Portal

  • Toothless Insurance Commissioner Growls at Aetna for Big Health Premium Increase

    Monday, December 22, 2014
    California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones thinks Aetna’s health insurance premium increase for small-business policies is “excessive and unreasonable” but can't do anything about it. According to the Department of Insurance, 64,000 people will experience average rate increases of 10.7%, with some as high as 19.5% beginning January 1.   read more
  • Education Dept. OKs Sale of Failing For-Profit Colleges to Debt Collection Company

    Monday, December 22, 2014
    Corinthian Colleges, described as “one of the most abusive and deceptive for-profit college companies” in the country, was on its way to going out of business when student loan collector ECMC said it wanted to buy it. Officials in the U.S. Department of Education approved the deal in which ECMC will pay $24 million for 56 campuses operating under the names Everest and WyoTech. David Halperin says that ECMC stepping in to assume control of the schools is a “terrible mistake.”   read more
  • Oakland Bans Elephant Bullhooks, Waves Goodbye to the Circus

    Monday, December 22, 2014
    The Oakland City Council approved an ordinance, 5-2, to ban bullhooks―big spike-tipped, spear-like implements with hooks that effectively bend the will of multi-ton creatures to that of their much smaller masters. Animal rights groups hate them and won the political argument. Oakland joins a small group of cities, including Los Angeles in 2013 and Miami, that have banned bullhooks.   read more
  • Richmond Stumbles Through a Slow-Motion Public Housing Disaster

    Friday, December 19, 2014
    The Richmond City Council voted in March to give all the seniors and disabled residents vouchers and kick them out of the moldy, rodent-plagued, roach-infested broken-down buildings. But it hasn’t. The city didn’t have a plan or the money. “Clearly, we’ve failed in some of our public housing,” Mayor Gayle McLaughlin said at the time. That might be a bit of an understatement.   read more
  • Surfers Gain Access to Malibu Beach, but Billionaire Bucks Judge in Half Moon Bay

    Friday, December 19, 2014
    The agreement announced Thursday means the company will stop shaking down surfers at Paradise Cove, take down warning signs and open a locked gate. The agreement came after lawmakers passed legislation in the last session that armed two state commissions with long-sought authority to compel quick compliance with their orders. They threatened to fine Kissel $11,250 a day.   read more

PHOTO GALLERY

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

Top Stories

  • Obama Signs Bill to End Medical Pot Ban, but It’s Too Early to Light up Victory Joint

    Thursday, December 18, 2014
    Jacob Sollum at Reason argues that interference by the feds may indispose the state and its residents, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are preventing implementation of state laws, which the law proscribes. Sollum also thinks states that don’t explicitly refer to medical marijuana dispensaries in their laws, like California, might have a problem. Dispensaries are patient cooperatives in California, collective gardens in Washington State and caregivers elsewhere.   read more
  • Edison Has “Short-Sighted” Plan for Indefinitely Burying San Onofre Nuclear Waste

    Tuesday, December 16, 2014
    Edison announced last week that it plans to move spent fuel rods from above-ground pools to steel fuel canisters, wrapped in concrete, topped with steel and more concrete, and buried beneath the bluffs between Los Angeles and San Diego. The plan is to bury the dangerously radioactive material for at least 20 years, until some place can be found to permanently move it. Right now, there is no place.   read more
  • U.S. Justice Department Says Tribes Can Grow and Sell Marijuana

    Friday, December 12, 2014
    It is unknown how the marketplace would change if tribes get aggressively involved. Marijuana-selling tribes may not have to pay state and local taxes, allowing them to slash prices and undercut the off-reservation competition. So far, there is no indication that Native Americans will get into the business. Tribes are divided on the issue.   read more

Controversies

  • Developmentally Disabled Center Closes as State Embarks on Precarious New Care Path

    Friday, December 19, 2014
    Supporters regard it as a cost-effective way to continue down a path from virtual imprisonment to integration, begun 45 years ago when state lawmakers passed the Lanterman Developmental Disabilities Services Act. Critics complain that the state is abdicating responsibility for its most vulnerable residents by placing more of their care in private, for-profit hands, rather than funding improvements and managing the facilities better.   read more
  • Countdown to 65,000: PG&E Dragging Out Scandal One E-Mail at a Time

