California Policy and Politics This Morning

Pay raises for Cal State presidents rile Senate leader -- The Legislature needs to crack down on pay raises for top California State University executives, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg told reporters on Thursday. Chris Megerian LA Times PolitiCal$ -- 3/22/12

Republicans Urge Spot (Budget Bill) Removal -- Such a bill is referred to as a "spot bill," in that it's an empty bill holding a spot on the legislative calendar... so that once a budget deal is struck, the actual details can quickly be inserted into existing bills and enacted. Today, Republicans in both houses rose from their seats to decry this now familiar part of the state budget sausage making. John Myers Capitol Notes Chris Megerian LA Times PolitiCal$ -- 3/22/12

Workers at a dozen L.A. pot shops join labor union -- A Los Angeles labor union representing grocery workers, healthcare providers and pharmacists has added employees from a new sector to its ranks. Kate Linthicum in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/22/12

Senate Democrats' fundraiser gets pricier for top donors this year -- The price of access is going up for top donors attending this weekend's Pro Tem Cup at La Jolla's Torrey Pines Golf Course, an annual golf outing held to raise cash for the California Democratic Party. Torey Van Oot SacBee Capitol Alert -- 3/22/12

Marine who criticized Obama: Charges 'drummed up against me' -- Gary Stein, 26, in a post on the Facebook page of the Armed Forces Tea Party, said he has always stayed within Department of Defense guidelines about free speech and never "spoken on behalf of the Marine Corps or in uniform." Tony Perry in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/22/12

Three arrested in L.A. Coliseum scandal, D.A.'s office says -- Two former Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum executives and the chief executive of a rave company were arrested Thursday morning by investigators from the Los Angeles County district attorney's office. Andrew Blankstein, Paul Pringle and Rong-Gong Lin II in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/22/12

Weekly jobless claims fell last week to 348,000, a 4-year low -- New claims for unemployment benefits fell again last week to 348,000, a new four-year low as the economic recovery continues to accelerate. Jim Puzzanghera in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/22/12

ACLU is critical of state prison realignment -- Sending prisoners and funding to county authorities risks continuing the state's over-dependence on incarceration, the group contends. But the head of the state sheriffs association says local facilities should be upgraded. Chris Megerian in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/22/12

US policies encourage immigrants to stay, study finds -- U.S. policies and laws aimed at improving the nation's immigration system have unintentionally spurred more immigrants – authorized or not – to stay in the United States, according to a new paper released today. Andrew Becker California Watch -- 3/22/12

States saw revenue surge last year, but not California -- As the nation's economy recovered, albeit slowly, from recession last year, most states saw a surge of revenues - but not California, a new Census Bureau data dump indicates. Dan Walters SacBee Capitol Alert -- 3/22/12

Nevius: Ross Mirkarimi can't flee freight train of evidence -- Ross Mirkarimi is the guy who steps out his front door, sees thunderheads, sheets of rain and gale-force winds and says, "Yep, I think things are starting to clear up." The disconnect is breathtaking. And troubling. C.W. Nevius in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 3/22/12

Global Cities Initiative Focuses on LA -- The Global Cities Initiative, sponsored by JPMorgan Chase and the Brookings Institute, is designed as a five-year plan to provide the tools for regional economies to develop as global trading partners. Joel Fox Fox & Hounds -- 3/22/12

Amid abortion flap, Sierra College president withdraws from women's health forum -- The president of Sierra College in Rocklin has withdrawn as welcoming speaker at a forum about women's health after anti-abortion groups complained that panel members promoted abortion. Jennifer Garza in the Sacramento Bee -- 3/22/12

Trayvon Martin case: A collision of race, guns and Florida law -- Sanford, Fla., on Thursday braced for what could be its biggest day of demonstrations over the death of Trayvon Martin, the black teenager shot by a neighborhood watch officer, George Zimmerman, last month. Michael Muskal in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/22/12

