Portal

  • California “Crushes” the Governor’s Water Conservation Goal. So What?

    Friday, August 28, 2015
    So why all the self-congratulatory back slapping over the state exceeding Governor Jerry Brown's arbitrary conservation goal and cutting back on water usage by 31.3% in July? Topping the state’s goal of 25% is better than falling short, but it doesn’t necessarily mean we are winning or even gaining ground against the threat of extended drought.   read more
  • Uber and Its Suspect Drivers Are Headed for LAX

    Friday, August 28, 2015
    L.A. and S.F. district attorneys filed a 62-page amended complaint last week in a civil lawsuit that claims Uber is a “continuing threat to consumers and the public.” The DAs detailed the criminal histories of 25 drivers, including a convicted murderer and other felons. The lawsuit claims the company misleads the public by calling its background checks rigorous.   read more
  • State Removes Old Student Test Scores from Database to Avoid “Confusion”

    Friday, August 28, 2015
    The department said it was following a state law passed in 2013 that says school districts and the department, “shall not use a comparison resulting from the scores and results” of the new tests “and the assessment scores and results from assessments that measured previously adopted content standards.” That is a directive for agencies not to use old data in their official actions. The law does not comment on parents and nongovernmental organizations having access to the information.   read more
  • Oakland Cops Resisted Limits on License Plate Scans until Hard Drive Filled

    Thursday, August 27, 2015
    The Oakland Police Department said it ran out of room on its computer’s puny 80GB hard drive and had to scale back the length of time it will retain records from forever to six months. The department told Ars Technica that the elaborate procurement process prevented them from just buying an extra terabyte of memory. They cost around $50. “We don't just buy stuff from Amazon as you suggested,” Sergeant Dave Burke told the publication.   read more
  • Ninth Circuit Tells San Diego Federal Court to Stop Shackling Its Pretrial Detainees

    Thursday, August 27, 2015
    The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals acknowledged that the financially-strapped U.S. Marshals Office would save money on staffing and logistics by shackling everyone. But the three-judge panel ruled that wasn’t an excuse for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California to deny people their Constitutional rights. It also looked bad.   read more

PHOTO GALLERY

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

Top Stories

  • Report: Stockton Bank Shootout Was “Excessive and Unnecessary” but Excusable

    Tuesday, August 25, 2015
    Upon review, perhaps it wasn’t necessary for 33 police to shoot at Stockton bank robbers 600 times at four locations during a chaotic, hour-long high-speed chase in July 2014, killing one hostage with a barrage of fire.   read more
  • They're Not “Poor,” but 31% of California Households Can't Afford Basic Needs

    Monday, August 24, 2015
    Researchers for “Struggling to Get By: The Real Cost Measure in California 2015” calculate that 3.2 million California households (31%) lack sufficient income to cover the basic costs of living. That’s even higher than the 23.4% Supplemental Poverty Measure for California used by the U.S. Census Bureau to measure additional cost-of-living factors.   read more
  • Hunt for Exide Lead Contamination Widens; Cleanup Cost Estimates Grow

    Friday, August 21, 2015
    Additional testing could cost $150 million, sources told the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, which is significant since the bankrupt Exide agreed in March to keep the shuttered plant closed and pay $38.6 million to clean up the site. Exide also paid $9 million for the residential cleanup. “We are looking to put a funding stream in place to get started. Then we will recover the cost and pay ourselves back as we go,” DTSC Director Barbara Lee said.   read more

Controversies

  • Auditor: “Many State Entities” Have Serious Data Security Problems

    Wednesday, August 26, 2015
    The auditor laid blame at the feet of the California Department of Technology. Not only is the department not addressing these deficiencies, “until our audit, it was not aware that many reporting entities had not complied with its requirements.” Forty-one of the entities surveyed by the auditor had told the technology department they were 100% compliant with security standards. Only four were.   read more
  • Public Utilities Commission Stonewalls Attorney General on San Onofre

