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California proposed for first new offshore drilling since 1984 under broad new federal leasing program -- The Trump administration, inviting a political backlash from coastal state leaders, on Thursday proposed to open for exploration the largest expanse of the nation’s offshore oil and natural gas reserves ever offered to global energy companies, including waters off the coast of California. Keith Schneider in the Los Angeles Times$ Kurtis Alexander in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 1/4/18

California says it will defend legal cannabis despite Sessions’ threat of crackdown -- California signaled its intent Thursday to defend the state’s voter-approved law legalizing recreational marijuana, hours after U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memo clearing the way for a federal crackdown on weed. Two state leaders – Attorney General Xavier Becerra and Bureau of Cannabis Control Chief Executive Lori Ajax – issued statements saying they’ll defend Proposition 64, the 2016 initiative that led to the opening of the state’s first retail cannabis stores this week. Angela Hart in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 1/4/18

Trump administration targets recreational pot, placing thousands of marijuana businesses in California at risk -- Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions is rescinding an Obama-era federal policy that provided legal shelter for marijuana sales in states that have allowed recreational pot, placing thousands of marijuana businesses in California and other states operating legally under state law at risk of federal raids and seizures. Evan Halper and Joseph Tanfani in the Los Angeles Times$ Bob Egelko and Peter Fimrite in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 1/4/18

Bay Area dodges (another) bullet when a powerful quake fails to do much damage -- After nearly 10 million people throughout the San Francisco Bay Area were shaken — and many awakened — early Thursday when a magnitude 4.4 earthquake eight miles below Berkeley rocked the region, authorities pointed out that the outcome could have been much more dramatic had the shaking that accompanied it been stronger. Lisa M. Krieger, Kathleen Kirkwood and Matthias Gafni in the San Jose Mercury$ Alix Martichoux, Michael Cabanatuan, Nanette Asimov, and Sarah Ravani in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 1/4/18

Jeff Denham beat back a recall. Can he survive a blue wave, too? -- Eight primary challengers think this is the year to make a run at U.S. Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock, and they’re drawing widespread enthusiasm from San Joaquin Valley Democrats for their campaigns. Angela Hart in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 1/4/18

L.A. County officials confirm first case of sexually transmitted Zika virus -- L.A. County officials said Thursday that a woman had been infected with the Zika virus by her partner in the first case of sexually transmitted Zika virus in the county. Soumya Karlamangla in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/4/18


California Policy & Politics This Morning  

Democrat Mendoza to take leave during sex misconduct probe -- California state Sen. Tony Mendoza agreed Wednesday to take a paid leave of absence during an investigation into alleged sexual misconduct, a reversal from his defiant stance that came after nearly four hours of arm-twisting from fellow Democrats. Kathleen Ronayane Associated Press Taryn Luna and Alexei Koseff in the Sacramento Bee$ Patrick McGreevy in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/4/18

He announced a run for Feinstein’s seat. Then a harassment scandal broke under his roof. -- She’s “losing her ironclad grip.” State Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León titled a December fundraising email with the phrase. He outlined key messages in his campaign against California’s senior U.S. senator, Dianne Feinstein, and said she isn’t being tough enough on President Donald Trump. Angela Hart in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 1/4/18

California Legislature's 2018 Priorities: Addressing Sexual Harassment, Housing, Federal Tax Law -- California legislative leaders have finally agreed to address perhaps the most overarching goal of activists pushing to end sexual harassment at the state Capitol: Create a uniform process to handle complaints and investigations. As the Legislature reconvened Wednesday for the 2018 session, Senate and Assembly leaders announced a joint committee that will hold hearings starting later this month. Ben Adler Capital Public Radio -- 1/4/18

Top advisor to John Chiang resigns from his campaign for governor -- Gubernatorial candidate John Chiang’s longtime political advisor has resigned after new consultants were hired to change the direction of the race the state treasurer is running, a campaign official said on Wednesday. The person, who spoke to The Times on condition of anonymity to freely discuss internal personnel moves, said Parke Skelton decided to leave the campaign after new consultants were hired around the end of the year. Seema Mehta in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/4/18

Burning questions California’s gubernatorial, Senate candidates must answer -- If you’ve been sleeping through California’s gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races, it’s time to wake up. A lot of major questions about the candidates are about to be answered. We’re kicking into a five-month sprint to the June 5 primary, and the next few weeks will be critical in defining the races — particularly for the candidates who want to replace Gov. Jerry Brown as leader of the world’s sixth-largest economy. Joe Garofoli in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 1/4/18

