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Audit slams California agencies for lax social service background checks -- California is failing in its effort to screen potential social service workers for criminal convictions and could be putting children, adults, and elderly clients at risk, according to a state audit released Tuesday. Christopher Cadelago in the Sacramento Bee$ Patrick McGreevy in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/14/17

Republican Mike Ramos pulls out of attorney general’s race; will run for re-election -- San Bernardino District Attorney Mike Ramos, who over the last two years has positioned himself as the leading Republican challenger for California attorney general in 2018, announced Tuesday that he was abandoning his statewide aspirations and will seek re-election instead. Christopher Cadelago in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 3/14/17

Election officials question Applegate's unexplained $400,000 campaign cash dropoff -- Federal election officials have formally requested information about a nearly $400,000 drop in cash on hand reported by the campaign for Doug Applegate in his 2016 bid for Rep. Darrell Issa’s seat in Congress. Morgan Cook in the San Diego Union-Tribune$ -- 3/14/17

South Bay housing crisis: 92-year-old “model tenant” facing eviction -- In his 92 years, Paul Mayer has survived World War II. He’s battled skin cancer and congestive heart failure. But it’s the fight to keep his apartment of 44 years that he fears he’ll lose. He has until April 4 to clear out. Ramona Giwargis in the San Jose Mercury$ -- 3/14/17

L.A. County Sheriff’s Department switches from silver to gold belt buckles at a cost of $300,000 -- The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is getting down to brass tactics. Sheriff’s officials are spending $300,000 on items they say would make deputies look more professional in their jobs and could help make them safer. Maya Lau in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/14/17

California can require a cancer warning label on Roundup weed killer, judge rules -- A judge has ruled that California can require Monsanto to label its popular weed killer Roundup as a possible cancer threat despite insistence from the agrochemical company that it poses no risk to people. Associated Press -- 3/14/17

Lazarus: Either Paul Ryan is full of it or he has no idea what he's talking about -- House Speaker Paul Ryan defended the Republican healthcare-reform plan by saying it’s not necessarily a bad thing that it will cover fewer people than Obamacare. David Lazarus in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/14/17

H-1B visa immigration program erodes wages, curbs hiring: study -- The H-1B visa immigration program has undermined wages and eroded job growth — yet bolstered corporate profits — according to a new report by a closely watched research group of economists. George Avalos in the San Jose Mercury$ -- 3/14/17

Fox: Haven’t We Learned Yet? More Legislation that Adds to Housing Costs -- Housing costs too much in California. But, while legislators wring their hands over the housing crisis they often pass laws that boost the cost of housing. The latest proposal that would increase housing costs is AB 199 by Assemblyman Kansen Chu. Joel Fox Fox & Hounds -- 3/14/17

Republicans are threatening to expose Trump as the emperor with no clothes -- It's almost as though Republicans are tired of having President Trump's evidence-free allegations laid at their feet. Almost. Late Monday, a spokesman for House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) threatened to subpoena the Trump administration to produce evidence of Trump's claim that President Barack Obama wiretapped Trump Tower during the campaign. Aaron Blake in the Washington Post$ -- 3/14/17

Kushners, Trump In-Laws, Near $400 Million Deal with Chinese Firm -- A New York real estate company owned by the family of President Donald J. Trump’s son-in-law is negotiating to sell a $400 million stake in its Fifth Avenue flagship skyscraper to a Chinese insurance company with ties to leading families of the Communist Party. Charles V. Bafli and Michael Forsythe in the New York Times$ -- 3/14/17


California Policy & Politics This Morning  

Issa's own poll suggests Trump is a burden -- A month after Rep. Darrell Issa won re-election in the closest congressional race in the country, the congressman got a warning that his next contest could be even tougher. Joshua Stewart in the San Diego Union-Tribune$ -- 3/14/17

Super PAC didn’t derail Trump, but it did boost Villaraigosa’s governor bid -- Last spring, as he laid the groundwork for his gubernatorial run, Democrat Antonio Villaraigosa announced the formation of a super PAC he said would “harness the compassion and power” of Californians to fight back against anti-immigrant policies and then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. Christopher Cadelago and Jim Miller in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 3/14/17

Statewide 'sanctuary' bill tweaked but still faces pushback -- California Democrats are making a measure that prevents law enforcement from cooperating with federal immigration officials less severe in an effort to make it more acceptable to police agencies. Don Thompson Associated Press -- 3/14/17