    Thursday, December 18, 2014
    An internal memo from then-PG&E Vice President Brian Cherry outlined his understanding of Commissioner Mike Florio’s commitment to helping shape a decision in a $1.3 billion rate case that would please the utility. Cherry wrote that Florio offered to help Commissioner Carla J. Peterman write her decision or, failing that, conjure up an alternative ruling for the commission’s consideration. Florio said the e-mail “does not accurately reflect my own recollection of that same conversation.”   read more
  • Public Watchdog Calls for Boycott of Heath Database over Privacy Issues

    Thursday, December 18, 2014
    The group listed 10 concerns about the project, not the least of which is that customers of those insurance companies are automatically included in the system unless they proactively opt out. The group wants to know: if customers will be able to see their information stored in the database; who are the providers of information; who has access to the data; how is incorrect information fixed? Will insurers use this information for any purposes other than providing information to medical providers?   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Koch Brothers Group Sues State to Keep Political Donor Names Hidden

    Monday, December 15, 2014
    The Americans for Prosperity Foundation (AFP), chaired by David Koch, claimed the information was a violation of its First Amendment right to free speech. This is the first year Attorney General Kamala Harris required the group to provide the information, although the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requires it for tax purposes.   read more
  • State Controller’s Employee Compensation Database Limited by Lack of Transparency

    Wednesday, December 10, 2014
    The interactive database―payroll data from state agencies, cities, counties, courts, education and some other entities―has big gaps and isn’t very transparent. The database does not identify entries by name. It uses job titles―obscure job titles that make it nearly impossible to identify top executives for purposes of comparison. Perhaps more important than not being able to stalk employees from a home computer is the inability to aggregate data because of information gaps.   read more
  • Feds Find “Alarming” Minimum-Wage Violations in California and New York

    Monday, December 08, 2014
    A study produced for the U.S. Department of Labor found that 3.5% of California workers and 6.5% of New Yorkers were paid less than the minimum wage in 2011. That translates to 10.9% of low-wage earners in L.A. and 19.5% in N.Y. Using the Current Population Survey, the study, conducted by Eastern Research Group, concluded that 7,000 people in California were forced below the poverty line by minimum wage violations. The Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) put that number at 41,000.   read more

California and the Nation

  • Feds Say High-Speed Rail Can Roll over State Environmental Laws

    Wednesday, December 17, 2014
    In a 2-1 ruling (pdf), the U.S. Surface Transportation Board (STB) said the state couldn’t interfere with the $68-billion project because it would potentially link to the U.S. transportation network, which is under federal supervision. The board’s action comes as more than half a dozen lawsuits challenging high-speed rail work their way through state courts.   read more
  • S.F. and L.A. Engage in the International Pastime of Suing Uber

    Wednesday, December 10, 2014
    The consumer protection lawsuit accuses Uber of failing to do proper background checks on drivers, illegally operating at airports throughout California, charging passengers a $4 airport fee despite not paying for the privilege and using a method of calculating trip length not approved by the government. So far this week, Uber has been in the news because of legal problems in New Delhi, India, Toronto, Canada, Thailand, Spain, the Netherlands and Portland, Oregon.   read more
  • Are Dumber Students to Blame for Lowest State Bar Exam Scores in a Decade?

    Wednesday, December 10, 2014
    Only 48.6% of applicants in July were successful. Erica Moeser, president of the National Conference of Bar Examiners, suggested in a memo that those taking the exam were “less able” than their predecessors, sparking a heated controversy over bar exams and whose taking them. Brooklyn Law School Dean Nicholas Allard said “it is not the students, it’s the test” and called Moeser “offensive”:   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • California Public Health Department Director Resigning

    Friday, December 12, 2014
    The California State Auditor, in a scathing October report, found a backlog of more than 11,000 complaints at the Department of Public Health related to long-term health care facilities, many of them with “relatively high priorities.” Around 370 situations involved patients in “immediate jeopardy―indicating a situation that poses a threat to an individual’s life or health.”   read more
  • Director of California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control: Who Is Barbara Lee?

