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(John Gibbins / San Diego Union-Tribune)

A mother of two turned ringleader of “the resistance” and more than a hundred of her faithful followers gathered on Tuesday morning outside Rep. Darrell Issa’s office in a northern San Diego County suburb. Across the street was her foil, a wedding DJ in a red “Make American Great Again” cap, setting up hefty speakers for an upcoming war of words.

For about 65 weeks the deep divide in America played out along this 100-yard stretch of road in Vista. Here, at 10 a.m. every Tuesday, passersby found signs, chants, songs and, if they were lucky, sometimes a 20-foot-tall inflatable chicken with a Trump-esque coif.

They’d also glimpse the state of the body politic in 2018, a time when shock has turned to anger and post-2016 calls for reconciliation have morphed into grudging acceptance that each side might be better off in their respective corners. Or in this case, their sides of the street.

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Jane Un, chief executive and founder of Abba Bail Bonds, works with a client.
Jane Un, chief executive and founder of Abba Bail Bonds, works with a client. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

In recent years, the seriousness and number of official complaints related to the bail industry in California have significantly increased while bail agents and bounty hunters face limited oversight, putting vulnerable communities at risk of fraud, embezzlement and other forms of victimization.

This year, as Gov. Jerry Brown has pledged to work with lawmakers in a push to overhaul how courts assign defendants bail and to better regulate bail agencies, even some who profit from the court practice admit it’s time for regulation. These bail and bail-recovery agents could become unlikely allies, saying they advocate for change because they’ve seen the system abuse the poor.

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  • Governor's race
  • 2018 election
  • California Republicans
  • California Democrats

After a sleepy campaign, California voters are now being bombarded with television advertisements in the governor’s race, an onslaught that is expected to ramp up in coming weeks.

The ads most frequently seen on television are those promoting Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, the front-runner in the race, and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who is trying to secure the second spot in the June primary.

Newsom’s campaign and an outside group backing Villaraigosa are spending seven figures weekly on these efforts, according to filings with the California secretary of state’s office and a media buyer who asked not to be identified in order to freely discuss the ads.

  • Ballot measures
  • California Republicans
A Chevron gas station in Sacramento shows prices last year.
A Chevron gas station in Sacramento shows prices last year. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

Republican activists said Tuesday that they have collected at least 830,000 signatures for an initiative to repeal recent increases in California’s gas tax and vehicle fees, more than enough to qualify the measure for the November ballot.

The activists need 585,407 signatures of registered voters to qualify the ballot measure.

Because signatures are still being processed and counted by the campaign, backers hope to have 900,000 by the time they begin turning them in to the counties on Friday, according to Carl DeMaio, a former San Diego City Council member and organizer of the drive.

Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine, has filed paperwork to establish a legal expense fund amid an ongoing federal criminal investigation into misused campaign cash.

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  • California in Congress
(Jose Luis Magana / Associated Press)

California Sen. Kamala Harris says she will no longer accept money from corporate political action committees.

In an interview with WWPM-FM's "The Breakfast Club," in New York that aired Monday, the senator said she wasn’t expecting a question at a town hall this month about whether she would accept money for corporations or corporate lobbyists.

At the time, Harris said "it depends," but she said on Monday that she had reflected on the matter and changed her mind.

  • Ballot measures
  • California Legislature
  • 2018 election
A man sleeps on the sidewalk in front of the Union Rescue Mission in the skid row neighborhood of Los Angeles.
A man sleeps on the sidewalk in front of the Union Rescue Mission in the skid row neighborhood of Los Angeles. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

A measure to spend $2 billion on housing homeless Californians could be on the November statewide ballot.

State Sen. Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) is pushing the idea to deal with what he said was a “burgeoning humanitarian crisis whose epicenter is here in California.”