Legal scholars to Trump: White House can't legally defund 'sanctuary cities' -- Nearly 300 law professors signed a letter sent to the White House on Monday that asserts President Trump's threat to pull federal funding from so-called "sanctuary cities" is unconstitutional. Leslie Berestein Rojas KPCC -- 3/14/17

Walters: Are Californians willing to pay Scandinavian taxes for Scandinavian services? -- As he campaigned for the presidency last year, Sen. Bernie Sanders praised Scandinavia’s cradle-to-the-grave educational, medical and social services as a model for America. Dan Walters in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 3/14/17

ACLU ac uses Orange County of restricting free speech at board meetings, threatens lawsuit -- The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California in a letter to Orange County officials Monday accused county supervisors of violating free speech laws based on recent changes to the way their public meetings are conducted and threatened legal action if the board doesn’t change its rules. Jordan Graham in the Orange County Register -- 3/14/17

Edison awarded $125 million for San Onofre's faulty steam generators -- A three-member arbitration panel on Monday awarded Southern California utilities just $125 million in a multibillion-dollar lawsuit against a contractor for supplying faulty steam generators at the San Onofre nuclear plant. Ivan Penn in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/14/17

California bar exam’s passing score should be lowered, critics say -- In recent weeks, a growing chorus of voices — from state legislators to law school deans to court officials — have registered urgent concerns that the lowest score needed to pass the exam, commonly referred to as the “cut score,” is too high, flunking would-be attorneys who would qualify to practice law nearly everywhere else in the country. Dominic Fracassa in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 3/14/17

Closing arguments in Baca obstruction retrial offer conflicting motives for actions of former L.A. County sheriff -- In their final words at the end of a bruising retrial, federal prosecutors and an attorney for former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca painted contrasting portraits of the man — as a selfish coward who used subordinates to carry out a plan to obstruct an FBI investigation and a transparent leader who acted reasonably and decisively to protect others. Joel Rubin in the Los Angeles Times$ Susan Abram in the Los Angeles Daily News$ -- 3/14/17

Taxes, Fees, Rates, Tolls, Bonds    

California tax-free tampons bill tied up over whether cities should be included -- The campaign for tax-free tampons in California has hit its first roadblock of the new year. Assembly Bill 9, which would exempt menstrual products from state and local sales taxes, was abruptly pulled from the agenda before its first hearing on Monday after the author refused to take an amendment from the committee chair that would exclude local sales taxes from the proposal. Alexei Koseff in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 3/14/17

Bill would allow veteran teachers to avoid state income taxes -- A bill moving through the state Legislature seeks to give California teachers a big tax break to entice them to enter the profession and stay — a nationally unprecedented approach to boosting salaries amid a shortage in the field. Jill Tucker in the San Francisco Chronicle Taryn Luna in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 3/14/17


Sacramento families waiting for affordable housing may lose access under federal cut -- Faced with a significant federal budget cut, Sacramento’s affordable housing agency could be forced to shut off access to low-income residents waiting for rent vouchers as early as this summer. The move, should it happen, could also threaten Mayor Darrell Steinberg’s plan to use those federal funds to pay for permanent shelter for 1,200 homeless people over the next three years. Anita Chabria and Tony Bizjak in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 3/14/17

Economy, Employers, Jobs, Unions, Pensions 

Behind Little Saigon's riches, the poor pack into small rooms to survive -- Vince Bui's new home is a shadow of the plush two-story, three-bedroom condo, graced with coastal paintings, that he shared in Mission Viejo with his wife and two sons. It is a room. Anh Do in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/14/17

Demolition delayed on California's crumbling Big Sur bridge -- Demolition work started Monday on a crumbling bridge along the California coast that has stranded residents in the popular Big Sur area and closed part of iconic Highway 1, but it was quickly suspended, officials said. Associated Press -- 3/14/17

Where poverty, promise intersect: San Francisco’s Tenderloin reinvents itself -- Business owners priced out of Union Square (up to $1,000 per square foot), SoMa, the Mission and Mid-Market are finding opportunities in the Tenderloin, which real estate experts consider a well-located neighborhood ripe for redevelopment (at $40 per square foot and climbing). Carolyne Zinko, Photos by Gabrielle Lurie in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 3/14/17

Sungevity tumbles into bankruptcy, lays off 350 -- Sungevity, a one-time high flyer in the solar industry, has eliminated hundreds of jobs, filed for bankruptcy Monday and arranged a sale of all of its assets to an investment group. George Avalos in the San Jose Mercury$ -- 3/14/17

