Portal

  • State Putting “Lexus Lanes” on Orange County Interstate Despite Local Opposition

    Tuesday, July 29, 2014
    Caltrans would get a couple of revenue-producing “Lexus lanes” and people willing and able to pay for a more luxurious driving experience would have a less-encumbered thoroughfare. Less fortunate Orange County motorists would have the same five free lanes that drove them to pass Measure M2 eight years ago and spend $1.3 billion, when there were fewer drivers on the road.   read more
  • Hedge Funds Do Not Make Good Landlords

    Tuesday, July 29, 2014
    Fifty-six percent of Blackstone residents in Los Angeles County reported troubles with their pipes, according to a survey of renters in 1,400 Southern California properties owned by the firm. In Riverside County, 38% of respondents complained about having roaches or insects in their homes. Ninety-six percent of the tenants in Los Angeles County, and 85% in Riverside County, were people of color. Their rents were, buy and large, unaffordable by HUD standards.   read more
  • Troubled State Sonoma Developmental Center Avoids Closure but Is Losing Federal Funds

    Tuesday, July 29, 2014
    The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced on Friday that seven of the center’s 11 units will lose their certification and federal funds, just as the other four did last year. But the center, located in Sonoma County’s Eldridge community, did not lose its state license and can stay open for now.   read more
  • Nestle Partners with Tribe for Under-the-Radar Groundwater Pumping in the Desert

    Monday, July 28, 2014
    Critics point to a decline in groundwater in the surrounding Cabazon area, the drought, and the wisdom of pumping and bottling water in the desert for shipment elsewhere. The Morongo, who hooked up with Nestle after paying the Cabazon Water District $3 million for the water rights, aren’t subject to the same oversight or reporting requirements as other entities because they are sovereign.   read more
  • PG&E and Its Regulator Bonded in E-Mails after Deadly San Bruno Pipeline Explosion

    Monday, July 28, 2014
    Around 7,000 e-mails, released as part of a lawsuit settlement, documented how the PUC and Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) worked together to fend off criticism and investigators after the San Bruno pipeline explosion killed eight people and leveled a neighborhood in September 2010. A federal grand jury indicted PG&E in April on 12 counts involving safety violations leading to the San Bruno explosion.   read more

PHOTO GALLERY

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

Top Stories

  • Replacement Scaffolding Is a Bad Sign at Troubled Board of Equalization Building

    Friday, July 25, 2014
    The move by the state Department of General Services (DGS) indicates workers will be stuck in a building described by the Sacramento Bee as having a “history of toxic mold, defective elevators, leaking windows, corroded wastewater pipes, floods, and exterior glass panels that spontaneously break or pop off. “Even though my lawyers told me not to say this, I don’t think it’s safe,” Board Chairman Jerome Horton told the Bee.   read more
  • Feds Saunter Toward Oil-Rail Regulations While Trains Barrel into California

    Thursday, July 24, 2014
    The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) released a “Comprehensive Proposed Rulemaking” plan to increase the safety of the trains and improve emergency response after a wakeup call from Canada. Forty-seven people died in July 2013 when a train carrying 63 cars of Bakken crude from North Dakota derailed and exploded in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec. Meanwhile, California more than doubled the amount of oil-by-rail it usually receives in the first quarter of the year.   read more
  • Federal and State Agencies Join Yurok Tribe in Humboldt Raid on Pot Farmers

    Wednesday, July 23, 2014
    California just endured the hottest six months in its recorded history, but that didn’t stop state and federal government agencies from joining with the Yurok tribe to turn up the heat on marijuana growers blamed for sucking up the reservation’s water in Humboldt County. It is anticipated that tens of thousands of plants will be eradicated in the next 10 days.   read more

Controversies

  • Petroleum Trade Association Sues Compton over Fracking Moratorium

    Friday, July 25, 2014
    The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) filed a complaint this week in Los Angeles County Superior Court against Compton, claiming that statewide fracking legislation passed last September in Sacramento pre-empted moratoriums and bans by municipalities. The suit also says the city violated the California Constitution when it banned well stimulation in other municipalities if the well’s bottom sat beneath Compton.   read more
  • Conflicted Californians Give Mixed Message about the Environment

    Thursday, July 24, 2014
    The Public Policy Institute of California found that on one hand, 76% of those polled favor requiring that one-third of the state’s electricity come from renewable energy sources. On the other hand, only 30% see the wisdom of the move if it raises their electricity bill. Sixty-two percent of adult Californians believe that global warming has already started, but only 40% are “very concerned” about it.   read more
  • Shattered Myth of the Scattered Blue Whale Has Them at Risk in Shipping “Hot Spots”

    Thursday, July 24, 2014
    A new study published in the journal Plos One found that two of the densest food locations for blue whales lie across busy shipping lanes, contradicting earlier studies that said whales were widely dispersed and safer for it. But those studies were largely based on anecdotal sightings and limited data. The new study tagged 171 blue whales, the world’s largest creatures, and tracked them for 15 years using satellites.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Dubious “Think Tank” Runs Insulting Campaign against Minimum Wage in S.F.

