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California rejects proposed new death penalty rules -- Efforts to revive the death penalty in California were dealt another blow late last month when a state agency tasked with reviewing regulatory changes rejected a proposed new lethal injection protocol. Alexei Koseff in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 1/4/17

UC proposes first tuition increase in six years for more faculty, courses and financial aid -- The University of California unveiled a proposal Wednesday for the first tuition increase in six years, saying booming enrollment growth and reduced state support have left campuses scrambling to pay for more faculty, course offerings, classrooms and financial aid. Teresa Watanabe in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/4/17

Oakland introduces new ‘reform-minded’ police chief -- Oakland’s new police chief, Anne Kirkpatrick, promised to create a culture of accountability and earn residents’ respect in her first public address at City Hall Wednesday. Rachel Swan in the San Francisco Chronicle James Queally and Annie Sweeney in the Los Angeles Times$ Rachel Swan in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 1/4/17

Obama administration pushes giant California water project -- Gov. Jerry Brown's proposal to build two giant north-south water tunnels for California got a hand from the outgoing Obama administration Wednesday, seeking to help the project clear at least one federal regulatory hurdle before Barack Obama leaves office Jan. 20. Ellen Knickmeyer Associated Press -- 1/4/17

California braces for a Trump presidency by tapping former U.S. Atty. General Eric Holder for legal counsel -- Bracing for an adversarial relationship with President-elect Donald Trump, the California Legislature has selected former U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. to serve as outside counsel to advise the state’s legal strategy against the incoming administration. Melanie Mason in the Los Angeles Times$ Adam Nagourney in the New York Times$ -- 1/4/17

Quinn: How Arizona vs. United States Will Stop Democratic Immigration Efforts -- Sorry, California Democrats, but you have already lost the battle over stopping President-elect Trump’s immigration policies. You lost five years ago when the state of Arizona tried, as sanctuary cities are doing now, to upend federal immigration laws, and the US Supreme Court said no. Tony Quinn Fox & Hounds -- 1/4/17

Darrell Issa takes another shot at changing the rules for the skilled worker visa program -- U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista) wants companies that recruit highly skilled foreign workers to follow new standards aimed at making it more difficult to exploit the visa program that allows them to work in the U.S. Sarah D. Wire in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/4/17

Californians saved less water in November than previous year, water board report says -- California water conservation took a slight step backward in November, officials announced Wednesday, possibly due in part to an unusually wet fall and months of successful conservation efforts. Joseph Serna in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/4/17

GOP congressman plans Russia trip to ‘work with the Duma’ -- Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican ally of President-elect Donald Trump and a longtime enthusiast of Russian President Vladimir Putin, said Wednesday that he is planning to lead a congressional delegation to Russia next month and expects to meet with Russian officials to discuss “how we can work with the Duma.” Robert Costa in the Washington Post$ -- 1/4/17

Sage College closes doors amid dispute over accreditation -- Hundreds of students enrolled in court-reporting and paralegal training classes at Sage College were left in a lurch Tuesday, when owners of the for-profit school closed the business two weeks before the end of the quarter due to a long-simmering accreditation issue. Jeff McDonald in the San Diego Union-Tribune$ -- 1/4/17

2017: What’s in, what’s out in CA -- Okay, 2016 is now history, and many of us are saying “Good Riddance!” But 2017 has arrived, with its attendant challenges and changes, right? And to succeed, the smart Capitol denizen must become acquainted with 2017’s ins and outs — the land mines, the pitfalls and the Ways To Take Advantage. Chuck McFadden Capitol Weekly -- 1/4/17

Equifax, TransUnion fined for selling consumers credit scores not used by most lenders -- All credit scores are not created equal. That’s the upshot of federal enforcement actions levied Tuesday against credit bureaus Equifax and TransUnion. James Rufus Koren in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/4/17

Tesla begins churning out battery cells at Nevada Gigafactory -- Batteries are crucial to the future of Tesla, best known as a car company but currently transforming itself into an ambitious alternative energy provider. Russ Mitchell in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/4/17

