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A Snapshot of California Public Policy and Politics

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California Policy and Politics Wednesday

Rain Train

After heavy storms, Death Valley is now open to kayakers: The return of ghostly Lake Manly -- Storms pummeling Southern California have dramatically transformed Death Valley National Park, doubling the size of a vast temporary lake that is even visible to orbiting spacecraft. Lila Seidman in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 2/21/24

Policy & Politics

Russia detains Los Angeles resident, a dual U.S.-Russian citizen, on treason charges -- A Russian American woman from Los Angeles is held in Russia on treason charges, apparently over a donation to a charity for Ukraine. Jaweed Kaleem, Sabra Ayres, Laura King in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 2/21/24

In final primary debate, Senate candidates spar over Israel, immigration and campaign donations -- The sharpest attacks came from Porter, who repeatedly criticized Schiff for accepting political donations from special interest groups funded by oil and gas companies. Benjamin Oreskes, Laura J. Nelson in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 2/21/24

Schiff blasts Porter’s ‘purity tests’ in Senate debate -- The tone turned chippy among Democrats in the final Senate debate before California’s March 5 primary. Melanie Mason Politico -- 2/21/24

Porter, Schiff attack each other in final Senate debate. Is it a November preview? -- The evening was either Rep. Katie Porter’s last gasp, or a preview of what the next eight months will look like if she and Rep. Adam Schiff face off in November. Shira Stein in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 2/21/24

Garvey rockets into second behind Schiff in latest California Senate poll. Here’s how that could be good for Democrats -- The latest poll in California’s hotly contested race for U.S. Senate shows the Republican former baseball star Steve Garvey rocketing into second place behind frontrunner Adam Schiff, who has solidified his lead while his fellow Democratic representatives Katie Porter and Barbara Lee struggle to catch up. John Woolfolk in the San Jose Mercury$ -- 2/21/24

Riding His Baseball Fame, Steve Garvey Disrupts the California Senate Race -- A fierce contest between Democratic members of Congress has become a strategic battle that could send the 75-year-old Republican to the general election. He still has little chance of winning office, however. Shawn Hubler in the New York Times$ -- 2/21/24

Ex-Sheriff Alex Villanueva suspended from social media site X -- Former Sheriff Alex Villanueva, who is running for a spot on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, said Monday that his primary account on X, formerly Twitter, was shut down after someone allegedly reported him for harassing his opponent in the race. Keri Blakinger in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 2/21/24

Democrats pushed climate action. Then utility bills skyrocketed -- Electricity bills are biting lawmakers in coastal, Democratic-leaning districts. Wes Venteicher Politico -- 2/21/24

Two Democratic candidates went there on Biden’s age. Will more follow? -- “It’s a conversation that we should be thinking about,” Rep. Katie Porter told Politico. Dustin Gardiner, Mia Mccarthy Politico -- 2/21/24

Former FBI Informant Accused of Lying About Bidens Claimed Russian Intelligence Contacts -- A former FBI informant accused of making false bribery allegations against President Biden and his son Hunter had “extensive and extremely recent” contacts with foreign intelligence services, including Russia’s, federal prosecutors said in a court filing Tuesday. C. Ryan Barber, Aruna Viswanatha in the Wall Street Journal$ Rio Yamat, Lindsay Whitehurst Associated Press Glenn Thrush, Alan Feuer in the New York Times$ -- 2/21/24

Trump backs McCarthy’s chosen successor for House seat -- The race in California’s 20th congressional district has been a hotly-contested fight over the direction of the Republican party. Melanie Mason Politico -- 2/21/24

Biden heads to Bay Area for another fundraising swing -- Biden will arrive in San Francisco for two campaign fundraisers Wednesday and an additional fundraiser in Los Altos Hills on Thursday. Shira Stein in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 2/21/24

California lawmakers face a ballooning budget deficit -- The Legislative Analyst’s Office projects the 2024-25 shortfall at $73 billion, putting more pressure on legislators and the governor to find savings. Sameea Kamal CalMatters Andrew Sheeler, Lindsey Holden in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 2/21/24

Gavin Newsom’s new budget is already leaking red ink as revenues fall behind -- Six weeks ago, Gov. Gavin Newsom proposed a budget that would close a $38 billion deficit, but his elaborate financial maneuvers might not be enough. Dan Walters CalMatters -- 2/21/24

