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Gas tax deals illegal? ‘Preposterous,’ says Jerry Brown -- Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday dismissed as “preposterous” suggestions that he broke the law by providing district-specific projects to lawmakers to win their support for his $52 billion road repair package with tax and fee increases. Christopher Cadelago in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 4/19/17

UC Berkeley orders cancellation of Ann Coulter speech -- Next week’s scheduled speech by right-wing pundit Ann Coulter at UC Berkeley is off — for now — because campus officials say they won’t be able to protect participants from rioting if it should happen. Nanette Asimov in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 4/19/17

AP Exclusive: Dam managers made missteps in handling crisis -- Late in the afternoon of Feb. 12, Sheriff Kory Honea was at the emergency operations center for the tallest dam in America when he overheard someone say something that stopped him in his tracks: "This is not good." Ellen Knickmeyer and Michael R. Blood Associated Press -- 4/19/17

'Filled with hate, filled with anger': Anatomy of a shooting allegedly fueled by hatred of white people -- Fresno police said they believe a shooting rampage downtown Tuesday that left three white men dead was racially motivated. Melanie Mason, Diana Marcum, Hailey Branson-Potts and Joseph Serna in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 4/19/17

This senator wanted to fix potholes. Now Republicans want to take him out -- Sen. Josh Newman, D-Fullerton, flew to St. Lucia a week ago for vacation with his wife and baby during the Legislature’s spring recess. After a long flight, he got cell phone service for the first time at his hotel. A news alert popped up in his email: The gas tax approved in the state Legislature had prompted a recall effort against a Southern California Democrat. Taryn Luna in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 4/19/17

High school rat problem spurs teacher to take video – then take students elsewhere -- Substitute teacher Veronica Luther said she was startled when a rat lurking in an empty classroom at John F. Kennedy High School in Sacramento came at her at a dead run Monday. Before the end of the day, Luther, 25, moved her math classes into the library and asked administrative staff to eradicate the rat and thoroughly sanitize Classroom 306. By day’s end, she said, she was asked not to come back to the school for her second day. Loretta Kalb in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 4/19/17

The trees that make Southern California shady and green are dying. Fast. -- The trees that shade, cool and feed people from Ventura County to the Mexican border are dying so fast that within a few years it’s possible the region will look, feel, sound and smell much less pleasant than it does now. Louis Sahagun in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 4/19/17

Former NFL star Aaron Hernandez hangs himself in Massachusetts cell -- Former NFL star Aaron Hernandez hanged himself Wednesday in the prison cell where he was serving a life sentence for murder, taking his life on the same day his ex-teammates on the New England Patriots were set to visit the White House to mark their Super Bowl victory. Jimmy Golen Associated Press -- 4/19/17

Emirates cuts flights to U.S., citing less demand under Trump's policies -- Emirates, the Middle East's biggest airline, said Wednesday that it is cutting flights to the United States because of a drop in demand caused by heightened U.S. security measures and Trump administration attempts to ban travelers from several Muslim-majority nations. Adam Schreck Associated Press -- 4/19/17

Securing Her Global Brand, Now From a White House Base -- The president’s daughter Ivanka Trump, now a White House adviser, has filed 173 foreign trademarks in 21 countries, as well as in Hong Kong and the European Union. Danny Hakim and Rachel Abrams in the New York Times$ -- 4/19/17

Big money, big ego, big bills: how to get divorced Silicon Valley style -- The billionaire founder of Zynga, the San Francisco-based company that makes FarmVille, has found himself in (very messy) DivorceVille. Olivia Solon The Guardian -- 4/19/17


California Policy & Politics This Morning  

State opens nepotism investigation at troubled tax board -- The California tax board Gov. Jerry Brown sanctioned last week is now facing an expanded investigation into alleged nepotism in its workforce. Board of Equalization managers must respond by Wednesday to a survey seeking information about employees who are related to other workers at the tax-collecting agency, which has 4,800 workers. Adam Ashton in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 4/19/17

California bill would make it harder to punish police officers who have been accused of lying -- Democratic Assemblyman Miguel Santiago of Los Angeles believes current rules allow law enforcement agencies to unfairly target cops who simply make mistakes. His bill, which cleared its first committee hurdle on Tuesday, would raise the standard of proof in cases where officers were accused of lying. Liam Dillon in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 4/19/17

