SPORTS/MLB: Manny Ramirez, returning from baseball in Taiwan, minor league contract with Texas Rangers, possibility of becoming designated hitter for Rangers; also, Luiz Cruz, former Dodger now starting shortshop for New York Yankees....

* Los Angeles Times (AP):  "Manny Ramirez gets minor league deal with Rangers" - "Sluggers hasn't played in the majors since 2011. Luis Cruz signs with Yankees." - From the LAT:

The Texas Rangers on Wednesday agreed to terms on a minor league contract with Manny Ramirez, the 41-year-old slugger who hasn't played in the big leagues since 2011. Rangers General Manager Jon Daniels said part of the deal included Ramirez, twice suspended for testing positive for banned drugs, agreeing to cut his hair and "comply with our minor league rules on appearance and discipline."

Ramirez was set to report to triple-A Round Rock (Texas) on Thursday, and he will be a designated hitter whenever he is activated. He played for three months in Taiwan before leaving June 20.

"It's kind of a no-risk flier," said Daniels, indicating there was no time frame for Ramirez to be called up to the majors...........

* Los Angeles Times (Dodgers Now):  "Manny Ramirez signs with Rangers, Luis Cruz with Yankees" - From the LAT:


Ramirez played the first half  of the season for the EDA Rhinos, batting .352 with eight home runs and 43 RBIs in 49 games. He opted out at the season midpoint in the hopes of connecting  with another major league team. And here he is, the player who wouldn’t die. Drew Davidson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram said if Ramirez makes the Rangers he has agreed to a prorated minimum-wage contract of $500,000 without bonuses or incentives.

Cruz was a major bust for the Dodgers (.127) this season, but apparently a lot of us underestimated just how desperate the Yankees are at shortstop without Derek Jeter. Cruz, 29, will be their fifth starting shortstop this season.

* Dallas Morning News:  "Manny Ramirez agrees to minor league deal with Texas Rangers, will report to Triple-A Round Rock Express on Thursday"

* ESPN:  "Rangers sign Manny Ramirez"

* USA Today:  "Manny Ramirez signs minor league contract with Rangers"

* Los Angeles Times:  "Manny Ramirez signing could spice up Angels-Rangers rivalry"


L.A. CITY HALL: Mayor Eric Garcetti, Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson, how they plan to work together: "Mayor Eric Garcetti Pledges To Sort Out Differences With Herb Wesson 'Behind Closed Doors'"....

* LA Weekly (Gene Maddaus):  "Mayor Eric Garcetti Pledges To Sort Out Differences With Herb Wesson 'Behind Closed Doors'" - From the Weekly:

In his opening days in office, Mayor Eric Garcetti -- still getting used to that -- is putting the word out that he wants a "no drama" administration. In an interview last night on KCRW's "Which Way L.A.," Garcetti said he would avoid open conflict with City Council President Herb Wesson, saying divided government "might make headlines" but isn't productive. "There'll be disagreements. We'll have them respectfully," Garcetti said. "Both President Wesson and myself are very committed to doing those as friends behind closed doors."

It's early days yet, and for now there don't seem to be too many differences to sort out.  "Herb Wesson is an enthusiastic supporter of Mayor Garcetti," said Wesson spokesman Ed Johnson. "They are good friends and they work well together. There is no reason why that should change."

It was only a few months ago, however, that Wesson was making sure that everyone at City Hall understood that he was not going to take a backseat to the new mayor on anything. "I'm telling you and you can rest assured that when you go talk to the mayor, whoever that is, you better come talk to me, because I'm going to be an equal partner, the council will be," he said in March, as reported in the Downtown News. "We're not going to be a junior partner."

In the KCRW interview, Garcetti said that he won't pursue vendettas against those -- like IBEW boss Brian D'Arcy -- who supported his opponent in the campaign. "If you win an election, you don't look to punish anybody," he said. Garcetti has, however, already started doling out rewards............


POLITICS (Bay Area): Medical marijuana, federal government, legal proceedings, forfeiture actions against Bay Area dispensaries: "Bay Area cities battle U.S. in bid to save marijuana dispensaries"....