Neo-Nazi spews anti-Jewish hate at Walnut Creek City Council meeting -- A man wearing swastikas on his t-shirt and around his neck took to the public-comment microphone at Walnut Creek’s City Council meeting Tuesday evening and delivered an anti-Jewish diatribe that shocked city officials into a brief silence. Ethan Baron in the East Bay Times$ -- 2/21/24

Concerned about disrespectful behavior at public meetings, San Diego considers civility policy -- City officials disagree about how the policy would be enforced, which officials it would apply to and other details. David Garrick in the San Diego Union-Tribune$ -- 2/21/24


LAUSD front-runner apologizes for liking antisemitic, pornographic social media posts -- Los Angeles school board front-runner Kahllid Al-Alim — who is endorsed by the influential teachers union — is under fire for social media activity that has prompted accusations that he agreed with antisemitic content, glamorized guns and celebrated pornographic images. Howard Blume in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 2/21/24


Could OpenAI save journalism? Bay Area news outlets using their money to try -- AI will destroy journalism. AI will bring journalism into a new era. In truth, it may do a bit of both. Chase DiFeliciantonio in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 2/21/24


Bay Area restaurants in 2024: Your neighborhood pub is in trouble -- Here’s what to know about the Bay Area’s complex restaurant scene in 2024. Kate Bradshaw in the East Bay Times$ -- 2/21/24

The Inland Empire’s once-unstoppable warehousing industry falls into a slump -- Logistics has been an economic lifeline for the Inland Empire for decades. Now that the industry is hitting a downturn, the region is feeling the pain. Don Lee, Samantha Masunaga in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 2/21/24

City workers union says S.F. mayor violated law by putting Prop. F on ballot -- Attorneys representing a public employees’ union in San Francisco say Mayor London Breed violated the law by placing Proposition F on the March ballot because she did not meet with the union first to discuss impacts to workers. Jordan Parker in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 2/21/24


California landlords wanted the Supreme Court to limit rent control laws. They won’t — for now -- The Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to hear a challenge to New York’s rent control and eviction laws, putting an end to a case that might have had dramatic implications for California cities’ own tenant protection measures. Kate Talerico in the San Jose Mercury$ -- 2/21/24


Initiative to build 20,000 homes for mentally ill Californians delivered far less -- In the fall of 2018, California’s voters were determined to make a dent in the state’s rapidly escalating homelessness crisis. Jocelyn Wiener, Marisa Kendall, Kristen Hwang, Erica Yee in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 2/21/24

San Diego apartment wave: More than 4,000 units opening this year -- Downtown San Diego alone has around 1,600 new apartments opening in 2024. There are nearly 50 complexes under construction throughout the county. Phillip Molnar in the San Diego Union-Tribune$ -- 2/21/24

Bike Lanes

S.F. businesses threaten to sue city over ‘disastrous’ Valencia Street bike lane -- The merchants allege that the bike lane violated their constitutional rights and the city’s own charter, and they seek an undisclosed amount in damages. Laura Waxmann in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 2/21/24

Driverless Cars

San Mateo County is the latest community expressing concern against Waymo, driverless cars -- San Mateo County and others want a say in regulating the operations of companies that deploy driverless cars. Karen Garcia in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 2/21/24


S.F.’s Chinatown could get new affordable housing tower, and the return of a storied banquet hall -- Even before the pandemic, Chinatown’s traditional banquet halls were at risk of extinction in what, for the better part of the past decade, had been a rapidly gentrifying city. Laura Waxmann in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 2/21/24

Radioactive Waste

It’s not just toxic chemicals. Radioactive waste was also dumped off Los Angeles coast -- Scientists continue to unravel the startling history of all the toxic chemicals — and now radioactive waste — that have been dumped off the Los Angeles coast. Rosanna Xia in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 2/21/24

American River Levees

Levee project could remove hundreds of trees along the American River, Sacramento group warns -- A community group is worried a project to strengthen levees in Sacramento will lead to the removal of several hundred trees along the American River Parkway, creating long-lasting environmental effects while damaging a popular regional recreation area. Rosalio Ahumada in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 2/21/24


Don’t put your wet iPhone in a bag of rice, Apple officially says -- Apple has officially advised against using rice for water-damaged iPhones. Here’s the right way to handle liquid exposure. Aidin Vaziri in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 2/21/24

S.F.’s Chinese New Year parade is the largest of its kind outside Asia. Here’s what to expect -- Spectators at Saturday’s sold-out show will see 19 elaborately decorated floats, a 288-foot dragon and grand marshal Awkwafina. Ko Lyn Cheang, Yalonda M James in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 2/21/24

