Portal

  • Water Unaccountability in the Age of Drought

    Friday, April 17, 2015
    Katharine Mieszkowski and Lance Williams at The Center for Investigative Reporting put a lot of the blame for a lack of transparency about water on a 1997 change in the California Public Records Act pushed by wealthy folks in the Silicon Valley who didn’t want the California Public Records Act to expose their utility usage data.   read more
  • Delta Survey of Once Dominant Smelt Finds Just One

    Friday, April 17, 2015
    The end is near for Delta smelt in the wild. They were once the most abundant fish in the estuary. While they will be mourned, their passing will be accompanied by a certain horror at what the demise of this indicator fish means for the Delta ecosystem. They were the poster child for short-sided neglect and awful water policy, and the vanishing canary in the coal mine warning of impending devastation.   read more
  • Study Says Solar Rebates Not as Effective as Just Giving Units to Low-Income Folks

    Friday, April 17, 2015
    Researchers analyzed 8,500 solar projects in San Diego between May 2007 and April 2013 and found the broad range of financial subsidies had little correlation with the number of adoptees. The growth in popularity would have been about the same without them, the report concludes. Giving units to lower-income folks would provide a lot more cheap power and toss in a little income redistribution on the side.   read more
  • Federal Judge Dashes High Hopes for Less Harsh Marijuana Reclassification

    Thursday, April 16, 2015
    Attorneys for nine growers arrested on conspiracy marijuana charges in Northern California in 2011 argued that the law they were being prosecuted under was unconstitutional because marijuana is grouped with the harshest drugs which, by definition, have “no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.” The judge said, “This is not the court and this is not the time. . . . The questions raised by the defense are for Congress to resolve.”   read more
  • L.A. Schools Want Millions Refunded for iPads and Education Software

    Thursday, April 16, 2015
    KPCC reported Wednesday that LAUSD attorney David Holmquist wrote in a letter to the computer manufacturer, “While Apple and Pearson promised a state-of-the-art technological solution for ITI implementation, they have yet to deliver it. . . . As we approach the end of the school year, the vast majority of students are still unable to access the Pearson curriculum on iPads.”   read more

PHOTO GALLERY

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

Top Stories

  • Feds Bar New Students at For-Profit Heald Colleges and Fine Parent Corinthian $30 Million

    Wednesday, April 15, 2015
    The U.S. Department of Education announced it had found 947 instances of Heald's parent, Corinthian, misstating its placement rate of students after graduation, information used in recruitment that current students probably relied on in choosing the school. The department said, “Heald paid companies to hire graduates for temporary positions as short as two days, asked them to perform tasks like moving computers and organizing cables, and then counted those graduates as ‘placed in field.’ ”   read more
  • L.A. County Audit Slams Juvie Camps that Feds Said Were OK

    Monday, April 13, 2015
    The DOJ exit signaled that great strides had been made in fixing civil rights abuses and generally rancid conditions in the 16 camps housing juvenile offenders. The L.A. County Auditor-Controller looked at seven of the more important 73 reforms signed off on by the feds to see if compliance had, indeed, been met. Sadly, six did not meet standards.   read more
  • PG&E Penalized $1.6 Billion for Deadly San Bruno Blast, but Does It Matter?

    Friday, April 10, 2015
    Shortly after the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) announced its decision, President Michael Picker said that he questions whether even a record penalty can influence the highly-profitable utility to change its evil ways. “If PG&E is failing to establish a safety culture, and we continue to see more accidents and violations, what are our tools?” Picker reportedly told those attending the commission meeting.   read more

Controversies

  • Chamber of Commerce Prepares for the War on “Job Killers”

    Thursday, April 16, 2015
    Last year, 24 of the 27 bills targeted by the chamber ended up in “The Graveyard,” despite a distinct minority of Republican lawmakers. So, the April release of its preliminary list of 16 new targets is not without interest, although the moniker may not be appropriate. A study analyzing 381 "job killer" stories in mainstream media concluded that fewer than 10% justified use of the term,   read more
  • 10 Deputies Too Busy Beating Suspect Senseless to Notice News Chopper Filming Them