Poverty In San Diego County Higher Than During Great Recession -- When Jim Floros started his job as president and CEO of the San Diego Food Bank at the beginning of 2013, he says the nonprofit served about 330,000 people a month. That number has since grown to 370,000. Joe Yerardi KPBS -- 1/4/17

Study: Bay Area one of the most bed bug-infested spots in the nation -- If you suddenly felt itchy all over, it's probably not bed bugs ... but the probability it is remains higher here than in most places in the country. According to pest control company Orkin's annual study, the Bay Area ranks 10th on their list of 'Bed Bug Cities.' That's up four spots from last year. Katie Dowd in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 1/4/17

Lopez: Not rich, not poor, and not ready for the cost of growing old -- Caroline from Sierra Madre wrote to me about the “five-year-long funeral” that followed her father’s stroke, saying “he retired a member of the middle class and died impoverished after all the family funds were spent on care.” Steve Lopez in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/4/17


California Policy & Politics This Morning  

California legislators: Just like you? -- California’s new legislative session begins in earnest this week, and a fresh class of legislators will influence everything from how bad your commute is to the quality of the air you breathe. But while California prides itself on diversity, is that diversity reflected in the Capitol? Matt Levin Calmatters.org -- 1/4/17

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti promises improved customer service at DWP -- The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has infuriated customers with its billing screw-ups, long telephone wait times and unfettered spending. Dakota Smith in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/4/17

DWP ‘bill of rights’ doesn’t impress critics -- In a bid to win over DWP customers disillusioned by some of the utility’s missteps in recent years, Mayor Eric Garcetti and utility officials laid out a proposed “bill of rights” Tuesday that calls for a minimum level of water and electricity service, shorter call wait times and fewer inaccurate bills. Elizabeth Chou in the Los Angeles Daily News$ -- 1/4/17

Newsom holds early fundraising lead in 2018 governor’s race -- According to memo his campaign sent to donors Tuesday, Newsom raised $2.7 million in the second half of 2016, giving him a total of $11.5 million cash on hand. That’s far more than his major announced rivals, who include state Treasurer John Chiang, former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and former state Superintendent of Public Instruction Delaine Eastin. Joe Garofoli in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 1/4/17

The money race is well underway for California's 2018 campaign for governor -- California's 2018 race for governor may still be in its infancy, but the competition for campaign donations is well underway. Phil Willon in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/4/17

Ryan Seacrest, others, help Villaraigosa boost 2018 governor’s race campaign cash -- Antonio Villaraigosa, the former Los Angeles mayor who waited until late last year to launch his 2018 gubernatorial run, credited a late surge of financial support with helping him raise more than 2.7 million in his first 51 days, a sum he said far surpassed his internal goal. Christopher Cadelago in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 1/4/17

Assembly sets confirmation hearing after Gov. Brown formally nominates Becerra for state attorney general -- Less than an hour after state Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris resigned and took the oath of office for the U.S. Senate, Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday officially nominated Rep. Xavier Becerra to fill the vacancy and become California’s top law enforcement officer. Patrick McGreevy in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/4/17

Congressman spent campaign funds for rabbit air travel -- Rep. Duncan Hunter used campaign funds to pay for $600 of airline fees to fly a family rabbit, one of the more colorful expenses to surface in an ongoing review of his practices. Ricky Young in the San Diego Union-Tribune$ -- 1/4/17

Charles Manson seriously ill, moved to hospital, sources say -- Mass murderer Charles Manson was taken from a Central Valley prison to a hospital for an undisclosed medical issue, two sources familiar with the situation said. Richard Winton and Hailey Branson-Potts in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/4/17

Pentagon says it will waive bonus repayments for vast majority of California National Guard soldiers -- The Pentagon said Tuesday it would waive repayment for more than 15,000 California National Guard soldiers and veterans who received enlistment bonuses over the last decade but that 1,000 or so other service members would not have their debts waived. David S. Cloud in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/4/17

Walters: Legislature will be drinking old whines in new bottles -- It’s not difficult to figure out what issues will dominate the new biennial session of the Legislature. Dan Walters in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 1/4/17