    Wednesday, August 26, 2015
    The CPUC said it was unable to turn over any documents—that’s zero documents—because the agency is too busy fulfilling other requests for documents being made under the California Public Records Act and federal subpoenas. The story didn’t change in Diaz’s August 7 update. “No extension has been requested and no indication has been given as to when the records will be produced,” he wrote.   read more
  • California Cotton Crop Takes Another Hit, Imperils Wary Apparel Industry

    Tuesday, August 25, 2015
    California’s cotton crop, fourth largest in the nation, is expected to decline 24% this year from last. California farmers grew cotton on 1.65 million acres in 1979 and 667,000 acres in 2005, but only expect to harvest 160,000 acres this year. It is the lowest acreage farmed for cotton since the Depression.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • State’s Giant Pension Funds Lost $5.2 Billion in Fossil Fuel Investments

    Monday, August 17, 2015
    CalPERS lost $2.5 billion in oil and gas investments and $542 million in coal. The price of oil dropped by around 50%. CalSTRS dropped $1.8 billion on losing oil and gas investments and $333 million on coal. CalPERS lost $40 million on a single investment, Texas oil shale company Pioneer Natural Resources, according to Bloomberg.   read more
  • Six Charged in Big-Rig-License-for-Cash Scandal at DMV

    Thursday, August 13, 2015
    Federal authorities charged three DMV employees and three truck-school operators in three separate conspiracies that yielded 100 fraudulent licenses without a single test passed. The probe began as three separate investigations before they merged. “Allowing unqualified drivers to operate heavy commercial trucks on our highways is honestly quite chilling,” said Carol Webster, acting assistant special agent in charge of the U.S. Homeland Security Investigations office in Sacramento.   read more
  • Public Advocate Flips Position, Wants $4.7-Billion San Onofre Deal Reopened

    Tuesday, August 11, 2015
    The Office of Ratepayer Advocates (ORA) joined The Utilities Reform Network (TURN), another advocacy group that was a party to the settlement, in flipping its support after e-mails surfaced about backchannel talks between top PUC and Southern California Edison officials over how to structure a deal. The e-mails, along with state and federal criminal investigations, have lent credence to longstanding allegations that the agency was far too cozy with the utilities it regulates.   read more

California and the Nation

  • California’s Obamacare Networks Are Fourth Narrowest in the Nation

    Wednesday, August 26, 2015
    Seventy-five percent of California’s marketplace plans have narrow networks. The nationwide average is 41%. Twelve states managed to avoid any narrow networks. There is no way for a consumer to find out the size of a particular network when shopping for a plan. “It is difficult for a consumer to assess network size, even as a broad concept,” the report says. “As a result, the trade-off between network size and premiums is not at all transparent.”   read more
  • Hungry Russia Is Destroying Food and Banning California Wines

    Wednesday, August 19, 2015
    Russia has been the subject of trade restrictions by the West because of belligerency in Ukraine and Crimea. This week, it was revealed that Russia's consumer rights watchdog Rospotrebnadzor has banned three California wines, although the reason given is health, not retaliation. Rospotrebnadzor said the wines were banned because they showed high levels of phthalic acid and pesticides.   read more
  • Donald Trump Has a Plan for Deporting Millions of California Illegal Immigrants

    Tuesday, August 18, 2015
    For those who have a problem following the free-associated thoughts of the New York billionaire, he published his first formal position paper (pdf) on a subject that has netted him almost as much publicity as comments about Fox News host Megyn Kelly bleeding from her eyes “and whatever.” Although Trump’s blueprint on immigration doesn’t explicitly call for all undocumented immigrants to be deported, he reiterated his demand, on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday, that they “have to go.”   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • Director of the California Conservation Corps: Who Is Bruce Saito?

    Thursday, August 27, 2015
    Bruce Saito was part of the CCC team in 1976 that created the model for youth development and environmental enhancement programs at a time when there were few other 501 (c)(3) non-profits in existence. He was recruited by the L.A. Conservation Corps after former U.S Secretary of Commerce Mickey Kantor founded it in 1986. Saito was executive director emeritus and senior advisor at the L.A. Conservation Corps since 2014.   read more
  • U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag, Scourge of Medical Marijuana, Is Quitting

    Friday, August 07, 2015
    President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder would periodically make sounds about lightening up on states where medical marijuana is legal despite federal laws banning the drug. And then U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag, a 2010 appointee of President Obama, would bust a bunch of dispensaries and give voice to a far less conciliatory policy.   read more
  • Director of the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery: Who Is Scott Smithline?

