Chief justice of the California Supreme Court leaves the Republican Party, citing Kavanaugh
From DAN MORAIN, CALmatters: "California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye has quietly given up her Republican registration and re-registered as a no-party-preference voter, saying Thursday she had become increasingly uncomfortable with the GOP’s direction nationally and in the state."
"In a phone interview with CALmatters, Cantil-Sakauye—who was a prosecutor before becoming a judge 28 years ago and California Supreme Court chief justice in 2011—said she made the final decision to change her registration after watching the U.S. Senate confirmation hearings of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh."
“You can draw your own conclusions,” she said.
Tribune Publishing deal to sell itself to McClatchy is off
LA Times's ROBERT CHANNICK: "Tribune Publishing Co. has terminated negotiations to sell itself to fellow newspaper company McClatchy Co., a person familiar with the matter said Thursday."
"The decision, reached by the Tribune Publishing board Thursday, followed several months of negotiations with McClatchy. The source said potential antitrust issues in Florida — where McClatchy owns the Miami Herald and Tribune Publishing owns the nearby Sun-Sentinel — ultimately derailed a deal between the two companies."
Should Jerry Brown clear out California's death row? These former governors think so
Sacramento Bee's ANDREW SHEELER: "In January, two-term California Gov. Jerry Brown leaves office. But before he does, half a dozen former governors are calling on him to grant clemency to California’s 740 women and men on death row."
"Former Democratic Govs. Richard Celeste, of Ohio; John Kitzhaber, of Oregon; Martin O’Malley, of Maryland; Bill Richardson, of New Mexico; Toney Anaya, of New Mexico and Pat Quinn, of Illinois; jointly penned an op-ed in The New York Times on Thursday."
"Mr. Brown has the power to commute the sentences of 740 men and women, to save 740 lives. Or, he can declare a moratorium on the death penalty and give Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom the time he will need to figure out how to end a system broken beyond repair,” they wrote. “Such an act will take political will and moral clarity, both of which Mr. Brown has demonstrated in the past. In the interest of his legacy, the people of California need his leadership one more time before he leaves office."
READ MORE related to Prisons & Public Safety: Jerry Brown has the power to save 740 lives. He should use it. -- SIX FORMER DEMOCRATIC GOVERNORS in NY Times
Police chief addds details on Arambula arrest in wake of Assemblyman's explanation
Sacramento Bee's RORY APPLETON: Fresno police Chief Jerry Dyer said Thursday that Joaquin Arambula’s daughter suffered an injury in an area that was not her buttocks, casting doubt on public statements made by the assemblyman in an emotional series of news media interviews on Wednesday."
"In an interview with The Bee, Dyer said it was not his place to debate Arambula’s version of the events which led to his Monday arrest on a misdemeanor child abuse allegation, nor could he share the exact details of the injury suffered by Arambula’s eldest daughter due to child privacy laws."
"However, the chief made clear his belief that a line between legal discipline and a crime had been crossed in this case."
Pelosi's triumph: A reminder why she's set to be speaker
AP's LISA MASCARO: "It has been quite a week for Nancy Pelosi."
"The televised meeting with President Donald Trump. The deal with restless Democrats to secure their votes to become House speaker. The fashion statement of her burnt-orange winter coat, swooshing out the doors of the White House, going viral in social media memes."
"It all showed the staying power of the Democratic leader, who is relentless in her drive to reclaim the gavel and wield it with a strength that is nothing like Washington has seen — at least since the last time she did it."
Ax falls on Assembly Republican staff after California election losses
Sacramento Bee's BRYAN ANDERSON: "It was a tough election year for California Republicans. Among the low-lights for the party were historic Democratic advantages in the Legislature."
"The latest blow to the party came Thursday when Assembly Republicans eliminated 17 positions, most of which were occupied."
"Jim Stanley, a spokesman for the caucus, confirmed the cuts and said there are no immediate plans for additional staffing reductions. He pointed to the midterm losses as the cause, saying the party has less money to spend for workers."
SF, other cities consider lawsuits to head off water restrictions
The Chronicle's KURTIS ALEXANDER: "The cities and towns hit this week with stiff demands to reduce water use, including San Francisco, say they’ll work with state regulators to meet the charge, but they’re also looking at the possibility of lawsuits."
"The State Water Resources Control Board approved a far-reaching plan Wednesday to improve the health of California’s rivers and fish by limiting the amount of water that dozens of communities take from four major waterways."
A comeback story? California DMV wait times dropping
Sacramento Bee's BRYAN ANDERSON: "The California Department of Motor Vehicles is looking to produce a comeback story."
"Overrun by angry complaints from customers and politicians, the agency launched an ambitious plan to reduce hours-long wait times experienced over the summer."
"It appears to be delivering."
