Portal

  • African-Americans Are 9.8% of L.A., but 43.1% of Its Homicide Victims

    Thursday, January 29, 2015
    Blacks and Latinos combined are 89% of the victims, but only 57% of the population. Around 62% of the killings were linked to gangs and 86% of all victims were male. Although the public image is of young street toughs going berserk before their short lives reach a violent end, one-third of the victims are 26-35 years old, compared to one-quarter of those 18-25.   read more
  • Feds Settle Lawsuit over Misuse of Veterans Campus in Los Angeles

    Thursday, January 29, 2015
    It remains to be seen if the settlement will get the estimated 4,200 homeless veterans off the city’s streets by the end of the year—a promise made by L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti. But it may do something about the spectacle of officials using the 387-acre site for a wide range of activities that don’t benefit veterans while a new long-term care facility languishes half-occupied.   read more
  • Falling Oil Prices Stop Giant Carson Drilling Project that Residents Could Not

    Thursday, January 29, 2015
    California Resources Corporation (CRC) announced this week that it was abandoning a plan to drill some 200 oil wells in the Dominguez Oil Field, despite having the personal support of Governor Jerry Brown. The company, a spin-off of Occidental Petroleum Corporation’s California assets last year, still holds the lease to the property and could change its mind anytime.   read more
  • California Doesn’t Know How It Spent $13 Billion in Mental Health Money

    Wednesday, January 28, 2015
    Proposition 63, the “Millionaires Tax,” raised billions for treatment of mental health. “Has homelessness declined? Are programs helping Californians stay at work or in school? Who is being served and who is falling through the cracks?” the report asks. Your guess is as good as theirs.   read more
  • Declining Oil Prices Blow up Kern County’s Budget

    Wednesday, January 28, 2015
    On Tuesday, the county Board of Supervisors declared a fiscal emergency in anticipation of a massive hit in property taxes, 30% of which comes from oil and gas companies. Crude oil prices have dropped 60% since last July and are approaching the 10-year low in 2009 during the depths of the Great Recession.   read more

PHOTO GALLERY

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

Top Stories

  • Blue Shield/Sutter Health Dispute Has 280,000 Looking for New Doctors

    Monday, January 26, 2015
    Blue Shield accuses Sutter, which operates 23 hospitals, of charging way more than other providers and wants a rate rollback. Sutter disputes that and wants to short-circuit lawsuits alleging anti-competitive behavior, not just medical disputes, by requiring binding arbitration instead of court review.   read more
  • 8 Days on the Road with the Oakland Police License Plate Readers

    Friday, January 23, 2015
    If, in focusing on neighborhoods of color, police expected to be deterring crime, it didn’t seem to work. EFF found that police “did not use ALPR surveillance in the southeast part of Oakland nearly as much as in the north, west, and central parts of Oakland, even though there seems to be just as much crime.” Surveillance also did not correlate well with areas experiencing automobile-related crimes.   read more
  • Half of California's Big Trees Are Gone

    Thursday, January 22, 2015
    A study published this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found a 50% drop in big trees, like pines, since the 1930s. The breadth of the disappearance suggests global warming is more than just a contributing factor. As a result, dense forests of pine trees are being replaced by scrubby oaks in semi-barren settings or as forest filler.   read more

Controversies

  • DMV Folds Fast: Uber and Others Don’t Need Commercial Plates

    Monday, January 26, 2015
    “We jumped the gun, and we shouldn’t have,” DMV Director Jean Shiomoto said in a statement. “There remains uncertainty about the interaction and effect of this law governing vehicle registration requirements with the more recent regulatory and statutory changes affecting ride-share operators.”   read more
  • Harvard Buys Heavily Into Drought-Stricken Paso Robles Wine Country

    Friday, January 23, 2015
    Some observers wonder whether Harvard is making a play in California’s impressive wine market or its stressed water market. The purchases began close to when the three-year drought began. Harvard quickly bought the rights to drill 16 new water wells, twice the depth of normal residential wells, just before restrictions on new pumping took effect in August 2013.   read more
  • Uber and Others Buck DMV on Registering Vehicles as Commercial

    Friday, January 23, 2015
    Uber CEO Travis Kalanick said this past week that his ride-sharing company’s annual $500 million in gross revenue from operations in San Francisco is three times bigger than the city’s entire taxi industry. But if he is going to continue the meteoric rise of his 4-year-old startup in California, he is going to have to get past one small stumbling block.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • State Watchdog Says New Law Slashing School Budget Reserves Should be Repealed

