Portal

  • California Is First State to Ban Plastic Bags, Just in Time for Repeal Movement

    Wednesday, October 01, 2014
    Brown signed Senate Bill 270 on Tuesday, echoing laws already passed in 127 California cities and counties. The American Progressive Bag Alliance (APBA) immediately announced it was beginning an effort to gather signatures to put repeal of the law on the 2016 ballot.   read more
  • Fungi War Looms against Tumbleweeds that Plague California

    Wednesday, October 01, 2014
    The state’s drought has helped introduce the non-native plants that produce the iconic nuisance to areas that were once too moist to support them. The result is a statewide infestation of green spindly bushes that threaten farming, and the dry, prickly tumbling tumbleweeds that are beginning to plague more urban areas. After a decade of research scientists are ready to unleash two fungi—Colletotrichum salsolae and Uromyces salsolae—from the steppes of Eurasia that are known to kill tumbleweeds.   read more
  • Anti-Fracking Forces in Santa Barbara County Outspent 20-1 on Ballot Measure

    Wednesday, October 01, 2014
    Keith Carls at KCOY wrote that opponents have raised $1,950,000, compared to $95,000 by supporters, but didn’t provide a breakdown on the figures. It’s safe to say that the oil and gas industry is a significant contributor to the “No on P” campaign. Backers of the measure want to limit oil extraction techniques that employ hydraulic fracturing, steam injection and well acidization in unincorporated county areas.   read more
  • L.A. County Quietly Rolling Out Mega Database for Collecting Personal Data

    Tuesday, September 30, 2014
    The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) went operational with its Next Generation Identification System (NGI) earlier in the month, clearing the way for state and local authorities to hook up their growing databases of biometric information about residents—iris scans, photos for facial recognition, voice recordings, DNA profiles, fingerprints, etc—with the FBI, creating an awesome repository of data that will include people who have not been convicted of anything.   read more
  • Governor Brown Veto Reignites Covered California Fight with VSP

    Tuesday, September 30, 2014
    It looked for awhile like California might be able to patch up its differences with the Sacramento-area-based company and include its Vision Service Plan (VSP) in the state’s federally-subsidized health care exchange. But Governor Jerry Brown vetoed Assembly Bill 1877 last week, upsetting VSP President and Chief Executive Rob Lynch, who thought he had a deal after threatening to move a part of his operations elsewhere. “We are surprised and shocked,” Lynch said.   read more

PHOTO GALLERY

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

Top Stories

  • Governor Brown Shoots Down Bill to Limit Warrantless Drones

    Monday, September 29, 2014
    While Brown thought the legislation too restrictive, some civil libertarians thought it too broad. For instance, the bill prohibits weaponizing the drones—“unless authorized by federal law.” Bill author Assemblyman Jeff Gorell (R-Camarillo) said, "It's disappointing that the governor decided to side with law enforcement in this case over the privacy interests of California.”   read more
  • Massive 25-Year Desert Renewable Energy Plan Puts Environmentalists on Notice

    Friday, September 26, 2014
    Generating that much electricity is not without environmental costs. The report says: “The development of large-scale renewable projects in Development Focus Areas would also impose dramatic visual changes to high-value recreational areas. Over 40 percent of the Development Focus Areas for any of the action alternatives are within 5 miles of Legally and Legislatively Protected Areas,” including Death Valley, Joshua Tree National Park and Mojave National Preserve.   read more
  • Los Angeles Considers Paying Voters to Cast Their Ballots

    Thursday, September 25, 2014
    In a letter to the council, the commission said the city’s abysmal turnout—23% in the 2013 mayoral election—could be substantially boosted by offering incentives for people to vote. The commission proposed a lottery of sorts for people who cast a ballot. Anticipating legal problems down the road, the prizes could not be offered in elections when candidates for federal office are on the ballot.   read more

Controversies

  • Decades after Prison Sterilizations Were “Banned,” State Really Does It

    Monday, September 29, 2014
    California regularly sterilized women in institutions for much of the 20th Century before deciding that having a eugenics program that inspired Nazis in Germany probably wasn’t a good thing and essentially banned the practice. Or so the public was led to believe. Now, presumably, it has. Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 1135 a year after the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) revealed that dozens of female inmates had been sterilized in recent years and the practice had not ended.   read more
  • L.A. and S.F. Warn “Ride-Sharing” Companies about Actually Sharing Rides

