Category: Los Angeles Unified School District

May 24 2012

Flap’s California Morning Collection: May 24, 2012

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Santa Monica, California

Good Thursday 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:

Approval of Gov. Jerry Brown slips in public opinion poll

The honeymoon is ending for Gov. Jerry Brown.

For the first time in a major California poll since Brown took office, a plurality of likely voters disapproves of the job he is doing, according to a Public Policy Institute of California poll released Wednesday.

The margin is pencil-thin – 43 percent disapprove while 42 percent approve – but follows more than a year of relatively favorable marks for the Democratic governor. In April, Brown’s job approval rating among likely voters was 47 percent.

Brown’s dip in public opinion was registered in the days immediately after his announcement last week that California’s budget deficit had grown to $15.7 billion, up from $9.2 billion in January.

Prop 29 support plummets, new poll finds

If anyone ever tells you that money doesn’t matter in California politics, show them the results of the new statewide poll on voter support for Proposition 29.

The initiative — which would add an additional $1 tax per pack of cigarettes and use the money for cancer research — is still ahead in the new poll… but not by much.

The poll from the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California finds that 53 percent of those surveyed now say they’ll vote for Prop 29.  Which sounds good, until you consider that in March 67 percent supported the measure.

Meantime, opposition has gone up from 30 percent in March to 42 percent now.

Put it all together and Prop 29 — which was winning by a whopping 37 points two months ago — is now only ahead by 11 points.

The big change since March: the anti Prop 29 bonanza of television ads.  Tobacco companies ponied up some $40 million to kill the initiative, which gives them about a 7-1 advantage in campaign cash over Prop 29 supporters like the American Cancer Society and cyclist Lance Armstrong.

Special-interest spending floods Cailfornia races in new political landscape

As federal super PACs continue to pour money into the presidential and congressional contests, state-level independent committees are spending big to influence the outcome in California’s legislative races.

Independent expenditure committees, which can raise and spend unlimited amounts, are active in more than a third of state races on the June 5 ballot, spending more than $7 million to support and oppose candidates.

The spending, which will grow as groups ramp up mail pieces, radio and television ads and in-person appeals by paid staff in the final days of the primary campaign, is expected to easily exceed the more than $7.4 million in independent spending the Fair Political Practices Commission tracked in the 2010 legislative primary contests.

While a U.S. Supreme Court decision opened the door to unlimited special-interest spending in federal races in 2010, the use of independent committees became the norm in California state elections a decade earlier.

Observers say the number of competitive races this year, a product of redistricting, a new primary process and turnover in the Legislature, is driving numbers up.

LAUSD will pay $200,000 settlement over alleged sexual harassment by former Superintendent Ramon Cortines

Los Angeles Unified will pay $200,000 and give lifetime health benefits to settle a sexual-harassment allegation filed by a facilities executive against retired Superintendent Ramon Cortines, officials said Wednesday.

Scot Graham, who has worked in the Facilities Division for 12 years and is now director of leasing and asset management, claims that Cortines made unwanted sexual advances during a weekend spent at the superintendent’s second home in Kern County in July 2010.

Graham’s attorneys notified the district in March – nearly a year after Cortines retired – that he intended to file a sexual-harassment claim.

Hoping to avoid potentially expensive litigation, the school board met three times in executive session before voting 4-3 on Tuesday to approve the deal.

The settlement gives Graham $200,000 cash, plus lifetime health benefits that officials valued at roughly $250,000. In exchange, the 56-year-old Graham agreed to retire from his $150,000-a-year job on May 31.

Enjoy your morning and Dan Walters’ Daily video: Will independents thrive on June 5?

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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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Sep 23 2011

Flap’s California Morning Collection: September 23, 2011

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Howard Jarvis, chief sponsor of the controversial Proposition 13, signals victory as he casts his own vote at the Fairfax-Melrose precinct –  June 1978

Photo Courtesy of the Los Angeles Times

The California Legislature is not in session and Governor Jerry Brown is continuing to sign or veto bills passed more than a week ago. The deadline for action on the legislation is October 9.

On to today’s California headlines:

Prop. 13 still highly popular, poll finds

Occasional rumblings around the Capitol about changing Proposition 13 aren’t likely to amount to much anytime soon: The landmark tax-limiting measure is about as widely popular today as when it passed in 1978, according to a new Field Poll.

