Portal

  • Lawmakers Approve Tougher Gun-Control Legislation

    Friday, July 01, 2016
    California lawmakers on Thursday approved a package of gun-control laws that limit monthly rifle purchases, outlaw high-capacity magazines and create mandatory background checks for ammunition sales. Lawmakers routinely referenced terrorist attacks in Orlando and San Bernardino throughout the corresponding state Senate and Assembly floor sessions as the reasons to support and deny the firearms proposals.   read more
  • Legislature Ends Bid to Copyright Public Documents

    Thursday, June 30, 2016
    Assembly Bill 2880 initially sought to give records created at taxpayer expense, including legislative reports, maps and recorded hearings, federal copyright and trademark protections and allow state and county governments to control and even prohibit their use. Last week the bill’s author, Assemblyman Mark Stone (D-Monterey Bay) agreed to amend the bill for the fourth time and ditch the blanket copyright provisions.   read more
  • Effort to Expose California Police Misconduct Fails in State Senate

    Tuesday, June 28, 2016
    California is one of 23 states that deem police misconduct records to be confidential; the only way to obtain them is through litigation in the course of a criminal case — and even then, the material often must be kept out of the public eye. This isn’t apt to change any time soon: A California bill aimed at making misconduct available to the public died in committee last month. “Police in California shouldn’t be able to operate as if they’re the CIA,” said ACLU's Chauncee Smith.   read more
  • End of Nuclear Power in Sight for California; Renewable Energy to Fill Void

    Wednesday, June 22, 2016
    Pacific Gas & Electric announced plans to shutter its Diablo Canyon facility in 2025. It will replace the power generated by the plant with projects that don't produce greenhouse gases, including renewable energy sources, increasing energy efficiency and new storage capabilities. The stunning proposal comes out of an agreement with environmental groups and labor unions. "This is an absolutely historic agreement," said Damon Moglen of Friends of the Earth, who participated in the negotiations.   read more
  • $28 Million Wasted on Failing California Vets Health System

    Saturday, June 18, 2016
    California dumped nearly $28 million into a deteriorating disabled-veterans health care system and the failing program has yet to comply with state and federal regulations. The cutting report says the VA ignored complaints regarding a new computer filing system from its own employees for years and lacked oversight over contractors. It claims the department approved payments for services it couldn't verify were completed and that the renovated system doesn't meet the needs of disabled veterans.   read more

PHOTO GALLERY

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

Top Stories

  • Legislature Advances Gun-Control Bills

    Thursday, June 16, 2016
    Less than 72 hours after the country’s deadliest mass shooting in Orlando, California lawmakers approved a hoard of gun-control bills Tuesday aimed at limiting rifle purchases and mandating background checks for all ammunition sales. The comprehensive proposals were led by Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De Leon (D-Los Angeles) and ranged from widening the state’s assault-weapons ban to tightening restrictions on homemade guns created with 3D printing technology.   read more
  • Federal Pollution Rules Unfair to Big Trucking Companies, Judge Rules

    Tuesday, June 14, 2016
    California air regulators created an uneven playing field when they eased up on air-quality regulations for smaller operators of heavy-duty diesel trucks, a state judge ruled. Postponing deadlines for smaller firms to upgrade to cleaner engines or install better pollution controls was unfair to trucking companies that already spent millions of dollars to comply with new regulations designed to clean up diesel emissions, Fresno County Judge Mark Snauffer ruled.   read more
  • FTC Claims Two Southern California Law Firms Bilked Consumers for Millions

    Sunday, June 12, 2016
    With millions of homebuyers facing foreclosure after the collapse of the housing bubble, the Federal Trade Commission claims two law firms bilked people for $15 million in a single year in a mortgage scam. The Brookstone Law and Advantis Law firms have marketed themselves as expert litigators in mortgages issues since 2011, the FTC says.   read more

Controversies

  • Judge Bars L.A. County From Restoring Cross to Seal

    Sunday, April 10, 2016
    U.S. District Judge Christina Snyder sided with seven religious leaders in granting their motion for permanent injunction in her long-anticipated 55-page order keeping the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors from restoring a cross to the county seal. The lawsuit came after a 3-2 vote by the supervisors in January 2014 to include an image of a cross on the county seal. The cross would have been placed atop a depiction of the San Gabriel Mission featured in the center-right side of the seal.   read more
  • Kings County Says High Speed Rail Promises “Insane”

