Category: California Economy

Jul 25 2012

Flap’s California Morning Collection: July 25, 2012

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A medical marijuana dispensary at Venice Beach, California

Good Wednesday morning!

The California Legislature is not in session for a summer recess.

The California Assembly has adjourned until August 6, 2012 and the California State Senate is also in adjournment.

The California Assembly’s Daily File is here and the California State Senate’s here.

On to today’s California headlines:

L.A. City Council deals blow to pot clinics

After years of controversy over medical marijuana, the Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday decided to ban every clinic in the city – but left the door open for some to reopen in the future.

The 14-0 decision came after some five hours of debate, including three hours behind closed doors, as well as passionate opposing testimony from medical marijuana advocates and neighbors frustrated by the problems the clinics create.

In a separate vote, the council OK’d a plan to study allowing 182 dispensaries to open in the future, following more extensive analysis by the Planning Department over the next several months.

City Councilman Jose Huizar, a co-author of the ban, said the city has simply been unable to properly control the dispensaries. In Eagle Rock, for example, he said, there are 13 clinics.

“That’s too many for such a small area,” Huizar said. “All we hear are complaints about the number of dispensaries and the problems around them.”

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa plans to sign the measure, his office said Tuesday, and it would take effect 30 days after his signature.

The vote reversed the council’s earlier decisions to allow dispensaries to remain open if they had obtained the proper permits from the city.

California still ranked No. 9 among the world’s economies

As it slowly recovers from its worst recession since the Great Depression, where does California’s economy fit into the global marketplace?

A massive new economic forecast from the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. confirms that were California a nation, it would place No. 9 among the globe’s economies, just behind No. 8 Italy and just ahead of Russia.

The data-filled report, to be unveiled today in Los Angeles, pegs California’s economy at just under $2 trillion a year (2011 numbers) and implies that it could move up or down in the rankings, depending on what happens to the volatile European economy. The state once ranked as high as sixth.

California’s economy saw an inflation-adjusted 2 percent growth from 2010 to 2011, while Italy’s grew at just one-fifth of that rate. Among the economies larger than California’s, only China, Germany and Brazil, which leaped into sixth place, had higher rates of growth than the state. But Russia’s economy grew twice as fast as California’s from 2010 to 2011, so it could push California down to 10th place.

Police, protesters clash as tensions roil Anaheim

Simmering tensions in the wake of two deadly police shootings in Anaheim exploded into violence Tuesday night as protesters clashed with police outside City Hall even as officials voted to ask federal authorities to investigate the killings that have rocked the Orange County community.

Protesters hurled rocks, traffic cones and other objects at police clad in riot gear as officers chased people along sidewalks and streets throughout the evening and fired less-than-lethal projectiles into crowds after giving a dispersal order. Sirens wailed as officers formed skirmish lines and police from neighboring law enforcement agencies provided assistance.

Police said that at least five people were arrested on suspicion of assault and resisting arrest, and that a reporter from the Orange County Register was struck by a rock as angry crowds stood face to face with officers in tense standoffs. Fires were started in dumpsters, and at least one storefront had its windows broken as the skirmishes continued into the night.

State duns cities for millions of dollars

California cities are in a high-stakes fight with officials in Sacramento over money that the state says the cities owe as part of the winding down of redevelopment agencies.

County officials, under the state’s direction, have sent letters of demand to cities throughout the state in recent weeks, many for millions of dollars. Several cities, including El Cerrito, refused to pay and sued the state, which is threatening to penalize cities by withholding sales tax revenue that cities rely on to pay for police, parks and other general operating expenses.

Some local officials warn that if the state follows through with its threat, struggling cities could be pushed off the fiscal cliff. Recently, fiscal crises prompted three California cities – Stockton, Mammoth Lakes and San Bernardino – to declare bankruptcy.

“It’s time that we stand up and be counted, and defend our municipal affairs and rights, and push back,” William C. Jones III, mayor of El Cerrito, said at a City Council meeting July 12 after the council voted to sue the state.

Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature abolished redevelopment agencies last year as part of the budget plan to deal with California’s chronic deficits, redirecting billions to local governments for schools, public safety and other services. Some of that money helps the state’s budget by reducing the amount of the general fund that is required to go toward education.

