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594 posts
  • State government
  • California Legislature
Amyloid plaques, shown here in human brains, are a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease.
Amyloid plaques, shown here in human brains, are a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease. (UCLA School of Medicine)

Gov. Gavin Newsom will call for the creation of a brain health task force and dedicate $3 million annually from the state’s general fund to Alzheimer’s disease research in the budget proposal he will release Thursday, a source close to the administration said.

The money for Alzheimer’s research would target the new grants at understanding why the disease is more prevalent in women and people of color. Former California first lady and Alzheimer's activist Maria Shriver pushed for the funding to be included in the state budget.

Shriver said in a statement Wednesday that the funding would make California the first state to make “understanding our brains a priority.”

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A line of people stretches around the South L.A. location of a California Department of Motor Vehicles Office on Aug. 7.
A line of people stretches around the South L.A. location of a California Department of Motor Vehicles Office on Aug. 7. (Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday ordered an overhaul of the California Department of Motor Vehicles, which has been plagued by hours-long wait times at field offices, computer crashes and voter registration errors involving tens of thousands of customers.

Just a few days after taking office, Newsom appointed a top advisor to a new “DMV Reinvention Strike Team” to revamp the beleaguered agency over the next six months.

“By any metric, California DMV has been chronically mismanaged and failed in its fundamental mission to the state customers it serves and the state workers it employs,” Newsom said in a statement, adding “It’s time for a reinvention.”

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Just as a landmark police transparency law is going into effect, some California police agencies are shredding internal affairs documents and law enforcement unions are rushing to block the information from being released.

Secretary of State Alex Padilla takes the oath of office as his family stands by his side on Monday in Sacramento.
Secretary of State Alex Padilla takes the oath of office as his family stands by his side on Monday in Sacramento. (Jazmine Ulloa / Los Angeles Times)

Secretary of State Alex Padilla was sworn in for a second term on Monday, saying he would continue the battle to protect the right to vote at a time when voter suppression efforts, online disinformation campaigns and interference from foreign adversaries have polarized the public and threatened to undermine trust in U.S. elections.

“I am doubling down on our fight here in Sacramento and in Washington, D.C., to defend our democracy,” he said. “Working on the front lines with so many of you, I know that our collective resolve has never been stronger.”

But the loudest applause came when Padilla promised to fight back against the Trump administration’s changes to the U.S. census, saying he will “ensure every Californian gets counted.”

Ricardo Lara on the floor of the state Senate in 2016.
Ricardo Lara on the floor of the state Senate in 2016. (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Ricardo Lara took the oath of office as California insurance commissioner on Monday, pledging action to boost healthcare coverage and combat climate change.

Lara, a Democrat from Bell Gardens, is the first elected statewide officeholder in California who has come out as gay. He began his speech in downtown Sacramento by thanking LGBTQ leaders who came before him and celebrated the occasion.

“Today, because of you, we’ve shattered the pink ceiling,” Lara said.

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New Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis, center, is shown in June talking with attendees at the Power to the Polls rally in Sacramento.
New Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis, center, is shown in June talking with attendees at the Power to the Polls rally in Sacramento. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

More Californians should be given access to public universities, Eleni Kounalakis said as she took the oath of office Monday to become the state’s first woman elected lieutenant governor.

Kounalakis was given the oath of office by Gov. Gavin Newsom, her predecessor in the job, who pledged they would work together.

As lieutenant governor, Kounalakis serves on the University of California Board of Regents and the California State University Board of Trustees, she noted in a speech at her swearing-in ceremony at the main Sacramento Library.

Gov. Gavin Newsom gives his inaugural address while holding his youngest son, Dutch.
Gov. Gavin Newsom gives his inaugural address while holding his youngest son, Dutch. (Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

In the California political world, all eyes were on Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday until his 2-year-old son stole the show.

Dutch, the youngest of four children in the Newsom brood, climbed onstage in the middle of his father’s inaugural address in a tent outside the Capitol on Monday. The unplanned moment saw the 51-year-old governor’s big day interrupted by the toddler, bringing levity to the ceremony.

Newsom was recounting Gov. Jerry Brown’s last inaugural speech and reference to the Sermon on the Mount, a biblical story about two men who built separate homes on sand and rock, when Dutch approached his father, a pacifier in his mouth and blanket in hand.

State Treasurer Fiona Ma.
State Treasurer Fiona Ma.

Fiona Ma took the oath of office in Sacramento on Monday as the state’s 34th treasurer, promising to boost California’s economy.

Ma previously served on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, in the state Assembly and on the California Board of Equalization. 

“I want to thank everyone for entrusting me with this important job. I understand my role here as your state treasurer is to build that financial wall around California so that we will remain the fifth-largest economy,” Ma said in brief remarks. “That is my promise to you.”

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  • California Democrats
Tony Thurmond shakes hands with retired Alameda County Superior Court Judge Gordon Baranco after taking the oath of office.
Tony Thurmond shakes hands with retired Alameda County Superior Court Judge Gordon Baranco after taking the oath of office. (Melody Gutierrez / Los Angeles Times)

Tony Thurmond took the oath of office as California’s state superintendent of public schools on Monday, promising a labor-friendly agenda before the teachers, students and Democratic officials who filled an auditorium at McClatchy High School in Sacramento to watch him being sworn in.

“We can’t close the achievement gap without a great teacher at the head of every class,” Thurmond said Monday to applause. “We have to make sure we provide quality compensation and support to our teachers and our classified staff and all the educators who support our kids.”

Thurmond, a Bay Area Democrat who served in the state Assembly, won a hotly contested and expensive race with the help of labor leaders against charter school executive Marshall Tuck. The race took several days to sort out after Tuck held an initial lead in early returns on election night before falling behind thereafter.