Aaron Read
Capitol Web Works
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California Supreme Court orders records unsealed in pardon of ex-state Sen. Roderick Wright -- The California Supreme Court has granted a request to unseal court records involving Gov. Jerry Brown’s decision last month to pardon former state Sen. Roderick Wright for felony convictions involving lying about living in his legislative district, officials said Thursday. Patrick McGreevy in the Los Angeles Times -- 12/20/18

Activist Kimberly Ellis announces bid for chair of the California Democratic Party amid leadership turmoil -- Bay Area progressive activist Kimberly Ellis is making another run at leading the state’s Democratic Party, she announced Thursday. Ellis burst onto the state political scene in 2017 when she narrowly lost the chairmanship to then-Los Angeles Democratic Party Chairman Eric Bauman. Melanie Mason and Christine Mai-Duc in the Los Angeles Times -- 12/20/18

California political watchdog agency fines BART, urges criminal prosecution over using public funds for campaign -- California’s state political watchdog agency on Thursday imposed a $7,500 fine against the Bay Area Rapid Transit District and called for a possible criminal prosecution over allegations the district used public resources to campaign for a 2016 bond measure. Patrick McGreevy in the Los Angeles Times -- 12/20/18

LA sheriff says he will remove immigration agents from jail --The new Los Angeles County sheriff has said he is going to remove federal immigration agents from the county’s jails. Sheriff Alex Villanueva said at a Board of Supervisors meeting this week that he also plans to further limit the crimes that lead jail authorities to cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Associated Press -- 12/20/18

Mattis leaving as Pentagon chief after clashes with Trump -- Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is stepping down from his post, President Donald Trump announced Thursday, after the retired Marine general clashed with the president over a troop drawdown in Syria and Trump’s go-it-alone stance in world affairs. Zeke Miller and Lolita Baldor Associated Press -- 12/20/18

Trump rejects bill to avoid shutdown, forcing GOP scramble -- After a rare lashing from conservatives, President Donald Trump declared Thursday he would not sign a bill to keep funding the government because it fails to provide billions for a border wall with Mexico, throwing Congress into deep disarray and risking a federal shutdown this weekend. Lisa Mascaro, Matthew Daly and Catherine Lucey Associated Press -- 12/20/18

Jostling begins to lead California Democrats, as 2020 looms -- The political jostling has started in the contest to lead the California Democratic Party, as the state is emerging as a potentially important player in the 2020 presidential contest. Last month, the party was left in turmoil after its chair resigned amid a swirl of sexual misconduct allegations. Michael R. Blood Associated Press -- 12/20/18

Santa Barbara County knew mudslides were a risk. It did little to stop them -- During severe winter storms, Cold Springs Creek above Montecito turns into a torrent of mud, uprooted trees and shed-size boulders as it drains three square miles of sheer mountain front. Joe Mozingo in the Los Angeles Times -- 12/20/18

Hunger has gotten worse in San Francisco in the past 5 years, despite $48 million in increased spending -- “Food is a basic human right.” That was part of a resolution passed in 2013 by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors which pledged to end hunger in the city by 2020. Tara Duggan in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 12/20/18

Trump pushes government closer to a shutdown, says he won't sign stopgap money bill -- President Trump pushed the country closer to a partial government shutdown Thursday after telling House Republicans that he no longer plans to sign the stopgap funding measure approved by the Senate on Wednesday night because it does not include money for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Jennifer Haberkorn and Sarah D. Wire in the Los Angeles Times -- 12/20/18

US says asylum-seeking migrants to wait in Mexico -- Immigrants seeking asylum along the southwest border will no longer be released into the U.S. while their cases play out, the Trump administration said on Thursday, forcing them instead to wait in Mexico in one of the most significant moves on immigration since the president took office. Colleen Long and Mark Stevenson Associated Press -- 12/20/18