    Saturday, February 13, 2016
    Representing Kings County and a group of farmers, attorney Stuart Flashman dogged the California High Speed Rail Authority for proposing major changes to the train’s operating system and for attempting to use bond money without going back to California voters for approval. Flashman repeatedly disagreed with the authority’s cost and ridership estimates, calling the studies “insane” while questioning the viability of the mammoth public works project.   read more
  • Paralyzed Man—Shot in the Back by San Jose Cop—Awarded Record $11.3 Million

    Wednesday, December 23, 2015
    The award in the civil rights lawsuit is more than double San Jose’s previous largest payout. Lam has been a wheelchair-bound paraplegic since being shot in January 2014 during a domestic dispute at home with his boyfriend. Someone called the police and reported a man was acting as if he were having a mental breakdown. Lam was standing with a knife pointed at his own stomach and no one else around when an officer shot him in the back twice.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Water Agency Gave $1.4 Million Loan to Executive to Buy House

    Friday, June 10, 2016
    Westlands Water District says its 2007 loan to deputy general manager Jason Peltier — now at $1.57 million with a 0.84% annual interest rate — is allowed under agency rules on salary. But experts in governance say the deal raises red flags, not just over the unpaid loan and its generous terms but over whether Peltier and Westlands complied with laws mandating disclosure of the use of public funds.   read more
  • Labor Board Tells San Diego Pension Cuts Were Illegal; Could Cost $100 Million

    Thursday, December 31, 2015
    The state Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) said the city should have talked to unions first before ripping up their contracts at the ballot box. Prop. B substituted a 401(k) for a pension for most new city hires, excluding police officers. Those public safety workers still get a pension, but it will max out at 80% of the individual’s salary, not the current 90%.   read more
  • State Tells L.A. Port Firm It Can't Pretend Driver Employees Are Contractors

    Monday, December 28, 2015
    Commissioner Julie Su awarded the short-haul drivers at Pacific 9 Transportation $6.9 million in a case that could have ramifications for hundreds of other drivers in similar situations. They do the work of employees, under the direction of the company, but don’t receive benefits, aren’t covered by overtime laws, have to pay both employee and employer ends of withholding taxes, aren’t eligible for unemployment insurance, and lack job security.   read more

California and the Nation

  • California's Marijuana Regulator Admits She Doesn't Know How it Affects People or "What it Does"

    Monday, April 11, 2016
    California’s medical marijuana czar says she believes there’s a need for weed, although she’s never smoked pot herself. “Unlike regulating alcohol, I’m not a user of marijuana, so I am not familiar with how that affects people or what it does,” Lori Ajax said. “But from the outreach I’ve done since I got here, it appears there is a medical need, and I’m tasked with doing this, and I’m going to do it.”   read more
  • California Still Ships Troubled Kids Out of State

    Friday, January 01, 2016
    ProPublica estimated that at least 900 youthful miscreants were stashed outside California in 2015, mostly in Utah. Local school districts provided the most kids, 600. County probation departments accounted for around 235 and child welfare agencies supplied another 52. ProPublica saw “signs that California has a limited ability to guarantee the health and welfare of the children it sends beyond its borders.”   read more
  • Disneyland-Bound Muslim Family of 11 Barred at London Airport Gate

    Thursday, December 24, 2015
    No story of the family’s plight failed to mention Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. Stella Creasy, a Labor Party member in the British Parliament, told NPR, “U.K. Muslims believe they are ‘being Trumped,’ ” referring to his declaration a couple weeks ago that if elected President he would, at least temporarily, stop all entry of Muslims into the country.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • Secretary of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation : Who Is Scott Kernan?