After years of neglect, the Queen Mary may be 'approaching the point of no return' -- Long Beach purchased the Queen Mary a half-century ago, predicting that the ship would serve as an emblem on the coast welcoming tourists for at least 200 years. Courtney Tompkins in the Orange County Register -- 3/14/17


California Democrats propose law to enable students to graduate debt free – is it possible? -- Assembly Democrats, including Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Paramount, held a media conference in Sacramento to announce their plan, which calls for the creation of a new scholarship program that, according to proponents, may cost the state $1.6 billion during its first year, if completely implemented in time to benefit students during the 2018-19 school year. Andrew Edwards in the Los Angeles Daily News$ -- 3/14/17

Bernie Sanders's Ideas Are Catching On In California Legislature -- Bernie Sanders didn’t win California’s Democratic presidential primary last year, but his platform is getting real traction in the state Legislature. Assembly Democrats are putting forth a plan they say will allow in-state college students to graduate debt-free. Ben Adler Capital Public Radio -- 3/14/17

Assembly plan seeks to reduce student debt, but raises state budget questions -- The state Assembly’s Democratic leaders on Monday unveiled a proposal to offer free tuition to all first-year students at community colleges and to vastly expand grants that would help pay living costs for California State University and University of California students and reduce loans. Larry Gordon EdSource -- 3/14/17

UC Berkeley's new chancellor is hailed as 'a brilliant choice' -- Carol T. Christ, UC Berkeley’s top academic officer who is headed to become the campus’ next chancellor, was hailed Monday as the right choice to lead the nation’s top public research university through a critical turning point. Teresa Watanabe and Rosanna Xia in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/14/17

LA group renews debate over single ranking on school report cards -- When report cards for every district and school in the state go online Wednesday morning, there will start to be an answer to a question that has prompted great speculation: Will parents find the California School Dashboard, as the new system of color-coded metrics on performance is called, to be clear and useful? John Fensterwald EdSource -- 3/14/17

College says it has received threats after earrings dispute -- The president of a Southern California college is condemning hate speech directed at the campus community by outsiders after a dustup over hoop earrings and cultural appropriation. Associated Press -- 3/14/17

Immigration / Border 

Smuggled girl abandoned near Calexico border -- Border Patrol agents found a 4-year-old girl soon after she was abandoned by smugglers east of Calexico Sunday morning, authorities said. Agents stationed in El Centro spotted people crossing into the U.S. at the border near Mount Signal about 6:20 a.m. As agents approached that stretch of the Imperial Valley border, they saw one person return to Mexico, then go into a vehicle that drove away. David Hernandez in the San Diego Union-Tribune$ -- 3/14/17


UCSD scientists worried Trump will interfere with climate data -- UC San Diego may accelerate plans to preserve its climate data due to growing concerns among faculty members that the Trump administration could interfere with their work. Gary Robbins and Joshua Emerson Smith in the San Diego Union-Tribune$ -- 3/14/17

Another Yolo Bypass fish rescue underway. Will it be the last? -- Just about every rainy season, the Sacramento River rises to the point that water spills over the top of the Fremont Weir and into the Yolo Bypass floodplain west of Sacramento. Ryan Sabalow in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 3/14/17


GOP health plan to cost older, poorer Californians far more -- The health care bill proposed by House Republicans would disproportionately affect older and poorer Californians by shrinking federal assistance to hundreds of thousands of older people who buy plans on Covered California and by reducing federal funding to Medi-Cal, the insurance program for the poor, experts say. Catherine Ho in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 3/14/17

GOP health proposal would upend consumers’ cost calculations in California -- For better or worse, Californians who aren’t insured through their employers could see major changes in their health insurance costs under a Republican replacement for the Affordable Care Act. Chad Terhune in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 3/14/17

Also . . . 

