Portal

  • Loggers Win! U.S. Forest Service Gives the Go to Clear Remains of the Rim Fire

    Thursday, August 28, 2014
    The U.S. Forest Service announced on Wednesday it had rejected environmentalist calls to let the 15,000 acres of ravaged terrain in question recover naturally and approved plans to log the area. Trees deemed a threat to the public will be cleared along another 17,706 square miles along roads. Chad Hanson, director of the John Muir Project of Earth Island Institute, called her decision an “ecological travesty.”   read more
  • Court Tells FedEx Its Drivers Are Employees, Not Under-Compensated Contractors

    Thursday, August 28, 2014
    The complexity of the law and competing judicial applications of it have facilitated a decades-long move to reclassify employees as independent contractors to avoid legal and social obligations. It’s a great corporate cost-cutter whose popularity continues to grow as the labor force is redefined.   read more
  • L.A. Settles with Another Hospital over Patient Dumping on Skid Row

    Thursday, August 28, 2014
    Glendale Adventist is said to have “illegally discharged and transported or caused to be transported homeless, mentally-ill, disabled, dependent adult patients who were unable to take care of themselves on Skid Row,” according to Courthouse News Service, which saw the 6-page lawsuit filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court. The hospital settled with the city for $700,000 but denied everything.   read more
  • Federal Judge Decides California Gun Owners Don't Have to Wait to Buy More Guns

    Wednesday, August 27, 2014
    If a gun owner in California wants to buy a gun but is discouraged from doing so by having to wait 10 days for a background check to be completed, he has been denied his Second Amendment right to possess a weapon. At least that’s the interpretation of the Constitution by U.S. District Judge Anthony W. Ishii. The lawsuit did not challenge the 10-day wait for first-time buyers.   read more
  • Ex-Nuclear Inspector's Secret Report Urged Closure of Diablo Canyon Plant

    Wednesday, August 27, 2014
    When Dr. Michael Peck was the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) senior inspector at California’s Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant, he filed a report that said the facility should be shut down until its operators can prove it is able to withstand a strong earthquake. The document, written a year ago, wasn't made public by the environmental group Friends of the Earth until Monday after the Associated Press wrote about it.   read more

PHOTO GALLERY

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

Top Stories

  • L.A. Schools Chief Abruptly Ends $1-Billion iPads-for-All Program

    Tuesday, August 26, 2014
    Times reporters wrote last week about an early peek they got at a school district internal draft report critical of the program that cited a lack of transparency during the bidding process. Among its complaints, the report said that project specifications were changed after much of the competition had been eliminated from the process. It also cited appearances of a conflict of interest between Deasy, his staff and vendors.   read more
  • Where is the State's Earthquake Alert System?

    Monday, August 25, 2014
    It's been 146 years since a physician, Dr. J.D. Cooper, wrote an editorial in the San Francisco Evening Bulletin that laid out his vision for an alert system to give the city advanced warning of an approaching earthquake. California has pieces of a demonstration earthquake alert system in place that gave a 10-second alert to scientists at the University of California Berkeley Seismo Lab Sunday when a 6.0 shaker hit Napa, but was of no help to folks at the epicenter.   read more
  • Record BofA Mortgage Settlement Has $800 Million for California but Not a Lot for Homeowners

    Friday, August 22, 2014
    Like the earlier settlements, only a portion is aimed at homeowner relief. No bankers are going to jail and a big chunk of the money will be treated as ordinary expenses for tax purposes. “These tax write-offs shift the burden back onto taxpayers and send the wrong message,” U.S. Public Interest Research Group analyst Phineas Baxandall told the Times.   read more

Controversies

  • California Reverses Decision that Let Insurance Coverage Exclude Abortions

    Monday, August 25, 2014
    California’s Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) sent letters to seven insurance companies that it had “erroneously approved or did not object” to language in insurance policies that “discriminate against women by limiting or excluding coverage for termination of pregnancies.” That means Loyola Marymount University (LMU) in Los Angeles and Santa Clara University, two Jesuit-run institutions, cannot exclude abortion coverage from employee insurance policies.   read more
  • L.A. Schools Struggle to Open Year with Sputtering New Computer System