    Tuesday, January 27, 2015
    The Legislative Analyst's Office calculated that 91.4% of school districts (81 of 944) would fail to meet the new standards if they were applied to present budgets, setting off a scramble among them for ways to comply. Overall, school district reserves would have to shrink from $7.3 billion to $2.8 billion. The smallest district would suffer the most.   read more
  • Surgical Costs Are a Known Unknown with Wide Variation Across the State

    Tuesday, January 27, 2015
    The BlueCross BlueShield Association published a study (pdf) last week of hip and knee replacements in 64 health care markets across the country. Nowhere was a gaping price differential more pronounced than California. Only the Boston area had a wider disparity in pricing for hip replacement surgery than the L.A.–Long Beach area.   read more
  • Tech Giants Up the Ante to Make Worker-Poaching Lawsuit Go Away

    Tuesday, January 20, 2015
    The first offer would have paid 64,000 employees a pittance of the alleged $3 billion in lost wages they suffered between 2005 and 2009. The tech giants ponied up an extra $90 million and resubmitted their settlement offer. Ars Technica did the math and figured that even with the new money, each employee would net around $6,500 after the lawyers were paid.   read more

California and the Nation

  • State's Tax System Ranks Second-Fairest in the Nation, which Isn't Saying Much

    Thursday, January 22, 2015
    “Virtually every state tax system is fundamentally unfair,” according to the Institute on Taxation & Economic Policy. But “California has one of the least regressive tax systems due to its heavy reliance on a very progressive income tax.” The institute's measure of “fairness” is how evenly different income groups other than the elderly pay taxes as a percentage of their incomes.   read more
  • Mendocino Tribe Building $10-Million Indoor Pot-Growing Facility

    Tuesday, January 13, 2015
    The Santa Rosa Press Democrat said county officials were caught by surprise when news of the greenhouse surfaced, but it wasn’t totally unexpected. Denver-based United Cannabis Corporation (UCANN) recently announced it had signed agreements with three tribes to grow medical marijuana. It didn’t identify the tribes.   read more
  • Four Californians Charged with Violating Utah’s “Ag-Gag” Law

    Wednesday, January 07, 2015
    It has been against the law in Utah since 2012 to photograph agricultural operations, including the mistreatment of animals. Utah and a half a dozen other states have enacted laws to crack down on animal rights activists and others who have documented cruel and unsanitary conditions around the country.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • 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
  • Director of the Department of State Hospitals: Who Is Pamela Ahlin?

    Monday, January 05, 2015
    Ahlin was elevated to deputy director of Hospital Strategic Planning and Implementation in the now-defunct state Department of Mental Health 2012. The department had been under federal oversight since 2006. She took over supervision of the 350-bed mental health unit at Salinas Valley State Prison in Soledad under trying circumstances in May 2013.   read more
  • State Controller: Who Is Betty Yee?

    Friday, January 02, 2015
    Betty Yee, a tax and fiscal policy expert, won a spot in the November election when she edged out fellow Democrat and former Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez by 500 votes in the June primary after winning the endorsement of California NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) for her spirited advocacy of medical pot. She also endeared herself to environmentalists with opposition to hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and support for alternative energy efforts.   read more

Unusual News

  • Survivors of Mystery Goo that Killed Hundreds of Bay Area Birds Are Being Released

    Wednesday, January 28, 2015
    More than 100 birds died after being brought to the International Bird Rescue facility in Fairfield for treatment. They were covered in a sticky goo with rubber cement qualities, which mats their feathers, causing them to lose insulation and suffer from hypothermia. Another 220 birds are recovering.   read more
  • Rep. McClintock Argues Minimum Wage Needs to be Low for “Minorities”

    Monday, January 26, 2015
    The four-term congressman, whose Fourth District encompasses Yosemite National Park, told a “Washington Journal” audience it would “rip the first rung in the ladder of opportunity for teenagers, for minorities, for people who are trying to get into the job market for their first job.” He did not expand upon why he included minorities among those just entering the job market.   read more
  • Record Meth Seizures at the Border, but Drone “Mule” Is a First

    Thursday, January 22, 2015
    The U.S.Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) reported that seizures of meth at the Mexican border hit a record high in the fiscal year ending last September 30 and were up 33% around the San Diego area. But it wasn’t until this week that the drug trafficking passed a technological milestone. Mexican police said a drone carrying pounds of meth crashed in a Tijuana shopping mall parking lot Tuesday night, just steps from the border.   read more
  • African-Americans Are 9.8% of L.A., but 43.1% of Its Homicide Victims

