Portal

  • Derailment Dumps 11 Train Cars of Corn—not Oil, This Time—in Feather River Canyon

    Thursday, November 27, 2014
    It easily could have been very foul. One million gallons of volatile Bakken crude oil from North Dakota pass along these tracks every each week. “When you hear about a derailment, even if it's just corn, you can’t help but imagine, what if it was Bakken crude?” Stacey Geis, the managing attorney at Earthjustice told KCRA Sacramento.   read more
  • California Tribe, Thwarted in State, Is First to Have Online Gambling in New Jersey

    Thursday, November 27, 2014
    The Pala Band of Mission Indians in Northern San Diego County became the first Native American tribe in the country to receive permission to open an Internet gambling site, in New Jersey, one year after that state legalized online wagering. New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware are the only states with online gambling and California was expected to join them this year. That didn’t happen.   read more
  • Director of California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control: Who Is Barbara Lee?

    Thursday, November 27, 2014
    Lee, who has worked in environmental regulation for more than 20 years, took over the department five months after Director Debbie Rafael resigned under fire. The department, which oversees and regulates the treatment and disposal of hazardous waste, has been accused of being too cozy with corporate polluters and lax in its enforcement of environmental laws.   read more
  • State Tracks Hospital “Adverse Events” but Doesn’t Publish Them

    Wednesday, November 26, 2014
    NBC found that 63% of the broadly-defined adverse events (3,959)in a four-year period were Stage 3 or 4 decubitus ulcers—better known as bedsores. But second on the list with 986 events was “retention of a foreign object in a patient.” That’s 2.7 accidents a day that leave something behind. NBC also tallied 140 surgeries performed on wrong body parts, 114 instances of “death or serious disability associated with a medication error” and 107 sexual assaults on patients,   read more
  • Did Ballot Weirdness Lead to Upset Election Win in the Assembly?

    Wednesday, November 26, 2014
    A friend of winner Patty Lopez described her to the Los Angeles Times as “a candidate that had no political endorsements. She had no credibility, no recognition—she didn't have any funding.” So how did she defeat the incumbent, potential Democratic superstar Raul Bocanegra, for an Assembly seat? Some people are suspicious of the ballot in the 39th District.   read more

PHOTO GALLERY

Hollywood Park's Final Race Click the photo for larger view Hollywood Park's Final Race

Top Stories

  • AT&T Agrees to Pay “Chump Change” for Nine Years of Hazardous Waste Dumping

    Tuesday, November 25, 2014
    California took its first enforcement action against a giant telecom for doing that when it penalized AT&T $23.8 million for nine years of illegal dumping by its 235 state facilities. The company admitted no wrongdoing but will pay the civil penalty and $28 million over five years for “enhanced environmental compliance measures.” “Enhanced” compliance does not include actually cleaning up any of the mess, which is scattered up and down the state.   read more
  • PUC Fines PG&E $1 Million for Inappropriate E-Mail Exchanges—with PUC

    Monday, November 24, 2014
    PUC critics and PG&E both derided last week’s e-mail decision, albeit for opposite reasons. Critics said the decision did little, if nothing, to address the overly cozy relationship between the regulator and the utility, which they say led to shoddy practices and the San Bruno blast. PG&E said “sanctions were unwarranted” and the PUC may have overstepped its legal authority.   read more
  • UC Regents Square Off with State Lawmakers, Approve 5-Year, 28% Tuition Hike

    Friday, November 21, 2014
    The university receives about $460 million less today than it did in 2008, before the recession. Dianne Klein, a spokeswoman for President Janet Napolitano, said the university could avoid the first year’s tuition hike if the state gave it another $100 million. Governor Brown has suggested that, instead of asking for more money, UC should reduce expenses by handing out three-year undergraduate degrees, expand online classes and realign its campuses to specialize more.   read more

Controversies

  • Report Alleges Charter Schools Illegally Require “Volunteer” Work

    Tuesday, November 25, 2014
    Public Advocates, a nonprofit law firm and advocacy group, published a study it did of 555 charter schools, nearly half of the 1,300 in the state, and found 168 of them had an explicit parent work quota. The group suspects that the actual number is higher, but information from many of the schools was incomplete. “Such policies discriminate against poor families, single-parent families, non-traditional households and working parents,” the report says.   read more
  • U.S. Appellate Court Says State Can’t Require Sex Offenders to Report Online Activities

