Portal

  • AT&T Agrees to Pay “Chump Change” for Nine Years of Hazardous Waste Dumping

    Tuesday, November 25, 2014
    California took its first enforcement action against a giant telecom for doing that when it penalized AT&T $23.8 million for nine years of illegal dumping by its 235 state facilities. The company admitted no wrongdoing but will pay the civil penalty and $28 million over five years for “enhanced environmental compliance measures.” “Enhanced” compliance does not include actually cleaning up any of the mess, which is scattered up and down the state.   read more
  • Report Alleges Charter Schools Illegally Require “Volunteer” Work

    Tuesday, November 25, 2014
    Public Advocates, a nonprofit law firm and advocacy group, published a study it did of 555 charter schools, nearly half of the 1,300 in the state, and found 168 of them had an explicit parent work quota. The group suspects that the actual number is higher, but information from many of the schools was incomplete. “Such policies discriminate against poor families, single-parent families, non-traditional households and working parents,” the report says.   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
  • PUC Fines PG&E $1 Million for Inappropriate E-Mail Exchanges—with PUC

    Monday, November 24, 2014
    PUC critics and PG&E both derided last week’s e-mail decision, albeit for opposite reasons. Critics said the decision did little, if nothing, to address the overly cozy relationship between the regulator and the utility, which they say led to shoddy practices and the San Bruno blast. PG&E said “sanctions were unwarranted” and the PUC may have overstepped its legal authority.   read more
  • Child Abuse Scandal Costs L.A. Schools $139 Million

    Monday, November 24, 2014
    Mark Berndt, who is in his 60s, was accused of blindfolding the mostly Hispanic students and feeding them semen in spoons and baked into cookies. A CVS photo processor saw pictures he had taken of his exploits and called the authorities. The district shut down the school and shipped all the students to other elementaries while it sorted things out.   read more

PHOTO GALLERY

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

Top Stories

  • UC Regents Square Off with State Lawmakers, Approve 5-Year, 28% Tuition Hike

    Friday, November 21, 2014
    The university receives about $460 million less today than it did in 2008, before the recession. Dianne Klein, a spokeswoman for President Janet Napolitano, said the university could avoid the first year’s tuition hike if the state gave it another $100 million. Governor Brown has suggested that, instead of asking for more money, UC should reduce expenses by handing out three-year undergraduate degrees, expand online classes and realign its campuses to specialize more.   read more
  • Covered California Survey Finds Nearly Half of Blue Shield/Anthem MDs Are MIA

    Thursday, November 20, 2014
    A couple of surveys by the California Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) found what patients have been complaining about for more than a year, journalists have been writing about and advocacy groups have been suing over. Insurance companies are not accurately telling customers and potential customers what doctors and hospitals are available to them.   read more
  • Lawsuit Seeks to Block Expulsion of 1 Million from Medi-Cal Rolls

    Wednesday, November 19, 2014
    The lawsuit seeks a temporary injunction to stop California from dropping people from Medi-Cal until a better system can be put in place to ensure that beneficiaries have been properly informed. DHCS official Rene Mollow told Kaiser Health News the agency knows the form is in need of improvement, but for now, “We do have remedies in place where people can come back into coverage” after they lose their insurance.   read more

Controversies

  • U.S. Appellate Court Says State Can’t Require Sex Offenders to Report Online Activities

    Thursday, November 20, 2014
    The court agreed with the U.S. District Court that registered sex offenders regain their rights after completing probation or parole and that the law chilled those rights in at least three ways. “(1) it does not make clear what sex offenders are required to report; (2) it provides insufficient safeguards preventing the public release of the information sex offenders do report; and (3) the 24-hour reporting requirement is onerous and overbroad.”   read more
  • State Loses Argument that Loss of Cheap Labor Is Reason Not to Parole Prisoners

