Assemblyman Brough stripped of assignments on committees

Assemblyman William Brough (R-Dana Point) was removed from all committee assignments Wednesday after a state investigation found he made inappropriate comments and engaged in unwanted touching with an unidentified woman who filed a complaint with the Legislature.

Brough was notified of the findings of the Workplace Conduct Unit panel by Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood), who said the alleged conduct was “detrimental to the professional environment of the Assembly and to its employees.”

“I categorically deny harassing or offering political favors to anyone,” Brough said in a statement Wednesday. “I will take the recommended training. I also want to apologize to my family, friends and supporters for putting them through this unfair process. We are looking at legal options.” …

Click here to read the full article from the Los Angeles Times.

California’s 82nd lawsuit against the Trump administration seeks to restore clean car rules

California and 22 other states filed a new lawsuit Wednesday challenging the Trump administration’s rollback of Obama-era clean air rules that required car manufacturers to improve fuel efficiency.

The lawsuit is the latest battle an ongoing legal feud between a coalition of Democratic states and the president, who has pushed to weaken or overturn his predecessor’s environmental policies throughout his term.

The Trump administration’s new regulation allows lowers a fuel efficiency standard that was supported by California and adopted by the Obama administration. It would allow American cars to emit nearly 900 million more tons of carbon dioxide over vehicles’ lifetimes, according to the administration’s draft final rule. …

Click here to read the full article by the Sacramento Bee.

Haircuts return, but not in L.A.

Photo by Arthur Humeau on Unsplash

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Tuesday that counties can begin to reopen hair salons and barbershops, marking a transition to the third stage of a plan to ease his stay-at-home order as California nears 100,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

With cases on track to nearly double in the month of May, the governor has pointed to steady hospitalizations and other metrics as proof that the state is bending the curve.

The shears will not be snipping immediately in Los Angeles County, however. The county, which accounts for the bulk of the state’s COVID-19 cases and more than half of its reported deaths, is one of 11 the state has not yet allowed to push further in reopening. …

Click here to read the full article from the L.A. Times.

California’s Prop. 13 ballot battle amplified by coronavirus pandemic

A proposed change to California’s sacrosanct Proposition 13 that seeks to raise $12 billion annually for schools and local government was already primed to be one of the hottest battles on the November ballot before the coronavirus pandemic hit.

But the financial damage brought on by the disease is transforming the fight over a measure that would raise property taxes for many businesses into a struggle over the future of California.

Passing the initiative “was critical a few months ago,” said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, whose city is one of many in California that are teetering on the edge of a financial abyss. “Now, it is a matter of life and death for many California families.”

The initiative’s opponents are sounding equally dire messages about how the pandemic has changed the political and economic climate. …

Click here to read the full article from the San Francisco Chronicle.

State eases rules on sale of drinks to go

More California establishments are now allowed to sell alcoholic beverages to go, after the state temporarily relaxed another rule in a bid to help businesses during the coronavirus pandemic.

Bars, wineries, distilleries and breweries that don’t have their own kitchens can sell alcoholic drinks to go, as long as they partner with a meal provider to offer the drinks with food, the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control announced Friday night. Drinks must be sold in sealed containers.

“We know businesses have suffered as they continue fighting to slow the spread of COVID-19,” Jacob Appelsmith, the department’s director, said in a statement. “We have heard directly from these businesses that the notices of regulatory relief can give them a boost and help bring more people back to work.”

The move comes after the department on March 19 relaxed rules to allow businesses that operate kitchens to sell alcoholic drinks and cocktails to go in conjunction with meals. …

Click here to read the full article from the L.A. Times.

California’s Coronavirus Relief Program for Unemployed Immigrant Workers

Locked out of state unemployment benefits, hundreds of thousands of out-of-work immigrants are facing additional hurdles to tap into a new California program offering a $500 one-time payment during the COVID-19 pandemic to those without legal status.

Struggling to pay living expenses, immigrant workers are finding jammed phone lines and overwhelmed staff at the nonprofits tasked with distributing the funds as they compete for a dwindling pot of money that state officials acknowledge isn’t enough to help all who need it.

Efforts to rally private contributions to supplement the $75 million in taxpayer money set aside for the program by Gov. Gavin Newsom have so far fallen short of meeting a $50-million goal. …

Click here to read the full article from the L.A. Times.

California’s Single-Day Death Toll Hits New High

California recorded 132 new coronavirus-related fatalities Tuesday — the most in a single day since the pandemic began — as counties across the state continue cementing plans to reopen their economies.

The highest number of deaths previously reported in a single day statewide was 117 in late April. Tuesday’s rise, which comes on a day when data from the previous weekend is typically released, pushed the state’s death toll past 3,400. The number of confirmed cases statewide has climbed to 83,864, according to data compiled by The Times.

While the death count continues to rise, other metrics show significant progress, enough that even some of the most cautious local health officials have agreed to begin slowly reopening businesses and public spaces. …

Click here to read the full article from the L.A. Times.

UC to freeze salaries; president and chancellors to take 10% pay cut

The University of California will freeze salaries for certain staff employees during the upcoming fiscal year and the school system’s leader and current chancellors will take a voluntary 10% pay cut, President Janet Napolitano said.

In a letter sent to colleagues on Monday, Napolitano said the UC system is suffering from “significant financial impacts” due to the coronavirus pandemic — including an estimated $1.2 billion in losses from mid-March through April. The majority of the losses were at UC Health, which grappled with increased costs related to COVID-19 care and a drop in revenue due to cancelled appointments and surgeries. UC also refunded about $300 million in room and board fees to students who chose to leave campus in the middle of the pandemic.

The salary freeze will apply to non-unionized employees while a freeze on salary scales will apply to non-unionized administrative staff. …

Click here to read the full article from the San Francisco Chronicle.

Unmasking partisanship, and why Trump can still win

How can President Trump hold on to the support of his followers amid a pandemic that has so far killed more than 86,000 Americans and an economic collapse that rivals the Great Depression?

Roughly 1 in 5 people who had jobs in February lost them in March, a new study by Federal Reserve economists found. The last president to preside over job losses like that was Herbert Hoover, who lost reelection in a landslide. Why isn’t Trump already suffering Hoover’s fate?

That’s a question a lot of Democrats ask these days, with a belief among many that Trump has some Svengali-like power over his voters.

That gives the president more credit than he’s due.

The real answer is as plain as the mask on your face — or not on, depending on the partisan tribe to which you belong. …

Click here to read the full article from the L.A. Times.

Judge orders Los Angeles to move thousands of homeless during coronavirus crisis

The city and county of Los Angeles must find shelter for thousands of homeless people who are living near freeways, a federal judge ordered Friday, saying their health is at risk from pollution, earthquakes and the novel coronavirus.

U.S. District Judge David O. Carter issued a preliminary injunction requiring relocation of an estimated 6,000 to 7,000 people camping near freeway ramps and under overpasses and bridges. He gave officials one week — until May 22 — to come up with a plan for providing humane housing.

“Without adequate access to shelter, hygiene products and sanitation facilities, individuals experiencing homelessness face a greater risk of contracting the novel coronavirus, and an outbreak in the homeless community would threaten the general public as well,“ Carter wrote. …

Click here to read the full article from the L.A. Times.