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Thomas Fire continues to grow as strong, shifting winds bring new dangers -- The massive Thomas Fire continued to grow Sunday morning even after an epic battle to protect homes along the Santa Barbara County coast Saturday proved successful despite intense winds. Melissa Etehad and Ruben Vives in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/17/17

The fury of monster fire leaves residents no choice but to flee -- Resident Darren Caesar stood off the shoulder of Highway 192 next to the Montecito Fire Station early Saturday and pointed to a long row of firetrucks and tankers parked nearby. Joseph Serna and Melissa Etehad in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/17/17

Firefighters optimistic with Thomas Fire as winds start to die down -- Forecasters remained hopeful Sunday that strong wind gusts pushing a huge Southern California blaze would die down and allow firefighters a chance to aggressively battle the fire. Sarah Ravani in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 12/17/17

Morain: A wishful anti-Trump wave in McClintock country: ‘If they can do it in Alabama, we can do it in CD4’ -- Bateson, a mother of three young boys, grew up in Roseville, went off to Stanford, joined the U.S. Foreign Service, got a doctorate at Yale, taught at MIT, was stunned by Donald Trump’s victory, and returned home to join the resistance by running for Congress. Dan Morain in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 12/17/17

California officials say housing next to freeways is a health risk — but they fund it anyway -- California’s support for those projects shows how policies created to cut greenhouse gases and ease the housing crunch are also putting some of the state’s neediest residents at risk from traffic pollution. Tony Barboza and David Zahniser in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/17/17

Curtain rises on San Francisco’s next drama, and the star is London Breed -- At the conclusion of Willie Brown’s eulogy Sunday for Mayor Ed Lee, the political curtain will go down at San Francisco City Hall for the holidays — but come Jan. 9 at 5 p.m., the curtain will rise again for a new drama that will set the course of the city for years to come. Matier & Ross in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 12/17/17

A multi-billion-dollar ‘mega measure’ to fix Bay Area traffic for good heading your way -- Imagine a Bay Area with highways that flow instead of grind to a halt. With trains that ring the bay, some running 24 hours a day. With ferries that stop at more than a handful of terminals and autonomous buses cruising in their own lanes, blasting past cars on the freeway. Erin Baldassari in the San Jose Mercury$ -- 12/17/17

An L.A. court mistakenly destroyed evidence a death row inmate says would free him. Now what? -- From his small cell on California’s death row, Scott Pinholster swore he could prove his innocence. The proof, he said, was in the dried blood on a work boot and a pink towel recovered from his home years ago. Marisa Gerber in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/17/17

Detox can end in death at some ‘non-medical’ Southern California rehabs -- “This is the beginning of your beautiful new life!” So began a contract for Above It All Treatment Center, a drug rehabilitation facility in Lake Arrowhead where, in February, Matthew Maniace signed himself in for detox. Teri Sforza in the Orange County Register -- 12/17/17

Urine empire, lax oversight expose flaws in California rehab laws -- Philip Ganong, his wife and their 34-year-old son built a fast-growing, multi-million-dollar empire on urine. They collected it from drug addicts at their chain of Southern California sober living homes. They created labs to test it. And they charged insurance companies to analyze it. But the success story was a scam, according to prosecutors, who have accused the Ganongs of fraud. Tony Saavedra and Scott Schwebke in the Orange County Register -- 12/17/17

GOP, with tax bill finalized, makes its case to a skeptical public -- Republicans, confident they've found the votes to pass a massive tax overhaul, entered the next phase of their effort Sunday, attempting to sell the plan to a public that polling suggests is deeply skeptical. Jeff Stein and Mike DeBonis in the Washington Post$ -- 12/17/17

Lockheed Martin teams up to build supersonic business jet -- For 27 years, until its retirement in 2003, the Concorde was a flying symbol of glamour and speed, a sleek embodiment of technological prowess and supersonic power that ferried the wealthy from New York to London in 3½ hours while dining on veal medallions and crème caramel. Christian Davenport in the Washington Post$ -- 12/17/17


California Policy & Politics This Morning  

California considers ‘green banking’ as it transitions to fully legal pot -- California has a possible solution to the problem of banks being unwilling to handle money from the state’s multibillion-dollar legal marijuana industry, one that officials say would be the first system of its kind in the nation. Patrick McGreevy in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/17/17

