Feds launch investigation into Orange County D.A.’s Office, Sheriff’s Department over jailhouse informants

As reported by the Orange County Register:

The U.S. Department of Justice launched a civil rights investigation of the Orange County District Attorney’s Office and the Sheriff’s Department on Thursday over allegations that prosecutors and deputies withhold evidence and use jailhouse informants to illegally obtain confessions.

The investigation, announced by federal prosecutors in Los Angeles, comes after years of complaints from local defense attorneys that the district attorney and sheriff’s deputies routinely cheat in court, misuse informants and secretly tape conversations in jails to get convictions. While there have been high-profile federal investigations into police agencies, the Justice Department rarely investigates prosecutors.

In January, District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, who has denied intentional wrongdoing, wrote a letter to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch saying his office would welcome a federal investigation. The office issued a statement Thursday saying it would cooperate with investigators and expects to be exonerated. …

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Donald Trump forces a California water deal without lifting a finger

As reported by the Sacramento Bee:

California’s politicians and pundits – including this one – have been busily speculating on what effect a Donald Trump presidency could have on a state that rejected him overwhelmingly.

Well, we saw the first major impact last week, without Trump even lifting a finger.

A compromise bill that, in effect, reallocates federally controlled water in California – much to the delight of farmers and the dismay of environmentalists – won final congressional approval Friday.

Hammered out by Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Bakersfield’s Kevin McCarthy, the Republican leader of the House, it broke a half-decade-long political logjam over the issue, and there is little doubt that uncertainty over Trump’s attitude was its driving force. …

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New Bill Calls for Cops to Track Weapons

As reported by the Orange County Register:

A state bill introduced Monday would require California law enforcement agencies to keep track of their guns and establish a reporting procedure for when police lose them.

State Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, said he introduced the legislation in response to investigations published this year by the Orange County Register and Bay Area News Group revealing that many law enforcement agencies make little or no effort to inventory their weapons and that officers frequently lose their firearms – some of which end up on the street.

“The guns…fall into the hands of criminals,” Hill said. “The public will be protected much better when we account for law enforcement guns.”

The stories on lost police guns noted that there are no state or federal laws requiring police agencies to account for their weapons and few agencies voluntarily do so.

The Department of Justice’s Automated Firearms System attempts to act as a national registry for law enforcement weapons, but agencies are not required to report when a registered gun is lost or stolen. Also, officers don’t have to register their privately-owned guns even if they frequently carry them in the line of duty. …

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CA’s Democratic Members of Congress Plead for Obama to Pardon “Dreamers”

As reported by the Los Angeles Times:

Led by members of the California delegation, dozens of House Democrats are again pleading with President Obama to pardon hundreds of thousands of immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children to whom he granted temporary deportation deferrals.

Last month, several members of Congress asked Obama to use his pardon authority to forgive the past and future civil immigration offenses of the nearly 750,000 people granted deportation deferrals under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program.

The lawmakers say that even though the so-called Dreamers would be left in legal limbo without work permits or visas, they could more easily apply for legal status from within the U.S. without immigration offenses on their records.

A White House official immediately batted down the idea, saying a pardon wouldn’t give them legal status. …

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More Bay Area residents struggling than poverty statistics indicate

As reported by the San Jose Mercury News:

Close to 30 percent of the Bay Area’s residents aren’t able to make ends meet as they contend with high housing costs, suggesting poverty is more widespread in the region than official reports indicate, according to a study published Wednesday.

The report by JobTrain, a Menlo Park-based nonprofit organization, estimated that 29.2 percent of Bay Area residents, or roughly 1.45 million people, are not self-sufficient. Self-sufficiency, the study’s authors said, is defined as having a stable place to live and being able to cover the basics for survival.

JobTrain hopes its report, “The Broken Pathway: Uncovering the Economic Inequality in the Bay Area,” will highlight the challenges facing many residents of the nine-county region.

“The problem is much larger than the number of people who are living in poverty in the Bay Area,” said Nora Sobolov, president of JobTrain. “The poverty rate and the unemployment rate don’t tell the full story.”

Stephen Levy, director of the Palo Alto-based Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy, agrees that the challenges are …

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Oakland Fire Death Toll Rises

As reported by Fox News:

A grim search for victims of a devastating fire that ripped through a converted warehouse in Oakland, California during a dance party entered a third day on Monday, with the list of 33 known deaths expected to grow.

