Category: California Judiciary

May 18 2012

Flap’s California Morning Collection: May 18, 2012

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California Supreme Court headquarters in San Francisco

Good Friday morning!

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

There are no floor sessions today, but various legislative committees are meeting throughout California.

The Senate Agriculture Committee, chaired by Republican Anthony Cannella, heads to Fresno to learn about agricultural metal theft.

A Senate select committee chaired by Democrat Ellen Corbett, is in Fremont looking at electric vehicle deployment.

Meanwhile, an Assembly select committee is in San Diego — where chairman Nathan Fletcher is running for mayor as an independent — for a hearing on “current workforce realities and keeping innovation domestic.”

Yet another Assembly select committee — this one headed by Democrat José Solorio — explores the future of storm water, including its capture, storage and supply, in Los Angeles.

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

On to today’s California headlines:

Calbuzz boys, Skelton analyze state woes — never mention unions! LOL!

Given what happened to Nathan Fletcher’s smart tax deal with Jerry Brown last fall, I understand gripes about GOP obstinance. But when one side has so much more power than the other side, it’s simply bizarre to absolve the strongest supporters of the side with the great majority of power of any responsibility for the state’s problems.

It takes amazing tunnel vision to write 930 words about why California is screwed up and not mention unions. It takes amazing chutzpah to do this in a column in which the Calbuzzers mock other journos for their takes on the Golden State.

What do they ignore? Lots of things.

California judges must post financial info online

California’s judges will now have to post all their financial disclosure information in cyberspace.

In a unanimous decision, the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission on Thursday approved a rule that requires California’s more than 1,700 judges to post their disclosure forms on the Internet, despite objections from judicial leaders that it could jeopardize their privacy and security.

The FPPC decided to impose the 2-year-old rule on judges that already had been applied to the rest of the state’s elected officials.

California legislators move to let law enforcement officers shield property records

California lawmakers took a major step Thursday toward carving an exception in public records law that they said would enhance the safety of peace officers, judges and other law enforcement personnel.

Without a dissenting vote, the Assembly passed legislation that would allow counties to create a program allowing law enforcement personnel to redact names from property records available to the public.

Assembly Bill 2299 passed the lower house, 68-0. It now goes to the Senate.

“Let’s make the protection of officers’ families meaningful,” Assemblyman Mike Feuer, D-Los Angeles, said in floor debate on his bill.

Thursday’s vote came about five months after an anonymous Internet group publicized home addresses of more than a dozen members of the Los Angeles Police Department’s command staff.

Assemblywoman Norma Torres, D-Pomona, a former 911 dispatcher, cited an incident in which gang members followed a peace officer home and opened fire while he was walking his dog.

Opponents include the California Newspaper Publishers Association, which contends that AB 2299 could hamper media investigations of real estate scandals – such as one unfolding now involving claims that Los Angeles County Assessor John Noguez extended tax breaks to campaign donors and would-be contributors.

The California Land Title Association and groups representing county assessors and recorders also oppose the bill. Concerns range from potential difficulty in implementing such a program to prospects that it could complicate document searches and real estate transactions involving peace officers.

HP may cut 25,000 jobs

Hewlett-Packard Co. is considering cutting as many as 25,000 jobs, or 8% of its workforce, to reduce costs and help the company contend with ebbing demand for computers and services, people briefed on the plans said.

The number to be cut includes 10,000 to 15,000 from Hewlett-Packard’s enterprise services group, which sells a range of information-technology services and has been beset by declining profitability, said these people, who asked not to be identified because the plans aren’t final and may change.

Meg Whitman, chief executive since September, is seeking to reverse the slump that led to the ouster of her predecessor, Leo Apotheker. The company’s PC sales are dropping as consumers favor tablets, such as Apple Inc.’s iPad, and it has been slow to adapt to the shift toward cloud computing, away from the IT services Hewlett-Packard provides.

LAUSD expanding transitional kindergarten to all its elementary schools

Despite a lack of financial and political support from Gov. Jerry Brown, Los Angeles Unified will expand its transitional kindergarten program this fall to all 400-plus elementary schools in the district, officials said Thursday.

TK is a two-year program that lets youngsters progress at their own pace, giving them extra time to master the academic, social and developmental skills required of today’s kindergartners.

Los Angeles Unified has been operating 109 TK classes under a pilot program. While the district initially planned to add 100 more schools each of the next three years, officials have decided instead to launch TK everywhere this fall.

“With the success of our transitional kindergarten pilot program, we have seen first-hand the impact of giving our students the gift of time,” Superintendent John Deasy said in a statement.

“Our students are making strong gains, especially in early literacy and math, and our English-language learners are making dramatic progress.”

TK is the result of a 2010 law that gradually moves up the date that kids are eligible to enroll in kindergarten. Under the new law, the cutoff for standard kindergarten shifts this year from the long-standing Dec. 2 deadline to Nov. 1, and to Oct. 1 in 2013 and Sept. 1 in 2014.

Enjoy your morning and Dan Walter’s Daily video: Judges aren’t only critics of Jerry Brown plan

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Mar 12 2012

Flap’s California Morning Collection: March 12, 2012

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Los Angeles City Hall

Good Monday Morning!

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

Noteworthy today is the California Assembly Revenue and Taxation Committee’s hearing on Proposition 13.

