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Democratic Assemblyman Steve Fox sued by former employee

A former employee has sued Assemblyman Steve Fox (D-Palmdale), according to court documents filed this week, alleging the freshman legislator created a hostile work environment and made her perform work for his private law practice.

Nancy Finnigan, who served as Fox's legislative director for six months, also alleged in a complaint filed Monday that Fox once indecently exposed himself to her, when she went to his apartment to bring him to a required Assembly session. Finnigan said Fox answered the door "half-naked holding a pair of pants around his waist."

Finnigan was fired in May 2013; she says in the complaint the termination was in retaliation for voicing concerns about Fox and his employees' misconduct. 

Lisa Gasperoni, campaign manager for Fox, said the allegations are "without merit."

"The timing on this thing is really interesting because we're right in the middle of one of the most contested campaigns in the state," she said, noting skeptically that "six weeks before the...

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Gov. Brown signs bill giving cities control over massage businesses

Cities will have more authority to crack down on illicit massage parlors under a new law signed by Gov. Jerry Brown Thursday.

Local government officials have complained that under current law, it is too difficult to regulate massage businesses or shut down parlors with suspected links to prostitution or human trafficking.

Assemblyman Chris Holden (D-Pasadena), one of three authors of the measure, said such bad actors "hijacked the massage industry and overwhelmed smaller cities who felt their hands were tied when dealing with the proliferation of these businesses." 

The newly signed measure will give local governments more authority over zoning and regulation of these businesses, allowing them to close down bad actors. It also establishes more training requirements for individuals applying for a license to be a massage practitioner.

Tony Ferrara, president of the League of California Cities, cheered the new law.

"Our cities once again have the power to regulate massage businesses just...

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Democrat drops his endorsement of GOP's Knight in congressional race

Adding to events that have buffeted state Sen. Stephen Knight's campaign for Congress in recent days, the former rival Democrat who had endorsed him pulled his support on Thursday.

Lee Rogers finished third in the June primary behind former state legislator Tony Strickland and Knight, of Palmdale, leaving the two Republicans to compete this fall to succeed retiring Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon (R-Santa Clarita). 

Under the state's top-two election system, only the first- and second-place primary finishers, regardless of party affiliation, can advance to the general election. And Rogers, a podiatrist who had challenged McKeon in 2012, threw his support to Knight soon after the spring election. He said that Knight was "honest" and had "integrity."

But on Thursday Rogers said "recent actions" caused him to change his mind.

"I consider Steve a friend," Rogers said in a statement, "but I'm just appalled at what appears to be his tone-deafness in regard to what our neighbors find appropriate."

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Knight tells Donnelly not to walk precincts for him

State Sen. Stephen Knight (R-Palmdale) said Wednesday he has told controversial GOP Assemblyman Tim Donnelly not to walk precincts for him in Santa Clarita this weekend.

 Donnelly, of Twin Peaks, arguably the Legislature's most outspoken conservative, emailed supporters earlier this week and urged them to "join me this Saturday in walking door-to-door for Steve."

After running through a list of reasons he supports Knight and urging others to contribute to the state senator's campaign, Donnelly promised to meet walkers at Republican headquarters in Santa Clarita on Saturday morning.

Knight is competing with former state legislator Tony Strickland, also a Republican, to succeed retiring Rep. Howard P. (Buck) McKeon (R-Santa Clarita) in the Nov. 4 election. 

Republicans still hold an edge in the district but registration and voting patterns have been changing along with demographics in recent years and both candidates have been courting Democrats in addition to voters of their own party.

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California Republicans kick off convention in Los Angeles

Just weeks before California voters begin casting mail ballots, about 1,000 of the state’s Republicans will gather in Los Angeles this weekend at their biannual convention. This year’s theme: “Reclaim California.”

It’s a tall order for a party that is struggling -- California Republicans remain at a historic low in voter registration, are vastly outgunned financially by their Democratic rivals and are unlikely to elect a statewide candidate in November.

But the state remains critical in national politics, as reflected by the top speakers at the three-day gathering at the Marriott near Los Angeles International Airport.

Sen. Rand Paul, a potential 2016 presidential candidate, will address delegates and guests at a luncheon on Saturday. The Kentucky senator has been spending a lot of time in California, connecting with traditional donors as well libertarian-leaning constituencies as he seeks to plant a flag in the crowded GOP presidential field.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of...

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Gov. Jerry Brown vetoes anti-discrimination measure for unemployed

Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a measure Wednesday that would have barred employers from discriminating against unemployed job seekers.

The bill by Assemblyman Ian Calderon (D-Whittier) would have prohibited employers, including the state government, from indicating that only people currently employed would be eligible for a job posting.

They would also have been banned from asking about an applicant's current employment status before determining whether that person met the minimum qualifications for a job.

In his veto message, Brown said he supported the intent of the bill, but said it could end up impeding the state programs to connect unemployed workers with employers.

"The problems facing our state's long term unemployed are great," Brown wrote. "There is no doubt that those Californians want to get back to work and I want to help them get there -- unfortunately this bill does not provide the proper path to address this problem."

Calderon said in a statement that he was "deeply...

