Tag Archive: Los Angeles

Feb 08 2013

The California Flap: February 8, 2013

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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 is here.

An important deadline to remember:

  • February 22, 2013: Deadline to introduce bills.

Each member of the Assembly and State Senate are allowed to introduce up to 40 bills in this two year legislative session.

On to today’s California headlines:

  • California Ballot Prop Would Force State Takeover of Utilities – Activist Ben Davis, Jr., who led the 1980s initiative campaign to close the Rancho Seco Nuclear Power Plant near Sacramento, now has an even more ambitious initiative project in the works. The measure, which was cleared for signature-gathering Monday by Secretary of State Debra Bowen, would abolish the state’s investor-owned power companies — including Southern California Edison (SCE), Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), and San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E), and replace them with the publicly owned “California Electrical Utility District.” The measure must gain 504,760 voter signatures by July 1 to qualify for the ballot.
  • Environmental groups, unions team up to oppose CEQA push – The battle lines are being drawn in the upcoming legislative fight over California’s environmental review laws. More than a dozen environmental, labor and social justice groups announced Wednesday that they are joining forces to oppose an expected push to overhaul the California Environmental Quality Act. Members pledged to fight “radical reforms that would limit public input into land use planning, threaten public health, and weaken environmental protections.” The group, CEQA Works, includes the California League of Conservation Voters, Planning and Conservation League, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club California, the California Teamsters Public Affairs Council, State Building and Construction Trades Council, United Food & Commercial Workers and the League of Women Voters of California.
  • The Pension Fund That Ate California – CalPERS’s advocacy for higher benefits and its poor investment performance in recent years have locked in long-term debt in California and driven up costs, problems for which there are no easy solutions. As former Schwarzenegger economic advisor David Crane, a California Democrat, has said of the fund’s managers and board: “They are desperate to keep truths hidden.”
  • Budget analyst warns that Los Angeles is at a financial crossroads – Los Angeles’ top budget analyst warned that the city could lose 500 cops and be forced to close jails, cut the Fire Department and make other public-safety cuts if a proposed half-percent sales tax doesn’t pass on March 5. Los Angeles is at a financial crossroads, City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana wrote in a detailed report released Thursday. Although the city has made significant budget savings in recent years, without new money, the city could have to reverse hard-fought police staffing gains. Santana’s report comes as voters consider the Measure A half-percent sales tax increase on the ballot and as Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa prepares his final budget for 2013-14. “While we are starting to see the `light of the end of the tunnel,’ the security provided by this optimistic picture is still very fragile and not an accurate reflection of the structural problems that the city is facing,” Santana said.
  • Former Presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton visit Monterey Peninsula – Former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton visited Monterey for a couple of hours Thursday for a private event. Their visit was not part of this week’s AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, said the golf tournament’s director. A Monterey official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the presidents were speaking to AT&T employees, and the company’s clients, about business-related issues. The presidents went from Monterey Regional Airport to Monterey Plaza Hotel and Spa on Cannery Row before 5 p.m. They left the hotel within minutes of each other about 7:15 p.m., each of them waving to a crowd of about 20 people. Aaron Braasch, 6, a student at Lincoln Elementary School in Salinas, was with his parents when they saw the presidents leave the hotel. He said he would tell his teachers about it Friday. His parents, Debbie and John, said they were happy their son got to see a piece of history.