Disabled placards for thousands of dead Californians part of program abuse -- California’s Department of Motor Vehicles needs to significantly beef up efforts to prevent fraud and abuse in the state’s disabled person placard program, a new state audit recommends, noting that officials accept applications lacking required medical documentation, issue too many duplicates, and fail to cancel the placards of people who have died. Jim Miller in the Sacramento Bee$ Ben Bradford Capital Public Radio -- 4/19/17

Republican Rep. Steve Knight fields questions on healthcare and Trump's possible conflicts of interest at town hall -- Rep. Steve Knight (R-Palmdale) told the crowd at his packed town hall in Simi Valley that he figured many of them wanted to talk about North Korea. Then the shouts of "Russia" started. Javier Panzar in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 4/19/17

Hunter's campaign pays new lawyers amid federal investigation -- Rep. Duncan Hunter’s campaign paid about $69,000 for legal services from three firms in the first quarter of this year, amid a federal criminal investigation into his campaign spending, according to a new report on file with the Federal Election Commission. Morgan Cook in the San Diego Union-Tribune$ -- 4/19/17

Constituents jump at chance to ask Denham about defense, health care, energy, more -- Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock, defended his stands on health care, immigration and other issues Monday night at a town hall meeting that often got heated. About 1,000 supporters and detractors filled the Larsa Banquet Hall, just east of Turlock, for the long-awaited event. John Holland in the Modesto Bee -- 4/19/17

'Dog the Bounty Hunter' joins opponents of bail reform in California -- Celebrity bounty hunters Duane “Dog” and Beth Chapman on Tuesday were among dozens of bounty hunters and bail agents to voice opposition to a state bill that would drastically transform the way judges award criminal defendants bail in California. Jazmine Ulloa in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 4/19/17

Airbnb warns that L.A.'s budget could suffer from restricting short-term rentals -- Airbnb is warning Los Angeles leaders that the city could face a budgetary blow if it restricts how many days Angelenos can rent out rooms or whole homes for short stays. Emily Alpert Reyes in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 4/19/17

Real estate investor fined $17,000 over excess L.A. City Council campaign donations -- The Los Angeles City Ethics Commission imposed a $17,000 fine Tuesday on a real estate investor who wrote checks through more than a dozen different companies to help elect Councilman Mitch O’Farrell. Emily Alpert Reyes in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 4/19/17

In split decision, Long Beach officials repeal campaign-finance restriction -- A split City Council on Tuesday repealed a local campaign finance law that barred elected officials from contributing officeholder funds to other candidates running for local, state or federal elective office. Courtney Tompkins in the Long Beach Press Telegram -- 4/19/17

Expert performed autopsy on Oroville spillway collapse. Here’s what he found -- As state officials clamp down on records at Oroville Dam, one of the country’s foremost experts on catastrophic engineering failures has used state inspection reports, photographs and historical design specifications to piece together an autopsy detailing why the spillway at the country’s tallest dam failed so spectacularly this winter. Ryan Sabalow and Dale Kasler in the Sacramento Bee$ Dan Brekke KQED -- 4/19/17

Missing San Diego Activist Found Alive After Apparent Kidnapping In Mexico -- Missing San Diego activist Hugo Castro is "stable" after receiving medical attention for wounds tied to an apparent kidnapping, Mexico's attorney general said Tuesday. He was found on a street called Avenida San Rafael in Tlalnepantla de Baz, a city in the State of Mexico, after the office of the special prosecutor for disappeared persons received an anonymous phone call describing his location. Jean Guerrero KPBS -- 4/19/17

Shooting-rampage victim: Husband, father of little kids and ‘good guy’ -- Zackary Randalls was on his first ride-along Tuesday as a newly hired Pacific Gas & Electric Co. employee, riding in the passenger seat of a company truck. Marc Benjamin in the Fresno Bee -- 4/19/17

Fresno police chief: Shooter wanted to ‘kill as many people as he could’ -- The suspect in Tuesday’s shooting rampage told police he decided to “kill as many people as he could” once he learned investigators had identified him as the suspect in last week’s slaying of a Motel 6 security guard, police Chief Jerry Dyer said. Rory Appleton in the Fresno Bee -- 4/19/17

