Free-speech group sues California AG Xavier Becerra over new police records law
Sacramento Bee's VINCENT MOLESKI: "A free-speech group sued California Attorney General Xavier Becerra on Thursday over his refusal to release police misconduct records under a new state law."
"The First Amendment Coalition, an organization that promotes open government and First Amendment rights, filed a lawsuit against Becerra alleging the California Department of Justice rejected a Jan. 4 records request under the transparency law, according to an FAC news release."
"As the highest law enforcement officer in the state, the Attorney General has an obligation to not only comply with the California Public Records Act, but to send the right message about transparency to police departments across the state,” FAC Executive Director David Snyder said in the release. “Unfortunately, the Attorney General has done neither. By denying public access to these crucial files, he has given a green light to other departments to disregard the new law."
Newsom blames the media, not his own words, for confusion over high-speed rail's future
LA Times's TARYN LUNA: "In the early moments of Gavin Newsom’s first State of the State address, California’s new governor promised to talk “frankly and directly” on “tough calls,” including the future of the state’s rail system. Then he triggered mass confusion over the fate of the state’s $77-billion high-speed rail project."
"In the hours that followed Tuesday’s speech, President Trump demanded California return $3.5 billion in federal stimulus funds, and headlines proclaimed the Democratic governor was abandoning the ambitious project championed by his predecessors — a story line that Newsom asserted is “completely made up” and one that his team has scrambled to walk back."
"“I’m baffled by it,” said Rob Stutzman, former communications director to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. “It’s very perplexing as to how something so important would be so dramatically miscommunicated.”
Risk of flooding, mudslides remain after California storm
AP's TERENCE CHEA/JOHN ANTCZAK: "Authorities warn that mudslides are still possible Friday even after a damaging storm moved through California, trapping people in floodwaters, triggering a debris flow that destroyed homes, and forcing residents to flee communities scorched by wildfires last year."
"The powerful system swept in from the Pacific Ocean and unleashed rain, snow and wind across the U.S. West into Wyoming and Colorado after walloping Northern California and southern Oregon earlier."
"The rain mostly ended Thursday night. But officials said hillsides could still loosen and collapse, bringing down mud, boulders and debris."
READ MORE related to Energy & Environment: Sites Reservoir is Sac Valley's water project. But LA is taking a huge role -- Sacramento Bee's DALE KASLER/RYAN SABALOW; Monster storm pummels California, prompting evacuations amid mudslides and flooding -- LA Times's HANNAH FRY
Trump needn't "grab money" for wall from California, House GOP leader says
The Chronicle's TAL KOPAN: "House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, a close ally of President Trump, says the president doesn’t need to take money from California flood control projects to build his wall — suggesting the White House won’t redirect disaster prevention funds as had been considered."
"I think there’s other places the president can grab money,” McCarthy told The Chronicle Thursday."
"The Bakersfield Republican said he “put a lot of time” into ensuring that federal dollars were dedicated to flood control projects in Northern California and that they’re “a good use of taxpayer money because you get return on investment.”"
Newsom visits students displaced by Camp Fire
Sacramenmto Bee's HANNAH WILEY: "Gov. Gavin Newsom visited students affected by November’s Camp Fire at Pine Ridge Elementary School on Thursday, a day after signing two bills that authorize additional financial support for devastated counties."
"Joined by local officials and members of the Legislature, Newsom said the budget amendments he signed on Wednesday— Assembly Bills 72 and 73 — appropriate $131 million for emergency preparedness and disaster relief."
"That package includes a $31.3 million three-year commitment to “offset and backfill 100 percent of the property tax losses” for seven counties, including Butte, ravaged by wildfires in 2017 and 2018. The money supports local services that could have face cuts if tax collections decline."
Funding deal blocks ICE from arresting adults taking in undocumented children
The Chronicle's TAL KOPAN: "A government funding deal that passed Congress late Thursday would block federal officers from arresting undocumented immigrants solely because they come forward to take in migrant children."
"The constraint on the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency comes after The Chronicle reported that the government had made scores of such arrests — including more than 100 people who were taken into custody from July through November despite having no criminal record. Immigrant and child welfare advocates had assailed the practice as endangering young people by keeping them in detention longer and by giving immigrants an incentive to conceal potential sponsors’ true identities."
"The population of undocumented children in government custody skyrocketed to record levels as immigration officials investigated the potential sponsors."
As Dems lean left, will voters follow?
AP's LISA MASCARO/STEVE PEOPLES: "What is happening to the Democrats?"
"Captivated by a handful of liberal superstars, they are venturing where the party has long feared to tread: Steep taxes on the rich. Abolishing an immigration enforcement agency. And proposing a sweeping Green New Deal that calls for an "economic transformation" to combat climate change."
"On Thursday, newly-elected Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez led a chorus of cheers as Amazon announced it was abandoning plans to build a sought-after headquarters in New York City. Activists berated the online giant for a $3 billion package of tax breaks she said the city could better invest in hiring teachers or fixing the subway."
Harris votes against deal to keep government open
McClatchy's EMILY CADEI: "California Sen. Kamala Harris and three other Senate Democrats with presidential ambitions voted against a spending deal Thursday that would prevent another federal government shutdown."
"They represented four of the only five Democratic votes against the deal. Declared presidential candidates Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Cory Booker of New Jersey and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts also voted against the plan."
"Harris told McClatchy after the vote that it was a “false choice” — a recurring talking point in her nascent presidential campaign — to pick between a shutdown and the deal that a bipartisan group of House and Senate negotiators hammered out over the past two weeks to fund the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies through October 2019."
Trump plan to declare national emergency to build wall may survive challenges
The Chronicle's BOB EGELKO: "President Trump’s apparent decision to declare a national emergency to build a wall at the Mexican border could be challenged in Congress or in the courts. But the bipartisan vote that congressional opponents need seems like a long shot, and the Supreme Court, which may have the last word, has not been eager to place roadblocks in Trump’s path."
"The White House confirmed Thursday that Trump would use the declaration to circumvent Congress’ refusal to provide money he wants for the long-sought wall. Such emergency powers have been used dozens of times by presidents of both parties, but rarely, if ever, in defiance of lawmakers’ objections about the use of federal funds."
"House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, said Trump was attempting “an end run around Congress.” She said both parties should be equally concerned about expanding presidential powers, but did not seem optimistic about convincing Republicans who control the Senate."
READ MORE related to POTUS45/KremlinGate: Trump doesn't let environmental laws stand in the way of border barrier construction -- LA Times's ANNA M PHILLIPS/MOLLY OTOOLE; Trump raises a new menace -- socialism -- and Democrats can't agree how to respond -- LA Times's MARK Z BARABAK/MELANIE MASON