A pet is family no matter where you live, and some homeless shelters are recognizing that -- Laura Flores, who shares a van with her Chihuahua, chokes up saying little Gracie is “the reason why I get up in the morning.” Ramona Martinez’s dog, Sadie, is “more than my companion.” “I dont have anything else,” another woman says of her 4-month-old Doberman. The women are homeless; they look to their pets for affection and stability. Alicia Robinson in the Orange County Register -- 12/20/18


California Policy & Politics This Morning  

Church knew for years L.A. bishop had been accused of abuse -- The Archdiocese of Los Angeles knew for at least 13 years that one of its bishops had been accused of sexual abuse at a parish but did not inform the public until this week, despite repeated vows to disclose such information. Richard Winton in the Los Angeles Times -- 12/20/18

Democrats' House takeover could mean big changes for California water policy -- Among the changes ahead when Democrats take control of the House in January, add this one: The switch will upend the balance of power in California’s water wars. Sarah D. Wire in the Los Angeles Times -- 12/20/18

Deal could avoid shutdown, but California wildfire and water measures have to wait -- Congressional leaders reached a short-term spending deal Wednesday that effectively punts most of the contentious funding decisions into the new year. That includes the question of whether to extend a federal law designed to deliver more Northern California water south, which has become a factor in the Delta water-sharing agreement reached earlier this month. Emily Cadei in the Sacramento Bee -- 12/20/18

Astronauts prepare for flight in SpaceX capsule -- NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley kept their eyes on the touch-screens in front of them in the SpaceX Crew Dragon training vehicle as the capsule neared the International Space Station in a training simulation at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne on Wednesday. Samantha Masunaga in the Los Angeles Times -- 12/20/18

Walters: Brown’s symbiotic relationship with the media -- During his half-century-long career in California politics, Jerry Brown has had a complex relationship with journalists, particularly those who covered him on a day-to-day basis. Dan Walters Calmatters -- 12/20/18

Skelton: Gov. Jerry Brown: ‘I wanted to bring a whole new spirit to Sacramento, which I did’ -- Gov. Jerry Brown was explaining why he loves his isolated, ancestral ranch and plans to live there when he broke into song. “Oh, give me land, lots of land under starry skies above. “Don’t fence me in…” “What’s the next verse?” he stopped and asked. “I like that song.” George Skelton in the Los Angeles Times -- 12/20/18

Vaping could be snuffed out in California if these bills become law in 2019 -- California lawmakers on both the left and the right are working up plans to restrict vaping in the coming year, citing their worries that flavored tobacco in e-cigarettes entices too many young people to take up a potentially harmful habit. Andrew Sheeler in the Sacramento Bee -- 12/20/18

LAPD commander charged with public intoxication should be fired, disciplinary board rules -- A Los Angeles police commander who was charged with public intoxication after an altercation with Glendale police in April should lose her job, a disciplinary board decided Tuesday. The ruling on the dismissal of Nicole Mehringer, made by a three-person LAPD Board of Rights panel, must be approved by Chief Michel Moore. Cindy Chang in the Los Angeles Times -- 12/20/18

California To Require Release Of Law Enforcement Videos In Shootings, Use-Of-Force Incidents Within 45 Days -- Several agencies — including the Sacramento and Los Angeles police departments — have been releasing these records for some time. But the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department's first-ever release of videos from an incident didn't take place until earlier this month. Bob Moffitt Capital Public Radio -- 12/20/18

New judge to oversee Oakland Ghost Ship trial — fifth assigned to case -- A new judge has been assigned to the Ghost Ship trial next year in Oakland, defense attorneys said Wednesday. Alameda County Superior Court Judge Trina Thompson is now expected to oversee the case against defendants Derick Almena and Max Harris, becoming the fifth judge to be assigned to the proceedings. Kimberly Veklerov in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 12/20/18