Myers: California's state budget negotiations in 2018 might be less about what to spend than when to spend it -- Few outside of Sacramento realize that some of the most important state budget decisions happen just before Christmas, in private meetings where the governor signs off on the spending plan he will present to the Legislature in early January. John Myers in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/17/17

Walters: Universal health care doable for less cost -- When the Legislature reconvenes and the campaigns for governor heat up next year, Californians will be hearing a lot – and a lot of hot air – about universal health care. Making California the first state to guarantee health care for every resident has become a touchstone issue – and a divisive one – for the state’s dominant Democrats. Dan Walters in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 12/17/17

California Politics Podcast -- This week, the final podcast of 2017: The California Senate hires sexual misconduct investigators, and San Francisco grapples with the death of its mayor and a new political leader. With John Myers and Melanie Mason of the Los Angeles Times Link Here -- 12/17/17

East Bay director of state Democratic Party resigns after sexual misconduct allegations -- The California Democratic Party’s East Bay director has resigned under pressure following allegations that he acted in a sexually aggressive manner toward a 23-year-old woman at a party function in San Mateo County last month and raped another female party member last year. Thomas Peele and Nate Gartrell in the East Bay Times -- 12/17/17

Cost of Republicans' tax cuts likely to be greater than they appear on paper -- On paper, the tax package hammered out Friday carries a price tag of a net $1.5 trillion over 10 years. In reality, the cost in the form of federal deficits is virtually certain to be substantially higher. That’s because of a bit of fiscal gamesmanship. Don Lee in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/17/17


Hundreds of homes in Montecito threatened as winds push Thomas fire toward coast; new evacuations -- New evacuation orders were issued in Santa Barbara County on Saturday as the massive Thomas fire took aim at the hills above Montecito, with some wind gusts reported up to 65 mph. Joseph Serna and Melissa Etehad in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/17/17

Southern California Fire Forces New Evacuations, Threatens Coastal Communities -- The Thomas Fire in Southern California has raged for nearly two weeks, and on Saturday new evacuation orders were issued in Santa Barbara County as a local zoo made preparations to move some of its animals out of the danger zone. Avie Schneider NPR -- 12/17/17

Montecito besieged by monster fire: 'Nobody can fight the wind' -- As the Thomas fire began to bear down on Montecito on Saturday morning, Darren Caesar was packing up and getting ready to flee for a beachside hotel. After burning for almost two weeks, the flames had finally arrived in his community, just a few miles north on Cold Springs Road. Joseph Serna in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/17/17

The Financial and Emotional ‘Wear and Tear’ of Fighting Fire -- A San Diego Cal Fire unit, which is currently battling the Thomas Fire in Southern California, has lost two firefighters in two distinctly separate incidents over the last several weeks. Devin Katayama KQED -- 12/17/17

Business Energy State regulators adopt stronger fire safety rules for utilities -- In the aftermath of the Lilac Fire and a series of deadly blazes that have scorched the state, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) just passed more stringent regulations for utilities to help reduce the risk of wildfires. Rob Nikolewski in the San Diego Union-Tribune$ -- 12/17/17

Mayor Ed Lee 

Luminaries, performers to send off Mayor Lee at celebration of life Sunday -- San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee will be remembered Sunday in the Beaux Arts building where he spent decades of his life — initially as a quiet nuts-and-bolts bureaucrat and later as the first Asian American to hold the city’s top job. Rachel Swan in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 12/17/17

Willie Brown: Ed Lee cared deeply about San Francisco. Maybe too deeply -- At half past 1 Tuesday morning, my phone began ringing off the hook. No one calls at that hour unless it’s bad news, and of course it was. It’s taken a while to sort out my feelings of confusion and sadness over the death of Edwin M. Lee, our mayor and my friend. Willie Brown in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 12/17/17

At the ballpark or in City Hall, Ed Lee could work the angles -- Memories of Ed Lee — and his many sides — poured in as the city mourned the late mayor. Whether it was baseball, football, basketball or his own golf game, the mayor was the ultimate sports fan. But even in the stands, he could be working. Matier & Ross in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 12/17/17