    Monday, April 13, 2015
    The sheriff noted that “it’s hard to manage your adrenalin when you get to the end of a pursuit after driving at high speeds, through crazy situations, blowing stop signs, near collisions, and ultimately running on foot after a suspect. . . . Not that that’s an excuse.” He concluded, "At the end of the day, it appears to be excessive.”   read more
  • California Welcomes 200,000 New Immigrant Drivers into System that Annually Suspends Half a Million Licenses

    Thursday, April 09, 2015
    State and local governments have put a lot of time and effort over the years into turning traffic courts into a replacement source of funding lost to economic downturn, lower taxes on upper-income folks and suspect spending priorities. The result in California, according to a new study from five civil rights groups, is increased income inequality as the extraordinary burden of cascading fines and fees leads to millions of driver’s license suspensions for poorer people.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Time Is Not Running Out for San Jose’s Defective Smart Parking Meters

    Wednesday, April 15, 2015
    The city copped to a dozen screwed-up meters—ones near the courthouse—and around 90 bogus tickets, which had been contested and cleared. The dozen meters have been disabled while city officials talk to the vendor about a fix. Otherwise, the city is responding on a case-by-case basis as people protest their tickets from the 1,900 smart meters.   read more
  • State Agencies Still in “Widespread Noncompliance” with Budget Personnel Rules

    Tuesday, April 14, 2015
    Thirty years ago, California lawmakers created rules requiring state agencies to return any money to the General Fund not spent on positions vacant for more than six months, So state agencies transfer employees internally to fill vacant positions before the deadline so they show up as occupied on ledger sheets. That means the budget-strapped agencies are getting paid for more positions than were actually occupied, so they take the extra money and spend it on other things.   read more
  • 1,300 Bay Area Nursing Home Workers Cheated out of Millions

    Wednesday, April 08, 2015
    Although workers who manage to prove they were ripped off by their employers rarely collect their money, the U.S. Labor Department had some successes to crow about. For example, the owners of Retirement Plus of San Carlos and four other Bay Area retirement facilities paid caregivers as little as $5 an hour. They were forced to pony up $630,000.   read more

California and the Nation

  • Sardines Fall Way Below Minimum Numbers; Fishing Finally Banned

    Tuesday, April 14, 2015
    The crucial forage fish’s population is known for being chronically volatile, but its drop from a high of 1.42 million metric tons in 2007 to 97,000 by next season has become hard to ignore. Geoffrey Shester, Oceana’s California campaign director, said the damage would be felt for decades and told the San Francisco Chronicle, “There’s a management failure here."   read more
  • 82 Perimeter Security Breaches at California Airports, but No Terrorists

    Friday, April 10, 2015
    The Associated Press surveyed 31 of the busiest airports in the United States, including five in California, and found 268 incursions between 2004 and 2014. Eighty-two of them were in California. San Francisco International Airport had the most, 37, and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) was third, with 24. Mineta San Jose International Airport was fifth, at 18, but the San Francisco Chronicle noted that five of those were in the last 11 months.   read more
  • Judge Blocks Navy Sonar Testing over “Stunning Number” of Harmed Marine Mammals

    Thursday, April 02, 2015
    After fruitlessly looking through reams of legal submissions for any explanation of how the National Marine Fisheries Service reached its dubious decision that sonar testing by the Navy would have "negligible impact," the judge wrote: “This court feels like the sailor in Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ who, trapped for days on a ship becalmed in the middle of the ocean, laments, ‘Water, water, every where, Nor any drop to drink.’   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • Director of California Department of Public Health: Who Is Karen Smith?

    Tuesday, February 24, 2015
    Napa County is losing its longtime public health officer to the state. Dr. Karen Smith. Governor Jerry Brown's appointee as director of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) succeeds Dr. Ron Chapman, who resigned at the end of January. The department is the lead agency in California providing detection, treatment, prevention and surveillance of public health and environmental issues.   read more
  • Executive Director of the California Transportation Commission: Who Is Will Kempton?