Trayvon Martin: L.A. march planned to honor slain Florida teen -- A march is scheduled Thursday evening in Leimert Park to protest the killing of Trayvon Martin, a black teen shot last month in Florida. The event is set to start at 5. Anna Gorman and Tina Susman in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/22/12

L.A. leaders urge passage of federal transportation bill -- Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and a group of business and labor leaders released a letter this week urging Congress' L.A. delegation to help pass a transportation measure they say will create jobs and further the region's aggressive rail expansion. Ari Bloomekatz in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/22/12


   California Policy and Politics This Morning

Mirkarimi officially suspended by Lee -- San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee swore in an interim sheriff Wednesday afternoon after he suspended Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi from office and charged him with official misconduct. Rachel Gordon, John Coté in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 3/22/12

Report on UC Davis pepper-spraying may be released in April -- An investigative report on the pepper-spraying of student demonstrators by campus police at UC Davis campus last November may be released the first week of April, although there still are legal hurdles to be overcome about whether it will be unveiled in its entirety. Sam Stanton in the Sacramento Bee -- 3/22/12

UC violates law in delaying pepper-spray report release, experts say -- The University of California is violating state law by refusing to release portions of an investigative report on a police officer's pepper-spraying of Occupy protesters, public-records experts said Wednesday. Matt Krupnick in the Contra Costa Times -- 3/22/12

Sacramento judge rules state violated disclosure law -- The state Department of Health Care Services violated disclosure law last year by refusing to provide background information on Medi-Cal cuts, a Sacramento Superior Court judge has ruled. Kevin Yamamura SacBee Capitol Alert -- 3/22/12

CalPERS funding level: How low can it go? -- As CalPERS puts a new focus on risk, a funding level that drops to 40 percent is emerging as the red line. The worry is that if the funding level of the big pension fund drops too far, it may not be practical to raise annual employer payments enough to regain proper funding. Ed Mendel -- 3/22/12

Skelton: Cut the baloney on tax plan -- It's disingenuous. It's a bait-and-switch. And it's baloney. That's being polite. George Skelton in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/22/12

Walters: Big voting change in California communities is a big risk -- A decade-old California law and 2010 census data are having a potentially explosive effect on how governing boards of local governments, especially cities, are elected. Dan Walters in the Sacramento Bee -- 3/22/12

Romney aide Etch A Sketch remark angers women -- A Mitt Romney campaign adviser's comments Wednesday that the front-running Republican candidate for president could reset - "like an Etch A Sketch" - his stands on issues if he becomes the GOP nominee brought a stinging response from the head of the nation's largest reproductive rights group, who said women voters will not accept flip-flops on issues such as birth control. Carla Marinucci in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 3/22/12

Report: Social Workers Failed to Ensure Proper Care for Distressed Veteran -- Social workers at the Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in Palo Alto made "no attempt" to ensure a mentally ill Iraq war veteran was admitted to the hospital in the days before he killed himself by stepping in front of a train May 2010, according to a report released Wednesday by the VA's Office of the Inspector General in Washington, D.C. AARON GLANTZ Bay Citizen -- 3/22/12

New Data Reveals High Death Rates for Iraq, Afghanistan Vets -- This month, the Department of Veterans Affairs informed the parents of William Hamilton, an Iraq war veteran, that it was not responsible for his death. AARON GLANTZ Bay Citizen -- 3/22/12

First 5 groups claim victory after California backs off attempt to grab funds -- The state will not appeal a Fresno County court ruling that rejected its attempt to divert $1 billion from First 5 commissions. Joanna Lin California Watch -- 3/22/12

Nadia Lockyer lied about offering legal advice to ex-lover, attorney says -- Alameda County Supervisor Nadia Lockyer is lying when she says she visited ex-lover Stephen Chikhani in jail last summer in her professional capacity as a lawyer, Chikhani's attorney said Wednesday. Josh Richman in the Contra Costa Times -- 3/22/12

