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Thomas fire within 500 acres of becoming California's largest wildfire on record -- Firefighters continued to make progress on the Thomas fire Friday as the monster inferno was within 500 acres of becoming the largest California wildfire on record. As of Friday morning, the blaze was 65% contained after burning 272,800 acres, eclipsed only by the 2003 Cedar fire in San Diego County, which burned 273,246 acres. Michael Livingston in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/22/17

Pathologists Say San Joaquin Sheriff’s Meddling Could Have Compromised Murder Cases -- Two forensic pathologists who have accused the San Joaquin County sheriff of interfering with death investigations to protect law enforcement officers are also alleging Sheriff Steve Moore meddled with their work on high-profile homicides and suspicious deaths, potentially compromising murder cases. Julie Small KQED -- 12/22/17

California's Democratic chairman begs Democrats to keep the peace and not ask for endorsements at convention -- In an effort to avoid infighting among California Democrats, the state party chairman is asking Sen. Dianne Feinstein and her rival, state Senate leader Kevin de León, and the candidates running for governor not to seek an endorsement at the party’s spring convention. Seema Mehta in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/22/17

California adds 47,000 jobs as unemployment rate falls to lowest level since the '70s -- The robust gains were a slight improvement from the prior month’s upwardly revised 45,400 jobs increase, according to data released Friday by the Employment Development Department. The Golden State’s economy got off to a slow start this year, but has been picking up steam in the second half. Andrew Khouri in the Los Angeles Times$ Dale Kasler in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 12/22/17

Looming ‘Year of the Woman’ could tilt area Congressional races -- The thunder of the women’s movement continues to grow in politics, leading some experts to predict it will dwarf 1992’s “Year of the Woman” when the number of female Congress members jumped from 33 to 55. Martin Wisckol in the Orange County Register -- 12/22/17

California gives Medi-Cal enrollees something to smile about -- Starting in January, many of the dental services that were cut eight years ago will be restored for her and about 7.5 million adults on Medi-Cal, many of whom have had to get their teeth pulled instead of repaired. Emily Bazar in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/22/17

New taxes and higher costs of oil drive up gasoline prices for holiday season -- More Southern California residents are expected to hit the roads this holiday season than ever, and they’re going to be paying more in gasoline prices than they have since 2013. Ivan Penn in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/22/17

Davis eyes new tax on homeowners to fund services for growing homeless population -- The mayor is pushing for a new parcel tax for social services, which would be the first such tax in the Sacramento region and among the first in the state. Social services are traditionally the purview of counties, but more cities are realizing they may need to pitch in as homelessness and affordable housing crises take root across California. Ellen Garrison in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 12/22/17

Marijuana and Hmong farmers: Siskiyou County sheriff fights to control cannabis trade -- Siskiyou County Sheriff Jon Lopey spent decades as a soldier. He enlisted in the Marines at age 18 and retired as a much-decorated colonel in the National Guard. Today he’s waging war again, not against Al Qaeda or the Taliban, but an army of rogue pot growers who have spread throughout his sprawling county. Stephen Magagnini in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 12/22/17

16 states oppose Trump plan to kill an airlines fee disclosure rule -- Pennsylvania Atty. Gen. Josh Shapiro and the attorney generals for California, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Maine and 10 others signed a letter to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, urging her to not pull the plug on the rule. Hugo Martin in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/22/17

Traditional lightbulbs set to vanish from California store shelves starting Jan. 1 -- The old-fashioned bulbs are expected to start disappearing from hardware and home-improvement store shelves beginning Jan. 1, when ambitious energy-efficiency regulations are scheduled to take effect across the state. Dale Kasler in the Sacramento Bee$ Dianne de Guzman in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 12/22/17

A Capitol holiday gift list -- The holiday season is now well under way. Christmas carols are taking over every extant means of mass communication and there’s so much goodwill around the squirrels in Capitol Park have quit chasing each other across the lawn. Chuck McFadden Capitol Weekly -- 12/22/17