* Los Angeles Times:  "Bay Area cities battle U.S. in bid to save marijuana dispensaries" - From the LAT:

OAKLAND -- Two Bay Area cities' battle to preserve access to medical marijuana heated up Wednesday, as Berkeley filed suit to block a federal forfeiture action against its oldest and largest dispensary, and Oakland – which filed a similar suit last year – prevailed with an important court ruling.

Melinda Haag, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of California, last year moved to seize the Oakland and San Jose properties of Harborside Health Center, the country’s largest dispensary. In May, her office filed a similar action to seize the property of Berkeley Patients Group. Both cities have stepped in to fight the federal moves, asserting that the dispensaries comply with local and state laws and offer safe access to medical cannabis for patients who might otherwise turn to the illegal market.

In Wednesday’s claim, filed on behalf of Berkeley by the Drug Policy Alliance, the city is attempting to intercede in the forfeiture action by saying it stands to lose “substantial revenue” if Berkeley Patients Group is shuttered. The claim also asserts that the forfeiture would undermine the city’s comprehensive efforts to regulate and control medical marijuana, and that closure of the dispensary founded in 1999 would be likely to lead to more unregulated, unpermitted dispensaries and to an increase in illicit marijuana sales on city streets.


Also Wednesday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Maria-Elena James in San Francisco agreed to place the federal forfeiture action against Harborside’s properties on hold while Oakland appeals in its effort to intercede................


LOCAL GOVERNMENT (County of Los Angeles): Antelope Valley, U.S. Justice Department, L.A. County Sheriff's Department: Editorial, "Another black eye for Sheriff Baca"....

***Following up on most recent earlier reports noted here (U.S. Justice Department - Antelope Valley - L.A. County Sheriff's Department - racial harassment of minority residents)....

* Los Angeles Times (editorial):  "Another black eye for Sheriff Baca" - "The Justice Department says that deputies assigned to the Antelope Valley Sheriff's Station repeatedly violated the civil rights of African Americans and Latinos." - From the LAT:

The latest insight into the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department is as dispiriting as it is familiar. For years — decades, even, for those who remember the Kolts Commission in the early 1990s — one outside group after another has concluded that lax discipline, poor supervision and inattentive management have allowed problems within the department to fester, sometimes erupting in violations of civil rights. And here we are again.

After a two-year investigation, the U.S. Department of Justice has concluded that deputies assigned to the Antelope Valley Sheriff's Station repeatedly violated the civil rights of African Americans and Latinos, especially those in federally subsidized housing. The report describes how deputies subjected residents to unconstitutional stops and seizures, relied on racial profiling and resorted to excessive force. In one instance cited, a deputy "punched another handcuffed woman in the jaw while three other deputies held her down."

Sheriff Lee Baca's responses to this and previous critiques have been revealing and disturbing..............


POLITICS (Orange County): Anaheim City Council, approval, change in way members are elected, impose residency requirements, maintain current at-large system, rejection of district-by-district voting plan.... 

***Following up on earlier items noted here (Anaheim City Council, rejection of plan for district-by-district voting)....

* Los Angeles Times:  "Anaheim City Council approves controversial voting plan" - From the LAT:

A sharply divided Anaheim City Council on Tuesday night voted to change the way its members are elected.

Proponents say the new at-large voting proposal with residency requirements will ensure that the city’s diverse population is well-represented. But many who called for reforms contend that the plan falls short of moving toward fair representation for Latinos in city government.

Lack of representation was a focus of protests that rocked the city last year following the officer-involved shooting of two Latino men. Political representation is also the subject of a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of Latino residents. The suit alleges that the practice of electing council members at large violates the California Voting Rights Act. Latinos make up nearly 53% of the city’s population but less than half of eligible voters. Only a few Latinos have ever been elected to the City Council. . . . . . .

Anaheim is the largest city in California that still elects leaders at large.

The measure approved in a 3-2 vote Tuesday followed months of study and debate. It maintains at-large voting but imposes residency requirements. The council also decided to ask voters to permanently ratify the at-large measure and to decide whether to expand the number of council members from four to six, with the mayor elected at large. A measure that would have asked voters to decide whether the city should move toward a voting district system in which each district elects its own members was defeated 2 to 3...........