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Brown names DiFi’s daughter to state Med Board

Katherine Feinstein – a former San Francisco County Superior Court judge, and daughter of U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein – was appointed Wednesday to the Medical Board of California by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Katherine FeinsteinFeinstein, 58, of Kentfield, served in several positions within San Francisco’s courts from 2000 to 2013, including presiding judge, assistant presiding judge, supervising judge for the Unified Family Court, and trial judge for the criminal, civil, family law and juvenile delinquency divisions.

She was supervising attorney for family and children’s services at the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office from 1998 to 2000; director at the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice from 1994 to 1996; an attorney in private practice from 1991 to 1994; and an associate at Carroll, Burdick and McDonough LLP in 1989. She also worked as a San Francisco assistant district attorney from 1985 to 1988.

A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, Feinstein earned her law degree from the UC Hastings College of the Law. She is a Democrat.

The Medical Board of California licenses and regulates physicians and surgeons and enforces the state’s Medical Practice Act. Members are appointed by the governor but must be confirmed by the state Senate, and while serving receive a $100 per diem.

Upon announcing her retirement in 2012, Feinstein had told the San Francisco Chronicle that she would do something in public service, which could range from helping set up effective judicial systems in Africa to running for office

“Of course I’ve thought about politics. I was born thinking about politics,” she said at the time. “It’s something I’ve always shied away from. Whether I continue to shy away from it would depend on the position at this point.”

But in 2014, when asked by NBC Bay Area if she would ever consider running for office, she reaffirmed her decision to remain a private citizen. “I don’t think campaigns always bring out the best in people.”

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Might California ban gun sales to terror watch lists?

Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy proposed Thursday to use an executive order to ban gun sales to those on federal no-fly watch lists – begging the question of whether California might seek to do the same.

The Democratic governor said state officials are working with the federal government to get access to the lists. “If you cannot fly due to being on a government watch list, you should not be able to purchase a firearm while on that watch list as well,” Malloy told reporters at the Capitol. “This is basic common sense. The American people get it.”

Congress repeatedly over the past two weeks has turned away efforts to enact this as a federal law. Critics say the government’s terrorist watchlists are error-prone and bureaucratically generated, so using them to deny gun purchases could mean violating Americans’ constitutional right to bear arms without due process of law.

Gov. Jerry Brown was just arriving back in California on Thursday after attending an international conference on climate change in Paris. Spokesman Gareth Lacy said he didn’t anticipate commenting on Connecticut’s action.

A spokesman for Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom – who has proposed a ballot measure for next November that would require people to give up their high-capacity ammunition magazines and require background checks for ammunition purchases, among other things – said this might not be practicable at the state level.

“States aren’t able to compel the federal government to share that information,” spokesman Rhys Williams said in an email. “But Lt. Governor Newsom believes it could and absolutely should be a federal action, as simple as adding the relevant information to the NICS (the FBI’s firearm background-check system) – and it should be done today.”

Still, Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Los Angeles, said Friday he plans to introduce legislation barring individuals on the government’s no-fly list from being able to purchase guns and certain chemicals, the Sacramento Bee reported.

“You are not going to stop every single one of these occurrences,” Gatto told the Bee. “But it does make sense to make sure that the people who have been deemed too dangerous to even board a quick flight to Vegas, that they are not allowed to go out there and buy guns and chemicals en masse.”

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Jerry Brown & gun control: How much is too much?

As I noted in my story published Saturday, Gov. Jerry Brown in 2013 vetoed a bill that would have classified all semi-automatic rifles with detachable magazines as assault weapons – rifles like those used in last week’s terrorism massacre in San Bernardino, and like those owned by many Californians.

That bill, SB 374, had been the centerpiece of a package of gun control bills that lawmakers introduced in the wake of December 2012’s massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

“This ban covers low-capacity rifles that are commonly used for hunting, firearms training, and marksmanship practice, as well as some historical and collectible firearms,” Brown wrote in his veto message. “Moreover, hundreds of thousands of current gun owners would have to register their rifles as assault weapons and would be banned from selling or transferring them in the future.”

Brown told the Sacramento Bee on Saturday that “California has some of the toughest gun control laws of any state. And Nevada and Arizona are wide open, so that’s a gigantic back door through which any terrorist can walk.”

Eddie Kurtz, executive director of the California-based progressive grassroots Courage Campaign, said Brown is “is correct that deeply irresponsible gun laws in other states make it more difficult to protect Californians, but the guns used in the San Bernardino attack were purchased legally in California.” The rifles were modified after purchase in ways that made them illegal under the state’s assault weapons law.

“When Gov. Brown had the chance to sign into law bills preventing the sale of such semi-automatic rifles with detachable magazines, he made an unconscionable and short sighted decision to veto SB 374 and other LIFE Act bills in 2013,” Kurtz said. “While guns used in the San Bernardino attack appear to have been purchased prior to 2013, Gov. Brown failed to do everything in his power to prevent mass shootings in California.”

Kurtz said “Brown needs to stop making excuses and immediately announce his support for the full policies of the LIFE Act, including a ban on semi-automatic rifles with detachable magazines and background checks for ammunition.”

But Brown believes it’s time for national action. In Paris for an international climate-change conference, Brown told CNN on Monday that he believes stricter federal laws are needed, but that he’s not sure a ballot measure – like that proposed by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom to ban possession of high-capacity magazines and require background checks for ammunition purchases – is the best way to enact further state gun controls.