Trump's Wells Fargo tweet cited in court hearing as reason to remove Mulvaney as CFPB acting chief -- A recent tweet by President Trump about possible penalties against Wells Fargo & Co. was cited during a court hearing Friday as a reason for removing White House official Mick Mulvaney as acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Jim Puzzanghera in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/22/17


California Policy & Politics This Morning  

House passes disaster aid bill with wildfire funding, 18 Californians vote no -- Several of the Democrats who voted no also voted against the spending bill Thursday, and said that they felt they could not support either because the bills did not include Democratic priorities for the end of the year, including protections for people brought to the country illegally as children. . Sarah D. Wire in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/22/17

Congress OKs short-term spending bill but fails to act on wildfire aid, ‘Dreamers’ -- Rushing to leave for the Christmas break, Congress punted to next year not only disaster aid for California’s record fires and the three hurricanes that struck the Gulf Coast this fall, but a list of other urgent business. Carolyn Lochhead in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 12/22/17

Mammoth disaster aid package could languish for weeks -- The House bill, which ultimately passed on a 251-169 vote, had help from 69 Democrats, including many from Texas, Florida and California. But the massive assistance package has run into resistance in the Senate, making it nearly impossible for the aid to be delivered by year’s end. Sarah Ferris Politico -- 12/22/17

With tax vote, California Republicans take a 2018 gamble -- Heading into a tough 2018 election cycle, California Republicans in Congress are taking a major political gamble: that delivering on party priorities will energize their base and help beat back the anti-Trump wave Democrats are predicting. Emily Cadei in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 12/22/17

Deported veteran returns home after governor's pardon -- When Marco Chavez Medina walked across the border at San Ysidro on Thursday, he carried with him the hopes of hundreds of U.S. military veterans who have been deported following their years of service. Before he walked into the port of entry, several deported veterans who live in Tijuana shook his hand, wished him well and then erupted into cheers. Kate Morrissey in the San Diego Union-Tribune$ -- 12/22/17

California’s population: 20 million in 1970, nearly 40 million now -- If it seems more crowded in California, that’s because it is. California’s population is nearly 40 million, a number that has steadily grown despite birth rates declining to the fourth-lowest level in more than a century, according to state estimates released Thursday. Melody Gutierrez in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 12/22/17

Giant drugmaker settles with California, other states for $13.5 million -- California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced Wednesday that his office had joined a $13.5 million multistate settlement with prescription drugmaker Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals over deceptive and misleading marketing of its products. Cathie Anderson in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 12/22/17

Politicians to Trump: Don’t relicense Oroville Dam until we know why spillway failed -- Elected officials and other groups representing those living below the troubled Oroville Dam have asked the Trump administration to hold off on renewing its 50-year license, saying the federal government should at least know why the spillway broke in half last winter before signing off. Ryan Sabalow in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 12/22/17

Oroville Dam: Three dams in Santa Clara County have similar spillway problems -- The spillways at three dams located near densely populated communities around San Jose have structural problems that are similar to the flaws that led to the failure of the main spillway at Oroville Dam last February, recently completed technical reports show. Paul Rogers in the San Jose Mercury$ -- 12/22/17

Just 11 of 33 in latest Oakland police academy class receive badges -- After a series of scandals involving mostly rookie officers, the recruits who graduated this week from the Oakland Police Department’s training academy made up one of the smallest classes in recent history — part of an effort, the department says, to weed out problem officers before they hit the streets. Kimberly Veklerov in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 12/22/17

Labor, Housing, Immigration, and Gun Laws to Take Effect Jan. 1 -- It’s not just recreational marijuana. Hundreds of new laws are set to take effect in California in January. Here are some of the most important measures. Guy Marzorati and Katie Orr KQED -- 12/22/17

California warns Nestle about millions of gallons of water drawn from San Bernardino National Forest -- Nestle, which sells Arrowhead bottled water, may have to stop taking millions of gallons of water from Southern California's San Bernardino National Forest because state regulators concluded it lacks valid permits. Associated Press -- 12/22/17