The blaze, which erupted about 11:30 p.m. on Friday (0730 GMT on Saturday), ranks as the deadliest in the United States since 100 people perished in a 2003 Rhode Island nightclub fire.

As criminal investigators joined recovery efforts at the charred ruin, just east of San Francisco, firefighters found the remains of nearly three dozen victims at the weekend as they searched the debris-filled shell of the two-story converted warehouse being used by an artists’ collective. …

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Jerry Brown picks Rep. Xavier Becerra as California attorney general

As reported by the Sacramento Bee:

Gov. Jerry Brown has tabbed Rep. Xavier Becerra to serve as California’s interim attorney general, selecting the Los Angeles Democrat to fill a vacancy opened by the imminent departure of outgoing Attorney General Kamala Harris to the U.S. Senate.

Assuming he wins confirmation by the Legislature – a strong possibility, given the 12-term Democrat’s role as a mainstay of Democratic and Los Angeles politics – Becerra would serve as California’s top law enforcement official through 2018, with an opportunity to serve for another eight years if he runs for the office.

At a time when the election of President Donald Trump has alarmed California Democrats and thrown into question the state’s liberal stances on issues like climate change and immigration, Brown’s choice of a liberal stalwart like Becerra reaffirmed the state’s future role as a pocket of resistance.

“Xavier has been an outstanding public servant – in the State Legislature, the U.S. Congress and as a deputy attorney general,” Brown said in an emailed statement. “I’m confident he will be a champion for all Californians and help our state aggressively combat climate change.”

Referring to himself as a “the son of immigrants” who is motivated to “fight for working families like the one I grew up in,” Becerra said in a statement that had accepted Brown’s offer and summarized his liberal bona fides. …

California Democrats capture legislative supermajorities

As reported by the San Jose Mercury News:

SACRAMENTO — Democrats will have a two-thirds supermajority in both chambers of the California Legislature next year after Republican Assemblywoman Ling Ling Chang lost her bid to advance to the state Senate.

Election results released Monday showed Democrat Josh Newman narrowly defeated Chang for a Senate seat concentrated in northeastern Orange County.

Newman’s victory gives Democrats control of two-thirds of the 40 seats in the Senate — enough for them to approve tax increases, suspend legislative rules, pass emergency legislation or overturn the governor’s vetoes without any support from Republicans.

Newman is a U.S. Army veteran from Fullerton who founded a nonprofit to help veterans pursue civilian jobs following work in the entertainment and technology industries. He will replace Sen. Bob Huff, R-San Dimas, who was barred by term limits from seeking another term. …

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California secessionists unveil independence measure

As reported by the Mercury News:

It still doesn’t have much of a ring – or chance of ever happening – but Calexit isn’t going away just yet.

As President-elect Donald Trump continued interviewing prospective appointees on Monday, the left-leaning leaders of a movement to make California a sovereign nation filed paperwork to take their case to voters in two years.

Inspired by this year’s Brexit vote that withdrew the United Kingdom from the European Union, the organization Yes California wants voters in November 2018 to repeal a section of the state constitution affirming that California is “an inseparable part” of the United States and determine whether they wanted to secede.

A “yes” vote would trigger a special election the following March in which residents would decide if “California should become a free, sovereign and independent country.”

Another “yes” vote would require the governor of the newly minted “Republic of California” to apply to the United Nations for membership. …

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Trump’s Popularity Rises Dramatically: Morning Consult Poll

Donald Trump’s popularity is rising in the days since his election, according to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll of registered voters.

Forty-six percent of voters now have a very favorable or somewhat favorable opinion of the president-elect. Twelve percent have a somewhat unfavorable opinion and 34 percent have a very unfavorable opinion of him.

It’s a dramatic uptick since the election. Trump’s favorability has grown 9 points, 37 percent to 46 percent, compared to a Morning Consult poll right before the election — while his unfavorability has dropped 15 points, from 61 percent to 46 percent.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to supporters as he takes the stage for a campaign event in Dallas, Monday, Sept. 14, 2015. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to supporters as he takes the stage for a campaign event in Dallas, Monday, Sept. 14, 2015. (AP Photo/LM Otero)