Sexual harassment scandals are first on California lawmakers' agenda as they start new year
Daily News' KEVIN MODESTI: "The sexual-harassment scandals shaking up Los Angeles-area politics are uppermost in the minds of state legislators as they get back to work in the California capitol in Sacramento on Wednesday."
"During the three months the Assembly and Senate were out of session, allegations of sexual misconduct forced Assembly members Raul Bocanegra and Matt Dababneh to resign, put Senators Tony Mendoza and Bob Hertzberg on the defensive, and obliged policymakers to clean up the culture in state government."
"That effort will start with a handful of legislative measures to be introduced this week: a resolution by Sen. Andy Vidak, a Republican from Hanford, to expel Mendoza, a Democrat from Artesia, from the Senate; and bills authored by several female lawmakers to make it easier for sexual harassment to be reported and harder for cases to be covered up."
As California lawmakers return to Sacramento today, Democrats find their numbers down by three due to the sexual harassment scandals. The decline has cost them their supermajority -- at least temporarily.
LA Times' JOHN MYERS: "Both houses of the California Legislature will convene Wednesday afternoon for the formal beginning of an eight-month session to craft a state budget and consider hundreds of proposed laws."
"And they will do so with three fewer lawmakers, two having resigned after being accused of sexual harassment."
"The national conversation over sexual misconduct — including the decision by women in California politics to decry what they call a culture of harassment around the state Capitol — has taken place during the almost four months in which the Legislature has been in recess."
Last year was a big year for housing in California. Lawmakers aren't done yet.
Sacramento Bee's ANGELA HART: "California lawmakers are preparing new housing legislation this week, just months after Democrats in both houses pushed through the biggest legislative package on housing in decades."
"As the Legislature returns for session, state Sen. Scott Wiener, a San Francisco Democrat, will unveil his 2018 proposals."
"Wiener, author of a new law passed last year that allows developers to fast-track construction projects, is planning to announce a trio of bills Thursday aimed at requiring cities to build taller, denser housing near transit, boosting the supply of farmworker housing and ensuring cities and counties are planning for their fair share of housing to meet demand associated with jobs and population."
Recreational marijuana is legal. But smoking in public and driving stoned are not, LAPD warns
LA Times' KATE MATHER: "As Los Angeles moves toward allowing the sale of recreational marijuana, joining cities across the state in the newly legal enterprise, police here offered a stern word of caution."
"Yes, recreational pot will be legal to sell (and buy, and consume, and cultivate). But there are limits. And the Los Angeles Police Department will help enforce them."
“Let me be clear,” Assistant Chief Michel Moore said Tuesday. “The use of marijuana needs to be done in a responsible manner that’s consistent with the law.”
READ MORE related to Cannabis: Some states put a THC limit on cannabis-smoking drivers -- here's why California doesn't -- The Chronicle's JENNA LYONS; Steve Kerr voices support for legalization of marijuana in California -- The Chronicle's CONNOR LETOURNEAU; Yuba County to state of California: You are not protecting us from pot-related pollution -- Sacramento Bee's BRAD BRANAN; Angelenos, tourists flock to West Hollywood pot shops as adult sales become legal -- Daily News' ELIZABETH CHOU; LAPD vows to enforce rules ahead of recreational cannabis sales in Los Angeles -- Daily News' BRENDA GAZZAR
Felons welcome? Fake road signs mock California's new status as 'sanctuary state'
Sacramento Bee's BENJY EGEL: "Fake road signs put up near California’s borders early this week mocked a new law intended to shield undocumented immigrants from deportation."
"A paper covering placed over a San Bernardino County sign greeted Interstate 15 travelers with “Felons, Illegals and [MS-13] Welcome! Democrats Need The Votes!” A similar placard was put up just west of Needles near the Arizona state line. Both included the California state seal and a Democratic Party logo."
"MS-13 began as a Los Angeles gang in the 1980s before spreading to the rest of the U.S. and a handful of other Western Hemisphere countries. President Donald Trump has accused liberal politicians such as Virginia Gov.-elect Ralph Northam of supporting violent criminals associated with the organization."
Dems wonder: Is opposing Trump enough to win primaries?
McClatchy DC's ALEX ROARTY: "Democrat Elizabeth Pannill Fletcher says Donald Trump has a “basic disrespect” for his fellow man. She calls his Twitter-based diplomacy “irresponsible with all of our lives.” And she states flatly that he isn’t qualified to be president."
"But when it comes to Democratic Party policy positions, this House candidate — and one of the top fundraisers of 2017 — is far more circumspect. Single-payer health care? Not yet practical, she says. Impeachment? Due process comes first. Progressive? No, this lawyer from battleground Houston rejects the label."
"I’m not really good at labels,” Pannill Fletcher said during an interview inside her campaign headquarters. “This district has historically been Republican, but I think it’s a centrist district, and I think that is what we’re seeing in the rejection of Donald Trump."
Trump approves disaster funds for Thomas fire victims
LA Times' NICOLE SANTA CRUZ: "President Trump on Tuesday declared that a natural disaster exists in California and ordered federal assistance to help local agencies in recovery efforts in areas affected by the Thomas fire, which started Dec. 4 and is still burning."
