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California's June 5 primary will set the course for which congressional districts will be battlegrounds — or missed opportunities — this fall. With just over two months to go, we've updated our rankings of the most competitive contests in the state. The stakes in the midterm elections couldn't be higher: control of the U.S. House. Democrats consider 10 Republican-held districts here to be battlegrounds and can't win the House without winning at least a few of them.

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Former state Sen. Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia).
Former state Sen. Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia). (Steve Yeater / Associated Press)

The California secretary of state has rejected Tony Mendoza’s proposed ballot designation of “state senator” in the June election, saying it is deceptive because he resigned from the Senate last month amid allegations of sexual harassment.

Mendoza, a Democrat from Artesia, resigned under threat that the Senate would expel him after an investigation concluded that he made six female aides uncomfortable with a pattern of  "unwanted flirtatious or sexually suggestive behavior." 

“As such, your proposed ballot designation of ‘State Senator’ is misleading,” wrote Rachelle Delucchi, an elections counsel for the secretary of state in a letter to Mendoza.

Under a 2011 settlement, Facebook agreed to get user consent for certain changes to privacy settings.
Under a 2011 settlement, Facebook agreed to get user consent for certain changes to privacy settings. (Justin Tallis / AFP/Getty Images)

California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra joined counterparts from 33 other states in demanding Monday that Facebook explain how personal information from millions of people was used without their consent by a political consulting firm with ties to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

The letter asks Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg to detail when his company learned that data were being used by the firm Cambridge Analytica, how many Facebook users’ information was taken and what policies exist to make sure consumers give consent before their personal information is used by third parties.

“Facebook left millions of Californians’ personal information vulnerable,” Becerra said in a statement, adding his office intends to “make sure that consumers’ personal information is kept private and secure.”

There was plenty of outrage to go around last week following revelations that Facebook data on some 50 million users were used to allegedly build profiles of voters, serve them tailor-made ads and try to help President Trump get elected.

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  • California Legislature
Motorists make their way along the 110 Freeway in downtown Los Angeles past the Da Vinci Apartments.
Motorists make their way along the 110 Freeway in downtown Los Angeles past the Da Vinci Apartments. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

About half the single-family parcels in Los Angeles — 190,000 — could be rezoned to allow for multistory apartments and condominiums under major new state housing legislation.

That’s just one of the local impacts from Senate Bill 827, legislation from Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco). The bill is drawing cheers from some environmentalists and housing activists, but also causing major heartburn for homeowner groups and advocates for low-income residents.
 

The best way to judge a job applicant is to look at his past work record. So let’s look at state Sen. Kevin de León’s.

California’s homeless population has grown to more than 134,000 people, and key state government spending is taking a while to reach the streets.

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Walkers and cyclists cross the street in Santa Monica.
Walkers and cyclists cross the street in Santa Monica. (Los Angeles Times)

News outlets across the country are writing about Senate Bill 827, the California housing bill that would dramatically increase homebuilding near transit lines. The legislation from Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) would address two of the state’s biggest housing problems: a shortage of available homes and the need to build at greater densities to help meet climate change goals.

But one aspect of the bill that hasn’t gotten as much attention is its potential effects on low-income Californians. On this episode of Gimme Shelter: The California Housing Crisis Pod, we discuss how the bill impacts long-simmering debates about gentrification and displacement across the state. 

Our interviews are with Cynthia Strathmann of Strategic Actions for a Just Economy in South Los Angeles, and Brian Hanlon of California YIMBY, the principal backer of the legislation. Plus we talk about some of the meme art about the bill.

A military vehicle obtained by the San Diego Unified School District from the U.S. Defense Department in 2014 was later returned.
A military vehicle obtained by the San Diego Unified School District from the U.S. Defense Department in 2014 was later returned. (San Diego Unified School District)

A new bill from a San Diego lawmaker aims to prevent California police departments from obtaining military-grade equipment without the explicit approval of local government.

“This bill helps further the impression that a police department is there to serve,” Democratic Assemblyman Todd Gloria said. “That’s a very different objective than national defense.”

In 2014, President Obama curtailed a Department of Defense program that allowed the military to distribute surplus armored vehicles, grenade launchers and large-caliber weapons to local police after complaints about police militarization during protests that year in Ferguson, Mo. Last summer, however, President Trump announced the revival of the program, saying that police needed the equipment to do their jobs.