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California Legislature passes long-stalled whistle-blower bill -- A long-stalled effort to extend whistle-blower protections to legislative employees is finally making its way to the governor’s desk. Melody Gutierrez in the San Francisco Chronicle$ Melanie Mason in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 2/5/18

California lawmaker tries again to increase taxes on legal, accounting and other services -- State Sen. Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys) has introduced versions of the legislation for years in a bid to help insulate the state from boom-and-bust cycles in revenue drawn from relying heavily on income tax payments from the wealthiest Californians. Liam Dillon in the Los Angeles Times$ Melody Gutierrez in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 2/5/18

Key Schwarzenegger aide nabbed in ethics probe -- Susan Kennedy, a former aide to Govs. Gray Davis and Arnold Schwarzenegger, has agreed to pay a $32,500 fine from the state ethics watchdog for failing to register as a lobbyist while advocating for Lyft and a Southern California water company. Taryn Luna in the Sacramento Bee$ Jeff McDonald in the San Diego Union-Tribune$ Melody Gutierrez in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 2/5/18

Bid to hike commercial property taxes could raise $6 billion to $10 billion a year, analysis finds -- The proposal would make a dramatic change to rules implemented by California’s landmark Proposition 13 ballot measure that capped how much property tax bills could increase. Liam Dillon in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 2/5/18

Dow plunges 1,175 points in worst day for stocks since 2011 -- The Dow Jones industrial average plunged more than 1,100 points Monday as stocks took their worst loss in six and a half years. Two days of steep losses have erased the market’s gains from the start of this year and ended a period of record-setting calm for stocks. Marley Jay Associated Press -- 2/5/18

Trump vs. Schiff: Twitter spat over the Russia investigation -- As the highest ranking Democrat on the House Select Intelligence Committee, Burbank’s Rep. Adam Schiff has been the face of the Democratic opposition in the Russia investigation for months. Sarah D. Wire in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 2/5/18

Trump ripped this judge as ‘hater.’ Now he’ll hear environmental case on border wall -- A federal judge in California who Donald Trump once derided for his ethnicity will hear a case Friday that could determine the president’s latitude to waive environmental laws, paving the way for his “big, beautiful” border wall. The judge is the U.S. District Court’s Gonzalo Curiel, whom Trump berated during the 2016 campaign for his handling of a lawsuit involving Trump University. Stuart Leavenworth McClatchyDC -- 2/5/18

Could oil firms be forced to pay for climate change? California cities hope so -- The Bay Area city of Richmond recently made an unlikely move that got the attention of its largest employer and taxpayer, Chevron. It followed other municipalities and counties across California that have filed lawsuits against oil companies, alleging that the energy giants knowingly contributed to climate change and should begin paying for it. Literally. Julie Cart Calmatters -- 2/5/18

Green card backlog puts lives in, on the line -- Lemuel Dsouza no longer sees the point of staying in the U.S. If he stayed here on an H-1B visa, waiting for a green card, he would be stuck in the same job for years, stagnant in his career. But back home in India, he’ll be free to create his own company, apply for any job he wants and take full advantage of the country’s burgeoning tech sector. So in a search of better opportunities, he’s moving back home this month. Trisha Thadani in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 2/5/18

Universal health bill unlikely given need to ‘heal relationships,’ says new Senate leader -- The infamous image of the California grizzly bear stabbed with a butcher knife inscribed with the last name of Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon may have done more than blow up the Twittersphere last year. The chances of reviving the Legislature’s universal health care bill don’t look good this year, said Sen. Toni Atkins, the incoming Senate leader and a co-author of Senate Bill 562. Taryn Luna in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 2/5/18

3 paths to universal health care in California -- The push to move California to a universal health care system enters a new phase this week, when a special committee will hear for the first time specific proposals on how the state might pursue a path to universal care. Michelle Faust KPCC -- 2/5/18

California Senate’s first woman leader: ‘It’s going to take real work’ to fight harassment -- Sen. Toni Atkins becomes the first woman and openly gay leader of the California Senate next month, tasked with guiding the house through an involuntary and overdue culture change after the “Me Too” movement rocked the Capitol. Taryn Luna in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 2/5/18

Lawmaker wants to ease restrictions on legal weed at special events -- A state lawmaker wants the state to relax its policies prohibiting organizers of festivals and other special events in California from allowing marijuana sales and use unless the event is at a county fairground. Patrick McGreevy in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 2/5/18

California to oversee San Francisco's police reforms -- California's attorney general announced Monday that his office will oversee reforms at the San Francisco Police Department that were recommended by federal officials after the U.S. Department of Justice's decision to scale back a program that helped departments improve community relations. Olga R. Rodriguez Associated Press Evan Sernoffsky in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 2/5/18

