Portal

  • Big Boost in California Solar Power Barely Offsets Loss of Hydroelectric

    Friday, March 27, 2015
    The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported this week that California nearly tripled its 2013 solar output, while noting at the same time that hydroelectric power use in the state was down 46% last year compared to the five-year average. Overall, the state’s use of renewable energy sources inched up a bit last year, but it is far below 2011, before the four-year drought kicked in and hydroelectric power was more than double the current output.   read more
  • Public Defender Likens S.F. Jail Fights to “Game of Thrones”

    Friday, March 27, 2015
    Public Defender Jeff Adachi and chief attorney Matt Gonzalez sent a letter to Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi alleging “serious misconduct” by deputies that included allegations of forced gambling, threats of physical violence and other abuse. According to Adachi and a report from a private investigator engaged by the public defender, Deputy Scott Neu forced 150-pound Ricardo Palikiko Garcia to fight 350-pound Stanly Harris twice while others watched.   read more
  • Audits: The OC Great Park Doomed by “Hubris,” Politics and Mismanagement

    Friday, March 27, 2015
    An audit of the legal aspects of the project said the park was a mess from the start. Politicians put a $410 price tag on the project in 2006, based on available funding, and hired a design firm. Ten years later, more than $359 million has been spent to develop just 88 acres, or 6.5% of the park. “It was fiction all the time,” the 157-page audit said,   read more
  • “Stagnant” California Earns Another “F” in Government Transparency

    Thursday, March 26, 2015
    A couple years ago, CALPIRG said of California, “Without a central location for the data, the state simply lacks the digital infrastructure to build upon.” That is still true and the main reason the state received a failing grade. “California does not succeed in creating a ‘one-stop’ transparency portal, prompting Executive Director Emily Rusch to say the state "has remained stagnant, with a long way to go.”   read more
  • 7 Reasons Why State Technology Projects Are at “High Risk”

    Thursday, March 26, 2015
    The state agency CalTech (not the school) currently oversees 45 IT projects conducted by various agencies worth $4 billion. That’s four times as much money as the auditor says the state has wasted on failed projects between 1994 and 2013. The auditor said six of the ongoing projects, worth $575 million, have problems that could lead to delays and cost overruns.   read more

PHOTO GALLERY

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

Top Stories

  • UC Study Documents How Sugar Industry Co-Opted Research and Regulation

    Wednesday, March 25, 2015
    The study uses 319 internal documents from the International Sugar Research Foundation from 1959-1971 that discuss how the industry manipulated the federal research funding priorities of the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) U.S. National Institute of Dental Research and shaped national policy for decades to come. “These tactics are strikingly similar to what we saw in the tobacco industry in the same era,” said Glantz, who is a co-author on the sugar report.   read more
  • Plaintiffs in Suit Argue Cheap California Wine Has Too Much Arsenic for Their Taste

    Tuesday, March 24, 2015
    Lawyers for four Californians are seeking class-action status in a suit against 28 wineries in the state for producing, manufacturing and/or distributing “wine in California that contains inorganic arsenic in amounts far in excess of what is allowed in drinking water.” Most of the affected wines cost less than $10 a bottle and much of it sold for under $5.   read more
  • BP Barred from Cleanup Fund and Pays Millions over Double-Billing Claims

    Monday, March 23, 2015
    British Petroleum North America agreed to pay $7.9 million and agreed that 90 of the 243 cleanup sites that had qualified for reimbursements would now be barred from the fund. BP, its insurers and whoever it can sue will now be responsible. That pencils out to savings of between $45 million and $135 million for the state.   read more

Controversies

  • Critics Said New S.F. Airbnb Law Was “Unenforceable” and Now the Planning Dept. Agrees

    Tuesday, March 24, 2015
    “We have no way of enforcing” the ordinance, San Francisco Planning Department communications manager Gina Simi told the San Francisco Chronicle last week. The law does not require Airbnb and other hosting platforms to report the names of people renting out their places and other critical information. Without the booking data, the city can't check to see if rentals are registered.   read more
  • Renters Being Evicted from New Hollywood Skyscraper over Developer Misdeeds