Former President Barack Obama holds meetings in San Jose -- Barack Obama became a Silicon Valley favorite in 2008. Not much has changed. The former president and his motorcade were greeted by cheers, waves and some wistfulness Monday as he emerged from a meeting at the Fairmont Hotel in downtown San Jose. Louis Hansen in the San Jose Mercury$ -- 3/14/17

Tightrope walkers over Ortega Falls worry forest officials -- National Forest officials were aghast to learn Monday, March 13, that the beauty of Ortega Falls in the mountains above Lake Elsinore is attracting not only nature lovers, but also thrill seekers. Brian Rokos in the Inland Daily Bulletin$ -- 3/14/17

San Jose Semaphore Cracked! It’s A Message From the Moon -- Jimmy Waters teaches high school math in Knoxville, Tennessee. Over the summer, he started reading Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49. As it happens, the novel was also the source of the secret message encoded in the very first ‘San Jose Semaphore,’ a media installation project on one of Adobe’s towers in downtown San Jose. Rachael Myrow KQED -- 3/14/17

Legal battle could change where tourists, hikers go to view the Hollywood Sign -- Los Angeles may block access from Beachwood Drive to a popular trail near the Hollywood Sign, forcing hikers to reach the path from elsewhere in Griffith Park, according to residents who attended a court hearing Monday. Emily Alpert Reyes in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/14/17


White House analysis of Obamacare repeal sees even deeper insurance losses than CBO -- A White House analysis of the GOP plan to repeal and replace Obamacare shows even steeper coverage losses than the projections by the Congressional Budget Office, according to a document viewed by Politico on Monday. Paul Demko Politico -- 3/14/17

5 takeaways from the CBO's report on Obamacare repeal -- Many Trump voters and states would lose big under the GOP health plan, while Republican leaders can cling to budget savings. Adriel Bettelheim and Jason Millman Politico -- 3/14/17

Sanders: 'Thousands of Americans will die' because of GOP Obamacare repeal bill -- Sen. Bernie Sanders on Monday slammed the GOP's Obamacare repeal plan as "disgusting" and "immoral," predicting that "thousands of Americans will die" if it becomes law. Elana Schor Politico -- 3/14/17

IRS strips tax-exempt status from Richard Spencer's white nationalist nonprofit -- The nonprofit run by one of America’s most prominent white nationalists, Richard Spencer, has lost its tax-exempt status for failing to file tax returns with the federal government, according to Internal Revenue Service records. Matt Pearce in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/14/17


-- Monday Updates 

California Senate Democrats rip the Obamacare replacement plan, while GOP lawmakers say 'quit whining' -- It's become almost a reflex in the California Legislature: When Republicans in Washington act, Democrats in Sacramento make some show of opposition. Melanie Mason in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/13/17

Millions more would be uninsured under GOP healthcare plan, independent analysis shows -- Twenty-four million fewer Americans would have health coverage over the next decade under the House Republican plan to replace the Affordable Care Act, according to an analysis released today by the Congressional Budget Office. Noam N. Levey in the Los Angeles Times$ Carolyn Lochhead in the San Francisco Chronicle Alan Fram and Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar Associated Press -- 3/13/17

A side-by-side comparison of Obamacare and the GOP’s replacement plan -- A guide to what’s covered under the Affordable Care Act and the proposed Republican healthcare plan. Noam N. Levey and Kyle Kim in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/13/17

Buckle up: Here come the 2018 election fights -- The 2016 elections have yet to fade in our rear-view mirror, but already the most important topic in Sacramento — and nationally — is the coming 2018 election cycle. Paul Mitchell Capitol Weekly -- 3/13/17

Google Earth images alarm critics of San Onofre nuclear waste plan -- New photographs from Google Earth are making the rounds among activists fighting the plan to store millions of pounds of radioactive waste from the failed San Onofre nuclear plant on the San Diego County coastline. The pictures illustrate with more clarity than ever how close to the shoreline the casks will be once they are filled. Jeff McDonald in the San Diego Union-Tribune$ -- 3/13/17

Calbuzz: Steyer on Being Gov: No Rush to “Make a Decision” -- Today Calbuzz presents the third of our two-on-one interviews with for-sure and possible candidates for California governor in two years. The idea is to give each of them space and running room to express their views in their own words, in details and at length. No worries, we’ll get to the cheap shots and snark down the road. Jerry Roberts and Phil Trounstine CalBuzz -- 3/13/17

Carol Christ is named UC Berkeley’s new chancellor -- Carol Christ, UC Berkeley’s top academic officer and “champion of women’s issues and diversity,” on Monday was named the 11th chancellor and first female leader of the prestigious 149-year-old research university. Nanette Asimov in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 3/13/17

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom to propose universal health care in race to succeed Jerry Brown -- Democratic Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom is drafting a health care plan for California that he plans to unveil as a core component of his gubernatorial run, based in part on the universal health care program he signed into law when he was mayor of San Francisco. Angela Hart in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 3/13/17

