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California Policy & Politics This Morning  

Wall Street Journal Reporter Dion Nissenbaum Returns to U.S. After Being Detained in Turkey -- A Wall Street Journal staff reporter detained by Turkish authorities earlier this week has returned safely to the U.S. Dion Nissenbaum, 49 years old, was held for 2½ days this past week and wasn’t permitted contact with his family or attorneys before his release. He and his family arrived in San Francisco on Saturday evening. Gordon Fairclough in the Wall Street Journal$ -- 12/31/16

Coastal Commissioner Wendy Mitchell resigns post after six years on the panel -- California Coastal Commission member Wendy Mitchell, who supported the controversial ouster of the agency’s executive director earlier this year, resigned Friday. Dan Weikel in the Los Angeles Times$ Jim Miller in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 12/31/16

California Coastal Commission handicapped by poor billing, audit finds -- A blip in the California Coastal Commission’s $22.8 million budget that forced it to ask for a state loan earlier this year could become a regular occurrence because its leadership does not believe it has enough staffing to collect its bills on time. Adam Ashton in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 12/31/16

Sutter Brown's Twitter shows why he deserved to be California's first dog -- In a year that has been marked with many high profile deaths. Today was another particularly hard one for Californians Gov. Jerry Brown's beloved dog, Sutter Brown, passed away today at age 13. Shannon O’Connor in the Los Angeles Daily News$ -- 12/31/16

Sutter Brown, Gov. Jerry Brown's famous dog, has died -- Sutter Brown, the charismatic corgi who seemed to soften the rough edges of Gov. Jerry Brown and in the process became a social media sensation as California’s first dog, died Friday after an illness that sparked a bipartisan outpouring of support. John Myers in the Los Angeles Times$ Jeremy B. White in the Sacramento Bee$ David Siders Politico Steve Rubenstein in the San Francisco Chronicle Janie Har Associated Press Marisa Lagos KQED -- 12/31/16

National popular vote for president the goal of new California proposals -- California would step up efforts to bring about a system of electing U.S. presidents by popular vote instead of the electoral college under new legislation as well as a proposed November 2018 ballot measure. Jim Miller in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 12/31/16

Many will use Uber, Lyft on New Year’s, but a regular taxi might end up being cheaper -- Southern Californians will soon be ringing in the New Year at neighborhood sports bars, nightclubs, outdoor venues, and maybe even Disneyland. But when the party’s over and all of that drinking is done they’re going to need to get home safely. Some will hail a taxi while others will turn to ride-sharing services like Uber or Lyft. Kevin Smith in the Los Angeles Daily News$ -- 12/31/16

On New Year’s Eve at Oakland warehouses, the party may be over -- Conan Newton remembers some wild New Year’s Eve shows at warehouses in Oakland. Once, the musician says, someone fired a tinder-dry Christmas tree from a cannon. At other shows, fireworks were set off outside the building at midnight. Rachel Swan and Kimberly Veklerov in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 12/31/16

Sen. Barbara Boxer: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in ‘Judicial Emergency’ -- Sen. Barbara Boxer said the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is facing a “judicial emergency” as she called for a Senate vote Tuesday on San Jose-based U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh’s nomination to the appellate court. Penny Nelson KQED -- 12/31/16

Afghan refugees in Sacramento fight PTSD -- They stood in a circle in the leaf-strewn parking lot of an Arden Arcade park on a November day, heads down, a knot of four friends talking about their trauma and frustration. Then they went for a walk and talked some more. When they got cold, they climbed into a car and sat. Stephen Magagnini in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 12/31/16

Taxes, Fees, Rates, Tolls, Bonds    

A tax cut for Californians? Yes, really -- Californians are about to enjoy a rare tax cut. Statewide sales tax rates will fall a quarter-point effective Jan. 1 with the expiration of a temporary tax increase approved by voters four years ago. The state rate will fall back to 7.25 percent with the start of the new year. Dale Kasler in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 12/31/16