    Monday, August 25, 2014
    “To me it’s complete chaos,” special education teacher Kelly Flores told Yana Gracile at LA School Report two weeks after launch. “I don’t know how to access my students, and even if I could, I don’t know how because I haven’t been trained,” she said. My Integrated Student Information System (MiSiS) is responsible for “attendance, scheduling, grades, counseling, discipline, health, A-G course completion, and a great deal more,” according to LAUSD.   read more
  • Solar Farm in the Mojave Seen Igniting One Bird Every Two Minutes

    Thursday, August 21, 2014
    Observers call the birds that ignite in midair “streamers,” for the trail of smoke that follows behind them. The Center for Biological Diversity estimates that 28,000 birds are cooked annually at Ivanpah but BrightSource puts the number at 1,000. Ivanpah has 300,000 heliostat mirrors focusing the sun’s rays on 459-foot-high tanks of water, producing steam to run a conventional turbine that produces electricity.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Texas Company Sues Oakland for $1 Billion over Trash Contract Given to Locals

    Tuesday, August 26, 2014
    The Texans claim in the suit that the city shared details of its bid with the competition and rejected the staff recommendation in accepting a lousier deal. The lawsuit alleges, “The City Council’s actions appeared heavily swayed by long-term personal and political connections with” CWS. Both companies said they would raise rates for consumers, but CWS promised a smaller bump. Concerns were also expressed about the Texans outsourcing jobs in billing, dispatch, call centers and customer service.   read more
  • State Auditor Sees Dead People Collecting Medi-Cal Rehab Reimbursements

    Friday, August 22, 2014
    California State Auditor Elaine Howle’s report, which covered five and a half years between July 2008 and December 2013, found 323 instances of money being reimbursed to providers of services “purportedly rendered to deceased beneficiaries.” The auditor accused Medi-Cal administrators of shoddy practices that may have steered $93.7 million to alcohol and drug and rehabilitation clinics under fraudulent circumstances during a four-year period.   read more
  • Record Number of UC Freshmen Are from Out of State

    Wednesday, August 20, 2014
    Although university officials tout the benefits of increased diversity, the prime motivation is money. The students will bring an extra $400 million with them to the schools. The university told the Times that no in-state student is denied admission to the UC system because of the change in admission policy the past few years. Even if that were true, being admitted to UC Merced might not placate the California student who in the recent past might have earned a spot at UCLA.   read more

California and the Nation

  • Deadline Looms for 100,000 in Covered California to Prove Residency

    Tuesday, August 26, 2014
    The Los Angeles Times reported last week that the state was still missing proper documentation for 100,000 people but they had until late September or October to make their case. And according to Covered California (CC) Executive Director Peter Lee, they might have a case to make. “We are quite confident where people have not provided information it's not because they are not citizens,” Lee reportedly told a CC board meeting. “Rather, it's a challenge of getting the information to us.”   read more
  • Data Breach Alert at 180 Albertsons Stores in Southern California

    Tuesday, August 19, 2014
    The company said it contained the breach and patched it, and didn’t believe any data had been stolen. But it doesn’t really know. It assured customers they could continue to use their cards, but an investigation is just getting underway. The breach, which was not explained in any detail, allegedly occurred as early as June 22 and continued until July 17 at the latest.   read more
  • Porn Permits in L.A. Plunge, but Has Production Just Gone Underground?

    Wednesday, August 13, 2014
    John Rogers at the Associated Press found a few folks who think they might not have gone far. “A lot are simply shooting in out-of-the-way places where they won't be caught,” Adult Video News senior editor Mark Kernes said. “Normally it's in people's homes who are willing to rent them out for a day. Sometimes it's out in the woods".   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • California Supreme Court Justice: Who Is Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar?

    Wednesday, July 23, 2014
    The 41-year-old Stanford law professor was born in Mexico before moving with his family to the U.S. when he was 14. A registered Democrat, Cuéllar worked in the Clinton and Obama administrations in various capacities. He specializes in administrative and immigration law, but has taught a broad range of courses, including international and criminal law.   read more
  • President and CEO of California Institute for Regenerative Medicine: Who Is C. Randal Mills?