    Wednesday, December 30, 2015
    Kernan grew up in San Quentin. His mother worked at the prison in his youth, and he spent around 10 of his formative years living on the grounds. He started out as a guard, worked his way up to warden and then joined the insiders running the department during tumultuous times. He was the Number 2 guy when he retired and became a consultant four years ago. Now he's back.   read more
  • Influential Assemblyman Quitting to Join Pharmaceutical Lobbyists

    Friday, December 25, 2015
    Fresno Democrat Perea, 38, will be a senior director of state advocacy for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA). That didn’t come as a huge shock to the Sacramento Bee, which noted when Perea announced his impending resignation that he was one of the top beneficiaries of Big Pharma contributions in 2013 and 2014 and a possible candidate for a job there.   read more
  • California’s Chief Oil and Gas Regulator Resigns

    Thursday, December 03, 2015
    Bohlen told the Chronicle the agency had “turned a corner” and the “future looks very bright.” Hollin Kretzmann, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, did not agree. He said in a statement that DOGGR was still “far too close to the industry it is supposed to regulate. . . . The next supervisor must address Californians’ concerns about water contamination and safety risks from drilling and fracking.”   read more

Unusual News

  • Assembly Rejects John Wayne Day Proposal Because of Racist Comments by “Duke”

    Saturday, April 30, 2016
    The state Assembly defeated the official ode to John Wayne on Thursday after several legislators described statements he made about racial minorities and his support for the anti-communist House Un-American Activities Committee and John Birch Society. Republican State Assemblyman Matthew Harper of Huntington Beach sought to declare May 26, 2016, as John Wayne Day to mark the day the actor was born.   read more
  • Can We Make Lawmakers Wear Donor Logos like NASCAR Ads?

    Friday, January 01, 2016
    Republican Rancho Santa Fe venture capitalist/real estate mogul John Cox has proposed a ballot initiative for November 2016, California Is Not for Sale, which would require lawmakers to wear logos of their Top 10 contributors and include them on any advertising. The initiative is a response to the growing role of money in politics unleashed by the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United ruling.   read more
  • Coercive or Punitive? Orange County Man Jailed 5 Years for Contempt of Court

    Tuesday, December 29, 2015
    The court ordered Nazarzai to account for all his assets and Nazarzai said he had $370,540 at an unidentified location. He was ordered to produce it by July 2, 2010, but did not. Instead, he offered a fanciful story of how the money came to be missing. The judge wrote: "I find beyond a reasonable doubt that the cash was not in the car and never was placed into it for delivery.” Nazarzai was found to be in contempt of court.   read more
  • Lawmakers Approve Tougher Gun-Control Legislation

    Friday, July 01, 2016
    California lawmakers on Thursday approved a package of gun-control laws that limit monthly rifle purchases, outlaw high-capacity magazines and create mandatory background checks for ammunition sales. Lawmakers routinely referenced terrorist attacks in Orlando and San Bernardino throughout the corresponding state Senate and Assembly floor sessions as the reasons to support and deny the firearms proposals.   read more
  • Legislature Ends Bid to Copyright Public Documents

    Thursday, June 30, 2016
    Assembly Bill 2880 initially sought to give records created at taxpayer expense, including legislative reports, maps and recorded hearings, federal copyright and trademark protections and allow state and county governments to control and even prohibit their use. Last week the bill’s author, Assemblyman Mark Stone (D-Monterey Bay) agreed to amend the bill for the fourth time and ditch the blanket copyright provisions.   read more
  • Effort to Expose California Police Misconduct Fails in State Senate

    Tuesday, June 28, 2016
    California is one of 23 states that deem police misconduct records to be confidential; the only way to obtain them is through litigation in the course of a criminal case — and even then, the material often must be kept out of the public eye. This isn’t apt to change any time soon: A California bill aimed at making misconduct available to the public died in committee last month. “Police in California shouldn’t be able to operate as if they’re the CIA,” said ACLU's Chauncee Smith.   read more
  • End of Nuclear Power in Sight for California; Renewable Energy to Fill Void

    Wednesday, June 22, 2016
    Pacific Gas & Electric announced plans to shutter its Diablo Canyon facility in 2025. It will replace the power generated by the plant with projects that don't produce greenhouse gases, including renewable energy sources, increasing energy efficiency and new storage capabilities. The stunning proposal comes out of an agreement with environmental groups and labor unions. "This is an absolutely historic agreement," said Damon Moglen of Friends of the Earth, who participated in the negotiations.   read more
  • $28 Million Wasted on Failing California Vets Health System

