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California Policy & Politics This Morning  

Chief justice of the California Supreme Court leaves the Republican Party, citing Kavanaugh -- California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye has quietly given up her Republican registration and re-registered as a no-party-preference voter, saying Thursday she had become increasingly uncomfortable with the GOP’s direction nationally and in the state. Dan Morain Calmatters Lauren Hernández in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 12/14/18

Misconduct claim involving Kamala Harris aide came to agency months before she left office -- A misconduct claim naming one of Kamala Harris’ top deputies arrived at the California Department of Justice three months before Harris left the attorney general’s office in early 2017. Alexei Koseff in the Sacramento Bee -- 12/14/18

PG&E rate proposal would raise typical bill more than $10 a month -- Pacific Gas and Electric Co. asked regulators Thursday for permission to raise nearly $2 billion in new revenue from ratepayers over three years, starting in 2020, with more than half the proceeds going to cover wildfire prevention work. J.D. Morris in the San Francisco Chronicle Dale Kasler in the Sacramento Bee -- 12/14/18

California Girds for Higher Power Prices From PG&E After Fires -- PG&E customers already pay power prices almost twice the national average. Of the 10 largest investor-owned utilities, PG&E has the second-highest rates, averaging 20.06 cents a kilowatt-hour, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Katherine Blunt and Rebecca Smith in the Wall Street Journal$ -- 12/14/18

Police chief adds details on Arambula arrest in wake of assemblyman’s explanation -- Fresno police Chief Jerry Dyer said Thursday that Joaquin Arambula’s daughter suffered an injury in an area that was not her buttocks, casting doubt on public statements made by the assemblyman in an emotional series of news media interviews on Wednesday. Rory Appleton in the Fresno Bee -- 12/14/18

Ax falls on Assembly Republican staff after California election losses -- It was a tough election year for California Republicans. Among the low-lights for the party were historic Democratic advantages in the Legislature. The latest blow to the party came Thursday when Assembly Republicans eliminated 17 positions, most of which were occupied. Bryan Anderson in the Sacramento Bee -- 12/14/18

Should Jerry Brown clear out California’s death row? These former governors think so -- In January, two-term California Gov. Jerry Brown leaves office. But before he does, half a dozen former governors are calling on him to grant clemency to California’s 740 women and men on death row. Andrew Sheeler in the Sacramento Bee -- 12/14/18

A comeback story? California DMV wait times dropping -- The California Department of Motor Vehicles is looking to produce a comeback story. Overrun by angry complaints from customers and politicians, the agency launched an ambitious plan to reduce hours-long wait times experienced over the summer. It appears to be delivering. Bryan Anderson in the Sacramento Bee -- 12/14/18

Judge orders probe into California whistleblower’s claims -- A federal judge ordered an independent investigation Thursday into whether top California corrections officials deliberately misled court officials into believing that mentally ill inmates generally receive proper care. Don Thompson Associated Press -- 12/14/18

Tainted romaine lettuce traced to at least 1 California farm -- U.S. health officials have traced a food poisoning outbreak from romaine lettuce to at least one farm in California. But they cautioned Thursday that other farms are likely involved in the E. coli outbreak and consumers should continue checking the label before purchasing romaine lettuce. Matthew Perrone Associated Press -- 12/14/18

What’s the best way to evacuate Los Angeles? -- As a wind-whipped inferno 14 miles wide crested the hills of Malibu, for thousands of residents, Pacific Coast Highway was the only way out. Alissa Walker Curbed LA -- 12/14/18

Defeated Republican Rep. Rohrabacher Considers Starting Consulting Firm -- Mr. Rohrabacher, who has represented a California district in Congress for three decades, has told senior staff and other acquaintances in recent weeks that he plans to form a company called R&B Strategies with top aide Paul Behrends, according to people familiar with the matter. Byron Tau in the Wall Street Journal$ -- 12/14/18

Housing  

New San Francisco City Hall employee has one goal: To approve housing -- On Thursday, Mayor London Breed announced the appointment of the city’s first director of housing delivery, a new position created specifically to “ensure that new housing projects are not held up in San Francisco’s complicated approval and permitting system.” Adam Brinklow Curbed San Francisco -- 12/14/18