    Friday, March 20, 2015
    Negotiations with lawyers for the La Mirada Avenue Neighborhood Association, which opposed the high-density movement, resulted in a 2011 deal to preserve the Old Spaghetti Factory's façade in exchange for parking variances that saved the developer millions of dollars. The developer tore it down anyway with a demolition permit from the city and proceeded to build their high-rise, even as the judge made it clear they acted at their “own peril.”   read more
  • San Diego, the State’s Second-Largest City, Has Its First Legal Pot Shop

    Thursday, March 19, 2015
    The entire state has been whipsawed by conflicting forces at the local, state and federal levels; in courts, legislatures, agencies and executive branches. Marijuana is still illegal under federal law. But conservative San Diego has seen in its own particular kind of schizophrenic play out, especially in recent years. The city did not have an ordinance for regulating medical marijuana until last March.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Couple Accused of Using Migrant Workers, Bogus IDs to Rip Off Jobless Benefits

    Wednesday, March 25, 2015
    A contracting foreman in the heart of the Central Valley used his job to obtain names, Social Security numbers and other personal information about legal residents and U.S. citizens, and then gave the identities to undocumented workers. When the workers were invariably laid off after the growing season, he and his wife allegedly filed unemployment insurance claims in their names, picking up $1.8 million on 520 claims over a six-year period,   read more
  • $1-Billion “Band-Aid” for Future Drought Catches Up on Old Business

    Friday, March 20, 2015
    The money will be spent on old ideas that were never properly funded in a state with intermittent bouts of water shortage. It won’t do much to address concerns that California’s world has changed and four years of drought are not the end of it. The governor acknowledged that: “When you're piloting a huge battleship, it turns slowly in the water. It takes a long time for people to grasp an unprecedented change.”   read more
  • New PUC Chief Wants to Up the PG&E Penalty for San Bruno and Add Some Pipeline Repair

    Monday, March 16, 2015
    Picker’s $1.6-billion plan, which he detailed last week, is $200 million larger than one recommended by two administrative law judges, and shifts some future pipeline upgrade costs from ratepayers to PG&E shareholders. It received guarded support from San Bruno officials. Mayor Jim Ruane asked the Chronicle, “What, after all, does this do to revamp the PUC, PG&E and their relationship?”   read more

California and the Nation

  • New York and San Diego Police Departments Edit Wikipedia Entries on Alleged Police Brutality Cases

    Monday, March 23, 2015
    San Diego police dispatcher Daniel Weiss told U-T San Diego, “Anything that was deleted was due to inaccuracies as stated in the comments. Especially the ‘misconduct’ section, which had bad information and was not linked to the department in many circumstances.” Some of the “bad information” contained summaries of news stories in the Los Angeles Times and other mainstream media.   read more
  • State Plans to Share License Photos Far and Wide Despite DMV Objection

    Friday, March 20, 2015
    The state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has repeatedly told members of California’s Department of Justice (DOJ) that state law forbids the sharing of driver’s license photos with outside sources, including the federal government, or subjecting them to facial recognition software. The DMV also said it would not be able to keep track of who accessed the photos and why, as required by law. But the DOJ continues to move ahead.   read more
  • Feds Bust Alleged Immigration “Pay-to-Stay” L.A. Trade Schools

    Thursday, March 12, 2015
    The schools allegedly issued Form I-20s, which indicate acceptance into a government-certified school as a full-time student, to foreign nationals who had no intention of attending the schools and often lived outside of Los Angeles. Six months of “tuition” cost up to $1,800 and allegedly netted the operators $6 million a year. The schools’ 1,500 students were largely Korean and Chinese.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • Director of California Department of Public Health: Who Is Karen Smith?

    Tuesday, February 24, 2015
    Napa County is losing its longtime public health officer to the state. Dr. Karen Smith. Governor Jerry Brown's appointee as director of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) succeeds Dr. Ron Chapman, who resigned at the end of January. The department is the lead agency in California providing detection, treatment, prevention and surveillance of public health and environmental issues.   read more
  • Executive Director of the California Transportation Commission: Who Is Will Kempton?