Taxes, Fees, Rates, Tolls, Bonds    

BART pegs fare cheat losses at $15 million to $25 million a year -- Fare cheats who jump fare gates, sneak in behind another passenger or simply stroll through swing gates are costing BART somewhere between $15 million and $25 million a year, BART officials said Tuesday. Michael Cabanatuan in the San Francisco Chronicle$ Erin Baldassari in the San Jose Mercury$ -- 4/19/17

Two years later, soda tax hasn’t hurt Berkeley businesses -- Murad Hussein, the owner of Ashby Super Market, vehemently opposed Berkeley’s soda tax when it was passed by voters in 2014. He was afraid that higher prices would mean fewer customers. Nicholas Cheng in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 4/19/17


Proposed homeless center aims to clear downtown San Diego's streets -- A local nonprofit says it can end homelessness on the streets of downtown San Diego by building an intake center that would include 500 shelter beds, up to 700 permanent housing slots and comprehensive social services. David Garrick in the San Diego Union-Tribune$ -- 4/19/17


Rents hit all-time highs amid job growth and low vacancy rates -- Some residents at the Huntington Manor Apartments in Huntington Beach got a huge surprise at the start of the month. Notices affixed to their front doors courteously thanked them for renting in the neat, gated, well- landscaped, pet-friendly complex. Then the notices added, effective June 1, their rent would go up by $400 to $600 a month, depending on whether they sign a lease. Jeff Collins in the Los Angeles Daily News$ -- 4/19/17

San Jose City Council approves policy against no-cause evictions -- City elected leaders Tuesday approved sweeping new measures to strengthen renter protections in one of the nation’s most expensive markets — including a requirement that landlords cite a reason for refusing to renew a lease — a move advocates called “historic.” Ramona Giwargis in the San Jose Mercury$ -- 4/19/17

Economy, Employers, Jobs, Unions, Pensions 

L.A. County creates a lower-cost alternative for Southern California Edison customers -- Southern California Edison customers in Los Angeles County soon will have an alternative way to get their electricity — from a new government-run utility promising lower bills and easier access to clean-energy options. Ivan Penn and Nina Agrawal in the Los Angeles Times$ Susan Abram in the Los Angeles Daily News-- 4/19/17

Tech industry is fine with H-1B visa reform — as long as it doesn't affect their companies -- President Trump says his new executive order will force tech companies to hire more American workers. But Silicon Valley leaders, who rely heavily on H-1B visas for high-skilled employees, say they’re not the problem. David Pierson in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 4/19/17

L.A. retirees lose last-ditch appeal for pensions at CalPERS -- Retirees from a defunct job-training program in Los Angeles County appealed to save their pensions Tuesday but did not persuade the CalPERS’ administrators to make up for benefits that their employer stopped paying. Adam Ashton in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 4/19/17

Facebook’s biggest challenge: actual reality -- Two days after a gruesome killing was broadcast on Facebook for millions to see, the man suspected of slaying a Cleveland grandfather shot himself dead in Pennsylvania. Thousands of miles away, at Facebook’s biggest event of the year, Mark Zuckerberg walked out onto a stage. Marissa Lang in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 4/19/17

Should selling home-cooked meals be a crime in California? -- Mariza Ruelas, a single mother of six in Stockton, had been selling homemade Mexican dishes through a tight-knit Facebook group for about a year when an undercover investigator bought a plate of ceviche from her last July. Alexei Koseff in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 4/19/17


NASA: Central Sierra Nevada Snowpack Larger Than Previous Four Years Combined -- The Central Sierra Nevada snowpack this year is larger than the previous four years combined, according to new data from NASA. The Tuolumne River Basin alone contains 1.2 million acre-feet of snow. That's 21 times larger than what was recorded there in 2015, the driest year on record. Randol White Capital Public Radio -- 4/19/17

From Moonscape to Lush: Photographs Capture California Drought’s Story -- In California, an extremely wet winter put an end to the state’s record-breaking drought. Heavy rainfall also produced welcome spring scenes — like replenished reservoirs and fields in bloom. Kevin Leahy KQED -- 4/19/17


L.A. Unified narrowly backs state bills for new controls over charter schools -- A divided Los Angeles Board of Education on Tuesday voted to endorse and push for three hotly debated state bills that seek to place new controls on charter schools. Howard Blume in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 4/19/17

