Portal

  • Usual Suspects Surface as California Gasoline Prices Soar

    Friday, April 18, 2014
    A few refineries are experiencing problems after making the annual switch to spring fuels. The price of ethanol, a component of California gas, is soaring on the heels of failed Midwest corn crops. Turmoil in the Ukraine has oil companies nervous and Tuesday’s “blood moon” has made everyone insane. One of those explanations is more ludicrous than the others, but all are suspected of being somewhat short of truthful by cynics who have watched the oil industry whipsaw California for decades.   read more
  • Water Company Fined for Sending Arsenic-Laced Sludge to Monterey County Landfill

    Friday, April 18, 2014
    An investigation began last year after an anonymous tip to the state Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), according to the Monterey County Weekly. As Monterey County Deputy DA Dije Ndreu pointed out, “It's more expensive and a lot more work to do the proper channels and send it off as hazardous waste.”   read more
  • Gay Marriage Foe Who Defended Prop. 8 Before the U.S. Supreme Court Defends His Daughter's Gay Marriage

    Friday, April 18, 2014
    A new book by journalist Jo Becker reveals that Cooper learned his stepdaughter Ashley was gay as the legal fight careened through state and federal courts on its way to Washington. That apparently didn't stop him from arguing, “It is reasonable to be very concerned that redefining marriage . . . as a genderless institution, could well lead, over time, to harms to that institution and to the interests that society has always has always used that institution to address.”   read more
  • New Bay Bridge Has Leaks, Rust and Weld Defects but No Independent Review

    Thursday, April 17, 2014
    The San Francisco Chronicle reported on Saturday that the company that designed the bridge warned Caltrans in 2010 that welds holding the road deck together were at risk because the agency let the builder proceed with mismatched Chinese-manufactured steel sections. Just days before, the Sacramento Bee reported that a key cable—with 137 steel strands—and connecting rods were already rusting because chambers designed to be airtight and watertight were not.   read more
  • IRS Gave Non-Profit Tax-Exempt Status despite Record Campaign Money-Laundering Disclosure in California

    Thursday, April 17, 2014
    An Arizona-based political organization funded almost entirely by the conservative Koch brothers—and that was fined for laundering political contributions in California—was awarded tax-exempt status by the IRS despite the agency knowing this. “Social welfare” groups are not eligible for tax exemption if they spend the majority of their money on politics. But Americans for Responsible Leadership, which had received 98% of its money from a Koch group, received that status from the IRS.   read more

PHOTO GALLERY

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

Top Stories

  • State Decides on Chromium-6 Standard 500 Times Less Strict than CalEPA “Goal”

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014
    The decision affirms a proposal by the department last August to allow 10 parts per billion (ppb) of the chemical made famous by the movie Erin Brockovich in 2000, although CalEPA suggested a goal in 2011 of 0.02 ppb. “A 10-parts-per-billion standard is certainly better than nothing,” said Environmental Working Group Director Renee Sharp. “But when you know that the standard is not truly protecting the public from cancer and other health impacts, it doesn't feel like a victory.”   read more
  • California Republican Voters Tack Far Right in Governor's Race

    Thursday, April 10, 2014
    A new Field Poll (pdf) unsurprisingly has Governor Jerry Brown way ahead of his potential Republican opponents, garnering a 57% approval rate from all likely voters in the run-up to the November 4 election. Right-wing Assemblyman Tim Donnelly is way behind at 17%, but the biggest surprise was that the more mainstream conservative Republican candidate, Neel Kashkari, registered a miniscule 2%.   read more
  • VA Pays Out $8 Million for Wrongful Deaths of 59 Veterans in California; Much More Nationally

    Wednesday, April 09, 2014
    The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs paid out more than $200 million for wrongful deaths of vets in the decade after 9/11, $8 million of which went to families in California, according to The Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR). The center had to use the Freedom of Information Act to obtain the VA data and pumped it into an interactive graphic that gives details on the 59 veterans in California, and 1,000 nationwide, who shouldn't have died when they did.   read more

Controversies

  • Bogus “Job Killer” Bills Give Republicans and Corporate Democrats Something to Talk About

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014
    The California Chamber of Commerce calls them “job killer” bills and released its annual list of the 27 most egregious affronts to common sense and oligarchy in a state where “economic recovery is still the number one issue.” The chamber, which is a symbol as well as mouthpiece for business in the state, could not have enjoyed its success at killing these bills regularly without help from Democrats.   read more
  • Want to Get High? Go to Prison

