Portal

  • California’s Choices on Death Penalty: Speed it up or Abolish It

    Friday, May 27, 2016
    Californians are closely divided, with 48% in favor of speeding up executions and 47% preferring to eliminate them. Opinion polls indicate that public support for the death penalty has been declining in California, and that a majority of the public would prefer a sentence of life without parole for convicted murderers. The November election would be the first in the state's history to ask voters to choose between initiatives supporting and opposing capital punishment.   read more
  • Terrorized during Week of Captivity, Taxi Driver Who Flushed Out Fugitives Files Suit after Denial of Reward Money

    Tuesday, May 24, 2016
    A reward of $45,000 went to four other men, but Ma got nothing. Teague said he believes the supervisors were prejudiced against Ma because he is Vietnamese. "That's not cool," he said. "How would you like to be locked in a room with three killers for a week?" Teague said it was Ma's escape that flushed the fugitives out of hiding. "Those two guys still in Northern California, they thought, 'Uh-oh,' and they left the motel. That's how they got captured."   read more
  • California Mentally Ill Left Untreated in Jail Longer than if They Had Plead Guilty

    Sunday, May 15, 2016
    Since the evaluation and placement process can stretch on for months, many incapacitated detainees spend more time in jail than if they had pleaded guilty, the federal complaint states. Mentally ill inmates suffer increased risk of suicide, get beat up by other inmates, punished by guards, and often cannot get medication, much less treatment for their illnesses. They also lose pretrial custody credits, which doubles their time compared to other inmates.   read more
  • California Officials Downplay Obstacles on Road to Resuming Executions

    Wednesday, May 11, 2016
    California is working on new execution procedures to replace methods that a federal judge barred in 2006. ACLU's Ana Zamora said state prison officials have largely ignored reports of botched executions in other states. Records of the state's current rule-making process showed that ``the Department of Corrections wasn't taking these events seriously and studying them to ensure that we never have that kind of event in California,'' Zamora said.   read more
  • Secret Report Details Ethical Violations of UC Regent, Who is allowed to Keep Board Seat

    Monday, May 09, 2016
    A doctor on UC’s Board of Regents has been allowed to keep his seat despite a secret investigation that concluded he violated ethics rules by trying to strike a financially beneficial deal between his eye clinics and UCLA, part of the university system the regents oversee. Asked why the inquiry’s conclusions — or even its existence — had been kept confidential until asked about them, UC replied, “The outcomes of whistleblower investigations are not routinely announced publicly.”   read more

PHOTO GALLERY

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

Top Stories

  • Legal Aid for Poor Put at Risk by Proposal to Break Up California State Bar, Claim Critics

    Tuesday, May 03, 2016
    Critics countered that dividing the state bar would weaken its overall impact. Trial lawyer Paul Kiesel said that because the bar "is a multifocused group, it has a lot more power than if it were a stripped-down group." Kiesel led a group to restore funding to the courts after their budget was cut by $1 billion after the economic crisis. "The state bar is powerful because of its constituent elements," he said. "If it ain't broke, don't break it."   read more
  • L.A. County Refinery a Threat to Environment, Suit Claims

    Sunday, May 01, 2016
    Southern California regulators must put the brakes on an ExxonMobil refinery that emits 50 tons of hydrogen cyanide in Los Angeles each year, the Refinery Safety Network says in court. The nonprofit sued the South Coast Air Quality Management District on Wednesday in Superior Court, and named ExxonMobil Oil Corp. as a respondent-real party in interest.   read more
  • Giant California Solar Farm will threaten Endangered Species, Claims Lawsuit against Federal Agencies

    Friday, April 22, 2016
    "The project will affect more than 26,000 acres of sensitive habitat," according to the complaint. "The Panoche Valley is one of only three core areas left in California necessary for the survival and recovery of the highly endangered San Joaquin kit fox, the endangered blunt-nosed leopard lizard, and the endangered giant kangaroo rat." Solar Valley says the project will power 70,000 homes, create 1,500 jobs and bring nearly $40 million in revenue to San Benito County.   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?

