In an action that caught nobody by surprise, Gov. Brown signed a bill that defines California as a "sanctuary state," which means police in California needn't cooperate with federal immigration authorities in certain cases.
The Merc's KATY MURPHY tells the tale: "A far-reaching measure aimed at preventing California’s law enforcement officers from helping to carry out President Donald Trump’s promised crackdown on illegal immigration — best known as the “sanctuary state” bill — was signed into law Thursday, along with 10 other bills designed to protect undocumented immigrants."
"California Democrats this year have led a sustained effort to thwart Trump’s immigration agenda, an initiative that began more than a month before the president’s inauguration. Senate Bill 54 and other laws taking effect in January are widely seen — by champions and foes — as the most extensive statewide protections anywhere in the nation for those fearing deportation...."
"The bill will limit communication between California police officers and federal immigration agents about people detained by police or in jail awaiting trial. Exceptions include those who have been convicted of at least one of hundreds of serious crimes within the past 15 years and suspects in serious crimes punishable with prison time for which a judge has found probable cause. It also prohibits California officers from inquiring about a person’s immigration status."
READ MORE about sanctuary state: Gov. Brown signs bill making California a sanctuary state -- MELODY GUTIERREZ, SF Chronicle; Legislation signed by Brown extends protections for immigrants -- AP's JONATHAN COOPER; Brown's action sets up standoff with Trump administration -- KQED's MARISA LAGOS; Brown approves new limits on law enforcement -- TARYN LUNA , Sacramento Bee.
USC Medical School Dean Rohit Varma has been removed from his post, following published reports about his personal conduct.
From the LAT's SARAH PARVINI, HARRIET RYAN and PAUL PRINGLE: "Based on previously undisclosed information brought to the university in recent days, USC leadership has lost confidence in Dr. Rohit Varma’s ability to lead our medical school. As of today, he is no longer dean of the Keck School of Medicine,” USC Provost Michael Quick said in a statement."
"Late Thursday, Quick added that the undisclosed information included details provided by “Los Angeles Times and the university’s own inquiry into the matter.”
"On Wednesday, prior to that inquiry, USC had told The Times it considered the matter resolved and that it remained confident in Varma."
Assemblywoman Catharine Baker, a moderate Republican in a district where Democratic registration is dominant, carefully walks a political tightrope.
From Capitol Weekly's NIK BONOVICH: "During a Town Hall meeting in Orinda, one of the most affluent corners of her 16th Assembly District, Catharine Baker (R-Dublin) holds her own, leading the conversation and proudly explaining her votes and positions on the issues to a largely receptive audience made up of mostly older white constituents."
“She seems pretty malleable and works across the aisle with Democrats,” said Linda, an Orinda Democrat. “But, she might have been sugar coating it, because it’s a more liberal audience.” Linda, who voted for Baker in the last election, said she is open to supporting the right Democrat in 2018."
"Orinda is a moderate area that leans left, largely around social and environmental issues, and reflects opposition to the GOP’s national agenda. Baker, a moderate Republican, tilts left on social issues but moves to the center on environmental and business issues, and is more in line with her Republican Caucus on tax and labor legislation."
Gov. Brown's $17 billion plan to drill tunnels through the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to move water southward drew criticism from California State Auditor Elaine Howle.
RYAN SABALOW and DALE KASLER in the Sacramento Bee; "The Delta tunnels project was just gaining steam, and a San Francisco engineering firm had outbid its competitors to win a $60 million, seven-year state contract to help plan the project."
"But officials at the California Department of Water Resources weren’t happy with a manager that the company, URS Corp., had assigned to help oversee the planning process."
"What the state did next was the focus of a highly critical state audit released Thursday. State Auditor Elaine Howle charged that DWR directed URS in 2009 to replace its employee with the president of a Sacramento consulting firm that lacked the qualifications to do the job, in what amounted to a no-bid multimillion-dollar contract that ran afoul of state contracting laws intended to ensure public dollars aren’t being wasted on unqualified firms."
READ MORE on water: Brown in LA to lobby for his Delta tunnels project -- BETTINA BOXALL in the LAT; State auditor rips Jerry Brown's project -- PAUL ROGERS, Mercury News
California's venerable U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein has built much of her political career on her opposition to assault weapons. Now, in the wake of the Las Vegas shooting, she's back in the battleground, advocating a ban on "bump stocks."
CASEY TOLAN in the MERCURY NEWS: "With signs Thursday that Republicans — and even the National Rifle Association — are open to exploring her bill, Feinstein’s leadership on the high-profile debate could reassure Californians who have been questioning whether the 84-year-old senator was ready to give up her role as one of the Golden State’s most important political voices.
“She has more credibility on gun control than any other member of Congress, given her long tenure on the issue, so I think this will certainly enhance her popularity,” said Larry Gerston, a professor emeritus at San Jose State University. “What she’s doing right now fits well with the state’s values, and there’s going to be an appreciation of that.”
"Feinstein’s bill to ban “bump stocks,” which the gunman used to drastically increase his rate of fire as he killed 58 people Sunday night, got a significant boost on Thursday: The National Rifle Association — a longtime Feinstein adversary — said it supported “additional regulations” on the mechanism. Bump stocks are already banned in California."
READ MORE related to the Las Vegas shooting: Most Californians support gun control -- DANIEL WHEATON in the Union-Tribune; Does gun ownership make you safer? Research says no -- KQED's DANIELLE VENTON; More than half of Las Vegas shooting victims were from California -- STEVEN QUEVAS, KQED.
Meanwhile, before state Sen. Ed Hernandez fought drug companies, he took their money.
From CHRISTOPHER CADELAGO and JIM MILLER in the Sacramento Bee: "California state Sen. Ed Hernandez, Democrat campaigning for lieutenant governor next year as a crusader against major drug companies, hasn’t always been their adversary."
"Hernandez is the author of heavily lobbied drug-price transparency legislation, Senate Bill 17, that’s currently sitting on Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk. The Azusa optometrist also recently released a digital campaign video for his 2018 race that says he “took on big pharma” to prevent price gouging and make life-saving medications more affordable."
"The video, featuring a testimonial from activist and singer Kendall Renee, focuses on the soaring costs of EpiPen. The drug is made by Mylan, Inc. Manufacturers include Meridian Medical Technologies, which is owned by the drug giant Pfizer. A Hernandez campaign news release announcing the EpiPen video describes him as “unshaken by big moneyed special interests.”