    Thursday, November 27, 2014
    Lee, who has worked in environmental regulation for more than 20 years, took over the department five months after Director Debbie Rafael resigned under fire. The department, which oversees and regulates the treatment and disposal of hazardous waste, has been accused of being too cozy with corporate polluters and lax in its enforcement of environmental laws.   read more
  • California Supreme Court Justice: Who Is Leondra R. Kruger?

    Tuesday, November 25, 2014
    Leondra Reid Kruger, 38, is a U.S. deputy assistant attorney general who would be the only African-American on the court and the youngest justice ever if confirmed. The South Pasadena native has worked in the U.S. Department of Justice since 2007 and argued cases before the U.S. Supreme Court 12 times. Like Jerry Brown's two other high court selections since becoming governor in 2010, Kruger has never been a jurist.   read more

Unusual News

  • Twitter Suspends Bay Area Journalist for Posting Public Documents

    Monday, December 15, 2014
    In an exchange of tweets, PredPol’s Claire Lovell asked him to remove the information, claiming the document contained her home phone number. That wasn’t true. It was her very public office phone number that she set up to ring at home. BondGraham refused to take down the posting and she complained to Twitter. Twitter wouldn’t talk to BondGraham and temporarily suspended the account, with a warning last Thursday that it would be permanently eviscerated if he didn’t take the post down.   read more
  • Researchers Sue for Release of 60-Year-Old Documents on Organized Crime

    Friday, December 12, 2014
    When researchers recently sought access to the material, they were told the documents were sealed and unavailable until 2028 because of confidentiality concerns. The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press filed a Public Records Act request with the university but LeVale Simpson, the university's public records coordinator, said the documents were not “public records” as defined by the act.   read more
  • Surgeon Gets Probation for Removing Wrong Kidney from Inmate

    Friday, December 05, 2014
    Streit made the mistake, at St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton, when he chose to operate from memory and what turned out to be faulty paperwork after CT scans were mistakenly left in the offices of one of the surgical team’s doctors. The board said the goof was “an extreme departure from the standard of care.” That standard required a review of image scans before slicing open the patient.   read more
  • Toothless Insurance Commissioner Growls at Aetna for Big Health Premium Increase

    Monday, December 22, 2014
    California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones thinks Aetna’s health insurance premium increase for small-business policies is “excessive and unreasonable” but can't do anything about it. According to the Department of Insurance, 64,000 people will experience average rate increases of 10.7%, with some as high as 19.5% beginning January 1.   read more
  • Education Dept. OKs Sale of Failing For-Profit Colleges to Debt Collection Company

    Monday, December 22, 2014
    Corinthian Colleges, described as “one of the most abusive and deceptive for-profit college companies” in the country, was on its way to going out of business when student loan collector ECMC said it wanted to buy it. Officials in the U.S. Department of Education approved the deal in which ECMC will pay $24 million for 56 campuses operating under the names Everest and WyoTech. David Halperin says that ECMC stepping in to assume control of the schools is a “terrible mistake.”   read more
  • Oakland Bans Elephant Bullhooks, Waves Goodbye to the Circus

    Monday, December 22, 2014
    The Oakland City Council approved an ordinance, 5-2, to ban bullhooks―big spike-tipped, spear-like implements with hooks that effectively bend the will of multi-ton creatures to that of their much smaller masters. Animal rights groups hate them and won the political argument. Oakland joins a small group of cities, including Los Angeles in 2013 and Miami, that have banned bullhooks.   read more
  • Richmond Stumbles Through a Slow-Motion Public Housing Disaster

    Friday, December 19, 2014
    The Richmond City Council voted in March to give all the seniors and disabled residents vouchers and kick them out of the moldy, rodent-plagued, roach-infested broken-down buildings. But it hasn’t. The city didn’t have a plan or the money. “Clearly, we’ve failed in some of our public housing,” Mayor Gayle McLaughlin said at the time. That might be a bit of an understatement.   read more
  • Surfers Gain Access to Malibu Beach, but Billionaire Bucks Judge in Half Moon Bay