Enjoy your morning and Dan Walters Daily video:’It’s time for Jerry Springer’

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Jul 23 2012

Flap’s California Morning Collection: July 23, 2012

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San Francisco, California

The California Legislature is not in session for a summer recess.

The California Assembly has adjourned until August 6, 2012 and the California State Senate is also in adjournment.

The California Assembly’s Daily File is here and the California State Senate’s here.

On to today’s California headlines:

Pool report: Mitt Romney tells SF fundraiser “somebody’s got to do something for California”

GOP Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, addressing a crowded campaign fundraiser in the Democratic bastion of San Francisco, told laughing supporters Sunday, “Boy, somebody’s got to do something for California…the right leadership would make a difference here.”

Romney made the comments during a half hour address to donors at the Fairmont Hotel, one of his three fundraisers in the Bay Area Sunday. Both his Fairmont fundraiser and two held in private homes in Woodside and San Francisco were hosted in part by former gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman, the Hewlett Packard CEO, who was singled out for applause by Romney and a received a standing ovation at the Fairmont stop.

The former Massachusetts Governor, who like President Obama had suspended campaign events in the wake of the Colorado movie theater massacre this week, told backers that “our hearts are with many of the people who lost loved ones” in the Aurora mass killings, and praised Obama’s stop in Aurora to meet with victims entirely appropriate.

Here’s the full and unedited pool report of tonight’s Romney fundraiser at the Fairmont Hotel, as provided by the local print pool reporter allowed to cover the event, Josh Richman of the Oakland Tribune:

Romney entered the Fairmont Hotel’s Gold room at 5:32 p.m. to a cheering, standing ovation.

Barack Obama, Mitt Romney back to raise money in California

President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney will return to the Bay Area on Sunday and Monday — back to buck-rake once again in donor-rich California.

Obama is scheduled Monday to raise money at a dinner at the Piedmont home of developer and real estate investor Wayne Jordan and his wife, activist Quinn Delaney. Tickets were listed at $35,800 per person.

Obama is also scheduled Monday to attend a larger fundraising reception at the Fox Theater in downtown Oakland.

Mitt Romney focuses on economy in Bay Area speech

Promising to avoid partisan attacks in the wake of Friday’s movie-theater massacre in Colorado, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney spoke to campaign contributors Sunday about his own five-step plan to fix America’s economy.

Speaking to about 250 supporters who’d paid from $2,500 to $10,000 each to attend a reception at the Fairmont Hotel, the former Massachusetts governor praised President Barack Obama’s last-minute trip to Aurora, Colo., as appropriate and befitting his office.

The audience observed a moment of silence for the Colorado victims. “We turn to a power greater than our own to understand purpose, and if not to understand at least to be able to soothe the wounds of those who have been so seriously hurt,” Romney said.

Romney noted the audience included about 25 members of Gold Star and Blue Star families — those who’ve lost relatives in military service, and those who have relatives currently serving. He observed “the great sense of unity that comes in this country as we recognize those who serve our country.”

Turning to the economy, Romney said “there is that entrepreneurialism in the American spirit which, if tapped, will allow us to reboot our economy, and soon.”

To tap it, he said, he first would tap into America’s “massive new resources, both in oil and gas.”

Second, Romney said, he would pursue more foreign trade, which he said “puts more Americans to work in higher-paying jobs.”

Republican Party in California Is Caught in Cycle of Decline

This would seem a moment of great opportunity for California Republicans. The state has become a national symbol of fiscal turmoil and dysfunction, the Legislature is nearly as unpopular as Congress and Democrats control every branch of government.

But instead, the state party — once a symbol of Republican hope and geographical reach and which gave the nation Ronald Reagan (and Richard M. Nixon) — is caught in a cycle of relentless decline, and appears in danger of shrinking to the rank of a minor party.

“We are at a lower point than we’ve ever been,” said Representative Kevin McCarthy, the No. 3 Republican in the United States House of Representatives. “It’s rebuilding time.”