    Thursday, January 29, 2015
    Blacks and Latinos combined are 89% of the victims, but only 57% of the population. Around 62% of the killings were linked to gangs and 86% of all victims were male. Although the public image is of young street toughs going berserk before their short lives reach a violent end, one-third of the victims are 26-35 years old, compared to one-quarter of those 18-25.   read more
  • Feds Settle Lawsuit over Misuse of Veterans Campus in Los Angeles

    Thursday, January 29, 2015
    It remains to be seen if the settlement will get the estimated 4,200 homeless veterans off the city’s streets by the end of the year—a promise made by L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti. But it may do something about the spectacle of officials using the 387-acre site for a wide range of activities that don’t benefit veterans while a new long-term care facility languishes half-occupied.   read more
  • Falling Oil Prices Stop Giant Carson Drilling Project that Residents Could Not

    Thursday, January 29, 2015
    California Resources Corporation (CRC) announced this week that it was abandoning a plan to drill some 200 oil wells in the Dominguez Oil Field, despite having the personal support of Governor Jerry Brown. The company, a spin-off of Occidental Petroleum Corporation’s California assets last year, still holds the lease to the property and could change its mind anytime.   read more
  • California Doesn’t Know How It Spent $13 Billion in Mental Health Money

    Wednesday, January 28, 2015
    Proposition 63, the “Millionaires Tax,” raised billions for treatment of mental health. “Has homelessness declined? Are programs helping Californians stay at work or in school? Who is being served and who is falling through the cracks?” the report asks. Your guess is as good as theirs.   read more
  • Declining Oil Prices Blow up Kern County’s Budget

    Wednesday, January 28, 2015
    On Tuesday, the county Board of Supervisors declared a fiscal emergency in anticipation of a massive hit in property taxes, 30% of which comes from oil and gas companies. Crude oil prices have dropped 60% since last July and are approaching the 10-year low in 2009 during the depths of the Great Recession.   read more

Top Stories

  • Blue Shield/Sutter Health Dispute Has 280,000 Looking for New Doctors

    Monday, January 26, 2015
    Blue Shield accuses Sutter, which operates 23 hospitals, of charging way more than other providers and wants a rate rollback. Sutter disputes that and wants to short-circuit lawsuits alleging anti-competitive behavior, not just medical disputes, by requiring binding arbitration instead of court review.   read more
  • 8 Days on the Road with the Oakland Police License Plate Readers

    Friday, January 23, 2015
    If, in focusing on neighborhoods of color, police expected to be deterring crime, it didn’t seem to work. EFF found that police “did not use ALPR surveillance in the southeast part of Oakland nearly as much as in the north, west, and central parts of Oakland, even though there seems to be just as much crime.” Surveillance also did not correlate well with areas experiencing automobile-related crimes.   read more
  • Half of California's Big Trees Are Gone

    Thursday, January 22, 2015
    A study published this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found a 50% drop in big trees, like pines, since the 1930s. The breadth of the disappearance suggests global warming is more than just a contributing factor. As a result, dense forests of pine trees are being replaced by scrubby oaks in semi-barren settings or as forest filler.   read more

Controversies

  • DMV Folds Fast: Uber and Others Don’t Need Commercial Plates

    Monday, January 26, 2015
    “We jumped the gun, and we shouldn’t have,” DMV Director Jean Shiomoto said in a statement. “There remains uncertainty about the interaction and effect of this law governing vehicle registration requirements with the more recent regulatory and statutory changes affecting ride-share operators.”   read more
  • Harvard Buys Heavily Into Drought-Stricken Paso Robles Wine Country

    Friday, January 23, 2015
    Some observers wonder whether Harvard is making a play in California’s impressive wine market or its stressed water market. The purchases began close to when the three-year drought began. Harvard quickly bought the rights to drill 16 new water wells, twice the depth of normal residential wells, just before restrictions on new pumping took effect in August 2013.   read more
  • Uber and Others Buck DMV on Registering Vehicles as Commercial

    Friday, January 23, 2015
    Uber CEO Travis Kalanick said this past week that his ride-sharing company’s annual $500 million in gross revenue from operations in San Francisco is three times bigger than the city’s entire taxi industry. But if he is going to continue the meteoric rise of his 4-year-old startup in California, he is going to have to get past one small stumbling block.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • State Watchdog Says New Law Slashing School Budget Reserves Should be Repealed