"The declaration means that federal funds will be available to state and local governments for emergency work in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, according to a news release from the White House."
"Nonprofit organizations will also be eligible to receive funds for emergency work."
As fish disappear, Trump administration seeks to pump more California water south
Sacramento Bee's DALE KASLER/RYAN SABALOW: "The Trump administration, teeing up a fight with California regulators, is trying to pump more water through the fragile Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to the southern half of the state despite fresh evidence of the estuary’s shrinking fish population."
"A proposal by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to “maximize water deliveries” represents the administration’s first concrete effort to make good on a promise Donald Trump made while campaigning for the presidency in Fresno, where he vowed to deliver more water to San Joaquin Valley farmers and derided protections for endangered fish species."
"Trump’s water plan is likely to meet stiff resistance from California officials, who relish fighting the president and spent much of 2017 battling his administration over air pollution, climate change, immigration and a slew of other issues. Experts said the state’s Endangered Species Act and other laws should provide California with ample ammunition to complicate Trump’s efforts to move more water through the Delta."
Californians, economics and environmental protection
Capitol Weekly's NIK BONOVICH: "Something that isn’t too surprising for legislators or Gov. Brown as California continues to be on the forefront of environmental policies: A major survey shows strong majority (62 percent) of Californians believe air pollution is a problem in their part of California."
"Two-thirds (66 percent) believe the effects of global warming have already begun, while 58 percent believe it is a serious threat to California’s economy and quality of life."
"Protecting the environment and preventing climate change appear to be issues that are intrinsically tied to the economy and class."
SF progressive groups fire email blitz pushing caretaker in mayor's office
The Chronicle's RACHEL SWAN: "The debate over who should run San Francisco for the next six months heated up Tuesday, amid an email campaign advocating for a “caretaker” mayor to replace Ed Lee."
"It was the first act of a new group called the San Francisco Progressive Alliance, which formed about three months ago to unify the patchwork of neighborhood activists and Democratic clubs that make up the city’s left. Last week, the group’s members wrote a form letter urging the Board of Supervisors to uphold “basic democratic principles” by appointing an interim mayor who won’t run in June."
Petition drive to repeal California gas tax increase temporarily slows down
LA Times' PATRICK MCGREEVY: "Paid signature-gatherers for a ballot measure that would repeal gas tax increases may be hard to find on the streets of California this week."
"Organizers say it's not a money issue, adding that they needed to briefly halt paid signature-gathering to catch up on collecting petitions from volunteers."
"The petition drive has so far collected more than 327,800 verified signatures of the 587,407 needed to qualify the measure for the November ballot, according to Dave Gilliard, the political strategist behind the drive."
Why Walmarts in California couldn't sell ammo for more than a day
Sacramento Bee's RYAN SABALOW/DALE KASLER: "Walmart stores in Sacramento County and across California will soon resume selling ammunition after having their ability to do so temporarily blocked because state officials didn’t issue a permit on time."
"Beginning Jan. 1, all of California’s ammunition vendors are required to have a permit from the state under a spate of new gun laws approved in 2016. Walmart spokeswoman Delia Garcia said an administrative delay at the state forced Walmart to temporarily halt sales at the 131 Walmarts in California that sell ammunition."
"The state Department of Justice is in charge of issuing the ammunition vendor licenses. Garcia said Walmart received its licenses midafternoon Tuesday and is “in the process of making them available to our stores so that they can resume normal sales as quickly as possible."
Your days of dialing seven digits are numbered, Sacramento. Get ready for the 279
Sacramento Bee's TONY BIZJAK: "Starting this spring, no longer can every Sacramentan claim to live in the “916."
"People in the six-county Sacramento region who sign up for new telephone numbers starting on March 10 may be assigned a new area code: 279."
"The California Public Utilities Commission said population growth and proliferation of cell devices have nearly maxed out available 916 numbers."
Bay Area storm to bring much-needed rain -- at least a little
The Chronicle's SARAH RAVANI: "The storm expected to sweep through the Bay Area starting late Wednesday morning will be the first of several throughout California in January that could bring the state close to normal rainfall levels for the new year."
"But it won’t be enough to make up for an unusually dry end of the year, forecasters said Monday."
"The first storm of 2018 will make landfall in San Francisco by late in the morning before moving through the rest of the Bay Area in the afternoon, said Roger Gass, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service."
San Bernardino County sheriff's deputy dies after off-duty assault
LA Times' NICOLE SANTA CRUZ: "A 36-year veteran of the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department died Tuesday evening after a violent attack following a minor off-duty crash on New Year’s Eve, authorities said."
"Lawrence “Larry” Falce, 70, was hospitalized after he was attacked following a traffic accident about 11 a.m. Sunday near the intersection of Kendall Drive and University Parkway, according to a statement released by the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Employees’ Benefit Assn., of which Falce was a member."
"According to the association, Falce “contacted the party in the other car and was brutally attacked.”