Californians puzzled as sky lights up from San Francisco to Lake Tahoe -- Shortly after a rocket launch was canceled in Southern California on Wednesday evening, social media exploded with photos and questions about a mysterious trail of light that appeared in the sky in Northern California. Twitter users from Lake Tahoe to Ventura reported seeing the trail, including many in Sacramento and the Bay Area. Hannah Darden in the Sacramento Bee -- 12/20/18

Economy, Employers, Jobs, Unions, Pensions  

L.A. teachers set to strike Jan. 10. Union says it has no plans for more negotiating -- A labor agreement is not the only thing dividing the Los Angeles Unified School District and its teachers. One missing element crucial to coming together on a contract deal — and averting a strike — is trust. Howard Blume in the Los Angeles Times -- 12/20/18

The data-sharing at the heart of Facebook's latest scandal isn't an anomaly — it's how Facebook does business -- Facebook's business model has always been simple: acquire as much personal information from users as possible, then find a way to make money off of it. Sam Dean in the Los Angeles Times -- 12/20/18

Union leaders tentatively agree on a contract to avert strikes at six L.A. hotels -- Strikes may have been averted at six high-end hotels in Los Angeles, but union leaders say labor demonstrations during the holiday season are still a possibility at 18 other Southern California hotels. Hugo Martin in the Los Angeles Times -- 12/20/18

New Law Will Protect California Employees From Defamation Lawsuits After Reporting Sexual Harassment -- A new California law taking effect Jan. 1 will protect workers from being sued for defamation when they accuse someone of inappropriate behavior, as long as they do so in good faith. This happened to a woman named Sandy nearly 20 years ago when she got a knock on her door. Nadine Sebai Capital Public Radio -- 12/20/18

Edison’s Plans To Resume Nuclear Waste Transfer May Face Legal Challenge -- Southern California Edison may face more legal challenges before resuming the transfer of highly radioactive spent fuel rods from cooling ponds to silos near the beach at San Onofre. Alison St John KPBS -- 12/20/18

Sempra firms up deal with Poland for proposed LNG plant in Texas -- Sempra Energy took another step in its ambitious efforts to become one of the world’s major liquefied natural gas players on Wednesdsay when it finalized a 20-year agreement with Poland’s oil and natural gas company for an LNG facility the San Diego-based company plans to construct on the Texas Gulf Coast. Rob Nikolewski in the San Diego Union-Tribune$ -- 12/20/18

Altria nears deal to buy $12.8-billion stake in Juul, sources say -- Juul Labs Inc., the San Francisco company behind the wildly popular e-cigarette, is nearing a deal to sell about a third of itself to tobacco giant Altria Group Inc., people familiar with the negotiations said. Olivia Zaleski Bloomberg via the Los Angeles Times -- 12/20/18

Judge signs off on $480-million settlement with Wells Fargo shareholders -- The deal, reached in May and given preliminary approval in September, would compensate Wells Fargo shareholders for losses they incurred after the bank’s 2016 admission that employees might have created millions of unauthorized accounts. James Rufus Koren in the Los Angeles Times -- 12/20/18

Activists oppose Google’s downtown San Jose campus plan in face of homeless deaths -- Activists opposed to Google’s plan for a downtown San Jose campus showed up at one of the search company’s newly acquired parcels Wednesday morning to flag attention to the plight of people who will be displaced and a sharp rise in homeless deaths. Thy Vo in the San Jose Mercury -- 12/20/18


California housing costs push migrants away from areas providing the most help -- In recent weeks, more than 7,000 migrants have gathered in Tijuana, hoping for asylum in the United States. Some will be deported. Others will be detained for long periods of time. David Wagner, KPCC via Calmatters -- 12/20/18

Southern California house price gains shrink as sales lag year-ago levels -- Southern California house prices rose in November by the smallest margin in nearly four years as sales continue to lag, according to a report out this week by the California Association of Realtors. The median price of an existing Southern California house – or price at the midpoint of all sales — was $512,000 in November, state Realtors reported. Jeff Collins in the Orange County Register -- 12/20/18