ICE leader says sanctuary city politicians should be arrested. Come get me, mayor says -- The nation’s top immigration cop took aim at sanctuary cities like Sacramento on Tuesday, saying in a televised interview that politicians who support limiting cooperation with federal deportations might belong in handcuffs themselves. Anita Chabria and Ryan Lillis in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 1/4/18

‘California Resistance’ Takes Aim at New GOP Tax Law -- As the state Legislature reconvenes in Sacramento, lawmakers are wasting no time picking up right where they left off — finding new and creative ways to slam President Trump and block his policy agenda as it relates to California. Scott Shafer KQED -- 1/4/18

Rep. Ed Royce's wife, Marie Royce, tapped by Trump for senior State Department post -- President Trump has nominated Marie Royce of Fullerton to be assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs. Her husband, Rep. Ed Royce (R-Fullerton), is chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, which has jurisdiction over the State Department, including education and cultural programs. Sarah D. Wire in the Los Angeles Times$ Martin Wisckol in the Orange County Register -- 1/4/18

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera signals intention to run for mayor in June -- San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera on Wednesday pulled candidate’s papers for the race to succeed Ed Lee in June. A veteran city politician, Herrera has held his current seat since 2002. Before he was elected city attorney he was president of the city’s Police Commission. Rachel Swan in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 1/4/18

Walters: Long-running judicial feud has a new battleground -- The size and cultural complexity of California spawns many unique political conflicts, and none more so than a years-long, multi-party squabble within the nation’s largest judicial system. Dan Walters in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 1/4/18

In 2040, all new cars sold in California would be emission-free, bill says -- In just 22 years, every new car sold in California would have to be a zero-emission vehicle, under a bill introduced Wednesday by San Francisco Assemblyman Phil Ting. Michael Cabanatuan in the San Francisco Chronicle$ Liam Dillon in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/4/18

Economy, Employers, Jobs, Unions, Pensions  

Not so happy new year: Expect to pay more for gasoline in 2018 -- The average price of a gallon of regular gasoline is expected to go up about 19 cents in 2018, according to the annual Fuel Price Outlook put out by GasBuddy, a tech company based in Boston that helps motorists find the cheapest gasoline in a given area. Rob Nikolewski in the San Diego Union-Tribune$ -- 1/4/18

California can't prevent credit card surcharges, court rules -- A federal appeals court says California can't prevent five businesses from charging additional fees to customers who use credit cards. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Wednesday a 1985 state law that banned credit card surcharges violated the businesses' free speech rights. Associated Press -- 1/4/18


PG&E reports detail proximity of damaged equipment to Sonoma County wildfires -- State regulators have released previously withheld details in reports filed by Pacific Gas & Electric Co. revealing the exact location of damaged transmission equipment found near the ignition points of the wildfires that ravaged Sonoma and Napa counties in October. Kevin McCallum in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat -- 1/4/18

First home rebuild begins in Santa Rosa’s burned Coffey Park neighborhood -- Even as excavators loaded debris into trucks on nearby streets, two construction workers Tuesday stood atop the first new floor joists to rise above the burned ground of Coffey Park. Robert Digitale in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat -- 1/4/18

Trump’s Homeland Security chief pledges help with North Bay fire recovery -- U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen became the first Cabinet-level official in the Trump administration to tour Northern California’s wildfire devastation, saying Wednesday that the White House would fully back recovery efforts. Kurtis Alexander in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 1/4/18


After Abrupt Budget Cuts, Oakland Schools Financial Officer Resigns -- A top financial official criticized for his handling of the Oakland Unified School District’s budget is resigning. Senior business officer Vernon Hal leaves amid a deep deficit that led to $9 million in abrupt midyear cuts. Sara Hossaini KQED -- 1/4/18

Despite cutbacks, auto shops play a role in math and science education in California schools -- Thirty years ago, auto shop was as much a part of California high schools as frog dissection, typing classes and Friday night football. Carolyn Jones EdSource -- 1/4/18

Immigration / Border 

Motel 6 routinely gave guests' information to immigration officials, Washington attorney general says -- Washington’s state attorney general sued Motel 6 on Wednesday, accusing the hotel chain of illegally giving information on thousands of guests to immigration enforcement officials who did not have warrants and who scrutinized guests with Latino-sounding names. Matt Pearce in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/4/18


Southern California's water year has been nearly bone dry so far, making some history -- Since the start of the water year on Oct. 1 through Dec. 31, downtown Los Angeles has received just 0.12 inches of rain. That is tied with 1962-63 for the fourth driest start to a water year since record keeping began in 1877, the weather service said. Sarah Parvini in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/4/18

San Diego water managers say thin mountain snowpack no reason for concern -- Water managers in San Diego County said residents shouldn’t worry too much about Southern California’s bone dry weather and the Sierra Nevada mountains’ conspicuous lack of snow — the frozen reservoir that routinely holds more than half of the state’s freshwater. Joshua Emerson Smith in the San Diego Union-Tribune$ -- 1/4/18

Also . . . 