Registered Republicans now account for just 30 percent of the California electorate, and are on a path that analysts predict could drop them to No. 3 in six years, behind Democrats, who currently make up 43 percent, and independent voters, with 21 percent.

“It’s no longer a statewide party,” said Allan Hoffenblum, who worked for 30 years as a Republican consultant in California. “They are down to 30 percent, which makes it impossible to win a statewide election. You just can’t get enough crossover voters.”

“They have alienated large swaths of voters,” he said. “They have become too doctrinaire on the social issues. It’s become a cult.”

Enjoy your morning and Dan Walters Daily video: Good news on job growth but ‘long row to hoe’

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Jun 20 2012

Flap’s California Morning Collection: June 20, 2012

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Redwood National Park, California

Good Wednesday morning!

The California Legislature is in session.  Today’s schedule is here.

The California Assembly’s Daily File is here and the California State Senate’s here.

On to today’s California headlines:

Vote remains close on Prop. 29 tobacco tax ballot initiative

The vote count for the June 5 tobacco tax ballot initiative remained tight Tuesday as elections officials across California continued tallying hundreds of thousands of uncounted ballots.

The measure, Proposition 29, was losing by 17,534 votes – or four-tenths of 1% — a gap that narrowed from 63,000 on election night, according to the California secretary of state’s office.

More than 4.9 million ballots already have been counted across the state. The secretary of state’s office estimates that, as of Tuesday morning, just over 370,000 ballots across that state remained uncounted. Shortly after the primary, there were more than a million uncounted ballots statewide.

The uncounted ballots consist of many cast by mail, as well as provisional and damaged ones.

Approved state budget still not a done deal

Majority Democrats may be able to crow over producing an on-time state budget, but that’s like claiming a trophy at half-time.

Though the Legislature passed the budget Friday, Gov. Jerry Brown and leading Democrats are still immersed in private talks to close out a number of divisive issues before they can seal the final deal.

Among those: So-called “trigger” cuts that would be automatically imposed if voters in November reject tax hikes, how to potentially erase 15 days from the school calendar, a 5 percent pay cut for thousands of state workers and ways to cushion blows to the poor and disabled.

Democratic leaders say their goal is to act on about 20 bills needed to implement the budget in the coming days, perhaps as soon as Thursday. Brown, also a Democrat, is reportedly sitting on the main budget bill until he sees the other so-called “trailer” bills. Then he can take his blue pencil and make deeper cuts, if necessary.

Brown has until June 27 to make up his mind on the budget and line-item spending vetoes.

Same-day voter registration bill moves forward in Legislature

Election seasons come and go, and with them public attention to the political process waxes and wanes.

“The really heartbreaking fact of the matter is that a lot of the excitement kicks in about two weeks before Election Day. But by then it’s too late, and a lot of people are left sitting on the sidelines,” said Kim Alexander, president and founder of the nonpartisan California Voter Foundation. “If we can engage people when they’re excited, we have an opportunity to create a lifelong voter.”

The Legislature on Tuesday moved closer toward embracing one way to help Californians seize that moment by allowing voter registration to take place through Election Day — an approach that has sparked sharp partisan divisions in the past.

On a party-line vote, with majority Democrats in support, the Senate Elections and Constitutional Amendments Committee approved a bill to allow same-day voter registration as soon as a new statewide computerized database is operational. The system will let elections officials check the status of all voters statewide.

The measure — AB 1436, by Assemblyman Mike Feuer, D-Los Angeles — has been approved by the Assembly and next heads to the Senate Public Safety Committee, which must consider the bill because it would increase the maximum penalty for voter fraud.

UCLA forecast: Economy to lag 3 more years — High unemployment, slow growth impede progress

California’s long slow slog out of the Great Recession will continue for at least three more years amid tepid job growth and persistent high unemployment, according to a forecast released today.

And there is a critical component still missing in the state and national economies, said the quarterly UCLA Anderson Forecast.

“There has been no recovery,” economist Edward Leamer, the forecast director, lamented in his outlook for the nation.

The problem is that growth in both gross domestic product and jobs has been weak since the recession ended in the second quarter of 2009.