    Wednesday, November 19, 2014
    Plaintiffs in the lawsuit argued: “Defendants baldly assert that if the labor pool for their garage, garbage and city park crews is reduced, then ‘CDCR would be forced to draw-down its fire camp population to fill these vital MSF positions.’ That is a red herring; Defendants would not be ‘forced’ to do anything. They could hire public employees to perform tasks like garbage collection, garage work and recycling.” The court seemed to agree.   read more
  • CalPERS Drops Thousands from Health Coverage after Audit of Dependents

    Tuesday, November 18, 2014
    The multi-stage Dependent Eligibility Verification (DEV) project was launched in March 2012 to find out how many of the 730,000 health dependents were cheating. It was thought that as many as 29,000 ex-spouses and other ineligible dependents might be involved. Judge Albert Gilbert of the California Second District Court of Appeal, amon others, took it personally. "I am not a crook," he wrote CalPERS.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • SEC Cites Scams and Halts Trading in Two California Ebola-Related Companies

    Monday, November 24, 2014
    The SEC warned of “the potential for fraud in microcap companies purportedly involved in Ebola prevention, testing, or treatment, noting that scam artists often exploit the latest crisis in the news cycle to lure investors into supposedly promising investment opportunities.” After Immunotech announced it was working on an Ebola drug in an October 21 newsletter, its daily average of 223,000 traded shares jumped to 28 million, according to the Wall Street Journal.   read more
  • Customers Stuck with Most of the $4.8-Billion Bill for San Onofre

    Friday, November 21, 2014
    The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) blames Southern California Edison (SCE) for approving the design of new steam generators that ended up destroying the usefulness of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS). Mitsubishi Heavy Industries was blamed for the faulty design. On Thursday, the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) weighed these factors before deciding customers, not stockholders, should cover most of the debacle’s cost.   read more
  • Californians Owe $10.2 Billion in Court-Ordered Debt and It’s Growing

    Thursday, November 20, 2014
    It could be worse, and will be, if the state doesn’t change the way it collects the fines and fees, according to a report by the independent state Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO). Lack of incentive is only part of the problem. The collections programs are pretty lame. Paperwork on how much is collected and distributed is “incomplete and inconsistent.” Delinquent collections are miscalculated, collection practices are unevaluated and data on outstanding debt is sketchy.   read more

California and the Nation

  • California Almond Growing Uses more than 1 Trillion Gallons of Water a Year

    Tuesday, November 18, 2014
    Nearly 78% of surveyed almond farmers said they expected “a negative impact on tree health or harvest quantity/quality in 2014 due to the application of high saline groundwater.” Even as farmers overburden groundwater sources, they face heavy competition for surface water. For instance, they share water from the Klamath River up north with local tribes that rely on salmon runs for their livelihood.   read more
  • Cap-and-Trade Market Quakes the First Time California Enforces Rules

    Tuesday, November 18, 2014
    Stakeholders in California’s cap-and-trade program, which compels local companies that pollute the air to invest in enterprises worldwide that reduce pollution, expressed distress and fretted about the future of the innovative marketplace after state officials voided some carbon offset credits for the first time. At issue was an Arkansas facility that incinerated chlorofluorocarbons, which ran afoul of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA),   read more
  • Strawberry Fields—and Pesticides—Forever

    Thursday, November 13, 2014
    The Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) traced the sad history of the fumigants—and their champions in government and the chemical industry—that transformed the succulent fruit into a $2.6-billion-a-year business in just a few years and put more than 100 California communities at risk.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • Director of the Department of Human Resources: Who Is Richard Gillihan?

    Thursday, October 23, 2014
    Career public servant Richard Gillihan has been the acting director since Julie Chapman stepped down in February. Gillihan was a top official in the Department of Finance when Brown appointed him acting director at CalHR almost to the day that the independent Little Hoover Commission released a scathing report about the agency.   read more
  • State Senate President Pro Tempore: Who Is Kevin de León?