This Golden State Podcast: Senator Feinstein On The Resistance -- In a candid and at times emotional interview, Senator Dianne Feinstein talks about the long list of Donald Trump policies and cabinet appointments she will “fight, fight, fight.” But Feinstein tells This Golden State’s Randy Shandobil that she does not want to be labeled part of the California Resistance to Trump. Link Here -- 1/4/17

1st vote doesn’t go so great for newly sworn in congressman -- Democrat Salud Carbajal raised his hand twice Tuesday as he became the Central Coast’s newest congressman: Once for real and once for show. Michael Doyle in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 1/4/17

Oakland to hire first female police chief -- The mayor has named Anne Kirkpatrick, a former police chief of Spokane, Wash., as the chief for Oakland, according to KPIX-5 news. The Bay Area television news station cited sources from its sister station in Chicago, WBMM. David Debolt in the East Bay Times -- 1/4/17

Source: Oakland mayor hires new police chief after 7 months -- Ending some seven months without a police chief, Oakland has chosen an outsider from Chicago to take the department’s top post, according to a source with knowledge of the selection process. Anne Kirkpatrick, who most recently led reform efforts within the Chicago Police Department, will relocate from Chicago to serve as Oakland’s police chief, becoming the troubled department’s first-ever female chief. Michael Bodley and Matier & Ross in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 1/4/17

Sewage sloshes into San Francisco prosecutors’ offices -- Foul-smelling water and fecal matter flowed into the San Francisco district attorney’s offices in the Hall of Justice on Tuesday, the latest sewage flood in the aging home of courtrooms, police bureaus, legal offices and jail cells. Vivian Ho in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 1/4/17

Taxes, Fees, Rates, Tolls, Bonds    

Political Statement Or Transparent Pricing? Wage Hikes Prompt Surcharges At Restaurants -- Catania is an upscale Italian restaurant in La Jolla with a scenic panorama of the Pacific Ocean from its outdoor deck. Since Jan. 1, however, diners' eyes may be drawn to a small note at the bottom of the menu. Andrew Bowen KPBS -- 1/4/17


Advocates Call On San Diego Mayor To Take Action On Homelessness -- A petition containing more than 1,100 signatures calling for the city of San Diego to stop penalizing the homeless was submitted Tuesday to Mayor Kevin Faulconer. Jean Guerrero KPBS -- 1/4/17


California's housing affordability problems 'as bad as they've ever been in the state's history,' housing director says -- California’s housing affordability challenges remain daunting and continue to increase, according to a draft report from the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development released Tuesday. Liam Dillon in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/4/17

It’s a fact: Bay Area rental costs have hit a plateau -- In San Francisco, the median cost of a two-bedroom apartment was $4,550 in mid-December — still an inconceivable sum for most wage earners, yet down 2.5 percent from a year earlier. Richard Scheinin in the San Jose Mercury$ -- 1/4/17

Economy, Employers, Jobs, Unions, Pensions 

LA County lost construction jobs in 2016, but the Inland Empire is booming -- U.S. construction activity reached its highest level in more than a decade in November, according to new federal data. But in Southern California, homes and offices weren't built at quite the same breakneck pace. Kevin Smith in the San Bernardino Sun$ -- 1/4/17

Dungeness scarce in Bay Area markets as crabbers’ strike drags on -- The Dungeness crab tanks at Seafood Center in the Richmond District are almost empty, except for a few lingering crustaceans that have seen better days. Tara Duggan in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 1/4/17


Despite recent storms, California’s ‘snow drought’ continues -- Around the start of each year, California water officials make a big show out of measuring the Sierra Nevada snowpack for reporters. Tuesday’s measurement before a throng of cameras was fairly bleak: Water content in the snowpack stood at just 53 percent of average, about a third as much water as the same time last year at that site. Dale Kasler, Ryan Sabalow and Phillip Reese in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 1/4/17

Sierra Snowpack Below Average Despite Early-Season Storms -- State water officials conducted their first direct eyeball assessment of the Sierra Nevada snowpack on Tuesday — and what they found might be a little counterintuitive if you’ve been watching rain gauges just about anywhere in California’s lower elevations. Dan Brekke KQED -- 1/4/17