  • California Democrats to push 10-bill package on gun control in Senate – State Senate Democrats on Thursday finalized a package of 10 gun-control bills they will pursue this year, and received backing for the measures from the mayors of Los Angeles and San Francisco. Among the bills, Sen. Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley) called for outlawing possession of large-capacity ammunition magazines over 10 rounds. The sale of such magazines had been banned, but Hancock said some possessors of the clips have been able to escape prosecution by claiming they were purchased before the law was changed. Senate President Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) proposed a ban on the future sale, purchase and manufacture in California of semi-automatic rifles that can accept detachable magazines. “The truth of the matter is that we can save many lives by curbing the proliferation of rapid-fire weapons,” Steinberg told reporters at the Capitol. “We can save lives by getting guns out of the hands of people who should not have them.”
  • CalPERS projects $200 million state rate hike – Annual state pension payments to CalPERS are expected to increase $200 million to a total of $4 billion in July. But the rate may go higher as the powerful pension board takes a new look at its risks and policies. The nation’s largest public pension fund last week gave a joint legislative committee an update on its funding status and plans for the future, as required by recent legislation. “For the year 2012-13 our state contribution rate was $3.8 billion,” Anne Stausboll, CalPERS chief executive officer, told legislators. “That is projected to be $4 billion in the coming fiscal year. That rate will be finalized in May, and we have a very open process leading up to that.” The giant pension fund covers 1,576 local governments and non-teaching employees in 1,488 school districts, but the annual payment for state workers draws the most attention.
  • California’s Baby Boomers on Track to Overwhelm State’s Younger Working Adults – USC’ Dowell Myers says The Day of Demographic Reckoning has come upon us. We share his thoughts because he’s the lead researcher on a recently released report from the University of Southern California and the Lucile Packard Foundation, “California’s Diminishing Resource: Children.” Myers and his team analyzed data from the 2010 census and the American Community Survey to conclude that we’re coming up on a rather large problem, economically speaking. “It’s been sneaking up on us gradually, and it has finally arrived,” Myers told The California Report. “The oldest Baby Boomer turned 65 last year, and now 18 years of Baby Boomers are going to cross that line.”
  • Judge seeks California’s out-of-state prison plan – Gov. Jerry Brown must explain to a federal court by the end of Wednesday how he plans to fit 9,000 inmates currently housed in out-of-state facilities back into California lockups. U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton directed California to explain in writing its exact plan to stop sending inmates to private prisons as far as Mississippi. The administration announced its intention to return the inmates months ago, at the same time it also seeks an end to court-ordered prison population caps. Karlton’s order requires California to stipulate the total number of inmates the state plans to return to California prisons from out-of-state facilities, the planned timetable for their return, and where the state plans to house those inmates. As of Jan. 30, according to state prison population reports, California had 8,852 inmates in four prisons run by Tennessee-based Corrections Corp. of America.
  • Ann Ravel: In pursuit of transparency – Ann Ravel, California’s political watchdog, captured public attention in November when she squared off against an obscure but well-heeled group calling itself Americans for Social Responsibility. The Arizona-based nonprofit poured $11 million at the 11th hour into the California campaign opposed to Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax initiative, Proposition 30. On the eve of the election, the group admitted it was an intermediary and not the true source of the contribution as Ravel, the chair of the Fair Political Practices Commission, demanded disclosure. “We will continue in this matter and all others to ensure that the people of California know who is funding political activity in this State,” she noted.
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Feb 06 2013