    Monday, September 29, 2014
    The companies were told not to offer services that provide individuals with a shared ride, like a shuttle bus. Real ride sharing, not the "shared economy" kind, is a regulated transportation activity, which the cities say hasn’t been approved for the new kids on the block. Sidecar was defiant. “We’re going to continue to operate Shared Ride,” CEO Sunil Paul told the San Francisco Chronicle.   read more
  • Judge Tells Billionaire to Unblock Half Moon Bay Public Beach Access

    Thursday, September 25, 2014
    The judge said he needed to apply to the California Coastal Commission for a permit before making a change in the property’s development. That change doesn’t have to be physical, Judge Mallach said, encouraging public access advocates up and down the coast. It can simply be a change in access to the Pacific Ocean.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • UC Gives Future Journalists Something to Write About: 65% Tuition Increase

    Tuesday, September 30, 2014
    Around 73% of students already borrow money to pay for their J-school education. “We estimate that worst case, their average debt repayment on a 10-year loan would rise by $152 per month,” Dean Ed Wasserman said. J-school students are obviously not the only kids being whipsawed by the skyrocketing price of education and diminishing returns in the job market. But few industries have been whacked as badly by changing technology as publishing, and newspapers in particular.   read more
  • California Pensions to Dump $4-Billion Hedge Fund Investments

    Thursday, September 25, 2014
    CalPERS became one of the first to announce it was divesting itself of the controversial financial vehicles. The pension fund emphasized the move was made because of high hedge fund fees, not the crummy returns. But it also could have had as much to do with optics. Hedge fund managers got as much grief as bankers after the stock market crash in 2008-2009.   read more
  • Oakland Flips and Returns $1-Billion Garbage Contract to Texas Company

    Wednesday, September 24, 2014
    The unusual reversal capped a showdown between supporters of a small, local green company that promised to be attentive to community needs, and an out-of-state corporate giant with a reputation for acting like an outsider. “We have set a precedent here tonight that when people don’t get their way and they have enough money, they just do whatever they want to, say whatever they want to and there are no ramifications for what they do,” Councilmember Desley Brooks said.   read more

California and the Nation

  • Fed’s Hollywood Exemption Opens the Door for Commercial Use of Drones

    Friday, September 26, 2014
    The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) waived its 2007 ban on commercial use of drones Thursday to allow six filmmaking companies to send cameras airborne on vehicles that have not been certified for flight. Secretary of Transportation Anthony R. Foxx made it clear it won’t be the last waiver granted.   read more
  • State Complains to City of Benicia that Its Oil-by-Rail Safety Plan Isn't Safe

    Friday, September 26, 2014
    The letter to Benicia complained that the city’s draft environmental impact report considered only a small section of rail the trains will be traversing and underestimated the danger of an accident. Oil-laden trains will pass through downtown Roseville, Sacramento, West Sacramento, Davis and other cities on their way to the Benicia refinery.   read more
  • “Six Californias” Fails to Get Enough Signatures to Be on the Ballot

    Monday, September 15, 2014
    The California Secretary of State announced last Friday that Silicon Valley millionaire Tim Draper’s initiative fell short of the number of signatures necessary to qualify for the ballot in November 2016. Although he turned in 1.14 million signatures (pdf), far more than the required 807,615, a random sample of 54,000 of them indicated that a third were invalid.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • California Supreme Court Justice: Who Is Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar?

    Wednesday, July 23, 2014
    The 41-year-old Stanford law professor was born in Mexico before moving with his family to the U.S. when he was 14. A registered Democrat, Cuéllar worked in the Clinton and Obama administrations in various capacities. He specializes in administrative and immigration law, but has taught a broad range of courses, including international and criminal law.   read more
  • President and CEO of California Institute for Regenerative Medicine: Who Is C. Randal Mills?