    Saturday, June 18, 2016
    California dumped nearly $28 million into a deteriorating disabled-veterans health care system and the failing program has yet to comply with state and federal regulations. The cutting report says the VA ignored complaints regarding a new computer filing system from its own employees for years and lacked oversight over contractors. It claims the department approved payments for services it couldn't verify were completed and that the renovated system doesn't meet the needs of disabled veterans.   read more

Top Stories

  • Legislature Advances Gun-Control Bills

    Thursday, June 16, 2016
    Less than 72 hours after the country’s deadliest mass shooting in Orlando, California lawmakers approved a hoard of gun-control bills Tuesday aimed at limiting rifle purchases and mandating background checks for all ammunition sales. The comprehensive proposals were led by Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De Leon (D-Los Angeles) and ranged from widening the state’s assault-weapons ban to tightening restrictions on homemade guns created with 3D printing technology.   read more
  • Federal Pollution Rules Unfair to Big Trucking Companies, Judge Rules

    Tuesday, June 14, 2016
    California air regulators created an uneven playing field when they eased up on air-quality regulations for smaller operators of heavy-duty diesel trucks, a state judge ruled. Postponing deadlines for smaller firms to upgrade to cleaner engines or install better pollution controls was unfair to trucking companies that already spent millions of dollars to comply with new regulations designed to clean up diesel emissions, Fresno County Judge Mark Snauffer ruled.   read more
  • FTC Claims Two Southern California Law Firms Bilked Consumers for Millions

    Sunday, June 12, 2016
    With millions of homebuyers facing foreclosure after the collapse of the housing bubble, the Federal Trade Commission claims two law firms bilked people for $15 million in a single year in a mortgage scam. The Brookstone Law and Advantis Law firms have marketed themselves as expert litigators in mortgages issues since 2011, the FTC says.   read more

Controversies

  • Judge Bars L.A. County From Restoring Cross to Seal

    Sunday, April 10, 2016
    U.S. District Judge Christina Snyder sided with seven religious leaders in granting their motion for permanent injunction in her long-anticipated 55-page order keeping the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors from restoring a cross to the county seal. The lawsuit came after a 3-2 vote by the supervisors in January 2014 to include an image of a cross on the county seal. The cross would have been placed atop a depiction of the San Gabriel Mission featured in the center-right side of the seal.   read more
  • Kings County Says High Speed Rail Promises “Insane”

    Saturday, February 13, 2016
    Representing Kings County and a group of farmers, attorney Stuart Flashman dogged the California High Speed Rail Authority for proposing major changes to the train’s operating system and for attempting to use bond money without going back to California voters for approval. Flashman repeatedly disagreed with the authority’s cost and ridership estimates, calling the studies “insane” while questioning the viability of the mammoth public works project.   read more
  • Paralyzed Man—Shot in the Back by San Jose Cop—Awarded Record $11.3 Million

    Wednesday, December 23, 2015
    The award in the civil rights lawsuit is more than double San Jose’s previous largest payout. Lam has been a wheelchair-bound paraplegic since being shot in January 2014 during a domestic dispute at home with his boyfriend. Someone called the police and reported a man was acting as if he were having a mental breakdown. Lam was standing with a knife pointed at his own stomach and no one else around when an officer shot him in the back twice.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Water Agency Gave $1.4 Million Loan to Executive to Buy House

    Friday, June 10, 2016
    Westlands Water District says its 2007 loan to deputy general manager Jason Peltier — now at $1.57 million with a 0.84% annual interest rate — is allowed under agency rules on salary. But experts in governance say the deal raises red flags, not just over the unpaid loan and its generous terms but over whether Peltier and Westlands complied with laws mandating disclosure of the use of public funds.   read more
  • Labor Board Tells San Diego Pension Cuts Were Illegal; Could Cost $100 Million

    Thursday, December 31, 2015
    The state Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) said the city should have talked to unions first before ripping up their contracts at the ballot box. Prop. B substituted a 401(k) for a pension for most new city hires, excluding police officers. Those public safety workers still get a pension, but it will max out at 80% of the individual’s salary, not the current 90%.   read more
  • State Tells L.A. Port Firm It Can't Pretend Driver Employees Are Contractors