    Friday, February 20, 2015
    Will Kempton has shuttled between public and private positions in transportation, public service and government affairs for 40 years. His return to the public sector as executive director of the California Transportation Commission (CTC) in January followed a three-year stint, with the same title, at the nonprofit advocacy group Transportation California.   read more
  • Director of the California Department of Health Care Services: Who Is Jennifer Kent?

    Tuesday, January 27, 2015
    Governor Jerry Brown’s new head of the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) replaces Toby Douglas, who announced his resignation last September after three tumultuous years of change generated by the Affordable Care Act and the state’s expansion of its version of the federal Medicaid program. The department oversees Medi-Cal and its 11 million participants.   read more

Unusual News

  • Berkeley Has First Accredited Muslim College in United States

    Thursday, March 26, 2015
    The liberal arts school was founded in 1996 as an institute and also operated as an Islamic seminary before transforming into a four-year college in 2009. It offers a B.A. in Islamic Law and Theology as well as courses in politics, astronomy, and American history, among others. "Religiously-affiliated colleges are plentiful in the United States, but the vast majority are Christian," said Jack Jenkins. "There are a few Jewish higher education institutions...and even some Buddhist schools.”   read more
  • State Scores Rare Win in Decades-Long Court Fight with Inventor over Taxes

    Wednesday, March 25, 2015
    U.S. District Judge Garland Burrell Jr., in Sacramento, ruled that the state can continue to pursue its claim against Hyatt for a piece of the $40 million he earned in 1991 after being granted a patent he first sought in 1970. Interest and penalties have swelled California’s claim to $55 million. The state says Hyatt was a resident at the time of the windfall, but he claims he fled to no-tax Nevada just in time.   read more
  • Sodomite Suppression Act Petition Headed for a Mall Near You

    Tuesday, March 24, 2015
    State law compels the AG to write a petition title and summary of no more than 100 words and ship it to the Secretary of State’s office for circulation by May 4. It has been characterized as a colorful way of fostering a discussion of free speech, an examination of the flawed ballot initiative system or a clever piece of performance art. It's a hate-filled rant that looks oddly out of place in California, but probably resonates with the Fox News demographic across America.   read more
  • Big Boost in California Solar Power Barely Offsets Loss of Hydroelectric

    Friday, March 27, 2015
    The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported this week that California nearly tripled its 2013 solar output, while noting at the same time that hydroelectric power use in the state was down 46% last year compared to the five-year average. Overall, the state’s use of renewable energy sources inched up a bit last year, but it is far below 2011, before the four-year drought kicked in and hydroelectric power was more than double the current output.   read more
  • Public Defender Likens S.F. Jail Fights to “Game of Thrones”

    Friday, March 27, 2015
    Public Defender Jeff Adachi and chief attorney Matt Gonzalez sent a letter to Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi alleging “serious misconduct” by deputies that included allegations of forced gambling, threats of physical violence and other abuse. According to Adachi and a report from a private investigator engaged by the public defender, Deputy Scott Neu forced 150-pound Ricardo Palikiko Garcia to fight 350-pound Stanly Harris twice while others watched.   read more
  • Audits: The OC Great Park Doomed by “Hubris,” Politics and Mismanagement

    Friday, March 27, 2015
    An audit of the legal aspects of the project said the park was a mess from the start. Politicians put a $410 price tag on the project in 2006, based on available funding, and hired a design firm. Ten years later, more than $359 million has been spent to develop just 88 acres, or 6.5% of the park. “It was fiction all the time,” the 157-page audit said,   read more
  • “Stagnant” California Earns Another “F” in Government Transparency

    Thursday, March 26, 2015
    A couple years ago, CALPIRG said of California, “Without a central location for the data, the state simply lacks the digital infrastructure to build upon.” That is still true and the main reason the state received a failing grade. “California does not succeed in creating a ‘one-stop’ transparency portal, prompting Executive Director Emily Rusch to say the state "has remained stagnant, with a long way to go.”   read more
  • 7 Reasons Why State Technology Projects Are at “High Risk”

    Thursday, March 26, 2015
    The state agency CalTech (not the school) currently oversees 45 IT projects conducted by various agencies worth $4 billion. That’s four times as much money as the auditor says the state has wasted on failed projects between 1994 and 2013. The auditor said six of the ongoing projects, worth $575 million, have problems that could lead to delays and cost overruns.   read more