    Monday, July 21, 2014
    Mills, 42, takes over the stem cell program as it enters the final years of the 2004 voter-approved, $3-billion venture to fund projects. Although his predecessor was said to be leaving to spend more time with his family in Australia, Alan Trounson was immediately hired by one of the companies CIRM had awarded millions of dollars to, re-enforcing the perception that the agency had a serious conflict-of-interest and cronyism problem.   read more
  • Acting Director of the Department of Parks and Recreation: Who Is Lisa Mangat?

    Friday, July 04, 2014
    She takes over a department, wracked by scandal and plagued by a lack of funding, whose $654 million budget is under intense scrutiny. Her predecessor, retired Marine Corps Major General Anthony L. Jackson, was hired in November 2012 with a mandate to reform the agency. His predecessor, Ruth Coleman, resigned four months earlier after $54 million was found stashed in department accounts while 70 state parks faced closure because of budget cuts.   read more

Unusual News

  • Beverly Hills Cops Mistake Black TV Producer for Bank Robber after Pre-Emmy Party

    Wednesday, August 27, 2014
    Charles Belk wrote on his Facebook page: “Within an evening, I was wrongly arrested, locked up, denied a phone call, denied explanation of charges against me, denied ever being read my rights, denied being able to speak to my lawyer for a lengthy time, and denied being told that my car had been impounded. . . . All because I was mis-indentified as the wrong ‘tall, bald head, black male,’ . . . fitting the description.”   read more
  • Los Angeles Considers Giving Citizens Lottery Tickets if They Vote

    Friday, August 22, 2014
    With as few as 8% of registered voters showing up to vote in some recent elections, the Los Angeles Ethics Commission has urged the City Council to consider improving turnout with a lottery pilot program. No actual vote would be required, but those participating would have to show up at the polls to participate. There was no decision on what the grand prize for participating in the democratic process.   read more
  • Legal Battle over Wording of Soda Tax Ballot Measure in Berkeley

    Thursday, August 21, 2014
    A suit was filed last week by two men, at least one of whom has ties to the No Berkeley Beverage Tax campaign, which receives funding from the American Beverage Association. It claims that the city substituted the phrase “high-calorie, sugary drinks” for “sugar-sweetened beverage” in the ballot language. The plaintiffs, Anthony Johnson and Leon Cain, would prefer the phrase “sugar-sweetened beverage products” to be used.   read more
  • Loggers Win! U.S. Forest Service Gives the Go to Clear Remains of the Rim Fire

    Thursday, August 28, 2014
    The U.S. Forest Service announced on Wednesday it had rejected environmentalist calls to let the 15,000 acres of ravaged terrain in question recover naturally and approved plans to log the area. Trees deemed a threat to the public will be cleared along another 17,706 square miles along roads. Chad Hanson, director of the John Muir Project of Earth Island Institute, called her decision an “ecological travesty.”   read more
  • Court Tells FedEx Its Drivers Are Employees, Not Under-Compensated Contractors

    Thursday, August 28, 2014
    The complexity of the law and competing judicial applications of it have facilitated a decades-long move to reclassify employees as independent contractors to avoid legal and social obligations. It’s a great corporate cost-cutter whose popularity continues to grow as the labor force is redefined.   read more
  • L.A. Settles with Another Hospital over Patient Dumping on Skid Row

    Thursday, August 28, 2014
    Glendale Adventist is said to have “illegally discharged and transported or caused to be transported homeless, mentally-ill, disabled, dependent adult patients who were unable to take care of themselves on Skid Row,” according to Courthouse News Service, which saw the 6-page lawsuit filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court. The hospital settled with the city for $700,000 but denied everything.   read more
  • Federal Judge Decides California Gun Owners Don't Have to Wait to Buy More Guns

    Wednesday, August 27, 2014
    If a gun owner in California wants to buy a gun but is discouraged from doing so by having to wait 10 days for a background check to be completed, he has been denied his Second Amendment right to possess a weapon. At least that’s the interpretation of the Constitution by U.S. District Judge Anthony W. Ishii. The lawsuit did not challenge the 10-day wait for first-time buyers.   read more
  • Ex-Nuclear Inspector's Secret Report Urged Closure of Diablo Canyon Plant

    Wednesday, August 27, 2014
    When Dr. Michael Peck was the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) senior inspector at California’s Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant, he filed a report that said the facility should be shut down until its operators can prove it is able to withstand a strong earthquake. The document, written a year ago, wasn't made public by the environmental group Friends of the Earth until Monday after the Associated Press wrote about it.   read more

Top Stories

  • L.A. Schools Chief Abruptly Ends $1-Billion iPads-for-All Program

    Tuesday, August 26, 2014
    Times reporters wrote last week about an early peek they got at a school district internal draft report critical of the program that cited a lack of transparency during the bidding process. Among its complaints, the report said that project specifications were changed after much of the competition had been eliminated from the process. It also cited appearances of a conflict of interest between Deasy, his staff and vendors.   read more
  • Where is the State's Earthquake Alert System?