The California Flap: February 6, 2013

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President Ronald ReaganToday would be the 102nd Birthday of California Governor and President of the United States Ronald Reagan

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 is here.

An important deadline to remember:

  • February 22, 2013: Deadline to introduce bills.

Each member of the Assembly and State Senate are allowed to introduce up to 40 bills in this two year legislative session.

On to today’s California headlines:

  • S.F. GOP leader slammed by Republicans – As chairwoman of the San Francisco Republican Party, attorney Harmeet Dhillon possesses an unusual background for a GOP leader. The Indian American is a past board member of the American Civil Liberties Union and doesn’t focus on the divisive social issues that have alienated the GOP from Californians. But now that Dhillon is running to be vice chair of the California Republican Party – she would be the first female of color in the job – one of the state’s top conservative groups is ripping her for being a little too San Francisco, warning that Dhillon is a Bay Area liberal who “simply doesn’t represent our values.” The California Republican Assembly, a conservative activist group, says Dhillon’s political contributions to Kamala Harris when she was running for San Francisco district attorney and Dhillon’s 2002-05 stint on the board of the Northern California chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union is a deal-breaker.
  • CARB honcho Mary Nichols makes power grab – What do the California Air Resources Board, the Transit Authority, the Highway Patrol, the Department of Transportation, the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Bar Pilots have in common? More than you would think. Because all vehicles, railroads, aircraft, freight movers and floating vessels are polluters, California Air Resources Board Chair Mary Nichols (pictured nearby) would like a say in regulating them. The Assembly Transportation Committee originally announced it would meet on Monday, Feb. 4. The meeting agenda said it was to be about Assembly Bill 8, which would increase or extend $2.3 billion of fees on car owners until 2023. According to Jon Coupal, President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, these will include smog abatement fees, air quality management district fees, vehicle and boat registration fees and new tire fees. However, AB 8 was dropped from the agenda, and no mention of it was made at the two and one-half hour hearing.
  • California passes up millions for prison healthcare, report says – California’s court-run prison healthcare program is missing out on tens of millions of dollars a year in federal funds because of disagreement with counties and software problems, a new legislative report states. The legislative analyst’s office found increasing numbers of prison inmates who, because of their low income status, are eligible for the state’s Medicaid program. That program, delivered through counties, draws matching federal reimbursements. The LAO notes that federal policy has allowed states to collect federal Medicaid reimbursement for eligible state prison inmates since 1997. The agency states that California has only recently developed a process to obtain this funding, and is not yet seeking the full amount possible.
  • Compromise pot measure placed on May ballot – A third measure to regulate how medical marijuana clinics operate in Los Angeles was placed on the May 21 ballot by the City Council on Tuesday, offered as a compromise to two other measures that are also going before voters. City Attorney Carmen Trutanich urged the council to adopt the measure to resolve the marijuana issue after years of dispute and legal challenges. “This will put in place what we had back in 2010,” Trutanich said. “I believe this is the most sensible regulation we can come up with. This will give us the opportunity to regulate medical marijuana while making it accessible to those who need it.” Under the proposal, approved on a 10-3 vote, the original 135 dispensaries that registered with the city when an interim control ordinance was in place will be able to operate in the city. Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who has admitted using marijuana as part of his cancer treatment, hailed the council action.
  • California cities likely to keep right to ban medical pot dispensaries – California cities appear likely to retain the power to ban medical marijuana dispensaries, over the objections of medical pot advocates who argue such restrictions undermine the state law allowing the use of cannabis for medical reasons. During a hearing Tuesday in San Francisco, the California Supreme Court appeared inclined to allow cities to ban medical marijuana dispensaries in a case that has sweeping ramifications for local governments across the state and in the Bay Area, where dozens of cities have enacted dispensary bans. The dispensaries argue local governments cannot ban what California law allows, but the Supreme Court appeared unready to embrace that position. Most of the justices were openly skeptical of the arguments of a dispensary that challenged Riverside’s right to ban medical pot providers. The justices appeared particularly troubled that the 1996 voter-approved law allowing medical marijuana use, and later legislative revisions, did not expressly bar local gov..
  • Gov. Brown dismisses Texas’ job-poaching efforts as ‘a big nothing’ – Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday dismissed the efforts of Texas Gov. Rick Perry to recruit California businesses to relocate as a political stunt motivated by a breathless media. The story received wide attention Monday when the Texas governor launched a statewide radio ad urging California businesses to move to the Lone Star State to take advantage of what Perry called a more favorable environment for companies. Speaking at a news conference in West Sacramento, the California governor quoted philosopher Marshall McLuhan as Brown dismissed Perry and scolded reporters for giving more attention to the story than it deserves. Noting that Perry spent just $26,000 on statewide radio, Brown called the ad campaign “a big nothing.” He went on to say people have been seeking to take what belongs to California since the gold rush. “You go where the gold is,” he said. Perry is “not going to Lubbock, or whatever those places are that make up that state.”
  • Environmentalists and unions band together to fight CEQA changes – Environmentalists and labor unions are banding together to fight efforts to overhaul California’s landmark environmental law. Organizers said the new coalition, made up of dozens of advocacy groups and dubbed “CEQA Works,” was formed to counter an aggressive campaign by business groups to make changes to the California Environmental Quality Act. While legislation has yet to be introduced, Gov. Jerry Brown has called on the Legislature to streamline the law to help speed the state’s economic recovery. Environmentalists fear a repeat of last year, when lawmakers tried and failed to push through last-minute changes that activists said would have gutted CEQA. “CEQA is the most foundational environmental law in California,” said Bruce Reznik, executive director of the Planning and Conservation League, one of the coalition’s founding members. “We decided we couldn’t sit on the sidelines anymore and wait for bad things to happen.”
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Feb 16 2012

Flap’s California Morning Collection: February 16, 2012

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A cloudy Los Angeles, California

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

While the legislature toils away in Sacramento, Governor Jerry Brown will be in Los Angeles, along with Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

Gov. Jerry Brown will be in Los Angeles this afternoon to welcome Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping as he touches down on the tarmac.  Also joining Brown: Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.  The governor will attend several official events today and Friday tied to Xi’s visit, including a tour this afternoon of the China Shipping Terminal at the Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro.