    Friday, February 20, 2015
    Will Kempton has shuttled between public and private positions in transportation, public service and government affairs for 40 years. His return to the public sector as executive director of the California Transportation Commission (CTC) in January followed a three-year stint, with the same title, at the nonprofit advocacy group Transportation California.   read more
  • Director of the California Department of Health Care Services: Who Is Jennifer Kent?

    Tuesday, January 27, 2015
    Governor Jerry Brown’s new head of the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) replaces Toby Douglas, who announced his resignation last September after three tumultuous years of change generated by the Affordable Care Act and the state’s expansion of its version of the federal Medicaid program. The department oversees Medi-Cal and its 11 million participants.   read more

Unusual News

  • Record Number of West Nile Deaths in 2014 Linked to Climate Change

    Wednesday, April 15, 2015
    Last week, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced a record 31 deaths in 2014 from West Nile Virus out of 801 cases, the second-highest number ever. California had 379 cases in 2013 and just 111 in 2010. The new numbers confirm a prediction by UCLA researchers in February 2014 that climate change would dramatically increase West Nile in the state.   read more
  • Accused Burglar Beats the Wrap with “I Thought I Was in a Space Station” Defense

    Tuesday, April 14, 2015
    Aviles climbed on to a fire escape and entered an apartment. He took off his shoes and shirt, and crashed on the couch. When he came to, he grabbed a backpack and loaded it with items, including an earthquake kit and a woman’s passport. Aviles testified he thought his long hair looked like hers and the document would guarantee his seat on the spaceship he thought was docked atop the space station/apartment building.   read more
  • Zombies Blamed for Bystander Run over by Car

    Monday, April 13, 2015
    Campbell was not participating in the Zombie Walk, but was taking photographs of the undead while standing in a crosswalk. Pocci, who is deaf, found his car blocked by the zombie walkers. When he began to get rattled by the strange scene in front of him, he blew his horn and tried to drive ahead. That angered the zombies, who jumped on his car and broke his windshield. Becoming even more concerned for his safety and that of his passengers, he inched forward, struck Campbell and ran her over.   read more
  • Water Unaccountability in the Age of Drought

    Friday, April 17, 2015
    Katharine Mieszkowski and Lance Williams at The Center for Investigative Reporting put a lot of the blame for a lack of transparency about water on a 1997 change in the California Public Records Act pushed by wealthy folks in the Silicon Valley who didn’t want the California Public Records Act to expose their utility usage data.   read more
  • Delta Survey of Once Dominant Smelt Finds Just One

    Friday, April 17, 2015
    The end is near for Delta smelt in the wild. They were once the most abundant fish in the estuary. While they will be mourned, their passing will be accompanied by a certain horror at what the demise of this indicator fish means for the Delta ecosystem. They were the poster child for short-sided neglect and awful water policy, and the vanishing canary in the coal mine warning of impending devastation.   read more
  • Study Says Solar Rebates Not as Effective as Just Giving Units to Low-Income Folks

    Friday, April 17, 2015
    Researchers analyzed 8,500 solar projects in San Diego between May 2007 and April 2013 and found the broad range of financial subsidies had little correlation with the number of adoptees. The growth in popularity would have been about the same without them, the report concludes. Giving units to lower-income folks would provide a lot more cheap power and toss in a little income redistribution on the side.   read more
  • Federal Judge Dashes High Hopes for Less Harsh Marijuana Reclassification

    Thursday, April 16, 2015
    Attorneys for nine growers arrested on conspiracy marijuana charges in Northern California in 2011 argued that the law they were being prosecuted under was unconstitutional because marijuana is grouped with the harshest drugs which, by definition, have “no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.” The judge said, “This is not the court and this is not the time. . . . The questions raised by the defense are for Congress to resolve.”   read more
  • L.A. Schools Want Millions Refunded for iPads and Education Software

    Thursday, April 16, 2015
    KPCC reported Wednesday that LAUSD attorney David Holmquist wrote in a letter to the computer manufacturer, “While Apple and Pearson promised a state-of-the-art technological solution for ITI implementation, they have yet to deliver it. . . . As we approach the end of the school year, the vast majority of students are still unable to access the Pearson curriculum on iPads.”   read more