'The potential to turn California politics on its head' -- There's a very long way to go between here and there, but as the campaign season gets under way, Supervisor Linda Parks of Thousand Oaks has a very good chance of making history this year as independent running for Congress. Which is another way of saying that she could actually win. Timm Herdt in the Ventura Star -- 3/22/12

California: Speier Backs Hahn Over Richardson -- Rep. Jackie Speier (D) is the third sitting Member to endorse Rep. Janice Hahn in her race against fellow Democratic Rep. Laura Richardson in the redrawn 44th district. Kyle Trygstad Roll Call -- 3/22/12

Jerry Brown names son of migrant workers as California poet laureate -- Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday appointed Juan Felipe Herrera, the son of Mexican migrant workers and a professor of creative writing at UC Riverside, as California's poet laureate. Nicholas Riccardi LA Times PolitiCal$ David Siders SacBee Capitol Alert -- 3/22/12

Villaraigosa orders fire chief to overturn gag order -- A day after the Los Angeles Fire Department declared it would stop releasing basic information to the public and media about many of its emergency calls, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa ordered the fire chief to overturn the new policy. C.J. Lin in the Los Angeles Daily News Kate Linthicum and Robert J. Lopez in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/22/12

Dispute widens over Sacramento County sheriff's jail funding priorities -- Facing criticism about how he was spending state money, Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones reopened a jail wing Feb. 1, saying he had an increase in inmates. But the department's own figures show that the inmate population at the Rio Cosumnes Correctional Center was at its lowest point in at least 25 months. Brad Branan in the Sacramento Bee -- 3/22/12

New ACLU report on costly realignment - counties ignoring cheaper, better alternatives -- California may be dismantling its prison-industrial complex, but it's quickly replacing it with a jail-industrial complex, a new report released late Tuesday warns. Tracey Kaplan in the Contra Costa Times -- 3/22/12

Michael Gressett files claims of malicious prosecution in CoCo rape case -- Former Contra Costa sex crimes prosecutor Michael Gressett has turned the tables on the agencies and people who pursued him for the alleged rape of a junior colleague nearly four years ago. Lisa Vorderbrueggen Political Blotter -- 3/22/12

L.A. council decries racist, sexist language on airwaves -- The Los Angeles City Council called Tuesday for radio outlets to put an end to racist and sexist language on the airwaves. The resolution, which passed by a 13-2 vote, is a symbolic statement that decried recent incidents involving local KFI-AM (640) talk-radio hosts John and Ken. Stephen Ceasar in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/22/12

   Economy - Jobs

Home slump isn't going away in California -- The wreckage of California's real estate crash is still washing up on the shoreline. Mark Glover in the Sacramento Bee -- 3/22/12

High-speed rail, Bay Area plan to split $1.5 billion cost to supercharge rail line -- Hoping to bring the bonanza of California high-speed rail funds to the Bay Area much quicker, local and state leaders on Wednesday unveiled a strategy to split the $1.5 billion cost to electrify the Caltrain line. The plan would pave the way for quicker commuter trains to zip between San Francisco and San Jose as early as 2018 and for statewide bullet trains to run sooner than expected. Mike Rosenberg in the San Jose Mercury -- 3/22/12

Study: High-speed rail needs billions in subsidies -- Bay area critics of the California High-Speed Rail Authority say the train, far from minting money, will require billions of dollars in subsidies. Ronald Campbell in the Orange County Register -- 3/22/12

Wal-Mart to pay $2.1M for California overcharging -- Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has agreed to pay a $2.1 million penalty for charging California customers prices higher than those posted, in violation of a 2008 judgment ordering the retail chain to stop, state Attorney General Kamala D. Harris announced Wednesday. Associated Press -- 3/22/12

California still first in women-owned firms -- California remains home to the greatest number of women-owned businesses in the nation, according to the latest American Express analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data. Mark Glover in the Sacramento Bee -- 3/22/12