    Thursday, November 20, 2014
    The court agreed with the U.S. District Court that registered sex offenders regain their rights after completing probation or parole and that the law chilled those rights in at least three ways. “(1) it does not make clear what sex offenders are required to report; (2) it provides insufficient safeguards preventing the public release of the information sex offenders do report; and (3) the 24-hour reporting requirement is onerous and overbroad.”   read more
  • State Loses Argument that Loss of Cheap Labor Is Reason Not to Parole Prisoners

    Wednesday, November 19, 2014
    Plaintiffs in the lawsuit argued: “Defendants baldly assert that if the labor pool for their garage, garbage and city park crews is reduced, then ‘CDCR would be forced to draw-down its fire camp population to fill these vital MSF positions.’ That is a red herring; Defendants would not be ‘forced’ to do anything. They could hire public employees to perform tasks like garbage collection, garage work and recycling.” The court seemed to agree.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • SEC Cites Scams and Halts Trading in Two California Ebola-Related Companies

    Monday, November 24, 2014
    The SEC warned of “the potential for fraud in microcap companies purportedly involved in Ebola prevention, testing, or treatment, noting that scam artists often exploit the latest crisis in the news cycle to lure investors into supposedly promising investment opportunities.” After Immunotech announced it was working on an Ebola drug in an October 21 newsletter, its daily average of 223,000 traded shares jumped to 28 million, according to the Wall Street Journal.   read more
  • Customers Stuck with Most of the $4.8-Billion Bill for San Onofre

    Friday, November 21, 2014
    The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) blames Southern California Edison (SCE) for approving the design of new steam generators that ended up destroying the usefulness of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS). Mitsubishi Heavy Industries was blamed for the faulty design. On Thursday, the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) weighed these factors before deciding customers, not stockholders, should cover most of the debacle’s cost.   read more
  • Californians Owe $10.2 Billion in Court-Ordered Debt and It’s Growing

    Thursday, November 20, 2014
    It could be worse, and will be, if the state doesn’t change the way it collects the fines and fees, according to a report by the independent state Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO). Lack of incentive is only part of the problem. The collections programs are pretty lame. Paperwork on how much is collected and distributed is “incomplete and inconsistent.” Delinquent collections are miscalculated, collection practices are unevaluated and data on outstanding debt is sketchy.   read more

California and the Nation

  • California Almond Growing Uses more than 1 Trillion Gallons of Water a Year

    Tuesday, November 18, 2014
    Nearly 78% of surveyed almond farmers said they expected “a negative impact on tree health or harvest quantity/quality in 2014 due to the application of high saline groundwater.” Even as farmers overburden groundwater sources, they face heavy competition for surface water. For instance, they share water from the Klamath River up north with local tribes that rely on salmon runs for their livelihood.   read more
  • Cap-and-Trade Market Quakes the First Time California Enforces Rules

    Tuesday, November 18, 2014
    Stakeholders in California’s cap-and-trade program, which compels local companies that pollute the air to invest in enterprises worldwide that reduce pollution, expressed distress and fretted about the future of the innovative marketplace after state officials voided some carbon offset credits for the first time. At issue was an Arkansas facility that incinerated chlorofluorocarbons, which ran afoul of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA),   read more
  • Strawberry Fields—and Pesticides—Forever

    Thursday, November 13, 2014
    The Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) traced the sad history of the fumigants—and their champions in government and the chemical industry—that transformed the succulent fruit into a $2.6-billion-a-year business in just a few years and put more than 100 California communities at risk.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • California Supreme Court Justice: Who Is Leondra R. Kruger?

    Tuesday, November 25, 2014
    Leondra Reid Kruger, 38, is a U.S. deputy assistant attorney general who would be the only African-American on the court and the youngest justice ever if confirmed. The South Pasadena native has worked in the U.S. Department of Justice since 2007 and argued cases before the U.S. Supreme Court 12 times. Like Jerry Brown's two other high court selections since becoming governor in 2010, Kruger has never been a jurist.   read more
  • Director of the Department of Human Resources: Who Is Richard Gillihan?