De León’s new measure is a do-over for a 2016 plan passed by the Legislature to redirect $2 billion toward building homeless housing from a voter-approved 1% income tax surcharge on millionaires that funds mental health services. A Sacramento attorney sued over that decision, arguing that the move violated constitutional rules on approving loans without a public vote and that lawmakers shouldn’t take money away from mental health treatment. The case remains active in Sacramento Superior Court and it’s unclear when, or if, the state will be able to spend the $2 billion.

  • State government
  • California Legislature
Assemblyman David Chiu (D-San Francisco) along with supporters of bills to allow more former felons to receive professional licenses.
Assemblyman David Chiu (D-San Francisco) along with supporters of bills to allow more former felons to receive professional licenses. (John Myers/Los Angeles Times)

A trio of California Assembly members urged colleagues on Monday to pass legislation that would prohibit state commissions and agencies from rejecting a professional license for those who were once convicted of less serious crimes.

“We can’t say we want to rehabilitate people, and then block them from getting the jobs that they need when they’re released,” said Assemblyman David Chiu (D-San Francisco). “That leads to more recidivism and to more crime.”

The bills, scheduled to be heard in Assembly committees Tuesday, would ban the use of arrest or conviction records as the reason for denying a professional license. The bill would not apply to Californians who served time for any of the offenses on the state’s list of “violent crimes.”

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  • Governor's race
  • 2018 election
  • California Democrats

Gubernatorial front-runner Gavin Newsom released his first television ad of the race on Monday, days after a well-funded effort to boost fellow Democratic candidate Antonio Villaraigosa went on the air with its own spot.

The 30-second ad, being aired statewide on broadcast and cable, highlights Newsom’s record on same-sex marriage, universal healthcare and gun control.

“The one candidate with the record of bold leadership and bold results,” a narrator says over images of Newsom looking serious and making a speech. It also mentioned endorsements he has received from Sen. Kamala Harris and various unions, and included the slogan, “Courage for a change.”

  • California Democrats
(Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

The decision by a politically powerful labor group to openly campaign against an embattled Los Angeles-area lawmaker drew a sharp rebuke on Friday from Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon.

The Lakewood Democrat lashed out hours after the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California filed paperwork for a political action committee to defeat Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens). Garcia, who’s seeking her fourth term, took an unpaid leave of absence in February following allegations of sexual misconduct. She has denied the reports and an Assembly investigation remains underway.

Rendon didn’t criticize the labor group by name, insisting instead that the decision was driven by oil and gas industry interests.

"This is a thinly veiled attempt by Big Oil and polluters to intimidate me and my members. It is an affront to my speakership,” Rendon said in a statement. “We are proud of the work that the Assembly has done to increase jobs and wages while defending our environment. We will vigorously defend the members of our caucus from any ill-advised political attack."

A statement from the labor group, which sparred with Garcia last year on her effort to link new climate change policies with a crackdown on air pollution, said it had decided to “reverse” past support for her.

“The Trades have thousands of hard working members in Garcia’s district, and we look forward to lifting up another Democrat in the 58th Assembly to better represent them and their families,” said the statement.

The political action committee’s campaign finance filing on Friday listed nonmonetary “in kind” contributions from Erin Lehane, a public affairs consultant aligned with the building labor group. Lehane said she had begun “researching” Garcia in November. In January, a former legislative staffer accused her of groping him in 2014.

Lehane, who identified herself as a spokesperson for the labor group’s political action committee, said on Friday that she believed Garcia’s “hypocrisy threatened a movement that will dictate how much harassment and abuse my daughter will face in her work life.”

Garcia, who has been an outspoken advocate for women in the #MeToo movement, has complained that her political opponents helped fan the flames of the accusations. Through a campaign consultant, she declined to comment on Friday.

Rendon’s critique came on the heels of a full-page ad in The Times on Friday, partly paid for by the Trades Council, that criticized “well-funded ivory tower elites” who push proposals that hurt the oil and gas industry.

“We are the real jobs that fuel the real California economy,” read the advertisement.