Xavier Becerra tapped for state A.G.

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra, Gov. Brown's pick for state attorney general. (Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via AP)

Congressman Xavier Becerra, the Democrats’ highest-ranking Latino in the House and a 24-year veteran of Congress, was appointed Thursday by Gov. Brown to replace state Attorney General Kamala Harris, who was elected to the U.S. Senate on Nov. 8. Becerra, 58, who will be the first Latino to serve as California’s top law enforcement officer, will formally take over the attorney general’s office next month, when Harris leaves for Washington, D.C.

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Analysis

Media and the state Capitol: A lawyer’s view

The state Capitol in Sacramento, viewed from 10th Street toward the West Steps.(Photo: Timothy Boomer)

Love ’em or hate ’em, reporters play an important role in the legislative process — as well as with legislative strategy and ethics — in California. Because of this influence, the media in many ways are commonly viewed as a fourth branch of government (or “fourth estate,” as the cliché goes). They don’t approve or reject legislation, but their coverage affects those who do and they often influence the fate of bills.

News

State Supreme Court to consider public pension cuts

The California Supreme Court, left to right, standing: Mariano-Florentino Cuellar, Carol Corrigan, Goodwin Liu, and Leondra Kruger. Seated: Kathryn Werdegar, Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, and Ming Chin.

Calpensions: The state Supreme Court last week agreed to hear an appeal of a groundbreaking ruling that allows cuts in the pensions earned by current state and local government workers, including judges. When judges have an obvious conflict of interest and excuse themselves from ruling on a case, the legal term is “recuse.” But the seven Supreme Court justices seem unlikely to recuse themselves from a possible landmark ruling on this Marin County pension case.

Analysis

PolitiFact: Trump wrong on CA voter fraud

Trump offered no evidence about California voter fraud in his series of tweets. Trump spokesman Jason Miller cited a national study done by the Pew Research Center showing that approximately 24 million voter registrations in the United States are no longer valid or inaccurate. However, no one from Trump’s office has shown evidence of “serious voter fraud” in California.

News

Death penalty: Ron Briggs’ odyssey

The execution chamber at San Quentin Prison

Ron Briggs was always an ardent supporter of the death penalty. His father John Briggs, former state assemblyman and senator, was a driving force behind a 1978 initiative that expanded the list of special circumstances required for a death sentence. But today, Ron Briggs is one the biggest opponents of capital punishment. He campaigned for Proposition 62, which would have ended the state’s death penalty and was rejected by voters this month.

News

Public pension funds eye weak investment returns

CalPERS' governing board during a meeting. (Photo: CalPERS board)

Calpensions: The state’s two largest public pension systems never recovered from huge investment losses during the deep recession and stock market crash in 2008. CalPERS lost about $100 billion and CalSTRS about $68 billion. Now after a lengthy bull market, most experts are predicting a decade of weak investment returns, well below the annual average.

News

Capitol Weekly Podcast: Mike Madrid

Political strategist Mike Madrid at his Sacramento office. (Photo: Tim Foster)

Capitol Weekly chats with veteran GOP strategist Mike Madrid, who offers his thoughts on the impact of the Latino vote in the 2016 election — and how and why the ‘sleeping giant’ failed to deliver for Hillary Clinton. While the numbers this cycle were good nationally for Donald Trump, and for Democrats in California, Madrid has cautionary words for both parties moving forward.

News

California vs. Trump: Angst in higher education

Students at a graduation ceremony at Santa Monica City College. (Photo: American Spirit, via Shutterstock)

In an effort to reassure thousands of worried young people, leaders of California’s enormous system of public and private higher education are setting it on a potential collision course with the incoming Trump administration. The California defiance has intensified and become more formalized since Donald Trump indicated he will appoint Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, an avowed hard-liner on immigration, as his attorney general.

News

Capitol Weekly Podcast: Tim Clark

Political strategist Tim Clark, who headed Donald Trump's campaign in California.(Photo: Tim Foster)

Capitol Weekly sits down with Donald Trump’s man in California, Tim Clark. Clark ran Trump’s west coast operation out of his Auburn, California offices, directing thousands of volunteers and staff. One and a half million phone calls later, Donald Trump was the winner of the 2016 election. Clark talks about his work on the Trump campaign and his next steps as he heads to Washington, D.C., to work on the transition.

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