Portal

  • Corinthian Closing What's Left of Its Battered For-Profit College Chain

    Monday, April 27, 2015
    Orange County-based Corinthian announced that its 28 remaining institutions of higher learning, often located in strip malls and office parks, are closing today, stranding their 16,000 students. For-profit companies like Corinthian target low-income students and veterans because they have access to state and federal education financial assistance. Federal money accounted for nearly half of Corinthian’s annual revenue.   read more
  • Does the “Blob” Foretell the End of California's Drought or Nail the Coffin Shut?

    Monday, April 27, 2015
    The 1,000-square-mile water mass, around 100 yards deep, is, on average, around 5.5 degrees warmer than surrounding ocean. The CBS San Francisco headline about the blob said it “may be making California’s drought worse.” The London Daily Mail said it “could be causing California’s mega-drought." USA Today explained “how ‘the blob’ caused USA’s weird weather.” And CBS News asked, “Could the blob end California’s drought?”   read more
  • Parents Flunk Survey About New School Standardized Testing

    Monday, April 27, 2015
    The 11th annual education survey by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) found that 55% of public school parents had heard nothing about the computer-based Smarter Balanced Assessment System being rolled out. Thirty-six percent had heard a little about them and 8% said they heard a lot. The Common Core-like tests of math and English are replacing paper-and-pencil exams, which had more multiple choice questions and less critical thinking and writing.   read more
  • Federal Data-Breach Bill Would Replace Stronger California Law

    Friday, April 24, 2015
    California has arguably the most effective data security laws in the country—and they’re not very good. Myriad important deficiencies surrounding data remain unacknowledged, much less addressed. But H.R. 1770 would seriously undermine California’s effort in fundamental ways. The federal bill redefines what a data breach is by requiring action only when there is a potential for “financial harm,” a significantly narrower basis than the state uses.   read more
  • Small L.A. County Cities Clean up by Seizing Assets in Civil Forfeitures

    Friday, April 24, 2015
    “These cities were also found to have contravened Federal Justice Department forfeiture regulations numerous times,” a report by the Drug Policy Alliance says. Under forfeiture laws, police and prosecutors can seize property and cash from suspects before a conviction has been obtained. The law was originally developed as a powerful federal tool against organized crime, especially drug traffickers. But then it morphed.   read more

PHOTO GALLERY

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

Top Stories

  • Water Cuts Won’t Affect Thirsty Almonds; Growers Are Planting More of Them

    Wednesday, April 22, 2015
    “In spite of ongoing water concerns and high land costs, Rabobank expects California almond growers will continue to increase plantings and total production, leading to a rise of about 2 percent and 3.5 percent per annum, respectively, over the next decade,” according to Vernon Crowder,‎ senior vice president and senior analyst. And the water shortage has only made things better. “Drought conditions and the stronger US dollar have increased the price of almonds for all buyers,” he wrote.   read more
  • Appeals Court Cans Key Part of State’s Water Conservation Plan—High Prices for Big Users

    Tuesday, April 21, 2015
    The court struck down a four-tiered pricing plan used by San Juan Capistrano’s water agency because it violated Proposition 218, a ballot measure passed in 1996 at the urging of fiscal conservatives that prohibits local governments from levying new or increased tax assessments on property owners without local ballot voter approval by said property owners. The California Supreme Court extended the reach of the law in 2006 to local water, refuse and sewer charges.   read more
  • Court Re-Unseals Pasadena Shooting Excerpts, but Report Stays Under Wraps

    Monday, April 20, 2015
    The California Second District Court of Appeal rescinded, without comment, an earlier seal it put on excerpts from the report contained in a legal document, thus extending an odd process of now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t transparency that continues to leave family, friends and the community ill-informed about what happened to Kendrec McDade three years ago.   read more

Controversies

  • This Season's Crop of Medical Marijuana Bills May Be the Last Before the Storm

    Friday, April 24, 2015
    Senate Bill 643, with the tentative support of California NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) and other medical marijuana advocates, passed its first legislative hurdle on April 20, the counterculture pot holiday 4/20. Like its predecessors, the bill establishes a licensing system for cultivation, distribution, transportation and testing that have been haphazardly attended to by local government.   read more
  • Realtors Kill Ellis Act Eviction Reform in Legislature—Again

    Thursday, April 23, 2015
    The bill would have preserved affordable housing and limited evictions by forcing new property owners to wait five years before invoking the 1986 Ellis Act, which lets landlords evict tenants and sell the apartment buildings. The Act was originally intended as a way to allow landlords to exit the rental business without undue hardship. But speculators have used it to flip buildings in San Francisco’s overheated real estate market and driven eviction rates higher.   read more
  • European Hospitals Got Medical Alerts on Deadly Scopes 2 Years Before U.S.

