Amid CHP overtime fraud probe, Caltrans orders audit of highway funds used to pay officers
LA Times's RICHARD WINTON: "The director of Caltrans has ordered a state audit of expenditures tied to the protection of the agency’s work crews by California Highway Patrol units after a CHP investigation uncovered evidence of fraudulent overtime among its officers."
"The agency is looking to identify potential malfeasance and to potentially discipline any officials involved in misconduct in which the CHP said some officers in its East Los Angeles station exaggerated the number of hours they worked in protection details for Caltrans workers."
"Director Laurie Berman on Monday announced the audit, which will be conducted by the agency’s inspector general. It comes days after the CHP revealed that dozens of officers and supervisors have been temporarily relieved of duty while the department investigates an alleged massive overtime scheme involving officers getting paid for hours they did not work."
READ MORE related to Public Safety: Pepper spray is used too frequeuently on LA juvednille detainees, report says -- LA Times's MATT STILES; Mistrial declared for white supremacist accused of assault in 2016 Capitol brawl -- Sacramento Bee's DARRELL SMITH; 'I'm the boss': Lawsuit alleges CHP officer choked suspect twice after traffic stop -- Sacramento Bee's SAM STANTON
San Diego set to repeal law prohibiting homeless people from living in cars
From the Union-Tribune's DAVID GARRICK:"The San Diego City Council is scheduled Tuesday to repeal a 35-year-old law that makes it illegal for people to live inside vehicles."
"Advocates for homeless people say it could be a key step toward ending the local criminalization of homelessness. They hope the repeal is permanent but they expressed concerns that city officials plan to soon propose a revised version of the law that could be more legally sound."
"A federal judge in August ordered the city to stop ticketing people under the law, saying it was unconstitutional because it’s too vague for enforcement."
California Lawmakers Wage New Battle With Dialysis Industry
From SAMMY CAIOLA, Capitol Public Radio: "An effort to limit dialysis company profits is back."
"A new bill from Democratic Assemblymember Jim Wood could limit how much profit dialysis companies make in reimbursement rates after treating patients. Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a similar bill last year."
"Wood says Maryland-based nonprofit American Kidney Fund is taking donations from dialysis providers, then steering patients to private plans. Many dialysis patients are eligible for Medicare, but Wood says large companies such as DaVita and Fresenius want patients in the commercial market so they can reap a higher return on reimbursement rates..."
"The bill follows a contentious item on the 2018 ballot that aimed to cap dialysis company profits. The kidney lobby paid more than $110 million to fight the proposition."
Californians don't have enough doctors. Here's how to fix that by 2030, panel says
Sacra mento Bee's CATHIE ANDERSON: "Leading California CEOs, educators, nurses and physicians announced Monday an ambitious set of 10 recommendations that they say will eliminate the shortage of primary care physicians and nearly eliminate shortages in psychiatry by 2030."
"The plan, if implemented, would come at a pricetag of $3 billion, they said."
"These recommendations would increase the number of health care workers by over 47,000 people and improve diversity by producing approximately 30,000 workers from rural and under-served communities, said Janet Napolitano, president of the University of California and co-chair of the California Future Health Workforce Commission."
Will Newsom be tougher on guns than Brown? Democrats are counting on it
Sacramento Bee's BRYAN ANDERSON: "California Democrats on Monday outlined a plan to enact new forms of gun control, and they’re hoping Gov. Gavin Newsom will sign firearm restrictions that his predecessor vetoed last year."
"Standing alongside former Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who was shot in the head at a 2011 Tuscon event, Democrats in the Legislature called for more gun restrictions."
"So far, they’re proposing Assembly Bill 165, which would provide training to police officers on the use of gun violence restraining orders, and Senate Bill 61, which would limit firearm purchases to one gun per month."
READ MORE on gun control: California lawmakers form gun-violence working group after meeting with Gabrielle Giffords -- PATRICK MCGREEVY, LAT; “America’s love affair with firearms has got to end:” Democrats vow new gun control package -- BEN CHRISTOPHER, CALmatters; California Lawmakers Vow Renewed Focus on Gun Control -- KATIE ORR, KQED
Trump taps ex-California water lobbyist for Cabinet. Critics call him a 'swamp creature'
Sacramento Bee's RYAN SABALOW/DALE KASLER: "President Donald Trump on Monday nominated David Bernhardt, the former top lobbyist for a powerful Fresno-based irrigation district, to run the Department of the Interior, raising renewed questions about whether he’d try to steer more California water to his former clients."
"Trump announced Bernhardt’s nomination to become Interior secretary on Twitter."
"David has done a fantastic job from the day he arrived, and we look forward to having his nomination officially confirmed!” Trump tweeted."
California AG to take on Trump, in Spanish
The Chronicle's ALEXEI KOSEFF: "He has sued the Trump administration more than 40 times, over everything from the separation of migrant families to fuel economy standards."