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California politicos react to San Bernardino killings

California’s elected officials are sounding off on Wednesday’s mass shooting at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, in which 14 people reportedly were killed and more wounded.

Gov. Jerry Brown cancelled the Capitol Christmas tree lighting ceremony that had been scheduled for Wednesday night. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims’ families and everyone affected by the brutal attack,” he said in an emailed statement. “California will spare no effort in bringing these killers to justice.”

From House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco:

“Today, yet another American community is reeling from the horror of gun violence. Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of San Bernardino. As the families of the victims grieve and the survivors focus on healing, the entire American family mourns.

“Gun violence is a crisis of epidemic proportions in our nation. Congress has a moral responsibility to vote on common sense measures to prevent the daily agony of gun violence in communities across America. Enough is enough.”

From U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif:

“Today we add San Bernardino to the long list of communities that have fallen victim to a mass shooting, and my heart is with the victims and their families.

“Details in San Bernardino are still murky, but what we do know is that these deadly shootings aren’t slowing down. Just a week after a deadly attack in Colorado Springs, we’re prepared to mourn more victims today.

“The Washington Post reported this week that in the first 334 days of 2015, there were 351 mass shootings. That’s an average of more than one deadly rampage for every day this year.

“USA Today reported that the National Instant Criminal Background Check System ran more than 185,000 checks for gun purchases the day after Thanksgiving. That doesn’t even count the sales that took place online or at gun shows, where no checks are necessary.

“When a convicted felon can walk into a gun show and buy an assault rifle, that’s a problem. When an individual with a known mental illness can buy an assault rifle online, that’s a problem. When a terrorist who can’t board an airplane can buy an assault rifle in a gun store, that’s a problem.
“Congress also has a problem—a debilitating fear of upsetting the gun lobby. Congress refuses even to require background checks on all firearms purchases, an action supported by the vast majority of Americans.

“Each time I see breaking news of yet another mass shooting, I feel it in the pit of my stomach. Congress can’t stop every shooting, but we can help reduce their frequency. I remain hopeful that enough of my colleagues will join me to make that a reality.”

More, after the jump…
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Brace for Dungeness crab disaster, lawmakers urge

Four of California’s coastal congressmembers are urging Gov. Jerry Brown to be ready to ask the federal government for an economic disaster declaration if the Dungeness crab fishery remains closed for the season.

Reps. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael; Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough; Sam Farr, D-Carmel; and Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, wrote to Brown on Tuesday asking him to closely monitor domoic acid levels in Dungeness crab.

Dungeness crabCrabs off the California coast have abnormally high levels of this toxic acid in their bodies due to an unusually big algae bloom, due in turn to abnormally high water temperatures in the Pacific. Officials have delayed the start of the recreational and commercial crab fishing seasons until the acid decreases to safe levels.

But every passing day is a blow not only to Californians craving the delicacy for their holiday tables, but to coastal communities relying on a commercial fishery valued at $60 million last year.

“The closure of the Dungeness crab fishery would not only make the holidays a little less bright, it would deal a hard blow for North coast fishermen, who have already been impacted by a poor year for salmon landings,” Huffman said in a news release. “While Californians’ Thanksgiving celebrations may not feature Dungeness crab this year, we can at least provide the assurance that federal disaster relief will be available to fishermen and affected communities and businesses if we lose the fishery.”

Huffman said the lawmakers are keeping their fingers crossed for better conditions next month, “ but in the meantime we will be working closely with our state and federal partners — from the Governor’s office to the White House — so that we can respond quickly in the event of a total closure.”

Speier noted some fisherman rely on the crab season for half their annual income, yet still must pay for licenses and boat maintenance. “If the season doesn’t open soon, these men and women deserve a financial lifeline. I urge the governor to start preparing for a disaster declaration now.”

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Jerry Brown honored by GOVERNING magazine

Gov. Jerry Brown is among nine public officials nationwide honored as the year’s most outstanding leaders in state and local government by GOVERNING magazine.

From the magazine’s website:

Not that long ago, people were questioning whether California could be governed. The state faced multibillion-dollar shortfalls every year, leading to questions about whether California would go broke before Greece. In terms of dysfunction, Sacramento appeared to have beaten even Washington.

Then Jerry Brown returned as governor. When he took office in 2011, the state was $26 billion short. This year, lawmakers were fighting about what to do with a surplus. Much of that had to do with the state’s rising economy, but Brown had helped put the state back on a sustainable course.

In 2012, he convinced voters to raise sales and income taxes. Since then, he has managed to curb the impulse legislators have to spend money as fast or faster than it’s coming in, using his veto power freely and instead diverting the money to the state’s rainy day fund. “His ability to follow through on his promise to voters that he was going to stabilize the financial situation, which every year had been a problem, has made all the difference in the world,” says Mark Baldassare, president of the Public Policy Institute of California.

GOVERNING’s profile also praised Brown’s work on benefits and rights for undocumented immigrants, higher education funding, climate change, and combating the state’s historic drought.

“We’re thrilled to be recognizing such remarkable officials,” GOVERNING Executive Editor Zach Patton said in a news release. “These outstanding men and women are tremendous examples of the power of public service, especially at the state and local level.”

“We are all too aware of the daunting challenges facing many of our states and localities and the people who live in them,” said GOVERNING Publisher Mark Funkhouser. “But this year’s award recipients inspire me with great optimism, showing how determined leadership can address even the steepest challenges.”