    Wednesday, July 22, 2015
    Smithline is an environmental lawyer who has split his time between the private and public sectors.Governor Jerry Brown appointed him this month to replace Caroll Mortensen, who was director since October 2011. Mortensen is now senior environmental specialist in CalRecycle’s Legislative and External Affairs Office, agency spokesperson Mark Oldfield told Resource Recycling.   read more

Unusual News

  • Reported Vehicle Break-Ins Spike in San Francisco

    Thursday, August 20, 2015
    The database shows 15,822 total thefts from vehicles to date as of July 31, compared to 11,084 last year. The vast majority qualify as grand theft, 12,742 this year, while 3,080 are petty. Thirteen percent (2,099) of those submitting reports to the police indicated their cars were unlocked.Not everyone files a police report, so it’s hard to interpret the statistics.   read more
  • Most New Driver’s Licenses in California Go to Undocumented Immigrants

    Friday, August 14, 2015
    As of June 30, the agency had issued 397,000 licenses to undocumented applicants out of a total of 759,000 people this year. By the end of July, the numbers were 443,000 licenses to undocumented immigrants out of a total of 883,000 licenses issued in 2015. The DMV expects to issue 1.5 million licenses to undocumented immigrants within three years. California is home to more undocumented immigrants than any other state, with approximately 3 million of them.   read more
  • Millions of Floating Shade Balls Shield L.A. Reservoir from the Sun and EPA

    Wednesday, August 12, 2015
    On Tuesday, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP) capped off dumping the last of 96 million black plastic balls partially-filled with water into the Los Angeles Reservoir. The two-year, $34.5-million program is a way to preserve the 175-acre reservoir, cut cleaning costs and even save a little water (300 million gallons a year) by preventing evaporation.   read more
  • California “Crushes” the Governor’s Water Conservation Goal. So What?

    Friday, August 28, 2015
    So why all the self-congratulatory back slapping over the state exceeding Governor Jerry Brown's arbitrary conservation goal and cutting back on water usage by 31.3% in July? Topping the state’s goal of 25% is better than falling short, but it doesn’t necessarily mean we are winning or even gaining ground against the threat of extended drought.   read more
  • Uber and Its Suspect Drivers Are Headed for LAX

    Friday, August 28, 2015
    L.A. and S.F. district attorneys filed a 62-page amended complaint last week in a civil lawsuit that claims Uber is a “continuing threat to consumers and the public.” The DAs detailed the criminal histories of 25 drivers, including a convicted murderer and other felons. The lawsuit claims the company misleads the public by calling its background checks rigorous.   read more
  • State Removes Old Student Test Scores from Database to Avoid “Confusion”

    Friday, August 28, 2015
    The department said it was following a state law passed in 2013 that says school districts and the department, “shall not use a comparison resulting from the scores and results” of the new tests “and the assessment scores and results from assessments that measured previously adopted content standards.” That is a directive for agencies not to use old data in their official actions. The law does not comment on parents and nongovernmental organizations having access to the information.   read more
  • Oakland Cops Resisted Limits on License Plate Scans until Hard Drive Filled

    Thursday, August 27, 2015
    The Oakland Police Department said it ran out of room on its computer’s puny 80GB hard drive and had to scale back the length of time it will retain records from forever to six months. The department told Ars Technica that the elaborate procurement process prevented them from just buying an extra terabyte of memory. They cost around $50. “We don't just buy stuff from Amazon as you suggested,” Sergeant Dave Burke told the publication.   read more
  • Ninth Circuit Tells San Diego Federal Court to Stop Shackling Its Pretrial Detainees

    Thursday, August 27, 2015
    The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals acknowledged that the financially-strapped U.S. Marshals Office would save money on staffing and logistics by shackling everyone. But the three-judge panel ruled that wasn’t an excuse for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California to deny people their Constitutional rights. It also looked bad.   read more