What does the Capital One-Discover deal mean for you? -- A proposed merger between Capital One and Discover raises antitrust concerns and questions about how it will affect customers. Here’s what we know. Laurence Darmiento in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 2/21/24

Bedbugs check in to some popular Las Vegas hotels. Guests may leave with new travel companions -- Health inspectors in Las Vegas confirmed bedbug sightings at the Encore, Venetian, Excalibur Hotel & Casino and Mirage. Nathan Solis in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 2/21/24


California Policy and Politics Tuesday

Rain Train

Another storm pounds Los Angeles County, triggering flood watch and fears of mudslides -- The latest storm to hit Los Angeles County hasn’t brought particularly high rain totals, but the ground is already waterlogged from previous storms. Summer Lin, Hannah Fry in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 2/20/24

Rancho Palos Verdes leaders consider seeking state emergency declaration over landslides -- City leaders in Rancho Palos Verdes will consider asking Gov. Gavin Newsom to declare a state of emergency over rain-aggravated landslide activity. Hannah Fry in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 2/20/24

As rain pelts soggy Southern California, residents are urged to stay vigilant for mudslides -- Authorities, fearing the effect of additional rain on hillsides and creek beds already saturated by a massive storm earlier this month, issued flash flood warnings for a swath of L.A. from Malibu to Griffith Park as well as portions of the San Fernando Valley. Harriet Ryan in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 2/20/24

Bay Area to see intermittent downpours, thunder as storm ebbs -- Intermittent rain and occasional thunderstorms are expected to continue into Tuesday in the Bay Area, as a storm system that brought high winds, downpours and other intense weather over the long weekend continues to move through. Kate Galbraith, Kurtis Alexander in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 2/20/24

Biden approves major disaster declaration for San Diego County after historic storm -- The federal declaration will allow for residents and business owners in the areas most impacted by the January storm to apply for grants, low-cost loans and other programs, officials said. Caleb Lunetta in the San Diego Union-Tribune$ -- 2/20/24

Policy & Politics

How many bills in the 2024 California Legislature? -- With the dust settled after Friday’s bill introduction deadline, the California Legislature’s count for new bills this year is 2,124. Lynn La CalMatters -- 2/20/24

Walters: Gavin Newsom wants to resolve California’s long debate over mental health -- California’s efforts to care for the mentally ill date back to its admission as a state in 1850. The latest wrinkle is Proposition 1, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s overhaul of mental health services. Dan Walters CalMatters -- 2/20/24

Anti-Israel statements spray painted around Oakland’s Lake Merritt -- Anti-Semitic and pro-Hamas graffiti has been spray painted at different sites around Lake Merritt, community members said. It is the second time in two months an anti-Jewish act of vandalism has occurred near the lake. Harry Harris in the San Jose Mercury$ -- 2/20/24

Frozen embryos are children, Ala. high court says in unprecedented ruling -- The Alabama Supreme Court ruled Friday that frozen embryos are people and someone can be held liable for destroying them, a decision that reproductive rights advocates say could imperil in vitro fertilization (IVF) and affect the hundreds of thousands of patients who depend on treatments like it each year. Dan Rosenzweig-Ziff in the Washington Post$ -- 2/20/24

CA120: Primary could have historically low turnout -- There’s only two weeks before the completion of the 2024 March Primary and early numbers are suggesting an historically low turnout. Paul Mitchell Capitol Weekly -- 2/20/24

Goldberg: No, Donald Trump does not equal Alexei Navalny -- The right wing’s grotesque exercise in Soviet-style propaganda slanders Joe Biden and America itself. Jonah Goldberg in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 2/20/24

Biden arrives in Los Angeles today for fundraiser at Israel supporter’s home -- President Biden is scheduled to arrive in Los Angeles today for a campaign fundraiser at the home of Israeli American media mogul Haim Saban, possibly setting off protests over the U.S. role in Israel’s war against Hamas. Seema Mehta in the Los Angeles Times$ Clara Harter in the Orange County Register -- 2/20/24

Wall Street Is Already Placing Bets on the Biden-Trump Rematch -- Traders and strategists are thinking about all the ways that November’s election could alter the mood in markets. Joe Rennison in the New York Times$ -- 2/20/24