    Tuesday, April 15, 2014
    The Associated Press reported last week that drug screening last year showed that at least 23% of prisoners had used illegal substances. The number is considered on the low side because 30% of the inmates refused to take the test despite a promise that a positive result wouldn't be held against them. Marijuana was the drug of choice, showing up in half the positive tests, followed by morphine (20%), methamphetamine (14%), amphetamines (11%) and cocaine (2%).   read more
  • Criminals Take Chain Saws to 1,000-Year-Old Redwoods

    Tuesday, April 15, 2014
    Burls, the knotty growth found on ancient redwoods, are the focus of the wanton destruction that has left massive scars on the trees and endangered their growth and reproduction. Poachers prize the burls because they contain intricate wood patterns sought by makers of tabletops, clocks and other home furnishings. Items made from burls can fetch hundreds if not thousands of dollars, making the collection of burls a lucrative—and often illegal—trade.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • California Ranks Last in Government Transparency

    Thursday, April 17, 2014
    The report by USPIRG's Education Fund found that states in general “are making progress toward comprehensive, one-stop, one-click transparency and accountability for government state spending.” But that assessment does not include California. California residents have no way to search contracts and expenditures by recipient, keyword or agency. And there is no web-based data on economic development, including public benefits, tax-expenditure reports and recouped funds.   read more
  • Audit of Corruption-Wracked Cudahy Finds Sloppy Management, Too

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014
    Even before the State Controller’s Office began auditing the small city of Cudahy in southeastern Los Angeles County, it was apparent he wasn’t going to like what he found. And he didn’t. Cudahy tied with the City of Industry for last place in the 2012-13 Los Angeles County Grand Jury study ranking the existence of internal financial controls in its 88 cities. Two city councilmembers and a former city manager pleaded guilty to bribery and extortion in 2012.   read more
  • L.A. Spends 30% More on Wall Street Fees than Streets, and That's Just Half the Story

    Tuesday, April 15, 2014
    The $204-million-dollar figure is actually the report's conservative estimate on how much the city pays annually on a plethora of fees. The authors had to root around in city documents for the unpublicized information it cobbled together but suspect there is much more to be learned. “Alarmingly, we have concluded that the fees we were not able to document may exceed those we could document,” they wrote.   read more

California and the Nation

  • Covered California: Cheaper, Better Insurance, but Good Luck Finding a Doctor or Hospital

    Friday, April 11, 2014
    The dirty little secret of Covered California (CC) is that those using the state's version of Obamacare, presumably to receive a premium subsidy, have far fewer physician and hospital choices than those who deal directly with an insurance provider. In other words, someone whose doctors or hospital are in the regular Blue Shield of California network may very well not be able to find them in the Blue Shield CC exchange network. Sometimes they might find just one.   read more
  • U.S. Sailors Fight for Day in Court to Press $1 Billion Suit over Contamination at Fukushima

    Thursday, April 10, 2014
    It's been two months since lawyers refiled a lawsuit on behalf of U.S. sailors who claim they were made sick during a rescue mission to Fukushima, Japan, in 2011, and so far this one hasn't been tossed by the judge. Seventy-nine sailors aboard the San Diego-based USS Ronald Reagan filed a $1 billion federal class-action lawsuit against Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) for injuries they sustained when the aircraft carrier rushed to assist survivors at the Fukushima nuclear power plant.   read more
  • Are Independent California Voters Accidentally Registering in the Party of George Wallace?

    Tuesday, April 08, 2014
    Paul Mitchell and Michael Vargas, two political operatives who have started a website and a campaign, “AIPrl Fooled,” to inform AIP members that they probably registered with the group by mistake, thinking they were declaring as Independents. “People just assume they see the word 'independent' and they say, 'That's right, I'm independent,' then click the box on American Independent Party,” Vargas told KPCC.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • California State Librarian: Who Is Greg Lucas?

    Wednesday, March 26, 2014
    The next California State Librarian is not a librarian. Governor Jerry Brown announced that Greg Lucas, a longtime Bay Area political writer with deep political connections, will take over the post. “What the hell?” Roy B. Stone, president of the Librarians’ Guild, inquired of a Los Angeles Times reporter. The Guild represents 350 librarians in Los Angeles. “I’m tired of political appointments everywhere you go for everything,” Stone said.   read more
  • Director of the Employment Development Department: Who Is Patrick Henning?

