Democrat Doug Jones wins Alabama Senate seat, but Roy Moore won't concede
LA Times' MARK Z. BARABAK: "Democrat Doug Jones, who started the Alabama race for U.S. Senateas a massive underdog, swept to victory Tuesday night in a repudiation of scandal-stained Roy Moore. The upset also dealt a serious blow to President Trump."
"The narrow victory slices the GOP’s already-thin margin in the Senate to a single seat, complicating the party’s legislative push and giving Democrats a major boost heading into the 2018 campaign, when control of Congress will be at stake."
"The win — which Moore refused to acknowledge — marked the first time a Democrat has captured a U.S. Senate seat in Alabama in a quarter of a century."
READ MOORE: Listen up America, Alabama has spoken -- AL.com's EDITORIAL BOARD; Republicans shouldn't assume Roy Moore was an outlier -- FiveThirtyEight's NATE SILVER; Alabama earthquake: Democrat Jones wins -- Politico's DANIEL STRAUSS; 5 takeaways from Alabama's startling special election -- Politico's GABRIEL DEBENEDETTI/ALEX ISENSTADT; As Democrats add Senate seat, GOP left to bicker over what happened in Alabama -- WaPo's SEAN SULLIVAN/ELISE VIEBECK/DAVID WEIGEL/MICHAEL SCHERER; Once a long shot, Democrat Doug Jones wins Alabama Senate race -- NYT's ALEXANDER BURNS/JONATHAN MARTIN; Meet Doug Jones, the law-and-order Democrat who won Alabama's Senate seat -- LA Times' MICHAEL FINNEGAN; Roy Moore refuses to conede: 'God is always in control' -- Breitbart's CHARLIE SPIERING; Things to know about Alabama's new US senator, Doug Jones -- AP's JAY REEVES; Democrat Doug Jones' victory poses a threat to Senate Republican agenda -- McClatchy DC's LESLEY CLARK; Recount in Alabama Senate race unlikely to help Roy Moore win, Merrill says -- AL.com's MIKE CASON
In stunning 2017 defeats, Republicans see vision of difficulties in 2018
LA Times' CATHLEEN DECKER: "Democrats who opened the year clashing among themselves and lamenting President Trump’s election have closed 2017 with victories that demonstrated their ability to weaponize party enthusiasm and draw a template for success in a sharply competitive battle for Congress in 2018."
"For Republicans, Tuesday night’s stunning loss by Roy Moore in Alabama’s Senate race — the first GOP loss in a Senate race there in a generation — underscored a bleak passage of time: A year that began in unified control of Washington has ended with the party bitterly split and redefined in the worst of ways, saddled with an unpopular president and a Senate candidate accused of child molestation."
London Breed named San Francisco's interim mayor after Lee's death
Sacramento Bee's BENJY EGEL: "San Francisco’s new acting mayor is London Breed, a 43-year-old African American daughter of the city who grew up in poverty before ascending through the local government ranks."
"Mayor Ed Lee, 65, died from a heart attack suffered Monday night while shopping for groceries at Safeway. Lee, who had served as mayor since 2011 after being appointed by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors following Gavin Newsom’s election to lieutenant governor, was pronounced deceased about 1 a.m. Tuesday at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital."
"Breed is the second woman to serve as San Francisco’s mayor after current U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, and the only African American aside from Willie Brown. She served as the Board of Supervisors’ president until Tuesday, and can be ousted if the majority of the 11-person board votes for another candidate."
Fire at a homeless encampment sparked Bel-Air blaze that destroyed homes, officials say
LA Times' GALE HOLLAND/LAURA J NELSON/DAVID ZAHNISER: "The blaze that swept through the hills of Bel-Air last week, destroying six homes and damaging a dozen others, was sparked by a cooking fire at a homeless encampment in a nearby ravine, Los Angeles officials said Tuesday."
"The encampment was nestled in a canyon several hundred feet from Sepulveda Boulevard and the 405 Freeway, hidden from passing cars. For several years, it had been home to an unknown number of people, officials said."
READ MORE related to The West is Burning: SoCal wildfires update: Fire, evacuation maps and latest info -- Sacramento Bee's KALIN KIPLING/NOEL HARRIS
GOP tax plan could bring New Year's surprises
Politico's BRIAN FALER: "American taxpayers may get a jolt on New Year’s Day when new tax rules — including some sudden tax increases — take effect just days after Republicans hope to pass their overhaul and have it signed into law."
"In an effort to juice the economy with tax cuts ahead of the midterm elections, the GOP is planning a Jan. 1 start date for its sweeping rewrite of the code."
"But along with Republicans' much-advertised cuts in business and individual taxes, there would be tax increases as well, some of which have been barely debated."
