Portal

  • Judge Who Said He Could Whack Pension in Stockton Bankruptcy Doesn’t Do It

    Friday, October 31, 2014
    U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Christopher Klein accepted Stockton’s plan that raises taxes, reduces employee compensation and pays creditors a percentage owed, but does not disable the defined-benefit pension plan. Klein introduced that as a real possibility earlier in the month when he ruled that federal bankruptcy laws outranked state law, which requires cities to make good on their pension obligations to the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS).   read more
  • State Auditor Rips California Nursing Home Oversight

    Friday, October 31, 2014
    The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has a backlog of more than 11,000 complaints related to long-term health care facilities, many of them with “relatively high priorities,” according to a report issued Thursday. The state auditor found 370 of those involved situations where patients were in “immediate jeopardy―indicating a situation that poses a threat to an individual’s life or health.”   read more
  • Drunk, Helmetless California Bicyclists Help State Top National Death List

    Friday, October 31, 2014
    “Despite the association of biking with healthy lifestyles and environmental benefits, a surprisingly large number of fatally injured bicyclists have blood alcohol concentrations [BOC] of 0.08% or higher,” the report said. The report does not make a direct correlation between drunk bicyclists and the proclivity for riding without a helmet. Sixty-five percent of dead bicyclists weren’t wearing helmets, compared to 17% who were.   read more
  • Crummy L.A. Schools Computer System Now Messing up Transcripts for College

    Thursday, October 30, 2014
    L.A. Unified board member Steve Zimmer told KPCC he and other officials don’t know how widespread the problem is. He said the problems included missing data from classes taken at community colleges and summer school. LAUSD has made November 1 the deadline to straighten out the mess. California State University and the University of California want applications filed by November 30, but many schools require applications in October and early November.   read more
  • Data Breaches Affect Nearly Half of California’s Residents

    Thursday, October 30, 2014
    Private information of nearly half the state’s residents was exposed in 2013, a six-fold increase over the previous year, according to the state’s 2014 California Data Breach Report. That hyperventilating-worthy 18.5 million-person figure was distorted by two massive breaches. But the 167 breaches by state agencies and companies in 2013 were 28% more than the previous year.   read more

PHOTO GALLERY

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

Top Stories

  • Lawsuit Derails Oil Shipments by Train for the First Time in California

    Thursday, October 23, 2014
    The suit sought a full review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The air quality district asked for the permit back after Earthjustice filed a lawsuit last month on behalf of the Sierra Club. The suit claimed that the district failed to consider the potential risk to public health and safety posed by shipping the crude in outdated tanker cars along aging rails to within seven miles of the state capital   read more
  • Federal Judge Rejects New S.F. Law Meant to Curb Evictions

    Wednesday, October 22, 2014
    Judge Breyer acknowledged “the severity of the housing crisis” but said the law would prevent some landlords from changing the use of their property, which he deemed a “per se taking” by the government of private property without just compensation. He said landlords were being made “to pay for a broad public problem not of their making.”   read more
  • State Supreme Court Limits Liability for Medical Data Breaches

    Tuesday, October 21, 2014
    If the unencrypted medical records of 4 million people vanish with a stolen desktop computer, has there really been a security breach? Sutter said unless there was proof that the files had been read, there had been no breach of confidentiality. A Superior Court disagreed but was overruled by an appellate court. Last week the California Supreme Court issued a one-line statement that it would not get involved.   read more

Controversies

  • Wells Fargo Accused of Death by Foreclosure

    Thursday, October 30, 2014
    After making mortgage payments on her condo for 16 years, Kilgore refinanced with a “pick-a-payment” loan through World Savings. The next day, she realized she’d agreed to a bad loan and tried to get it rescinded, but World Savings wouldn’t agree. Kilgore’s loan was eventually acquired by Wells Fargo and was kicked out of her condo. That meant that Kilgore was unable to receive subsidies to run the oxygen concentrator she needed to breathe because she didn’t have a permanent address.   read more
  • Jurupa Valley Residents Are Breathing a Mystery Carcinogen

    Tuesday, October 28, 2014
    The Riverside Press-Enterprise reported that the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) detected methylene chloride at levels four times the average found in Southern California cities but doesn't know where it is coming from. The chemical is a common industrial solvent used for many purposes including: paint stripping, vapor degreasing, printing, foam manufacturing and electronics manufacturing.   read more
  • After Losing State Battle, Fracking Foes Fight for Ban One Locality at Time

    Monday, October 27, 2014
    There is very little oil drilling in tiny San Benito County and, as far as anyone knows, no fracking. But that did not stop the county from becoming the first in the state to put a fracking ban on the November 4 ballot for voters to decide. They have since been joined by the counties of Santa Barbara and Mendocino, according to Paul Rogers at the San Jose Mercury News, in an effort to do on a piecemeal basis what advocates for a statewide ban failed to do in the Legislature.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Big Donors Dominated California Congressional Primaries in 2014