    Wednesday, April 22, 2015
    Olympus sent out warning letters in January 2013 to hospitals across Europe, asking them to sign and return a form acknowledging they were spreading the word about difficulty in cleaning the specific part of the scope. But, somehow, the word did not make it across the giant watery expanse that separates the two continents in any meaningful way, although it was not totally unknown. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) told the Times it learned of the European letters last summer,   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • FBI Raid Disrupts Cozy 20-Year Relationship Between City Hall and Consulting Firm

    Thursday, April 23, 2015
    The firm’s relationship with city officials is at the heart of the investigation. Until 2009, three of Urban Logic’s principals held top positions at Beaumont City Hall. Urban Logic has provided planning and development services to the city of 36,000, 80 miles east of Los Angeles, for 20 years. They also handle financial, engineering and wastewater management services.   read more
  • Most of $100 Million L.A. Spends on Homeless Goes to Police Services

    Tuesday, April 21, 2015
    A new report from the City Administrative Officer (CAO) studied the homeless landscape in 2013 to see how Los Angeles addressed the “serious challenges” of providing shelter, mental health and medical care, protection from disease, security for personal property and other “critical matters.” What the CAO found was an emphasis was on policing, although the first attempt to quantify the city’s efforts was possible only where it was able to “estimate or track spending.”   read more
  • Ratepayer Advocate Wants Another $648 Million from Edison for San Onofre

    Monday, April 20, 2015
    The Ratepayer Advocate said Edison should pay the money because of recently discovered information that the head of the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) met secretly with a top Edison executive in Europe and agreed on a multi-billion-dollar framework for settling who should pay for the abrupt San Onofre nuclear plant closure: ratepayers or shareholders. Ratepayers ended up paying 70% of the $4.8 billion cost.   read more

California and the Nation

  • After 13 Years, U.S. High Court Allows Lawsuit over Natural Gas Price Manipulation

    Thursday, April 23, 2015
    California kicked off the new millennium with an energy crisis, exacerbated, if not precipitated, by manipulation of the national natural gas market, which led to the eventual collapse of Enron. The high court’s decision clears the way for states, businesses and consumers to sue energy suppliers for decade-old losses.   read more
  • Vocal Anti-Vaxxer Minority Stops State Lawmakers in Their Tracks

    Monday, April 20, 2015
    National polling shows more than 75% of people think vaccinations should be required, and it looked like legislation introduced in February was going to do that. But last week, the rubber hit the road when a very vocal minority showed up at a committee hearing to argue against passage of Senate Bill 277 and told lawmakers they were facing the prospect of 13,000 people with vaccine exemptions pulling their kids from public schools en masse. The legislation was put on hold for a week.   read more
  • Sardines Fall Way Below Minimum Numbers; Fishing Finally Banned

    Tuesday, April 14, 2015
    The crucial forage fish’s population is known for being chronically volatile, but its drop from a high of 1.42 million metric tons in 2007 to 97,000 by next season has become hard to ignore. Geoffrey Shester, Oceana’s California campaign director, said the damage would be felt for decades and told the San Francisco Chronicle, “There’s a management failure here."   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

  • Study Says Solar Rebates Not as Effective as Just Giving Units to Low-Income Folks

    Friday, April 17, 2015
    Researchers analyzed 8,500 solar projects in San Diego between May 2007 and April 2013 and found the broad range of financial subsidies had little correlation with the number of adoptees. The growth in popularity would have been about the same without them, the report concludes. Giving units to lower-income folks would provide a lot more cheap power and toss in a little income redistribution on the side.   read more
  • Record Number of West Nile Deaths in 2014 Linked to Climate Change

    Wednesday, April 15, 2015
    Last week, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced a record 31 deaths in 2014 from West Nile Virus out of 801 cases, the second-highest number ever. California had 379 cases in 2013 and just 111 in 2010. The new numbers confirm a prediction by UCLA researchers in February 2014 that climate change would dramatically increase West Nile in the state.   read more
  • Accused Burglar Beats the Wrap with “I Thought I Was in a Space Station” Defense

    Tuesday, April 14, 2015
    Aviles climbed on to a fire escape and entered an apartment. He took off his shoes and shirt, and crashed on the couch. When he came to, he grabbed a backpack and loaded it with items, including an earthquake kit and a woman’s passport. Aviles testified he thought his long hair looked like hers and the document would guarantee his seat on the spaceship he thought was docked atop the space station/apartment building.   read more
  • Corinthian Closing What's Left of Its Battered For-Profit College Chain

    Monday, April 27, 2015
    Orange County-based Corinthian announced that its 28 remaining institutions of higher learning, often located in strip malls and office parks, are closing today, stranding their 16,000 students. For-profit companies like Corinthian target low-income students and veterans because they have access to state and federal education financial assistance. Federal money accounted for nearly half of Corinthian’s annual revenue.   read more
  • Does the “Blob” Foretell the End of California's Drought or Nail the Coffin Shut?

