Portal

  • Replacement Scaffolding Is a Bad Sign at Troubled Board of Equalization Building

    Friday, July 25, 2014
    The move by the state Department of General Services (DGS) indicates workers will be stuck in a building described by the Sacramento Bee as having a “history of toxic mold, defective elevators, leaking windows, corroded wastewater pipes, floods, and exterior glass panels that spontaneously break or pop off. “Even though my lawyers told me not to say this, I don’t think it’s safe,” Board Chairman Jerome Horton told the Bee.   read more
  • Petroleum Trade Association Sues Compton over Fracking Moratorium

    Friday, July 25, 2014
    The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) filed a complaint this week in Los Angeles County Superior Court against Compton, claiming that statewide fracking legislation passed last September in Sacramento pre-empted moratoriums and bans by municipalities. The suit also says the city violated the California Constitution when it banned well stimulation in other municipalities if the well’s bottom sat beneath Compton.   read more
  • Dubious “Think Tank” Runs Insulting Campaign against Minimum Wage in S.F.

    Friday, July 25, 2014
    The billboard is sponsored by Badideasca.com, which is a project of the Employment Policies Institute (EPI). The conservative non-profit “research organization” does a lot of work for the restaurant industry, according to Pando. The institute was featured in an article by Salon last November that ripped the media for accepting claims by industry public relations firms that they are respectable think tanks.   read more
  • Feds Saunter Toward Oil-Rail Regulations While Trains Barrel into California

    Thursday, July 24, 2014
    The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) released a “Comprehensive Proposed Rulemaking” plan to increase the safety of the trains and improve emergency response after a wakeup call from Canada. Forty-seven people died in July 2013 when a train carrying 63 cars of Bakken crude from North Dakota derailed and exploded in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec. Meanwhile, California more than doubled the amount of oil-by-rail it usually receives in the first quarter of the year.   read more
  • Conflicted Californians Give Mixed Message about the Environment

    Thursday, July 24, 2014
    The Public Policy Institute of California found that on one hand, 76% of those polled favor requiring that one-third of the state’s electricity come from renewable energy sources. On the other hand, only 30% see the wisdom of the move if it raises their electricity bill. Sixty-two percent of adult Californians believe that global warming has already started, but only 40% are “very concerned” about it.   read more

PHOTO GALLERY

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

Top Stories

  • Federal and State Agencies Join Yurok Tribe in Humboldt Raid on Pot Farmers

    Wednesday, July 23, 2014
    California just endured the hottest six months in its recorded history, but that didn’t stop state and federal government agencies from joining with the Yurok tribe to turn up the heat on marijuana growers blamed for sucking up the reservation’s water in Humboldt County. It is anticipated that tens of thousands of plants will be eradicated in the next 10 days.   read more
  • State Grossly Overstated Number of Doctors Treating Medi-Cal Patients

    Tuesday, July 22, 2014
    After using the department's official number of 109,000 Medi-Cal doctors in a story, the California Health Report was informed that the state only had 104,422 licensed physicians as of 2013. And not all of the licensed doctors accept Medi-Cal patients. Molly Weed, a spokeswoman for the Medical Board of California told Health Report reporter Hannah Guzik, “They don’t have any idea how many physicians are actually accepting new Medi-Cal patients.”   read more
  • Oakland School Employees Are ID Theft Victims after Records Were Left in Abandoned HQ

    Friday, July 18, 2014
    The building contained 80 years worth of files, including W2s, payroll sheets, employment records and confidential files, and removal wasn’t really going anywhere. “Nobody really knew what was there, where it was hidden, or to whom it belonged,” district spokesman Troy Flint said. After the story broke, the district stationed security guards at the building and hired a company to box up the records and move them elsewhere.   read more

Controversies

  • Shattered Myth of the Scattered Blue Whale Has Them at Risk in Shipping “Hot Spots”

    Thursday, July 24, 2014
    A new study published in the journal Plos One found that two of the densest food locations for blue whales lie across busy shipping lanes, contradicting earlier studies that said whales were widely dispersed and safer for it. But those studies were largely based on anecdotal sightings and limited data. The new study tagged 171 blue whales, the world’s largest creatures, and tracked them for 15 years using satellites.   read more
  • City of Thousand Oaks Has a Few Hundred Fewer Trees Thanks to Mall Developer

