole its self-driving car secrets, was made public Friday. Carolyn Said in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 12/16/17

What Facebook’s fight with a former executive says about social media’s future -- Facebook is worth half a trillion dollars, but even when you’re on top, an insult can really sting. Elizabeth Dwoskin in the Washington Post$ -- 12/16/17


U.N. monitor says L.A. lags behind other cities in attacking homelessness -- The United Nations’ monitor on extreme poverty and human rights said Friday that political will created the hundreds of encampments that he saw lining the streets of Los Angeles, adding that the country is rich enough to end homelessness. Gale Holland in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/16/17


San Diego Unified faces $47 million in cuts in coming year -- According to a plan approved by board members, the cuts will come in prioritized tiers — which officials called “buckets” — hitting the district’s administration first. Programs funded by the administration are next, saving important or valued services at the school level as a last resort. Lauryn Schroeder in the San Diego Union-Tribune$ -- 12/16/17

Hacienda La Puente district ordered to pay $2.8 million in school sex-abuse case -- A high school student who was drawn into a sexual relationship with her teacher won a $2.8-million judgment Thursday against the Hacienda La Puente Unified School District. Howard Blume in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/16/17


San Diego shifting enforcement from illegal pot shops to delivery services -- San Diego has successfully shut down nearly every illegal pot shop in the city during a crackdown launched in spring 2016, but that’s prompted an explosion of illegal marijuana delivery services that present new challenges for authorities. David Garrick in the San Diego Union-Tribune$ -- 12/16/17


California activists applaud state’s new cell phone safety advisory -- California’s new cell-phone safety guidelines issued this week for adults and children are being welcomed by the public health, environmental and First Amendment advocates who successfully sued the state to release guidelines that had been languishing since 2009. Tracy Seipel and Tom Lochner in the San Jose Mercury$ -- 12/16/17


How dry is it? Scientist says California has only slim chance of normal rainfall this winter -- This is how dry it has been so far this season: California’s chances of having a normal “water year” have fallen to around 33 percent in much of the state, according to a federal scientist. Dale Kasler in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 12/16/17

Also . . . 

Trump protester files lawsuit saying police violated his civil rights at San Diego rally -- An anti-Donald Trump protester is suing the City of San Diego and police for allegedly violating his civil rights after last year’s post-election rally downtown. Marco Amaral, 26, filed the lawsuit in federal court Nov. 30. It alleges police used excessive force against Amaral after the protest Nov. 9, 2016, that police assaulted, battered and falsely imprisoned him and that city officials failed to prevent it. Morgan Cook in the San Diego Union-Tribune$ -- 12/16/17

San Francisco Aquatic Park closed to swimmers after third sea lion attack in a week -- That bracing morning dip in San Francisco Bay lost a bit of its allure Friday after a swimmer was bitten by what was reported as a sea lion at Aquatic Park — the second attack by a marine mammal in less than 24 hours and the third in a week. Peter Fimrite and Steve Rubenstein in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 12/16/17

Third attack by marine mammal in San Francisco's Aquatic Park prompts swimming ban -- The San Francisco Fire Department said that an adult man suffered trauma injuries from a sea lion Friday morning. The National Park Service began posting signs that said, "Danger — Aquatic Park Cove closed for swimming due to multiple marine animal bites." Rong-Gong Lin II and Brittny Mejia in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/16/17

POTUS 45  

Trump administration gives CDC a list of forbidden words, including ‘fetus,’ ‘transgender’ and ‘evidence-based’ -- Administration officials are forbidding the nation’s top public health agency from using a list of seven words or phrases in any official documents being prepared for next year’s budget. Lena H. Sun and Juliet Eilperin in the Washington Post$ -- 12/16/17

Trump’s push to fill courts with conservative judges hits first speed bump -- President Trump’s aggressive push to fill scores of federal court vacancies with conservative judges hit severe turbulence this week, as he was forced to withdraw two nominees and an embarrassing video went viral showing a third struggling to answer rudimentary questions about the law. John Wagner, Robert O'Harrow Jr. and Karoun Demirjian in the Washington Post$ Ron Lieber and Tara Siegel Bernard in the New York Times$ -- 12/16/17


The final GOP tax bill is complete. Here’s what is in it -- Republicans were joyful Friday as they finalized their tax plan, bridging differences between the House and Senate bills and moving another step closer to getting legislation to President Trump by Christmas. Heather Long in the Washington Post$ -- 12/16/17

Trump promised ‘America First’ would keep jobs here. But the tax plan might push them overseas -- On the Friday before Thanksgiving, Kenny Johnson left the Nelson Global Products plant in Clinton, Tenn., for the last time. Having devoted nearly 13 years to making tractor-trailer exhaust pipes, Johnson, 41, spent some of his final weeks at the plant watching Mexican workers train to take his job. David J. Lynch in the Washington Post$ -- 12/16/17