    Thursday, October 23, 2014
    Career public servant Richard Gillihan has been the acting director since Julie Chapman stepped down in February. Gillihan was a top official in the Department of Finance when Brown appointed him acting director at CalHR almost to the day that the independent Little Hoover Commission released a scathing report about the agency.   read more
  • State Senate President Pro Tempore: Who Is Kevin de León?

    Thursday, October 16, 2014
    The first Latino elected leader of the California state Senate since Reginaldo Francisco Del Valle in 1883, Democrat Kevin de León took over for the job of Senate Pro Tempore from Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) on Wednesday. The former political activist and community organizer was a leader of the huge 1994 march in Los Angeles that protested the passage of Prop. 187.   read more

Unusual News

  • Wrongly-Convicted Man Freed after Record 36 Years in Prison

    Wednesday, November 26, 2014
    It wasn’t until years later that lawyers for the Innocence Project took up the case and questions were raised about the evidence. Files were discovered that indicated evidence pointing to other perps had been suppressed. Ventura County prosecutors subsequently got involved and new DNA testing from the crime scene implicated an unknown man, not Michael Hanline.   read more
  • Child Abuse Scandal Costs L.A. Schools $139 Million

    Monday, November 24, 2014
    Mark Berndt, who is in his 60s, was accused of blindfolding the mostly Hispanic students and feeding them semen in spoons and baked into cookies. A CVS photo processor saw pictures he had taken of his exploits and called the authorities. The district shut down the school and shipped all the students to other elementaries while it sorted things out.   read more
  • Rap Album Could Land San Diego Musician in Prison for Life

    Friday, November 21, 2014
    He is being charged under provisions of Proposition 21, passed by voters in 2000. The law allows the authorities to prosecute gang members who profit from crimes of other gang members, even if they aren’t directly involved. Duncan’s record sales were said to get a boost from the gang’s activities.   read more
  • Derailment Dumps 11 Train Cars of Corn—not Oil, This Time—in Feather River Canyon

    Thursday, November 27, 2014
    It easily could have been very foul. One million gallons of volatile Bakken crude oil from North Dakota pass along these tracks every each week. “When you hear about a derailment, even if it's just corn, you can’t help but imagine, what if it was Bakken crude?” Stacey Geis, the managing attorney at Earthjustice told KCRA Sacramento.   read more
  • California Tribe, Thwarted in State, Is First to Have Online Gambling in New Jersey

    Thursday, November 27, 2014
    The Pala Band of Mission Indians in Northern San Diego County became the first Native American tribe in the country to receive permission to open an Internet gambling site, in New Jersey, one year after that state legalized online wagering. New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware are the only states with online gambling and California was expected to join them this year. That didn’t happen.   read more
  • Director of California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control: Who Is Barbara Lee?

    Thursday, November 27, 2014
    Lee, who has worked in environmental regulation for more than 20 years, took over the department five months after Director Debbie Rafael resigned under fire. The department, which oversees and regulates the treatment and disposal of hazardous waste, has been accused of being too cozy with corporate polluters and lax in its enforcement of environmental laws.   read more
  • State Tracks Hospital “Adverse Events” but Doesn’t Publish Them

    Wednesday, November 26, 2014
    NBC found that 63% of the broadly-defined adverse events (3,959)in a four-year period were Stage 3 or 4 decubitus ulcers—better known as bedsores. But second on the list with 986 events was “retention of a foreign object in a patient.” That’s 2.7 accidents a day that leave something behind. NBC also tallied 140 surgeries performed on wrong body parts, 114 instances of “death or serious disability associated with a medication error” and 107 sexual assaults on patients,   read more
  • Did Ballot Weirdness Lead to Upset Election Win in the Assembly?