Top Stories

  • Report: Stockton Bank Shootout Was “Excessive and Unnecessary” but Excusable

    Tuesday, August 25, 2015
    Upon review, perhaps it wasn’t necessary for 33 police to shoot at Stockton bank robbers 600 times at four locations during a chaotic, hour-long high-speed chase in July 2014, killing one hostage with a barrage of fire.   read more
  • They're Not “Poor,” but 31% of California Households Can't Afford Basic Needs

    Monday, August 24, 2015
    Researchers for “Struggling to Get By: The Real Cost Measure in California 2015” calculate that 3.2 million California households (31%) lack sufficient income to cover the basic costs of living. That’s even higher than the 23.4% Supplemental Poverty Measure for California used by the U.S. Census Bureau to measure additional cost-of-living factors.   read more
  • Hunt for Exide Lead Contamination Widens; Cleanup Cost Estimates Grow

    Friday, August 21, 2015
    Additional testing could cost $150 million, sources told the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, which is significant since the bankrupt Exide agreed in March to keep the shuttered plant closed and pay $38.6 million to clean up the site. Exide also paid $9 million for the residential cleanup. “We are looking to put a funding stream in place to get started. Then we will recover the cost and pay ourselves back as we go,” DTSC Director Barbara Lee said.   read more

Controversies

  • Auditor: “Many State Entities” Have Serious Data Security Problems

    Wednesday, August 26, 2015
    The auditor laid blame at the feet of the California Department of Technology. Not only is the department not addressing these deficiencies, “until our audit, it was not aware that many reporting entities had not complied with its requirements.” Forty-one of the entities surveyed by the auditor had told the technology department they were 100% compliant with security standards. Only four were.   read more
  • Public Utilities Commission Stonewalls Attorney General on San Onofre

    Wednesday, August 26, 2015
    The CPUC said it was unable to turn over any documents—that’s zero documents—because the agency is too busy fulfilling other requests for documents being made under the California Public Records Act and federal subpoenas. The story didn’t change in Diaz’s August 7 update. “No extension has been requested and no indication has been given as to when the records will be produced,” he wrote.   read more
  • California Cotton Crop Takes Another Hit, Imperils Wary Apparel Industry

    Tuesday, August 25, 2015
    California’s cotton crop, fourth largest in the nation, is expected to decline 24% this year from last. California farmers grew cotton on 1.65 million acres in 1979 and 667,000 acres in 2005, but only expect to harvest 160,000 acres this year. It is the lowest acreage farmed for cotton since the Depression.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • State’s Giant Pension Funds Lost $5.2 Billion in Fossil Fuel Investments

    Monday, August 17, 2015
    CalPERS lost $2.5 billion in oil and gas investments and $542 million in coal. The price of oil dropped by around 50%. CalSTRS dropped $1.8 billion on losing oil and gas investments and $333 million on coal. CalPERS lost $40 million on a single investment, Texas oil shale company Pioneer Natural Resources, according to Bloomberg.   read more
  • Six Charged in Big-Rig-License-for-Cash Scandal at DMV

    Thursday, August 13, 2015
    Federal authorities charged three DMV employees and three truck-school operators in three separate conspiracies that yielded 100 fraudulent licenses without a single test passed. The probe began as three separate investigations before they merged. “Allowing unqualified drivers to operate heavy commercial trucks on our highways is honestly quite chilling,” said Carol Webster, acting assistant special agent in charge of the U.S. Homeland Security Investigations office in Sacramento.   read more
  • Public Advocate Flips Position, Wants $4.7-Billion San Onofre Deal Reopened

    Tuesday, August 11, 2015
    The Office of Ratepayer Advocates (ORA) joined The Utilities Reform Network (TURN), another advocacy group that was a party to the settlement, in flipping its support after e-mails surfaced about backchannel talks between top PUC and Southern California Edison officials over how to structure a deal. The e-mails, along with state and federal criminal investigations, have lent credence to longstanding allegations that the agency was far too cozy with the utilities it regulates.   read more