    Friday, July 25, 2014
    The billboard is sponsored by Badideasca.com, which is a project of the Employment Policies Institute (EPI). The conservative non-profit “research organization” does a lot of work for the restaurant industry, according to Pando. The institute was featured in an article by Salon last November that ripped the media for accepting claims by industry public relations firms that they are respectable think tanks.   read more
  • New Job for Ex-Stem Cell Board Leader Reignites Charges of Cronyism

    Tuesday, July 22, 2014
    When Alan Trounson announced he was quitting his job as president and CEO of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), the official release said he was leaving to spend more time with his family in Australia. It was a short reunion. Within a week of his June 30 departure, he joined the board of StemCells, Inc, a recipient of $19.4 million from CIRM for Alzheimer's research.   read more
  • Median Price of Homes in San Francisco Tops $1 Million

    Friday, July 18, 2014
    The continued influx of tech employees rolling in stock option money and Asian investors offering all-cash deals drove prices up 13.3% compared to a year ago, according to DataQuick. That is actually a slower pace than a year ago, when prices were up 23.8% over 2012. Not surprisingly, rents in San Francisco are also impressive. While RealFacts says the average rental asking price in the Bay Area for apartments and townhomes is $2,158 a month, San Francisco tops out at $3,229.   read more

California and the Nation

  • California Is One of the Places to Be if You Want to Be Wiretapped

    Friday, July 18, 2014
    The annual Wiretap Report from the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts listed California third, based on the number of wiretaps judges approved per 500,000 residents, clocking in at 11.7. Nevada (mostly Las Vegas) dominated at 38.2, followed by the District of Columbia (17), Colorado (12.4), California and New York (10.7). Of the 3,576 wiretaps approved, 2,331 were installed. Only one request was not authorized.   read more
  • California Businessman Sentenced for Economic Espionage to Help China

    Thursday, July 17, 2014
    Liew and his wife set up a California company in the 1990s and hired former DuPont engineers to obtain documents that detailed the process of making titanium dioxide (TiO2), a closely guarded DuPont secret that nets it $14 billion a year. The whitening agent is an ingredient in Oreo cookies, toothpaste, sunscreen and cosmetics. Liew received more than $20 million from the Chinese for the secrets.   read more
  • Lawsuit Blames State Pesticide Agency Stalling in Honeybee Disaster

    Friday, July 11, 2014
    The link of neonicotinoid pesticides to the decline of honeybees is not new, and because it is not new, a coalition of advocacy groups sued California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) this week to do something about it. Five years of “foot-dragging,” while expanding the pesticide’s acceptable use, is a violation of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and other laws, the suit contends.   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

  • Entertainment-Deprived Californians Get Their First Running of the Bulls

    Monday, July 28, 2014
    The Great Bull Run, attended by 2,500 paying customers, was just like the famed runs in Spain, except instead of hurtling through town from the stockyards to a bullring, they ran briefly around a racetrack. Unlike in Spain, there is no 700-year tradition and no bullfight and more animal abuse afterward. That is illegal. Around 40 animal rights protesters chanted slogans and waved signs near the entrance, but a crowd about to risk their lives dashing ahead of snorting bulls was not deterred.   read more
  • Auto Thieves Love California and Aren’t Picky about the Cities They Hit Hardest

    Tuesday, July 22, 2014
    California cities captured nine of the top 10 “hot spots” in the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) 2013 report of per-capita car thefts in the country. Spokane, Washington, was the only non-California city on the list at No. 7. California also snatched the No. 11, 14, 15, 16 and 18 spots. While conventional wisdom might point toward wealthy cities with expensive automobiles or port cities for quick shipment overseas, the top 3 cities were all in the state’s farm belt.   read more
  • City Undeterred by State Drought Restrictions, Threatens Couple with Fine for Brown Lawn

    Monday, July 21, 2014
    Laura Whitney and her husband, Michael Korte, weren't quite sure what lesson to draw from the dual warnings. “My friends in Los Angeles got these letters warning they could be fined if they water, and I got a letter warning that I could be fined for not watering,” Whitney told the Associated Press. “I felt like I was in an alternate universe.”   read more
  • State Putting “Lexus Lanes” on Orange County Interstate Despite Local Opposition