Dual-language school programs growing in popularity -- At Chula Vista Learning Community Charter School, students are taught lessons every week in a combination of Spanish, English and Mandarin. Eleanor Yang Su California Watch -- 3/22/12

Fensterwald: Middle school science critiqued -- Too much learning science, not doing science. John Fensterwald educatedguess -- 3/22/12

Ex-construction execs plead no contest in school funds fraud case -- Three former executives of TurnKey Schools of America, a construction firm that manufactured and installed prefabricated school buildings across the state, have pleaded no contest to charges of siphoning millions in construction funds from a Santa Barbara County school district. Corey G. Johnson California Watch -- 3/22/12

   Health Care

Doctors Making House Calls? ER Direct Does -- The East Bay medical company is one of a small but growing number that is sending doctors to people's homes to provide a more affordable, convenient alternative to emergency-room visits. Kathleen Richards in the East Bay Express -- 3/22/12


California struggling to prepare quake early warning system -- The state spends a fraction of what countries like Mexico and Japan spend on their systems. One reason for the lack of interest, experts say, is that California has not experienced a catastrophic quake in more than a century. Hector Becerra and Sam Allen in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/22/12

How Much Carbon Do California’s Forests Hold? -- Trees and plants, soils and rivers, farms and wetlands all sequester carbon to greater or lesser extents. But how much? And how might that number change in the future? Molly Samuel KQED Climate Watch -- 3/22/12


McClatchy Chairman and CEO Pruitt leaving for AP -- Gary Pruitt, who led The McClatchy Co. through a turbulent era of growth and contraction, resigned Wednesday to become president and chief executive officer of the Associated Press. Dale Kasler in the Sacramento Bee -- 3/22/12

Marine could be discharged for Tea Party page -- A Camp Pendleton Marine said the Corps notified him Wednesday that it was taking steps to boot him out of the military because of his “Armed Forces Tea Party” web page and comments critical of the president. Gretel C. Kovach UT San Diego -- 3/22/12

Asian population swells in Bay Area, state, nation -- The country's Asian American population grew faster than any other ethnic group over the past decade, and in few places can that explosion be seen more vividly than in San Francisco's nearest neighbor - Daly City. Kevin Fagan in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 3/22/12

   POTUS 44

Political Climate Improving for Obama -- President Barack Obama “is making strong inroads” with independent voters in 12 swing states that will likely decide his re-election, according to a new “PurplePoll” from the bipartisan firm Purple Strategies. Kyle Trygstad Roll Call -- 3/22/12

Obama tries to reclaim advantage on gas prices, health care -- The White House has launched a concerted effort to turn political weakness into strength on two critical election-year issues that have become big vulnerabilities for President Obama: rising gas prices and the controversial health-care law. Amy Gardner and Scott Wilson in the Washington Post -- 3/22/12


Saunders: Washington's war on synthetic drugs -- "If the history of combating drugs on our streets has shown us anything, it's that we need to address emerging drug epidemics head-on, before they destroy our communities," Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., wrote in an opinion piece in the New York Daily News on Wednesday. Schumer's new target: synthetic marijuana. Debra J. Saunders in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 3/22/12

Poll: Americans grow leerier of religion in politics -- The public is increasingly uneasy with the mixing of religion and politics, according to a new survey from the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life. Josh Richman Political Blotter -- 3/22/12

'Birthers' sue California over Obama, Romney ballot -- A group of minor party candidates and conspiracy theorists have sued California Secretary of State Debra Bowen to demand that she verify the eligibility of all presidential candidates seeking to be on the November ballot. Carol J. Williams in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/22/12

How Paul Ryan sold his budget plan -- The Paul Ryan budget was a political disaster last year for Republicans. This year the GOP had a much more methodical, careful rollout. JAKE SHERMAN Politico -- 3/22/12