    Wednesday, July 23, 2014
    The owners of suburban Westlake Plaza, northwest of Los Angeles, bulldozed 170 treesl, taking advantage of a city ordinance loophole, opened in 2010, that allows the owner-planter of a tree to fell it. The destruction was over in a few days before public opposition could be registered. Afterward, the council passed a one-year moratorium on invoking the loophole.   read more
  • State Shuts Down Fracking Waste Injection Sites as Possible Threats to Aquifers

    Monday, July 21, 2014
    The Bakersfield Californian reported that the order from the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) came on July 7, just days before it was announced that 95 other wells were also being looked at. ProPublica reported that officials indicated at least seven of the 11 wells shut down were probably pumping waste water into clean aquifers.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • New Job for Ex-Stem Cell Board Leader Reignites Charges of Cronyism

    Tuesday, July 22, 2014
    When Alan Trounson announced he was quitting his job as president and CEO of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), the official release said he was leaving to spend more time with his family in Australia. It was a short reunion. Within a week of his June 30 departure, he joined the board of StemCells, Inc, a recipient of $19.4 million from CIRM for Alzheimer's research.   read more
  • Median Price of Homes in San Francisco Tops $1 Million

    Friday, July 18, 2014
    The continued influx of tech employees rolling in stock option money and Asian investors offering all-cash deals drove prices up 13.3% compared to a year ago, according to DataQuick. That is actually a slower pace than a year ago, when prices were up 23.8% over 2012. Not surprisingly, rents in San Francisco are also impressive. While RealFacts says the average rental asking price in the Bay Area for apartments and townhomes is $2,158 a month, San Francisco tops out at $3,229.   read more
  • California Homeowners’ $90 Million Haul in $7 Billion Citi Settlement Is 5 Times CEO’s Pay

    Tuesday, July 15, 2014
    California will receive $200 million of the settlement with Citigroup. $102.7 million will go to the state’s public employee pension funds that were hammered in the economic collapse and $90 million will be available to the thousands of people directly smacked by the mortgage meltdown. But they will share that money with those receiving down-payment and closing-cost assistance, and organizations who are involved in redevelopment and affordable rental housing for low-income families.   read more

California and the Nation

  • California Is One of the Places to Be if You Want to Be Wiretapped

    Friday, July 18, 2014
    The annual Wiretap Report from the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts listed California third, based on the number of wiretaps judges approved per 500,000 residents, clocking in at 11.7. Nevada (mostly Las Vegas) dominated at 38.2, followed by the District of Columbia (17), Colorado (12.4), California and New York (10.7). Of the 3,576 wiretaps approved, 2,331 were installed. Only one request was not authorized.   read more
  • California Businessman Sentenced for Economic Espionage to Help China

    Thursday, July 17, 2014
    Liew and his wife set up a California company in the 1990s and hired former DuPont engineers to obtain documents that detailed the process of making titanium dioxide (TiO2), a closely guarded DuPont secret that nets it $14 billion a year. The whitening agent is an ingredient in Oreo cookies, toothpaste, sunscreen and cosmetics. Liew received more than $20 million from the Chinese for the secrets.   read more
  • Lawsuit Blames State Pesticide Agency Stalling in Honeybee Disaster

    Friday, July 11, 2014
    The link of neonicotinoid pesticides to the decline of honeybees is not new, and because it is not new, a coalition of advocacy groups sued California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) this week to do something about it. Five years of “foot-dragging,” while expanding the pesticide’s acceptable use, is a violation of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and other laws, the suit contends.   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

  • Auto Thieves Love California and Aren’t Picky about the Cities They Hit Hardest

    Tuesday, July 22, 2014
    California cities captured nine of the top 10 “hot spots” in the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) 2013 report of per-capita car thefts in the country. Spokane, Washington, was the only non-California city on the list at No. 7. California also snatched the No. 11, 14, 15, 16 and 18 spots. While conventional wisdom might point toward wealthy cities with expensive automobiles or port cities for quick shipment overseas, the top 3 cities were all in the state’s farm belt.   read more
  • City Undeterred by State Drought Restrictions, Threatens Couple with Fine for Brown Lawn

    Monday, July 21, 2014
    Laura Whitney and her husband, Michael Korte, weren't quite sure what lesson to draw from the dual warnings. “My friends in Los Angeles got these letters warning they could be fined if they water, and I got a letter warning that I could be fined for not watering,” Whitney told the Associated Press. “I felt like I was in an alternate universe.”   read more
  • Oakland Police Backtrack on Report that Mayor Wasn’t Using Cell During Car Accident