    Tuesday, July 29, 2014
    Caltrans would get a couple of revenue-producing “Lexus lanes” and people willing and able to pay for a more luxurious driving experience would have a less-encumbered thoroughfare. Less fortunate Orange County motorists would have the same five free lanes that drove them to pass Measure M2 eight years ago and spend $1.3 billion, when there were fewer drivers on the road.   read more
  • Hedge Funds Do Not Make Good Landlords

    Tuesday, July 29, 2014
    Fifty-six percent of Blackstone residents in Los Angeles County reported troubles with their pipes, according to a survey of renters in 1,400 Southern California properties owned by the firm. In Riverside County, 38% of respondents complained about having roaches or insects in their homes. Ninety-six percent of the tenants in Los Angeles County, and 85% in Riverside County, were people of color. Their rents were, buy and large, unaffordable by HUD standards.   read more
  • Troubled State Sonoma Developmental Center Avoids Closure but Is Losing Federal Funds

    Tuesday, July 29, 2014
    The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced on Friday that seven of the center’s 11 units will lose their certification and federal funds, just as the other four did last year. But the center, located in Sonoma County’s Eldridge community, did not lose its state license and can stay open for now.   read more
  • Nestle Partners with Tribe for Under-the-Radar Groundwater Pumping in the Desert

    Monday, July 28, 2014
    Critics point to a decline in groundwater in the surrounding Cabazon area, the drought, and the wisdom of pumping and bottling water in the desert for shipment elsewhere. The Morongo, who hooked up with Nestle after paying the Cabazon Water District $3 million for the water rights, aren’t subject to the same oversight or reporting requirements as other entities because they are sovereign.   read more
  • PG&E and Its Regulator Bonded in E-Mails after Deadly San Bruno Pipeline Explosion

    Monday, July 28, 2014
    Around 7,000 e-mails, released as part of a lawsuit settlement, documented how the PUC and Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) worked together to fend off criticism and investigators after the San Bruno pipeline explosion killed eight people and leveled a neighborhood in September 2010. A federal grand jury indicted PG&E in April on 12 counts involving safety violations leading to the San Bruno explosion.   read more

Top Stories

  • Replacement Scaffolding Is a Bad Sign at Troubled Board of Equalization Building

    Friday, July 25, 2014
    The move by the state Department of General Services (DGS) indicates workers will be stuck in a building described by the Sacramento Bee as having a “history of toxic mold, defective elevators, leaking windows, corroded wastewater pipes, floods, and exterior glass panels that spontaneously break or pop off. “Even though my lawyers told me not to say this, I don’t think it’s safe,” Board Chairman Jerome Horton told the Bee.   read more
  • Feds Saunter Toward Oil-Rail Regulations While Trains Barrel into California

    Thursday, July 24, 2014
    The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) released a “Comprehensive Proposed Rulemaking” plan to increase the safety of the trains and improve emergency response after a wakeup call from Canada. Forty-seven people died in July 2013 when a train carrying 63 cars of Bakken crude from North Dakota derailed and exploded in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec. Meanwhile, California more than doubled the amount of oil-by-rail it usually receives in the first quarter of the year.   read more
  • Federal and State Agencies Join Yurok Tribe in Humboldt Raid on Pot Farmers

    Wednesday, July 23, 2014
    California just endured the hottest six months in its recorded history, but that didn’t stop state and federal government agencies from joining with the Yurok tribe to turn up the heat on marijuana growers blamed for sucking up the reservation’s water in Humboldt County. It is anticipated that tens of thousands of plants will be eradicated in the next 10 days.   read more

Controversies

  • Petroleum Trade Association Sues Compton over Fracking Moratorium

    Friday, July 25, 2014
    The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) filed a complaint this week in Los Angeles County Superior Court against Compton, claiming that statewide fracking legislation passed last September in Sacramento pre-empted moratoriums and bans by municipalities. The suit also says the city violated the California Constitution when it banned well stimulation in other municipalities if the well’s bottom sat beneath Compton.   read more
  • Conflicted Californians Give Mixed Message about the Environment

    Thursday, July 24, 2014
    The Public Policy Institute of California found that on one hand, 76% of those polled favor requiring that one-third of the state’s electricity come from renewable energy sources. On the other hand, only 30% see the wisdom of the move if it raises their electricity bill. Sixty-two percent of adult Californians believe that global warming has already started, but only 40% are “very concerned” about it.   read more
  • Shattered Myth of the Scattered Blue Whale Has Them at Risk in Shipping “Hot Spots”

    Thursday, July 24, 2014
    A new study published in the journal Plos One found that two of the densest food locations for blue whales lie across busy shipping lanes, contradicting earlier studies that said whales were widely dispersed and safer for it. But those studies were largely based on anecdotal sightings and limited data. The new study tagged 171 blue whales, the world’s largest creatures, and tracked them for 15 years using satellites.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Dubious “Think Tank” Runs Insulting Campaign against Minimum Wage in S.F.