CSU faculty union approves contract with university that would raise salaries -- More than three-quarters of the CSU voting members approved the new contract after months of bargaining and a systemwide strike. Caroline Petrow-Cohen in the Los Angeles Times$ Joaquin Palomino in the San Francisco Chronicle$ Mikhail Zinshteyn CalMatters -- 2/20/24

Bay Area tech layoffs finally start to weigh down region’s job market -- But experts say the impact has been somewhat mitigated by an industry realignment that's led to significant hiring even as thousands of positions have been cut. George Avalos in the San Jose Mercury$ -- 2/20/24

L.A. law aims to make retail workers’ schedules more predictable. Is it working? -- L.A. is among several cities nationwide that have adopted scheduling laws, part of a growing recognition that schedules are as important to well-being as wages and sick pay. Rebecca Plevin in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 2/20/24

Your Résumé Might Be Getting Tossed by AI. How to Push Back -- More jobseekers are deciding who scans their résumés. Some worry if a machine doesn’t read it that no human will either. Te-Ping Chen in the Wall Street Journal$ -- 2/20/24

Inside the Funding Frenzy at Anthropic, One of A.I.’s Hottest Start-Ups -- The company raised $7.3 billion over the last year, as the lure of artificial intelligence changes Silicon Valley deal-making. Erin Griffith, Cade Metz in the New York Times$ -- 2/20/24


Supreme Court turns down property rights challenge to rent control in New York and California -- The Supreme Court on Tuesday turned down a major property-rights challenge to rent control laws in New York City and elsewhere that give tenants a right to stay for many years in an apartment with a below-market cost. David G. Savage in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 2/20/24


Huge new Cupertino neighborhood slated to rise atop old mall gets city OK -- City officials have approved a revamped plan for a new neighborhood of homes, stores, restaurants and offices that could sprout atop an old Cupertino shopping mall and begin construction this year. George Avalos in the San Jose Mercury$ -- 2/20/24


How freeing rivers can help California ease flood risks and revive ecosystems -- Efforts to restore river floodplains are expanding in California. Making space for water is increasingly seen as a natural solution for floods and droughts. Ian James in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 2/20/24

Madera Hospital

California offered $57 million to help this hospital reopen. Now, it finally has a plan -- A California hospital that left a county of 160,000 people without critical emergency care when it shut down 13 months ago took a significant step toward reopening last week, and it could begin accepting patients as early as this summer. Ana B. Ibarra CalMatters -- 2/20/24


Supreme Court Won’t Hear New Case on Race and School Admissions -- The decision, along with an order this month declining to block West Point’s admissions program, suggests that most justices are not eager to immediately explore the limits of its ruling from June. Adam Liptak in the New York Times$ -- 2/20/24

Colleges overlook the potential of students who didn’t finish their degree, study says -- Abandoning potential "comebackers" has major implications, not just for them, but also for the state’s economy, says California Competes. Emma Gallegos EdSource -- 2/20/24


California retail crime ringleader, members charged after estimated $8 million worth of beauty products confiscated -- California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced on Friday that charges have been filed against the ringleader of an organized retail crime scheme that spanned 21 California counties, including Santa Clara, involving an estimated $8 million worth of beauty products. Lynzie Lowe in the San Jose Mercury$ -- 2/20/24


Culinary Hubs Put a Twist on Home Cooking -- Developers are transforming clusters of old homes into micro restaurants to cater to the needs of surrounding neighborhoods. Arielle Paul in the New York Times$ -- 2/20/24


COVID, flu and RSV are ‘waning’ in Bay Area, but this virus remains the most stubborn and deadly -- COVID deaths in California dropped dramatically in 2023 but still 17 times higher than flu deaths. Harriet Blair Rowan in the San Jose Mercury$ -- 2/20/24

An essential medical device fails people of color. A clinic is suing to fix that -- Inaccurate pulse oximeter readings are more common in Black patients than non-Black ones. It was a problem that could be ignored — until COVID-19 hit. Corinne Purtill in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 2/20/24

San Diego County provides caregivers to those in need, but actually hiring someone can be daunting -- For those who are approved to receive care but don’t have a family member or friend available to serve as their caregiver, finding an IHSS provider can be daunting. Lauren J. Mapp in the San Diego Union-Tribune$

L.A. bus and bike lane measure will cost $3.1 billion, a new report says. Backers cry foul -- Backers of Measure HLA, which would add new bike and bus lanes across the city, denounced the report, calling it ‘last-minute electioneering.’ David Zahniser in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 2/20/24