    Tuesday, March 25, 2014
    Henning, who has been Brown's chief deputy appointments secretary since 2011, comes from a family with a deep history of involvement in government and labor. Henning's father, Patrick Sr., ran EDD for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger from 2004-2009. Henning's grandfather, Jack, led the state labor federation for 26 years, was ambassador to New Zealand and served as U.S. undersecretary of labor in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations.   read more
  • Director of the Department of Rehabilitation: Who Is Joe Xavier?

    Friday, March 14, 2014
    Governor Jerry Brown’s new director at the Department of Rehabilitation (DOR), Joe Xavier, has come a long way from his early days as a nearly-blind immigrant milking cows instead of pursuing a college education. Brown appointed the Azores native with the impressive back story to head the department on February 14. He took over for Anthony Sauer, who had been director since 2007. Sauer was paralyzed from the waist down in a motorcycle accident when he was 18.   read more

Unusual News

  • Abusive San Diego Cop Allegedly Protected by Department for Almost 20 Years

    Monday, April 14, 2014
    In late 2011, former cop Anthony Arevalos was convicted of sexual battery against 13 women over a period of months. Questions were raised then why Arevalos hadn't been confronted earlier about the string of complaints, but it wasn't until last week that information surfaced that knowledge of the officer's criminal behavior went much further back.   read more
  • L.A. Orders Nonprofit that Treats Sick Kids with Cannabis Extract to Shut Down

    Thursday, April 03, 2014
    The Los Angeles city attorney has told Realm of Caring it does not fit under the city’s year-old medical marijuana ordinance and must close. The group, cited last August for its cannabis treatment of child epilepsy by Gupta in a laudatory CNN documentary, has an outpost in the city. Most alleged dispensaries in the city are being shut down under Proposition D for various reasons, most prominently being they had to have been around since 2006. Realm of Caring is new.   read more
  • Court Revives Lawsuit Against Hospital over Woman who Froze to Death in the Morgue

    Thursday, April 03, 2014
    Eighty-year-old heart-attack patient Maria de Jesus Arroyo might not have been dead when Dr. John J. Posay III made the pronouncement at White Memorial Medical Center in Los Angeles on July 26, 2010, but she was definitely deceased after being locked in the icy cold morgue for a few days. Lawyers for Arroyo's family didn't know that when they sued the hospital over very obvious facial injuries suffered by the woman.   read more
  • Usual Suspects Surface as California Gasoline Prices Soar

    Friday, April 18, 2014
    A few refineries are experiencing problems after making the annual switch to spring fuels. The price of ethanol, a component of California gas, is soaring on the heels of failed Midwest corn crops. Turmoil in the Ukraine has oil companies nervous and Tuesday’s “blood moon” has made everyone insane. One of those explanations is more ludicrous than the others, but all are suspected of being somewhat short of truthful by cynics who have watched the oil industry whipsaw California for decades.   read more
  • Water Company Fined for Sending Arsenic-Laced Sludge to Monterey County Landfill

    Friday, April 18, 2014
    An investigation began last year after an anonymous tip to the state Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), according to the Monterey County Weekly. As Monterey County Deputy DA Dije Ndreu pointed out, “It's more expensive and a lot more work to do the proper channels and send it off as hazardous waste.”   read more
  • Gay Marriage Foe Who Defended Prop. 8 Before the U.S. Supreme Court Defends His Daughter's Gay Marriage

    Friday, April 18, 2014
    A new book by journalist Jo Becker reveals that Cooper learned his stepdaughter Ashley was gay as the legal fight careened through state and federal courts on its way to Washington. That apparently didn't stop him from arguing, “It is reasonable to be very concerned that redefining marriage . . . as a genderless institution, could well lead, over time, to harms to that institution and to the interests that society has always has always used that institution to address.”   read more
  • New Bay Bridge Has Leaks, Rust and Weld Defects but No Independent Review

    Thursday, April 17, 2014
    The San Francisco Chronicle reported on Saturday that the company that designed the bridge warned Caltrans in 2010 that welds holding the road deck together were at risk because the agency let the builder proceed with mismatched Chinese-manufactured steel sections. Just days before, the Sacramento Bee reported that a key cable—with 137 steel strands—and connecting rods were already rusting because chambers designed to be airtight and watertight were not.   read more
  • IRS Gave Non-Profit Tax-Exempt Status despite Record Campaign Money-Laundering Disclosure in California

