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Auditors released this photo of the Tiki bar they say was built near a Cal Fire official's home.
Auditors released this photo of the Tiki bar they say was built near a Cal Fire official's home. (California State Auditor via www.tikiwithray.com)

An assistant chief of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection asked employees to help build a Tiki bar behind the house he rented from the state government, according to a state audit released on Tuesday.

The high-ranking fire official “misused state employees and caused discredit” to the agency by quietly building the bar, complete with electricity and plumbing, over six months in 2016.

“The assistant chief misused state land when he built an unauthorized structure in the backyard of the home he rented from CAL FIRE,” auditors wrote. “The rental agreement states that the tenant agrees to obtain written consent from the CAL FIRE unit before making any significant improvements or changes to the site.”

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Rep. Barbara Lee will seek to lead the Democratic Caucus next year, making her the second Californian to enter the race.

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  • State government
  • California Legislature
The California Assembly
The California Assembly (Steve Yeater / Associated Press)

A plan to replace California’s antiquated website for disclosing lobbying activity and contributions to elected officials is 11 months behind schedule, and its budget has doubled.

Secretary of State Alex Padilla notified the Legislature last week that the replacement for the Cal-ACCESS system will be delayed until the end of 2019. It had been scheduled for completion in February. 

The Legislature agreed two years ago to a plan that would cost $11.6 million, but as the project has proceeded and vendors were consulted, lawmakers have repeatedly upped the budget. It now stands at $23 million.

The state Capitol
The state Capitol (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

California’s political watchdog panel deadlocked Thursday over allowing legislative leaders to accept much larger campaign contributions, after several open-government groups said the proposal raises “important concerns” about increasing the influence of special interests.

The California Fair Political Practices Commission split 2-2 on a motion to endorse legislation that would allow the four top Democratic and Republican leaders in the Legislature to accept individual campaign contributions of up to $36,000 per source for races they are targeting, up from the current $4,400 limit.

Commissioner Frank Cardenas was unwilling to support the new bill, which he said has been fast-tracked without the normal committee hearings “as quickly and as quietly as possible to get something done which would otherwise face the scrutiny [of the public].”

Gov. Jerry Brown
Gov. Jerry Brown (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a measure Wednesday to require incoming student orientations at California colleges and universities to include information on intimate partner and dating violence.

Under current law, colleges must address sexual violence, domestic violence and stalking in their orientations for new students. The measure, AB 2070 by Assemblywoman Eloise Gomez Reyes (D-Grand Terrace), would have expanded on those requirements to specifically include intimate partner and dating violence.

In his veto message, Brown said the “essential elements” of the bill already appear to be covered by law. The governor also said he wanted to hold off on changing existing state law until a panel of experts returned their recommendations on what, if anything, should be changed to better address sexual assault on college campuses.

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  • California Legislature
  • 2018 election
Gov. Jerry Brown signed a new law requiring counties to prepay postage for mail-in ballots.
Gov. Jerry Brown signed a new law requiring counties to prepay postage for mail-in ballots. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

In a move to boost voter turnout, Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday signed a bill that requires counties to prepay postage for mail-in ballots in California elections.

The measure was proposed by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (D-San Diego), who said it is necessary to remove an obstacle to voting, especially for young people who are less likely to use the postal system and have stamps in the age of emails and text messages.

“Once again, California leads the way to make voting more accessible to all of our citizens,” Gonzalez Fletcher said in a statement. “No stamps? No problem!”

  • California Republicans

President Trump, remember, America first.

Posted by Arnold Schwarzenegger on Monday, July 16, 2018

Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has lashed out at President Trump’s rebuke of American intelligence agencies during a news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“President Trump, I just saw your press conference with President Putin and it was embarrassing, I mean you stood there like a little wet noodle, like a little fanboy,” Schwarzenegger said in a Facebook video on Monday, unshaven and appearing distraught. “I mean, I was asking myself when are you going to ask him for an autograph or for a selfie or something like that?”

Schwarzenegger, who has repeatedly tangled with Trump, said the president “sold out” the nation as well as its intelligence and justice systems.

It's a job that can be a stepping stone to one of the most powerful jobs in America, or nothing more than a political footnote. The race to become California's next lieutenant governor for the first time has two Democrats battling this November.

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California State Controller Betty Yee has been hurt in a car crash, but authorities say her injuries do not appear to be life-threatening.

The California Highway Patrol says Yee and her husband were in an unmarked car being driven by a CHP officer when it stopped in traffic and was rear-ended Friday afternoon in the Posey Tube, an underwater tunnel connecting Oakland and Alameda in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The CHP says the other car's driver was hospitalized for severe injuries. He is suspected of driving under the influence of marijuana.

  • California Democrats
Gov. Jerry Brown and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom both lost followers in this week's Twitter purge
Gov. Jerry Brown and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom both lost followers in this week's Twitter purge (Eric Risberg/Associated Press)

Two of California’s most prominent politicians lost a noticeable slice of Twitter followers this week, as the social media platform began a crackdown on accounts it deemed to be suspicious.

Gov. Jerry Brown and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom both saw a slightly more than 10% reduction in followers of their accounts. In raw numbers, Brown lost 127,185 followers through early Friday. Newsom, one of two candidates seeking to replace Brown next year, had 152,997 followers erased from his account.

No other California politicians had as large a reduction in followers. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance), whose sharp criticism of President Trump has led to a large Twitter following, lost about 1.4% of his followers. Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Sen. Kamala Harris each lost less than a percentage point of their audience on the social media site.