Russian spies in San Francisco? According to Foreign Policy article, yes! -- It reads like the plot of a Cold War-era John le Carré novel set in the Bay Area: Russian spies roaming Pacific Heights and one standing on the shores of Stinson Beach, armed with a small device he may have used to map the country’s fiber-optic cables. Sophie Haigney in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 12/22/17

Golden Gate Park meadow renamed for Robin Williams -- The San Francisco Recreation and Park Commission voted unanimously Thursday to name what’s long been known as Sharon Meadow — a wide, grassy lawn on the east end of Golden Gate Park — after the late comedian and actor Robin Williams. Dominic Fracassa in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 12/22/17

All 58 victims of Las Vegas mass shooting died from gunshot wounds, many to the head, coroner says -- The 58 victims killed in the mass shooting at a country music concert on the Las Vegas Strip in October died of gunshot wounds, the Clark County coroner reported Thursday. David Montero in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/22/17

Taxes, Fees, Rates, Tolls, Bonds 

With deduction evaporating, more California homeowners pay property taxes early -- Spurred by changes in federal tax law that will hit high-tax states like California hard, more Bay Area homeowners are rushing to pay their property taxes early, according to local officials. Sophie Haigney in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 12/22/17

Get rid of the new gas tax? New poll shows initiative backers have statewide support -- A new poll by UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies found 52 percent of likely voters would support an initiative repealing California’s recent increases in gas taxes and vehicle license fees, while 46 percent said they “strongly” support repealing the charges. Angela Hart in the Sacramento Bee$ Ben Adler Capital Public Radio -- 12/22/17

Economy, Employers, Jobs, Unions, Pensions  

LA is planning a surge in Valley development around Orange Line stations -- For years, the city planning department has been trying to convince residents to use public transportation. Now, it’s taking the next step in boosting its efforts to encourage development in the San Fernando Valley’s dense neighborhoods around five Metro stations along one of the nations’ busiest rapid bus lines. Olga Grigoryants in the Los Angeles Daily News$ -- 12/22/17

Sacramento Amazon facility under government investigation after worker’s death -- The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health is investigating Amazon’s recently opened Sacramento fulfillment center after an employee’s death last week. The employee was hospitalized after vomiting blood on Dec. 14, Cal-OSHA spokesman Frank Polizzi said, and died the next day. He had yet to be identified as of 1 p.m. Thursday. Benjy Egel in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 12/22/17

California court exposes drug makers to additional liability -- A sharply divided California Supreme Court ruled Thursday that pharmaceutical companies can be held liable for warning labels on generic versions of drugs they once made even after they've sold the drugs to other companies and stopped manufacturing them. Sudhin Thanawala Associated Press -- 12/22/17


Bay Area commuter rail lines on track to employ high-tech lifesaver in 2018 -- Just one of the four rail lines that carry Bay Area commuters is outfitted with the high-tech safety equipment that could have prevented the deadly train derailment in Washington state this week. But the other three are all on track to have the system, known as positive train control, in full operation in 2018 — in time to meet a federal deadline at the end of that year. Michael Cabanatuan in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 12/22/17


Why Californians are buying more ammunition this holiday season -- California’s Proposition 63, which restricts ammunition sales, passed with 62.7 percent of the vote in 2016. It has created a boom in sales ahead of its Jan. 1, 2018 implementation. Kurt Snibbe in the Orange County Register -- 12/22/17


Homeless scoff at San Francisco strategy of dumping boulders at camp site -- San Francisco’s latest attempt to stop homeless camps from sprouting on public land takes the form of dozens of boulders plopped down under a maze of freeway ramps. It hasn’t worked. At least not yet. Kevin Fagan in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 12/22/17

Homeless prepare for Christmas at Alpha Project tent -- They may not be home for the holidays, but for almost 300 people living in a large tent downtown, it’s the next best thing. Gary Warth in the San Diego Union-Tribune$ -- 12/22/17


