Portal

  • Hundreds of Unlined Oil Wastewater Pits in Kern County Have No Permits

    Monday, March 02, 2015
    The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board compared notes with the state Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) last year and made an unhappy discovery. The state had records on a lot more unlined pits than the board had issued permits for. They have been around for decades and became more popular after the practice of dumping wastewater in drainage canals servicing agricultural fields fell out of favor in the 1980s.   read more
  • Uber Tells 21,000 California Drivers Their Info Was Hacked—Nine Months Ago

    Monday, March 02, 2015
    The San Francisco-based ride-sharing company disclosed on Saturday that a third party hacked from its database the names and driver’s license numbers of 50,000 current and former drivers, 21,000 from California. Uber said the breach occurred in May 2014, it discovered the hack in September and has now begun alerting folks that they have been in harm’s way for nine months.   read more
  • Gay Group in State Celebrates Recognition by a Political Party that Rejects Them

    Monday, March 02, 2015
    By an 861-293 vote, the state GOP officially sanctioned the 38-year-old group at its biannual gathering of the party faithful over the weekend. It is perhaps one thing to be wanted and another to be accepted. John Briscoe, president of the socially conservative California Republican Assembly (CRA), amplified the conflict. “I have a hard time understanding how we’re going to charter an organization that’s in opposition to our platform,” he said.   read more
  • EPA Says State's 25-Year Renewable Energy Plan Is Deficient and Already Out of Date

    Friday, February 27, 2015
    The EPA noted that at the core of the report was a calculation from July 2012 that the state would need 20,000 megawatts of power generated by large-scale wind, solar and geothermal projects in the desert and inland valleys. However, “the sharp decline in the cost of rooftop solar-powered electricity; the growing demand for, and deployment of, energy storage; and Governor Brown’s recent proposal to raise State’s renewable portfolio standard” changed that.   read more
  • Research Group Unimpressed by Online Charter Schools’ 36% Graduation Rate

    Friday, February 27, 2015
    “In every year since it began graduating students, except 2013, CAVA has had more dropouts than graduates,” according to a report (pdf) from In the Public Interest, a Washington, D.C.-based research group. CAVA’s graduation rate was 36% for the latest three years available, 2010-11 through 2012-13. That compares rather unfavorably to state averages of 78% during the same period.   read more

PHOTO GALLERY

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

Top Stories

  • L.A. County Gives Early Snapshot of Prop. 47’s “Profound Impacts”

    Thursday, February 26, 2015
    A draft report found that narcotics arrests in L.A. County dropped 38% during the two-month period after the law passed, compared to the same time frame a year earlier. The jail population dropped 15%, and would have dropped more if the Sheriff hadn’t taken advantage of the situation to hang on to the worst offenders longer.   read more
  • Shhh! Santa Clara County Sheriff Is Getting a Stingray Cellphone Tracker

    Wednesday, February 25, 2015
    The lone dissenter among the Santa Clara supervisors, Joe Simitian, addressed his concerns in remarks to Sheriff Smith at Tuesday’s meeting, according to the San Jose Mercury News: “Just to be clear, we're being asked to spend $500,000 of taxpayers’ money, plus $40,000 a year for a product the brand name of which you are not sure, the specs you don't know, a demonstration you haven't seen for which there is no policy in place, for which you have a nondisclosure agreement.”   read more
  • Oakland VA Lost Thousands of Veterans Claims, Found Them, Then Lost Them Again

    Monday, February 23, 2015
    Investigators found a disorganized mess at the Oakland VA; what they didn’t find were records of the 13,184 unprocessed informal claims or the 2,155 identified as requiring additional action. “We also could not confirm that only 537 informal claims remained to be processed following the special project team’s review,” the OIG said, blaming “poor record-keeping practices.”   read more

Controversies

  • Berkeley City Council Declares No-Drone Zone for One Year

    Thursday, February 26, 2015
    A report from the Peace and Justice Commission to the city council in April 2014 warned that drones weren’t safe, their usability was limited, their surveillance capability presented a “slippery slope” toward “mission creep” that would threaten civil liberties, and they imperiled the constitutional right of privacy. The 7-1 vote, with one abstention, still allows the fire department to use drones for disaster response.   read more
  • Despite $4-Million Fine, Kaiser Still Mucking Up Mental Health Treatment

    Wednesday, February 25, 2015
    This month’s report from California’s Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) reiterated findings in previous reports that Kaiser has not resolved the “significant and serious concerns” that resulted in a $4 million fine by the state in 2013. Patients are forced to wait too long for appointments with therapists and psychiatrists, and they are given incorrect information about services available to them.   read more
  • No, SoCal Gas Does Not Endorse that Insurance Mailer Despite the Logo