    Monday, December 28, 2015
    Commissioner Julie Su awarded the short-haul drivers at Pacific 9 Transportation $6.9 million in a case that could have ramifications for hundreds of other drivers in similar situations. They do the work of employees, under the direction of the company, but don’t receive benefits, aren’t covered by overtime laws, have to pay both employee and employer ends of withholding taxes, aren’t eligible for unemployment insurance, and lack job security.   read more

California and the Nation

  • California's Marijuana Regulator Admits She Doesn't Know How it Affects People or "What it Does"

    Monday, April 11, 2016
    California’s medical marijuana czar says she believes there’s a need for weed, although she’s never smoked pot herself. “Unlike regulating alcohol, I’m not a user of marijuana, so I am not familiar with how that affects people or what it does,” Lori Ajax said. “But from the outreach I’ve done since I got here, it appears there is a medical need, and I’m tasked with doing this, and I’m going to do it.”   read more
  • California Still Ships Troubled Kids Out of State

    Friday, January 01, 2016
    ProPublica estimated that at least 900 youthful miscreants were stashed outside California in 2015, mostly in Utah. Local school districts provided the most kids, 600. County probation departments accounted for around 235 and child welfare agencies supplied another 52. ProPublica saw “signs that California has a limited ability to guarantee the health and welfare of the children it sends beyond its borders.”   read more
  • Disneyland-Bound Muslim Family of 11 Barred at London Airport Gate

    Thursday, December 24, 2015
    No story of the family’s plight failed to mention Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. Stella Creasy, a Labor Party member in the British Parliament, told NPR, “U.K. Muslims believe they are ‘being Trumped,’ ” referring to his declaration a couple weeks ago that if elected President he would, at least temporarily, stop all entry of Muslims into the country.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • Secretary of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation : Who Is Scott Kernan?

    Wednesday, December 30, 2015
    Kernan grew up in San Quentin. His mother worked at the prison in his youth, and he spent around 10 of his formative years living on the grounds. He started out as a guard, worked his way up to warden and then joined the insiders running the department during tumultuous times. He was the Number 2 guy when he retired and became a consultant four years ago. Now he's back.   read more
  • Influential Assemblyman Quitting to Join Pharmaceutical Lobbyists

    Friday, December 25, 2015
    Fresno Democrat Perea, 38, will be a senior director of state advocacy for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA). That didn’t come as a huge shock to the Sacramento Bee, which noted when Perea announced his impending resignation that he was one of the top beneficiaries of Big Pharma contributions in 2013 and 2014 and a possible candidate for a job there.   read more
  • California’s Chief Oil and Gas Regulator Resigns

    Thursday, December 03, 2015
    Bohlen told the Chronicle the agency had “turned a corner” and the “future looks very bright.” Hollin Kretzmann, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, did not agree. He said in a statement that DOGGR was still “far too close to the industry it is supposed to regulate. . . . The next supervisor must address Californians’ concerns about water contamination and safety risks from drilling and fracking.”   read more

Unusual News

  • Assembly Rejects John Wayne Day Proposal Because of Racist Comments by “Duke”

    Saturday, April 30, 2016
    The state Assembly defeated the official ode to John Wayne on Thursday after several legislators described statements he made about racial minorities and his support for the anti-communist House Un-American Activities Committee and John Birch Society. Republican State Assemblyman Matthew Harper of Huntington Beach sought to declare May 26, 2016, as John Wayne Day to mark the day the actor was born.   read more
  • Can We Make Lawmakers Wear Donor Logos like NASCAR Ads?

    Friday, January 01, 2016
    Republican Rancho Santa Fe venture capitalist/real estate mogul John Cox has proposed a ballot initiative for November 2016, California Is Not for Sale, which would require lawmakers to wear logos of their Top 10 contributors and include them on any advertising. The initiative is a response to the growing role of money in politics unleashed by the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United ruling.   read more
  • Coercive or Punitive? Orange County Man Jailed 5 Years for Contempt of Court

    Tuesday, December 29, 2015
    The court ordered Nazarzai to account for all his assets and Nazarzai said he had $370,540 at an unidentified location. He was ordered to produce it by July 2, 2010, but did not. Instead, he offered a fanciful story of how the money came to be missing. The judge wrote: "I find beyond a reasonable doubt that the cash was not in the car and never was placed into it for delivery.” Nazarzai was found to be in contempt of court.   read more

PHOTO GALLERY

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