    Wednesday, October 29, 2014
    More than 34,000 small donors in California were outspent by just 864 large donors, the 10th largest ratio of big donors to small donors in the country. Texas ranked No. 1 by having one single large donor outspend 8,767 small donors. Sixty-seven percent of California’s $43,911,097 in primary contributions came from big donors. Again, Texas was No. 1, with big donors accounting for 80% of contributions.   read more
  • Smoking Cost Californians $18.1 Billion and Is Deadlier than AIDS

    Tuesday, October 28, 2014
    The cost of smoking worked out to $487 per Californian, and $4,603 per smoker. The costs varied by locale, ranging from $374 per resident in Orange County to $1,002 in Lake County. Direct healthcare costs are responsible for 54.4%, or $9.8 billion, of total smoking costs. Loss of productivity from premature death accounted for 37.6% of the costs and lost productivity from illness was 7.9%.   read more
  • Prisoners with Hepatitis C Can't Get Expensive Drug that Actually Works

    Friday, October 24, 2014
    The drug costs $1,000 a day, or $84,000 for a full regimen of treatment for a single patient. That works out to $1.43 billion if administered to all infected state prisoners. A study out of Stanford University says that might be a reasonable price to pay, considering the longterm cost of administering less effective drugs. But corrections officials, and probably a lot of taxpayers, say that's not going to happen   read more

California and the Nation

  • California Offshore Oil Rigs Are the World’s Best Fisheries

    Friday, October 24, 2014
    The report found that active rigs along the coast were the best fisheries of any marine habitat studied (in scientific lingo) by an order of magnitude. That would be 10 times better than the next best competitor. The scientists attributed the popularity of the rigs to their verticality. Rockfish, for instance, tend to seek greater depths as they age, and oil and gas rigs offered the prospect of never having to move to a new locale.   read more
  • Furniture Chain Pays Millions for Spying with Rented Computers

    Tuesday, October 21, 2014
    Georgia-based Aaron’s Furniture, with around 75 outlets in California, agreed to put up $25 million as reimbursement for an estimated 100,000 customers. The company will also pay the state $3.4 million in civil penalties and fees. The program logged keystrokes, captured screen shots and used a computer’s camera to take photographs. The information included passwords, medical records, Social Security numbers, financial information and pictures of the family in their most private moments.   read more
  • “Tyrant” Obama, in California, Declared National Monument, Like 15 other Presidents

    Monday, October 13, 2014
    Online conservative websites lit up with complaints. “The damage this tyrant is causing America is incalculable,” one typical critic wrote. Presidents have named 110 national monuments, although not all of them retain the designation to this day. Republican President Teddy Roosevelt was the first in 1906. Sixteen presidents have gotten in on the action. Only Presidents Nixon, Reagan and George H.W. Bush have not.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • 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
  • Embattled PUC President Peevey Leaving under Fire in December

    Friday, October 10, 2014
    Despite years of controversy at the PUC, the former president of Southern California Edison Company was considered likely to be reappointed by Governor Jerry Brown. But the release of questionable e-mails during a court proceeding over the deadly 2010 San Bruno gas pipeline explosion highlighted an overly cozy relationship with Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (PG&E) and specifically called into question some of his actions.   read more

Unusual News

  • Silicon Valley Leaders Blame the Public for Tech Threats to Privacy

    Wednesday, October 29, 2014
    Sixteen percent of those who participated in The Atlantic's first “Insiders Poll” blamed threats to privacy on “unconcerned citizens and our complacent culture” and 8% pointed a finger at government. Facebook garnered the most support as the most abusive tech company at 14%, followed by Google at 11%. Third-party data brokers also checked in at 8%.   read more
  • Customer Sues Comcast, Claims Company Got Him Fired after Complaint about Bill

    Wednesday, October 22, 2014
    O’Rourke claims he was overcharged for services, denied free premium services he had been promised and eventually sent equipment he didn’t order, for which he was charged $2,000 after signing up for Comcast television and Internet service in February 2013. O'Rourke said in his lawsuit that his employer, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, fired him after a top Comcast executive called to complain about his complaining.   read more
  • Report Says Bay Area Earthquake Faults Are “Locked and Loaded”

    Tuesday, October 21, 2014
    Scientists believe that there is almost certainly going to be a big quake in California within the next 30 years, but have usually considered the state’s southern portion as being most at risk. The new study bears down on the northern half. The analysis predicts a 70% likelihood that one of the four faults, segments of the 800-mile San Andreas Fault, will rupture within the next 30 years. And by “the next 30 years,” they mean it could happen tomorrow.   read more
  • Judge Who Said He Could Whack Pension in Stockton Bankruptcy Doesn’t Do It