    Tuesday, February 24, 2015
    Many SoCal Gas customers received a packet of information from HEIS under the letterhead of The Gas Company’s parent, Sempra Energy, warning of dire things that could happen to their home and the danger of being underinsured. Four dollars and ninety-five cents a month buys $3,000 worth of protection and billing is included on the gas bill. So, is this an endorsement of HEIS by The Gas Company. No. But a lot of people won’t know that by just reading the sales pitch.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Schwarzenegger's Bid to Sell 11 Government Complexes Cost State $24 Million

    Wednesday, February 25, 2015
    The independent Legislative Analyst’s Office said the deal could cost the state $1.5 billion over 35 years. When Jerry Brown was elected governor in November 2010, he cancelled the “short-sighted” sale that “would have cost taxpayers billions of dollars in the long-run.” When California First sued, the state added a claim that the group had missed a payment.   read more
  • State Hasn’t Spent $1 Billion in Federal Funds for Housing Crash Victims

    Tuesday, February 24, 2015
    The Hardest Hit Fund doled out $7.6 billion and earmarked $2 billion for California. Although the money was a tad belated, Keep Your Home California, as the program was called in the state, was still desperately needed by underwater borrowers. Five years later, California has spent less than half of its allocation.   read more
  • L.A. Schools Chief Derides $1.3-Billion “Gimmick of the Year” iPads for All

    Monday, February 23, 2015
    The 82-year-old, three-time LAUSD superintendent completed his U-turn last week when he told a gaggle of reporters, “I don't believe we can afford a device for every student.” Cortines said the district really never had a solid plan for how the computers would be integrated into the school system and how the district would pay for them. He advocated a more balanced spending approach and said he wanted a $1 billion in bond money to fix up dilapidated campuses.   read more

California and the Nation

  • State Study Links Unregulated, Ultrafine Pollution Particles to Heart Disease Deaths

    Thursday, February 26, 2015
    A new report published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives found a stronger association in some cases between heart disease deaths and long-term exposure to UFPs than with fine particles, which are subject to both state and federal emissions regulations. UFPs are subject to neither.   read more
  • Program to Import “Needed” Tech Workers Displaces 400 Laid-Off SoCal Edison Workers

    Tuesday, February 10, 2015
    U-T San Diego quoted from an Edison release that explained the change “will lead to enhancements that deliver faster and more efficient tools and applications for services that customers rely on.” How will hiring different workers enhance Edison’s service? The answer is, apparently, cheaper labor. “This can best be achieved by continuing to be mindful of SCE’s responsibility to spend customers’ money prudently,” Edison said.   read more
  • Activists Say They Will Sue California for Motor Voter Registration Failure

    Friday, February 06, 2015
    “California does not treat the driver’s license application as a voter registration application—instead it makes voters complete an entirely separate voter registration application,” Demos lawyer Stuart Naifeh said. The department also fails “to properly transmit voter registration applications and changes of address from the DMV to election officials,” according to the complaint filed with the state.   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

  • A Lot of Bird Species Carry Lyme Disease Bacteria in California

    Friday, February 27, 2015
    Although woodrats, western gray squirrels, deer and other small mammals are generally considered the most likely creatures to host the western black-legged ticks that carry the bacteria responsible for Lyme disease, birds might give them a run for their money. Researchers looked at 623 birds at 14 sites in Mendocino County and found 284 juvenile ticks on 100 of them. Fifty-seven of those birds had Lyme disease spirochetes. Twenty-three of 53 bird species tested were infected.   read more
  • Field Poll: Democratic California Prefers Republican Condi Rice for Senate

    Friday, February 20, 2015
    Rice won. But to be fair to the other candidates, it must be said, this was not a head-to-head battle with early frontrunner California Attorney General Kamala Harris, former L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa or any of the other presumed Democratic candidates in this bluest of blue states. It was a poll of how “inclined” people were to vote for a particular candidate and they could be inclined toward more than one.   read more
  • Foul-Smelling Sludge Coming Out of Los Angeles Suburb’s Taps

    Tuesday, February 17, 2015
    In a memo last month, the city said it had been hearing complaints for three years, but they’ve gone from “occasional” reports of brown water to “numerous” complaints about black water during the last six months. The water company assured residents that the black gunk coming out of their taps “can be unsightly and concerning,” but they should rest assured that it “is safe to drink.”   read more
  • Hundreds of Unlined Oil Wastewater Pits in Kern County Have No Permits