Wildfire  

911 call logs reveal terrifying moments at onset of Camp Fire -- At 6:33 a.m. on Nov. 8, a Butte County dispatcher answered what was among the first emergency calls in what would become the deadliest wildfire in California history: A “powerline transformer sparked and there is a fire,” the Magalia caller reported. By just after 8 a.m., residents of Concow and Magalia were phoning in a panic — some of them trapped and needing rescue and others frantically alerting authorities to parents and grandparents in harm’s way, according to Butte County dispatchers’ logs. Megan Cassidy in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 12/14/18

Many victims of California’s worst wildfire were elderly and died in or near their homes, new data show -- Rose Farrell is the oldest victim of the devastating Camp fire to be identified so far. She was 99, and she died inside her home on Herman Road in Paradise. Evva Holt, 85, died inside a pickup truck after she was evacuated from Feather Canyon Gracious Retirement Living. She made it only a mile. Richard Brown, who was 74 when the blaze overcame him, died underneath a vehicle. He’d managed to travel less than a quarter-mile from his home in the tiny Sierra Nevada town of Concow. Maria L. La Ganga, Laura Newberry, Paige St. John and Rong-Gong Lin II in the Los Angeles Times -- 12/14/18

PG&E highlights bullet-riddled equipment and downed tree branches near Camp fire in letter to state regulators -- Just days after a lawsuit blamed a utility giant’s faulty equipment for California’s deadliest wildfire on record, the company has submitted a letter to regulators saying it found bullet-riddled equipment and felled branches on power lines elsewhere within the fire’s massive footprint. Joseph Serna in the Los Angeles Times -- 12/14/18

FEMA working to set up hundreds of mobile homes for those displaced by Camp fire -- A privately owned vacant lot in Chico will be the site of 250 homes, and officials in the nearby city of Gridley on Monday will consider a federal plan to locate 405 manufactured and mobile homes there, a federal official told the Butte County Board of Supervisors. Javier Panzar in the Los Angeles Times -- 12/14/18

'Rethinking the Past' in the Aftermath of California's Deadly Wildfires -- But now, many on the ground in beleaguered Butte County — from the timber industry to environmentalists, forest ecologists and firefighters — see this fire as a possible turning point in the long-running debate over how Western forests should be managed. Kirk Siegler KQED -- 12/14/18

From rebuilding to flood insurance, residents affected by the Woolsey fire vent and learn about aid at town hall -- About 400 residents filled an auditorium at the King Gillette Ranch in Calabasas on Thursday evening to ask questions and, at some points, demand clear information about how they can start rebuilding their homes destroyed by the Woolsey fire. Jaclyn Cosgrove in the Los Angeles Times -- 12/14/18

Immigration, Border, Deportation 

7-year-old migrant girl taken into Border Patrol custody dies of dehydration, exhaustion -- A 7-year-old girl from Guatemala died of dehydration and shock after she was taken into Border Patrol custody last week for crossing from Mexico into the United States illegally with her father and a large group of migrants along a remote span of New Mexico desert, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said Thursday. Nick Miroff and Robert Moore in the Washington Post -- 12/14/18

New migrant shelter opens closer to the U.S-Mexico border -- Hundreds of Central American migrants who refused to leave the original Benito Juárez shelter in Tijuana and move to a second spot 11 miles away are being relocated to a new government-run shelter just a few blocks from the initial location. Wendy Fry in the San Diego Union-Tribune$ -- 12/14/18

Migrant caravan draws dueling rallies in Southern California -- Rallies in support of and against the thousands of Central American migrants waiting in Tijuana to cross into the United States are scheduled for Friday. As groups across the country host events this week in solidarity with the migrant caravan, supporters plan to host a rally between 5:30 to 7 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 14, in Irvine. Roxana Kopetman in the Orange County Register -- 12/14/18

Education 

What California can learn from universal preschool in other states -- As momentum builds in California to expand early childhood education programs, the state has the opportunity to look outside its borders and learn from other states and cities that have moved in the direction of offering universal preschool. Zaidee Stavely EdSource -- 12/14/18

Water 

Water districts were so close to deal. Now, lawsuits will contest ‘water grab’ -- Some water districts would like to keep negotiating with state officials over river flows. But lawsuits replaced settlements as the most likely path forward, the day after a crucial vote in Sacramento approving the “water grab.” Ken Carlson in the Modesto Bee -- 12/14/18

Also . . . 