Gas tax fuels 2018 political fight
LISA RENNER in Capitol Weekly: "California’s new gas tax hike to fund billions of dollars worth of overdue road repairs has only been in effect for a little over a month but Republicans are already trying to overturn it."
"On Nov. 1, Senate Bill 1, signed by Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown in the spring after a fierce political battle, increased the excise tax on gas by 12 cents a gallon and the excise tax on diesel fuel by 20 cents a gallon."
"The bill, part of a package, also adds a new annual vehicle registration fee of $25-$175 depending on the value of the car beginning Jan. 1. The legislation, backed by Democrats and opposed by most Republicans, will raise about $5.2 billion annually for road and bridge repairs, and expanded mass transit."
Net neutrality's repeal means fast lanes could be coming to the internet. Is that a good thing?
LA Times' JIM PUZZANGHERA: "With federal regulators poised to repeal net neutrality rules this week, your internet service provider would be allowed to speed up delivery of some online content to your home or phone."
"Whether those fast lanes are coming, and what they ultimately deliver for Americans, is unclear."
"The concept, known as paid prioritization, involves a telecommunications company charging an additional fee to transport a video stream or other content at a higher speed through its network."
READ MORE related to Title II: FCC chairman jokes about being a Verizon shill, days before forcing an FCC vote that would be a boon for Verizon -- LA Times' MICHAEL HILTZIK
In an upset, a CalPERS critic wins a seat on the pension board
Sacramento Bee's ADAM ASHTON: "The board that governs the country’s largest public pension fund will get one of its outspoken critics as one of its new members."
"Margaret Brown, a Southern California school district administrator, unseated incumbent Michael Bilbrey in a runoff election to win a seat on the California Public Employees’ Retirement System Board of Administration."
"Her victory on Tuesday marks an upset over Bilbrey, who had the backing of nearly every state public employee union and a well-funded campaign account. Unions contributed more than $150,000 to help him retain his seat while also touting him in newsletters to their members."
Sacramento teachers approve contract. County chief tells district to find cuts to pay for it
Sacramento Bee's DIANA LAMBERT: "Sacramento city school teachers ratified a three-year contract late Monday after the district avoided a strike last month by agreeing to increase pay and work toward improving classroom conditions."
"The district’s work is not finished, however."
"Sacramento County schools chief David Gordon warned last week that the new contract would push the district’s reserves so low in two years that Sacramento City Unified must propose new cuts to avoid being placed on the state’s early financial warning list.
Families of patients fear GOP tax plan will scuttle drug development for rare diseases
LA Times' DON LEE: "Of all the proposals in the GOP tax plan, none may be more important to families like Jay and Amy Granzow than an obscure provision on “orphan” drug research."
"The Granzows, who live in Manhattan Beach, fear that the final tax bill will end up killing or drastically cutting a three-decade-old tax credit for companies developing therapies for so-called orphan or rare diseases, such as cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy and Angelman syndrome. The last is a debilitating genetic disorder that afflicts the Granzows’ nearly 3-year-old daughter, Cora."
READ MORE related to Health Care: 5 years after Sandy Hook, mental health care worries linger -- AP's SUSAN HAIGH
LA County leaders review sexual harassment policies
LA Times' MELISSA ETEHAD: "Amid the wave of sexual harassment complaints lodged against elected officials and other high-profile figures, Los Angeles County supervisors on Tuesday tinkered with what they said is already an effective program for handling such allegations for the 110,000-person workforce."
"After hearing a report on how the program is run, supervisors recommended the county make the online link employees can use to file complaints easier to find."
"They also called for an evaluation of the effectiveness of sexual harassment training for new employees, and a survey of employees who filed complaints to gauge their thoughts on the process."
READ MORE related to #MeToo: UC Davis revokes titles from professor after past sex assault allegations surface -- Sacramento Bee's DIANA LAMBERT/BENJY EGEL
Rod Rosenstein, No. 2 official at Justice Department, is expected to face grilling by House Judiciary Committee
LA Times' CHRIS MEGERIAN: "Ever since Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation in March, no Justice Department official has been more important to the case than Rod Rosenstein."
"As the deputy attorney general, the No. 2 position at Justice, Rosenstein appointed former FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III as special counsel and he has the sole authority to fire him."
"The role has placed Rosenstein under immense political pressure, and on Wednesday he’ll face questions from the House Judiciary Committee at a time when Republicans are raising doubts about Mueller’s investigation."
Schumer calls cops after forged sex scandal charge
Axios' MIKE ALLEN: "Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he was the victim of a fake news hit on Tuesday, and has turned over to Capitol Police a document that purports to detail lurid sexual harassment accusations by a former staffer."
"Why it matters: This was an apparent effort to dupe reporters and smear a senator — both symptoms of an amped-up news environment where harassment charges are proliferating and reporters have become targets for fraud."