    Monday, March 02, 2015
    The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board compared notes with the state Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) last year and made an unhappy discovery. The state had records on a lot more unlined pits than the board had issued permits for. They have been around for decades and became more popular after the practice of dumping wastewater in drainage canals servicing agricultural fields fell out of favor in the 1980s.   read more
  • Uber Tells 21,000 California Drivers Their Info Was Hacked—Nine Months Ago

    Monday, March 02, 2015
    The San Francisco-based ride-sharing company disclosed on Saturday that a third party hacked from its database the names and driver’s license numbers of 50,000 current and former drivers, 21,000 from California. Uber said the breach occurred in May 2014, it discovered the hack in September and has now begun alerting folks that they have been in harm’s way for nine months.   read more
  • Gay Group in State Celebrates Recognition by a Political Party that Rejects Them

    Monday, March 02, 2015
    By an 861-293 vote, the state GOP officially sanctioned the 38-year-old group at its biannual gathering of the party faithful over the weekend. It is perhaps one thing to be wanted and another to be accepted. John Briscoe, president of the socially conservative California Republican Assembly (CRA), amplified the conflict. “I have a hard time understanding how we’re going to charter an organization that’s in opposition to our platform,” he said.   read more
  • EPA Says State's 25-Year Renewable Energy Plan Is Deficient and Already Out of Date

    Friday, February 27, 2015
    The EPA noted that at the core of the report was a calculation from July 2012 that the state would need 20,000 megawatts of power generated by large-scale wind, solar and geothermal projects in the desert and inland valleys. However, “the sharp decline in the cost of rooftop solar-powered electricity; the growing demand for, and deployment of, energy storage; and Governor Brown’s recent proposal to raise State’s renewable portfolio standard” changed that.   read more
  • Research Group Unimpressed by Online Charter Schools’ 36% Graduation Rate

    Friday, February 27, 2015
    “In every year since it began graduating students, except 2013, CAVA has had more dropouts than graduates,” according to a report (pdf) from In the Public Interest, a Washington, D.C.-based research group. CAVA’s graduation rate was 36% for the latest three years available, 2010-11 through 2012-13. That compares rather unfavorably to state averages of 78% during the same period.   read more

Top Stories

  • L.A. County Gives Early Snapshot of Prop. 47’s “Profound Impacts”

    Thursday, February 26, 2015
    A draft report found that narcotics arrests in L.A. County dropped 38% during the two-month period after the law passed, compared to the same time frame a year earlier. The jail population dropped 15%, and would have dropped more if the Sheriff hadn’t taken advantage of the situation to hang on to the worst offenders longer.   read more
  • Shhh! Santa Clara County Sheriff Is Getting a Stingray Cellphone Tracker

    Wednesday, February 25, 2015
    The lone dissenter among the Santa Clara supervisors, Joe Simitian, addressed his concerns in remarks to Sheriff Smith at Tuesday’s meeting, according to the San Jose Mercury News: “Just to be clear, we're being asked to spend $500,000 of taxpayers’ money, plus $40,000 a year for a product the brand name of which you are not sure, the specs you don't know, a demonstration you haven't seen for which there is no policy in place, for which you have a nondisclosure agreement.”   read more
  • Oakland VA Lost Thousands of Veterans Claims, Found Them, Then Lost Them Again

    Monday, February 23, 2015
    Investigators found a disorganized mess at the Oakland VA; what they didn’t find were records of the 13,184 unprocessed informal claims or the 2,155 identified as requiring additional action. “We also could not confirm that only 537 informal claims remained to be processed following the special project team’s review,” the OIG said, blaming “poor record-keeping practices.”   read more

Controversies

  • Berkeley City Council Declares No-Drone Zone for One Year

    Thursday, February 26, 2015
    A report from the Peace and Justice Commission to the city council in April 2014 warned that drones weren’t safe, their usability was limited, their surveillance capability presented a “slippery slope” toward “mission creep” that would threaten civil liberties, and they imperiled the constitutional right of privacy. The 7-1 vote, with one abstention, still allows the fire department to use drones for disaster response.   read more
  • Despite $4-Million Fine, Kaiser Still Mucking Up Mental Health Treatment

    Wednesday, February 25, 2015
    This month’s report from California’s Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) reiterated findings in previous reports that Kaiser has not resolved the “significant and serious concerns” that resulted in a $4 million fine by the state in 2013. Patients are forced to wait too long for appointments with therapists and psychiatrists, and they are given incorrect information about services available to them.   read more
  • No, SoCal Gas Does Not Endorse that Insurance Mailer Despite the Logo