    Thursday, April 17, 2014
    An Arizona-based political organization funded almost entirely by the conservative Koch brothers—and that was fined for laundering political contributions in California—was awarded tax-exempt status by the IRS despite the agency knowing this. “Social welfare” groups are not eligible for tax exemption if they spend the majority of their money on politics. But Americans for Responsible Leadership, which had received 98% of its money from a Koch group, received that status from the IRS.   read more

Top Stories

  • State Decides on Chromium-6 Standard 500 Times Less Strict than CalEPA “Goal”

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014
    The decision affirms a proposal by the department last August to allow 10 parts per billion (ppb) of the chemical made famous by the movie Erin Brockovich in 2000, although CalEPA suggested a goal in 2011 of 0.02 ppb. “A 10-parts-per-billion standard is certainly better than nothing,” said Environmental Working Group Director Renee Sharp. “But when you know that the standard is not truly protecting the public from cancer and other health impacts, it doesn't feel like a victory.”   read more
  • California Republican Voters Tack Far Right in Governor's Race

    Thursday, April 10, 2014
    A new Field Poll (pdf) unsurprisingly has Governor Jerry Brown way ahead of his potential Republican opponents, garnering a 57% approval rate from all likely voters in the run-up to the November 4 election. Right-wing Assemblyman Tim Donnelly is way behind at 17%, but the biggest surprise was that the more mainstream conservative Republican candidate, Neel Kashkari, registered a miniscule 2%.   read more
  • VA Pays Out $8 Million for Wrongful Deaths of 59 Veterans in California; Much More Nationally

    Wednesday, April 09, 2014
    The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs paid out more than $200 million for wrongful deaths of vets in the decade after 9/11, $8 million of which went to families in California, according to The Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR). The center had to use the Freedom of Information Act to obtain the VA data and pumped it into an interactive graphic that gives details on the 59 veterans in California, and 1,000 nationwide, who shouldn't have died when they did.   read more

Controversies

  • Bogus “Job Killer” Bills Give Republicans and Corporate Democrats Something to Talk About

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014
    The California Chamber of Commerce calls them “job killer” bills and released its annual list of the 27 most egregious affronts to common sense and oligarchy in a state where “economic recovery is still the number one issue.” The chamber, which is a symbol as well as mouthpiece for business in the state, could not have enjoyed its success at killing these bills regularly without help from Democrats.   read more
  • Want to Get High? Go to Prison

    Tuesday, April 15, 2014
    The Associated Press reported last week that drug screening last year showed that at least 23% of prisoners had used illegal substances. The number is considered on the low side because 30% of the inmates refused to take the test despite a promise that a positive result wouldn't be held against them. Marijuana was the drug of choice, showing up in half the positive tests, followed by morphine (20%), methamphetamine (14%), amphetamines (11%) and cocaine (2%).   read more
  • Criminals Take Chain Saws to 1,000-Year-Old Redwoods

    Tuesday, April 15, 2014
    Burls, the knotty growth found on ancient redwoods, are the focus of the wanton destruction that has left massive scars on the trees and endangered their growth and reproduction. Poachers prize the burls because they contain intricate wood patterns sought by makers of tabletops, clocks and other home furnishings. Items made from burls can fetch hundreds if not thousands of dollars, making the collection of burls a lucrative—and often illegal—trade.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • California Ranks Last in Government Transparency

    Thursday, April 17, 2014
    The report by USPIRG's Education Fund found that states in general “are making progress toward comprehensive, one-stop, one-click transparency and accountability for government state spending.” But that assessment does not include California. California residents have no way to search contracts and expenditures by recipient, keyword or agency. And there is no web-based data on economic development, including public benefits, tax-expenditure reports and recouped funds.   read more
  • Audit of Corruption-Wracked Cudahy Finds Sloppy Management, Too

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014
    Even before the State Controller’s Office began auditing the small city of Cudahy in southeastern Los Angeles County, it was apparent he wasn’t going to like what he found. And he didn’t. Cudahy tied with the City of Industry for last place in the 2012-13 Los Angeles County Grand Jury study ranking the existence of internal financial controls in its 88 cities. Two city councilmembers and a former city manager pleaded guilty to bribery and extortion in 2012.   read more
  • L.A. Spends 30% More on Wall Street Fees than Streets, and That's Just Half the Story

    Tuesday, April 15, 2014
    The $204-million-dollar figure is actually the report's conservative estimate on how much the city pays annually on a plethora of fees. The authors had to root around in city documents for the unpublicized information it cobbled together but suspect there is much more to be learned. “Alarmingly, we have concluded that the fees we were not able to document may exceed those we could document,” they wrote.   read more