    Friday, July 25, 2014
    The billboard is sponsored by Badideasca.com, which is a project of the Employment Policies Institute (EPI). The conservative non-profit “research organization” does a lot of work for the restaurant industry, according to Pando. The institute was featured in an article by Salon last November that ripped the media for accepting claims by industry public relations firms that they are respectable think tanks.   read more
  • New Job for Ex-Stem Cell Board Leader Reignites Charges of Cronyism

    Tuesday, July 22, 2014
    When Alan Trounson announced he was quitting his job as president and CEO of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), the official release said he was leaving to spend more time with his family in Australia. It was a short reunion. Within a week of his June 30 departure, he joined the board of StemCells, Inc, a recipient of $19.4 million from CIRM for Alzheimer's research.   read more
  • Median Price of Homes in San Francisco Tops $1 Million

    Friday, July 18, 2014
    The continued influx of tech employees rolling in stock option money and Asian investors offering all-cash deals drove prices up 13.3% compared to a year ago, according to DataQuick. That is actually a slower pace than a year ago, when prices were up 23.8% over 2012. Not surprisingly, rents in San Francisco are also impressive. While RealFacts says the average rental asking price in the Bay Area for apartments and townhomes is $2,158 a month, San Francisco tops out at $3,229.   read more

California and the Nation

  • California Is One of the Places to Be if You Want to Be Wiretapped

    Friday, July 18, 2014
    The annual Wiretap Report from the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts listed California third, based on the number of wiretaps judges approved per 500,000 residents, clocking in at 11.7. Nevada (mostly Las Vegas) dominated at 38.2, followed by the District of Columbia (17), Colorado (12.4), California and New York (10.7). Of the 3,576 wiretaps approved, 2,331 were installed. Only one request was not authorized.   read more
  • California Businessman Sentenced for Economic Espionage to Help China

    Thursday, July 17, 2014
    Liew and his wife set up a California company in the 1990s and hired former DuPont engineers to obtain documents that detailed the process of making titanium dioxide (TiO2), a closely guarded DuPont secret that nets it $14 billion a year. The whitening agent is an ingredient in Oreo cookies, toothpaste, sunscreen and cosmetics. Liew received more than $20 million from the Chinese for the secrets.   read more
  • Lawsuit Blames State Pesticide Agency Stalling in Honeybee Disaster

    Friday, July 11, 2014
    The link of neonicotinoid pesticides to the decline of honeybees is not new, and because it is not new, a coalition of advocacy groups sued California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) this week to do something about it. Five years of “foot-dragging,” while expanding the pesticide’s acceptable use, is a violation of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and other laws, the suit contends.   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

  • Entertainment-Deprived Californians Get Their First Running of the Bulls

    Monday, July 28, 2014
    The Great Bull Run, attended by 2,500 paying customers, was just like the famed runs in Spain, except instead of hurtling through town from the stockyards to a bullring, they ran briefly around a racetrack. Unlike in Spain, there is no 700-year tradition and no bullfight and more animal abuse afterward. That is illegal. Around 40 animal rights protesters chanted slogans and waved signs near the entrance, but a crowd about to risk their lives dashing ahead of snorting bulls was not deterred.   read more
  • Auto Thieves Love California and Aren’t Picky about the Cities They Hit Hardest

    Tuesday, July 22, 2014
    California cities captured nine of the top 10 “hot spots” in the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) 2013 report of per-capita car thefts in the country. Spokane, Washington, was the only non-California city on the list at No. 7. California also snatched the No. 11, 14, 15, 16 and 18 spots. While conventional wisdom might point toward wealthy cities with expensive automobiles or port cities for quick shipment overseas, the top 3 cities were all in the state’s farm belt.   read more
  • City Undeterred by State Drought Restrictions, Threatens Couple with Fine for Brown Lawn

    Monday, July 21, 2014
    Laura Whitney and her husband, Michael Korte, weren't quite sure what lesson to draw from the dual warnings. “My friends in Los Angeles got these letters warning they could be fined if they water, and I got a letter warning that I could be fined for not watering,” Whitney told the Associated Press. “I felt like I was in an alternate universe.”   read more

PHOTO GALLERY

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