Top Stories

  • UC Study Documents How Sugar Industry Co-Opted Research and Regulation

    Wednesday, March 25, 2015
    The study uses 319 internal documents from the International Sugar Research Foundation from 1959-1971 that discuss how the industry manipulated the federal research funding priorities of the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) U.S. National Institute of Dental Research and shaped national policy for decades to come. “These tactics are strikingly similar to what we saw in the tobacco industry in the same era,” said Glantz, who is a co-author on the sugar report.   read more
  • Plaintiffs in Suit Argue Cheap California Wine Has Too Much Arsenic for Their Taste

    Tuesday, March 24, 2015
    Lawyers for four Californians are seeking class-action status in a suit against 28 wineries in the state for producing, manufacturing and/or distributing “wine in California that contains inorganic arsenic in amounts far in excess of what is allowed in drinking water.” Most of the affected wines cost less than $10 a bottle and much of it sold for under $5.   read more
  • BP Barred from Cleanup Fund and Pays Millions over Double-Billing Claims

    Monday, March 23, 2015
    British Petroleum North America agreed to pay $7.9 million and agreed that 90 of the 243 cleanup sites that had qualified for reimbursements would now be barred from the fund. BP, its insurers and whoever it can sue will now be responsible. That pencils out to savings of between $45 million and $135 million for the state.   read more

Controversies

  • Critics Said New S.F. Airbnb Law Was “Unenforceable” and Now the Planning Dept. Agrees

    Tuesday, March 24, 2015
    “We have no way of enforcing” the ordinance, San Francisco Planning Department communications manager Gina Simi told the San Francisco Chronicle last week. The law does not require Airbnb and other hosting platforms to report the names of people renting out their places and other critical information. Without the booking data, the city can't check to see if rentals are registered.   read more
  • Renters Being Evicted from New Hollywood Skyscraper over Developer Misdeeds

    Friday, March 20, 2015
    Negotiations with lawyers for the La Mirada Avenue Neighborhood Association, which opposed the high-density movement, resulted in a 2011 deal to preserve the Old Spaghetti Factory's façade in exchange for parking variances that saved the developer millions of dollars. The developer tore it down anyway with a demolition permit from the city and proceeded to build their high-rise, even as the judge made it clear they acted at their “own peril.”   read more
  • San Diego, the State’s Second-Largest City, Has Its First Legal Pot Shop

    Thursday, March 19, 2015
    The entire state has been whipsawed by conflicting forces at the local, state and federal levels; in courts, legislatures, agencies and executive branches. Marijuana is still illegal under federal law. But conservative San Diego has seen in its own particular kind of schizophrenic play out, especially in recent years. The city did not have an ordinance for regulating medical marijuana until last March.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Couple Accused of Using Migrant Workers, Bogus IDs to Rip Off Jobless Benefits

    Wednesday, March 25, 2015
    A contracting foreman in the heart of the Central Valley used his job to obtain names, Social Security numbers and other personal information about legal residents and U.S. citizens, and then gave the identities to undocumented workers. When the workers were invariably laid off after the growing season, he and his wife allegedly filed unemployment insurance claims in their names, picking up $1.8 million on 520 claims over a six-year period,   read more
  • $1-Billion “Band-Aid” for Future Drought Catches Up on Old Business

    Friday, March 20, 2015
    The money will be spent on old ideas that were never properly funded in a state with intermittent bouts of water shortage. It won’t do much to address concerns that California’s world has changed and four years of drought are not the end of it. The governor acknowledged that: “When you're piloting a huge battleship, it turns slowly in the water. It takes a long time for people to grasp an unprecedented change.”   read more
  • New PUC Chief Wants to Up the PG&E Penalty for San Bruno and Add Some Pipeline Repair

    Monday, March 16, 2015
    Picker’s $1.6-billion plan, which he detailed last week, is $200 million larger than one recommended by two administrative law judges, and shifts some future pipeline upgrade costs from ratepayers to PG&E shareholders. It received guarded support from San Bruno officials. Mayor Jim Ruane asked the Chronicle, “What, after all, does this do to revamp the PUC, PG&E and their relationship?”   read more