Legislature considers trimming role of state schools chief -- Lawmakers are expected to hold an informational hearing later this month to consider drastic changes to the role and responsibility of the state schools chief—potentially even asking voters to eliminate the office. Tom Chorneau K-12 Daily -- 2/5/18

Orange County's only needle-exchange program closes after Santa Ana denies permit -- Orange County's first and only needle-exchange program has shut down after Santa Ana city officials denied its permit application, sparking concerns from public health advocates. Ben Brazil in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 2/5/18

Limit painkiller prescriptions to three days, California lawmaker says -- Assemblyman Freddie Rodriguez, D-Pomona, is pursuing legislation to limit prescriptions for opioids, which are often used as painkillers, to no more than three days. If the dosage has not decreased by the third refill, Assembly Bill 1998 would also require the doctor to justify in the patient’s medical record why continuing treatment at that level is needed. Alexei Koseff in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 2/5/18

Crops May Contribute More to California’s Smog Than Previously Thought -- New research from UC Davis finds a sneaky contributor to the state’s smog problem rising from the floor of the Central Valley: California’s crops are emitting polluting nitrogen oxides, up to 10 times as much of those gasses as previously thought. Molly Peterson KQED -- 2/5/18

At schools near freeways, air filters help students breathe -- On the campus of Salesian High School in Boyle Heights, boys play soccer on a turf field a block away from the East LA Interchange. Four freeways converge here, and diesel trucks hauling containers are visible crawling along the overpass that towers over the neighborhood. Emily Guerin KPCC -- 2/5/18

Deputies fatally shoot 16-year-old during South LA chase -- Los Angeles County sheriff's officials say deputies fatally shot a 16-year-old boy they believed to be armed during a foot chase. Lt. John Corina says the deputies responded Sunday night in South Los Angeles following reports of a young man pointing a gun at a motorist. Associated Press -- 2/5/18

Fox: “Plan B” for Rail Always Made More Sense -- In reporting on the move by the Joint Legislative Audit Committee to scrutinize the high speed rail, Los Angeles Times columnist George Skelton mentioned a “Plan B” for rail discussed by the proponents of the audit request, Democratic Senator Jim Beall and Republican Assemblyman Jim Patterson. Joel Fox Fox & Hounds -- 2/5/18

Rhee: Why rural California needs more love -- California politicians pay plenty of lip service to bridging the widening gap between the richer coast and poorer inland. If they mean what they say and want to back up their words with action, the agenda of Rural County Representatives of California is a pretty good place to start. Foon Rhee in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 2/5/18


California Policy & Politics This Morning  

Supporters of California’s gas tax increase are ready to fight a ballot measure to repeal it -- And they thought passage was the hard part. Almost a year after Democratic leaders and a coalition of business, local government and labor interests lobbied furiously to get a massive road-repair bill through the state Legislature, the same alliance is ready to defend a 12-cent-per-gallon increase in California’s gas tax that’s key to the bill’s aim of raising more than $50 billion over 10 years. Jeff Horseman in the Los Angeles Daily News$ -- 2/5/18

Vacant lots, empty homes and dying orchards on bullet train route attract squatters, vandals and thieves -- Charlene Hook cherished her home of 30 years north of Corcoran, where pomegranate and pistachio orchards stretched for miles. So choosing to burn it down last year was a difficult decision. She and her husband had no plans to leave their 2½ acres until the day the state bullet train authority said its rails would go through their bedroom. Ralph Vartabedian in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 2/5/18

Ballot Measure Campaign Takes Aim at Stanford Health Care -- The union representing thousands of Bay Area health care workers is launching a signature-gathering campaign this week in four Bay Area cities with the goal of qualifying ballot initiatives that would force Stanford Health Care facilities to lower costs or invest more money in care. Guy Marzorati KQED -- 2/5/18

Think California politics is on the far-left fringe? Just wait for the next elections -- For those who think California politics is on the far-left fringe of the national spectrum, stand by. The next election season, already well underway here, will showcase a younger generation of Democrats that is more liberal and personally invested in standing up to President Trump’s Washington than those leaving office. Scott Wilson in the Washington Post$ -- 2/5/18

Walters: Nuclear plant deal leaves several loose ends -- One of California’s most complex and unusual financial/political/legal conflicts was settled last week, but the deal left a couple of mysteries. Dan Walters Calmatters -- 2/5/18

Island of Alameda weighing license-plate readers at entry and exit points -- Frustrated by a wave of auto break-ins and thefts plaguing the Bay Area, police officials on the island of Alameda have proposed a strategy that would take advantage of the city’s unique geography, even as it raises the ire of privacy advocates. Sophie Haigney in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 2/5/18

