Portal

  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • California Appeals Court Overturns Historic 2014 Ruling on Teacher Tenure

    Thursday, April 21, 2016
    The state argued that teacher tenure attracts and retains the best teachers in the state. At issue are state laws that students say unfairly grant teachers permanent employment, prevent removal of ineffective teachers from classrooms and during economic downturns lead to layoffs of teachers based on seniority rather than merit. Under those laws, poor and minority schools end up with a disproportionate amount of "lemon" teachers who secure tenure in as little as 16 months, the students claim.   read more
  • Dam Destruction Agreement Will Allow Endangered Salmon to Finally Swim Home

    Sunday, April 17, 2016
    Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, who signed agreements with the governors of both states, said the plan would bring about one of the largest river restoration projects in the history of the U.S. The landmark deals also protect farmers and ranchers from rising power and water prices. The dams now block fish from migrating to their historic spawning grounds and also degrade water quality, spreading fish diseases and algae blooms.   read more

PHOTO GALLERY

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

Top Stories

  • School District Allows Scholarships from Scientology but not from Atheists

    Saturday, April 16, 2016
    A California school district refused to include scholarship offers from two atheist groups in the lists they distribute to students, the groups claim in court. Both say the district and Palmdale High refused to make their scholarship offers available to students. The high school does, however, announce a scholarship named after L. Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology. The refusal suppresses speech and denies equal access to the school's scholarship distribution system, according to the complaint.   read more
  • Outdated State Tax Program Costs California Billions

    Friday, April 15, 2016
    As tax day approaches, the California state auditor said Tuesday that the state doesn't monitor and hasn't updated its corporate tax program. Lax oversight over the state's six largest corporate income tax expenditures cost it more than $2.6 billion in forgone revenue in 2012-13 alone. The audit found that the state's popular research and development credit has essentially been ignored by regulators and that there isn't enough evidence to conclude if it's cost-effective.   read more
  • Have a Seat! Court Ruling Allows More Cashiers and Tellers to Sit on Job

    Friday, April 08, 2016
    The court's opinion stemmed from lawsuits brought by cashiers at the CVS and tellers at Chase Bank who said they were wrongly denied a place to sit while working. Experts called the opinion a victory for the cashiers and tellers. "The burden of proof is going to be on employers in most situations to determine why a seat would not be reasonable," said labor lawyer Hirschfeld. Companies likely will err on the side of providing a seat after Monday's opinion, Hirschfeld said.   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

  • 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
  • Giant African Snails Pay Unwanted Call on Port of Oakland

    Monday, December 21, 2015
    Two of the monstrously large creatures (8 inches long, 5 inches wide) were found on wooden pallets from American Samoa at the Port of Oakland this month, raising the spectre of a voracious pest with no known predators set loose upon California which, in the words of the Chronicle, “eats crops and homes.” U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents said this is the second time in two months, snails have been found at the port.   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
  • 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
  • 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
  • California Appeals Court Overturns Historic 2014 Ruling on Teacher Tenure

    Thursday, April 21, 2016
    The state argued that teacher tenure attracts and retains the best teachers in the state. At issue are state laws that students say unfairly grant teachers permanent employment, prevent removal of ineffective teachers from classrooms and during economic downturns lead to layoffs of teachers based on seniority rather than merit. Under those laws, poor and minority schools end up with a disproportionate amount of "lemon" teachers who secure tenure in as little as 16 months, the students claim.   read more
  • Dam Destruction Agreement Will Allow Endangered Salmon to Finally Swim Home

    Sunday, April 17, 2016
    Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, who signed agreements with the governors of both states, said the plan would bring about one of the largest river restoration projects in the history of the U.S. The landmark deals also protect farmers and ranchers from rising power and water prices. The dams now block fish from migrating to their historic spawning grounds and also degrade water quality, spreading fish diseases and algae blooms.   read more

Top Stories

  • School District Allows Scholarships from Scientology but not from Atheists

    Saturday, April 16, 2016
    A California school district refused to include scholarship offers from two atheist groups in the lists they distribute to students, the groups claim in court. Both say the district and Palmdale High refused to make their scholarship offers available to students. The high school does, however, announce a scholarship named after L. Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology. The refusal suppresses speech and denies equal access to the school's scholarship distribution system, according to the complaint.   read more
  • Outdated State Tax Program Costs California Billions

    Friday, April 15, 2016
    As tax day approaches, the California state auditor said Tuesday that the state doesn't monitor and hasn't updated its corporate tax program. Lax oversight over the state's six largest corporate income tax expenditures cost it more than $2.6 billion in forgone revenue in 2012-13 alone. The audit found that the state's popular research and development credit has essentially been ignored by regulators and that there isn't enough evidence to conclude if it's cost-effective.   read more
  • Have a Seat! Court Ruling Allows More Cashiers and Tellers to Sit on Job

    Friday, April 08, 2016
    The court's opinion stemmed from lawsuits brought by cashiers at the CVS and tellers at Chase Bank who said they were wrongly denied a place to sit while working. Experts called the opinion a victory for the cashiers and tellers. "The burden of proof is going to be on employers in most situations to determine why a seat would not be reasonable," said labor lawyer Hirschfeld. Companies likely will err on the side of providing a seat after Monday's opinion, Hirschfeld said.   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

  • 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
  • Giant African Snails Pay Unwanted Call on Port of Oakland

    Monday, December 21, 2015
    Two of the monstrously large creatures (8 inches long, 5 inches wide) were found on wooden pallets from American Samoa at the Port of Oakland this month, raising the spectre of a voracious pest with no known predators set loose upon California which, in the words of the Chronicle, “eats crops and homes.” U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents said this is the second time in two months, snails have been found at the port.   read more

PHOTO GALLERY

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