    Monday, April 27, 2015
    The 1,000-square-mile water mass, around 100 yards deep, is, on average, around 5.5 degrees warmer than surrounding ocean. The CBS San Francisco headline about the blob said it “may be making California’s drought worse.” The London Daily Mail said it “could be causing California’s mega-drought." USA Today explained “how ‘the blob’ caused USA’s weird weather.” And CBS News asked, “Could the blob end California’s drought?”   read more
  • Parents Flunk Survey About New School Standardized Testing

    Monday, April 27, 2015
    The 11th annual education survey by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) found that 55% of public school parents had heard nothing about the computer-based Smarter Balanced Assessment System being rolled out. Thirty-six percent had heard a little about them and 8% said they heard a lot. The Common Core-like tests of math and English are replacing paper-and-pencil exams, which had more multiple choice questions and less critical thinking and writing.   read more
  • Federal Data-Breach Bill Would Replace Stronger California Law

    Friday, April 24, 2015
    California has arguably the most effective data security laws in the country—and they’re not very good. Myriad important deficiencies surrounding data remain unacknowledged, much less addressed. But H.R. 1770 would seriously undermine California’s effort in fundamental ways. The federal bill redefines what a data breach is by requiring action only when there is a potential for “financial harm,” a significantly narrower basis than the state uses.   read more
  • Small L.A. County Cities Clean up by Seizing Assets in Civil Forfeitures

    Friday, April 24, 2015
    “These cities were also found to have contravened Federal Justice Department forfeiture regulations numerous times,” a report by the Drug Policy Alliance says. Under forfeiture laws, police and prosecutors can seize property and cash from suspects before a conviction has been obtained. The law was originally developed as a powerful federal tool against organized crime, especially drug traffickers. But then it morphed.   read more

Top Stories

  • Water Cuts Won’t Affect Thirsty Almonds; Growers Are Planting More of Them

    Wednesday, April 22, 2015
    “In spite of ongoing water concerns and high land costs, Rabobank expects California almond growers will continue to increase plantings and total production, leading to a rise of about 2 percent and 3.5 percent per annum, respectively, over the next decade,” according to Vernon Crowder,‎ senior vice president and senior analyst. And the water shortage has only made things better. “Drought conditions and the stronger US dollar have increased the price of almonds for all buyers,” he wrote.   read more
  • Appeals Court Cans Key Part of State’s Water Conservation Plan—High Prices for Big Users

    Tuesday, April 21, 2015
    The court struck down a four-tiered pricing plan used by San Juan Capistrano’s water agency because it violated Proposition 218, a ballot measure passed in 1996 at the urging of fiscal conservatives that prohibits local governments from levying new or increased tax assessments on property owners without local ballot voter approval by said property owners. The California Supreme Court extended the reach of the law in 2006 to local water, refuse and sewer charges.   read more
  • Court Re-Unseals Pasadena Shooting Excerpts, but Report Stays Under Wraps

    Monday, April 20, 2015
    The California Second District Court of Appeal rescinded, without comment, an earlier seal it put on excerpts from the report contained in a legal document, thus extending an odd process of now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t transparency that continues to leave family, friends and the community ill-informed about what happened to Kendrec McDade three years ago.   read more

Controversies

  • This Season's Crop of Medical Marijuana Bills May Be the Last Before the Storm

    Friday, April 24, 2015
    Senate Bill 643, with the tentative support of California NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) and other medical marijuana advocates, passed its first legislative hurdle on April 20, the counterculture pot holiday 4/20. Like its predecessors, the bill establishes a licensing system for cultivation, distribution, transportation and testing that have been haphazardly attended to by local government.   read more
  • Realtors Kill Ellis Act Eviction Reform in Legislature—Again

    Thursday, April 23, 2015
    The bill would have preserved affordable housing and limited evictions by forcing new property owners to wait five years before invoking the 1986 Ellis Act, which lets landlords evict tenants and sell the apartment buildings. The Act was originally intended as a way to allow landlords to exit the rental business without undue hardship. But speculators have used it to flip buildings in San Francisco’s overheated real estate market and driven eviction rates higher.   read more
  • European Hospitals Got Medical Alerts on Deadly Scopes 2 Years Before U.S.