Economy, Employers, Jobs, Unions, Pensions  

Firefighters focus on clean air, bodies and gear to try to cut cancer risk -- Long before he became San Diego’s fire chief, Brian Fennessy would wear his crusty, soot-covered helmet like a badge, proof he worked at one of the city’s busiest fire stations. He thought it gave him credibility and earned him the respect of peers. Now he knows his dirty gear harbored the toxins and carcinogens that haunt the scene of a fire – and that they might well revisit him in the future as cancer. Karen Kucher in the San Diego Union-Tribune$ -- 2/5/18

Early Facebook and Google Employees Form Coalition to Fight What They Built -- A group of Silicon Valley technologists who were early employees at Facebook and Google, alarmed over the ill effects of social networks and smartphones, are banding together to challenge the companies they helped build. Nellie Bowles in the New York Times$ -- 2/5/18

Trump or Brown: Who’s done better, economically speaking? -- In recent weeks, we’ve heard self-congratulatory platitudes from President Donald Trump and Gov. Jerry Brown for upbeat performances in the business climates they oversee. Now in a typical economic upswing, that would seem normal. Jonathan Lansner in the Los Angeles Daily News$ -- 2/5/18


California on path to meet goal of 1.5 million electric cars, but charging stations lag behind -- Buoyed by an exceptional sales year in 2017, the state’s electric vehicle market will continue to grow this year and will reach 1.5 million zero-emission vehicles by 2025, an earlier target set by Gov. Jerry Brown. Steve Scauzillo in the Orange County Register -- 2/5/18

North Bay’s SMART rail service exceeds expectations in first 6 months -- Since starting service in August, the North Bay’s new commuter rail service has survived a fire that stopped at its tracks, given thousands of free rides to help fire victims and has had to fight to collect promised federal funding for a new extension to Larkspur. Michael Cabanatuan in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 2/5/18


Judge orders Orange County, 3 cities into court over Santa Ana riverbed homeless evictions -- A federal judge is ordering Anaheim, Orange, Costa Mesa and Orange County into court to show that local anti-camping ordinances aren’t being used to criminalize homelessness among the hundreds of people being evicted from encampments along the Santa Ana River. Fred Swegles and Jordan Graham in the Orange County Register -- 2/5/18

San Jose: Sweep of homeless encampment Monday to draw protests -- All the talk, the money, the official reports and master plans to try to end homelessness in Silicon Valley won’t stop what is supposed to happen Monday in the shadows of the overpasses connecting highways 101, 280 and 680. Julia Prodis Sulek in the San Jose Mercury$ -- 2/5/18

A detour lands travel photographer on verge of homelessness -- Larry Dunmire is standing in his tiny rented room in downtown San Diego, trying to understand what happened to his life. Most of his clothes are in a suitcase on the floor. He shares a bathroom with 41 other people. It’s a long way down from “Room With a View” to this. John Wilkens in the San Diego Union-Tribune$ -- 2/5/18


Sugarloaf Ridge State Park already showing signs of new life after October fires -- One only has to look to the native coyote bush to see the flora are returning and the ecological cycle is already underway after the wildfires at Sugarloaf Ridge State Park. Kevin Fixler in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat -- 2/5/18


‘It’s a big world out there’: Teachers take math outside the classroom -- In Dan Goldfield’s high school math class, students don’t learn about large numbers by staring at a whiteboard and copying zeros. They go to a beach and count grains of sand. Carolyn Jones EdSource -- 2/5/18


California bakes as winter temperatures set new records across the state -- Under a baking sun, Russell Neches peeled off his long-sleeved base layer to hit the ski slopes at Royal Gorge Cross Country Resort near Lake Tahoe. Early February should be the the dead of California's winter, yet Neches was skiing in — and sweating through — his T-shirt. Rong-Gong Lin II and Alene Tchekmedyian in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 2/5/18

Death Valley’s 2017 attendance just misses setting all-time record -- Death Valley National Park celebrated another banner year in 2017, nearly matching its all-time attendance record set the year before, National Park Service officials reported Sunday, Feb. 4. David Downey in the Los Angeles Daily News$ -- 2/5/18

The Forgotten Renewable: Geothermal Energy Production Heats Up -- Three and a half hours east of Los Angeles lies the Salton Sea, a manmade oasis in the heart of the Mojave Desert. It was created in 1905, when a canal broke and the Colorado River flooded the desert for more than a year. The Sea became a tourist hotspot in the 1950's, perfect for swimming, boating, and kayaking. But now, people are coming here looking for something else. Benjamin Purper NPR -- 2/5/18

Also . . . 

