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California Policy & Politics This Morning  

When city retirement pays better than the job -- One in four El Monte residents lives in poverty. Yet taxpayers pay a steep price to fund bonus pensions and other perks for city workers. Jack Dolan in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/30/16

The One California Tax Rate Dropping In 2017 -- California’s sales tax will drop by a quarter of a percent in the new year. The reduction comes from the partial expiration of a statewide ballot measure that helped end California’s budget crisis. Ben Adler Capital Public Radio -- 12/30/16

Bay Area stalled in a wireless traffic jam -- As wireless industry expert David Witkowski rose to present a guest at a San Jose conference, he pocketed his phone in defeat. Unable to call up the speaker’s resume — network coverage and WiFi had failed during the conference about Silicon Valley network reliability — Witkowski winged an introduction. Louis Hansen in the San Jose Mercury$ -- 12/30/16

An eavesdropping Uber driver saved his 16-year-old passenger from her pimps, police say -- Uber driver Keith Avila picked up a passenger who looked like a 12-year-old girl in a short skirt Monday night. That was the first sign that something was off, he would say later. Two women got into his car with the girl outside a house in Sacramento. Avi Selk in the New York Times$ -- 12/30/16

Cupcake defender interviews for Ag secretary job -- Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller may be famous for granting cupcakes “amnesty” from school nutrition rules and calling Hillary Clinton a “c---” on Twitter, but, as he angles for a job in the Trump cabinet, he wants to talk about local vegetables. Helena Bottemiller Evich and Ian Kullgren Politico -- 12/30/16

Latino applications skyrocket as record-breaking tally applies to UC campuses -- Twenty years ago, if you plucked a random application from a University of California admissions office, it was pretty unlikely that you’d be looking at the transcript and SAT scores of a Latino high school senior. Matt Levin Calmatters.org -- 12/30/16

Californians Not Liable For Saving Animals Trapped In Hot Cars -- Californians won’t have to worry about being sued or arrested for breaking into a hot unattended car to rescue an animal under a new law taking effect in 2017. Amy Quinton Capital Public Radio -- 12/30/16

Couple together 17 years to marry on Rose Parade float -- Christian Guntert was lying on his back, gluing seeds to the bottom of a giant faux pizza for a Rose Parade float when a teenager made a casual comment about his wife. When the 58-year-old Guntert told the girl that he and his longtime girlfriend actually weren't married, she screamed: "You're not married?!" Amanda Lee Myers Associated Press -- 12/30/16

NRC cites Diablo Canyon over broken switch that left cooling system inoperable -- A broken switch at Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant that left a reactor cooling system temporarily inoperable has prompted the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to cite the plant for a low-risk safety finding. Kaytlyn Leslie in the SLO Tribune -- 12/30/16

Navy dolphins' mission: Help locate rare vaquita porpoises -- The U.S. Navy for decades has deployed bottlenose dolphins to search for underwater mines and detect enemy divers. Now, the versatile sea mammals and their San Diego-based trainers are preparing for an unprecedented challenge: locating some of the few surviving vaquita porpoises in Mexico’s Upper Gulf of California. Sandra Dibble in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/30/16

Preparing to take on Donald Trump, Kevin de León has plenty of career options -- Within hours of Republican Donald Trump clinching the presidency, Senate leader Kevin de León had established himself as a commander of the resistance. Christopher Cadelago in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 12/30/16

Can a federal government scientist in California convince Trump that climate change is real? -- In the two decades since Ben Santer helped write a landmark international report linking global warming and human activity, he’s been criticized by politicians, accused of falsifying his data and rewarded with a dead rat on his doorstep. Chris Megerian in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/30/16

California's top court says public may see government's legal bills -- A government agency’s legal bills for a case that has been resolved are generally public record, a divided California Supreme Court ruled Thursday. Maura Dolan in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/30/16

Sen. Jackson brings back family leave bills Brown previously vetoed -- California workers are currently allowed to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid job protected leave to care for seriously ill family members. Jackson’s Senate Bill 62 amends the definition of family members to include a grandparent, grandchild, sibling, domestic partner, parent-in-law or adult child. Taryn Luna in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 12/30/16

Number of Women in California Legislature Dips to Nearly 20-Year Low. Now What? -- For a lot of women, this was supposed to be a big political year. The year a woman would be elected president and provide some long coattails for other women to grab onto. But, as we now know, Hillary Clinton came up short in her bid for the presidency. And state legislatures around the country saw the number of female representatives either drop or remain flat. Katie Orr KQED -- 12/30/16

A cry for change shifts political power across Orange County -- Orange County residents demanding change went farther down the ballot than the presidential race. Voters in Costa Mesa, Dana Point, Anaheim and Yorba Linda swept out city council and water district board members they accused of being too cozy with developers, secretive, underappreciative of city workers or wasters of taxpayer dollars. Louis Casiano Jr., Joseph Pimental, Erika I.Richie and Denisse Salazar in the Orange County Register -- 12/30/16

California needs a specific ban on smoking pot while driving, these lawmakers say -- Two state legislators say Californians might think it's illegal to smoke marijuana while driving, but that there's no specific ban on the practice in state law. Assemblyman Evan Low (D-Campbell) and Sen. Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) said Thursday that they'll introduce legislation to close what they call a loophole. John Myers in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/30/16