    Monday, July 21, 2014
    Mills, 42, takes over the stem cell program as it enters the final years of the 2004 voter-approved, $3-billion venture to fund projects. Although his predecessor was said to be leaving to spend more time with his family in Australia, Alan Trounson was immediately hired by one of the companies CIRM had awarded millions of dollars to, re-enforcing the perception that the agency had a serious conflict-of-interest and cronyism problem.   read more
  • Acting Director of the Department of Parks and Recreation: Who Is Lisa Mangat?

    Friday, July 04, 2014
    She takes over a department, wracked by scandal and plagued by a lack of funding, whose $654 million budget is under intense scrutiny. Her predecessor, retired Marine Corps Major General Anthony L. Jackson, was hired in November 2012 with a mandate to reform the agency. His predecessor, Ruth Coleman, resigned four months earlier after $54 million was found stashed in department accounts while 70 state parks faced closure because of budget cuts.   read more

Unusual News

  • Parking Monkey, Ejected from San Francisco, Heads for Santa Monica and Beverly Hills

    Tuesday, September 23, 2014
    “We see no validity whatsoever in any application that would seek to auction off public parking spaces to the highest bidder . . . and we will take whatever steps we can to prevent its use in Santa Monica,” City Manager Rod Gould said. He said the city council would see an ordinance banning the app startup within a couple weeks. So that’s a maybe, right?   read more
  • Attorney in Trouble for Defiantly Photoshopping Herself into Celebrity Shots

    Monday, September 22, 2014
    The lawyer's 50-plus pics of her with celebrities, including President Obama, that reside on the site are photoshopped. She refuses to take them down and that defiance, the photos themselves and some other shenanigans earned the Los Angeles lawyer a recommended six-month suspension of her legal license by State Bar Judge Donald F. Miles.   read more
  • Thousands Fined for L.A. Freeway Toll Violation after Cops in Gun Battle Divert Traffic

    Thursday, September 18, 2014
    On Friday, those diverted to the "Lexus lane" began receiving fines in the mail for illegally traveling in the fast lane without the requisite transponder and Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) account. Transportation officials said people don’t have to pay the fine, but the only notification of that was a brief note on the Metro ExpressLanes home page:   read more
  • California Is First State to Ban Plastic Bags, Just in Time for Repeal Movement

    Wednesday, October 01, 2014
    Brown signed Senate Bill 270 on Tuesday, echoing laws already passed in 127 California cities and counties. The American Progressive Bag Alliance (APBA) immediately announced it was beginning an effort to gather signatures to put repeal of the law on the 2016 ballot.   read more
  • Fungi War Looms against Tumbleweeds that Plague California

    Wednesday, October 01, 2014
    The state’s drought has helped introduce the non-native plants that produce the iconic nuisance to areas that were once too moist to support them. The result is a statewide infestation of green spindly bushes that threaten farming, and the dry, prickly tumbling tumbleweeds that are beginning to plague more urban areas. After a decade of research scientists are ready to unleash two fungi—Colletotrichum salsolae and Uromyces salsolae—from the steppes of Eurasia that are known to kill tumbleweeds.   read more
  • Anti-Fracking Forces in Santa Barbara County Outspent 20-1 on Ballot Measure

    Wednesday, October 01, 2014
    Keith Carls at KCOY wrote that opponents have raised $1,950,000, compared to $95,000 by supporters, but didn’t provide a breakdown on the figures. It’s safe to say that the oil and gas industry is a significant contributor to the “No on P” campaign. Backers of the measure want to limit oil extraction techniques that employ hydraulic fracturing, steam injection and well acidization in unincorporated county areas.   read more
  • L.A. County Quietly Rolling Out Mega Database for Collecting Personal Data

    Tuesday, September 30, 2014
    The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) went operational with its Next Generation Identification System (NGI) earlier in the month, clearing the way for state and local authorities to hook up their growing databases of biometric information about residents—iris scans, photos for facial recognition, voice recordings, DNA profiles, fingerprints, etc—with the FBI, creating an awesome repository of data that will include people who have not been convicted of anything.   read more
  • Governor Brown Veto Reignites Covered California Fight with VSP

