California's latest voter registration numbers show independents are nearly even with Republicans
From AP's KATHLEEN RONAYNE: "More than a quarter of California voters aren't registered in a political party, making independents the fastest growing share of voters in the state, according to state data released Thursday."
"They're nipping closer at the heels of Republicans; that party now outpaces independents by just 30,000 voters."
"The Republicans aren't capturing the new California, and I think this is a result of especially the national party brand dragging down Republicans in California," Thad Kousser said, chair of the political science department at the University of California in San Diego.
East Area Rapist suspect faces 4 new murder charges in Santa Barbara County killings
Sacramento Bee's SAM STANTON: "Prosecutors in Santa Barbara County filed four murder charges Thursday against East Area Rapist/Golden State Killer suspect Joseph James DeAngelo, bring to 12 the number of murder charges he faces in four California counties."
"District Attorney Joyce Dudley announced the charges had been filed in the 1979 slayings of Robert Offerman and Debra Manning and the 1981 slayings of Cheri Domingo and Gregory Sanchez."
"Violent cold cases never go cold for the victims, they never do," Dudley said in a brief news conference outside her office."
READ MORE related to GSK: 'Biggest trial in California history' needs warrant sealed for East Area Rapist suspect, lawyer says -- Sacramento Bee's SAM STANTON; Santa Barbara DA chargesd suspected Golden State Killer with four more murders -- The Chronicle's ANNIE MA
Republican John Cox regrets not voting for Donald Trump
Sacramento Bee's ANGELA HART: "Republican gubernatorial candidate John Cox this week made his strongest public statement yet in an attempt to appeal to California's Trump supporters ahead of Election Day on June 5."
"Cox, who didn't vote for Donald Trump for president, said at a debate Tuesday night that he regrets that decision. "I wasn't sure he's a conservative. I am now, he's a conservative."
"The moment underscores the intraparty fight between Cox and his Republican rival from Orange County, Assemblyman Travis Allen. Both are trying to lure voters from one another to be competitive for a second place slot in the November general election, behind frontrunner Gavin Newsom. Without uniting behind one candidate, the Republican Party in California, with about a quarter of the state's total registered voters — risks being splintered and sending two Democrats to the runoff."
READ MORE related to State Politics: How do the Newsoms clean up their dog's poop? Baggies with Trump's face -- The Tribune News's GABBY FERREIRA; OP-ED: Antonio Villaraigosa showed political courage in hard times. He should be California's next governor -- LA Times's EDITORIAL BOARD
New California rule bans lawyers from having sex with clients
The Chronicle's BOB EGELKO: "It’s now a violation of legal ethics in California for a lawyer to have sex with a client, unless their intimate relationship preceded their professional relationship."
"The state Supreme Court approved the new rule Thursday, bringing California in line with American Bar Association standards already in effect in most other states. State Bar trustees proposed the change last year as part of an overhaul of ethical regulations for California’s 250,000 lawyers, of whom 190,000 are licensed to practice law."
Hard-fought attorney general's race highlights down-ballot California contests
The Chronicle's JOHN WILDERMUTH: "An attorney general’s race featuring a pair of well-known and well-heeled Democrats and two GOP longshots heads the list of down-ballot contests in the June 5 California primary."
"Former Los Angeles Rep. Xavier Becerra, who was appointed attorney general after Kamala Harris was elected to the Senate in 2016, faces Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones in a high-profile Democratic matchup."
Dianne Feinstein says she will vote against Gina Haspel as CIA chief
The Chronicle's JOE GAROFOLI: "Sen. Dianne Feinstein said Thursday that she will vote against confirming Gina Haspel to lead the CIA, citing the involvement of President Trump’s nominee in the agency’s post-9/11 program of torturing terrorism suspects to try to gain information."
"Feinstein joined California’s other Democratic senator, Kamala Harris, in opposing Haspel, a 33-year CIA veteran who oversaw sites in Thailand where terrorism detainees were held and later supported destroying videos of torture sessions."