Parents rip LAUSD board for support of proposed charter school bills -- Charter school parents, students and administrators packed the meeting room at the Los Angeles Unified School District board meeting Tuesday to voice opposition to state legislation they said will hurt charter schools. Antonie Boessenkool in the Los Angeles Daily News$ -- 4/19/17

UC settles sex harassment suit for $1.7 million -- The University of California regents will pay $1.7 million over 10 years to settle the lawsuit of a UC Berkeley employee who claimed that her boss — then dean of the law school — persistently hugged, kissed and touched her during 2014 and 2015, and that the campus did nothing to stop it. Nanette Asimov in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 4/19/17

UCLA finance official arrested on charges of embezzling from the last college he worked for -- UCLA finance director was arrested earlier this month and charged with embezzling tens of thousands of dollars from City University of New York when he worked as a finance official there. Sonali Kohli in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 4/19/17

Graduation and dropout rates: Look up California districts and high schools -- California education officials last week bragged about the seventh consecutive year of improvement in the statewide high school graduation rate, which reached 83.2 percent for the class of 2016. Daniel J. Willis, Justin Allen, and Larry GordonEdSource -- 4/19/17

Civil rights group says schools must address student anxieties on immigration enforcement -- School districts that fail to address the anxieties experienced by undocumented students as a result of federal immigration policies of the Trump administration may be violating their students’ constitutional rights to a meaningful education, said Thomas Saenz, president of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF). Louis Freedberg EdSource -- 4/19/17


Keeping LA County’s illegal medical pot shops closed is like a game of ‘whack-a-mole’ -- Of the 106 illegal medical marijuana dispensaries opened across the unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County, a third have been shut down since a special task force was formed last year, according to a report presented to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday. Susan Abram in the Los Angeles Daily News$ -- 4/19/17

Immigration / Border 

Calexico 'dreamer' sues feds after deported to Mexico -- A young man who may be the first “dreamer” to be deported under the Trump administration filed a lawsuit in San Diego federal court Tuesday asking the government to release information about his case. Juan Manuel Montes Bojorquez, 23, was deported after being stopped by a border officer on a bike in Calexico the night of Feb. 17, according to the lawsuit. Kristina Davis in the San Diego Union-Tribune$ -- 4/19/17

'Dreamer,' 23, sues after he is deported by Trump administration -- A 23-year-old man has sued the Trump administration over his deportation to Mexico in February, saying he has permission to live and work in the United States under an Obama-era immigration program that protects young people who were brought into the country illegally as children. Cindy Carcamo in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 4/19/17

Afghan family detained at LAX is granted permanent residency -- An Afghan family of five who was detained by immigration officials for two days at Los Angeles International Airport last month has been granted permanent residency status in the U.S., attorneys representing the family say. Melissa Etehad in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 4/19/17


Bay Area ranked among nation’s worst spots for air pollution -- Even as the nation makes strides cleaning up dirty air, many parts of California, including the Bay Area, are struggling to reduce air pollution in the face of climate change. Kurtis Alexander in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 4/19/17

More Than 90 Percent of Californians Live With Unhealthy Air -- The American Lung Association says California cities continue to have the most polluted air in the country. The annual State of the Air report also finds wildfires and drought are contributing to an increased number of days with air pollution from soot. Amy Quinton Capital Public Radio -- 4/19/17


Quality of care declines in California hospitals, watchdogs say -- Nearly half of California hospitals received a grade of C or lower for patient safety on a national report card aimed at prodding medical centers to do more to prevent injuries and deaths. Chad Terhune in the Los Angeles Daily News$ -- 4/19/17

Health insurers asked the Trump administration for reassurance on Obamacare. They didn’t get it. -- Health insurance executives seeking certainty on the future of federal funds that help lower-income Americans with their out-of-pocket health-care costs got no commitment that they would be paid next year in an hour-long meeting with Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), according to two insurance industry officials with knowledge of the meeting. Carolyn Y. Johnson in the Washington Post$ -- 4/19/17

Also . . . 