    Wednesday, July 16, 2014
    On Tuesday, the police released a new 12-page report that says the officer who originally took the report said he saw no evidence of cellphone use, but the investigator who handled the case could not make any determination. The accident occurred about a week after Quan, who is running for re-election in November, was photographed driving while talking on the phone without a hands-free device. That is against the law.   read more
  • Replacement Scaffolding Is a Bad Sign at Troubled Board of Equalization Building

    Friday, July 25, 2014
    The move by the state Department of General Services (DGS) indicates workers will be stuck in a building described by the Sacramento Bee as having a “history of toxic mold, defective elevators, leaking windows, corroded wastewater pipes, floods, and exterior glass panels that spontaneously break or pop off. “Even though my lawyers told me not to say this, I don’t think it’s safe,” Board Chairman Jerome Horton told the Bee.   read more
  • Petroleum Trade Association Sues Compton over Fracking Moratorium

    Friday, July 25, 2014
    The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) filed a complaint this week in Los Angeles County Superior Court against Compton, claiming that statewide fracking legislation passed last September in Sacramento pre-empted moratoriums and bans by municipalities. The suit also says the city violated the California Constitution when it banned well stimulation in other municipalities if the well’s bottom sat beneath Compton.   read more
  • Dubious “Think Tank” Runs Insulting Campaign against Minimum Wage in S.F.

    Friday, July 25, 2014
    The billboard is sponsored by Badideasca.com, which is a project of the Employment Policies Institute (EPI). The conservative non-profit “research organization” does a lot of work for the restaurant industry, according to Pando. The institute was featured in an article by Salon last November that ripped the media for accepting claims by industry public relations firms that they are respectable think tanks.   read more
  • Feds Saunter Toward Oil-Rail Regulations While Trains Barrel into California

    Thursday, July 24, 2014
    The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) released a “Comprehensive Proposed Rulemaking” plan to increase the safety of the trains and improve emergency response after a wakeup call from Canada. Forty-seven people died in July 2013 when a train carrying 63 cars of Bakken crude from North Dakota derailed and exploded in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec. Meanwhile, California more than doubled the amount of oil-by-rail it usually receives in the first quarter of the year.   read more
  • Conflicted Californians Give Mixed Message about the Environment

    Thursday, July 24, 2014
    The Public Policy Institute of California found that on one hand, 76% of those polled favor requiring that one-third of the state’s electricity come from renewable energy sources. On the other hand, only 30% see the wisdom of the move if it raises their electricity bill. Sixty-two percent of adult Californians believe that global warming has already started, but only 40% are “very concerned” about it.   read more

Top Stories

  • Federal and State Agencies Join Yurok Tribe in Humboldt Raid on Pot Farmers

    Wednesday, July 23, 2014
    California just endured the hottest six months in its recorded history, but that didn’t stop state and federal government agencies from joining with the Yurok tribe to turn up the heat on marijuana growers blamed for sucking up the reservation’s water in Humboldt County. It is anticipated that tens of thousands of plants will be eradicated in the next 10 days.   read more
  • State Grossly Overstated Number of Doctors Treating Medi-Cal Patients

    Tuesday, July 22, 2014
    After using the department's official number of 109,000 Medi-Cal doctors in a story, the California Health Report was informed that the state only had 104,422 licensed physicians as of 2013. And not all of the licensed doctors accept Medi-Cal patients. Molly Weed, a spokeswoman for the Medical Board of California told Health Report reporter Hannah Guzik, “They don’t have any idea how many physicians are actually accepting new Medi-Cal patients.”   read more
  • Oakland School Employees Are ID Theft Victims after Records Were Left in Abandoned HQ

    Friday, July 18, 2014
    The building contained 80 years worth of files, including W2s, payroll sheets, employment records and confidential files, and removal wasn’t really going anywhere. “Nobody really knew what was there, where it was hidden, or to whom it belonged,” district spokesman Troy Flint said. After the story broke, the district stationed security guards at the building and hired a company to box up the records and move them elsewhere.   read more

Controversies

  • Shattered Myth of the Scattered Blue Whale Has Them at Risk in Shipping “Hot Spots”