LAPD officers confiscate 'meth burritos' during a traffic stop -- The 14 tightly wrapped foil packages looked just like burritos when officers found them during a routine traffic stop in Angelino Heights, but on closer inspection it turned out to be methamphetamine, police said Sunday. Michael Finnegan in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 2/5/18

2 mountain lion sightings in Palo Alto neighborhoods -- A woman called 911 about 10:10 p.m. Saturday and said she had just spotted a large animal as she drove in front of her house on the 600 block of Wildwood Lane, according to the Police Department. Sarah Ravani in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 2/5/18

Body found inside truck linked to suspect in Palmdale triple homicide -- Authorities on Sunday found a body inside a Toyota Tacoma pickup that belonged to a man suspected of killing three people in Palmdale last month. Los Angeles County sheriff's officials could not confirm the identity of the deceased person, but they have been searching for the car's owner, James "Todd" Brown, for several weeks. Alene Tchekmedyian in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 2/5/18


New bipartisan immigration plan to be introduced in the Senate -- Two senators eager to see Congress start crossing items off its long to-do list are set to introduce a bipartisan plan Monday designed to settle two of the more pressing parts of the immigration debate and let lawmakers move on to other issues. Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.) plan to formally introduce a bill that would grant permanent legal status to immigrant “dreamers” and start bolstering security along the U.S.-Mexico border. Ed O'Keefe in the Washington Post$ -- 2/5/18


-- Sunday Updates 

'Collateral arrests' by ICE amount to racial profiling, violate immigrants' rights, lawyers say -- They burst into View Park Automotive in South Los Angeles carrying semi-automatic weapons and wearing vests that simply read "police." Four men, including Juan Hernandez Cuevas, were handcuffed and taken away. Andrea Castillo in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 2/4/18

In Trump era, ‘Rapid Responders’ protect undocumented immigrants from ICE -- Alice and Jamie Lynch keep the small canvas bag near their front door, ready for when the couple suddenly dashes out of their quiet San Jose home. The bag, small and inconspicuous, carries a phone charger, a flashlight and a notebook — items the pair might need if they were to witness raids by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Tatiana Sanchez in the San Jose Mercury$ -- 2/4/18

Mexican program lets parents visit their children living illegally in U.S. after decades apart -- The round, wrinkled woman who stepped off the bus was not the mother Victor Castillo remembered leaving behind when he packed up his things 20 years ago and left their small Mexican town. Andrea Castillo in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 2/4/18

Women candidates hit a wall in California -- If 2018 is The Year of the Woman, nobody told California. In the biggest blue state on the map, the only woman running for governor, former state schools chief Delaine Eastin, is polling in single digits. London Breed, the interim mayor of San Francisco and the first black woman to hold the post, was bounced from her position last month by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. She was replaced by a white man. David Siders and Carla Marinucci Politico -- 2/4/18

Winter shelter’s promise to find homeless people housing has mostly gone unfulfilled -- The city’s new winter “triage” shelter in North Sacramento was supposed to be a place where homeless campers would spend a few weeks or months before moving into stable housing with the help of a team of service providers. But so far, the promise of relocating chronically homeless people into apartments and houses has mostly gone unfulfilled. Cynthia Hubert in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 2/4/18

Huge increase in arrests of homeless in L.A. — but mostly for minor offenses -- Los Angeles police found Reed Segovia slumped in a folding chair near the Venice boardwalk early one spring morning in 2016 and shook him awake. The officers handed the homeless street artist a ticket for sleeping on the sidewalk. Gale Holland and Christine Zhang in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 2/4/18

San Bruno blast neighborhood’s message to Wine Country: It’s a long recovery -- After a seemingly endless procession of bulldozers and carpentry crews grinding through the streets day after month after year, reconstruction of the San Bruno neighborhood that vanished in flames when a Pacific Gas and Electric Co. pipeline exploded more than seven years ago is almost done. Kevin Fagan in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 2/4/18

For Venice property owners, the bills have arrived — but promised services have not -- Marlene and John Okulick had never heard of a "business improvement district" when the letter showed up in the mail. It touted the formation of a new group that would clean up alleys, improve safety and promote businesses in Venice Beach for five years. The price? A new charge tacked onto their tax bill. Emily Alpert Reyes in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 2/4/18

Left bounced Breed for Conway ties. Turns out he invested in Farrell’s firm -- One reason progressive supervisors gave for terminating London Breed as San Francisco’s acting mayor was that she was too close to tech billionaires like Ron Conway — so it’s interesting to note that Breed’s replacement, Mark Farrell, has counted Conway as an investor in his venture capital firm since 2011. Matier & Ross in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 2/4/18

Why is Big Sur’s weed legendary but still not legal? -- For decades, hidden in creases of the wild and rugged Santa Lucia Mountains, farmers have eked out a living growing some of the nation’s most esteemed cannabis, hanging onto the hope that someday they wouldn’t fear arrest. Lisa M. Krieger in the San Jose Mercury$ -- 2/4/18