Rhee: Mayor Steinberg dials for dollars differently than Kevin Johnson. Does that make it OK? -- Mayor Darrell Steinberg vowed to bring a new era of ethics to City Hall. But that doesn’t mean he’s sworn off one of his predecessor’s most controversial practices – steering donations to favorite charities. Foon Rhee in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 1/4/18

California DUI arrests soared during 2017 holiday season -- California Highway Patrol arrests for driving under the influence spiked dramatically during the 2017 holiday season compared to 2016. More people were arrested in California for DUIs over the Thanksgiving and Christmas weekends this year, and the trend continued over New Year’s weekend. Sophie Haigney in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 1/4/18

Researchers Discover Two Major Flaws in the World’s Computers -- Computer security experts have discovered two major security flaws in the microprocessors inside nearly all of the world’s computers. The two problems, called Meltdown and Spectre, could allow hackers to steal the entire memory contents of computers, including mobile devices, personal computers, servers running in so-called cloud computer networks. Cade Metz and Nichole Perlroth in the New York Times$ -- 1/4/18

POTUS 45  

With Trump slow to make selections, interim U.S. attorneys named in L.A. and elsewhere -- U.S. Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions named Orange County attorney Nicola Hanna on Wednesday as the interim U.S. attorney for the Central District of California, a vast area that includes Los Angeles and six other counties. Joel Rubin in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/4/18

Donald Trump Didn’t Want to Be President -- One year ago: the plan to lose, and the administration’s shocked first days. Michael Wolfe New York Magazine -- 1/4/18


Top Democrat seeks answers on $297 million recruiting contract for Trump's immigration crackdown -- The top Democrat on the U.S. Senate committee that oversees Customs and Border Protection is raising concerns over a nearly $300 million contract the agency recently inked with a private company to help it hire thousands of new agents and officers. Greg Moran in the San Diego Union-Tribune$ -- 1/4/18

Republican tax bill and wildfire aid could hasten the need to raise the debt limit -- The Republican tax bill could force Congress to act sooner to raise the nation’s $20.5-trillion borrowing ceiling because less money is expected to flow into the Treasury in coming weeks. Jim Puzzanghera in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/4/18

Trump Breaks With Bannon, Saying He Has ‘Lost His Mind’ -- President Trump excommunicated his onetime chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, from his circle on Wednesday, ending for now a partnership of convenience that transformed American politics while raising questions about the future of the nationalist-populist movement they cultivated together. Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman in the New York Times$ -- 1/4/18


-- Wednesday Updates 

Former aide to state Sen. Tony Mendoza files discrimination and harassment complaint against him -- A former aide to state Sen. Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia) has filed a written complaint alleging she was discriminated against and harassed by the lawmaker, and that she was improperly fired after she complained to other Senate officials. Patrick McGreevy in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/3/18

California Senate and Assembly to work together to address sexual harassment in Capitol -- The joint committee, led by Assemblywoman Laura Friedman (D-Glendale) and Sen. Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), will look at procedures to better protect victims of misconduct. Critics of the Legislature’s current process have often pointed out that the two houses have their own policies to handle complaints, causing confusion and inconsistencies for people who work in the Capitol. Melanie Mason in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/3/18

Lobbyist alleges law firm fired her for signing ‘We Said Enough’ letter -- Alicia Lewis, 33, is one of the leaders of the “We Said Enough” movement that kicked off Oct. 17 when she and more than 140 other women lobbyists, legislators, political consultants and public relations professionals penned the letter drawing attention to their collective experiences with harassment. Taryn Luna in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 1/3/18

Snow measures just 3 percent of average in first California mountain -- When the chief of California’s snow measurements conducts his manual surveys, he usually does it in style, skimming the snow in cross-country skis as reporters plod behind him in snowshoes. No need this time. The vast meadow around Phillips, a remote spot near Echo Summit, was mostly grass and dirt Wednesday, with pitifully small patches of snow. Dale Kasler in the Sacramento Bee$ Peter Fimrite in the San Francisco Chronicle$ Lisa M. Krieger in the San Jose Mercury$ -- 1/3/18

