POLITICS (National, State/Nevada): Announcement, retirement, U.S. Senator Harry Reid, Senate Minority Leader, various reports, analyses (local and national coverage) ....

***Sampling of coverage, retirement announcement, U.S. Senator Harry Reid, Senate Minority Leader....

* Las Vegas Sun:  "It's over: Reid announces he's stepping down after current term expires"

* Las Vegas Review-Journal:  "Reid won't seek re-election to Senate in 2016"

* Washington Post:  "Harry Reid will not run for reelection in 2016"

* Washington Post:  "What Harry Reid's retirement means for the 2016 Senate majority battle"

* Politico:  "REID RETIRING" - "After a brutal eye injury, the 75-year-old Senate leader decides to forgo another grueling campaign for reelection."

* CNN:  "Harry Reid to retire, endorses Schumer to replace him"

* Los Angeles Times:  "Harry Reid endorses N.Y.'s Senate Chuck Schumer as next Senate Democratic leader"


SACRAMENTO: Assembly District 64, November 2014 election -- libel suit vs. Assemblyman Mike Gipson: "Prophet Walker files libel suit against Assemblyman Mike Gipson for libel, violating Election Code" ....

* Daily Breeze:  "Prophet Walker files libel suit against Assemblyman Mike Gipson for libel, violating Election Code" -- From the DB:

An ex-con turned engineer who ran for state office last year is suing Assemblyman Mike Gipson over a graphic, photo-shopped image distributed in the final week of the campaign last November. In the lawsuit filed Wednesday, Prophet Walker claims Gipson defamed his character and violated state Election Code when he created a false image of Walker wearing a black hoodie and pointing a gun at the camera. The image was distributed in mailers during the race for the 64th Assembly District seat.

The lawsuit alleges Gipson, a former Carson city councilman, along with a campaign consultant who had been previously convicted of violating campaign laws, showed no regard for the law or fair play and ignored statutory campaign practices by juxtaposing the photo-shopped image of Walker against a photo of Gipson in a lawman’s uniform. The ad played up Gipson’s time as a former police officer and contrasted that with Walker’s history as a convicted felon, using the line, “How can we trust someone who just recently started to behave?”

The image portrayed Walker “in the most heinous light possible,” the lawsuit read, and was clearly intended to appear as a real photo, persuading voters that Walker had been photographed brandishing a handgun. According to the Election Code, the lawsuit said, the false image should have included the statement, “This picture is not an accurate representation of fact,” and it did not.

Throughout the campaign, Walker, 27, was open about his troubled past. The product of a housing project in Watts, at 16, he got into a fight on the Metro Green Line and later was charged with robbery and great bodily injury. He served five years in a juvenile detention facility and state prisons. But behind bars, Walker turned his life around, getting his college degree and initiating a program for prison reform.

The construction consultant’s story of redemption attracted money and support from Hollywood heavyweights. A few of those same supporters later blasted Gipson for his “egregious” mailer. Hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons advised Gipson on Twitter to “take my advice + apologize for despicable ad. This is very offensive to our community.” Political analyst Scott Lay said the mailer was one of the most reprehensible things he had seen in 20 years of California politics.


Walker’s attorney, Bryan Freedman, said his client was spurred to take legal action after Gipson’s public apology about the mailer also was determined to be riddled with lies .....................


L.A. CITY HALL: Los Angeles Police Department, Los Angeles Fire Department, workers' comp abuse, editorial: "A culture of workers' comp abuse at the LAPD and LAFD" ....

***Following up on most recent earlier item noted here (Los Angeles Police Department, Los Angeles Fire Department, "excessive" workers' comp claims)....

* Los Angeles Times (editorial):  "A culture of workers' comp abuse at the LAPD and LAFD" - From the LAT:

Los Angeles police and firefighters work in a culture that encourages excessive and questionable workers' compensation claims, often for entirely preventable injuries, costing taxpayers tens of millions of dollars a year, according to new audits by Controller Ron Galperin. The reports follow a Times' investigation last year that found that the city's public safety personnel take paid injury leave at significantly higher rates than public safety employees elsewhere in California.

Some 66% of firefighters and 60% of police officers filed at least one workers' compensation claim in the last three years. More than 40% from both departments filed two claims during same period, the audit found. The Times' analysis documented an increase in both the number of claims filed and the duration of the paid injury leaves. That has had a major impact on public safety operations and costs, as the city has to pay not only the claims but also more overtime to backfill injured workers' shifts.

The high number of claims — and the apparent ease with which they are approved — has created a culture of workers' compensation abuse.


Galperin's audits point to systemic problems in the way the city is managing workers' injuries, and the cost of inaction is staggering ................


POLITICS (State, Local/Bay Area): Update, California Public Utilities Commission, criminal investigations, contract with defense counsel: "CPUC set to spend $5.2M on defense lawyers" ....

* U-T San Diego:  "CPUC set to spend $5.2M on defense lawyers" - "The agency is facing three criminal probes" - From the U-T:

The California Public Utilities Commission has arranged to spend as much as $5.2 million on criminal-defense lawyers to respond to ongoing state and federal investigations. According to a four-page amendment to a contract that was first signed late last year, the Sheppard Mullin law firm is authorized to bill up to that amount to represent the commission and certain employees through June 2016.

The original agreement was signed in November, days after state investigators executed a search warrant at the commission’s San Francisco headquarters and left with boxes of materials and potential evidence in an ongoing public-corruption case.

Raymond Marshall, the firm’s top white-collar crime defense attorney, is being paid a discounted rate of $882 per hour. Marshall’s usual rate is $990 per hour. Other attorneys listed in the agreement are billing the commission more than $700 per hour each. The first contract was capped at $49,000, money that likely ran out quickly at those rates.

The amendment allowing the additional payments was signed Thursday by the commission’s acting executive director Timothy Sullivan. Commission spokeswoman Terrie Prosper did not immediately respond to questions about the agreement .............................


L.A. CITY HALL: Los Angeles Police Department, "homicide report," shift in gang culture: "A shift in gang tactics means drive-bys are giving way to walk-ups, observers say" ....

* Los Angeles Times:  "A shift in gang tactics means drive-bys are giving way to walk-ups, observers say" - From the LAT:

Ricardo Nunez was trimming a tree outside his Echo Park home on a Sunday morning last month when a white truck pulled up and a person inside opened fire, killing the 35-year-old father. Ray Martinez, the LAPD detective investigating the case, is seeing fewer such fatal drive-by shootings. When Martinez goes behind the yellow tape, he's more commonly working on cases where a gunman has walked straight up to the victim — a walk-up shooting.

As gang culture has become less overt, the killings have become more targeted — and at the same time more chilling. "They get to see the whole reaction," Martinez said. "It seems more daring." Jorja Leap, a UCLA anthropologist who studies gang culture, agreed. "In a walk-up, you see who you're killing," Leap said. "You're going to listen to what they say as you shoot them."

Fatal drive-by shooting statistics were not publicly available from the LAPD, and there are no recent national statistics. But Leap sees a shift in how gangs operate .......................