    Thursday, October 16, 2014
    The first Latino elected leader of the California state Senate since Reginaldo Francisco Del Valle in 1883, Democrat Kevin de León took over for the job of Senate Pro Tempore from Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) on Wednesday. The former political activist and community organizer was a leader of the huge 1994 march in Los Angeles that protested the passage of Prop. 187.   read more
  • Embattled PUC President Peevey Leaving under Fire in December

    Friday, October 10, 2014
    Despite years of controversy at the PUC, the former president of Southern California Edison Company was considered likely to be reappointed by Governor Jerry Brown. But the release of questionable e-mails during a court proceeding over the deadly 2010 San Bruno gas pipeline explosion highlighted an overly cozy relationship with Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (PG&E) and specifically called into question some of his actions.   read more

Unusual News

  • Rap Album Could Land San Diego Musician in Prison for Life

    Friday, November 21, 2014
    He is being charged under provisions of Proposition 21, passed by voters in 2000. The law allows the authorities to prosecute gang members who profit from crimes of other gang members, even if they aren’t directly involved. Duncan’s record sales were said to get a boost from the gang’s activities.   read more
  • Scientists Think They Found the Virus Wiping out Starfish on the West Coast

    Wednesday, November 19, 2014
    Using DNA sequencing and other analyses of potential pathogens, the scientists settled on a likely prospect and testing of the virus provided quick and disgusting confirmation. Researchers found the virus all over the place: in sick starfish, healthy starfish, 20 varieties of starfish, seawater, sediment, sea urchins and 70-year-old museum specimens. That raises a number of questions, including: why now?   read more
  • Caltech Prof Files Whistleblower Suit against School over Alleged Spying

    Friday, November 14, 2014
    Did the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) try to dump a professor because she blew the whistle on an Israeli spy in their midst or because she named her cat as a co-writer on a research paper? Those questions and more might be addressed in court after physics professor Sandra Troian sued Caltech for violating its whistleblower policy and allegedly harassing her the past four years.   read more
  • AT&T Agrees to Pay “Chump Change” for Nine Years of Hazardous Waste Dumping

    Tuesday, November 25, 2014
    California took its first enforcement action against a giant telecom for doing that when it penalized AT&T $23.8 million for nine years of illegal dumping by its 235 state facilities. The company admitted no wrongdoing but will pay the civil penalty and $28 million over five years for “enhanced environmental compliance measures.” “Enhanced” compliance does not include actually cleaning up any of the mess, which is scattered up and down the state.   read more
  • Report Alleges Charter Schools Illegally Require “Volunteer” Work

    Tuesday, November 25, 2014
    Public Advocates, a nonprofit law firm and advocacy group, published a study it did of 555 charter schools, nearly half of the 1,300 in the state, and found 168 of them had an explicit parent work quota. The group suspects that the actual number is higher, but information from many of the schools was incomplete. “Such policies discriminate against poor families, single-parent families, non-traditional households and working parents,” the report says.   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
  • PUC Fines PG&E $1 Million for Inappropriate E-Mail Exchanges—with PUC

    Monday, November 24, 2014
    PUC critics and PG&E both derided last week’s e-mail decision, albeit for opposite reasons. Critics said the decision did little, if nothing, to address the overly cozy relationship between the regulator and the utility, which they say led to shoddy practices and the San Bruno blast. PG&E said “sanctions were unwarranted” and the PUC may have overstepped its legal authority.   read more
  • Child Abuse Scandal Costs L.A. Schools $139 Million

    Monday, November 24, 2014
    Mark Berndt, who is in his 60s, was accused of blindfolding the mostly Hispanic students and feeding them semen in spoons and baked into cookies. A CVS photo processor saw pictures he had taken of his exploits and called the authorities. The district shut down the school and shipped all the students to other elementaries while it sorted things out.   read more