READ MORE related to Public Safety: Driver charged in crash that killed rookie California cop -- AP
In a turf battle for organs, a policy review rattles the national transplant system
LA Times' ALAN ZAREMBO: "Tethered to a breathing machine at a Manhattan hospital, 21-year-old Miriam Holman would die without a lung transplant. But her odds of finding a suitable organ were especially low in New York, where waiting times are among the longest in the country."
"Just across the Hudson River in New Jersey, patients in far better condition routinely receive lungs much more quickly. Pockets of the South and Midwest also have dramatically shorter waiting times."
UC Santa Cruz has offerings far beyond hippies and banana slugs. So why can't it draw more transfer students?
LA Times' TERESA WATANABE: "UC Santa Cruz sits on an idyllic expanse of redwood groves and rolling meadows. World-class surf is just minutes away."
"Its researchers were the first to arrange the DNA sequence of the human genome and make it publicly available."
"It is quirky and colorful, with campus traditions that include a naked run through the season’s first heavy rain and a banana slug for a mascot."
Nektar Therapeutics, Restoration Hardware led Bay Area stocks in 2017
The Chronicle's KATHLEEN PENDER: "Nektar Therapeutics, a San Francisco biopharmaceutical company whose pipeline includes a less-addictive opioid and a cancer drug, was the best-performing stock last year in a Bloomberg index that tracks Bay Area companies."
"Its shares soared nearly 387 percent, with much of the gain coming in the last two months of the year."
"In March, Nektar announced positive data from phase-three testing of NKTR 181, a next-generation opioid that provides “potent pain relief without the high levels of euphoria that can lead to abuse and addiction,” the company said."
LA prosecutors consider charges against Harvey Weinstein in Beverly Hills sex crime cases
LA Times' RICHARD WINTON: "In a significant expansion into the criminal investigations of movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office said it was reviewing two sex crimes cases presented to prosecutors by Beverly Hills police detectives."
"More than 80 women — some of them prominent actresses — have publicly accused Weinstein of sexual misdeeds spanning four decades. This marks the first time prosecutors in Los Angeles County have taken up cases against him. They will ultimately decide whether to charge Weinstein with a crime."
"Beverly Hills police detectives presented evidence from their investigations to the special district attorney's office task force reviewing the evidence, said Greg Risling, a spokesman for the office. Risling said the office would not detail the allegations made against Weinstein in those probes or say when the alleged incidents occurred."
READ MORE related to #MeToo: Dave Chappelle's defense of Louis C.K. -- National Review's KYLE SMITH
A longtime Republican senator says he'll retire, and the White House nervously eyes his likely successor, Mitt Romney
LA Times' CATHLEEN DECKER: "Sen. Orrin G. Hatch’s announcement Tuesday that he would retire rather than seek an eighth term representing Utah opened the door to a return to public office by Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee and a sometimes harsh critic of President Trump."
"The contentiousness between the president and Romney has been so acute that Trump had publicly implored Hatch to run again, a barely veiled effort to deny Romney a route to the Senate. But at 83, having spent nearly half his life as a senator, Hatch spurned the president’s request and made good on his long-ago vow to leave office at the conclusion of his current term. He will depart as the longest-serving Republican in the Senate’s history."
“I’ve always been a fighter, but every good fighter knows when to hang up the gloves,” Hatch said in a video announcing his plans. “And for me, that time is soon approaching.”
READ MORE related to Utah Senate Seat: Mitt Romney's Twitter location is updated to Utah as Senate seat opens -- CNN's ELI WATKINS
NSA's top talent is leaving because of low pay, slumping morale and unpopular reorganization
WaPo's ELLEN NAKASHIMA/AARON GREGG: "The National Security Agency is losing its top talent at a worrisome rate as highly skilled personnel, some disillusioned with the spy service’s leadership and an unpopular reorganization, take higher-paying, more flexible jobs in the private sector."
"Since 2015, the NSA has lost several hundred hackers, engineers and data scientists, according to current and former U.S. officials with knowledge of the matter. The potential impact on national security is significant, they said."
"Headquartered at Fort Meade in Maryland, the NSA employs a civilian workforce of about 21,000 there and is the largest producer of intelligence among the nation’s 17 spy agencies. The people who have left were responsible for collecting and analyzing the intelligence that goes into the president’s daily briefing. Their work also included monitoring a broad array of subjects including the Islamic State, Russian and North Korean hackers, and analyzing the intentions of foreign governments, and they were responsible for protecting the classified networks that carry such sensitive information."
Family of 'swatting' victim wants officer charged
AP's ROXANA HEGEMAN: "The attorney for the family of a Kansas man fatally shot at the door of his home after a hoax emergency call wants the police officer who killed him criminally charged for his death."
"Police have said 28-year-old Andrew Finch was shot after a prankster called 911 last week with a fake story about a shooting and kidnapping at Finch's Wichita home."
"In a letter Tuesday, Finch's mother, Lisa Finch, says officials are compounding the family's grief by not allowing her to see her son's body or returning it for burial."
The Roundup is compiled by Associate Editor Geoff Howard. Questions? Comments? Feedback? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org