Top Stories

  • Feds Bar New Students at For-Profit Heald Colleges and Fine Parent Corinthian $30 Million

    Wednesday, April 15, 2015
    The U.S. Department of Education announced it had found 947 instances of Heald's parent, Corinthian, misstating its placement rate of students after graduation, information used in recruitment that current students probably relied on in choosing the school. The department said, “Heald paid companies to hire graduates for temporary positions as short as two days, asked them to perform tasks like moving computers and organizing cables, and then counted those graduates as ‘placed in field.’ ”   read more
  • L.A. County Audit Slams Juvie Camps that Feds Said Were OK

    Monday, April 13, 2015
    The DOJ exit signaled that great strides had been made in fixing civil rights abuses and generally rancid conditions in the 16 camps housing juvenile offenders. The L.A. County Auditor-Controller looked at seven of the more important 73 reforms signed off on by the feds to see if compliance had, indeed, been met. Sadly, six did not meet standards.   read more
  • PG&E Penalized $1.6 Billion for Deadly San Bruno Blast, but Does It Matter?

    Friday, April 10, 2015
    Shortly after the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) announced its decision, President Michael Picker said that he questions whether even a record penalty can influence the highly-profitable utility to change its evil ways. “If PG&E is failing to establish a safety culture, and we continue to see more accidents and violations, what are our tools?” Picker reportedly told those attending the commission meeting.   read more

Controversies

  • Chamber of Commerce Prepares for the War on “Job Killers”

    Thursday, April 16, 2015
    Last year, 24 of the 27 bills targeted by the chamber ended up in “The Graveyard,” despite a distinct minority of Republican lawmakers. So, the April release of its preliminary list of 16 new targets is not without interest, although the moniker may not be appropriate. A study analyzing 381 "job killer" stories in mainstream media concluded that fewer than 10% justified use of the term,   read more
  • 10 Deputies Too Busy Beating Suspect Senseless to Notice News Chopper Filming Them

    Monday, April 13, 2015
    The sheriff noted that “it’s hard to manage your adrenalin when you get to the end of a pursuit after driving at high speeds, through crazy situations, blowing stop signs, near collisions, and ultimately running on foot after a suspect. . . . Not that that’s an excuse.” He concluded, "At the end of the day, it appears to be excessive.”   read more
  • California Welcomes 200,000 New Immigrant Drivers into System that Annually Suspends Half a Million Licenses

    Thursday, April 09, 2015
    State and local governments have put a lot of time and effort over the years into turning traffic courts into a replacement source of funding lost to economic downturn, lower taxes on upper-income folks and suspect spending priorities. The result in California, according to a new study from five civil rights groups, is increased income inequality as the extraordinary burden of cascading fines and fees leads to millions of driver’s license suspensions for poorer people.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Time Is Not Running Out for San Jose’s Defective Smart Parking Meters

    Wednesday, April 15, 2015
    The city copped to a dozen screwed-up meters—ones near the courthouse—and around 90 bogus tickets, which had been contested and cleared. The dozen meters have been disabled while city officials talk to the vendor about a fix. Otherwise, the city is responding on a case-by-case basis as people protest their tickets from the 1,900 smart meters.   read more
  • State Agencies Still in “Widespread Noncompliance” with Budget Personnel Rules

    Tuesday, April 14, 2015
    Thirty years ago, California lawmakers created rules requiring state agencies to return any money to the General Fund not spent on positions vacant for more than six months, So state agencies transfer employees internally to fill vacant positions before the deadline so they show up as occupied on ledger sheets. That means the budget-strapped agencies are getting paid for more positions than were actually occupied, so they take the extra money and spend it on other things.   read more
  • 1,300 Bay Area Nursing Home Workers Cheated out of Millions

    Wednesday, April 08, 2015
    Although workers who manage to prove they were ripped off by their employers rarely collect their money, the U.S. Labor Department had some successes to crow about. For example, the owners of Retirement Plus of San Carlos and four other Bay Area retirement facilities paid caregivers as little as $5 an hour. They were forced to pony up $630,000.   read more

