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Drought emergency declared in Mendocino County

(Information in the following story is from: DAILY JOURNAL,

UKIAH, Calif. (AP) — Mendocino County has declared a drought emergency after a historic run of dry weather throughout the state has increased concerns over the water supply.

The Ukiah Daily Journal reports that the county's Board of Supervisors yesterday voted unanimously to make the declaration, citing an "imminent threat of disaster" from drought conditions.

The state Department of Water Resources said Mendocino is the first to request state drought assistance.

Officials hope the declaration will result in state funds and assistance in developing a drought plan.

Gov. Jerry Brown has convened a task force to help decide if a statewide drought emergency is warranted.

State water managers say they will be able to deliver just 5 percent of the water sought by municipal agencies and nearly a million acres of farmland.


Anaheim to vote on electoral changes after lawsuit

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — The city of Anaheim has approved a settlement in a voting-rights lawsuit challenging its citywide council elections.

The city announced yesterday that under the settlement, plaintiffs' claims will be dismissed and residents will vote in November on changing the city charter to a district system that supporters say is fairer to minority voters.

City attorney Michael R.W. Houston says that under the settlement the city does not admit that its current system violates the California Voting Rights Act, and says it allows changes to be decided by voters instead of judges.

Under the proposed district model, council members will be elected only by residents of their districts, not by the city at large.

Currently, more than half of Anaheim residents are Hispanic but the entire City Council is white.


CA judge increases lead paint fund to $1.15B

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — A California judge has ordered paint makers to pay $1.15 billion to remove lead paint from homes across the state, an increase of $50 million.

Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge James P. Kleinberg yesterday ordered Sherwin Williams, National Lead and ConAgra to pay after the court found that the companies promoted knew the paint was harmful to children.

The industry had argued that the old paint is not a significant public health risk and that it never deliberately sold a harmful product.

On Monday, Kleinberg rejected those arguments, citing documents dating back to 1900.

The 10 jurisdictions awarded damages are the counties of Santa Clara, Alameda, Los Angeles, Monterey, San Mateo, Solano and Ventura, and the cities of Oakland, San Diego and San Francisco.


Parents of Calif. teen amend federal lawsuit

(Information in the following story is from: The Santa Rosa Press Democrat,

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (AP) — The parents of a Northern California teen who was fatally shot by a sheriff's deputy in October have added new allegations to their federal lawsuit against the county.

In a document filed the United States District Court in San Francisco, Rodrigo and Sujey Lopez of Santa Rosa claim that Sonoma County Sheriff's Deputy Erick Gelhaus had a history of using excessive force.

The lawsuit also claims Gelhaus had racist and extremist tendencies and beliefs.

Gelhaus shot and killed their son, 13-year-old Andy Lopez, on Oct. 22 while the teen was walking home with an airsoft BB gun designed to resemble an assault rifle.

The Santa Rosa Press Democrat reports that Gelhaus told investigators he feared for his life because he thought Lopez was armed with an AK-47.


Police: Massacre survivor ordered hit on lover

(Information in the following story is from: The Record,

STOCKTON, Calif. (AP) — Police in Northern California say a woman who survived a schoolyard shooting in Stockton 25 years ago has now been charged with ordering her lover's murder.

The Record newspaper of Stockton reports that Sarim Chabb, 32, survived the 1989 mass shooting by Patrick Purdy at Cleveland Elementary School. Purdy killed five children before turning the gun on himself. Then a child, Chabb suffered a superficial leg injury in the attack.

Chabb and her brother, 27-year-old Sarth Chab are charged with murder in the Nov. 30 slaying of Marshawn Black, Chabb's lover.

According to police reports, Chabb and Black had argued in a Stockton restaurant, before Chabb called her brother. Chabb told police she did not know her brother would kill Black.


Case vs 2 Calif. cops nears end in homeless death

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — Jurors are scheduled to return to a Santa Ana courtroom today for a second day of closing arguments in the case against two former Fullerton police officers charged in the July 2011 death of a homeless man.

Yesterday, Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas repeatedly replayed clips from the 33-minute, black-and-white video. In it, 37-year-old Kelly Thomas cries out repeatedly for his father, apologizes and says he can't breathe as six officers pile on him.

Former Officer Manuel Ramos has pleaded not guilty to one count of second-degree murder and one count of involuntary manslaughter. Former Cpl. Jay Cicinelli has pleaded not guilty to one count of involuntary manslaughter and one count of excessive use of force.

Ramos' defense attorney said in his closing argument that Thomas was a violent and unpredictable.


LA-area freeway tunnel scorched by fire to reopen

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A Los Angeles freeway underpass shut down nearly six months ago by a fiery tanker truck crash will reopen this week.

The California Department of Transportation on Friday plans to reopen the connecting tunnel between northbound Interstate 5 and northbound State Route 2 after an estimated $16.5 million worth of clearance and repair work.

The 300-foot tunnel near Glendale was closed in July after a tanker caught fire and sent a stream of burning fuel into the nearby Los Angeles River.

The intense heat charred the concrete, and brittle chunks fell off. Repair work began in November.

Caltrans spokesman Patrick Chandler says crews worked nearly around the clock to make repairs. He says the federal government will reimburse the state for the repair costs under an emergency relief program.


Judge allows DNA evidence in 'Grim Sleeper' case

(Information in the following story is from: Los Angeles Times,

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A judge says a Los Angeles police officer acted lawfully by posing as a busboy to collect DNA samples that led to the arrest of the alleged "Grim Sleeper" serial killer.

The Los Angeles Times says the judge rejected defense efforts to throw out the evidence yesterday. Defense lawyers argued it was illegally obtained because Lonnie Franklin Jr.'s plates were cleared before he'd finished eating pizza and cake at the restaurant.

Taking the witness stand for the first time, Franklin testified he thought they would go into the trash with other plates.

The judge called the defense arguments ridiculous.

Franklin was arrested days after the samples were collected in 2010. Prosecutors allege he shot or strangled 10 women and tried to kill another between 1985 and 2007.

He's pleaded not guilty.


LA County man charged with 9-day girlfriend kidnap

PALMDALE, Calif. (AP) — Los Angeles County prosecutors say a Palmdale man has been charged with assaulting his girlfriend with whom he has a child and keeping her against her will for nine days in his apartment.

The district attorney's office says 19-year-old Giovanni McKinnis pleaded not guilty yesterday to seven criminal counts including kidnapping, false imprisonment by violence and corporal injury to a child's parent.

The 20-year-old woman was found Saturday in an apartment after sheriff's deputies investigated a report that she had gone missing December 27. Authorities say the woman had been choked and sexually assaulted, and a punch broken her jaw. She was taken to a hospital and later released.

Authorities say the victim's mother saw the initial assault and kidnapping but didn't call police because she feared McKinnis.