Top Stories

  • UC Regents Square Off with State Lawmakers, Approve 5-Year, 28% Tuition Hike

    Friday, November 21, 2014
    The university receives about $460 million less today than it did in 2008, before the recession. Dianne Klein, a spokeswoman for President Janet Napolitano, said the university could avoid the first year’s tuition hike if the state gave it another $100 million. Governor Brown has suggested that, instead of asking for more money, UC should reduce expenses by handing out three-year undergraduate degrees, expand online classes and realign its campuses to specialize more.   read more
  • Covered California Survey Finds Nearly Half of Blue Shield/Anthem MDs Are MIA

    Thursday, November 20, 2014
    A couple of surveys by the California Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) found what patients have been complaining about for more than a year, journalists have been writing about and advocacy groups have been suing over. Insurance companies are not accurately telling customers and potential customers what doctors and hospitals are available to them.   read more
  • Lawsuit Seeks to Block Expulsion of 1 Million from Medi-Cal Rolls

    Wednesday, November 19, 2014
    The lawsuit seeks a temporary injunction to stop California from dropping people from Medi-Cal until a better system can be put in place to ensure that beneficiaries have been properly informed. DHCS official Rene Mollow told Kaiser Health News the agency knows the form is in need of improvement, but for now, “We do have remedies in place where people can come back into coverage” after they lose their insurance.   read more

Controversies

  • U.S. Appellate Court Says State Can’t Require Sex Offenders to Report Online Activities

    Thursday, November 20, 2014
    The court agreed with the U.S. District Court that registered sex offenders regain their rights after completing probation or parole and that the law chilled those rights in at least three ways. “(1) it does not make clear what sex offenders are required to report; (2) it provides insufficient safeguards preventing the public release of the information sex offenders do report; and (3) the 24-hour reporting requirement is onerous and overbroad.”   read more
  • State Loses Argument that Loss of Cheap Labor Is Reason Not to Parole Prisoners

    Wednesday, November 19, 2014
    Plaintiffs in the lawsuit argued: “Defendants baldly assert that if the labor pool for their garage, garbage and city park crews is reduced, then ‘CDCR would be forced to draw-down its fire camp population to fill these vital MSF positions.’ That is a red herring; Defendants would not be ‘forced’ to do anything. They could hire public employees to perform tasks like garbage collection, garage work and recycling.” The court seemed to agree.   read more
  • CalPERS Drops Thousands from Health Coverage after Audit of Dependents

    Tuesday, November 18, 2014
    The multi-stage Dependent Eligibility Verification (DEV) project was launched in March 2012 to find out how many of the 730,000 health dependents were cheating. It was thought that as many as 29,000 ex-spouses and other ineligible dependents might be involved. Judge Albert Gilbert of the California Second District Court of Appeal, amon others, took it personally. "I am not a crook," he wrote CalPERS.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • SEC Cites Scams and Halts Trading in Two California Ebola-Related Companies

    Monday, November 24, 2014
    The SEC warned of “the potential for fraud in microcap companies purportedly involved in Ebola prevention, testing, or treatment, noting that scam artists often exploit the latest crisis in the news cycle to lure investors into supposedly promising investment opportunities.” After Immunotech announced it was working on an Ebola drug in an October 21 newsletter, its daily average of 223,000 traded shares jumped to 28 million, according to the Wall Street Journal.   read more
  • Customers Stuck with Most of the $4.8-Billion Bill for San Onofre

    Friday, November 21, 2014
    The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) blames Southern California Edison (SCE) for approving the design of new steam generators that ended up destroying the usefulness of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS). Mitsubishi Heavy Industries was blamed for the faulty design. On Thursday, the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) weighed these factors before deciding customers, not stockholders, should cover most of the debacle’s cost.   read more
  • Californians Owe $10.2 Billion in Court-Ordered Debt and It’s Growing