Should California lawmakers work to end the electoral college? -- Protestors across the nation lost their last ditch attempt to sway the electoral college from voting for president-elect Donald Trump last week. But a California lawyer wants to reignite debate over the process that sealed Trump's victory in 2018. Jazmine Ulloa in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/30/16

LAX had a nightmarish holiday season of delays and gridlock. It's likely a preview of the airport's growing pains -- It was Christmastime at Los Angeles International Airport. Security lines were long, passengers crowded the terminals and restaurants ran short of food. Airlines delayed and canceled several hundred departures and arrivals because of bad weather. Dan Weikel, Adam Elmahrek in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/30/16

New California laws bump up minimum wage, further restrict phone use in cars and more -- higher minimum wage, a ban on using “Redskins” as the name of a school team or mascot, and new restrictions on assault weapons and cellphone use in vehicles are among the latest California laws taking effect with the new year. Juliet Williams Associated Press -- 12/30/16

On Sunday, new laws take effect in California. What can you expect? -- Californians’ lives will be ruled by hundreds of new laws starting Sunday, including harsher sanctions against criminals, extra restrictions on companies such as Uber and Lyft, and a boost in the minimum wage to $10.50 from $10. Patrick McGreevy in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/30/16

Over three years, boy, his father and grandfather all killed in one Oakland neighborhood -- A man who urged an end to violence in Oakland after gunfire killed his son and grandson as they slept three years ago became a victim himself this week as he drove near a street memorial for his slain family. Associated Press -- 12/30/16

Decision on former Manson follower Patricia Krenwinkel's parole postponed after attorney makes new claims -- State parole officials Thursday postponed a decision on setting free Patricia Krenwinkel, a follower of Charles Manson and convicted killer, after the woman’s attorney made new claims that she had been abused by Manson or another person. Matt Hamilton and Matt Hamilton in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/30/16

Celebrating New Year’s Eve with gunfire can get you arrested, police warn -- Ahead of New Year’s Eve, Long Beach police warned revelers not to let loose any gunfire as part of their celebration. Shooting a gun into the air can be deadly when the bullet comes back down, the department said in a news release. Jeremiah Dobruck in the Los Angeles Daily News$ -- 12/30/16


Santa Clara County: Big spike in deaths of homeless people in 2016 -- The woman known only as “Jessica,” found dead Wednesday morning in a tent along the Interstate 280 soundwall, became the 123rd homeless person to die in Santa Clara County this year, the highest figure in at least six years and nearly double last year’s total. Eric Kurhi in the San Jose Mercury$ -- 12/30/16

San Diego Says Homeless Shut Out Of Emergency Shelters Due To ‘Miscommunication’ -- When a strong Pacific storm pounded San Diego with heavy rain and strong winds Dec. 23, the city kept its emergency homeless shelter closed — even after announcing the shelters would be open. Susan Murphy, Claire Trageser KPBS -- 12/30/16

Economy, Employers, Jobs, Unions, Pensions 

Koretz pulls his support for Caruso's proposed 20-story tower, calling it 'too tall' -- Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz, under fire from an opponent in the March election, said Thursday that he has pulled his support for a controversial 20-story residential tower proposed near the Beverly Center. David Zahniser in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/30/16

Renting in LA County, Inland Empire is getting more expensive at a fast rate -- Los Angeles County and the Inland Empire posted some of the nation’s steepest rent increases during the fourth quarter of 2016, according to figures released this week. Kevin Smith in the Los Angeles Daily News$ -- 12/30/16


L.A.'s wettest month in years will continue through to New Year's Eve -- Los Angeles County could see between a quarter-inch and half-inch of rain Friday as the first of two anticipated storm systems passes through the region this weekend, according to the National Weather Service. Nicole Santa Cruz in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/30/16


Pot dispensaries retool as retail businesses -- The sales floor was buzzing on a recent Friday afternoon at the Apothecarium, the medical pot dispensary on Market Street near the Castro. Dan Mitchell in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 12/30/16


Report finds child lead exposure rate in Oakland higher than Flint's -- An alarming new report from Reuters has found that lead contamination around the nation isn't restricted to Flint, Michigan — it is widespread and often far worse than Flint's headline-making levels. Using neighborhood blood test results obtained from state health departments and the CDC, Reuters created a map of lead contamination around the US. It found that some children in Oakland are being exposed to lead at dangerous levels. Katie Dowd in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 12/30/16

Chevron Flaring Two Days in a Row, Now Suspect in Sulfur Smell -- Could a flaring incident at the Chevron refinery in Richmond on Tuesday be the source of a pungent odor that spread across parts of San Francisco hours later? Ted Goldberg KQED -- 12/30/16

Oil companies face deadline to stop polluting California groundwater -- Seven oil companies, including petroleum giant Chevron, have been given until the end of the week by state officials to stop their decades-old practice of injecting oily wastewater into Central Valley aquifers or face penalties. Peter Fimrite in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 12/30/16

POTUS 45  

Did Trump just create 8,000 jobs? Here's what's really happening -- Donald Trump gave himself kudos for the creation of 8,000 U.S. jobs by a Japanese tech mogul, saying it was proof of “the spirit and the hope” stirred by his victory in the presidential election. But for those particular jobs, Trump was basically taking a bow for the second time. Associated Press -- 12/30/16


Obama's Russia sanctions put Hill Republicans in a box -- They're caught between the GOP's longstanding tough-on-Russia stance and Donald Trump. Austin Wright Politico -- 12/30/16