California and the Nation

  • New York and San Diego Police Departments Edit Wikipedia Entries on Alleged Police Brutality Cases

    Monday, March 23, 2015
    San Diego police dispatcher Daniel Weiss told U-T San Diego, “Anything that was deleted was due to inaccuracies as stated in the comments. Especially the ‘misconduct’ section, which had bad information and was not linked to the department in many circumstances.” Some of the “bad information” contained summaries of news stories in the Los Angeles Times and other mainstream media.   read more
  • State Plans to Share License Photos Far and Wide Despite DMV Objection

    Friday, March 20, 2015
    The state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has repeatedly told members of California’s Department of Justice (DOJ) that state law forbids the sharing of driver’s license photos with outside sources, including the federal government, or subjecting them to facial recognition software. The DMV also said it would not be able to keep track of who accessed the photos and why, as required by law. But the DOJ continues to move ahead.   read more
  • Feds Bust Alleged Immigration “Pay-to-Stay” L.A. Trade Schools

    Thursday, March 12, 2015
    The schools allegedly issued Form I-20s, which indicate acceptance into a government-certified school as a full-time student, to foreign nationals who had no intention of attending the schools and often lived outside of Los Angeles. Six months of “tuition” cost up to $1,800 and allegedly netted the operators $6 million a year. The schools’ 1,500 students were largely Korean and Chinese.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • Director of California Department of Public Health: Who Is Karen Smith?

    Tuesday, February 24, 2015
    Napa County is losing its longtime public health officer to the state. Dr. Karen Smith. Governor Jerry Brown's appointee as director of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) succeeds Dr. Ron Chapman, who resigned at the end of January. The department is the lead agency in California providing detection, treatment, prevention and surveillance of public health and environmental issues.   read more
  • Executive Director of the California Transportation Commission: Who Is Will Kempton?

    Friday, February 20, 2015
    Will Kempton has shuttled between public and private positions in transportation, public service and government affairs for 40 years. His return to the public sector as executive director of the California Transportation Commission (CTC) in January followed a three-year stint, with the same title, at the nonprofit advocacy group Transportation California.   read more
  • Director of the California Department of Health Care Services: Who Is Jennifer Kent?

    Tuesday, January 27, 2015
    Governor Jerry Brown’s new head of the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) replaces Toby Douglas, who announced his resignation last September after three tumultuous years of change generated by the Affordable Care Act and the state’s expansion of its version of the federal Medicaid program. The department oversees Medi-Cal and its 11 million participants.   read more

Unusual News

  • Berkeley Has First Accredited Muslim College in United States

    Thursday, March 26, 2015
    The liberal arts school was founded in 1996 as an institute and also operated as an Islamic seminary before transforming into a four-year college in 2009. It offers a B.A. in Islamic Law and Theology as well as courses in politics, astronomy, and American history, among others. "Religiously-affiliated colleges are plentiful in the United States, but the vast majority are Christian," said Jack Jenkins. "There are a few Jewish higher education institutions...and even some Buddhist schools.”   read more
  • State Scores Rare Win in Decades-Long Court Fight with Inventor over Taxes

    Wednesday, March 25, 2015
    U.S. District Judge Garland Burrell Jr., in Sacramento, ruled that the state can continue to pursue its claim against Hyatt for a piece of the $40 million he earned in 1991 after being granted a patent he first sought in 1970. Interest and penalties have swelled California’s claim to $55 million. The state says Hyatt was a resident at the time of the windfall, but he claims he fled to no-tax Nevada just in time.   read more
  • Sodomite Suppression Act Petition Headed for a Mall Near You

    Tuesday, March 24, 2015
    State law compels the AG to write a petition title and summary of no more than 100 words and ship it to the Secretary of State’s office for circulation by May 4. It has been characterized as a colorful way of fostering a discussion of free speech, an examination of the flawed ballot initiative system or a clever piece of performance art. It's a hate-filled rant that looks oddly out of place in California, but probably resonates with the Fox News demographic across America.   read more

PHOTO GALLERY

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