  • 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
  • Comcast Agrees to Pay $26 Million for Privacy Breach and Hazardous Waste Dumping

    Thursday, December 17, 2015
    Comcast was accused of dumping personal records in landfills since 2005 without any shredding or redaction of sensitive information, including customer names, addresses and telephone numbers. The complaint was filed after a whistleblower came forward in 2010.   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
  • California’s Choices on Death Penalty: Speed it up or Abolish It

    Friday, May 27, 2016
    Californians are closely divided, with 48% in favor of speeding up executions and 47% preferring to eliminate them. Opinion polls indicate that public support for the death penalty has been declining in California, and that a majority of the public would prefer a sentence of life without parole for convicted murderers. The November election would be the first in the state's history to ask voters to choose between initiatives supporting and opposing capital punishment.   read more
  • Terrorized during Week of Captivity, Taxi Driver Who Flushed Out Fugitives Files Suit after Denial of Reward Money

    Tuesday, May 24, 2016
    A reward of $45,000 went to four other men, but Ma got nothing. Teague said he believes the supervisors were prejudiced against Ma because he is Vietnamese. "That's not cool," he said. "How would you like to be locked in a room with three killers for a week?" Teague said it was Ma's escape that flushed the fugitives out of hiding. "Those two guys still in Northern California, they thought, 'Uh-oh,' and they left the motel. That's how they got captured."   read more
  • California Mentally Ill Left Untreated in Jail Longer than if They Had Plead Guilty

    Sunday, May 15, 2016
    Since the evaluation and placement process can stretch on for months, many incapacitated detainees spend more time in jail than if they had pleaded guilty, the federal complaint states. Mentally ill inmates suffer increased risk of suicide, get beat up by other inmates, punished by guards, and often cannot get medication, much less treatment for their illnesses. They also lose pretrial custody credits, which doubles their time compared to other inmates.   read more
  • California Officials Downplay Obstacles on Road to Resuming Executions

    Wednesday, May 11, 2016
    California is working on new execution procedures to replace methods that a federal judge barred in 2006. ACLU's Ana Zamora said state prison officials have largely ignored reports of botched executions in other states. Records of the state's current rule-making process showed that ``the Department of Corrections wasn't taking these events seriously and studying them to ensure that we never have that kind of event in California,'' Zamora said.   read more
  • Secret Report Details Ethical Violations of UC Regent, Who is allowed to Keep Board Seat

    Monday, May 09, 2016
    A doctor on UC’s Board of Regents has been allowed to keep his seat despite a secret investigation that concluded he violated ethics rules by trying to strike a financially beneficial deal between his eye clinics and UCLA, part of the university system the regents oversee. Asked why the inquiry’s conclusions — or even its existence — had been kept confidential until asked about them, UC replied, “The outcomes of whistleblower investigations are not routinely announced publicly.”   read more

Top Stories

  • Legal Aid for Poor Put at Risk by Proposal to Break Up California State Bar, Claim Critics

    Tuesday, May 03, 2016
    Critics countered that dividing the state bar would weaken its overall impact. Trial lawyer Paul Kiesel said that because the bar "is a multifocused group, it has a lot more power than if it were a stripped-down group." Kiesel led a group to restore funding to the courts after their budget was cut by $1 billion after the economic crisis. "The state bar is powerful because of its constituent elements," he said. "If it ain't broke, don't break it."   read more
  • L.A. County Refinery a Threat to Environment, Suit Claims

    Sunday, May 01, 2016
    Southern California regulators must put the brakes on an ExxonMobil refinery that emits 50 tons of hydrogen cyanide in Los Angeles each year, the Refinery Safety Network says in court. The nonprofit sued the South Coast Air Quality Management District on Wednesday in Superior Court, and named ExxonMobil Oil Corp. as a respondent-real party in interest.   read more
  • Giant California Solar Farm will threaten Endangered Species, Claims Lawsuit against Federal Agencies

    Friday, April 22, 2016
    "The project will affect more than 26,000 acres of sensitive habitat," according to the complaint. "The Panoche Valley is one of only three core areas left in California necessary for the survival and recovery of the highly endangered San Joaquin kit fox, the endangered blunt-nosed leopard lizard, and the endangered giant kangaroo rat." Solar Valley says the project will power 70,000 homes, create 1,500 jobs and bring nearly $40 million in revenue to San Benito County.   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?

  • 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
  • Comcast Agrees to Pay $26 Million for Privacy Breach and Hazardous Waste Dumping

    Thursday, December 17, 2015
    Comcast was accused of dumping personal records in landfills since 2005 without any shredding or redaction of sensitive information, including customer names, addresses and telephone numbers. The complaint was filed after a whistleblower came forward in 2010.   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