California and the Nation

  • California’s Obamacare Networks Are Fourth Narrowest in the Nation

    Wednesday, August 26, 2015
    Seventy-five percent of California’s marketplace plans have narrow networks. The nationwide average is 41%. Twelve states managed to avoid any narrow networks. There is no way for a consumer to find out the size of a particular network when shopping for a plan. “It is difficult for a consumer to assess network size, even as a broad concept,” the report says. “As a result, the trade-off between network size and premiums is not at all transparent.”   read more
  • Hungry Russia Is Destroying Food and Banning California Wines

    Wednesday, August 19, 2015
    Russia has been the subject of trade restrictions by the West because of belligerency in Ukraine and Crimea. This week, it was revealed that Russia's consumer rights watchdog Rospotrebnadzor has banned three California wines, although the reason given is health, not retaliation. Rospotrebnadzor said the wines were banned because they showed high levels of phthalic acid and pesticides.   read more
  • Donald Trump Has a Plan for Deporting Millions of California Illegal Immigrants

    Tuesday, August 18, 2015
    For those who have a problem following the free-associated thoughts of the New York billionaire, he published his first formal position paper (pdf) on a subject that has netted him almost as much publicity as comments about Fox News host Megyn Kelly bleeding from her eyes “and whatever.” Although Trump’s blueprint on immigration doesn’t explicitly call for all undocumented immigrants to be deported, he reiterated his demand, on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday, that they “have to go.”   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • Director of the California Conservation Corps: Who Is Bruce Saito?

    Thursday, August 27, 2015
    Bruce Saito was part of the CCC team in 1976 that created the model for youth development and environmental enhancement programs at a time when there were few other 501 (c)(3) non-profits in existence. He was recruited by the L.A. Conservation Corps after former U.S Secretary of Commerce Mickey Kantor founded it in 1986. Saito was executive director emeritus and senior advisor at the L.A. Conservation Corps since 2014.   read more
  • U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag, Scourge of Medical Marijuana, Is Quitting

    Friday, August 07, 2015
    President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder would periodically make sounds about lightening up on states where medical marijuana is legal despite federal laws banning the drug. And then U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag, a 2010 appointee of President Obama, would bust a bunch of dispensaries and give voice to a far less conciliatory policy.   read more
  • Director of the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery: Who Is Scott Smithline?

    Wednesday, July 22, 2015
    Smithline is an environmental lawyer who has split his time between the private and public sectors.Governor Jerry Brown appointed him this month to replace Caroll Mortensen, who was director since October 2011. Mortensen is now senior environmental specialist in CalRecycle’s Legislative and External Affairs Office, agency spokesperson Mark Oldfield told Resource Recycling.   read more

Unusual News

  • Reported Vehicle Break-Ins Spike in San Francisco

    Thursday, August 20, 2015
    The database shows 15,822 total thefts from vehicles to date as of July 31, compared to 11,084 last year. The vast majority qualify as grand theft, 12,742 this year, while 3,080 are petty. Thirteen percent (2,099) of those submitting reports to the police indicated their cars were unlocked.Not everyone files a police report, so it’s hard to interpret the statistics.   read more
  • Most New Driver’s Licenses in California Go to Undocumented Immigrants

    Friday, August 14, 2015
    As of June 30, the agency had issued 397,000 licenses to undocumented applicants out of a total of 759,000 people this year. By the end of July, the numbers were 443,000 licenses to undocumented immigrants out of a total of 883,000 licenses issued in 2015. The DMV expects to issue 1.5 million licenses to undocumented immigrants within three years. California is home to more undocumented immigrants than any other state, with approximately 3 million of them.   read more
  • Millions of Floating Shade Balls Shield L.A. Reservoir from the Sun and EPA

    Wednesday, August 12, 2015
    On Tuesday, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP) capped off dumping the last of 96 million black plastic balls partially-filled with water into the Los Angeles Reservoir. The two-year, $34.5-million program is a way to preserve the 175-acre reservoir, cut cleaning costs and even save a little water (300 million gallons a year) by preventing evaporation.   read more

PHOTO GALLERY

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