    Wednesday, April 22, 2015
    Olympus sent out warning letters in January 2013 to hospitals across Europe, asking them to sign and return a form acknowledging they were spreading the word about difficulty in cleaning the specific part of the scope. But, somehow, the word did not make it across the giant watery expanse that separates the two continents in any meaningful way, although it was not totally unknown. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) told the Times it learned of the European letters last summer,   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • FBI Raid Disrupts Cozy 20-Year Relationship Between City Hall and Consulting Firm

    Thursday, April 23, 2015
    The firm’s relationship with city officials is at the heart of the investigation. Until 2009, three of Urban Logic’s principals held top positions at Beaumont City Hall. Urban Logic has provided planning and development services to the city of 36,000, 80 miles east of Los Angeles, for 20 years. They also handle financial, engineering and wastewater management services.   read more
  • Most of $100 Million L.A. Spends on Homeless Goes to Police Services

    Tuesday, April 21, 2015
    A new report from the City Administrative Officer (CAO) studied the homeless landscape in 2013 to see how Los Angeles addressed the “serious challenges” of providing shelter, mental health and medical care, protection from disease, security for personal property and other “critical matters.” What the CAO found was an emphasis was on policing, although the first attempt to quantify the city’s efforts was possible only where it was able to “estimate or track spending.”   read more
  • Ratepayer Advocate Wants Another $648 Million from Edison for San Onofre

    Monday, April 20, 2015
    The Ratepayer Advocate said Edison should pay the money because of recently discovered information that the head of the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) met secretly with a top Edison executive in Europe and agreed on a multi-billion-dollar framework for settling who should pay for the abrupt San Onofre nuclear plant closure: ratepayers or shareholders. Ratepayers ended up paying 70% of the $4.8 billion cost.   read more

California and the Nation

  • After 13 Years, U.S. High Court Allows Lawsuit over Natural Gas Price Manipulation

    Thursday, April 23, 2015
    California kicked off the new millennium with an energy crisis, exacerbated, if not precipitated, by manipulation of the national natural gas market, which led to the eventual collapse of Enron. The high court’s decision clears the way for states, businesses and consumers to sue energy suppliers for decade-old losses.   read more
  • Vocal Anti-Vaxxer Minority Stops State Lawmakers in Their Tracks

    Monday, April 20, 2015
    National polling shows more than 75% of people think vaccinations should be required, and it looked like legislation introduced in February was going to do that. But last week, the rubber hit the road when a very vocal minority showed up at a committee hearing to argue against passage of Senate Bill 277 and told lawmakers they were facing the prospect of 13,000 people with vaccine exemptions pulling their kids from public schools en masse. The legislation was put on hold for a week.   read more
  • Sardines Fall Way Below Minimum Numbers; Fishing Finally Banned

    Tuesday, April 14, 2015
    The crucial forage fish’s population is known for being chronically volatile, but its drop from a high of 1.42 million metric tons in 2007 to 97,000 by next season has become hard to ignore. Geoffrey Shester, Oceana’s California campaign director, said the damage would be felt for decades and told the San Francisco Chronicle, “There’s a management failure here."   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

  • Study Says Solar Rebates Not as Effective as Just Giving Units to Low-Income Folks

    Friday, April 17, 2015
    Researchers analyzed 8,500 solar projects in San Diego between May 2007 and April 2013 and found the broad range of financial subsidies had little correlation with the number of adoptees. The growth in popularity would have been about the same without them, the report concludes. Giving units to lower-income folks would provide a lot more cheap power and toss in a little income redistribution on the side.   read more
  • Record Number of West Nile Deaths in 2014 Linked to Climate Change

    Wednesday, April 15, 2015
    Last week, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced a record 31 deaths in 2014 from West Nile Virus out of 801 cases, the second-highest number ever. California had 379 cases in 2013 and just 111 in 2010. The new numbers confirm a prediction by UCLA researchers in February 2014 that climate change would dramatically increase West Nile in the state.   read more
  • Accused Burglar Beats the Wrap with “I Thought I Was in a Space Station” Defense

    Tuesday, April 14, 2015
    Aviles climbed on to a fire escape and entered an apartment. He took off his shoes and shirt, and crashed on the couch. When he came to, he grabbed a backpack and loaded it with items, including an earthquake kit and a woman’s passport. Aviles testified he thought his long hair looked like hers and the document would guarantee his seat on the spaceship he thought was docked atop the space station/apartment building.   read more

PHOTO GALLERY

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