California Adventure in Anaheim, California
The California Legislature is not in session.
On to today’s headlines:
About 2,000 paroled California sex offenders have no permanent home partly because of a state law that bans them from living near schools or parks. This Halloween, however, many will spend the night together under supervision from authorities who want to make sure they have no contact with children out trick-or-treating.
It’s the first time the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is targeting offenders who live on the streets, under bridges or in nomadic campsites, though it has enforced a curfew on offenders who have permanent addresses for nearly 20 years under what it calls “Operation Boo.” The new emphasis comes in response to the growing number of transient offenders, said department spokesman Luis Patino.
Their ranks have spiked in the five years since 70 percent of voters approved Jessica’s Law.
The law bans offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a school or park. As one result, the number of homeless paroled sex offenders grew from 88 in August 2007, before the department began enforcing the law, to about 2,000 now that it has been fully implemented.
Three of the state’s four parole regions are setting up the “transient sex-offender roundup centers,” mostly at parole offices or community centers. They include the regions that cover Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco and all of California’s coastal counties.
Offenders have been ordered to report to parole centers from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday, where they will be supervised to make sure they have no contact with children out trick-or-treating. The law also required the state to use electronic monitors to track all paroled sex offenders, so parole officers will know if offenders aren’t in the curfew centers on Halloween.
Petitions are being circulated for a ballot measure designed to end collective bargaining for California’s public- employee unions.
The End Public Sector Bargaining Act would eliminate collective-bargaining rights for public employees such as teachers, nurses, police officers and firefighters. It is similar to a Wisconsin law passed this year.
The measure would apply not only to state employees, but to employees at local government agencies such as counties, cities and school districts.
The measure’s sponsor, a UC Santa Barbara economics lecturer, must gather more than 800,000 signatures by Feb. 3 for the measure to qualify for the the Nov. 6, 2012, presidential ballot.
Jack Pitney, a political-science professor at Claremont McKenna College, called the measure “dead on arrival” because of the state’s left-leaning politics and strong union presence.
“I’d be surprised if he can even get it qualified,” Pitney said. “I doubt he can get enough signatures.”
The measure’s sponsor, Lanny Ebenstein of Santa Barbara, could not be reached for comment.
Ebenstein is a former board member at Santa Barbara Unified School District and an author who has written biographies of free-market economists Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman.
Ironically, however, as the Legislature’s majority Democrats were criticizing the initiative process for usurping the legislative process, they were also providing new evidence that the Capitol’s indolence often forces folks to use the ballot.
For instance, the Legislature refused to enact much-needed legislation to clear up the haphazard local regulation of clinics that dispense marijuana, in response to a previous initiative ballot measure that authorized its medicinal use.
Federal authorities have been cracking down hard on California’s marijuana dispensaries – even threatening their landlords with property seizure – claiming that profiteers were controlling the trade.
It could have been avoided had the Legislature created a Colorado-style system of state regulation. But lawmakers ducked the issue, probably fearing political fallout. Now medical marijuana advocates are proposing to do it via initiative.
If legislators don’t like the flood of initiative ballot measures, they should do their jobs rather than attempt to kneecap the process.
School officials are on the edge of their seats.
In six weeks, they should know if they have to cut buses, shorten the school year, ask teachers to take furlough days, raid their reserves or cut programs.
That’s when revised revenue projections are expected from the state. If revenues fall short, it could trigger up to $1.75 billion in cuts that would hit K-12 districts in February.
The state was $654 million short of its revenue projections at the beginning of October, but school officials aren’t sure how much their districts will lose and what exactly they will do if the trigger is pulled.
“It’s almost impossible (to know),” said Rhonda Crawford, chief financial officer for Folsom Cordova Unified. “We do the best we can with what we know and what we can anticipate.”
Schools could lose 4 percent of their state revenue for student attendance if the trigger is pulled, as well $248 million in funds for bus transportation. The amount schools would lose depends on how close the state is to its revenue goal.
“The moving target continues to be the biggest challenge,” said Gabe Ross, spokesman for Sacramento City Unified.
Enjoy your morning!