    Monday, August 25, 2014
    It's been 146 years since a physician, Dr. J.D. Cooper, wrote an editorial in the San Francisco Evening Bulletin that laid out his vision for an alert system to give the city advanced warning of an approaching earthquake. California has pieces of a demonstration earthquake alert system in place that gave a 10-second alert to scientists at the University of California Berkeley Seismo Lab Sunday when a 6.0 shaker hit Napa, but was of no help to folks at the epicenter.   read more
  • Record BofA Mortgage Settlement Has $800 Million for California but Not a Lot for Homeowners

    Friday, August 22, 2014
    Like the earlier settlements, only a portion is aimed at homeowner relief. No bankers are going to jail and a big chunk of the money will be treated as ordinary expenses for tax purposes. “These tax write-offs shift the burden back onto taxpayers and send the wrong message,” U.S. Public Interest Research Group analyst Phineas Baxandall told the Times.   read more

Controversies

  • California Reverses Decision that Let Insurance Coverage Exclude Abortions

    Monday, August 25, 2014
    California’s Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) sent letters to seven insurance companies that it had “erroneously approved or did not object” to language in insurance policies that “discriminate against women by limiting or excluding coverage for termination of pregnancies.” That means Loyola Marymount University (LMU) in Los Angeles and Santa Clara University, two Jesuit-run institutions, cannot exclude abortion coverage from employee insurance policies.   read more
  • L.A. Schools Struggle to Open Year with Sputtering New Computer System

    Monday, August 25, 2014
    “To me it’s complete chaos,” special education teacher Kelly Flores told Yana Gracile at LA School Report two weeks after launch. “I don’t know how to access my students, and even if I could, I don’t know how because I haven’t been trained,” she said. My Integrated Student Information System (MiSiS) is responsible for “attendance, scheduling, grades, counseling, discipline, health, A-G course completion, and a great deal more,” according to LAUSD.   read more
  • Solar Farm in the Mojave Seen Igniting One Bird Every Two Minutes

    Thursday, August 21, 2014
    Observers call the birds that ignite in midair “streamers,” for the trail of smoke that follows behind them. The Center for Biological Diversity estimates that 28,000 birds are cooked annually at Ivanpah but BrightSource puts the number at 1,000. Ivanpah has 300,000 heliostat mirrors focusing the sun’s rays on 459-foot-high tanks of water, producing steam to run a conventional turbine that produces electricity.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Texas Company Sues Oakland for $1 Billion over Trash Contract Given to Locals

    Tuesday, August 26, 2014
    The Texans claim in the suit that the city shared details of its bid with the competition and rejected the staff recommendation in accepting a lousier deal. The lawsuit alleges, “The City Council’s actions appeared heavily swayed by long-term personal and political connections with” CWS. Both companies said they would raise rates for consumers, but CWS promised a smaller bump. Concerns were also expressed about the Texans outsourcing jobs in billing, dispatch, call centers and customer service.   read more
  • State Auditor Sees Dead People Collecting Medi-Cal Rehab Reimbursements

    Friday, August 22, 2014
    California State Auditor Elaine Howle’s report, which covered five and a half years between July 2008 and December 2013, found 323 instances of money being reimbursed to providers of services “purportedly rendered to deceased beneficiaries.” The auditor accused Medi-Cal administrators of shoddy practices that may have steered $93.7 million to alcohol and drug and rehabilitation clinics under fraudulent circumstances during a four-year period.   read more
  • Record Number of UC Freshmen Are from Out of State

    Wednesday, August 20, 2014
    Although university officials tout the benefits of increased diversity, the prime motivation is money. The students will bring an extra $400 million with them to the schools. The university told the Times that no in-state student is denied admission to the UC system because of the change in admission policy the past few years. Even if that were true, being admitted to UC Merced might not placate the California student who in the recent past might have earned a spot at UCLA.   read more