Marshall Tuck running again for California schools chief: ‘We’ve settled for mediocrity’ -- Marshall Tuck, who unsuccessfully challenged incumbent schools chief Tom Torlakson in a contentious 2014 race that became a proxy fight over a lawsuit on teacher job protections, will run again for state superintendent of public instruction. Alexei Koseff in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 3/13/17

Is there too much water behind Oroville Dam? Critics say Army Corps standards unsafe -- Long before a fractured spillway plunged Oroville Dam into the gravest crisis in its 48-year history, officials at a handful of downstream government agencies devised a plan they believed would make the dam safer: Store less water there. Dale Kasler, Ryan Sabalow and Phillip Reese in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 3/13/17

California Democratic, Republican Voter Registrations Decline Sharply Post-Election -- Californians who have registered to vote since the November election are increasingly turning away from both the Democratic and Republican parties. There's been “a 10-point drop for both Democratic and Republican registrations,” says Paul Mitchell, who tracks voter activity for consulting firm Political Data, Inc. Ben Adler Capital Public Radio -- 3/13/17

California joins lawsuit challenging Trump's latest travel ban -- California on Monday joined Washington and other states as a plaintiff in a lawsuit challenging the Trump administration's latest travel ban as an unconstitutional overreach, state Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra said. Patrick McGreevy in the Los Angeles Times$ Katy Murphy in the San Jose Mercury$ Christopher Cadelago in the Sacramento Bee$ Marisa Lagos KQED -- 3/13/17

Darrell Issa is 'not prepared' to support GOP healthcare plan yet -- Issa said there aren't specific aspects of the bill he disagrees with, but that he believes the current Republican plan could be better. He has proposed his own healthcare replacement bill, which would allow all Americans to purchase the insurance plans offered to federal workers. Sarah D. Wire in the Los Angeles Times$ Aidan Quigley Politico -- 3/13/17

As Justice Kathryn Werdegar prepares to retire, Brown will soon have a Democratic majority on state's top court -- Justice Kathryn Mickle Werdegar joined the California Supreme Court at a time when the electorate favored harsh punishment for offenders, domestic partnerships for gays were novel and conservatives dominated the state’s highest court. Maura Dolan in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/13/17

Why some people are fleeing Southern California -- Lower home prices and taxes, less congestion, family ties or a more conservative environment are luring Southern Californians to leave the state, some transplants say. But housing costs clearly are the chief factor. Jeff Collins in the Los Angeles Daily News$ -- 3/13/17

Fresno County refinanced pension bonds to cut payments. It could cost them dearly -- Fifteen years ago, Fresno County supervisors refinanced a pension bond to snag a lower interest rate and cut its short-term payments, even though the deal extended the county’s obligation another 10 years and added to its ultimate cost. Marc Benjamin in the Fresno Bee -- 3/13/17

State spares no expense to nail Caltrans worker for long breaks -- Over the years, the California state auditor has conducted hundreds of investigations of state employees who weren’t playing by the rules — but a new report on a Caltrans analyst who took too long on her smoking breaks is one for the books. Matier & Ross in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 3/13/17

Taylor: Oakland making it tough to open a pot business -- Don’t come to Oakland if you want to start a cannabis business. You’re not welcome here, because the Oakland City Council doesn’t want to fully tap into a multibillion-dollar industry. Otis R. Taylor Jr. in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 3/13/17

Yahoo names CEO Marissa Mayer’s replacement for Altaba and his base salary doubles hers -- Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer will be replaced when the firm is sold to Verizon and what remains becomes an investment company called Altaba. Board member Thomas McInerney, 52, a former executive with internet firm InterActiveCorp and Ticketmaster, will take her place, Yahoo said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing Monday. Ethan Baron in the San Jose Mercury$ -- 3/13/17

Santa Ana Cop Fired After Pot Shop Raid to Rejoin Force Due to Court Ruling -- A Santa Ana police officer who was fired after being criminally charged in connection with a widely-publicized pot shop raid is in the process of rejoining the force, after a judge ordered him reinstated with full back pay. Nick Gerda VoiceofOC.org -- 3/13/17

Trump's plan to rapidly expand Border Patrol comes with big risks -- President Trump’s promise to crack down on illegal immigration includes not only a wall but more people behind the wall — an additional 5,000 Border Patrol agents and 10,000 immigration officers. Greg Moran in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/13/17

House investigators on a Trump-Russia 'collision course' -- The top Republican on the intelligence committee was on Trump's transition team. The lead Democrat is a fierce Trump critic. Austin Wright Politico -- 3/13/17