Insurers dispatch private firefighters in California -- Among the army of firefighters protecting neighborhoods at the front lines of Southern California's monstrous wildfire are small teams hired by insurance companies to provide personalized prevention and protection for homeowners. Christopher Weber Associated Press -- 12/22/17

State presses insurers to waive inventory requirement for North Bay fire victims -- State Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones on Thursday urged insurance companies to provide North Bay fire victims up to 100 percent of their personal property coverage limits without requiring them to fill out a detailed inventory. Bill Swindell in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat -- 12/22/17

In wake of Thomas Fire, groups mobilize to help those lacking a safety net -- They had no renters’ insurance or, if they did, it mostly covered just personal belongings. They lost work because their employers temporarily closed, or homes they cleaned, landscaped or cared for children inside were gone or uninhabitable. Many won’t find relief in company-sponsored paid time off or qualify for temporary unemployment or federal emergency assistance. Arlene Martinez in the Ventura Star$ -- 12/22/17


California's former top cop forms marijuana distribution firm in new age of legalization -- Former California Atty. Gen. Bill Lockyer is going from enforcing laws against marijuana to legally distributing the drug under the state’s new rules that allow the sale and possession of pot for recreational use. Patrick McGreevy in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/22/17

Immigration / Border 

Trump Administration Considers Separating Families to Combat Illegal Immigration -- The Trump administration is considering a plan to separate parents from their children when families are caught entering the country illegally, according to officials who have been briefed on the plans. The forceful move is meant to discourage border crossings, but immigrant groups have denounced it as draconian and inhumane. Catlin Dickerson and Ron Nixon in the New York Times$ -- 12/22/17

Also . . . 

Sportscaster Dick Enberg — voice of baseball, football, tennis and more — found dead at his La Jolla home at 82 -- He had a bad cold and his voice, what was left of it, was croaky and raw. This was his fourth NCAA basketball tournament game in two days, and Dick Enberg didn’t think he could finish it. That had never happened before, but it was happening now. Mike Kupper in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/22/17

Right-wing activist Kyle Chapman back in jail with increased bail -- An Alameda County judge ordered right-wing activist Kyle Chapman, known as “Based Stickman,” back to jail Thursday and tripled his bail after finding that he had carried a deadly weapon in violation of his bail terms. Chapman, 42, of Daly City, has a long criminal history with at least two felony convictions dating back to 1993. Nanette Asimov in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 12/22/17

POTUS 45  

Republicans warn Trump of 2018 bloodbath -- A few weeks before Alabama's special Senate election, President Donald Trump’s handpicked Republican National Committee leader, Ronna Romney McDaniel, delivered a two-page memo to White House chief of staff John Kelly outlining the party’s collapse with female voters. Alex Isenstadt Politico -- 12/22/17

Judge dismisses lawsuit alleging Trump violated Constitution -- A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit Thursday alleging that President Trump violated the Constitution’s emoluments clause because his hotels and restaurants do business with foreign governments while he is in office. David A. Fahrenthold and Jonathan O'Connell in the Washington Post$ -- 12/22/17


Republicans plan mega marketing push to sell unpopular tax plan -- Conservative groups are planning a multimillion-dollar effort to sell the GOP’s tax cut law, hoping the American electorate can learn to love the party’s signature — but massively unpopular — legislative achievement. Kevin Robillard, Nancy Cook and Cristiano Lima Politico -- 12/22/17

G.O.P. Wins on Tax Cuts, but Faces a Brutal Election Year -- The sweeping tax overhaul hands Republicans a long-sought achievement they believe will bolster their defenses in next year’s midterm campaign, but they still have to contend with an unpopular president. Jonathan Martin in the New York Times$ -- 12/22/17