California and the Nation

  • Deadline Looms for 100,000 in Covered California to Prove Residency

    Tuesday, August 26, 2014
    The Los Angeles Times reported last week that the state was still missing proper documentation for 100,000 people but they had until late September or October to make their case. And according to Covered California (CC) Executive Director Peter Lee, they might have a case to make. “We are quite confident where people have not provided information it's not because they are not citizens,” Lee reportedly told a CC board meeting. “Rather, it's a challenge of getting the information to us.”   read more
  • Data Breach Alert at 180 Albertsons Stores in Southern California

    Tuesday, August 19, 2014
    The company said it contained the breach and patched it, and didn’t believe any data had been stolen. But it doesn’t really know. It assured customers they could continue to use their cards, but an investigation is just getting underway. The breach, which was not explained in any detail, allegedly occurred as early as June 22 and continued until July 17 at the latest.   read more
  • Porn Permits in L.A. Plunge, but Has Production Just Gone Underground?

    Wednesday, August 13, 2014
    John Rogers at the Associated Press found a few folks who think they might not have gone far. “A lot are simply shooting in out-of-the-way places where they won't be caught,” Adult Video News senior editor Mark Kernes said. “Normally it's in people's homes who are willing to rent them out for a day. Sometimes it's out in the woods".   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • California Supreme Court Justice: Who Is Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar?

    Wednesday, July 23, 2014
    The 41-year-old Stanford law professor was born in Mexico before moving with his family to the U.S. when he was 14. A registered Democrat, Cuéllar worked in the Clinton and Obama administrations in various capacities. He specializes in administrative and immigration law, but has taught a broad range of courses, including international and criminal law.   read more
  • President and CEO of California Institute for Regenerative Medicine: Who Is C. Randal Mills?

    Monday, July 21, 2014
    Mills, 42, takes over the stem cell program as it enters the final years of the 2004 voter-approved, $3-billion venture to fund projects. Although his predecessor was said to be leaving to spend more time with his family in Australia, Alan Trounson was immediately hired by one of the companies CIRM had awarded millions of dollars to, re-enforcing the perception that the agency had a serious conflict-of-interest and cronyism problem.   read more
  • Acting Director of the Department of Parks and Recreation: Who Is Lisa Mangat?

    Friday, July 04, 2014
    She takes over a department, wracked by scandal and plagued by a lack of funding, whose $654 million budget is under intense scrutiny. Her predecessor, retired Marine Corps Major General Anthony L. Jackson, was hired in November 2012 with a mandate to reform the agency. His predecessor, Ruth Coleman, resigned four months earlier after $54 million was found stashed in department accounts while 70 state parks faced closure because of budget cuts.   read more

Unusual News

  • Beverly Hills Cops Mistake Black TV Producer for Bank Robber after Pre-Emmy Party

    Wednesday, August 27, 2014
    Charles Belk wrote on his Facebook page: “Within an evening, I was wrongly arrested, locked up, denied a phone call, denied explanation of charges against me, denied ever being read my rights, denied being able to speak to my lawyer for a lengthy time, and denied being told that my car had been impounded. . . . All because I was mis-indentified as the wrong ‘tall, bald head, black male,’ . . . fitting the description.”   read more
  • Los Angeles Considers Giving Citizens Lottery Tickets if They Vote

    Friday, August 22, 2014
    With as few as 8% of registered voters showing up to vote in some recent elections, the Los Angeles Ethics Commission has urged the City Council to consider improving turnout with a lottery pilot program. No actual vote would be required, but those participating would have to show up at the polls to participate. There was no decision on what the grand prize for participating in the democratic process.   read more
  • Legal Battle over Wording of Soda Tax Ballot Measure in Berkeley

    Thursday, August 21, 2014
    A suit was filed last week by two men, at least one of whom has ties to the No Berkeley Beverage Tax campaign, which receives funding from the American Beverage Association. It claims that the city substituted the phrase “high-calorie, sugary drinks” for “sugar-sweetened beverage” in the ballot language. The plaintiffs, Anthony Johnson and Leon Cain, would prefer the phrase “sugar-sweetened beverage products” to be used.   read more

PHOTO GALLERY

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