California and the Nation

  • Sardines Fall Way Below Minimum Numbers; Fishing Finally Banned

    Tuesday, April 14, 2015
    The crucial forage fish’s population is known for being chronically volatile, but its drop from a high of 1.42 million metric tons in 2007 to 97,000 by next season has become hard to ignore. Geoffrey Shester, Oceana’s California campaign director, said the damage would be felt for decades and told the San Francisco Chronicle, “There’s a management failure here."   read more
  • 82 Perimeter Security Breaches at California Airports, but No Terrorists

    Friday, April 10, 2015
    The Associated Press surveyed 31 of the busiest airports in the United States, including five in California, and found 268 incursions between 2004 and 2014. Eighty-two of them were in California. San Francisco International Airport had the most, 37, and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) was third, with 24. Mineta San Jose International Airport was fifth, at 18, but the San Francisco Chronicle noted that five of those were in the last 11 months.   read more
  • Judge Blocks Navy Sonar Testing over “Stunning Number” of Harmed Marine Mammals

    Thursday, April 02, 2015
    After fruitlessly looking through reams of legal submissions for any explanation of how the National Marine Fisheries Service reached its dubious decision that sonar testing by the Navy would have "negligible impact," the judge wrote: “This court feels like the sailor in Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ who, trapped for days on a ship becalmed in the middle of the ocean, laments, ‘Water, water, every where, Nor any drop to drink.’   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • Director of California Department of Public Health: Who Is Karen Smith?

    Tuesday, February 24, 2015
    Napa County is losing its longtime public health officer to the state. Dr. Karen Smith. Governor Jerry Brown's appointee as director of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) succeeds Dr. Ron Chapman, who resigned at the end of January. The department is the lead agency in California providing detection, treatment, prevention and surveillance of public health and environmental issues.   read more
  • Executive Director of the California Transportation Commission: Who Is Will Kempton?

    Friday, February 20, 2015
    Will Kempton has shuttled between public and private positions in transportation, public service and government affairs for 40 years. His return to the public sector as executive director of the California Transportation Commission (CTC) in January followed a three-year stint, with the same title, at the nonprofit advocacy group Transportation California.   read more
  • Director of the California Department of Health Care Services: Who Is Jennifer Kent?

    Tuesday, January 27, 2015
    Governor Jerry Brown’s new head of the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) replaces Toby Douglas, who announced his resignation last September after three tumultuous years of change generated by the Affordable Care Act and the state’s expansion of its version of the federal Medicaid program. The department oversees Medi-Cal and its 11 million participants.   read more

Unusual News

  • Record Number of West Nile Deaths in 2014 Linked to Climate Change

    Wednesday, April 15, 2015
    Last week, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced a record 31 deaths in 2014 from West Nile Virus out of 801 cases, the second-highest number ever. California had 379 cases in 2013 and just 111 in 2010. The new numbers confirm a prediction by UCLA researchers in February 2014 that climate change would dramatically increase West Nile in the state.   read more
  • Accused Burglar Beats the Wrap with “I Thought I Was in a Space Station” Defense

    Tuesday, April 14, 2015
    Aviles climbed on to a fire escape and entered an apartment. He took off his shoes and shirt, and crashed on the couch. When he came to, he grabbed a backpack and loaded it with items, including an earthquake kit and a woman’s passport. Aviles testified he thought his long hair looked like hers and the document would guarantee his seat on the spaceship he thought was docked atop the space station/apartment building.   read more
  • Zombies Blamed for Bystander Run over by Car

    Monday, April 13, 2015
    Campbell was not participating in the Zombie Walk, but was taking photographs of the undead while standing in a crosswalk. Pocci, who is deaf, found his car blocked by the zombie walkers. When he began to get rattled by the strange scene in front of him, he blew his horn and tried to drive ahead. That angered the zombies, who jumped on his car and broke his windshield. Becoming even more concerned for his safety and that of his passengers, he inched forward, struck Campbell and ran her over.   read more

PHOTO GALLERY

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