-- Thursday Updates 

Three California House members cross party lines on spending bill to keep government open -- Democratic Reps. Jim Costa of Fresno and Raul Ruiz of Palm Desert joined the majority of Republicans to vote for the bill. Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter of Alpine joined Democrats to vote against it. Sarah D. Wire in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/21/17

Bill to give California aid from destructive fires passes in the House -- The House passed an $81 billion disaster aid bill Thursday with the help of some California Democrats torn between their displeasure with the GOP-designed bill and their obligation to help their state recover from this winter’s destructive firestorms. Carolyn Lochhead in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 12/21/17

Trump official sought to block abortion for a 17-year-old rape victim -- E. Scott Lloyd, the anti-abortion activist who heads the Trump administration’s refugee resettlement program, tried to prevent a 17-year-old rape victim in federal detention from getting an abortion, according to court documents. David G. Savage in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/21/17

Evacuation orders lifted in Santa Barbara County as crews tame massive Thomas fire -- Authorities lifted all evacuation orders in Santa Barbara County on Thursday morning as fire crews continued to slow the spread of the massive Thomas fire. Gusty winds continued to wash over Southern California but had little effect on the efforts of firefighters to contain the massive Thomas fire burning in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. Javier Panzar, Michael Livingston and Joseph Serna in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/21/17

Southern California waiting on Trump to declare ‘major disaster’ after ‘catastrophic’ fire season -- Southern California officials were awaiting a response today from President Donald Trump to Gov. Jerry Brown’s request for a presidential major disaster declaration that would bolster recovery efforts from wildfires that have burned across the region. The item is in the Riverside Press Enterprise$ -- 12/21/17

As Congress grapples with spending bill, Pelosi shoots back at Trump -- After President Trump attempted to pin blame on Democrats on Thursday for a looming government shutdown, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi announced she had breaking news. “The Republicans control Congress,” the San Francisco Democrat said. “They control the House. They have the votes to keep the government open. They don’t need us to keep the government open. We have never been about shutting the government down.” Carolyn Lochhead in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 12/21/17

Sen. Dianne Feinstein is under pressure over a fix for 'Dreamers' -- California Sen. Dianne Feinstein is under pressure from activists and fellow Democrats to withhold support for a spending bill that would avert a government shutdown in exchange for protections for people brought to the country illegally as children. Sarah D. Wire in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/21/17

Poll: Dianne Feinstein Vulnerable to Insurgent Democrats in 2018 -- Six years after receiving the most popular votes in any senatorial election in U.S. history, the five-term Democrat has seen sliding favorability ratings as liberals in the Golden State hammer her for not being tough enough standing up to President Donald Trump. Griffin Connolly Roll Call -- 12/21/17

Newsom, Feinstein continue to lead in gubernatorial and Senate contests -- Californians could see two Democrat-on-Democrat contests in the state’s premier races in 2018, according to a new poll released Thursday. Seema Mehta in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/21/17

San Francisco Supervisor Mark Farrell won’t run for mayor -- In an email to his supporters, Farrell cited a desire to spend more time with his wife and three young children. “The timing is simply not right for our family, and I will always put them first,” he said. Dominic Fracassa in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 12/21/17

Poll Finds Low Recognition Of California Senate, Gubernatorial Candidates -- A new poll finds California Senator Dianne Feinstein in a weaker position for reelection than its creators expected. The Berkeley Institute of Government Studies poll shows Feinstein leading her fellow Democrat, state Senate leader Kevin de León, by a margin of 41 percent to 27 percent. That’s even though most voters don’t know who de León is. Ben Bradford Capital Public Radio -- 12/21/17

California legislative leaders vow to release more sexual harassment records -- As sexual harassment scandals multiply in Sacramento, state legislative leaders are promising to release more details about harassment claims and investigations — even as questions remain about how far any new transparency will go. Casey Tolan in the San Jose Mercury$ -- 12/21/17

Pot is about to be legal in California—will you get what you thought you voted on? -- California is days away from launching a legal marketplace for adults to buy and sell recreational marijuana. On Jan. 1, the state will carry through on a vision voters endorsed by passing Proposition 64 last year. Laurel Rosenhall Calmatters.org -- 12/21/17

California’s ‘green rush’ cranks up -- The flood gates are about to open for California’s new commercial cannabis industry, as the state rushes to issue temporary licenses for businesses looking to open on Jan. 1. Felicia Alvarez Capitol Weekly -- 12/21/17

Why This L.A. City Could Be the Next ‘Mecca’ for Pot Businesses -- On a recent Saturday morning, about 200 people walked among rows of folding tables on an indoor basketball court in the South L.A. city of Lynwood. They shook hands with business owners wearing company-branded shirts. They asked about open positions, took brochures and wrote down contact information. David Wagner KQED -- 12/21/17

Emergency ordinance bans marijuana use in San Bernardino for 45 days -- The ordinance – adopted by the body after hearing 10 public speakers, some for, some against the temporary ban – buys the city time while it awaits a Dec. 28 court decision on the validity of Measure O, the voter-approved ballot measure requiring the city to allow dispensaries in certain areas around town. Brian Whitehead in the Riverside Press Enterprise$ -- 12/21/17

More than 20 undocumented teens ordered released after feds fail to prove gang affiliation -- Weeks after a federal judge ruled that undocumented teens jailed in Yolo County and elsewhere must be given access to judicial hearings if the government wants to keep them incarcerated, 22 of them have been ordered released. Stephen Magagnini in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 12/21/17

PG&E's stock dives after it suspends dividend, citing potential wildfire liabilities -- Pacific Gas & Electric Co.’s stock took a dive Thursday after the utility company announced it will suspend quarterly cash dividends on its common stock, citing uncertainty over potential liabilities associated with the October wildfires in Northern California. Tracey Lien in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 12/21/17

L.A.'s increasingly hot and dry autumns result in 'these near-apocalyptic fires' -- For weather experts, autumn in Southern California is “the great race.” The severity of the fall fire season is often determined by what arrives first — the fierce Santa Ana winds or the rains. This year, however, it’s been no contest. Rong-Gong Lin II in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/21/17

Wells Fargo says raises were not linked to tax bill passage — then backtracks -- Wells Fargo & Co.’s move to raise its minimum pay to $15 an hour was part of a long-term plan and not related to the passage of the Republican tax overhaul as the company implied, said a bank spokesman, who later backtracked and stated the hikes were in fact a result of the bill’s approval. Jim Puzzanghera and James Rufus Koren in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/21/17

Fox: CA Treasury May Gain from Federal Tax Cut -- The federal tax cut bill could enrich the California treasury initially. Yes, this is the bill that Jerry Brown called a monstrosity. Yes, this is the bill that the recent UC Berkeley IGS poll found California voters opposed by 51% to 30%. Joel Fox Fox & Hounds -- 12/21/17

The Republican tax bill will make it harder for states and cities to pay their bills -- Much has been made of the GOP’s willingness to expand the deficit in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. But that’s not the only once-cherished Republican tenet abandoned in the tax proposal and other recent GOP initiatives. Andrea Louise Campbell in the Washington Post$ -- 12/21/17

Sinclair Broadcast Group is fined $13 million by FCC for failing to identify sponsored programming -- The FCC has leveled a $13.4-million fine against Sinclair Broadcast Group for failing to identify sponsored content that aired on its TV stations. Stephen Battaglio in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/21/17

Border groom passes federal background check, turns out to be convicted drug smuggler -- When Brian Houston wedded his Mexican fiancé in a surprise ceremony during a rare opening of the steel gate on the U.S.-Mexico border fence last month, he said it was because he could not cross into Tijuana. Now we know why. Kristina Davis in the San Diego Union-Tribune$ -- 12/21/17

Smolens: How Issa could benefit from bucking the GOP on tax bill -- Rep. Darrell Issa didn’t take one for the team this time. Michael Smolens in the San Diego Union-Tribune$ -- 12/21/17