“More of the same is in the cards, although the housing market is turning around, promising there will be growth in the years ahead, even with frugal consumers and frugal governments holding things back,” Leamer said.

He points out that in each of the previous 10 recessions, GDP — the value of goods and services produced in the U.S. — returned to its previous peak within two years. This time it has taken almost four years.

He forecasts GDP growth of 2.4 percent by the end of next year, increasing to 3.4 percent by the end of 2014.

Robert Kleinhenz, chief economist at the Kyser Center for Economic Research at the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp., said that the state and local economies will likely play out as UCLA predicts.

Enjoy your morning and Dan Walters’ Daily video:’Two blows for open government’

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Feb 15 2012

Flap’s California Morning Collection: February 15, 2012

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Mission San Antonio de Padua, Jolon in Monterey County, California

The California Legislature is in session. Today’s schedule is here.

On to today’s California headlines:

Obama heads West to stock up on campaign funds

President Barack Obama is coming to the West Coast for a little fundraising love.

Air Force One is set to touch down at LAX at 4 p.m. Obama will then attend a dinner at the Beverly Hills home of soap opera writer and producer Bradley Bell, famous for “The Bold and the Beautiful,” according to this Annenberg TV News report. A Foo Fighters concert is also on the menu.

The president will also make stops in San Francisco and Seattle on Thursday and Friday.

California economic reports forecast modest growth

Things are looking up for California’s beleaguered economy as the recovery from the recession hits a period of slow, modest growth this year and next, according to two economic reports.

Over the next two years, the state is poised to add nearly half a million jobs and drive the current 11.1% unemployment rate down to nearly 10%, the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. said in an annual forecast scheduled to be released Wednesday.

And on Tuesday, financial rating company Standard & Poor’s upgraded its outlook on California’s ability to repay its debts to “positive” from “stable.”

“We think the state is poised for credit improvement — and potentially a higher rating,” S&P said.

An upgrade in the state’s credit rating would be “a powerful vote of confidence,” Gov. Jerry Brown said.

California’s improved financial condition, however, is based partly on continued budget cutting, which has fallen heavily on government jobs and services. The state lost 85,500 local, state and federal government jobs since the start of the recession in December 2007.

Herdt: For county Democrats, a runaway bride

When a politician, especially one who appears to be flying high, drops out of a political race much speculation inevitably follows.

So it is in Ventura County this week, as bystanders try to ascertain why Supervisor Steve Bennett, the frontrunner in the Democratic field, dropped out of the House race on Saturday minutes before delegates at the state convention were about to award him the party’s endorsement.

In a prepared statement, Bennett offered three reasons:

• “It is clear my approach to public service” is more effective working on local issues.

• He is concerned that having multiple Democrats on the ballot could result in a Republican and an independent finishing first and second in June. He urged the party to unite behind a single candidate.

• He was worried that the election of any of the announced candidates for his supervisorial seat would result in “a significant philosophical shift on the board.”

OK. But what’s the real reason?

Conejo Valley schools superintendent says city needs redevelopment money

The superintendent of the Conejo Valley Unified School District, Jeff Baarstad, says he would recommend taking legal action if the district is no longer entitled to millions of dollars it would have received through the now abolished Thousand Oaks Redevelopment Agency.

“We are owed $1 million a year for the next 10 years in a RDA pass-through agreement, and we will consider legal action if the state or county review says that pass-through agreement is not an enforceable obligation,” Baarstad said.

Under the terms of the bill passed into law last year by the California Legislature,redevelopment agencies were to be eliminated and were required to prepare a list of what they consider to be enforceable financial obligations.

California state sales tax rate highest, but overall rate ranks 12th

California has the nation’s highest state sales tax rate, but its overall rate, including local sales taxes, drops to 12th highest, according to a new report from the Tax Foundation, a Washington-based organization that collects nationwide tax data.

Tennessee, the Tax Foundation says, has the nation’s highest average sales tax rate of 9.45 percent, followed by Arizona and Louisiana. Five states levy no sales taxes, but of those that do, Colorado is lowest at 4.54 percent.

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Feb 09 2012

Flap’s California Morning Collection: February 9, 2012

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Golf in La Quinta, California

The California Legislature is in session. Today’s schedule is here.

