Flap’s California Morning Collection: November 18, 2011

The Mustang at Los Angeles Auto Show

Behind the wheel of a new Ford Mustang at the Los Angeles Auto Show Media Day yesterday

The California Legislature is not in session.

On to today’s headlines:

California Supreme Court says proponents can defend gay-marriage ban

In a major lift for supporters of California’s same-sex marriage ban, the state’s highest court ruled Thursday that proponents of ballot initiatives can defend their measures in court when the governor and attorney general refuse to do so.

The California Supreme Court’s ruling sets the stage for the continuation of a legal battle over gay marriage that is drawing national attention and is widely expected to reach the U.S. Supreme Court.

In the wake of the opinion, the federal appeals court that is considering the legality of the state’s gay marriage ban is expected to rule on constitutional questions at the heart of the measure.

The ban, Proposition 8, was approved by voters in 2008 but was ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge last year. Legal arguments over the measure’s constitutionality had been on hold for months as the federal appeals court awaited this ruling.

NOTE: A unanimous decision

Initiatives target California law requiring gay history in schools

Foes of a new law requiring California public schools to teach students about the historical contributions of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals have filed two proposed initiatives to challenge the statute.

One proposed initiative would repeal the section of Senate Bill 48 mandating LGBT history, leaving in place new requirements that students learn about the role of disabled individuals and members of different cultural and ethnic groups. A second would give parents the ability to opt their children out of instruction related to “social science and family life” that conflicts with their religious beliefs.

Both measures were filed with the state attorney general’s office by Richard Rios, who is listed online as the president of the Yorba Ranch branch of the conservative California Republican Assembly. Calls for comment to the phone number listed on the initiative proposal and Rios’ home were not immediately returned.

California school year might be trimmed by a week, report warns

California’s economic recovery is so sluggish it will likely force automatic budget cuts that could shave up to a week off the school year, according to a report Wednesday from the legislative analyst’s office.

The report projects a $3.7-billion hole in the current budget due to declining tax revenues. That gap is enough to trigger automatic reductions in spending on education and social services — $100 million from the budgets of the University of California and the Cal State systems each, as well as more than $1 billion in cuts to K-12 districts. The state would forbid those districts from laying off teachers but give them authority to cut the school year by one week.

The cuts are not a done deal. They will happen only if both the legislative analyst’s office and the state’s Department of Finance project a severe shortfall. The forecast from the Department of Finance is due next month. Legislators could try to make a last-ditch attempt to change the composition of the cuts, though Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed one such attempt in September.

Dan Walters: Jerry Brown’s budget gimmick falls short

Jerry Brown sought his second stint as governor last year by promising to balance the deficit- riddled state budget without gimmicks.

“Our state is in a real mess, and I’m not going to give you any phony plans or snappy slogans that don’t go anywhere,” Brown said in one ad. “We have to make some tough decisions.”

After winning, Brown conducted some showy public conferences and then proposed a budget that split the deficit between spending cuts and taxes requiring voter approval.

Sheriff’s Department reopens Natalie Wood case

Thirty years after Natalie Wood died off Santa Catalina Island, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department announced Thursday that it was reopening the investigation into one of Hollywood’s most enduring mysteries.

Wood, 43, was boating off the island on Thanksgiving weekend 1981 with her husband, Robert Wagner, fellow actor Christopher Walken and others when she somehow went overboard and died. Officials at the time ruled her death an accident, but there has been much speculation since over whether there was more to the story.

Enjoy your morning!

Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner during Look Magazine Party at Jimmy’s Restaurant in Beverly Hills, February 14, 1979 — WireImage


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