Portal

  • What the Frack! Oil and Gas Companies Aren’t Reporting Water Use

    Friday, September 04, 2015
    The California Department of Conservation announced on Thursday that it was cracking down on 30 oil and gas operators who failed to file any reports, even half-assed ones, and was fining each of them the maximum amount allowed under law—$4,500. In the end, 329 quarterly reports out of 433 were received. But 87 of them were missing data, in the wrong format or otherwise screwed up.   read more
  • Feds Now Need a Warrant to Use Stingrays, but Not Cops in California

    Friday, September 04, 2015
    The policy change, outlined in a seven-page document, will not affect federal agencies outside the DOJ or state and local law enforcement. As near as anyone can tell, the cell-site simulator technology is popular in California. The feds will continue to hand out grants to local law enforcement to purchase the technology. The DOJ will require its officials to delete data inadvertently gathered from non-targeted phones but won't give annual reports to Congress on how the new policy fares.   read more
  • Dems Name Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins’ Successor Sooner than Later

    Friday, September 04, 2015
    Democrats, who dominate the Assembly, named Anthony Rendon, 47, of Los Angeles speaker-elect on Thursday, changing the political calculus in the manic last few weeks of the legislative session. Atkins was sworn in as speaker in May 2014 after defeating Rendon. The next speaker is part of the first group of lawmakers governed by less restrictive term limits and can remain in the Assembly for eight more years.   read more
  • 8 More Indicted in $46-Million Student Drug-Counseling Scandal

    Thursday, September 03, 2015
    The latest eight indicted don’t appear to be big fish, although they face decades in prison. Assistant U.S. Attorney Cathy Ostiller told the Associated Press they did not profit from the scheme. Counselors were particularly vulnerable. “As far as we can tell, most of these employees were minimum-wage earners,” Ostiller said. “They were not doing this for luxury yachts.”   read more
  • New State Website Offers Peek at “Treasure Trove” of Crime Data

    Thursday, September 03, 2015
    The site has two parts. Dashboard is a data visualization tool, full of nifty crime charts and graphs built around pre-selected data sets. The Open Data Portal allows access to downloadable raw data dating back 30 years. But the datasets are limited and the site only displays a small portion of the state’s information. The website asks visitors to suggest new data sets.   read more

PHOTO GALLERY

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

Top Stories

  • Giant Utilities Want to Promote Solar by Making It More Expensive

    Monday, August 31, 2015
    The San Francisco Chronicle said PG&E clarified some its cost estimates and they look even worse for solar users. Most solar users would pay $29 more a month than they do now while the more aggressive solar users, who install batteries to reduce their power usage, would pay just $13 more. PG&E calculated that the average cost to solar users would be an additional $20 a month.   read more
  • California “Crushes” the Governor’s Water Conservation Goal. So What?

    Friday, August 28, 2015
    So why all the self-congratulatory back slapping over the state exceeding Governor Jerry Brown's arbitrary conservation goal and cutting back on water usage by 31.3% in July? Topping the state’s goal of 25% is better than falling short, but it doesn’t necessarily mean we are winning or even gaining ground against the threat of extended drought.   read more
  • Oakland Cops Resisted Limits on License Plate Scans until Hard Drive Filled

    Thursday, August 27, 2015
    The Oakland Police Department said it ran out of room on its computer’s puny 80GB hard drive and had to scale back the length of time it will retain records from forever to six months. The department told Ars Technica that the elaborate procurement process prevented them from just buying an extra terabyte of memory. They cost around $50. “We don't just buy stuff from Amazon as you suggested,” Sergeant Dave Burke told the publication.   read more

Controversies

  • State Agrees to Dramatically Scale Back Solitary Confinement

    Wednesday, September 02, 2015
    The agreement was reached in response to a lawsuit brought in 2009 that was eventually expanded into a class action on behalf of an estimated 2,858 prisoners—down from 4,000—held in prolonged, and almost complete, isolation. Jeffrey Beard, the secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), said at a press conference Tuesday that as many as 1,800 prisoners could be affected.   read more
  • California Embraces a Radical Concept: Equal Pay for Women

    Wednesday, September 02, 2015
    State lawmakers sent legislation to Governor Jerry Brown this week that attempts to move the needle on women's pay disparity by expanding the meaning of equal work, increasing transparency, protecting workers who ask about equal pay and beefing up enforcement mechanisms. The governor has said he will sign it. The most important change no longer limits pay comparisons to the precise same work. Instead, the work need only be “substantially similar.”   read more
  • State Lags Nation in Vaccinations One Year Before Strict Law Kicks In

    Tuesday, September 01, 2015
    New statistics from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that California grants more exemptions from vaccinations and has lower immunization rates than the national median. The vaccine exemption rate in California is 2.7%, compared to the national median of 1.7%. That is actually an improvement for the state over the 2013-14 rate of 3.4%, inspired in part by the high-profile debate over vaccines nationally.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • FBI Raids Palm Springs City Hall, Seizes Stuff from Mayor

    Thursday, September 03, 2015
    The FBI and Riverside County District Attorney’s office descended on Palm Springs City Hall with warrants in hand and spent the day packing up boxes of stuff. They also dropped by an apartment listed in Pougnet’s name seeking documents and eventually met with the mayor himself. The Desert Sun reported that the FBI said it took items that were in his possession.   read more
  • L.A. Council OKs 2024 Olympics Bid, Will Ponder Cost Overruns Later

    Wednesday, September 02, 2015
    The council took an extra week to ponder the numbers and try to craft an escape hatch should the financial and/or political landscape change markedly before voting 15-0 to move forward. The vote comes just days after a report from Los Angeles City Administrator Miguel Santana and Chief Legislative Analyst Sharon Tso said, “It is difficult to determine the fiscal impact and risk to the city of hosting the 2024 Games at this time.”   read more
  • Millions Donated at Tax Time Don't Reach Their Target

    Tuesday, September 01, 2015
    The lowlights of the AP investigation begin with the California Military Family Relief Fund, established by the Legislature in 2004 to assist dependents of National Guard troops who are deployed overseas. The check-off raised $1.5 million, of which $1.2 million went unspent. None of the $235,000 collected for California Colorectal Cancer Prevention Fund was spent on cancer.   read more

California and the Nation

  • Can Ships Carrying Water from Alaska Save California?

    Tuesday, September 01, 2015
    Alaska Bulk Water CEO Terry Trapp told USA Today last week his company was this close to bringing the complex deal together and would begin shipping water by tanker to California by the end of the year. His company has rights to 9 billion gallons of water in Sitka’s Blue Lake. One can almost hear thirsty Californians salivating at the prospect, but it might be advisable for them to preserve their precious bodily fluids.   read more
  • Californians Sue Nestlé over Cat Food from Fish Caught by Asian Slave Labor

    Monday, August 31, 2015
    “Knowing that much of the fish sold in Nestlé’s pet food is likely the product of slave labor is material to consumers not wishing to support slave labor with their purchasing power,” the 32-page complaint claims. The legal action follows by one week a class-action lawsuit filed against Costco Wholesale Corporation on behalf of a California woman who claims the company buys its farmed prawns from Thailand, where they are fed fish caught by slave labor on boats.   read more
  • California’s Obamacare Networks Are Fourth Narrowest in the Nation

    Wednesday, August 26, 2015
    Seventy-five percent of California’s marketplace plans have narrow networks. The nationwide average is 41%. Twelve states managed to avoid any narrow networks. There is no way for a consumer to find out the size of a particular network when shopping for a plan. “It is difficult for a consumer to assess network size, even as a broad concept,” the report says. “As a result, the trade-off between network size and premiums is not at all transparent.”   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • Director of the California Conservation Corps: Who Is Bruce Saito?

    Thursday, August 27, 2015
    Bruce Saito was part of the CCC team in 1976 that created the model for youth development and environmental enhancement programs at a time when there were few other 501 (c)(3) non-profits in existence. He was recruited by the L.A. Conservation Corps after former U.S Secretary of Commerce Mickey Kantor founded it in 1986. Saito was executive director emeritus and senior advisor at the L.A. Conservation Corps since 2014.   read more
  • U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag, Scourge of Medical Marijuana, Is Quitting

    Friday, August 07, 2015
    President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder would periodically make sounds about lightening up on states where medical marijuana is legal despite federal laws banning the drug. And then U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag, a 2010 appointee of President Obama, would bust a bunch of dispensaries and give voice to a far less conciliatory policy.   read more
  • Director of the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery: Who Is Scott Smithline?

    Wednesday, July 22, 2015
    Smithline is an environmental lawyer who has split his time between the private and public sectors.Governor Jerry Brown appointed him this month to replace Caroll Mortensen, who was director since October 2011. Mortensen is now senior environmental specialist in CalRecycle’s Legislative and External Affairs Office, agency spokesperson Mark Oldfield told Resource Recycling.   read more

Unusual News

  • Reported Vehicle Break-Ins Spike in San Francisco

    Thursday, August 20, 2015
    The database shows 15,822 total thefts from vehicles to date as of July 31, compared to 11,084 last year. The vast majority qualify as grand theft, 12,742 this year, while 3,080 are petty. Thirteen percent (2,099) of those submitting reports to the police indicated their cars were unlocked.Not everyone files a police report, so it’s hard to interpret the statistics.   read more
  • Most New Driver’s Licenses in California Go to Undocumented Immigrants

    Friday, August 14, 2015
    As of June 30, the agency had issued 397,000 licenses to undocumented applicants out of a total of 759,000 people this year. By the end of July, the numbers were 443,000 licenses to undocumented immigrants out of a total of 883,000 licenses issued in 2015. The DMV expects to issue 1.5 million licenses to undocumented immigrants within three years. California is home to more undocumented immigrants than any other state, with approximately 3 million of them.   read more
  • Millions of Floating Shade Balls Shield L.A. Reservoir from the Sun and EPA

    Wednesday, August 12, 2015
    On Tuesday, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP) capped off dumping the last of 96 million black plastic balls partially-filled with water into the Los Angeles Reservoir. The two-year, $34.5-million program is a way to preserve the 175-acre reservoir, cut cleaning costs and even save a little water (300 million gallons a year) by preventing evaporation.   read more
  • What the Frack! Oil and Gas Companies Aren’t Reporting Water Use

    Friday, September 04, 2015
    The California Department of Conservation announced on Thursday that it was cracking down on 30 oil and gas operators who failed to file any reports, even half-assed ones, and was fining each of them the maximum amount allowed under law—$4,500. In the end, 329 quarterly reports out of 433 were received. But 87 of them were missing data, in the wrong format or otherwise screwed up.   read more
  • Feds Now Need a Warrant to Use Stingrays, but Not Cops in California

    Friday, September 04, 2015
    The policy change, outlined in a seven-page document, will not affect federal agencies outside the DOJ or state and local law enforcement. As near as anyone can tell, the cell-site simulator technology is popular in California. The feds will continue to hand out grants to local law enforcement to purchase the technology. The DOJ will require its officials to delete data inadvertently gathered from non-targeted phones but won't give annual reports to Congress on how the new policy fares.   read more
  • Dems Name Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins’ Successor Sooner than Later

    Friday, September 04, 2015
    Democrats, who dominate the Assembly, named Anthony Rendon, 47, of Los Angeles speaker-elect on Thursday, changing the political calculus in the manic last few weeks of the legislative session. Atkins was sworn in as speaker in May 2014 after defeating Rendon. The next speaker is part of the first group of lawmakers governed by less restrictive term limits and can remain in the Assembly for eight more years.   read more
  • 8 More Indicted in $46-Million Student Drug-Counseling Scandal

    Thursday, September 03, 2015
    The latest eight indicted don’t appear to be big fish, although they face decades in prison. Assistant U.S. Attorney Cathy Ostiller told the Associated Press they did not profit from the scheme. Counselors were particularly vulnerable. “As far as we can tell, most of these employees were minimum-wage earners,” Ostiller said. “They were not doing this for luxury yachts.”   read more
  • New State Website Offers Peek at “Treasure Trove” of Crime Data

    Thursday, September 03, 2015
    The site has two parts. Dashboard is a data visualization tool, full of nifty crime charts and graphs built around pre-selected data sets. The Open Data Portal allows access to downloadable raw data dating back 30 years. But the datasets are limited and the site only displays a small portion of the state’s information. The website asks visitors to suggest new data sets.   read more

Top Stories

  • Giant Utilities Want to Promote Solar by Making It More Expensive

    Monday, August 31, 2015
    The San Francisco Chronicle said PG&E clarified some its cost estimates and they look even worse for solar users. Most solar users would pay $29 more a month than they do now while the more aggressive solar users, who install batteries to reduce their power usage, would pay just $13 more. PG&E calculated that the average cost to solar users would be an additional $20 a month.   read more
  • California “Crushes” the Governor’s Water Conservation Goal. So What?

    Friday, August 28, 2015
    So why all the self-congratulatory back slapping over the state exceeding Governor Jerry Brown's arbitrary conservation goal and cutting back on water usage by 31.3% in July? Topping the state’s goal of 25% is better than falling short, but it doesn’t necessarily mean we are winning or even gaining ground against the threat of extended drought.   read more
  • Oakland Cops Resisted Limits on License Plate Scans until Hard Drive Filled

    Thursday, August 27, 2015
    The Oakland Police Department said it ran out of room on its computer’s puny 80GB hard drive and had to scale back the length of time it will retain records from forever to six months. The department told Ars Technica that the elaborate procurement process prevented them from just buying an extra terabyte of memory. They cost around $50. “We don't just buy stuff from Amazon as you suggested,” Sergeant Dave Burke told the publication.   read more

Controversies

  • State Agrees to Dramatically Scale Back Solitary Confinement

    Wednesday, September 02, 2015
    The agreement was reached in response to a lawsuit brought in 2009 that was eventually expanded into a class action on behalf of an estimated 2,858 prisoners—down from 4,000—held in prolonged, and almost complete, isolation. Jeffrey Beard, the secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), said at a press conference Tuesday that as many as 1,800 prisoners could be affected.   read more
  • California Embraces a Radical Concept: Equal Pay for Women

    Wednesday, September 02, 2015
    State lawmakers sent legislation to Governor Jerry Brown this week that attempts to move the needle on women's pay disparity by expanding the meaning of equal work, increasing transparency, protecting workers who ask about equal pay and beefing up enforcement mechanisms. The governor has said he will sign it. The most important change no longer limits pay comparisons to the precise same work. Instead, the work need only be “substantially similar.”   read more
  • State Lags Nation in Vaccinations One Year Before Strict Law Kicks In

    Tuesday, September 01, 2015
    New statistics from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that California grants more exemptions from vaccinations and has lower immunization rates than the national median. The vaccine exemption rate in California is 2.7%, compared to the national median of 1.7%. That is actually an improvement for the state over the 2013-14 rate of 3.4%, inspired in part by the high-profile debate over vaccines nationally.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • FBI Raids Palm Springs City Hall, Seizes Stuff from Mayor

    Thursday, September 03, 2015
    The FBI and Riverside County District Attorney’s office descended on Palm Springs City Hall with warrants in hand and spent the day packing up boxes of stuff. They also dropped by an apartment listed in Pougnet’s name seeking documents and eventually met with the mayor himself. The Desert Sun reported that the FBI said it took items that were in his possession.   read more
  • L.A. Council OKs 2024 Olympics Bid, Will Ponder Cost Overruns Later

    Wednesday, September 02, 2015
    The council took an extra week to ponder the numbers and try to craft an escape hatch should the financial and/or political landscape change markedly before voting 15-0 to move forward. The vote comes just days after a report from Los Angeles City Administrator Miguel Santana and Chief Legislative Analyst Sharon Tso said, “It is difficult to determine the fiscal impact and risk to the city of hosting the 2024 Games at this time.”   read more
  • Millions Donated at Tax Time Don't Reach Their Target

    Tuesday, September 01, 2015
    The lowlights of the AP investigation begin with the California Military Family Relief Fund, established by the Legislature in 2004 to assist dependents of National Guard troops who are deployed overseas. The check-off raised $1.5 million, of which $1.2 million went unspent. None of the $235,000 collected for California Colorectal Cancer Prevention Fund was spent on cancer.   read more

California and the Nation

  • Can Ships Carrying Water from Alaska Save California?

    Tuesday, September 01, 2015
    Alaska Bulk Water CEO Terry Trapp told USA Today last week his company was this close to bringing the complex deal together and would begin shipping water by tanker to California by the end of the year. His company has rights to 9 billion gallons of water in Sitka’s Blue Lake. One can almost hear thirsty Californians salivating at the prospect, but it might be advisable for them to preserve their precious bodily fluids.   read more
  • Californians Sue Nestlé over Cat Food from Fish Caught by Asian Slave Labor

    Monday, August 31, 2015
    “Knowing that much of the fish sold in Nestlé’s pet food is likely the product of slave labor is material to consumers not wishing to support slave labor with their purchasing power,” the 32-page complaint claims. The legal action follows by one week a class-action lawsuit filed against Costco Wholesale Corporation on behalf of a California woman who claims the company buys its farmed prawns from Thailand, where they are fed fish caught by slave labor on boats.   read more
  • California’s Obamacare Networks Are Fourth Narrowest in the Nation

    Wednesday, August 26, 2015
    Seventy-five percent of California’s marketplace plans have narrow networks. The nationwide average is 41%. Twelve states managed to avoid any narrow networks. There is no way for a consumer to find out the size of a particular network when shopping for a plan. “It is difficult for a consumer to assess network size, even as a broad concept,” the report says. “As a result, the trade-off between network size and premiums is not at all transparent.”   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • Director of the California Conservation Corps: Who Is Bruce Saito?

    Thursday, August 27, 2015
    Bruce Saito was part of the CCC team in 1976 that created the model for youth development and environmental enhancement programs at a time when there were few other 501 (c)(3) non-profits in existence. He was recruited by the L.A. Conservation Corps after former U.S Secretary of Commerce Mickey Kantor founded it in 1986. Saito was executive director emeritus and senior advisor at the L.A. Conservation Corps since 2014.   read more
  • U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag, Scourge of Medical Marijuana, Is Quitting

    Friday, August 07, 2015
    President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder would periodically make sounds about lightening up on states where medical marijuana is legal despite federal laws banning the drug. And then U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag, a 2010 appointee of President Obama, would bust a bunch of dispensaries and give voice to a far less conciliatory policy.   read more
  • Director of the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery: Who Is Scott Smithline?

    Wednesday, July 22, 2015
    Smithline is an environmental lawyer who has split his time between the private and public sectors.Governor Jerry Brown appointed him this month to replace Caroll Mortensen, who was director since October 2011. Mortensen is now senior environmental specialist in CalRecycle’s Legislative and External Affairs Office, agency spokesperson Mark Oldfield told Resource Recycling.   read more

Unusual News

  • Reported Vehicle Break-Ins Spike in San Francisco

    Thursday, August 20, 2015
    The database shows 15,822 total thefts from vehicles to date as of July 31, compared to 11,084 last year. The vast majority qualify as grand theft, 12,742 this year, while 3,080 are petty. Thirteen percent (2,099) of those submitting reports to the police indicated their cars were unlocked.Not everyone files a police report, so it’s hard to interpret the statistics.   read more
  • Most New Driver’s Licenses in California Go to Undocumented Immigrants

    Friday, August 14, 2015
    As of June 30, the agency had issued 397,000 licenses to undocumented applicants out of a total of 759,000 people this year. By the end of July, the numbers were 443,000 licenses to undocumented immigrants out of a total of 883,000 licenses issued in 2015. The DMV expects to issue 1.5 million licenses to undocumented immigrants within three years. California is home to more undocumented immigrants than any other state, with approximately 3 million of them.   read more
  • Millions of Floating Shade Balls Shield L.A. Reservoir from the Sun and EPA

    Wednesday, August 12, 2015
    On Tuesday, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP) capped off dumping the last of 96 million black plastic balls partially-filled with water into the Los Angeles Reservoir. The two-year, $34.5-million program is a way to preserve the 175-acre reservoir, cut cleaning costs and even save a little water (300 million gallons a year) by preventing evaporation.   read more

PHOTO GALLERY

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