Golden Gate Bridge toll may climb near $10 by 2023 -- The cost to cross the Golden Gate Bridge could rise to nearly $10 in the next five years, a more than 20 percent increase that officials say is vital to keep buses and ferries running, paint suspension cables and otherwise maintain the aging Art Deco span. Rachel Swan in the San Francisco Chronicle Adam Brinklow Curbed San Francisco -- 12/20/18


Chumash firefighters search for signs of Native American past in Woolsey fire burn scar -- It had been weeks since the Woolsey fire tore through the Santa Monica Mountains, and Gilbert Romero walked carefully beneath a scorched canopy of live oak trees. Javier Panzar in the Los Angeles Times -- 12/20/18

Chico opens its arms to Camp Fire survivors. But there are limits -- More than any other Northern California community, Chico has opened its arms to Camp Fire survivors from nearby Paradise. Dale Kasler in the Sacramento Bee -- 12/20/18

Immigration, Border, Deportation 

Yemeni mom arrives in US to visit her dying son -- A Yemeni mother who fought for the right to see her dying son arrived Wednesday night in California after the Trump administration gave her a long-sought waiver to its travel ban. Shaima Swileh was mobbed by well-wishers at San Francisco International Airport. Julie Watson Associated Press -- 12/20/18

Judge overturns Trump policy limiting asylum claims by victims of gangs and domestic violence -- A major Trump administration policy that sought to block victims of gang and domestic violence from claiming asylum in the U.S. is illegal, a federal judge ruled Wednesday. Molly O'Toole in the Los Angeles Times -- 12/20/18

Deportation could be next after California court blocks pardon for crimes committed at 14 -- Unless the courts intervene, 37-year-old Borey Ai will probably be taken from his San Francisco home soon and deported to Cambodia, a country he has never seen, for a murder he committed when he was 14. Bob Egelko in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 12/20/18

Migrant Kids in Government Custody Could Be Released to Families More Quickly -- Hundreds of unaccompanied migrant children in shelters in California could be released to parents and other sponsors more rapidly, after the Trump administration reversed a policy Wednesday that had required fingerprinting everyone in the household of a prospective sponsor. Tyche Hendricks KQED -- 12/20/18

Volunteers Pledge To Help Migrants Seek Asylum For At Least 40 Days And 40 Nights -- A group called the New Sanctuary Coalition is kicking off a campaign to help migrants seeking asylum. Matt Hoffman KPBS -- 12/20/18

A Honduran Restaurant Hands Out Hot Comfort Food for the Migrant Caravan in Tijuana -- When José Aguilar, a Honduran-born resident of Tijuana, Mexico, heard that a caravan of mostly Honduran migrants was headed to the border city, he knew he had to do something. Tomás Ayuso NPR -- 12/20/18


How George Tyndall went from USC gynecologist to the center of LAPD’s largest-ever sex abuse investigation -- Dr. George Tyndall arrived on the USC campus in the summer of 1989. The university had advertised for a full-time gynecologist for the student health center, and Tyndall, then 42, was an enthusiastic candidate. Matt Hamilton and Harriet Ryan in the Los Angeles Times -- 12/20/18

Trump administration’s school safety report met with harsh criticism in California -- The long-awaited report from the Trump Administration’s school safety commission is being met by a chorus of criticism from the California education community, with state officials and representatives for school administrators joining youth advocates and union leaders in decrying some of the report’s key recommendations. David Washburn EdSource -- 12/20/18


Orange County water study updated, Poseidon desalination plant still scores low -- South Orange County is far more at risk for future water shortages than the rest of the county, according to the final draft of a water-needs forecast received Wednesday by the Municipal Water District of Orange County’s board. Martin Wisckol in the Orange County Register -- 12/20/18

‘This plan is illegal.’ Merced Irrigation District challenging state’s water decision -- The Merced Irrigation District board gave direction Wednesday to take legal action challenging the state’s Bay-Delta water quality control plan, which is strongly opposed by communities in the Northern San Joaquin Valley. Ken Carlson in the Modesto Bee$ -- 12/20/18

Also . . . 