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Tim Donnelly to walk precincts for Knight in congressional race

 GOP Assemblyman Tim Donnelly of Twin Peaks, perhaps the most outspoken conservative in the Legislature, plans to campaign this weekend  for state Sen. Stephen Knight, one of two Republicans battling to succeed a retiring congressman this fall.

Knight, of Palmdale, is competing with former state legislator Tony Strickland for the seat being vacated by Rep. Howard P. (Buck) McKeon (R-Santa Clarita).

Donnelly, an unsuccessful candidate for governor in the June primary, sent email to supporters announcing that he would be walking precincts with Knight in Santa Clarita on Saturday morning.  He urged volunteers to meet him and Knight at Republican headquarters in Santa Clarita.

"Steve and I have fought shoulder-to-shoulder to defend our 2nd Amendment Constitutional Civil Rights," Donnelly said in the email addressed "Dear Patriots."

"In contrast, Steve's opponent left the state Senate with the distinction of being one of the most anti-hunting Republican [sic] to ever serve that body,"...

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Gov. Jerry Brown signs historic groundwater management legislation

Gov. Jerry Brown signed a trio of bills Tuesday establishing a framework for statewide regulation of California's underground water sources, marking the first time in the state's history that groundwater will be managed on a large scale.

"This is a big deal," Brown said at a signing ceremony in the Capitol. "It's been known about for decades that underground water has to be managed and regulated in some way."

Since the state's founding, water has been considered a property right; landowners have been able to pump as much water from the ground as they want. But increasing reliance on underground water, particularly during droughts, has led to more pumping from some basins than what is naturally being replaced.

Some areas already have begun managing their groundwater sources, but other key basins remain unregulated. 

Even with the management structure in place, experts say it could be decades before the state's most depleted basins recover. 

The regulatory plan signed by Brown is broken...

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Activists appeal dismissal of voting rights lawsuit in Whittier

Activists in Whittier on Monday filed an appeal to a judge's dismissal this month of their lawsuit challenging the city's system of electing its officials.  

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Michael M. Johnson on Thursday granted the city's request to dismiss  the suit alleging that  its at-large method of electing council members violated the California Voting Rights Act.

When voters gave the city permission this year to switch to electing officials by geographic district, the lawsuit became moot, Johnson said in dismissing it.

Whittier is one of several California cities  with significant minority populations but few or no minority elected officials. 

Activists have been suing such cities, school districts and other local government bodies, claiming the at-large elections deprive minorities of opportunities to elect a representative of their choice.  Several jurisdictions have switched to district elections when confronted with evidence of racially polarized voting.

"The city...

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Gov. Brown repeals unenforced sections of Prop. 187

Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation Monday that repeals unenforceable provisions of Proposition 187, the two-decade-old measure that sought to withhold public services from immigrants in the country illegally.

In all, Brown said Monday that he has signed 28 bills, also including a measure requiring public schools to stock epinephrine auto injectors on campus so medicine can be administered quickly if a student suffers from a serious anaphylactic allergy reaction during school hours. Senate Republican leader Bob Huff of Diamond Bar authored that bill, SB 1266.

Far more controversial was SB 396, which Brown signed to remove from the state law books key sections of the ballot measure approved by California voters in 1994 but struck down by the courts as unconstitutional.

“This is a long overdue fix to a law that has no place on the state’s books,” said Evan Westrup, a spokesman for Brown.

Sen. Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) introduced the repeal bill because he thought keeping the...

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Convicted felon Roderick Wright to resign from state Senate

Democratic State Sen. Roderick D. Wright said Monday that he will resign from office effective Sept. 22-- bowing to pressure three days after a judge sentenced him to 90 days in jail on felony perjury and voting fraud charges for lying about living in his Senate district when he ran for office in 2008.

Wright, who was threatened with an expulsion vote if he did not step down, agreed to step down but asked for a week to say goodbye to his staff and constituents.

"Effective Sept. 22, 2014, I hereby resign from the California State Senate," Wright said in a letter Monday to the Senate secretary.

“It’s painful,” Wright said in an interview. “At the end of the day you want to consider what’s the best thing for the house and that was the best thing for the house.”

Wright has said in the past that he was wrongly convicted and plans to appeal but did not want to talk about his guilt or innocence. “It doesn’t matter what I think at this point. You have to move on with your life,” he said.  

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14 California officers receive Medal of Valor awards at Capitol

Fourteen law enforcement officers, including three involved in a deadly shootout with cop killer Christopher Dorner last year, were honored by California Gov. Jerry Brown and California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris on Monday.

Speaking at a ceremony in the Capitol, Brown said the Medal of Valor awards are about "recognizing the absolute human necessity of duty, of courage and of solidarity, so our community, from the bottom up, gets stronger and stronger."

Det. Larry Lopez, Det. Justin Musella and Deputy Daniel Rosa were the three officers from the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department recognized for their role in the shootout with Dorner.

While Musella threw smoke canisters, Lopez and Rosa dashed into the road to pull two wounded officers to safety. One of them, Det. Jeremiah MacKay, later died. The other, Deputy Alex Collins, lived, and was at Monday's ceremony.

Collins recalled lying on the ground while bullets flew overhead when Rosa ran up and dragged him behind a car.

"I remember...

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