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594 posts
  • California Legislature
Cell tower interceptors, often called "stingrays" or "dirtboxes," mimic traditional cell towers.
Cell tower interceptors, often called "stingrays" or "dirtboxes," mimic traditional cell towers. (Jeff Roberson / Associated Press)

A coalition of civil rights and immigrant advocacy groups has penned a letter in support of a state bill that would force California police and sheriff agencies to disclose all of their surveillance gear, as Oakland this week approved similar requirements through what may be the strongest city surveillance ordinance in the country.

Supporters say they believe the legislation will propel other cities and counties across the state to follow the lead, ensuring law enforcement officials are not obtaining powerful public safety tools behind closed doors.

For years, privacy advocates in Oakland have pushed back against the ways that law enforcement, through new technology and shared databases, collects the personal information of criminal suspects and innocent bystanders alike. Under the city’s latest ordinance, police will have to report all of their surveillance technology, keep more public data on its use and obtain community input before buying new equipment. The new rule also includes protections for whistleblowers who report any violations.

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California gubernatorial candidates John Cox, left, and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom at a debate at UCLA in January.
California gubernatorial candidates John Cox, left, and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom at a debate at UCLA in January. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, the Democratic front-runner in the 2018 governor’s race, is releasing a new campaign ad attacking Republican rival John Cox for being pro-gun and pro-President Trump.

“Why is John Cox attacking Gavin Newsom for supporting common-sense gun safety? John Cox stands with Donald Trump and the NRA,” the ad says. “Cox called gun laws a ‘waste of time,’ opposes background checks and a ban on assault weapons.”

The attack ad could deliver a two-pronged political benefit to Newsom.

  • Ballot measures
  • 2018 election
  • California Democrats
(XiFotos / Getty Images / iStockphoto)

As three national paint companies move closer to getting a measure on California’s November ballot that would wipe out a court ruling against them, state lawmakers are pushing the companies to back down from some of their claims.

The three companies, ConAgra, NL Industries and Sherwin-Williams, announced Thursday that they have started to submit more than 680,000 signatures to ensure their initiative appears on the ballot. The companies’ plan would eliminate a court order for them to pay an estimated $700 million to clean up lead paint. It would replace it with a $2-billion taxpayer-funded bond to finance the cleanup of lead, mold and other hazardous materials.

The companies have also started a digital ad campaign asking Californians to persuade their lawmakers to propose bills that would overturn the court ruling. The companies’ contend that the court ruling “red tags” millions of homes and makes homeowners potentially liable for lead paint cleanup.

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  • Governor's race
  • 2018 election
  • California Democrats
Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa meets African American leaders at the Los Angeles Sentinel.
Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa meets African American leaders at the Los Angeles Sentinel. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

A group of prominent African American political, religious and civic leaders gathered Thursday to endorse Antonio Villaraigosa for governor, arguing that the former Los Angeles mayor has a history of working to lift their community.

“It’s important for us to ensure we have an individual in Sacramento that’s not afraid to lead, and I submit to each and every one of you that person is Antonio Villaraigosa,” Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson said. “Now a lot of people say, ‘Herb, he’s your boy, your friend, that’s why you support him.’ I’m saying to each and every one of you, friendship has nothing to do with this. I have friends that I love who I wouldn’t send to the store to get a loaf of bread. Antonio realizes governing is not about doing what you want to do. Governing is about doing what you have to do.”

Wesson was joined by elected officials from Los Angeles, Compton, Inglewood and Carson; leaders of the First African Methodist Episcopal Church, the Nation of Islam and other houses of worship; and community activists.

Assemblywoman Autumn Burke (D-Marina del Rey) has introduced a bill that would create a tax-credit system.
Assemblywoman Autumn Burke (D-Marina del Rey) has introduced a bill that would create a tax-credit system. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

A new proposal from a Los Angeles lawmaker has emerged aiming to help Californians evade a key provision of the federal tax overhaul passed last year.

Assembly Bill 2217 from Assemblywoman Autumn Burke (D-Marina del Rey) would create a tax-credit system linking charities, educational institutions, the state treasury and individual taxpayers in an effort to allow Californians to sidestep the new $10,000 federal cap on state and local tax deductions.

Under Burke’s plan, taxpayers could make a contribution to nonprofits, universities, community colleges or K-12 public school districts, and those entities would transfer 90% of that donation to the state. In turn, the state would lower a taxpayer’s state income tax liability by issuing a credit equal to 80% of the original donation. And by making a charitable donation, California taxpayers would be able to deduct that entire amount from their federal taxes, Burke said.

(Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

A former aide to a California legislator sued the state Senate on Thursday, alleging it failed to accommodate her emotional disabilities following what she said was a sexual assault by an Assembly staff member, and instead wrongly fired her for “pre-textual minor” work performance issues.

The lawsuit filed in Sacramento Superior Court lists the plaintiff as “Jane Doe” because the law allows victims of sexual assault to use a pseudonym in civil cases to protect their privacy, said Micha Star Liberty, the woman’s attorney.

When asked, Liberty acknowledged that her client worked for Sen. Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) previously and she said he wasn't named in the lawsuit "because this office does not know whether or not he has any information about her circumstances or what had occurred."

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  • Ballot measures
The proposed California Consumer Privacy Act would require companies to disclose the data they collect from consumers.
The proposed California Consumer Privacy Act would require companies to disclose the data they collect from consumers. (Patrick Semansky / Associated Press)

Proponents of a measure that would require companies to disclose the data they collect from consumers have submitted signatures on petitions to qualify the initiative for the November ballot, paving the way for a heated battle over privacy. 

The initiative would require businesses to inform customers of what personal information they are gathering from them and give them the option to opt out of having that data sold or shared to third parties. It also would increase fines and penalties for companies that fail to protect the data against breaches.

Rick Arney, co-author of the proposed California Consumer Privacy Act, said support for the measure widened when federal officials opened an investigation into how a data firm, Cambridge Analytica, accessed the personal information of millions of Facebook users without their knowledge to help elect President Trump.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, flanked by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise.
House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, flanked by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin is among the Republicans from outside California who have contributed to the campaign to repeal the state’s gas-tax increase, showing the effort has national interest from GOP leaders who see it as a way to boost their party’s chances in the Golden State for this year's election.

Ryan’s congressional campaign committee gave $50,000 to Give Voters a Voice, the main group behind an effort to qualify a repeal measure for the November ballot, according to documents filed by the campaign. The campaign also received $25,000 from a political account of House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.). House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) has also donated $300,000 to the Give Voters a Voice campaign.

Carl DeMaio, a leader of the repeal campaign, recently acknowledged in an email to supporters that the initiative is seen as a way to boost the chances for Republican candidates in California, where Democrats dominate the electorate. The contributions from Republican leaders come in a year when the GOP is fighting to keep its majority in Congress.