Bay Area cities brace themselves for higher sales tax, despite state decrease -- Bay Area voters this year generously approved taxing themselves in large numbers — and they’ll feel the pinch at the cash register in 2017 as local sales taxes across Silicon Valley take effect even as a state tax expires. Ramona Giwargis in the San Jose Mercury$ -- 12/31/16

La Jolla property owners sue over new tax district -- Commercial property owners in La Jolla have filed a lawsuit against the City of San Diego in an attempt to undo a newly-approved taxing authority designed to spruce up local streets and sidewalks. Lauryn Schroeder in the San Diego Union-Tribune$ -- 12/31/16

PG&E electric bills to jump 1.4 percent in 2017 -- Electric bills for Pacific Gas & Electric Co. customers are likely to rise 1.4 percent in 2017, the utility announced Friday. Natural gas bills are also expected to rise slightly. Dominic Fracassa in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 12/31/16

Economy, Employers, Jobs, Unions, Pensions 

Why the Sears in North Hollywood is thriving despite parent company’s woes -- Sears enters the new year burning through cash and facing store closings, but at the chain’s North Hollywood Valley Plaza location, the cash registers continued to cha-ching as 2016 drew to a close. “This store is a very successful store for Sears. We are very busy and very profitable,” said manager Tom Kennedy, a 33-year Sears veteran who’s been at the North Hollywood store since 2012. Gregory J. Wilcox in the Los Angeles Daily News$ -- 12/31/16

Local crab fishers join West Coast strike after unloading catch -- San Francisco fishers hurried to unload Dungeness crab Friday for the New Year’s weekend before joining a large West Coast strike over a price dispute that might have shellfish lovers looking elsewhere for their holiday meals. Tara Duggan in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 12/31/16


California's wet December drawing to a close with more rain -- California's wet December is drawing to a close with even more rain and snow in a welcome respite amid years of drought. A warm low-pressure storm system brought showers to Southern California starting early Friday and slowly moved east through the day as a cold weather system dropped down toward the state from the north. Associated Press -- 12/31/16


Investigation Questions How Stanford Reviews Alleged Sexual Assaults -- A high-profile news report published this week has returned the national spotlight to frustrations over how sexual assaults on college campuses, in the Bay Area and nationwide, are handled by academic institutions. Lisa Pickoff-White and Peter Jon Shuler KQED -- 12/31/16


Confused over California’s new gun laws? Here’s when they take effect -- Between state legislation and voter-approved ballot initiatives, 2016 saw passage of sweeping new gun regulations in California. Taken together, the new laws will add a host of restrictions for California’s more than 6 million gun owners, from where you buy your ammunition to how you store your guns and who can borrow them. Ryan Sabalow and Phillip Reese in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 12/31/16

Immigration / Border 

Artists Aim To Make Border Fence ‘Beautiful’ -- The U.S.-Mexico border fence has become a canvas for artists from both countries. Tijuana muralist Enrique Chiu is leading a binational effort to create a mural that will stretch for more than a mile on the south side of the border fence. That would make it one of Mexico's longest murals. Jean Guerrero KPBS -- 12/31/16

Undocumented Ph.D. Makes History at UC Merced -- Since this story first aired, Yuriana Aguilar is now a postdoc in Chicago, continuing her cardiovascular research. She says she’s currently feeling very insecure about the fate of undocumented students like her once President-elect Trump takes office. Sasha Khokha KQED -- 12/31/16


Ebola struggle reaches milestone with vaccine -- Efforts to defeat Ebola have reached a milestone with a new vaccine that so far appears to be 100 percent effective against Ebola Zaire, the most threatening strain of the deadly virus. Bradley J. Fikes in the San Diego Union-Tribune$ -- 12/31/16

Also . . . 

Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher will have joint funeral and be buried together -- Debbie Reynolds' son said Friday his mother and sister, actress Carrie Fisher, will have a joint funeral and will be buried together. Todd Fisher said the actresses will be interred at Forest Lawn-Hollywood Hills, the final resting place of numerous celebrities, including Lucille Ball, Dick Van Patten, Liberace, Florence Henderson, David Carradine and Bette Davis. Associated Press -- 12/31/16

'Keep her in your heart': Hollywood remembers Zsa Zsa Gabor at Beverly Hills service -- Zsa Zsa Gabor was remembered Friday during a funeral Mass for being the epitome of Hollywood glamour, an elegant and attention-seeking actress who paved the way for future generations of celebrities. Associated Press -- 12/31/16

Riders stuck 130 feet in the air on malfunctioning ride at Knott's Berry Farm -- A Knott’s Berry Farm ride that malfunctioned trapped 21 riders, including several children, 130 feet in the air for more than six hours Friday before they were rescued, authorities said. Frank Shyong in the Los Angeles Times$ Scott Schwebke in the Los Angeles Daily News$ -- 12/31/16

San Francisco D.A. decides not to retry man accused of assaulting BART officers -- A man who was punched in the head by a Bay Area Rapid Transit officer he had spit on will not face a second trial after jurors deadlocked on a number of charges against, but acquitted him on others. Ben Poston in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/31/16

San Diego says it runs no reports to track progress on city record requests -- The City of San Diego used to have a performance measure for its handling of public records requests. The Human Resources Department, which processes such inquiries, listed “percent of public records act requests completed within mandated timeline” as a key performance indicator in city budgets. Lauryn Schroeder in the San Diego Union-Tribune$ -- 12/31/16

POTUS 45  

Despite business credentials, Trump may hurt U.S. economy -- On the surface, it may appear that Donald Trump’s presidency is a boon for business. The stock market certainly seems to think so: The Dow Jones industrial average almost reached 20,000 this week in anticipation of lower taxes and deregulation. Thomas Lee in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 12/31/16

Will Trump take on the controversial EB-5 visa program? -- Another scandal involving a controversial visa program has highlighted the uncertainty over whether President-elect Donald Trump will support efforts in Congress to reform it. Leslie Berestein Rojas KPCC -- 12/31/16

Mormon Tabernacle Choir member resigns rather than sing for Trump -- A member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir has resigned over its plan to sing at the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump, and more than 22,000 people have signed a petition opposing the choir's participation. Jill Serjeant Reuters -- 12/31/16

Mar-a-Lago sold tickets to New Year’s Eve party with Trump -- Mar-a-Lago, the pricey private resort in Palm Beach, Florida, sold hundreds of tickets at more than $500 a piece to an annual New Year’s Eve extravaganza planned for Saturday night that will feature a very special guest: the president-elect of the United States of America and his family. Madeline Conway and Kenneth P. Vogel Politico -- 12/31/16


Russian operation hacked a Vermont utility, showing risk to U.S. electrical grid security, officials say -- A code associated with the Russian hacking operation dubbed Grizzly Steppe by the Obama administration has been detected within the system of a Vermont utility, according to U.S. officials. Juliet Eilperin and Adam Entous in the Washington Post$ Cristiano Lima and Eric Geller Politico -- 12/31/16

Russian consul general in San Francisco calls expulsions ‘not human’ -- A top Russian diplomat on the West Coast blasted President Obama’s order to expel fou r San Francisco consulate employees Friday, saying the move was unwarranted and inhumane. Kimberly Veklerov in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 12/31/16

Bought during the Cold War, Russian mansions accused of housing spies in the U.S. -- It wouldn’t be a bad opening for a Tom Clancy novel about the Cold War: Without warning, American agents descend on a Russian-owned compound in rural Maryland. A similar surprise unfolds at an estate on New York’s Long Island. Both locations are accused of hosting Russian spies on American soil, and once again, two nuclear powers stand at each other’s throats. Matt Pearce in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 12/31/16

Cyber experts react to Russian hack on power company -- Russian hackers appear to have placed malicious software — or malware — on at least one computer at Burlington Electric, a power company in Burlington, Vermont. Gary Robbins in the San Diego Union-Tribune$ -- 12/31/16

Deal Or Disrupt? Congressional Democrats Weigh 2017 Choices -- Democrats may have lost the House and the Senate over the past eight years, but they always had one thing: President Barack Obama — and his veto pen — in the White House. That won’t be the case next year, when Republicans find themselves with all the power in Washington for the first time since 2006. Scott Detrow NPR -- 12/31/16