    Friday, October 31, 2014
    U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Christopher Klein accepted Stockton’s plan that raises taxes, reduces employee compensation and pays creditors a percentage owed, but does not disable the defined-benefit pension plan. Klein introduced that as a real possibility earlier in the month when he ruled that federal bankruptcy laws outranked state law, which requires cities to make good on their pension obligations to the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS).   read more
  • State Auditor Rips California Nursing Home Oversight

    Friday, October 31, 2014
    The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has a backlog of more than 11,000 complaints related to long-term health care facilities, many of them with “relatively high priorities,” according to a report issued Thursday. The state auditor found 370 of those involved situations where patients were in “immediate jeopardy―indicating a situation that poses a threat to an individual’s life or health.”   read more
  • Drunk, Helmetless California Bicyclists Help State Top National Death List

    Friday, October 31, 2014
    “Despite the association of biking with healthy lifestyles and environmental benefits, a surprisingly large number of fatally injured bicyclists have blood alcohol concentrations [BOC] of 0.08% or higher,” the report said. The report does not make a direct correlation between drunk bicyclists and the proclivity for riding without a helmet. Sixty-five percent of dead bicyclists weren’t wearing helmets, compared to 17% who were.   read more
  • Crummy L.A. Schools Computer System Now Messing up Transcripts for College

    Thursday, October 30, 2014
    L.A. Unified board member Steve Zimmer told KPCC he and other officials don’t know how widespread the problem is. He said the problems included missing data from classes taken at community colleges and summer school. LAUSD has made November 1 the deadline to straighten out the mess. California State University and the University of California want applications filed by November 30, but many schools require applications in October and early November.   read more
  • Data Breaches Affect Nearly Half of California’s Residents

    Thursday, October 30, 2014
    Private information of nearly half the state’s residents was exposed in 2013, a six-fold increase over the previous year, according to the state’s 2014 California Data Breach Report. That hyperventilating-worthy 18.5 million-person figure was distorted by two massive breaches. But the 167 breaches by state agencies and companies in 2013 were 28% more than the previous year.   read more

Top Stories

  • Lawsuit Derails Oil Shipments by Train for the First Time in California

    Thursday, October 23, 2014
    The suit sought a full review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The air quality district asked for the permit back after Earthjustice filed a lawsuit last month on behalf of the Sierra Club. The suit claimed that the district failed to consider the potential risk to public health and safety posed by shipping the crude in outdated tanker cars along aging rails to within seven miles of the state capital   read more
  • Federal Judge Rejects New S.F. Law Meant to Curb Evictions

    Wednesday, October 22, 2014
    Judge Breyer acknowledged “the severity of the housing crisis” but said the law would prevent some landlords from changing the use of their property, which he deemed a “per se taking” by the government of private property without just compensation. He said landlords were being made “to pay for a broad public problem not of their making.”   read more
  • State Supreme Court Limits Liability for Medical Data Breaches

    Tuesday, October 21, 2014
    If the unencrypted medical records of 4 million people vanish with a stolen desktop computer, has there really been a security breach? Sutter said unless there was proof that the files had been read, there had been no breach of confidentiality. A Superior Court disagreed but was overruled by an appellate court. Last week the California Supreme Court issued a one-line statement that it would not get involved.   read more

Controversies

  • Wells Fargo Accused of Death by Foreclosure

    Thursday, October 30, 2014
    After making mortgage payments on her condo for 16 years, Kilgore refinanced with a “pick-a-payment” loan through World Savings. The next day, she realized she’d agreed to a bad loan and tried to get it rescinded, but World Savings wouldn’t agree. Kilgore’s loan was eventually acquired by Wells Fargo and was kicked out of her condo. That meant that Kilgore was unable to receive subsidies to run the oxygen concentrator she needed to breathe because she didn’t have a permanent address.   read more
  • Jurupa Valley Residents Are Breathing a Mystery Carcinogen

    Tuesday, October 28, 2014
    The Riverside Press-Enterprise reported that the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) detected methylene chloride at levels four times the average found in Southern California cities but doesn't know where it is coming from. The chemical is a common industrial solvent used for many purposes including: paint stripping, vapor degreasing, printing, foam manufacturing and electronics manufacturing.   read more
  • After Losing State Battle, Fracking Foes Fight for Ban One Locality at Time

    Monday, October 27, 2014
    There is very little oil drilling in tiny San Benito County and, as far as anyone knows, no fracking. But that did not stop the county from becoming the first in the state to put a fracking ban on the November 4 ballot for voters to decide. They have since been joined by the counties of Santa Barbara and Mendocino, according to Paul Rogers at the San Jose Mercury News, in an effort to do on a piecemeal basis what advocates for a statewide ban failed to do in the Legislature.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Big Donors Dominated California Congressional Primaries in 2014