President Trump claims the FBI is tainted and its reputation in tatters. This graph shows he’s wrong -- “It’s a shame what’s happened with the FBI,” President Trump told reporters yesterday, “really, really disgraceful.” He was building on criticisms he’d levied earlier this month, when he labeled the Federal Bureau of Investigation “tainted” and said its reputation was “in tatters.” David Lewis in the Washington Post$ -- 12/16/17


-- Friday Updates 

Mayor Ed Lee escorted to San Francisco City Hall for the last time -- A black hearse escorted by police on motorcycles slowly made its way from a Daly City mortuary to San Francisco City Hall, carrying the body of Mayor Ed Lee before dawn Friday morning. Sophie Haigney in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 12/15/17

Concerns raised over Breed serving as both San Francisco mayor, supervisor -- Breed, who is also the board’s president, was long seen as a contender to succeed Ed Lee in 2019. Lee’s unexpected death Tuesday vaulted her into the city’s top office, and if she can keep the high-profile job, she’ll have a big advantage in the June 5 election to finish the rest of his term. Rachel Swan in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 12/15/17

California firefighter’s December death underscores Cal Fire’s ‘new normal’ -- Thursday’s death of a state firefighter battling a December blaze in Ventura County underscored a stark message from this year’s devastating fires: There is no end to fire season in California anymore. Adam Ashton in the Sacramento Bee$ Karen Kucher and Teri Figueroa in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/15/17

Thomas fire rages amid longest red flag warning on record -- As crews battling the deadly Thomas fire girded for a difficult weekend of firefighting, Los Angeles and Ventura counties ended their 12th consecutive day of red flag fire warnings Friday — the longest sustained period of fire weather warnings on record. Joseph Serna, Brittny Mejia in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/15/17

Abcarian: In Northern California, forgotten victims of the wildfires struggle to regain their footing -- Claudia and Francisco Alvarez had what they thought was a perfect situation in the mountains west of Calistoga in Napa County. Robin Abcarian in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/15/17

Capitol misconduct accusations gather momentum -- The seemingly endless series of sexual harassment accusations swirling through the Capitol carries implications beyond the fates of individual lawmakers. The political fallout from all of it might endanger the Democrats’ supermajority and reverse the Legislature’s recent surge in approval among California voters. Chuck McFadden Capitol Weekly -- 12/15/17

Politifact CA: Travis Allen’s Mostly False claim on the California gas tax -- Top Republicans in California have strongly opposed the state’s gas tax increase, saying it’s a costly burden on drivers. Orange County Assemblyman Travis Allen is a GOP candidate for governor and a leading critic of the 12 cent per gallon tax hike. Chris Nichols Politifact CA -- 12/15/17

Fox: Who Else Might Jump into Big Statewide Races? -- We pretty much know the fields in the big races in California next year for governor and the U.S. Senate—or do we? Joel Fox Fox & Hounds -- 12/15/17

Stem cell agency nears $5 billion ballot plan -- Directors of the California stem cell agency on Thursday virtually endorsed a plan to stave off its financial death, pinning their hopes on a possible $5 billion bond measure and a private fundraising effort to bring in an additional $222 million. David Jensen Capitol Weekly -- 12/15/17

Sacramento airport will get nearly one-third of power from solar farm -- Sacramento International Airport this week announced it has opened two solar array fields on airport grounds that will produce an estimated 30 percent of the power needed to run the facility. Tony Bizjak in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 12/15/17

It's official: Bob Hope Airport is now Hollywood Burbank Airport -- Thanks for the memories. The airport on North Hollywood Way in Burbank has officially rebranded itself the Hollywood Burbank Airport, putting an end to the former title that paid tribute to the comedian and showman Bob Hope. Hugo Martin in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/15/17

With the rise of SpaceX and Rams stadium, Hawthorne's industrial areas are becoming hip -- The rise of Elon Musk’s SpaceX, more-affordable rents and the lure of Inglewood’s future pro football stadium are combining to transform Hawthorne’s reputation as a nose-down industrial city to something, well, cool. Samantha Masunaga in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/15/17

Lazarus: Drug industry lawsuit shows it wants to keep patients in dark on pricing -- The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the industry’s main lobbying group, filed a lawsuit the other day seeking to derail a California law that will require 60 days’ notice before drugmakers raise prices beyond a certain threshold. The law, SB 17, is set to take effect Jan. 1. David Lazarus in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/15/17

Judge's ruling backs Laguna Beach student suspended over watermelon thrown at black classmate's home -- An Orange County judge this week told the Laguna Beach Unified School District that it must comply immediately with an earlier order to remove a suspension from the record of a student who was disciplined in connection with a racially charged episode in which a watermelon was thrown at the home of a black classmate. Hannah Fry in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/15/17

GOP wins Rubio’s and Corker’s votes on tax bill after last-minute changes -- Republicans plan to pass the tax overhaul next week and send it to Trump’s desk. Seung Min Kim and Colin Wilhelm Politico -- 12/15/17