FBI ponies up -- and loses out

Apr 22, 2016

After spending a million dollars to get into the San Bernardino terrorists iPhone, the FBI was left with a hole in their pocket when the phone turned out to contain no useful information.


LAT's Del Quinton Wilber reports: "The FBI paid more than $1 million to an unidentified third party to help agents unlock the iPhone of a terrorist involved in last year’s San Bernardino attacks, the bureau’s director, James B. Comey, said Thursday."


"Speaking at a security forum in London, Comey elliptically referred to the cost of breaking into the iPhone as being more than the total he will earn in the remaining seven years of his 10-year term as the bureau’s director. Comey earns $183,000 a year."


“We paid a lot,” Comey said. “But it was worth it.”


Billionaire developer and GOP presidential contender Donald Trump is comfortably ahead in Calfornia's Republican primary on June 7, says the latest Capitol Weekly/Sextant Strategies poll.


From Jonathan Brown in Capitol Weekly: "Perhaps all attention on primary night in California should be on the 33rd Congressional District – home to the Trump National Golf Club.  After all, in New York, the only Congressional District that Donald Trump didn’t win was the one in which he lives."


"Trump is likely to do well in California, too."


"Our California poll of 1,165 high propensity Republican voters has Trump currently atop the leader board by a comfortable margin.  In the survey, conducted April 11 through April 14, Trump receives 41% of the vote, to Ted Cruz’s 23% and John Kasich’s 21%.  A separate sample of 466 Republicans registered since the turn of the New Year has Trump ahead 53%-21%-15%, indicating that Trump’s overall lead among the expected turnout is a few points greater."


Speaking of the election, there's been a dramatic increase in voter registration -- and that has a lot of implications for June 7 and the November general election, too.


From Capitol Weekly's Paul Mitchell: "Overall, registration has skyrocketed in the first months of 2016."


"There have been over 850,000 registrations in the months between January 1 and March 31.  This is twice as much as was registered during the same period in 2012. It even exceeds the total new registrations in the months leading up to the 2008 Primary, albeit that was a February primary, so much of the registration window was dominated by the Fall and Winter holidays."


"The scale and the timing of this registration boom can be seen in the following chart showing weekly registration rates for 2016 and the comparable weeks in 2012. Early weeks show modest growth of about 35%, but that increases dramatically to several weeks of growth at or exceeding 150%."


Attorney General Harris' court-order request for the donor list of a nonprofit organization that has the financial backing of the Koch brothers is shot down amid concerns of 1st amendment violations.


LAT's John Myers writes: "A federal judge has ruled that a nonprofit backed by conservative billionaires David and Charles Koch does not have to reveal its donors to Atty. Gen.Kamala Harris in a case that pitted state law governing charities against 1st Amendment rights."


"U.S. District Judge Manuel Real, in a ruling issued Thursday, found that the Americans For Prosperity Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charity organization, can ignore Harris' demand to turn over the names and addresses of those who have donated more than $5,000."


"Such disclosure, Real wrote, "chills the exercise of [the group]'s 1st Amendment freedoms to speak anonymously and to engage in expressive association."


SEE ALSO: Attorney General pledges effort to declassify marijuana from the federal watchlist -- Christopher Cadelago reporting in Sacramento Bee.


California scrambles for a way to protect its pipelines and gas reserves in a galvanized effort to secure making sure that another disaster like the Aliso Canyon gas leak never happens again.


LAT's Sarah D. Wire reports: "Tougher gas storage rules inspired by California's Aliso Canyon storage facility leak would be required under a bill approved unanimously by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on Wednesday."


"The bill, which reauthorizes the Department of Transportation’s pipeline safety program for four years and sets new federal safety standards requirements for the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, also includes language proposed by Rep.Steve Knight (R-Palmdale), who represents the Porter Ranch area affected by the leak."


"Knight's portion of the bill requires the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to set federal minimum safety standards for underground natural gas storage facilities within two years. Under the bill, standards would be based on a consensus of what the industry considers to be safe methods, and would have to take into consideration the resulting costs to consumers and businesses."


The governor and other Democrats are dvided over the issue of gun safety, and whether the better approach to firearm violence is with a ballot initiative or with members of the Assembly, which is controlled by Democrats. 


OC Register's Jonathon J. Cooper reports"The top lawyer for the California Legislature says Gov. Jerry Brown exceeded his authority when he issued an executive order imposing what he called the most aggressive carbon-emission reductions in North America, aligning California with the European Union's aggressive climate change standards."


"The opinion by Legislative Counsel Diane Boyer-Vine does not curtail Brown's authority to continue implementing the greenhouse gas reduction plan, but it suggests a lawsuit challenging them could be successful."


"The Democratic governor issued the executive order last year setting a new target for cutting carbon emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030."


Uber drivers around the country are relieved after the 'world's most valuable startup' reaches a lawsuit settelement in order to avoid further legal complications.


Mercury News' Marisa Kendall reports: "Dodging a legal threat to its future, Uber has agreed to pay up to $100 million to a group of its drivers to avoid having to treat them as regular employees.

Under terms of the deal announced Thursday evening, Uber would not have to reclassify its independent contractor drivers or offer them employee benefits such as minimum wage, overtime and reimbursement for driving expenses.


The case, scheduled for trial in June, has captivated the Bay Area because a ruling against Uber -- the world's most valuable startup -- had the potential to upend the exploding on-demand industry. Many other companies in the space follow Uber's independent contractor business model, which saves them money and -- they insist -- offers their workers flexibility."


Surprise, surprise: More changes to the bullet train plan have been announced, yet again


AP's Juliet Williams writes: "The board that oversees California’s high-speed rail system put off a vote Thursday on a revised business plan to give state officials more time to assuage lawmakers and citizens upset by the recent decision to first send the train to Northern California rather than the Los Angeles area."


"Officials proposed changes to the latest business plan at a meeting in San Jose where the board was expected to adopt the $64 billion business plan, which calls for the bullet train to head from the Central Valley to San Jose rather than south to the San Fernando Valley as originally planned."


"The changes include shifting the Central Valley starting point to Merced and adding a station in Wasco, near Bakersfield."


After a monthlong wait, California's revised tobacco bills will land on the governor's desk today.


Patrick McGreevy writing in LAT: "The Legislature plans to send a batch of tobacco control bills to the governor on Friday, more than a month after they were approved, officials say."


"The bills approved in early March were held up to hinder a referendum threatened by the tobacco industry to measures raising the smoking age from 18 to 21, and banning electronic cigarettes in restaurants, theaters and other public places where smoking is prohibited."


""We will continue to take these threats seriously and do everything in our power to keep hostile out-of-state interests from subverting and tampering with our cherished democratic initiative process,” Claire Conlon, a spokeswoman for Sen. Kevin De León, said at the time."

Get the daily Roundup
free in your e-mail

The Roundup is a daily look at the news from the editors of Capitol Weekly and AroundTheCapitol.com.
Privacy Policy