That sizzle you hear today may come from Room 126 in the Capitol, where elected leaders and tax experts will touch the third rail of California politics, Proposition 13.

The Assembly Revenue and Taxation Committee will hold a 1:30 p.m. oversight hearing examining whether the state should tighten rules defining when businesses must have their property reassessed.

Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, believes businesses take advantage of loopholes to save hundreds of millions of dollars. He is pursuing legislation, Assembly Bill 448, that would trigger more frequent reassessments of commercial property.

Besides Ammiano, others scheduled to testify include Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Chris Thornberg of Beacon Economics and Santa Clara County Assessor Larry Stone.

On to today’s California headlines:

California judges want to keep financial reports off the Web

For the past two years, California has required elected public officials — from county supervisors to state senators — to post their financial disclosure information on the Web.

But one group has avoided the requirement and is now resisting the regulation: California’s more than 1,700 judges. They say flinging their personal financial statements through cyberspace poses worrisome privacy and security risks that outweigh the public’s right to easy access to the records.

The issue will come to a head this week when the Fair Political Practices Commission considers whether to impose its 2010 regulation on the judiciary. The commission is expected to hear testimony from members of the California Judges Association, which has taken the lead in raising concerns about disclosing the data online.

Specifically, judges worry that angry litigants or families of those sentenced to prison may look to retaliate against them — and will turn to the Web for quick information that might make them easier targets.

“There is a concern about safety,” said San Diego Superior Court Judge David Rubin, president of the judges’ association. “Judges see people, typically half the courtroom, on a very bad day. Obviously, posting even a sanitized version of these (forms) significantly compromises the safety of judges and judges’ families.”

The judges, however, may have an uphill battle, as the information is already public and readily available to anyone at the local courthouse who asks for the forms, known as statements of economic interests. They contain everything from a judge’s financial holdings to a spouse’s stock investments and employment.


ENDORSEMENT WATCH: GOP backs Miller over Dutton

The California Republican Party has endorsed Rep. Gary Miller for San Bernardino County’s 31st Congressional District, in a major institutional boost for Miller’s quest to continue his congressional career in all-new territory.

The endorsement was among dozens made by the party’s 23-member board of directors during a special meeting Sunday in Burbank. Last Thursday, the San Bernardino County Republican Central Committee deadlocked on an endorsement vote for the 31st.

Miller, R-Diamond Bar, and state Sen. Bob Dutton, R-Rancho Cucamonga, are the top Republicans in a tentative six-person field for the June 5 primary election.


Dan Walters: Two tales of pension accounting

California’s big public pension funds also use discount rates, but they are in the 7.5 percent to 8 percent range. Unlike their corporate cousins, the public funds are not required by law to adjust them. Pension boards and public employee unions, not surprisingly, trumpet the fiction that high discount rates are realistic – exactly the opposite of the positions taken by private company unions in Washington, D.C.

The California Public Employees’ Retirement System earned just 1.1 percent on investments in 2011, and its board has balked at suggestions from its own staff that it lower its discount rate by a quarter-point to 7.5 percent.

Studies by a Stanford University group concluded that were CalPERS and other public pension funds to use discount rates like those of corporate plans, it would increase their unfunded liabilities by hundreds of billions of dollars.

That would upset politicians, who would then feel compelled to increase pension fund contributions by many billions of dollars or enact reforms that would either reduce benefits or require employees to pay more. The unions labor mightily to kill even the mild reforms offered by the man they helped elect governor, Jerry Brown.

Underlying that posture is this simple, if disturbing, fact: Public pension systems can maintain artificially high discount rates only because they know that should real earnings fall short, taxpayers will be on the hook for the difference, without any recourse.

That’s a big hammer.

Doghouse designed by Frank lloyd Wright rebuilt for film

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City. The Fallingwater home in southwestern Pennsylvania. But a child’s doghouse?

Frank Lloyd Wright designed hundreds of landmark buildings and homes during a prolific career that spanned more than seven decades. But in what is widely considered a first and only for the famed architect, Wright indulged a young boy’s humble request for a dog house in 1956 and sent him designs for the structure.

“I was probably his youngest client and poorest client,” Jim Berger, now 68, said during a recent phone interview.

Berger rebuilt the doghouse last year with his brother, using the original plans. It was featured in a documentary film and will be displayed during screenings starting this month.

Wright designed Berger’s family’s home in the Marin County town of San Anselmo, prompting the then-12 years old Berger to ask his dad if Wright would design a home for his black Labrador, Eddie.

Berger’s dad said he didn’t know, so Berger decided to write to the great architect himself.

“I would appreciate it if you would design me a doghouse, which would be easy to build, but would go with our house…,” read the letter dated June 19, 1956. “(My dog) is two and a half feet high and three feet long. The reasons I would like this doghouse is for the winters mainly.”

Berger explained that he would pay Wright from the money he made from his paper route.

“A house for Eddie is an opportunity,” Wright wrote back. But he said he was too busy at the time (construction on the Guggenheim began in 1956) and asked that Berger write him back in November.

Berger did so on the first of the month, and the plan for the doghouse followed — at no charge.

In this photo provided by Michael Miner, Jim Berger poses next to a dog house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright on Oct. 21, 2011, in Glendale, Calif. (AP Photo/Alisse Gratehouse)

Enjoy your morning!

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