    Tuesday, January 27, 2015
    The Legislative Analyst's Office calculated that 91.4% of school districts (81 of 944) would fail to meet the new standards if they were applied to present budgets, setting off a scramble among them for ways to comply. Overall, school district reserves would have to shrink from $7.3 billion to $2.8 billion. The smallest district would suffer the most.   read more
  • Surgical Costs Are a Known Unknown with Wide Variation Across the State

    Tuesday, January 27, 2015
    The BlueCross BlueShield Association published a study (pdf) last week of hip and knee replacements in 64 health care markets across the country. Nowhere was a gaping price differential more pronounced than California. Only the Boston area had a wider disparity in pricing for hip replacement surgery than the L.A.–Long Beach area.   read more
  • Tech Giants Up the Ante to Make Worker-Poaching Lawsuit Go Away

    Tuesday, January 20, 2015
    The first offer would have paid 64,000 employees a pittance of the alleged $3 billion in lost wages they suffered between 2005 and 2009. The tech giants ponied up an extra $90 million and resubmitted their settlement offer. Ars Technica did the math and figured that even with the new money, each employee would net around $6,500 after the lawyers were paid.   read more

California and the Nation

  • State's Tax System Ranks Second-Fairest in the Nation, which Isn't Saying Much

    Thursday, January 22, 2015
    “Virtually every state tax system is fundamentally unfair,” according to the Institute on Taxation & Economic Policy. But “California has one of the least regressive tax systems due to its heavy reliance on a very progressive income tax.” The institute's measure of “fairness” is how evenly different income groups other than the elderly pay taxes as a percentage of their incomes.   read more
  • Mendocino Tribe Building $10-Million Indoor Pot-Growing Facility

    Tuesday, January 13, 2015
    The Santa Rosa Press Democrat said county officials were caught by surprise when news of the greenhouse surfaced, but it wasn’t totally unexpected. Denver-based United Cannabis Corporation (UCANN) recently announced it had signed agreements with three tribes to grow medical marijuana. It didn’t identify the tribes.   read more
  • Four Californians Charged with Violating Utah’s “Ag-Gag” Law

    Wednesday, January 07, 2015
    It has been against the law in Utah since 2012 to photograph agricultural operations, including the mistreatment of animals. Utah and a half a dozen other states have enacted laws to crack down on animal rights activists and others who have documented cruel and unsanitary conditions around the country.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • 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
  • Director of the Department of State Hospitals: Who Is Pamela Ahlin?

    Monday, January 05, 2015
    Ahlin was elevated to deputy director of Hospital Strategic Planning and Implementation in the now-defunct state Department of Mental Health 2012. The department had been under federal oversight since 2006. She took over supervision of the 350-bed mental health unit at Salinas Valley State Prison in Soledad under trying circumstances in May 2013.   read more
  • State Controller: Who Is Betty Yee?

    Friday, January 02, 2015
    Betty Yee, a tax and fiscal policy expert, won a spot in the November election when she edged out fellow Democrat and former Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez by 500 votes in the June primary after winning the endorsement of California NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) for her spirited advocacy of medical pot. She also endeared herself to environmentalists with opposition to hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and support for alternative energy efforts.   read more

Unusual News

  • Survivors of Mystery Goo that Killed Hundreds of Bay Area Birds Are Being Released

    Wednesday, January 28, 2015
    More than 100 birds died after being brought to the International Bird Rescue facility in Fairfield for treatment. They were covered in a sticky goo with rubber cement qualities, which mats their feathers, causing them to lose insulation and suffer from hypothermia. Another 220 birds are recovering.   read more
  • Rep. McClintock Argues Minimum Wage Needs to be Low for “Minorities”

    Monday, January 26, 2015
    The four-term congressman, whose Fourth District encompasses Yosemite National Park, told a “Washington Journal” audience it would “rip the first rung in the ladder of opportunity for teenagers, for minorities, for people who are trying to get into the job market for their first job.” He did not expand upon why he included minorities among those just entering the job market.   read more
  • Record Meth Seizures at the Border, but Drone “Mule” Is a First

    Thursday, January 22, 2015
    The U.S.Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) reported that seizures of meth at the Mexican border hit a record high in the fiscal year ending last September 30 and were up 33% around the San Diego area. But it wasn’t until this week that the drug trafficking passed a technological milestone. Mexican police said a drone carrying pounds of meth crashed in a Tijuana shopping mall parking lot Tuesday night, just steps from the border.   read more

PHOTO GALLERY

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