    Wednesday, November 26, 2014
    A friend of winner Patty Lopez described her to the Los Angeles Times as “a candidate that had no political endorsements. She had no credibility, no recognition—she didn't have any funding.” So how did she defeat the incumbent, potential Democratic superstar Raul Bocanegra, for an Assembly seat? Some people are suspicious of the ballot in the 39th District.   read more

Top Stories

  • AT&T Agrees to Pay “Chump Change” for Nine Years of Hazardous Waste Dumping

    Tuesday, November 25, 2014
    California took its first enforcement action against a giant telecom for doing that when it penalized AT&T $23.8 million for nine years of illegal dumping by its 235 state facilities. The company admitted no wrongdoing but will pay the civil penalty and $28 million over five years for “enhanced environmental compliance measures.” “Enhanced” compliance does not include actually cleaning up any of the mess, which is scattered up and down the state.   read more
  • PUC Fines PG&E $1 Million for Inappropriate E-Mail Exchanges—with PUC

    Monday, November 24, 2014
    PUC critics and PG&E both derided last week’s e-mail decision, albeit for opposite reasons. Critics said the decision did little, if nothing, to address the overly cozy relationship between the regulator and the utility, which they say led to shoddy practices and the San Bruno blast. PG&E said “sanctions were unwarranted” and the PUC may have overstepped its legal authority.   read more
  • UC Regents Square Off with State Lawmakers, Approve 5-Year, 28% Tuition Hike

    Friday, November 21, 2014
    The university receives about $460 million less today than it did in 2008, before the recession. Dianne Klein, a spokeswoman for President Janet Napolitano, said the university could avoid the first year’s tuition hike if the state gave it another $100 million. Governor Brown has suggested that, instead of asking for more money, UC should reduce expenses by handing out three-year undergraduate degrees, expand online classes and realign its campuses to specialize more.   read more

Controversies

  • Report Alleges Charter Schools Illegally Require “Volunteer” Work

    Tuesday, November 25, 2014
    Public Advocates, a nonprofit law firm and advocacy group, published a study it did of 555 charter schools, nearly half of the 1,300 in the state, and found 168 of them had an explicit parent work quota. The group suspects that the actual number is higher, but information from many of the schools was incomplete. “Such policies discriminate against poor families, single-parent families, non-traditional households and working parents,” the report says.   read more
  • U.S. Appellate Court Says State Can’t Require Sex Offenders to Report Online Activities

    Thursday, November 20, 2014
    The court agreed with the U.S. District Court that registered sex offenders regain their rights after completing probation or parole and that the law chilled those rights in at least three ways. “(1) it does not make clear what sex offenders are required to report; (2) it provides insufficient safeguards preventing the public release of the information sex offenders do report; and (3) the 24-hour reporting requirement is onerous and overbroad.”   read more
  • State Loses Argument that Loss of Cheap Labor Is Reason Not to Parole Prisoners

    Wednesday, November 19, 2014
    Plaintiffs in the lawsuit argued: “Defendants baldly assert that if the labor pool for their garage, garbage and city park crews is reduced, then ‘CDCR would be forced to draw-down its fire camp population to fill these vital MSF positions.’ That is a red herring; Defendants would not be ‘forced’ to do anything. They could hire public employees to perform tasks like garbage collection, garage work and recycling.” The court seemed to agree.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • SEC Cites Scams and Halts Trading in Two California Ebola-Related Companies

    Monday, November 24, 2014
    The SEC warned of “the potential for fraud in microcap companies purportedly involved in Ebola prevention, testing, or treatment, noting that scam artists often exploit the latest crisis in the news cycle to lure investors into supposedly promising investment opportunities.” After Immunotech announced it was working on an Ebola drug in an October 21 newsletter, its daily average of 223,000 traded shares jumped to 28 million, according to the Wall Street Journal.   read more
  • Customers Stuck with Most of the $4.8-Billion Bill for San Onofre

    Friday, November 21, 2014
    The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) blames Southern California Edison (SCE) for approving the design of new steam generators that ended up destroying the usefulness of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS). Mitsubishi Heavy Industries was blamed for the faulty design. On Thursday, the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) weighed these factors before deciding customers, not stockholders, should cover most of the debacle’s cost.   read more
  • Californians Owe $10.2 Billion in Court-Ordered Debt and It’s Growing