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee’s legacy: Economic boost that exacerbated income inequality -- By almost every measure, San Francisco’s economy boomed during Mayor Ed Lee’s six-year tenure, adding jobs, companies, housing and office space. Of course, that also exacerbated the city’s well-known issues: income disparity, congestion and transportation, and lack of affordable housing. Carolyn Said in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 12/17/17

Knight: With Lee gone, San Franciscans look for leadership on homelessness -- San Franciscans are clamoring for leadership to address the wretched conditions of our streets — the sprawling tent encampments, the discarded dirty needles, the rampant mental illness and the filth. Though it didn’t always seem obvious, Mayor Ed Lee was intent on addressing these issues in his trademark no-frills, low-profile way. Heather Knight in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 12/17/17

Economy, Employers, Jobs, Unions, Pensions  

John Chambers leaves behind a legacy of growth and disappointment at Cisco -- Even at the very end of his long and illustrious career at Cisco Systems, former chairman and CEO John Chambers has demonstrated an impeccable sense of timing. Thomas Lee in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 12/17/17


Annual San Francisco gun buyback takes 280 firearms off city’s streets -- A line of cars stretched down Howard Street early Saturday morning as people arrived with firearms in their trunks to exchange for cash, no questions asked. The gun buyback was organized by the violence prevention group United Playaz in conjunction with the San Francisco Police Department. Sophie Haigney in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 12/17/17


Legal weed: Excitement, anxiety in Santa Cruz, one of state’s cannabis capitals -- In two weeks, Santa Cruz County’s most valuable crop becomes legal for recreational sale. Local cannabis dispensaries — one of which received almost half of the state’s first batch of temporary licenses — say they are ready to roll out the green carpet for adult customers come Jan. 1. Nicholas Ibarra in the Santa Cruz Sentinel -- 12/17/17


Radiation typical of cell phones and Wi-Fi linked to high rate of miscarriages -- A study of hundreds of pregnant women in the Bay Area found that those who were more exposed to the type of radiation produced by cell phones, wireless networks and power lines — radiation that grows more and more common — were nearly three times as likely to miscarry. Sophie Haigney in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 12/17/17

Also . . . 

‘Trump, Trump, Trump!’ How a President’s Name Became a Racial Jeer -- Across the country, students have used the president’s name to mock or goad minority opponents at sporting events. In March, white fans at suburban Canton High School in Connecticut shouted “Trump! Trump! Trump!” as players from Hartford’s Classical Magnet School, which is predominantly black and Latino, took foul shots during a basketball playoff game. Dan Barry and John Eligon in the New York Times$ -- 12/17/17

Park La Brea apartments loses $3.5-million bedbug lawsuit, lawyer says -- Sixteen former and current residents of one of Los Angeles’ largest apartment complexes have won a $3.5-million verdict over an infestation of bedbugs in their units, according to their lawyer. Hugo Martin in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/17/17


Balz: On the eve of the tax vote, Republicans place a big bet for 2018 -- The tax bill now ready for final passage represents a big bet on the part of congressional Republicans. Facing an energized Democratic base and saddled with an unpopular president, GOP lawmakers hope that completion of the tax bill will help shield them from sizable losses in next year’s elections. Are they fooling themselves? Dan Balz in the Washington Post$ -- 12/17/17

File Your Taxes on a Postcard? A G.O.P. Promise Marked Undeliverable -- The final legislation, which appears on track to be approved by Congress next week, offers little redress to workers who have grown to believe that the country’s tax law thicket advantages those with power, political connections and lawyers on retainer. Its evolution undermines a central selling point for a bill that is already seen by most Americans as unlikely to benefit them, according to polls. Jim Tankersley in the New York Times$ -- 12/17/17

Homeowners Have It Good. Too Good, Says the Tax Bill -- The tax code has long offered rewards for buying rather than renting, an equation that has troubled some economists — and that the Republican bill upends. The bill will increase many homeowners’ monthly housing costs by scaling back deductions that allow them to reduce mortgage interest and property taxes. Conor Dougherty in the New York Times$ -- 12/17/17


-- Saturday Updates 

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