Is California’s drought ending? Powerful storms hit state with more on the way -- A series of powerful storms is set to soak California over the next week, bringing heavy rains, flooding risk in some creeks and 10 feet or more of new snow to the Sierra Nevada — the latest sign that the stranglehold of the state’s five-year drought is significantly weakening. Paul Rogers in the San Jose Mercury$ ** auto start audio on this link -- 1/4/17

Sierra snowpack survey prompts drought watchers to be optimistic -- A series of sopping storms taking aim on drought-ravaged California this week will provide much needed relief as state reservoirs continue to rise, and the once-abysmal Sierra snowpack is on track to return to normal. Evan Sernoffsky and Steve Rubenstein in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 1/4/17


Number of college courses taught in high schools increasing statewide -- This spring, juniors and seniors at Redlands Unified School District in San Bernardino County will take community college courses at their high schools, including engineering, sociology, business administration and music appreciation. Fermin Leal EdSource -- 1/4/17

Also . . . 

A sting operation was planned for Lunada Bay, but someone tipped off the Bay Boys -- At the height of the winter surfing season last year, plans for an undercover police operation were set in motion. After weeks of preparation, Palos Verdes Estates officers in February 2016 were ready to conduct a sting targeting the bullying tactics of surfers that put Lunada Bay and the city under a national media spotlight. Cynthia Washicko and Megan Barnes in the Los Angeles Daily News$ -- 1/4/17

Why a guy who goes by Jesus changed ‘Hollywood’ to ‘Hollyweed’ -- An artist who calls himself Jesus Hands claimed in an interview Tuesday that he and his partner were the ones who changed the iconic Hollywood sign to “Hollyweed” early New Year’s Day. Susan Abram in the Los Angeles Daily News$ -- 1/4/


Schumer Prepared to Hold Supreme Court Seat Open -- Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer is preparing to block President-elect Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee if he or she is not in the “mainstream.” Bridget Bowman Roll Call -- 1/4/17

House GOP backs off ethics changes in 1st day of disarray -- House Republicans stumbled on their first day of unified control of Congress Tuesday as they abandoned a planned gutting of an independent ethics office after the move drew a public backlash and a Twitter scolding from President-elect Donald Trump. Carolyn Lochhead in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 1/4/17

Inside the House GOP ethics debacle -- A surprise move by a group of House Republicans to gut an independent ethics office caught leaders flatfooted — and sparked a national backlash. Racheal Bade, John Bresnahan and Kyle Cheney Politico -- 1/4/17

The Democratic Party builds a war room to battle Trump -- The Democratic National Committee is building a “war room” to battle President-elect Donald Trump, pressure the new Republican administration on a variety of policy matters and train a spotlight on Russia's alleged cyberattacks to influence the 2016 election. Philip Rucker in the Washington Post$ -- 1/4/17


-- Tuesday Updates 

Kevin McCarthy knew gutting the ethics office wouldn’t look good for Republicans -- House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., knew from the start that it was going to be a public relations disaster. Sean Cockerham in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 1/3/17

Despite recent storms, California snowpack still below average -- In spite of recent storms, the snowpack at a key point in the Sierra remains at just 53 percent of average, but state water officials, nonetheless, called it a good start as California enters its sixth year of drought. Dale Kasler, Ryan Sabalow and Phillip Reese in the Sacramento Bee$ Rich Pendroncelli and Scott Smith Assciated Press -- 1/3/17

Powerful storms in Sierra prompt avalanche warning -- A powerful series of storms that began over the weekend and continued to drop heavy powder on weak layers of the snowpack Tuesday could trigger avalanches in the Sierra backcountry, forecasters warned. Kimberly Veklerov in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 1/3/17

Fast Food CEO Says Higher Minimum Wage Boosts Business -- When California began raising its minimum wage two years ago, Bill Phelps wasn’t happy. Phelps is CEO of a fast food company called Wetzel’s Pretzels, which has almost 100 outlets in California. Sam Harnett KQED -- 1/3/17