Police practices criticized in lawsuit over man killed by officer -- A police practices expert hired by the family of a man fatally shot by San Diego police in 2015 concluded 75 percent of officer shootings over a three-year period were avoidable and unnecessary uses of force. Greg Moran in the San Diego Union-Tribune$ -- 4/19/17

Fewer shootings by police — that's the goal of new rules adopted by the L.A. Police Commission -- The Los Angeles Police Commission voted Tuesday to require officers to try, whenever possible, to defuse tense encounters before firing their guns — a policy shift that marks a significant milestone in the board’s attempts to curb shootings by police. Kate Mather and Cindy Chang in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 4/19/17

5 things you need to know about the LAPD’s new de-escalation policy -- The five-member civilian Los Angeles Police Commission Tuesday approved an amendment to the LAPD’s use of force policy that requires officers to try to use de-escalation tactics to avoid shooting suspects. Frank Stoltze KPCC -- 4/19/17

POTUS 45  

The White House’s misleading statements about Trump’s ‘armada’ heading to North Korea -- Remember that U.S. aircraft carrier that was headed to the Korean Peninsula as both the Trump administration and North Korea began to talk tough with one another? It turns out it wasn't — at least, not when we were led to think it was. Aaron Blake in the Washington Post$ -- 4/19/17

Trump’s billionaire adviser stands to gain from policies he helped shape -- Billionaire investor Steve Schwarzman’s newfound status as a trusted outside adviser for President Donald Trump has created blurred lines in which the Blackstone CEO is offering guidance on policies that could boost the fortunes of his company and his personal wealth. Isaac Arnsdorf and Josh Dawsey Politico -- 4/19/17


-- Tuesday Updates 

Three dead in central Fresno shooting rampage; suspect caught, linked to Motel 6 slaying -- Three people were shot and killed after a man went on a shooting rampage Tuesday in Fresno, randomly shooting at four white men, killing three, before he was taken into custody, police Chief Jerry Dyer said. Jim Guy in the Fresno Bee -- 4/18/17

Man kills 3 people in shootings in downtown Fresno; officials probe any terror links -- A Fresno man known for advocating black separatism and making militant comments on social media shot and killed three people in downtown Fresno on Tuesday before surrendering to authorities and uttering the phrase, “Allahu akbar,” according to the Fresno Police Department. Veronica Rocha , Joseph Serna and Diana Marcum in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 4/18/17

Famed Northern California winery site to become major pot production center -- Flow Kana, a San Francisco Bay-area based marijuana venture, has announced it has purchased 80 acres once owned by the founding family of Fetzer Vineyards, one of California’s largest wine producers. Peter Hecht in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 4/18/17

‘Resilience, spirit and sacrifice’ — San Francisco wakes early for quake anniversary -- Sirens wailed on cue and grown-ups in Victorian costumes fell silent as San Francisco woke up early yet again on Tuesday to remember the wiggly morning 111 years ago that changed everything. It was Earthquake Day in San Francisco, the traditional mixture of screwiness and solemnity that, once a year, somehow makes sense. Steve Rubenstein in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 4/18/17

California pedestrian deaths decline — finally -- Pedestrian deaths are on the rise throughout the nation, but California is bucking the trend. Dave Kempa Capitol Weekly -- 4/18/17

Amid California’s pot business boom, most banks run away from all that cash -- The recent gathering at the Sheraton Grand hotel in Sacramento would have been improbable just a few years ago. Marijuana farmers – clad in plaid shirts and jeans, and looking like, well, farmers – openly assembled for a meeting of the California Growers Association. Peter Hecht in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 4/18/17

For many at violent Berkeley rally, it wasn't really about Trump or free speech: They came to make trouble -- When hundreds of activists on the left and the right converged here Saturday, things got ugly very quickly. Paige St. John in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 4/18/17

'Caravan Against Fear' makes a stop in downtown Los Angeles -- Immigration advocates held a demonstration Monday in downtown Los Angeles to call on lawmakers to pass sanctuary policies, and to urge L.A. County Sheriff Jim McDonnell to stop cooperating with immigration officials. Ruben Vives in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 4/18/17

No progress seen on housing crunch for San Francisco teachers -- It’s been nearly a month since scores of teachers filled the Board of Supervisors chambers to tell heart-wrenching stories of their living conditions in one of the most expensive cities in the world. Heather Knight in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 4/18/17