    Wednesday, October 29, 2014
    More than 34,000 small donors in California were outspent by just 864 large donors, the 10th largest ratio of big donors to small donors in the country. Texas ranked No. 1 by having one single large donor outspend 8,767 small donors. Sixty-seven percent of California’s $43,911,097 in primary contributions came from big donors. Again, Texas was No. 1, with big donors accounting for 80% of contributions.   read more
  • Smoking Cost Californians $18.1 Billion and Is Deadlier than AIDS

    Tuesday, October 28, 2014
    The cost of smoking worked out to $487 per Californian, and $4,603 per smoker. The costs varied by locale, ranging from $374 per resident in Orange County to $1,002 in Lake County. Direct healthcare costs are responsible for 54.4%, or $9.8 billion, of total smoking costs. Loss of productivity from premature death accounted for 37.6% of the costs and lost productivity from illness was 7.9%.   read more
  • Prisoners with Hepatitis C Can't Get Expensive Drug that Actually Works

    Friday, October 24, 2014
    The drug costs $1,000 a day, or $84,000 for a full regimen of treatment for a single patient. That works out to $1.43 billion if administered to all infected state prisoners. A study out of Stanford University says that might be a reasonable price to pay, considering the longterm cost of administering less effective drugs. But corrections officials, and probably a lot of taxpayers, say that's not going to happen   read more

California and the Nation

  • California Offshore Oil Rigs Are the World’s Best Fisheries

    Friday, October 24, 2014
    The report found that active rigs along the coast were the best fisheries of any marine habitat studied (in scientific lingo) by an order of magnitude. That would be 10 times better than the next best competitor. The scientists attributed the popularity of the rigs to their verticality. Rockfish, for instance, tend to seek greater depths as they age, and oil and gas rigs offered the prospect of never having to move to a new locale.   read more
  • Furniture Chain Pays Millions for Spying with Rented Computers

    Tuesday, October 21, 2014
    Georgia-based Aaron’s Furniture, with around 75 outlets in California, agreed to put up $25 million as reimbursement for an estimated 100,000 customers. The company will also pay the state $3.4 million in civil penalties and fees. The program logged keystrokes, captured screen shots and used a computer’s camera to take photographs. The information included passwords, medical records, Social Security numbers, financial information and pictures of the family in their most private moments.   read more
  • “Tyrant” Obama, in California, Declared National Monument, Like 15 other Presidents

    Monday, October 13, 2014
    Online conservative websites lit up with complaints. “The damage this tyrant is causing America is incalculable,” one typical critic wrote. Presidents have named 110 national monuments, although not all of them retain the designation to this day. Republican President Teddy Roosevelt was the first in 1906. Sixteen presidents have gotten in on the action. Only Presidents Nixon, Reagan and George H.W. Bush have not.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • 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
  • Embattled PUC President Peevey Leaving under Fire in December

    Friday, October 10, 2014
    Despite years of controversy at the PUC, the former president of Southern California Edison Company was considered likely to be reappointed by Governor Jerry Brown. But the release of questionable e-mails during a court proceeding over the deadly 2010 San Bruno gas pipeline explosion highlighted an overly cozy relationship with Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (PG&E) and specifically called into question some of his actions.   read more

Unusual News

  • Silicon Valley Leaders Blame the Public for Tech Threats to Privacy

    Wednesday, October 29, 2014
    Sixteen percent of those who participated in The Atlantic's first “Insiders Poll” blamed threats to privacy on “unconcerned citizens and our complacent culture” and 8% pointed a finger at government. Facebook garnered the most support as the most abusive tech company at 14%, followed by Google at 11%. Third-party data brokers also checked in at 8%.   read more
  • Customer Sues Comcast, Claims Company Got Him Fired after Complaint about Bill

    Wednesday, October 22, 2014
    O’Rourke claims he was overcharged for services, denied free premium services he had been promised and eventually sent equipment he didn’t order, for which he was charged $2,000 after signing up for Comcast television and Internet service in February 2013. O'Rourke said in his lawsuit that his employer, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, fired him after a top Comcast executive called to complain about his complaining.   read more
  • Report Says Bay Area Earthquake Faults Are “Locked and Loaded”

    Tuesday, October 21, 2014
    Scientists believe that there is almost certainly going to be a big quake in California within the next 30 years, but have usually considered the state’s southern portion as being most at risk. The new study bears down on the northern half. The analysis predicts a 70% likelihood that one of the four faults, segments of the 800-mile San Andreas Fault, will rupture within the next 30 years. And by “the next 30 years,” they mean it could happen tomorrow.   read more

PHOTO GALLERY

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