California and the Nation

  • Covered California: Cheaper, Better Insurance, but Good Luck Finding a Doctor or Hospital

    Friday, April 11, 2014
    The dirty little secret of Covered California (CC) is that those using the state's version of Obamacare, presumably to receive a premium subsidy, have far fewer physician and hospital choices than those who deal directly with an insurance provider. In other words, someone whose doctors or hospital are in the regular Blue Shield of California network may very well not be able to find them in the Blue Shield CC exchange network. Sometimes they might find just one.   read more
  • U.S. Sailors Fight for Day in Court to Press $1 Billion Suit over Contamination at Fukushima

    Thursday, April 10, 2014
    It's been two months since lawyers refiled a lawsuit on behalf of U.S. sailors who claim they were made sick during a rescue mission to Fukushima, Japan, in 2011, and so far this one hasn't been tossed by the judge. Seventy-nine sailors aboard the San Diego-based USS Ronald Reagan filed a $1 billion federal class-action lawsuit against Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) for injuries they sustained when the aircraft carrier rushed to assist survivors at the Fukushima nuclear power plant.   read more
  • Are Independent California Voters Accidentally Registering in the Party of George Wallace?

    Tuesday, April 08, 2014
    Paul Mitchell and Michael Vargas, two political operatives who have started a website and a campaign, “AIPrl Fooled,” to inform AIP members that they probably registered with the group by mistake, thinking they were declaring as Independents. “People just assume they see the word 'independent' and they say, 'That's right, I'm independent,' then click the box on American Independent Party,” Vargas told KPCC.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • California State Librarian: Who Is Greg Lucas?

    Wednesday, March 26, 2014
    The next California State Librarian is not a librarian. Governor Jerry Brown announced that Greg Lucas, a longtime Bay Area political writer with deep political connections, will take over the post. “What the hell?” Roy B. Stone, president of the Librarians’ Guild, inquired of a Los Angeles Times reporter. The Guild represents 350 librarians in Los Angeles. “I’m tired of political appointments everywhere you go for everything,” Stone said.   read more
  • Director of the Employment Development Department: Who Is Patrick Henning?

    Tuesday, March 25, 2014
    Henning, who has been Brown's chief deputy appointments secretary since 2011, comes from a family with a deep history of involvement in government and labor. Henning's father, Patrick Sr., ran EDD for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger from 2004-2009. Henning's grandfather, Jack, led the state labor federation for 26 years, was ambassador to New Zealand and served as U.S. undersecretary of labor in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations.   read more
  • Director of the Department of Rehabilitation: Who Is Joe Xavier?

    Friday, March 14, 2014
    Governor Jerry Brown’s new director at the Department of Rehabilitation (DOR), Joe Xavier, has come a long way from his early days as a nearly-blind immigrant milking cows instead of pursuing a college education. Brown appointed the Azores native with the impressive back story to head the department on February 14. He took over for Anthony Sauer, who had been director since 2007. Sauer was paralyzed from the waist down in a motorcycle accident when he was 18.   read more

Unusual News

  • Abusive San Diego Cop Allegedly Protected by Department for Almost 20 Years

    Monday, April 14, 2014
    In late 2011, former cop Anthony Arevalos was convicted of sexual battery against 13 women over a period of months. Questions were raised then why Arevalos hadn't been confronted earlier about the string of complaints, but it wasn't until last week that information surfaced that knowledge of the officer's criminal behavior went much further back.   read more
  • L.A. Orders Nonprofit that Treats Sick Kids with Cannabis Extract to Shut Down

    Thursday, April 03, 2014
    The Los Angeles city attorney has told Realm of Caring it does not fit under the city’s year-old medical marijuana ordinance and must close. The group, cited last August for its cannabis treatment of child epilepsy by Gupta in a laudatory CNN documentary, has an outpost in the city. Most alleged dispensaries in the city are being shut down under Proposition D for various reasons, most prominently being they had to have been around since 2006. Realm of Caring is new.   read more
  • Court Revives Lawsuit Against Hospital over Woman who Froze to Death in the Morgue

    Thursday, April 03, 2014
    Eighty-year-old heart-attack patient Maria de Jesus Arroyo might not have been dead when Dr. John J. Posay III made the pronouncement at White Memorial Medical Center in Los Angeles on July 26, 2010, but she was definitely deceased after being locked in the icy cold morgue for a few days. Lawyers for Arroyo's family didn't know that when they sued the hospital over very obvious facial injuries suffered by the woman.   read more

PHOTO GALLERY

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