Too cash-strapped for a funeral, widow finds decency and decorum through a student-run service -- Linda Tillman thought a memorial service for her late husband George was financially impossible. Over the years, his medical debt had ballooned to $90,000, leaving the expense of a conventional funeral out of her reach. Alexandra Yoon-Hendricks in the Sacramento Bee -- 12/20/18

POTUS 45  

Trump Withdraws U.S. Forces From Syria, Declaring ‘We Have Won Against ISIS’ -- President Trump has ordered the withdrawal of 2,000 American troops from Syria, bringing a sudden end to a military campaign that largely vanquished the Islamic State but ceding a strategically vital country to Russia and Iran. Mark Landler, Helene Cooper and Eric Schmitt in the New York Times -- 12/20/18

Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria startles aides and allies -- On Wednesday, Trump set heads spinning within his own government and around the world by apparently reversing himself again. His decision was made on Tuesday, according to people familiar with the issue, following a small meeting attended only by senior White House aides and the secretaries of defense and state, most of whom, if not all, sharply disagreed. Karen DeYoung in the Washington Post -- 12/20/18

Pullout from Syria weakens U.S. hand in the Middle East and boosts Russia -- President Trump’s decision to withdraw troops from Syria robs the United States of key leverage in the Middle East, may clear the way for a return of Islamic extremist groups and boosts an expanding Russia. Tracy Wilkinson in the Los Angeles Times -- 12/20/18


Mueller seeks Roger Stone’s testimony to House intelligence panel, suggesting special counsel is near end of probe of Trump adviser -- Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III asked the House Intelligence Committee on Friday for an official transcript of Trump adviser Roger Stone’s testimony, according to people familiar with the request, a sign that prosecutors could be moving to charge him with a crime. Carol D. Leonnig, Ellen Nakashima, Rosalind S. Helderman and Manuel Roig-Franzia in the Washington Post -- 12/20/18

Senate unanimously approves bill to make lynching a federal hate crime -- After nearly 100 years of failed attempts, the Senate on Wednesday unanimously approved legislation to make lynching a federal crime. Sponsored by the Senate’s three African American members, Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Tim Scott (R-S.C.), the bill would ensure that lynching triggers an enhanced sentence under federal law like other hate crimes. Elise Viebeck in the Washington Post -- 12/20/18


-- Wednesday Updates 

L.A. teachers to strike Jan. 10 if no settlement is reached -- The union representing Los Angeles teachers announced Wednesday that it will strike on Jan. 10 if a settlement is not reached by then. An agreement with the Los Angeles Unified School District seems increasingly unlikely as each side dismisses the other’s position as untenable. Howard Blume in the Los Angeles Times -- 12/19/18

Agricultural empire behind Halos and Wonderful pistachios raises minimum hourly wage to $15 -- The Wonderful Co., an agriculture conglomerate that sells popular brands of mandarins, pistachios and other products, will raise the minimum hourly wage for its full-time, year-round workers to $15 next month — a move that mirrors wage increases at farms across the state. James Rufus Koren in the Los Angeles Times -- 12/19/18

Pope Francis accepts resignation of Los Angeles bishop accused of misconduct -- Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of a Los Angeles auxiliary bishop accused of sexually abusing a minor in the latest case of alleged molestation to rock the Roman Catholic Church, officials said Wednesday. Tom Kington in the Los Angeles Times -- 12/19/18

California has new gun control laws on the books -- California has a slew of new gun control laws heading into 2019, the result of legislation inspired by America’s growing gun violence epidemic, including high-profile mass shootings in Las Vegas and Parkland, Florida. Andrew Sheeler in the Sacramento Bee -- 12/19/18