    Thursday, November 20, 2014
    It could be worse, and will be, if the state doesn’t change the way it collects the fines and fees, according to a report by the independent state Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO). Lack of incentive is only part of the problem. The collections programs are pretty lame. Paperwork on how much is collected and distributed is “incomplete and inconsistent.” Delinquent collections are miscalculated, collection practices are unevaluated and data on outstanding debt is sketchy.   read more

California and the Nation

  • California Almond Growing Uses more than 1 Trillion Gallons of Water a Year

    Tuesday, November 18, 2014
    Nearly 78% of surveyed almond farmers said they expected “a negative impact on tree health or harvest quantity/quality in 2014 due to the application of high saline groundwater.” Even as farmers overburden groundwater sources, they face heavy competition for surface water. For instance, they share water from the Klamath River up north with local tribes that rely on salmon runs for their livelihood.   read more
  • Cap-and-Trade Market Quakes the First Time California Enforces Rules

    Tuesday, November 18, 2014
    Stakeholders in California’s cap-and-trade program, which compels local companies that pollute the air to invest in enterprises worldwide that reduce pollution, expressed distress and fretted about the future of the innovative marketplace after state officials voided some carbon offset credits for the first time. At issue was an Arkansas facility that incinerated chlorofluorocarbons, which ran afoul of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA),   read more
  • Strawberry Fields—and Pesticides—Forever

    Thursday, November 13, 2014
    The Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) traced the sad history of the fumigants—and their champions in government and the chemical industry—that transformed the succulent fruit into a $2.6-billion-a-year business in just a few years and put more than 100 California communities at risk.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • California Supreme Court Justice: Who Is Leondra R. Kruger?

    Tuesday, November 25, 2014
    Leondra Reid Kruger, 38, is a U.S. deputy assistant attorney general who would be the only African-American on the court and the youngest justice ever if confirmed. The South Pasadena native has worked in the U.S. Department of Justice since 2007 and argued cases before the U.S. Supreme Court 12 times. Like Jerry Brown's two other high court selections since becoming governor in 2010, Kruger has never been a jurist.   read more
  • Director of the Department of Human Resources: Who Is Richard Gillihan?

    Thursday, October 23, 2014
    Career public servant Richard Gillihan has been the acting director since Julie Chapman stepped down in February. Gillihan was a top official in the Department of Finance when Brown appointed him acting director at CalHR almost to the day that the independent Little Hoover Commission released a scathing report about the agency.   read more
  • State Senate President Pro Tempore: Who Is Kevin de León?

    Thursday, October 16, 2014
    The first Latino elected leader of the California state Senate since Reginaldo Francisco Del Valle in 1883, Democrat Kevin de León took over for the job of Senate Pro Tempore from Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) on Wednesday. The former political activist and community organizer was a leader of the huge 1994 march in Los Angeles that protested the passage of Prop. 187.   read more

Unusual News

  • Wrongly-Convicted Man Freed after Record 36 Years in Prison

    Wednesday, November 26, 2014
    It wasn’t until years later that lawyers for the Innocence Project took up the case and questions were raised about the evidence. Files were discovered that indicated evidence pointing to other perps had been suppressed. Ventura County prosecutors subsequently got involved and new DNA testing from the crime scene implicated an unknown man, not Michael Hanline.   read more
  • Child Abuse Scandal Costs L.A. Schools $139 Million

    Monday, November 24, 2014
    Mark Berndt, who is in his 60s, was accused of blindfolding the mostly Hispanic students and feeding them semen in spoons and baked into cookies. A CVS photo processor saw pictures he had taken of his exploits and called the authorities. The district shut down the school and shipped all the students to other elementaries while it sorted things out.   read more
  • Rap Album Could Land San Diego Musician in Prison for Life

    Friday, November 21, 2014
    He is being charged under provisions of Proposition 21, passed by voters in 2000. The law allows the authorities to prosecute gang members who profit from crimes of other gang members, even if they aren’t directly involved. Duncan’s record sales were said to get a boost from the gang’s activities.   read more

PHOTO GALLERY

Hollywood Park's Final Race Click the photo for larger view Hollywood Park's Final Race