"Now, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra is taking on the president in a new arena: Democratic congressional leaders have tapped him to give the Spanish-language response to the State of the Union address Tuesday night for a national prime-time audience."
"It’s a vote of confidence — and a beneficial new platform — for California’s top law enforcement official, whom some in the Democratic Party see as being among the top tier of potential candidates for higher office in the state."
Bay Area's last GOP lawmaker couldn't overcome Trump
The Chronicle's JOE GAROFOLI: "Catharine Baker was the only Republican representing the Bay Area in either the Legislature or Congress, until she lost her re-election bid to the Assembly in November. Now there is none."
"The two-term incumbent practically ran as a Democrat, and still lost to a political neophyte. That raised the question: If Baker can’t win in the Bay Area, what Republican can?"
"The answer Baker found after spending weeks combing through post-election data and campaign trail anecdotes should be a red flag for Republicans in the Bay Area and beyond in California, heading into President Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign."
Fresno councilman unleashes Tweetstorm on 'toxic masculinity,' abortion
Sacramento Bee's BRIANNA CALIX: "Fresno City Council Member Garry Bredefeld triggered a heated online backlash following a weekend-long Tweetstorm railing against a variety of issues — from recent East Coast abortion laws and genderless birth certificates to the concept of “toxic masculinity,” which he called “leftist-extremist” language."
"Bredefeld, who represents northeast Fresno’s District 6, first began retweeting anti-abortion tweets last week. He defended his tweets over the weekend and into Monday afternoon, saying “keeping quiet is not an option” after multiple Fresnans questioned his stances."
"Bredefeld accused liberal politicians of using language to promote their “radical agenda."
More than 100 Camp Fire victims are being booted from their properties. Here's why
Sacramento Bee's TONY BIZJAK/DALE KASLER: "More than 100 Camp Fire victims have been ordered from their properties after federal officials threatened not to pay for debris cleanup of devastated Butte County communities, citing health and safety issues."
"At an emotional meeting Monday morning, Paradise town officials rescinded a December urgency ordinance that had allowed property owners to live temporarily in trailers or RVs on their burned properties."
"The scene was repeated in the afternoon at an emergency Butte County Board of Supervisors meeting, as county leaders grappled with whether it is safe to live in the fire zone prior to cleanup."
Oakland teachers vote to authorize strike over pay, class size
The Chronicle's KIMBERLY VEKLEROV: "Oakland teachers voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike, ratcheting up their dispute with administrators of the financially troubled district over wages and class sizes, the union said Monday."
"The vote allows union leaders to call a strike after Feb. 15, when a neutral fact-finder is expected to release a report that attempts to bridge the impasse."
"Wages remain the main point of contention. The school district has proposed a 5 percent raise over three years. The union has asked for a 12 percent increase over that period. The starting salary for Oakland teachers is $46,500, and the average salary is $63,100, according to state data."
Women sue state, insurers over sex-assault claims against former Oakland doctor
The Chronicle's ERIN ALLDAY: "Three women who say they were sexually assaulted by an Oakland doctor who reviewed their cases for workers’ compensation claims have sued the state of California and several insurance providers, alleging the agencies were aware of the doctor’s abuse and continued sending patients to him anyway."
"The women, who are not identified in the complaint, were required to see Dr. John Warbritton after being injured while at work and filing for workers’ compensation with the state. They each said they reported the alleged abuse by Warbritton and were told they would have to continue seeing him for their claims to proceed."
"Warbritton, 64, had worked as an orthopedic specialist in the East Bay since 1982 but lost his medical license in April 2017, after two of the women accused him of sexual misconduct. Warbritton voluntarily gave up his license."
Harris says she'll vote against all of Trump's judge picks
The Chronicle's BOB EGELKO: "Sen. Kamala Harris is accusing President Trump of using his judicial appointments to weaken the rights of groups such as immigrants and transgender soldiers, and says she will vote against all of his nominees to the federal courts."
"This administration is packing the court that protected Dreamers from deportation and blocked the unconstitutional transgender military ban,” Harris, D-Calif., said in a tweet last week, just days after announcing her candidacy for president in 2020."
"We need nominees who will uphold equality and justice,” she said. “Until a fair process is in place, I will oppose every nominee to an appellate court."
Trump dines with Federal Reserve chair Powell, a frequent target
WaPo's HEATHER LONG: "President Trump had a special guest for dinner Monday night: Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, a frequent target of the president's criticism. Trump has repeatedly called the Fed "crazy" in recent months and accused the central bank of hurting the economy."
"Trump and Powell dined on steak for about an hour and a half Monday in the White House residence, according to a person familiar with the meeting. They were joined by Richard Clarida, vice chairman of the Fed, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who pushed the president to nominate Powell in late 2017."
READ MORE related to POTUS45: Feds issue sweeping subpoena to Trump's inaugural committee -- WaPo's ROSALIND S HELDERMAN/MICHAEL KRANISH