Bomb threats sent out across Bay Area, US in email terrorism scare
The Chronicle's KEVIN FAGAN/GWENDOLYN WU/MEGAN CASSIDY: "It was clumsy and apparently unbacked by real explosives, but a bomb threat emailed to hundreds of businesses, schools and government agencies around the Bay Area and the rest of the country Thursday sent police and first responders scrambling for several hours."
Many victims of California's worst wildfire were elderly and died in or near their homes, new data show
LA Times's MARIA L LA GANGA/LAURA NEWBERRY/PAIGE ST JOHN/RONG-GONG LIN II: "Rose Farrell is the oldest victim of the devastating Camp fire to be identified so far. She was 99, and she died inside her home on Herman Road in Paradise."
Virgin Galactic reaches suborbital space for the first time. Now it's closer to flying customers there.
LA Times's SAMANTHA MASUNAGA: "Virgin Galactic reached suborbital space for the first time in a test flight Thursday, bringing Richard Branson’s company closer to flying its customers beyond Earth’s atmosphere."
As sentencing looms, Flynn is upbeat, has adoring fans
AP: "Days away from being sentenced in the Russia probe, former national security adviser Michael Flynn is not exactly hiding his face in shame."
"People close to him tell The Associated Press that as the possibility of prison looms, Flynn is relaxed and hopeful, eager to get through Tuesday's sentencing and move forward. He'll be the first official in President Donald Trump's administration to be sentenced in the case."
"Flynn has been having fun with his old high school gang, going out on the town to see an Elton John concert and watch the New England Patriots and Boston Celtics play, friends tell the AP. Random people approach him in public with hugs, handshakes and requests for photos. His supporters plan to rally outside the courthouse the day of his sentencing, and a lucrative consulting gig could await him."
Actress Eliza Dushku was paid $9.5M by CBS to settle harassment allegations
LA Times's RYAN FAUGHNDER/MEG JAMES: "Eliza Dushku, an actress on the popular CBS show “Bull,” was paid $9.5 million to confidentially settle allegations that she was dismissed from the series after she complained about being harassed on set, sources confirmed to The Times on Thursday."
"Dushku was featured in the first season of the CBS procedural drama, playing a criminal defense lawyer. According to a detailed report by the New York Times, she confronted “Bull” star Michael Weatherly about comments he made that left her uncomfortable. The alleged remarks included references to her appearance and a rape joke, according to the Times’ report."
"The revelations were uncovered during a broad review of CBS' workplace culture prompted by sexual misconduct allegations against longtime Chief Executive Leslie Moonves. Multiple women have accused the former executive of making unwanted advances. Moonves resigned under pressure in September but the investigation, at the behest of CBS' board, continued."
Trump increasingly isolated as aides leave, friends flip and investigations advance
LA Times's CHRIS MEGERIAN/ELI STOKOLS: "It was almost noon Thursday when a Marine suddenly appeared outside the West Wing doors, a sign that President Trump had belatedly reported to the Oval Office."
"For the second day in a row, the president had been in the White House residence all morning, fuming about federal investigations that have moved closer to him — and are likely to get worse."
READ MORE related to POTUS45: Trump inaugural fund, super PAC scrutinized over foreign donations -- The Chronicle's SHARON LAFRANIERE/MAGGIED HABERMANADAM GOLDMAN
Tech billionaire Sean Parker pays unusual penance for his Big Sur wedding coastal violation
The Chronicle's PETER FIMRITE: "Surf and sand lovers got an atonement gift Thursday from tech billionaire Sean Parker who launched a mobile beach app that is the product of one of the most idiosyncratic punishments ever devised for running afoul of the California Coastal Commission."
"The free YourCoast app was developed by Parker, the co-founder of the online music service Napster, as penance for his lavish $4 million wedding five years ago in the redwoods of Big Sur, a phantasmagoric shindig that had stars galore but, it turned out, no permit."
"This is a case of turning lemons into lemonade,” said Lisa Haage, the Coastal Commission’s chief of enforcement. “We negotiated a creative agreement with a willing partner of great ability and expertise that will widely benefit the public. We literally ended up working with some of the world’s best tech engineers to create something that everyone can use and enjoy.”
India's richest man throws the wedding to end all weddings, with Beyonce and Hillary in attendance
LA Times's NIHA MASIH/SHASHANK BENGALI: "A private performance by pop superstar Beyonce at a $1,000-a-night lakeside resort. Two former secretaries of State grooving awkwardly on the dance floor. A guest list that looked like India’s version of an Oscars red carpet."
"This isn’t just a big fat Indian wedding; it’s the biggest, fattest wedding anyone in India can remember."
"The marriage of billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s daughter Isha has had Indians, and many Americans, awestruck for nearly a week and spawned estimates of a $100-million price tag."