Kamala Harris sworn in as first Indian American senator and California's first black senator -- Before friends and family in a packed chamber, Kamala Harris was sworn in as California's newest U.S. senator Tuesday morning. She became the first black woman the Golden State has sent to the Senate and the first Indian American to ever serve in the body. Sarah D. Wire in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/3/17

Kamala Harris to take office with instantly high expectations -- On Monday, the U.K.-based Guardian named Harris one of the top Americans to watch in 2017. In recent weeks, she’s been short-listed as a potential 2020 presidential candidate by The Hill, Mother Jones and The New York Times. And last year the Washington Post ran a story headlined: “Is Kamala Harris the next Barack Obama?” Carla Marinucci Politico -- 1/3/17

Kamala Harris faces high expectations as California’s new senator -- Kamala Harris will take the oath of office Tuesday as California’s 45th U.S. senator and the Democratic Party’s Great Blue Hope. Carolyn Lochhead in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 1/3/17

Xavier Becerra formally nominated as California attorney general -- Gov. Jerry Brown formally entered his nomination of Rep. Xavier Becerra for California attorney general on Tuesday, setting the 90-day clock for the Legislature to act. Christopher Cadelago in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 1/3/17

Gov. Jerry Brown departs for Hawaii, beginning a busy month -- Days after President Barack Obama and the first family departed from the islands for their final winter vacation, Gov. Jerry Brown and First Lady Anne Gust Brown left California for their Hawaiian vacation on Tuesday. Christopher Cadelago in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 1/3/17

A battle is brewing over a proposal for a new source of water in the South Bay -- On a picturesque summer afternoon, West Basin Municipal Water District officials chose to woo regulators with a stroll by the beach in El Segundo, stopping to admire an unadulterated strip of California coastline. Matt Stevens in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/3/17 ** confusing unrelated video on this link

Walters: California’s slowing population growth has many impacts – positive and negative -- A decade ago, California’s demographers and those in the federal Census Bureau were politely arguing. Dan Walters in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 1/3/17

17 new California laws that will affect you in 2017 -- This year the state legislature sent Gov. Jerry Brown 1,059 pieces of legislation. Kurt Snibbe in the Los Angeles Daily News$ -- 1/3/17

John Keplinger, former executive director of the state Fair Political Practices Commission, has died -- John Keplinger, the former executive director of California's political watchdog agency, died at age 80 on Dec. 17, according to the Associated Press. Patrick McGreevy in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/3/17

Arden Fair’s new teenager ban violates civil rights law, says ACLU. Mall says it was cleared by legal team. -- Arden Fair mall’s decision to ban unaccompanied teenagers the day after Christmas is drawing criticism from the American Civil Liberties Union along with some parents and teenagers who say it discriminates against a broad category of people, barring them from a space open to the public. Richard Chang in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 1/3/17

Everything I Knew About Aging Was Wrong, Or, Why I’ll Spend a Week Homeless on the Streets of Oakland -- Everything I knew about aging was wrong. That was the first lesson I learned when I plunged headfirst into the world of aging as a reporter five years ago. What did I get so wrong? Matt Perry California Health Report -- 1/3/17

House Republicans Back Down on Bid to Gut Ethics Office -- Lawmakers, facing a storm of bipartisan criticism, including from the president-elect, moved to reverse steps to kill the Office of Congressional Ethics. Eric Lipton and Matt Flegenheimer in the New York Times$ -- 1/3/17

Fox: So Many New Laws with More to Come -- As the new year begins, 900 statutes were added to California law books. If history is our guide—807 new laws last year, 950 the year before that–there will be hundreds of more laws added at the end of this year. Joel Fox Fox & Hounds -- 1/3/17

‘Routine’ Jobs Are Disappearing -- Many workers instead are taking lower-paying low-skill manual work or dropping out of the labor force, according to new research. Lauren Weber in the Wall Street Journal$ -- 1/3/17

Amazon’s robot army grows by 50 percent -- The world’s largest e-commerce retailer said it employed 45,000 robots in some 20 fulfillment centers. That’s a cool 50 percent increase from last year’s holiday season, when the company had some 30,000 robots working alongside 230,000 humans. Ángel González in the Seattle Times -- 1/3/17