California Governor Jerry Brown on the other hand is hitting the road – literally.

Gov. Jerry Brown will be making an appearance tonight as electric-car maker Tesla Motors unveils a new vehicle in Los Angeles County — its Model X.

California’s clean-car makers are among the state’s economic bright spots. And as The Bee’s Rick Daysog reported last month, the California Air Resources Board has voted unanimously to tighten emissions standards by mandating that one in every seven cars sold in the state in the year 2025 be an ultra-low- or zero-emission vehicle.

Brown is expected to speak around 8 p.m. at the premiere, held at Tesla’s Los Angeles Design Studio in Hawthorne.

The Model X is a luxury SUV crossover, according to an article posted Wednesday by Investor’s Business Daily, which says Tesla has been teaming up with Toyota and Daimler, with Toyota using a Tesla power train in an electric RAV4, and Daimler putting Tesla-designed battery systems in some of its vehicles.

On to today’s California headlines:

Women most vulnerable to poverty in retirement

California is the state with the highest number of seniors living below federal poverty levels, and half of all California workers will spend their final years in poverty if nothing changes with our retirement system.

But women are particularly at risk for economic hardship because they generally live longer and earn less than men over the course of their lives.

These sobering statistics come from a recent study of retirement in the state from the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education.

“Retirement security is really is a gendered issue,” said Nari Rhee, one of the co-authors of the study.

Diana Madoshi, for instance, started working when she was 17 years old. “I put myself through school and I became an RN raising a family,” Madoshi said.

But when her teenage daughter developed diabetes, she stopped working full time at Seton Medical Center in Daly City.

“It was more important for me to be home,” said Madoshi. She continued to work, but only part time as a substitute nurse in the area.

As a result, she lost the years she had vested in her pension plan and didn’t have access to any employer sponsored retirement plan.

Then she was diagnosed with Lupus and went on disability (SSI) in 1994. Now, aged 66, she depends entirely on Social Security and is only able to meet her monthly bills because she lives in a subsidized senior housing complex in Rocklin.

Economy toughest on young adults, study finds

As the nation climbs slowly out of the Great Recession, young adults appear to be having the toughest time of any age group gaining a foothold in the recovering economy. Those difficulties, in turn, are shaping their decisions about careers, schooling, marriage and parenthood, according to a new report.

The analysis by the Pew Research Center, released Thursday, examines the effects of the recession on the lives and attitudes of young Americans ages 18 to 34.

“The economy may be improving, but in spite of the recent decline in unemployment, young people are still really struggling,” said Kim Parker, associate director of Pew’s Social and Demographic Trends Project and a coauthor of the study.

The tough times are forcing changes in young adults’ daily lives and in their longer-term plans.

Nearly half say that in recent years they’ve taken a job they didn’t really want, to pay the bills. More than a third have gone back to school because of the poor economy. About a third have postponed either their plans to get married or have a child, and one in four say they have moved back in with their parents after living independently. And fewer than half of young people who are now employed say they have the education and training necessary to get ahead in their jobs.

With government economic data showing a record gap in employment levels between the young and all working-age adults, the Pew survey found that 41% of Americans believe that young adults have been hit harder by the recession than other age groups, while 29% said middle-aged adults have had the toughest time, and 24% said those 65 and older have had the worst of it.

LA County OKs $1,000 Fine For Throwing Football, Frisbee On Beaches

When you head down to the beach for a little fun this summer, county officials want you to leave the pigskin at home.

The Board of Supervisors this week agreed to raise fines to up to $1,000 for anyone who throws a football or a Frisbee on any beach in Los Angeles County.

In passing the 37-page ordinance on Tuesday, officials sought to outline responsibilities for law enforcement and other public agencies while also providing clarification on beach-goer activities that could potentially disrupt or even injure the public.

The updated rules now prohibit “any person to cast, toss, throw, kick or roll” any object other than a beach ball or volleyball “upon or over any beach” between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

Exceptions allow for ball-throwing in predesignated areas, when a person obtains a permit, or playing water polo “in or over the Pacific Ocean”.

However, during the winter off-season, the new rules will be relaxed.

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