On to today’s California headlines:

Closing of postal centers could cause trouble with mail ballots, Bowen says

In the last statewide primary election two years ago, more than 12,500 mail-in ballots in Riverside County were nearly invalidated because of what postal officials described as “a change in process” that caused them to be delivered after Election Day.  

They were ultimately counted, but only after a judge ordered it.  

Secretary of State Debra Bowen now worries that an election nightmare on a much larger scale could be repeated this year unless the Postal Service delays its planned closure of 18 mail processing centers in California until after November’s presidential election.  

Bowen is appealing to postal officials and members of Congress to extend for six months a moratorium on the closures that is scheduled to expire May 15.  

“This has the potential to leaves thousands and thousands of ballots uncounted,” Bowen said Wednesday. “We need the post office not to do it. It would be a profound disservice to democracy.”

VOTERS Large drop in Riverside County’s registration rate

Recently released state statistics show that Riverside County’s voter registration rate is down considerably from what it was a year ago.

 In February 2011, 64.3 percent of the county’s estimated population of people eligible to vote were actually registered. As of last month, it was 60.8 percent.  

The decline, almost 3.5 percent, was the 10th-largest drop in registration rates of any California county.  

San Bernardino County’s registration rate, 64,1 percent, was down slightly from 64.6 percent in February 2011. Thirty-three other counties had larger declines.  

The Inland counties’ registration rates are among the lowest in the state. Riverside County ranks 53rd and San Bernardino County is 48th in the latest numbers.

Calif. gov. to play host to Chinese VP for 2 days

Gov. Jerry Brown will welcome Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping to California with a tour of the Port of Los Angeles and events highlighting the economic and cultural ties between the world’s most populous nation and the U.S. state with the most people and largest economy, the governor’s office announced Wednesday.  

Xi arrives Thursday for a two-day diplomatic stop after visiting Washington, D.C., and Iowa. Brown and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa will welcome China’s next leader at Los Angeles International Airport, and they will then tour a shipping terminal at the port.  

On Friday, Brown will address Chinese and American business leaders about trade. The governor is expected to meet privately with Xi in Los Angeles and then host a round-table that includes other governors and Chinese provincial leaders.

L.A. air pollution may increase risk of stroke

L.A.’s smog problem might not be as visible as it was in the bad old days of the 1970s and ’80s, but city residents might be at an increased risk of stroke even at levels of pollution that meet EPA standards. Oh yeah, and memory loss.  

A new study published Monday in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that Boston residents experienced more strokes when exposed to “moderate” amounts of particulate air pollution, as opposed to “good” amounts of pollution, according to EPA standards. The types of pollution monitored included those specifically linked with car traffic.  

Reviewing the medical records of about 1,700 stroke victims at Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, the study’s authors found that the risk of stroke was 34% higher on days of “moderate” exposure than it was on “good” days. The effects were most acute in the first 12 to 14 hours after exposure.  

“The main message is that, at levels that are below the current EPA standards that are considered safe, we were seeing a rather large increase in risk of stroke in association with particulate air pollution,” said George Wellenius, an assistant professor of Epidemiology at Brown University and lead author of the study.  

Particulate air pollution, or ambient particles, includes fine particles less than 2.5 micrograms in mass, less that 1/10 the diameter of a human hair, which enter the body primarily through the airways. According to Wellenius, car and truck traffic is an important source of this pollution, as are oil-fired or coal-fired power plants, manufacturing processes, and the burning of wood.  

Many of these particles and other pollutant gases are found in smog. Los Angeles continued its long winning streak as the smoggiest place in the United States again in 2011.

Enjoy your morning!

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