The 4 dueling immigration bills the House could vote on
AP's ALAN FRAM: "If a band of Republican centrists can pull it off, the House could vote this year on four dueling immigration bills over the objections of party leaders."
"The mavericks would succeed if they collect 218 signatures — a majority of House members — on a petition, a seldom-used procedure. The proposal would allow votes on a liberal plan, a conservative one, a bipartisan compromise and any bill chosen by House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis."
"The moderates are shy so far of the signatures they need, and GOP leaders are trying to keep it that way. If the group approaches the numbers needed, leaders could negotiate over a different approach. Both sides acknowledge they are already talking."
City offers manager nearly $300,000 to resign. She took it.
Sacramento Bee's DIANA LAMBERT: "Elk Grove's longtime City Manager Laura S. Gill has been asked to step aside, but she received a generous parting gift."
"Gill was asked to resign by the City Council on April 11 during a closed session meeting, according to a press release issued Wednesday announcing the change."
"The majority of the council felt it was time to get fresh eyes," City Councilman Pat Hume said Thursday. There was nothing wrong with Gill's performance, he said, adding that the council was looking for a different skill set as it focuses on attracting more jobs and businesses to the city."
READ MORE related to Local Poalitics: Bay Area political events: Voting how-to, criminal justice reform -- The Chronicle's STAFF REPORT
Tons of nuclear waste sitting near Sacramento finally might move
McClatchy DC's EMILY CADEI: "More than two hundred tons of nuclear waste have been sitting a half-hour drive from downtown Sacramento for decades, as policymakers in Washington haggle over where to send the material."
"A breakthrough in Congress Thursday improves the chances that the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) will finally be able remove the spent uranium fuel stored at the decommissioned Rancho Seco nuclear power plant since 1989."
"It would ultimately mean lower costs for local ratepayers."
READ MORE related to Energy & Environment: California governor signs order to reduce wildfire danger -- AP
$29 million increase for San Francisco homelessness programs in proposed budget
The Chronicle's DOMINIC FRACASSA: "San Francisco Mayor Mark Farrell will propose raising city spending on homelessness by more than 11 percent next year, with a big chunk of the new money going toward measures intended to keep people from returning to the streets after the city manages to house them."
"Farrell is expected to announce Thursday that his spending plan for fiscal 2018-19 would add $29 million to the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing’s $250 million budget. More than half the new money — $15.2 million — would go toward opening four navigation centers, where homeless people have access to substance abuse counseling, mental health programs and job-search assistance — all programs designed to stabilize their lives and keep them under a roof."
Scientists develop a 3D view of an interstellar cloud, where stars are born
LA Times's AMINA KHAN: "Two astronomers from Greece have managed to model the three-dimensional structure of an interstellar gas cloud, and found that it's on the order of 10 times more spacious than it originally appeared."
"The shape and structure of Musca, described in the journal Science, could help scientists probe the mysterious origins and evolution of stars — and by extension, the planets that surround them."
Oakland halts fire inspection program because of software change
The Chronicle's KIMBERLY VEKLEROV: "Oakland officials halted an inspection program that sends firefighters to multifamily apartments, restaurants and other commercial buildings to check for safety and fire hazards — because of a change in computer software."
"In a department-wide email two weeks ago, Fire Chief Darin White said there would be a “temporary suspension” of the commercial inspection program, one of three inspection programs overseen by the Fire Department. He told his staff that they might lose access to the computer software program that helped firefighters track inspections of commercial buildings starting May 1."
US Halts most combat missions in Africa in response to findings on deadly Niger ambush
LA Times's DAVID S. CLOUD: "U.S. special operations troops in Africa have been restricted from undertaking missions that might involve direct combat, one of several steps announced Thursday to prevent future casualties after an October ambush in Niger killed four American soldiers."
"U.S. forces have not conducted any operations to kill or capture militants since the deadly confrontation and are focused almost exclusively on training Nigerien troops and other U.S. allies in the region and expanding an airfield outside Niger's capital for drone operations, commanders told reporters at a Pentagon news conference on the results of the military investigation into the Niger attack."