    Friday, December 19, 2014
    The agreement announced Thursday means the company will stop shaking down surfers at Paradise Cove, take down warning signs and open a locked gate. The agreement came after lawmakers passed legislation in the last session that armed two state commissions with long-sought authority to compel quick compliance with their orders. They threatened to fine Kissel $11,250 a day.   read more

Top Stories

  • Obama Signs Bill to End Medical Pot Ban, but It’s Too Early to Light up Victory Joint

    Thursday, December 18, 2014
    Jacob Sollum at Reason argues that interference by the feds may indispose the state and its residents, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are preventing implementation of state laws, which the law proscribes. Sollum also thinks states that don’t explicitly refer to medical marijuana dispensaries in their laws, like California, might have a problem. Dispensaries are patient cooperatives in California, collective gardens in Washington State and caregivers elsewhere.   read more
  • Edison Has “Short-Sighted” Plan for Indefinitely Burying San Onofre Nuclear Waste

    Tuesday, December 16, 2014
    Edison announced last week that it plans to move spent fuel rods from above-ground pools to steel fuel canisters, wrapped in concrete, topped with steel and more concrete, and buried beneath the bluffs between Los Angeles and San Diego. The plan is to bury the dangerously radioactive material for at least 20 years, until some place can be found to permanently move it. Right now, there is no place.   read more
  • U.S. Justice Department Says Tribes Can Grow and Sell Marijuana

    Friday, December 12, 2014
    It is unknown how the marketplace would change if tribes get aggressively involved. Marijuana-selling tribes may not have to pay state and local taxes, allowing them to slash prices and undercut the off-reservation competition. So far, there is no indication that Native Americans will get into the business. Tribes are divided on the issue.   read more

Controversies

  • Developmentally Disabled Center Closes as State Embarks on Precarious New Care Path

    Friday, December 19, 2014
    Supporters regard it as a cost-effective way to continue down a path from virtual imprisonment to integration, begun 45 years ago when state lawmakers passed the Lanterman Developmental Disabilities Services Act. Critics complain that the state is abdicating responsibility for its most vulnerable residents by placing more of their care in private, for-profit hands, rather than funding improvements and managing the facilities better.   read more
  • Countdown to 65,000: PG&E Dragging Out Scandal One E-Mail at a Time

    Thursday, December 18, 2014
    An internal memo from then-PG&E Vice President Brian Cherry outlined his understanding of Commissioner Mike Florio’s commitment to helping shape a decision in a $1.3 billion rate case that would please the utility. Cherry wrote that Florio offered to help Commissioner Carla J. Peterman write her decision or, failing that, conjure up an alternative ruling for the commission’s consideration. Florio said the e-mail “does not accurately reflect my own recollection of that same conversation.”   read more
  • Public Watchdog Calls for Boycott of Heath Database over Privacy Issues

    Thursday, December 18, 2014
    The group listed 10 concerns about the project, not the least of which is that customers of those insurance companies are automatically included in the system unless they proactively opt out. The group wants to know: if customers will be able to see their information stored in the database; who are the providers of information; who has access to the data; how is incorrect information fixed? Will insurers use this information for any purposes other than providing information to medical providers?   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Koch Brothers Group Sues State to Keep Political Donor Names Hidden

    Monday, December 15, 2014
    The Americans for Prosperity Foundation (AFP), chaired by David Koch, claimed the information was a violation of its First Amendment right to free speech. This is the first year Attorney General Kamala Harris required the group to provide the information, although the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requires it for tax purposes.   read more
  • State Controller’s Employee Compensation Database Limited by Lack of Transparency

    Wednesday, December 10, 2014
    The interactive database―payroll data from state agencies, cities, counties, courts, education and some other entities―has big gaps and isn’t very transparent. The database does not identify entries by name. It uses job titles―obscure job titles that make it nearly impossible to identify top executives for purposes of comparison. Perhaps more important than not being able to stalk employees from a home computer is the inability to aggregate data because of information gaps.   read more
  • Feds Find “Alarming” Minimum-Wage Violations in California and New York

    Monday, December 08, 2014
    A study produced for the U.S. Department of Labor found that 3.5% of California workers and 6.5% of New Yorkers were paid less than the minimum wage in 2011. That translates to 10.9% of low-wage earners in L.A. and 19.5% in N.Y. Using the Current Population Survey, the study, conducted by Eastern Research Group, concluded that 7,000 people in California were forced below the poverty line by minimum wage violations. The Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) put that number at 41,000.   read more

