I have users that I would like only to see the My Settings section in the Control Panel and hide the Administration, Database, Reports, Localization, and Security items. I've been looking in the Core database but don't see anything obvious that would allow me to remove read privileges to items like these. Any way to do this?
Maybe I am not reading into this right. But you can set denial permissions on the items on the menu items under the path
/sitecore/content/Applications/Control Panel/ in the core database.
I would prefer you create a user role and set the denial access to that role. Then adding users to the new role will be easier and cleaner to maintain.