By a greater than 2-to-1 ratio, with 63 percent support, California voters would endorse the measure if it were up for a vote again today, according to the poll.

“It’s still the third rail of California politics,” poll director Mark DiCamillo said. “It’s really an untouchable. Tinkering with Proposition 13 would probably be done at a politician’s own peril.”

Approved by a 65 percent to 35 percent margin 33 years ago, Proposition 13 drastically reduced property taxes and made it more difficult for lawmakers to raise taxes in general.

The level of support slipped slightly in later years, from as low as 50 percent in 1991 to 57 percent in 2008, and politicians seeking to raise revenue in a withering economy occasionally considered trying to change it.

The poll suggests how difficult that might be: Though support among Republicans is greatest, majorities of Democrats, Republicans and independent voters all support the measure, as do majorities of both renters and homeowners, regardless of how long ago they bought their homes.

But a plurality of California voters for the first time since the proposition’s passage not only support the measure but oppose amending it to permit commercial property owners to be taxed at a higher rate. By a 50 percent to 41 percent margin, voters oppose such a change, according to the poll.

Study supports bill to end fingerprints for food stamp recipients

A new study provides support for a bill on Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk that would stop the state’s policy of fingerprinting food stamp recipients.

California’s policy is meant to deter fraud, but it keeps people from seeking aid and creates high administrative costs, according to a study this month by the Public Policy Institute of California.

Participation in California’s food stamp program, CalFresh, is much lower than in other states but would rise about 7 percent if the state stopped fingerprint requirements. The state’s administrative costs for the program, which are some of the highest in the country, would drop about 13 percent, according to the study.

Legislation eliminating the fingerprinting process – AB 6 by Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes, D-Arleta – is waiting for Brown’s signature. It passed the Legislature despite opposition from Republicans, who argued that the requirement deters fraud, making it harder to get food stamps from multiple jurisdictions or using multiple identities.

“I’m not sure there’s a reasonable argument to say we want to make it easier for more people to get on the welfare system,” said Assemblyman Brian Jones, R-Santee. “We want to make it easier for people to get off the welfare system.”

In 2007, then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a similar bill, saying it would provide “an opportunity for increased fraud.”

The California District Attorneys Association lobbied against the bill this year and asked Brown for a veto.

“Why are we getting rid of a deterrent that hopefully keeps people from seeking duplicate benefits?” said Cory Salzillo, director of legislation for the association. “Let’s make sure that when the government says certain people should be getting (benefits) that the ones that aren’t entitled to them aren’t accessing them illegally.”

LAUSD schools brace for new wave of layoffs

Angel Barrett, principal of Plummer Elementary in North Hills, stays busy at her campus, where she regularly supervises her nearly 1,000 students during meal breaks, answers parent phone calls, translates teacher conferences and even trims rose bushes.

Come next week though, her workload will be growing substantially.

Plummer is set to lose two office clerks and a plant manager Friday, as Los Angeles Unified School District lays off more than 1,100 non-teaching employees to help balance its budget. Plummer already lost a library aide last year, leading to a shutdown of the school’s library.

“I am not complaining … we will find a way to make it work,” Barrett said.

“But at some point we are going to have to look at our new education system and figure out how we continue to take care of our infrastructure when we are losing all of our supports.”

LAUSD officials closed a $408 million budget deficit for the 2011-12 school year using employee concessions and layoffs, including the loss of office clerks, library aides, campus aides and other school workers.

The final cuts to schools were less drastic than “worst-case scenario” predictions district officials presented in February.

After most employee unions agreed to take four furlough days and the state budget appeared to take a turn for the better, many of the more than 7,000 layoffs that had been expected were prevented.

Obama’s Westside campaign office vandalized

Los Angeles police were investigating a Thursday night  incident in which someone shot BB-gun pellets and threw an object into President Obama’s Westside campaign office, authorities said.

The incident was reported at 7:25 p.m. at the office in the 6700 block of South Centinela Avenue.

The person who called in the incident “reported hearing glass breaking and noticed that windows were broken,” LAPD spokeswoman Sara Faden said.

No one was in the office at the time, Faden said. Police did not say what object was thrown into the office.

The LAPD had no immediate description of the vandal and it was not clear if the act was captured on video.

The incident comes days before the president is due to visit Los Angeles to raise money for what is expected to be a bruising 2012 reelection campaign.

Enjoy your morning!

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