California and the Nation

  • Feds Say High-Speed Rail Can Roll over State Environmental Laws

    Wednesday, December 17, 2014
    In a 2-1 ruling (pdf), the U.S. Surface Transportation Board (STB) said the state couldn’t interfere with the $68-billion project because it would potentially link to the U.S. transportation network, which is under federal supervision. The board’s action comes as more than half a dozen lawsuits challenging high-speed rail work their way through state courts.   read more
  • S.F. and L.A. Engage in the International Pastime of Suing Uber

    Wednesday, December 10, 2014
    The consumer protection lawsuit accuses Uber of failing to do proper background checks on drivers, illegally operating at airports throughout California, charging passengers a $4 airport fee despite not paying for the privilege and using a method of calculating trip length not approved by the government. So far this week, Uber has been in the news because of legal problems in New Delhi, India, Toronto, Canada, Thailand, Spain, the Netherlands and Portland, Oregon.   read more
  • Are Dumber Students to Blame for Lowest State Bar Exam Scores in a Decade?

    Wednesday, December 10, 2014
    Only 48.6% of applicants in July were successful. Erica Moeser, president of the National Conference of Bar Examiners, suggested in a memo that those taking the exam were “less able” than their predecessors, sparking a heated controversy over bar exams and whose taking them. Brooklyn Law School Dean Nicholas Allard said “it is not the students, it’s the test” and called Moeser “offensive”:   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • California Public Health Department Director Resigning

    Friday, December 12, 2014
    The California State Auditor, in a scathing October report, found a backlog of more than 11,000 complaints at the Department of Public Health related to long-term health care facilities, many of them with “relatively high priorities.” Around 370 situations involved patients in “immediate jeopardy―indicating a situation that poses a threat to an individual’s life or health.”   read more
  • Director of California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control: Who Is Barbara Lee?

    Thursday, November 27, 2014
    Lee, who has worked in environmental regulation for more than 20 years, took over the department five months after Director Debbie Rafael resigned under fire. The department, which oversees and regulates the treatment and disposal of hazardous waste, has been accused of being too cozy with corporate polluters and lax in its enforcement of environmental laws.   read more
  • California Supreme Court Justice: Who Is Leondra R. Kruger?

    Tuesday, November 25, 2014
    Leondra Reid Kruger, 38, is a U.S. deputy assistant attorney general who would be the only African-American on the court and the youngest justice ever if confirmed. The South Pasadena native has worked in the U.S. Department of Justice since 2007 and argued cases before the U.S. Supreme Court 12 times. Like Jerry Brown's two other high court selections since becoming governor in 2010, Kruger has never been a jurist.   read more

Unusual News

  • Twitter Suspends Bay Area Journalist for Posting Public Documents

    Monday, December 15, 2014
    In an exchange of tweets, PredPol’s Claire Lovell asked him to remove the information, claiming the document contained her home phone number. That wasn’t true. It was her very public office phone number that she set up to ring at home. BondGraham refused to take down the posting and she complained to Twitter. Twitter wouldn’t talk to BondGraham and temporarily suspended the account, with a warning last Thursday that it would be permanently eviscerated if he didn’t take the post down.   read more
  • Researchers Sue for Release of 60-Year-Old Documents on Organized Crime

    Friday, December 12, 2014
    When researchers recently sought access to the material, they were told the documents were sealed and unavailable until 2028 because of confidentiality concerns. The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press filed a Public Records Act request with the university but LeVale Simpson, the university's public records coordinator, said the documents were not “public records” as defined by the act.   read more
  • Surgeon Gets Probation for Removing Wrong Kidney from Inmate

    Friday, December 05, 2014
    Streit made the mistake, at St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton, when he chose to operate from memory and what turned out to be faulty paperwork after CT scans were mistakenly left in the offices of one of the surgical team’s doctors. The board said the goof was “an extreme departure from the standard of care.” That standard required a review of image scans before slicing open the patient.   read more

PHOTO GALLERY

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