    Tuesday, February 24, 2015
    Many SoCal Gas customers received a packet of information from HEIS under the letterhead of The Gas Company’s parent, Sempra Energy, warning of dire things that could happen to their home and the danger of being underinsured. Four dollars and ninety-five cents a month buys $3,000 worth of protection and billing is included on the gas bill. So, is this an endorsement of HEIS by The Gas Company. No. But a lot of people won’t know that by just reading the sales pitch.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Schwarzenegger's Bid to Sell 11 Government Complexes Cost State $24 Million

    Wednesday, February 25, 2015
    The independent Legislative Analyst’s Office said the deal could cost the state $1.5 billion over 35 years. When Jerry Brown was elected governor in November 2010, he cancelled the “short-sighted” sale that “would have cost taxpayers billions of dollars in the long-run.” When California First sued, the state added a claim that the group had missed a payment.   read more
  • State Hasn’t Spent $1 Billion in Federal Funds for Housing Crash Victims

    Tuesday, February 24, 2015
    The Hardest Hit Fund doled out $7.6 billion and earmarked $2 billion for California. Although the money was a tad belated, Keep Your Home California, as the program was called in the state, was still desperately needed by underwater borrowers. Five years later, California has spent less than half of its allocation.   read more
  • L.A. Schools Chief Derides $1.3-Billion “Gimmick of the Year” iPads for All

    Monday, February 23, 2015
    The 82-year-old, three-time LAUSD superintendent completed his U-turn last week when he told a gaggle of reporters, “I don't believe we can afford a device for every student.” Cortines said the district really never had a solid plan for how the computers would be integrated into the school system and how the district would pay for them. He advocated a more balanced spending approach and said he wanted a $1 billion in bond money to fix up dilapidated campuses.   read more

California and the Nation

  • State Study Links Unregulated, Ultrafine Pollution Particles to Heart Disease Deaths

    Thursday, February 26, 2015
    A new report published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives found a stronger association in some cases between heart disease deaths and long-term exposure to UFPs than with fine particles, which are subject to both state and federal emissions regulations. UFPs are subject to neither.   read more
  • Program to Import “Needed” Tech Workers Displaces 400 Laid-Off SoCal Edison Workers

    Tuesday, February 10, 2015
    U-T San Diego quoted from an Edison release that explained the change “will lead to enhancements that deliver faster and more efficient tools and applications for services that customers rely on.” How will hiring different workers enhance Edison’s service? The answer is, apparently, cheaper labor. “This can best be achieved by continuing to be mindful of SCE’s responsibility to spend customers’ money prudently,” Edison said.   read more
  • Activists Say They Will Sue California for Motor Voter Registration Failure

    Friday, February 06, 2015
    “California does not treat the driver’s license application as a voter registration application—instead it makes voters complete an entirely separate voter registration application,” Demos lawyer Stuart Naifeh said. The department also fails “to properly transmit voter registration applications and changes of address from the DMV to election officials,” according to the complaint filed with the state.   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

  • A Lot of Bird Species Carry Lyme Disease Bacteria in California

    Friday, February 27, 2015
    Although woodrats, western gray squirrels, deer and other small mammals are generally considered the most likely creatures to host the western black-legged ticks that carry the bacteria responsible for Lyme disease, birds might give them a run for their money. Researchers looked at 623 birds at 14 sites in Mendocino County and found 284 juvenile ticks on 100 of them. Fifty-seven of those birds had Lyme disease spirochetes. Twenty-three of 53 bird species tested were infected.   read more
  • Field Poll: Democratic California Prefers Republican Condi Rice for Senate

    Friday, February 20, 2015
    Rice won. But to be fair to the other candidates, it must be said, this was not a head-to-head battle with early frontrunner California Attorney General Kamala Harris, former L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa or any of the other presumed Democratic candidates in this bluest of blue states. It was a poll of how “inclined” people were to vote for a particular candidate and they could be inclined toward more than one.   read more
  • Foul-Smelling Sludge Coming Out of Los Angeles Suburb’s Taps

    Tuesday, February 17, 2015
    In a memo last month, the city said it had been hearing complaints for three years, but they’ve gone from “occasional” reports of brown water to “numerous” complaints about black water during the last six months. The water company assured residents that the black gunk coming out of their taps “can be unsightly and concerning,” but they should rest assured that it “is safe to drink.”   read more

PHOTO GALLERY

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