    Tuesday, September 30, 2014
    It looked for awhile like California might be able to patch up its differences with the Sacramento-area-based company and include its Vision Service Plan (VSP) in the state’s federally-subsidized health care exchange. But Governor Jerry Brown vetoed Assembly Bill 1877 last week, upsetting VSP President and Chief Executive Rob Lynch, who thought he had a deal after threatening to move a part of his operations elsewhere. “We are surprised and shocked,” Lynch said.   read more

Top Stories

  • Governor Brown Shoots Down Bill to Limit Warrantless Drones

    Monday, September 29, 2014
    While Brown thought the legislation too restrictive, some civil libertarians thought it too broad. For instance, the bill prohibits weaponizing the drones—“unless authorized by federal law.” Bill author Assemblyman Jeff Gorell (R-Camarillo) said, "It's disappointing that the governor decided to side with law enforcement in this case over the privacy interests of California.”   read more
  • Massive 25-Year Desert Renewable Energy Plan Puts Environmentalists on Notice

    Friday, September 26, 2014
    Generating that much electricity is not without environmental costs. The report says: “The development of large-scale renewable projects in Development Focus Areas would also impose dramatic visual changes to high-value recreational areas. Over 40 percent of the Development Focus Areas for any of the action alternatives are within 5 miles of Legally and Legislatively Protected Areas,” including Death Valley, Joshua Tree National Park and Mojave National Preserve.   read more
  • Los Angeles Considers Paying Voters to Cast Their Ballots

    Thursday, September 25, 2014
    In a letter to the council, the commission said the city’s abysmal turnout—23% in the 2013 mayoral election—could be substantially boosted by offering incentives for people to vote. The commission proposed a lottery of sorts for people who cast a ballot. Anticipating legal problems down the road, the prizes could not be offered in elections when candidates for federal office are on the ballot.   read more

Controversies

  • Decades after Prison Sterilizations Were “Banned,” State Really Does It

    Monday, September 29, 2014
    California regularly sterilized women in institutions for much of the 20th Century before deciding that having a eugenics program that inspired Nazis in Germany probably wasn’t a good thing and essentially banned the practice. Or so the public was led to believe. Now, presumably, it has. Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 1135 a year after the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) revealed that dozens of female inmates had been sterilized in recent years and the practice had not ended.   read more
  • L.A. and S.F. Warn “Ride-Sharing” Companies about Actually Sharing Rides

    Monday, September 29, 2014
    The companies were told not to offer services that provide individuals with a shared ride, like a shuttle bus. Real ride sharing, not the "shared economy" kind, is a regulated transportation activity, which the cities say hasn’t been approved for the new kids on the block. Sidecar was defiant. “We’re going to continue to operate Shared Ride,” CEO Sunil Paul told the San Francisco Chronicle.   read more
  • Judge Tells Billionaire to Unblock Half Moon Bay Public Beach Access

    Thursday, September 25, 2014
    The judge said he needed to apply to the California Coastal Commission for a permit before making a change in the property’s development. That change doesn’t have to be physical, Judge Mallach said, encouraging public access advocates up and down the coast. It can simply be a change in access to the Pacific Ocean.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • UC Gives Future Journalists Something to Write About: 65% Tuition Increase

    Tuesday, September 30, 2014
    Around 73% of students already borrow money to pay for their J-school education. “We estimate that worst case, their average debt repayment on a 10-year loan would rise by $152 per month,” Dean Ed Wasserman said. J-school students are obviously not the only kids being whipsawed by the skyrocketing price of education and diminishing returns in the job market. But few industries have been whacked as badly by changing technology as publishing, and newspapers in particular.   read more
  • California Pensions to Dump $4-Billion Hedge Fund Investments

    Thursday, September 25, 2014
    CalPERS became one of the first to announce it was divesting itself of the controversial financial vehicles. The pension fund emphasized the move was made because of high hedge fund fees, not the crummy returns. But it also could have had as much to do with optics. Hedge fund managers got as much grief as bankers after the stock market crash in 2008-2009.   read more
  • Oakland Flips and Returns $1-Billion Garbage Contract to Texas Company