Ranchers swindled out of $400,000 settlement -- by their own attorney, officials say
Sacramento Bee's DARRELL SMITH: "A Bay Area attorney is in trouble with State Bar of California officials who say he cheated his Yolo County clients of hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages after a wildfire near Zamora in 2006."
"The ranchers William J. Reed, 74, of Danville, represented in the September 2006 blaze have yet to see a cent of the $400,000 settlement he won from Pacific Gas and Electric, say State Bar officials who slapped the attorney with nine counts of misconduct on Dec. 4 and placed a consumer alert on his State Bar attorney profile, State Bar officials announced Tuesday."
READ MORE related to Environment: Dry weather continues in California. Time to start worrying about another drought -- Sacramento Bee's DALE KASLER/RYAN SABALOW
Big changes in requirements to become a special education teacher in California
EdSource's JOHN FENSTERWALD: "The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing is making big changes in how special education teachers will be trained, adding core courses and an assessment already mandated for general classroom teachers."
"Commissioners view the overhaul of preparation requirements as critical to improve the education of the state’s roughly 740,000 students with disabilities and predict the changes could be transformative: More students with disabilities will be identified and served earlier, taught more effectively and “mainstreamed” more often in classrooms serving all students."
"Though four years, several reports and iterations in the making, the commission’s most recent decision came one day after the state released data showing that students with disabilities did worse than other student groups in California on multiple indicators of achievement. Two-thirds of the 228 districts that will receive assistance from county offices of education were designated because of the poor performance of students receiving special education services."
READ MORE related to Education: California must set ambitious goals to combat Chronic absenteeism -- EdSource's PHYLLIS JORDAN
Why do people hate Obamacare, anyway?
California Healthline's JULIE ROVNER: "The Affordable Care Act, aka “Obamacare,” has roiled America since the day it was signed into law in 2010. From the start, the public was almost evenly divided between those who supported it and those who opposed it."
"They still are. The November monthly tracking poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 50 percent of those polled had a favorable view of the health law, while 46 percent viewed it unfavorably. Partisan politics drives the split. Eighty percent of Democrats were supportive in November, while 81 percent of Republicans were strongly negative. (Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the foundation.)"
"That helps explain why Republicans are working to repeal a key element of the health law in the tax bill Congress is negotiating. The requirement that most Americans have health insurance or pay a tax penalty — the so-called individual mandate — is by far the most unpopular provision of the law, particularly among Republicans."
READ MORE related to Health Care: Consumers who froze their credit reports could hit a glitch enrolling in insurance -- California Healthline's JULIE APPLEBY
Tech giant Larry Ellison revives deal for Frank Sinatra's old Tahoe casino
Sacramento Bee's DALE KASLER: "When it comes to splashy real estate deals, Silicon Valley icon Larry Ellison usually gets what he wants. Frank Sinatra’s old Lake Tahoe casino, the Cal Neva, is no exception."
"After threatening to back out because of delays, Ellison is ready to move forward with his $35.8 million purchase of the bankrupt Cal Neva Resort & Casino on Tahoe’s north shore. Lawyers for Ellison and others connected to the Cal Neva bankruptcy filed court papers Tuesday revealing that Ellison is ready to buy the faded resort as long as he can wrap up the deal by Jan. 10."
"The Cal Neva has been closed since 2013. A St. Helena developer was attempting a $49 million overhaul when he ran out of cash and put the Cal Neva into bankruptcy proceedings last year. Ellison was the only bidder and secured bankruptcy court approval to buy the Cal Neva in mid-October, but the purchase was soon tied up in litigation. Several creditors said they weren’t being treated fairly, and one of them got a court order in late October that prevented Ellison from finishing the deal while the creditor’s protest was being heard."
Thousands of pink patches add up to one big donation from the CHP
Sacramento Bee's ADAM ASHTON: "California’s thin blue line raised a lot of green by going pink for the American Cancer Society."
"The California Highway Patrol on Monday presented the American Cancer Society with a check for $60,800 that its officers and retirees raised by buying pink shoulder patches this year."
"It was a big haul for a fundraising drive that California police departments and law enforcement unions have embraced since 2013. Dozens of departments now participate in the program by crafting special uniform patches."
Palestinian president says there is no role for US in peace process
AP: "Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told Arab and Islamic leaders on Wednesday that the United States is no longer fit to broker an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal and should be replaced as mediator by the United Nations, outlining a significant policy shift in response to President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital."
"In an impassionate speech, Abbas said his people will no longer accept the United States as a peace broker but added that they remain committed to international resolutions which have formed the basis of the process."
"Abbas was speaking at the gathering of heads of state and top officials from Islamic nations at a summit in Turkey that is expected to forge a unified Muslim world’s stance against Trump’s move."
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The Roundup is compiled by Associate Editor Geoff Howard. Questions? Comments? Feedback? Email him at email@example.com