Death sentences plummet across California. Riverside County, which led the U.S. in 2017, has had zero this year -- In 2015 and again in 2017, Riverside County held the grim distinction of sending more people to death row than any other county in the nation. But so far this year, no one in Riverside County has been sentenced to death, reflecting a trend seen in California and across the country, according to a new report. Maura Dolan in the Los Angeles Times -- 12/14/18

Former CHP lieutenant caught in undercover sex sting is convicted a second time of trying to have sex with a minor -- After a nearly decade-old conviction for attempting to have sex with someone he thought was a 13-year-old girl was overturned on appeal, a retired California Highway Patrol lieutenant has again been found guilty of the crime. Hannah Fry in the Los Angeles Times -- 12/14/18

Mongols biker gang found guilty in racketeering case, moving government closer to seizing trademark -- A jury found the Mongols motorcycle club guilty in a federal racketeering case, a verdict that moves the U.S. government a step closer to its goal of seizing the gang’s trademarked insignia. Joel Rubin in the Los Angeles Times -- 12/14/

Nonprofits can't deny contraceptive coverage for employees, 9th Circuit says in limited ruling -- A federal appeals court in a 2-1 decision Thursday upheld an injunction preventing the Trump administration from broadly excusing nonprofits and others from having to provide contraceptive coverage to workers, but limited the order to California and four other states. Maura Dolan in the Los Angeles Times -- 12/14/18

San Francisco's newest underground skater crew is 'Deep Fried' -- For them, breaking a bone is a rite of passage and scars are par for the course. They are a hodgepodge of 20-something daredevils who call themselves "Deep Fried," an underground skater crew that owns the sidewalks and hills of San Francisco. Ted Andersen in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 12/14/18

Driverless shuttle buses are about to hit the road in Sacramento. Here’s where -- Sacramento State students are soon to become test riders for one of the first fully driverless shuttle bus services in the state. Starting in February, two autonomous shuttle buses equipped with computers and sensors will ferry students, faculty and staff on a mile-long, round-trip route on an internal campus street, dropping them off at designated stops. Tony Bizjak in the Sacramento Bee -- 12/14/18

POTUS 45  

Trump Inaugural Fund and Super PAC Said to Be Scrutinized for Illegal Foreign Donations -- Federal prosecutors are examining whether foreigners illegally funneled donations to President Trump’s inaugural committee and a pro-Trump super PAC in hopes of buying influence over American policy, according to people familiar with the inquiry. Sharon LaFraniere, Maggie Haberman and Adam Goldman in the New York Times -- 12/14/18

Trump urged to consider a young White House insider as he struggles to find a new chief of staff -- President Trump is being urged to consider a young White House aide for his chief of staff, according to two people familiar with ongoing conversations, after his top choice and other men turned down the job in recent days. Eli Stokols in the Los Angeles Times -- 12/14/18

 

-- Thursday Updates 

Southern California Edison wants departing customers to hand over $125 million -- Southern California Edison is short nearly $1 billion dollars in its power budget — and it’s hoping to charge a big chunk of that money to customers leaving for another energy provider. Sammy Roth in the Los Angeles Times -- 12/13/18

Selling shipyard safety -- A key San Francisco health official played a questionable role in the sale of homes at Hunters Point. "There's a conflict of interest here," said a Stanford University professor of environmental law. Jason Fagone and Cynthia Dizikes in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 12/13/18

Multiple bomb threats sent out across San Francisco, police say -- San Francisco police received reports of multiple bomb threats about different locations throughout the city Thursday morning, authorities said. The threats came in at around 10 a.m. and police responded to “numerous locations,” according to a tweet sent out by the department at 11:44a.m. Gwendolyn Wu in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 12/13/18

Sacramento and Placer counties receive multiple false bomb threats in nationwide scare -- At least eight people in Sacramento region have received a spam email that is circulating across the nation, containing a bomb threat and asking for payment in bitcoin. Four reports were filed with the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department, and another four in Placer County in the last few hours, according to officials. Molly Sullivan and Ryan Lillis in the Sacramento Bee -- 12/13/18

San Diego police, sheriff's deputies responding to flurry of emailed bomb threats; similar reports in several states -- Law enforcement agencies in San Diego County were busy checking out a flurry of bomb threats emailed to commercial buildings around the region starting late Thursday morning. Similar threats were reported in other states as well Thursday, including New York, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Iowa, targeting various businesses, schools and hospitals. Karen Kucher in the San Diego Union-Tribune$ -- 12/13/18

