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Featured Story

Big Oil’s Grip on California

Wednesday, March 01, 2017
Headlines speak of California as a bulwark against a new president who sees climate change as a “hoax” and his promise of the most pro-drilling Cabinet in U.S. history. But behind the headlines is oil’s enduring power in the Golden State. In spite of international praise for California's efforts to fight climate change, Big Oil has spent more than $122 million on campaign contributions and on lobbying to boost production, weaken regulatory agencies and mold energy policy.   read more
Latest News

Top Stories

  • California Bill Would Require Release of Tax Returns for Presidential Candidates to Appear on State Ballot

    Sunday, December 25, 2016
    Blasting Trump’s decision to buck a long-standing trend of candidates releasing their tax returns, two state senators hope the proposal will “help make transparency great again.” “The American people deserve honesty and transparency from their president. Unfortunately, we are getting lies and obfuscation from President-elect Trump, especially in regards to how his business interests may impact his administration,” said state Sen. Scott Wiener.   read more
  • California County Fights Chevron and Local School District to Defend Voter-Approved Law Limiting Oil Production

    Tuesday, December 20, 2016
    The San Ardo Field is the 46th largest oil field in the U.S. The oil is “heavy” and has the consistency of ketchup, but by injecting steam it is heated and extracted more easily. Chevron is the largest operator on the site, producing about 11,000 barrels of oil per day. Measure Z, presented to voters as a ban on fracking and risky oil operations to protect the region’s water, passed with 56% approval on Nov. 8. It prohibits fracking and other procedures deemed a danger to groundwater.   read more
  • California Lawmakers to Enact Sweeping Laws to Resist Trump’s Mass Immigrant Deportation Threats

    Saturday, December 10, 2016
    “Throughout the presidential campaign and since, the president-elect has made many troubling statements that run counter to the principles that define California today,” said Kevin de León, the state Senate president pro tempore, “If the president-elect has identified 2 to 3 million criminal immigrants, we can only assume it’s a pretense to open up criteria to deport mothers who are pulled over for a broken taillight. We want to ensure that those facing deportation are afforded due process...”   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

Featured Story

Big Oil’s Grip on California

Wednesday, March 01, 2017
Headlines speak of California as a bulwark against a new president who sees climate change as a “hoax” and his promise of the most pro-drilling Cabinet in U.S. history. But behind the headlines is oil’s enduring power in the Golden State. In spite of international praise for California's efforts to fight climate change, Big Oil has spent more than $122 million on campaign contributions and on lobbying to boost production, weaken regulatory agencies and mold energy policy.   read more
Latest News

Top Stories

  • California Bill Would Require Release of Tax Returns for Presidential Candidates to Appear on State Ballot

    Sunday, December 25, 2016
    Blasting Trump’s decision to buck a long-standing trend of candidates releasing their tax returns, two state senators hope the proposal will “help make transparency great again.” “The American people deserve honesty and transparency from their president. Unfortunately, we are getting lies and obfuscation from President-elect Trump, especially in regards to how his business interests may impact his administration,” said state Sen. Scott Wiener.   read more
  • California County Fights Chevron and Local School District to Defend Voter-Approved Law Limiting Oil Production

    Tuesday, December 20, 2016
    The San Ardo Field is the 46th largest oil field in the U.S. The oil is “heavy” and has the consistency of ketchup, but by injecting steam it is heated and extracted more easily. Chevron is the largest operator on the site, producing about 11,000 barrels of oil per day. Measure Z, presented to voters as a ban on fracking and risky oil operations to protect the region’s water, passed with 56% approval on Nov. 8. It prohibits fracking and other procedures deemed a danger to groundwater.   read more
  • California Lawmakers to Enact Sweeping Laws to Resist Trump’s Mass Immigrant Deportation Threats

    Saturday, December 10, 2016
    “Throughout the presidential campaign and since, the president-elect has made many troubling statements that run counter to the principles that define California today,” said Kevin de León, the state Senate president pro tempore, “If the president-elect has identified 2 to 3 million criminal immigrants, we can only assume it’s a pretense to open up criteria to deport mothers who are pulled over for a broken taillight. We want to ensure that those facing deportation are afforded due process...”   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