Los Angeles Dodger’s Stadium just prior to the start of 2012 Los Angeles Marathon
Good Tuesday morning!
The California Legislature is adjourned for Spring/Easter break and will resume on April 9, 2012.
On to today’s California headlines:
Dozens of federal agents on Monday raided the Oakland businesses and apartment of Richard Lee, the state’s most prominent advocate for the legalization and regulation of marijuana, carting away loads of pot and belongings but not revealing the purpose of their investigation.
The agents targeted Oaksterdam University, the internationally famous school that Lee established to train people in the marijuana industry, a medical cannabis dispensary called Coffeeshop Blue Sky, and three properties being rented by Lee, including his apartment near Lake Merritt.
Multiple federal agencies unleashed raids Monday on the home and businesses of one of California’s most famous marijuana advocates, Richard Lee, founder of the renowned cannabis industry trade school known as Oaksterdam University.
Lee, who spent $1.6 million to bankroll Proposition 19, an unsuccessful 2010 measure to legalize marijuana for recreational use, was neither arrested nor charged.
But federal authorities from the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Marshals Service swooped in early Monday, targeting five locations, including the school on this city’s Broadway that has trained 15,000 people in marijuana cultivation and careers since opening in 2007.
Other locations raided were Lee’s Oaksterdam Blue Sky marijuana dispensary, his home and two downtown storefronts he leased.
Amid a continuing federal crackdown on medical marijuana businesses in California, Monday’s raids touched a nerve in downtown Oakland, where the Oaksterdam district serves as the activist heart for one of America’s most marijuana-friendly cities. As word of the raids spread, scores of people descended upon the streets outside Oaksterdam to protest the government’s actions.
A federal appeals court on Monday rejected an attempt to revive preferential admissions for minorities at the University of California and reaffirmed the legality of Proposition 209, the state’s voter-approved ban on affirmative action.
The suit – filed by 55 UC applicants and an advocacy group called By Any Means Necessary, and supported by Gov. Jerry Brown – argued that the legal rationale for Prop. 209 had been undermined by developments since the initiative passed in 1996.
One development was a 2003 U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowing universities to consider applicants’ race as a factor in promoting campus diversity. The other was a 50 percent drop in admissions of Latinos, African Americans and American Indians at UC in the first year after Prop. 209 passed.
Minority enrollment has risen somewhat since then under UC policies to admit the top 4 percent from each California high school, and to give less weight to applicants’ scores on standardized tests.
Brown also argued against Prop. 209 in court, saying it created unfair barriers by outlawing preferences for minorities and women, while allowing other groups – military veterans, athletes, children of alumni – to seek preferential admissions.
But in a terse 3-0 ruling, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco said similar arguments had been addressed and rejected in 1997, when another panel of the court upheld Prop. 209.
The 2003 Supreme Court decision allowed race-based affirmative action in some circumstances, but “it did not hold that such programs are constitutionally required,” Judge Barry Silverman said in the appeals court’s decision. He noted that the high court has granted review of a Texas case that could lead to a nationwide ban on preferential treatment of minorities.
Despite some opposition and questions about legality, a policy initiated by Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck that allows some unlicensed drivers to avoid a 30-day impound of their cars is expected to roll out in three weeks.
Beck reiterated the terms of the policy during an editorial board meeting with the Daily News Monday, hoping to clarify what he said has been unfair criticism of the program, as well as questions surrounding his motivation to focus on car impounds.
Some groups have said the policy rewards illegal immigration, while others have suggested Beck is seeking favor with Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the Latino community, all of which he called untrue.
“The goal of this is to make this a safer city to drive in,” Beck said. “I intend to have no other job after this. When I’m done being the chief of the Police Department, I’m done. Because of that, it’s given me a unique position to do what I believe is right.”
The policy would change the criteria by which an unlicensed diver could avoid a 30-day impound.
A motorist who is pulled over by an LAPD officer for a driving violation must have a valid identification card, which can include an employment or military ID, or a matricula consular card. The motorist also must not have caused an accident, have no prior misdemeanors, and have proof of car insurance.
The driver is still cited for the violation, and his or her car is impounded because there is no driver’s license. But if all four criteria are found, the driver’s car would be released immediately to a licensed driver – a cost of $268.55 that includes towing charges, compared to about $1,400 for the 30 days.
Beck’s decision to change the policy was spurred by an inspector general’s report released two years ago that showed an inconsistency in impound laws. A majority of the vehicles were impounded for 30 days, while the rest were released immediately.
Enjoy your morning and lastly Dan Walters talks about Governor Moonbeam and what he has brought back to the Capitol: