Portal

  • Richmond City Council Rejects Planners, OKs Chevron Refinery Project

    Thursday, July 31, 2014
    The 5-0 vote, with the mayor and vice mayor abstaining, rejected the recommendation of its city planning commission that Chevron put in more pollution controls, replace its piping and contribute a quarter billion dollars to local green projects through 2050. The commission also wanted Chevron to reduce all toxic air contaminants, put domes on its storage tanks and upgrade its tug boats.   read more
  • Nine Dead Horses in Nine Days at Del Mar Racetrack

    Thursday, July 31, 2014
    Race horses die at the track all too frequently―between 200 and 400 a year in California. It is estimated that 24 horses die every week on U.S. racetracks. But a cluster of deaths like this is unusual. So far, Del Mar authorities have focused on the track itself. They waxed the synthetic Polytrack and watered and aerated the turf track to slow things down. They also moved a rail to give the horses more room on turf.   read more
  • L.A. Water Main Break Is Spectacular, but Not Unexpected

    Thursday, July 31, 2014
    The 93-year-old water main that blew in Los Angeles this week—gushing 75,000 gallons a minute at its peak and 1,000 a minute once it was under control—was spectacular, but not unpredictable. Two-thirds of the city's 7,238 miles of pipes are more than 50 years old but only 43 miles were replaced during a recent 15-year period, according to a 2012 study by the USC Center for Sustainable Cities.   read more
  • EPA Does a Lousy Job Overseeing State Regulation of Fracking Injection Wells

    Wednesday, July 30, 2014
    The GAO report said that the EPA doesn’t conduct annual on-site evaluations with any regularity and hasn’t updated its guidelines to the states since the 1980s. The result is that “safeguards do not address emerging underground injection risks, such as seismic activity and overly high pressure in geologic formations leading to surface outbreaks of fluids.”   read more
  • Feds Add Obstruction of Justice and a Real Penalty to PG&E Indictment for San Bruno

    Wednesday, July 30, 2014
    The indictment replaces an earlier one in April, adding the obstruction charge and raising from 12 to 27 the number of criminal violations of federal law. PG&E could be liable for $1.4 billion in penalties. PG&E was charged with obstruction for allegedly lying to investigators for the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in the aftermath of the 2010 San Bruno pipeline explosion that killed eight people and leveled a neighborhood.   read more

PHOTO GALLERY

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

Top Stories

  • State Putting “Lexus Lanes” on Orange County Interstate Despite Local Opposition

    Tuesday, July 29, 2014
    Caltrans would get a couple of revenue-producing “Lexus lanes” and people willing and able to pay for a more luxurious driving experience would have a less-encumbered thoroughfare. Less fortunate Orange County motorists would have the same five free lanes that drove them to pass Measure M2 eight years ago and spend $1.3 billion, when there were fewer drivers on the road.   read more
  • Nestle Partners with Tribe for Under-the-Radar Groundwater Pumping in the Desert

    Monday, July 28, 2014
    Critics point to a decline in groundwater in the surrounding Cabazon area, the drought, and the wisdom of pumping and bottling water in the desert for shipment elsewhere. The Morongo, who hooked up with Nestle after paying the Cabazon Water District $3 million for the water rights, aren’t subject to the same oversight or reporting requirements as other entities because they are sovereign.   read more
  • Replacement Scaffolding Is a Bad Sign at Troubled Board of Equalization Building

    Friday, July 25, 2014
    The move by the state Department of General Services (DGS) indicates workers will be stuck in a building described by the Sacramento Bee as having a “history of toxic mold, defective elevators, leaking windows, corroded wastewater pipes, floods, and exterior glass panels that spontaneously break or pop off. “Even though my lawyers told me not to say this, I don’t think it’s safe,” Board Chairman Jerome Horton told the Bee.   read more

Controversies

  • Troubled State Sonoma Developmental Center Avoids Closure but Is Losing Federal Funds

    Tuesday, July 29, 2014
    The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced on Friday that seven of the center’s 11 units will lose their certification and federal funds, just as the other four did last year. But the center, located in Sonoma County’s Eldridge community, did not lose its state license and can stay open for now.   read more
  • PG&E and Its Regulator Bonded in E-Mails after Deadly San Bruno Pipeline Explosion

    Monday, July 28, 2014
    Around 7,000 e-mails, released as part of a lawsuit settlement, documented how the PUC and Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) worked together to fend off criticism and investigators after the San Bruno pipeline explosion killed eight people and leveled a neighborhood in September 2010. A federal grand jury indicted PG&E in April on 12 counts involving safety violations leading to the San Bruno explosion.   read more
  • Petroleum Trade Association Sues Compton over Fracking Moratorium

    Friday, July 25, 2014
    The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) filed a complaint this week in Los Angeles County Superior Court against Compton, claiming that statewide fracking legislation passed last September in Sacramento pre-empted moratoriums and bans by municipalities. The suit also says the city violated the California Constitution when it banned well stimulation in other municipalities if the well’s bottom sat beneath Compton.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Hedge Funds Do Not Make Good Landlords

    Tuesday, July 29, 2014
    Fifty-six percent of Blackstone residents in Los Angeles County reported troubles with their pipes, according to a survey of renters in 1,400 Southern California properties owned by the firm. In Riverside County, 38% of respondents complained about having roaches or insects in their homes. Ninety-six percent of the tenants in Los Angeles County, and 85% in Riverside County, were people of color. Their rents were, buy and large, unaffordable by HUD standards.   read more
  • Dubious “Think Tank” Runs Insulting Campaign against Minimum Wage in S.F.

    Friday, July 25, 2014
    The billboard is sponsored by Badideasca.com, which is a project of the Employment Policies Institute (EPI). The conservative non-profit “research organization” does a lot of work for the restaurant industry, according to Pando. The institute was featured in an article by Salon last November that ripped the media for accepting claims by industry public relations firms that they are respectable think tanks.   read more
  • New Job for Ex-Stem Cell Board Leader Reignites Charges of Cronyism

    Tuesday, July 22, 2014
    When Alan Trounson announced he was quitting his job as president and CEO of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), the official release said he was leaving to spend more time with his family in Australia. It was a short reunion. Within a week of his June 30 departure, he joined the board of StemCells, Inc, a recipient of $19.4 million from CIRM for Alzheimer's research.   read more

California and the Nation

  • California Is One of the Places to Be if You Want to Be Wiretapped

    Friday, July 18, 2014
    The annual Wiretap Report from the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts listed California third, based on the number of wiretaps judges approved per 500,000 residents, clocking in at 11.7. Nevada (mostly Las Vegas) dominated at 38.2, followed by the District of Columbia (17), Colorado (12.4), California and New York (10.7). Of the 3,576 wiretaps approved, 2,331 were installed. Only one request was not authorized.   read more
  • California Businessman Sentenced for Economic Espionage to Help China

    Thursday, July 17, 2014
    Liew and his wife set up a California company in the 1990s and hired former DuPont engineers to obtain documents that detailed the process of making titanium dioxide (TiO2), a closely guarded DuPont secret that nets it $14 billion a year. The whitening agent is an ingredient in Oreo cookies, toothpaste, sunscreen and cosmetics. Liew received more than $20 million from the Chinese for the secrets.   read more
  • Lawsuit Blames State Pesticide Agency Stalling in Honeybee Disaster

    Friday, July 11, 2014
    The link of neonicotinoid pesticides to the decline of honeybees is not new, and because it is not new, a coalition of advocacy groups sued California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) this week to do something about it. Five years of “foot-dragging,” while expanding the pesticide’s acceptable use, is a violation of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and other laws, the suit contends.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • California Supreme Court Justice: Who Is Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar?

    Wednesday, July 23, 2014
    The 41-year-old Stanford law professor was born in Mexico before moving with his family to the U.S. when he was 14. A registered Democrat, Cuéllar worked in the Clinton and Obama administrations in various capacities. He specializes in administrative and immigration law, but has taught a broad range of courses, including international and criminal law.   read more
  • President and CEO of California Institute for Regenerative Medicine: Who Is C. Randal Mills?

    Monday, July 21, 2014
    Mills, 42, takes over the stem cell program as it enters the final years of the 2004 voter-approved, $3-billion venture to fund projects. Although his predecessor was said to be leaving to spend more time with his family in Australia, Alan Trounson was immediately hired by one of the companies CIRM had awarded millions of dollars to, re-enforcing the perception that the agency had a serious conflict-of-interest and cronyism problem.   read more
  • Acting Director of the Department of Parks and Recreation: Who Is Lisa Mangat?

    Friday, July 04, 2014
    She takes over a department, wracked by scandal and plagued by a lack of funding, whose $654 million budget is under intense scrutiny. Her predecessor, retired Marine Corps Major General Anthony L. Jackson, was hired in November 2012 with a mandate to reform the agency. His predecessor, Ruth Coleman, resigned four months earlier after $54 million was found stashed in department accounts while 70 state parks faced closure because of budget cuts.   read more

Unusual News

  • Eight Hospitals Fined $775,000 for 10 Disastrous Mistakes

    Wednesday, July 30, 2014
    Fines ranging from $50,000 to $100,000 were meted out to medical centers in five counties for incidents including the improper mixing of medications and surgical materials left behind in a patient. Some of the cases date back to 2012, but have only recently been closed.   read more
  • Entertainment-Deprived Californians Get Their First Running of the Bulls

    Monday, July 28, 2014
    The Great Bull Run, attended by 2,500 paying customers, was just like the famed runs in Spain, except instead of hurtling through town from the stockyards to a bullring, they ran briefly around a racetrack. Unlike in Spain, there is no 700-year tradition and no bullfight and more animal abuse afterward. That is illegal. Around 40 animal rights protesters chanted slogans and waved signs near the entrance, but a crowd about to risk their lives dashing ahead of snorting bulls was not deterred.   read more
  • Auto Thieves Love California and Aren’t Picky about the Cities They Hit Hardest

    Tuesday, July 22, 2014
    California cities captured nine of the top 10 “hot spots” in the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) 2013 report of per-capita car thefts in the country. Spokane, Washington, was the only non-California city on the list at No. 7. California also snatched the No. 11, 14, 15, 16 and 18 spots. While conventional wisdom might point toward wealthy cities with expensive automobiles or port cities for quick shipment overseas, the top 3 cities were all in the state’s farm belt.   read more
  • Richmond City Council Rejects Planners, OKs Chevron Refinery Project

    Thursday, July 31, 2014
    The 5-0 vote, with the mayor and vice mayor abstaining, rejected the recommendation of its city planning commission that Chevron put in more pollution controls, replace its piping and contribute a quarter billion dollars to local green projects through 2050. The commission also wanted Chevron to reduce all toxic air contaminants, put domes on its storage tanks and upgrade its tug boats.   read more
  • Nine Dead Horses in Nine Days at Del Mar Racetrack

    Thursday, July 31, 2014
    Race horses die at the track all too frequently―between 200 and 400 a year in California. It is estimated that 24 horses die every week on U.S. racetracks. But a cluster of deaths like this is unusual. So far, Del Mar authorities have focused on the track itself. They waxed the synthetic Polytrack and watered and aerated the turf track to slow things down. They also moved a rail to give the horses more room on turf.   read more
  • L.A. Water Main Break Is Spectacular, but Not Unexpected

    Thursday, July 31, 2014
    The 93-year-old water main that blew in Los Angeles this week—gushing 75,000 gallons a minute at its peak and 1,000 a minute once it was under control—was spectacular, but not unpredictable. Two-thirds of the city's 7,238 miles of pipes are more than 50 years old but only 43 miles were replaced during a recent 15-year period, according to a 2012 study by the USC Center for Sustainable Cities.   read more
  • EPA Does a Lousy Job Overseeing State Regulation of Fracking Injection Wells

    Wednesday, July 30, 2014
    The GAO report said that the EPA doesn’t conduct annual on-site evaluations with any regularity and hasn’t updated its guidelines to the states since the 1980s. The result is that “safeguards do not address emerging underground injection risks, such as seismic activity and overly high pressure in geologic formations leading to surface outbreaks of fluids.”   read more
  • Feds Add Obstruction of Justice and a Real Penalty to PG&E Indictment for San Bruno

    Wednesday, July 30, 2014
    The indictment replaces an earlier one in April, adding the obstruction charge and raising from 12 to 27 the number of criminal violations of federal law. PG&E could be liable for $1.4 billion in penalties. PG&E was charged with obstruction for allegedly lying to investigators for the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in the aftermath of the 2010 San Bruno pipeline explosion that killed eight people and leveled a neighborhood.   read more

Top Stories

  • State Putting “Lexus Lanes” on Orange County Interstate Despite Local Opposition

    Tuesday, July 29, 2014
    Caltrans would get a couple of revenue-producing “Lexus lanes” and people willing and able to pay for a more luxurious driving experience would have a less-encumbered thoroughfare. Less fortunate Orange County motorists would have the same five free lanes that drove them to pass Measure M2 eight years ago and spend $1.3 billion, when there were fewer drivers on the road.   read more
  • Nestle Partners with Tribe for Under-the-Radar Groundwater Pumping in the Desert

    Monday, July 28, 2014
    Critics point to a decline in groundwater in the surrounding Cabazon area, the drought, and the wisdom of pumping and bottling water in the desert for shipment elsewhere. The Morongo, who hooked up with Nestle after paying the Cabazon Water District $3 million for the water rights, aren’t subject to the same oversight or reporting requirements as other entities because they are sovereign.   read more
  • Replacement Scaffolding Is a Bad Sign at Troubled Board of Equalization Building

    Friday, July 25, 2014
    The move by the state Department of General Services (DGS) indicates workers will be stuck in a building described by the Sacramento Bee as having a “history of toxic mold, defective elevators, leaking windows, corroded wastewater pipes, floods, and exterior glass panels that spontaneously break or pop off. “Even though my lawyers told me not to say this, I don’t think it’s safe,” Board Chairman Jerome Horton told the Bee.   read more

Controversies

  • Troubled State Sonoma Developmental Center Avoids Closure but Is Losing Federal Funds

    Tuesday, July 29, 2014
    The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced on Friday that seven of the center’s 11 units will lose their certification and federal funds, just as the other four did last year. But the center, located in Sonoma County’s Eldridge community, did not lose its state license and can stay open for now.   read more
  • PG&E and Its Regulator Bonded in E-Mails after Deadly San Bruno Pipeline Explosion

    Monday, July 28, 2014
    Around 7,000 e-mails, released as part of a lawsuit settlement, documented how the PUC and Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) worked together to fend off criticism and investigators after the San Bruno pipeline explosion killed eight people and leveled a neighborhood in September 2010. A federal grand jury indicted PG&E in April on 12 counts involving safety violations leading to the San Bruno explosion.   read more
  • Petroleum Trade Association Sues Compton over Fracking Moratorium

    Friday, July 25, 2014
    The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) filed a complaint this week in Los Angeles County Superior Court against Compton, claiming that statewide fracking legislation passed last September in Sacramento pre-empted moratoriums and bans by municipalities. The suit also says the city violated the California Constitution when it banned well stimulation in other municipalities if the well’s bottom sat beneath Compton.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Hedge Funds Do Not Make Good Landlords

    Tuesday, July 29, 2014
    Fifty-six percent of Blackstone residents in Los Angeles County reported troubles with their pipes, according to a survey of renters in 1,400 Southern California properties owned by the firm. In Riverside County, 38% of respondents complained about having roaches or insects in their homes. Ninety-six percent of the tenants in Los Angeles County, and 85% in Riverside County, were people of color. Their rents were, buy and large, unaffordable by HUD standards.   read more
  • Dubious “Think Tank” Runs Insulting Campaign against Minimum Wage in S.F.

    Friday, July 25, 2014
    The billboard is sponsored by Badideasca.com, which is a project of the Employment Policies Institute (EPI). The conservative non-profit “research organization” does a lot of work for the restaurant industry, according to Pando. The institute was featured in an article by Salon last November that ripped the media for accepting claims by industry public relations firms that they are respectable think tanks.   read more
  • New Job for Ex-Stem Cell Board Leader Reignites Charges of Cronyism

    Tuesday, July 22, 2014
    When Alan Trounson announced he was quitting his job as president and CEO of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), the official release said he was leaving to spend more time with his family in Australia. It was a short reunion. Within a week of his June 30 departure, he joined the board of StemCells, Inc, a recipient of $19.4 million from CIRM for Alzheimer's research.   read more

California and the Nation

  • California Is One of the Places to Be if You Want to Be Wiretapped

    Friday, July 18, 2014
    The annual Wiretap Report from the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts listed California third, based on the number of wiretaps judges approved per 500,000 residents, clocking in at 11.7. Nevada (mostly Las Vegas) dominated at 38.2, followed by the District of Columbia (17), Colorado (12.4), California and New York (10.7). Of the 3,576 wiretaps approved, 2,331 were installed. Only one request was not authorized.   read more
  • California Businessman Sentenced for Economic Espionage to Help China

    Thursday, July 17, 2014
    Liew and his wife set up a California company in the 1990s and hired former DuPont engineers to obtain documents that detailed the process of making titanium dioxide (TiO2), a closely guarded DuPont secret that nets it $14 billion a year. The whitening agent is an ingredient in Oreo cookies, toothpaste, sunscreen and cosmetics. Liew received more than $20 million from the Chinese for the secrets.   read more
  • Lawsuit Blames State Pesticide Agency Stalling in Honeybee Disaster

    Friday, July 11, 2014
    The link of neonicotinoid pesticides to the decline of honeybees is not new, and because it is not new, a coalition of advocacy groups sued California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) this week to do something about it. Five years of “foot-dragging,” while expanding the pesticide’s acceptable use, is a violation of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and other laws, the suit contends.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • California Supreme Court Justice: Who Is Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar?

    Wednesday, July 23, 2014
    The 41-year-old Stanford law professor was born in Mexico before moving with his family to the U.S. when he was 14. A registered Democrat, Cuéllar worked in the Clinton and Obama administrations in various capacities. He specializes in administrative and immigration law, but has taught a broad range of courses, including international and criminal law.   read more
  • President and CEO of California Institute for Regenerative Medicine: Who Is C. Randal Mills?

    Monday, July 21, 2014
    Mills, 42, takes over the stem cell program as it enters the final years of the 2004 voter-approved, $3-billion venture to fund projects. Although his predecessor was said to be leaving to spend more time with his family in Australia, Alan Trounson was immediately hired by one of the companies CIRM had awarded millions of dollars to, re-enforcing the perception that the agency had a serious conflict-of-interest and cronyism problem.   read more
  • Acting Director of the Department of Parks and Recreation: Who Is Lisa Mangat?

    Friday, July 04, 2014
    She takes over a department, wracked by scandal and plagued by a lack of funding, whose $654 million budget is under intense scrutiny. Her predecessor, retired Marine Corps Major General Anthony L. Jackson, was hired in November 2012 with a mandate to reform the agency. His predecessor, Ruth Coleman, resigned four months earlier after $54 million was found stashed in department accounts while 70 state parks faced closure because of budget cuts.   read more

Unusual News

  • Eight Hospitals Fined $775,000 for 10 Disastrous Mistakes

    Wednesday, July 30, 2014
    Fines ranging from $50,000 to $100,000 were meted out to medical centers in five counties for incidents including the improper mixing of medications and surgical materials left behind in a patient. Some of the cases date back to 2012, but have only recently been closed.   read more
  • Entertainment-Deprived Californians Get Their First Running of the Bulls

    Monday, July 28, 2014
    The Great Bull Run, attended by 2,500 paying customers, was just like the famed runs in Spain, except instead of hurtling through town from the stockyards to a bullring, they ran briefly around a racetrack. Unlike in Spain, there is no 700-year tradition and no bullfight and more animal abuse afterward. That is illegal. Around 40 animal rights protesters chanted slogans and waved signs near the entrance, but a crowd about to risk their lives dashing ahead of snorting bulls was not deterred.   read more
  • Auto Thieves Love California and Aren’t Picky about the Cities They Hit Hardest

    Tuesday, July 22, 2014
    California cities captured nine of the top 10 “hot spots” in the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) 2013 report of per-capita car thefts in the country. Spokane, Washington, was the only non-California city on the list at No. 7. California also snatched the No. 11, 14, 15, 16 and 18 spots. While conventional wisdom might point toward wealthy cities with expensive automobiles or port cities for quick shipment overseas, the top 3 cities were all in the state’s farm belt.   read more

PHOTO GALLERY

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