    Thursday, November 20, 2014
    It could be worse, and will be, if the state doesn’t change the way it collects the fines and fees, according to a report by the independent state Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO). Lack of incentive is only part of the problem. The collections programs are pretty lame. Paperwork on how much is collected and distributed is “incomplete and inconsistent.” Delinquent collections are miscalculated, collection practices are unevaluated and data on outstanding debt is sketchy.   read more

California and the Nation

  • California Almond Growing Uses more than 1 Trillion Gallons of Water a Year

    Tuesday, November 18, 2014
    Nearly 78% of surveyed almond farmers said they expected “a negative impact on tree health or harvest quantity/quality in 2014 due to the application of high saline groundwater.” Even as farmers overburden groundwater sources, they face heavy competition for surface water. For instance, they share water from the Klamath River up north with local tribes that rely on salmon runs for their livelihood.   read more
  • Cap-and-Trade Market Quakes the First Time California Enforces Rules

    Tuesday, November 18, 2014
    Stakeholders in California’s cap-and-trade program, which compels local companies that pollute the air to invest in enterprises worldwide that reduce pollution, expressed distress and fretted about the future of the innovative marketplace after state officials voided some carbon offset credits for the first time. At issue was an Arkansas facility that incinerated chlorofluorocarbons, which ran afoul of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA),   read more
  • Strawberry Fields—and Pesticides—Forever

    Thursday, November 13, 2014
    The Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) traced the sad history of the fumigants—and their champions in government and the chemical industry—that transformed the succulent fruit into a $2.6-billion-a-year business in just a few years and put more than 100 California communities at risk.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • Director of the Department of Human Resources: Who Is Richard Gillihan?

    Thursday, October 23, 2014
    Career public servant Richard Gillihan has been the acting director since Julie Chapman stepped down in February. Gillihan was a top official in the Department of Finance when Brown appointed him acting director at CalHR almost to the day that the independent Little Hoover Commission released a scathing report about the agency.   read more
  • State Senate President Pro Tempore: Who Is Kevin de León?

    Thursday, October 16, 2014
    The first Latino elected leader of the California state Senate since Reginaldo Francisco Del Valle in 1883, Democrat Kevin de León took over for the job of Senate Pro Tempore from Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) on Wednesday. The former political activist and community organizer was a leader of the huge 1994 march in Los Angeles that protested the passage of Prop. 187.   read more
  • Embattled PUC President Peevey Leaving under Fire in December

    Friday, October 10, 2014
    Despite years of controversy at the PUC, the former president of Southern California Edison Company was considered likely to be reappointed by Governor Jerry Brown. But the release of questionable e-mails during a court proceeding over the deadly 2010 San Bruno gas pipeline explosion highlighted an overly cozy relationship with Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (PG&E) and specifically called into question some of his actions.   read more

Unusual News

  • Rap Album Could Land San Diego Musician in Prison for Life

    Friday, November 21, 2014
    He is being charged under provisions of Proposition 21, passed by voters in 2000. The law allows the authorities to prosecute gang members who profit from crimes of other gang members, even if they aren’t directly involved. Duncan’s record sales were said to get a boost from the gang’s activities.   read more
  • Scientists Think They Found the Virus Wiping out Starfish on the West Coast

    Wednesday, November 19, 2014
    Using DNA sequencing and other analyses of potential pathogens, the scientists settled on a likely prospect and testing of the virus provided quick and disgusting confirmation. Researchers found the virus all over the place: in sick starfish, healthy starfish, 20 varieties of starfish, seawater, sediment, sea urchins and 70-year-old museum specimens. That raises a number of questions, including: why now?   read more
  • Caltech Prof Files Whistleblower Suit against School over Alleged Spying

    Friday, November 14, 2014
    Did the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) try to dump a professor because she blew the whistle on an Israeli spy in their midst or because she named her cat as a co-writer on a research paper? Those questions and more might be addressed in court after physics professor Sandra Troian sued Caltech for violating its whistleblower policy and allegedly harassing her the past four years.   read more

PHOTO GALLERY

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