CalPERS leader will get 18 months of salary to decide what he wants to do next -- Instead of retiring, a two-term CalPERS member will go on vacation, collect his $122,000 salary and get a raise while he figures out what to do next. J.J. Jelincic accumulated 18 months worth of paid time off over his 31-year career at the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, he said. Adam Ashton in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 1/3/18

State study says California police departments receive few racial profiling complaints -- California police departments receive few formal complaints of racial profiling or other bias and find even fewer of them to be true, according to newly released data from Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra. Liam Dillon in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/3/18

Fox: Jerry Brown’s Last Budget—Again -- Governor Jerry Brown and his Finance Department are putting finishing touches on his final budget to be presented soon. This is a second time that Brown has wrapped up two terms as Governor of California offering a final budget. Joel Fox Fox & Hounds -- 1/3/18

Willie Brown for caretaker mayor? Poll says yes. He says no -- A new poll shows San Francisco voters divided on whether a “caretaker” should occupy the mayor’s office until the June election — but that if a short-timer gets the job, their top pick is former Mayor Willie Brown. “You’re kidding,” Brown said when he stopped laughing at the news. Matier & Ross in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 1/3/18

Leno, Breed top the field in first poll of San Francisco mayoral election -- Former state Sen. Mark Leno appears to be the out-of-the-gate favorite in San Francisco’s upcoming mayoral race — but with less than a month on the job, acting Mayor London Breed is hot on his heels, according to the first polling in the race. Matier & Ross in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 1/3/18

Many ‘firsts’ in San Francisco mayor’s race — and they all have to do with identity -- Supporters of San Francisco acting Mayor London Breed, who will likely run to fill the rest of Ed Lee’s term in the June election, have brought identity politics to the foreground of a tightly contested race. Rachel Swan in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 1/3/18

Net neutrality fight heads to California capital -- State Sen. Scott Wiener said Wednesday he is taking the fight over net neutrality rules to Sacramento. Wiener, D-San Francisco, plans to use the state legislature’s first business day of the year to introduce California’s own net neutrality laws, a reaction to last month’s controversial decision by the Federal Communications Commission to overturn similar nationwide regulations. Benny Evangelista in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 1/3/18

Some homeowners lose insurance coverage as wildfire risks rise -- Two days before Christmas, Oakland hills resident Anil Prasad got a letter in the mail saying his longtime home insurance wouldn’t be renewed, citing his property’s location “in an ineligible brush area.” Essentially, the fire risk was too great. Kimberly Veklerov in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 1/3/18

Parts of California, West may never look the same after wildfires -- As hotter and bigger fires blaze through the West and yet another year passes with a disastrous toll, America’s wildlands are having a harder time bouncing back. Some spots, from the singed valleys of Wine Country to the steep slopes of the Sierra, may never look the same. Kurtis Alexander in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 1/3/18

Fed up with inaction, Porter Ranch residents take matters into own hands — and it’s ‘empowering’ -- When Susan Gorman-Chang saw a group of children trick-or-treating in Porter Ranch on Halloween night of 2015, a few days after the biggest gas leak in the U.S. history erupted near her neighborhood, she was stunned. Olga Grigoryants in the Los Angeles Daily News$ -- 1/3/18

Cabinet Report merges with education non-profit -- In an effort to ensure the continued success of an important source of education news, Cabinet Report has joined the Attendance Institute, one of the nation’s leading advocates for improving student outcomes by eliminating chronic absenteeism. The move, effective January 1st, comes with a new name for the news service, K-12 Daily. Tom Chorneau -- 1/3/18

Trump breaks with Bannon over explosive comments in forthcoming book -- The president, who told White House aides his former strategist is 'not well,' released a statement saying Bannon has nothing to do with his presidency. Andrew Restuccia Politico -- 1/3/18

New Trump book: Bannon’s ‘treasonous’ claim, Ivanka’s presidential ambitions and Melania’s first-lady concerns -- President Trump is a book genre unto himself. There's “Understanding Trump,” by Newt Gingrich, whom Trump considered as a running mate; “Let Trump Be Trump,” by former Trump campaign aides Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie; “The Swamp,” by former Fox News Channel host Eric Bolling; and a forthcoming book by former White House press secretary Sean Spicer (working title: “The Briefing”). John Wagner and Callum Borchers in the Washington Post$ -- 1/3/18