    Wednesday, September 24, 2014
    The unusual reversal capped a showdown between supporters of a small, local green company that promised to be attentive to community needs, and an out-of-state corporate giant with a reputation for acting like an outsider. “We have set a precedent here tonight that when people don’t get their way and they have enough money, they just do whatever they want to, say whatever they want to and there are no ramifications for what they do,” Councilmember Desley Brooks said.   read more

California and the Nation

  • Fed’s Hollywood Exemption Opens the Door for Commercial Use of Drones

    Friday, September 26, 2014
    The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) waived its 2007 ban on commercial use of drones Thursday to allow six filmmaking companies to send cameras airborne on vehicles that have not been certified for flight. Secretary of Transportation Anthony R. Foxx made it clear it won’t be the last waiver granted.   read more
  • State Complains to City of Benicia that Its Oil-by-Rail Safety Plan Isn't Safe

    Friday, September 26, 2014
    The letter to Benicia complained that the city’s draft environmental impact report considered only a small section of rail the trains will be traversing and underestimated the danger of an accident. Oil-laden trains will pass through downtown Roseville, Sacramento, West Sacramento, Davis and other cities on their way to the Benicia refinery.   read more
  • “Six Californias” Fails to Get Enough Signatures to Be on the Ballot

    Monday, September 15, 2014
    The California Secretary of State announced last Friday that Silicon Valley millionaire Tim Draper’s initiative fell short of the number of signatures necessary to qualify for the ballot in November 2016. Although he turned in 1.14 million signatures (pdf), far more than the required 807,615, a random sample of 54,000 of them indicated that a third were invalid.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • California Supreme Court Justice: Who Is Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar?

    Wednesday, July 23, 2014
    The 41-year-old Stanford law professor was born in Mexico before moving with his family to the U.S. when he was 14. A registered Democrat, Cuéllar worked in the Clinton and Obama administrations in various capacities. He specializes in administrative and immigration law, but has taught a broad range of courses, including international and criminal law.   read more
  • President and CEO of California Institute for Regenerative Medicine: Who Is C. Randal Mills?

    Monday, July 21, 2014
    Mills, 42, takes over the stem cell program as it enters the final years of the 2004 voter-approved, $3-billion venture to fund projects. Although his predecessor was said to be leaving to spend more time with his family in Australia, Alan Trounson was immediately hired by one of the companies CIRM had awarded millions of dollars to, re-enforcing the perception that the agency had a serious conflict-of-interest and cronyism problem.   read more
  • Acting Director of the Department of Parks and Recreation: Who Is Lisa Mangat?

    Friday, July 04, 2014
    She takes over a department, wracked by scandal and plagued by a lack of funding, whose $654 million budget is under intense scrutiny. Her predecessor, retired Marine Corps Major General Anthony L. Jackson, was hired in November 2012 with a mandate to reform the agency. His predecessor, Ruth Coleman, resigned four months earlier after $54 million was found stashed in department accounts while 70 state parks faced closure because of budget cuts.   read more

Unusual News

  • Parking Monkey, Ejected from San Francisco, Heads for Santa Monica and Beverly Hills

    Tuesday, September 23, 2014
    “We see no validity whatsoever in any application that would seek to auction off public parking spaces to the highest bidder . . . and we will take whatever steps we can to prevent its use in Santa Monica,” City Manager Rod Gould said. He said the city council would see an ordinance banning the app startup within a couple weeks. So that’s a maybe, right?   read more
  • Attorney in Trouble for Defiantly Photoshopping Herself into Celebrity Shots

    Monday, September 22, 2014
    The lawyer's 50-plus pics of her with celebrities, including President Obama, that reside on the site are photoshopped. She refuses to take them down and that defiance, the photos themselves and some other shenanigans earned the Los Angeles lawyer a recommended six-month suspension of her legal license by State Bar Judge Donald F. Miles.   read more
  • Thousands Fined for L.A. Freeway Toll Violation after Cops in Gun Battle Divert Traffic

    Thursday, September 18, 2014
    On Friday, those diverted to the "Lexus lane" began receiving fines in the mail for illegally traveling in the fast lane without the requisite transponder and Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) account. Transportation officials said people don’t have to pay the fine, but the only notification of that was a brief note on the Metro ExpressLanes home page:   read more

PHOTO GALLERY

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