California looks to electricity shutoffs as a faster, cheaper wildfire solution -- Electric utilities are under increasing pressure to shut down power lines during dangerous weather conditions to stop fires from sparking. And state officials want to make sure those shutoffs don’t do more harm than good. Sammy Roth in the Los Angeles Times -- 12/13/18

Taking on Trump: Democrats lining up early for 2020 -- The 2020 presidential race will start any minute now, with California Sen. Kamala Harris saying she’ll decide “over the holiday” whether to run and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti promising to make his intentions known before the end of the year. Joe Garofoli in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 12/13/18

Apple says it will establish a new location in San Diego, add 1,000 jobs over three years -- Apple said Thursday that it plans to expand in San Diego, bringing 1,000 employees to the local workforce over the next three years. The Cupertino iPhone maker, which is in a bitter legal fight with Qualcomm over patent fees, made the announcement as part of its unveiling of a new $1 billion campus in Austin, Texas. Mike Freeman in the San Diego Union-Tribune$ -- 12/13/18

Monterey Bay Aquarium building a new $42 million education center on Cannery Row -- In its largest expansion in more than 20 years, the Monterey Bay Aquarium is nearing completion on a $42 million, four-story education center on Cannery Row aimed at broadening its marine science programs for thousands of children and teachers. Paul Rogers in the San Jose Mercury -- 12/13/18

His Big Sur wedding ran afoul of coastal regulators. So tech billionaire Sean Parker built an app -- The app marks an unusual convergence between two distinct California cultures: strict environmental regulators and rulebreaking tech types. It is also a rare high-profile coastal violation case resolved with cooperation rather than a legal fight. Rosanna Xia and Sam Dean in the Los Angeles Times -- 12/13/18

As UC Santa Barbara enrolls more students from China, professors complain about cheating and English skills -- When UC Santa Barbara art professor Kip Fulbeck visited a colleague’s class as a guest lecturer last year, he grew fed up with students who slept, played with their phones or left for the restroom and didn’t come back. He noticed that many of the offenders seemed to be international students from China. Teresa Watanabe in the Los Angeles Times -- 12/13/18

Two nuns known for their casino outings allegedly stole at least $500,000 from a Torrance school -- Parents whose children attended St. James Catholic School in Torrance long believed that the campus was financially strapped. Hailey Branson-Potts and Ruben Vives in the Los Angeles Times -- 12/13/18

Virgin Galactic reaches suborbital space for the first time. Now it's closer to flying customers there -- Capping its hour-long journey, the space plane landed back on the runway at the Mojave Air and Space Port in front of a jubilant crowd. During post-flight speeches, one Virgin Galactic employee proposed to his girlfriend, offering her an engagement ring that had just taken the ride to suborbital space. She said yes. Samantha Masunaga in the Los Angeles Times -- 12/13/18

Fox: Poll Results Give Conflicting Directions -- One way to interpret findings in the new Public Policy Institute of California poll (PPIC) is to conclude that poll respondents want to spend more on on-going or new programs while concerned that the money won’t be there in the future for such spending. How can elected officials follow these directions? Joel Fox Fox & Hounds -- 12/13/18

Pelosi says she expects a House committee will ‘take the first steps’ toward obtaining Trump’s tax returns -- House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday that she expects a House committee to “take the first steps” toward obtaining President Trump’s tax returns after Democrats take control of the chamber next month, but she cautioned that securing them is “a little more challenging than you might think.” John Wagner in the Washington Post -- 12/13/18

Tribune Publishing ends talks about selling company to McClatchy -- The decision, reached by the Tribune Publishing board Thursday, followed several months of negotiations with the California-based McClatchy Co. The source said potential antitrust issues in Florida, where McClatchy owns the Miami Herald and Tribune Publishing owns the nearby Sun Sentinel, ultimately derailed a deal between the two companies. Robert Channick in the Chicago Tribune -- 12/13/18

‘Donald’ makes the list of 2018’s worst passwords -- It’s that time of year again when the annual list of worst passwords is released and we see that we have learned nothing from our mistakes. This year’s list features the usual suspects, like “password” at number two and “123456” at number one for the fifth year in a row, but in an upsetting turn of events, “donald” makes its debut on the list this year, at number 23. Dami Lee The Verge -- 12/13/18