    Thursday, July 24, 2014
    A new study published in the journal Plos One found that two of the densest food locations for blue whales lie across busy shipping lanes, contradicting earlier studies that said whales were widely dispersed and safer for it. But those studies were largely based on anecdotal sightings and limited data. The new study tagged 171 blue whales, the world’s largest creatures, and tracked them for 15 years using satellites.   read more
  • City of Thousand Oaks Has a Few Hundred Fewer Trees Thanks to Mall Developer

    Wednesday, July 23, 2014
    The owners of suburban Westlake Plaza, northwest of Los Angeles, bulldozed 170 treesl, taking advantage of a city ordinance loophole, opened in 2010, that allows the owner-planter of a tree to fell it. The destruction was over in a few days before public opposition could be registered. Afterward, the council passed a one-year moratorium on invoking the loophole.   read more
  • State Shuts Down Fracking Waste Injection Sites as Possible Threats to Aquifers

    Monday, July 21, 2014
    The Bakersfield Californian reported that the order from the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) came on July 7, just days before it was announced that 95 other wells were also being looked at. ProPublica reported that officials indicated at least seven of the 11 wells shut down were probably pumping waste water into clean aquifers.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • New Job for Ex-Stem Cell Board Leader Reignites Charges of Cronyism

    Tuesday, July 22, 2014
    When Alan Trounson announced he was quitting his job as president and CEO of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), the official release said he was leaving to spend more time with his family in Australia. It was a short reunion. Within a week of his June 30 departure, he joined the board of StemCells, Inc, a recipient of $19.4 million from CIRM for Alzheimer's research.   read more
  • Median Price of Homes in San Francisco Tops $1 Million

    Friday, July 18, 2014
    The continued influx of tech employees rolling in stock option money and Asian investors offering all-cash deals drove prices up 13.3% compared to a year ago, according to DataQuick. That is actually a slower pace than a year ago, when prices were up 23.8% over 2012. Not surprisingly, rents in San Francisco are also impressive. While RealFacts says the average rental asking price in the Bay Area for apartments and townhomes is $2,158 a month, San Francisco tops out at $3,229.   read more
  • California Homeowners’ $90 Million Haul in $7 Billion Citi Settlement Is 5 Times CEO’s Pay

    Tuesday, July 15, 2014
    California will receive $200 million of the settlement with Citigroup. $102.7 million will go to the state’s public employee pension funds that were hammered in the economic collapse and $90 million will be available to the thousands of people directly smacked by the mortgage meltdown. But they will share that money with those receiving down-payment and closing-cost assistance, and organizations who are involved in redevelopment and affordable rental housing for low-income families.   read more

California and the Nation

  • California Is One of the Places to Be if You Want to Be Wiretapped

    Friday, July 18, 2014
    The annual Wiretap Report from the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts listed California third, based on the number of wiretaps judges approved per 500,000 residents, clocking in at 11.7. Nevada (mostly Las Vegas) dominated at 38.2, followed by the District of Columbia (17), Colorado (12.4), California and New York (10.7). Of the 3,576 wiretaps approved, 2,331 were installed. Only one request was not authorized.   read more
  • California Businessman Sentenced for Economic Espionage to Help China

    Thursday, July 17, 2014
    Liew and his wife set up a California company in the 1990s and hired former DuPont engineers to obtain documents that detailed the process of making titanium dioxide (TiO2), a closely guarded DuPont secret that nets it $14 billion a year. The whitening agent is an ingredient in Oreo cookies, toothpaste, sunscreen and cosmetics. Liew received more than $20 million from the Chinese for the secrets.   read more
  • Lawsuit Blames State Pesticide Agency Stalling in Honeybee Disaster

    Friday, July 11, 2014
    The link of neonicotinoid pesticides to the decline of honeybees is not new, and because it is not new, a coalition of advocacy groups sued California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) this week to do something about it. Five years of “foot-dragging,” while expanding the pesticide’s acceptable use, is a violation of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and other laws, the suit contends.   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

  • Auto Thieves Love California and Aren’t Picky about the Cities They Hit Hardest

    Tuesday, July 22, 2014
    California cities captured nine of the top 10 “hot spots” in the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) 2013 report of per-capita car thefts in the country. Spokane, Washington, was the only non-California city on the list at No. 7. California also snatched the No. 11, 14, 15, 16 and 18 spots. While conventional wisdom might point toward wealthy cities with expensive automobiles or port cities for quick shipment overseas, the top 3 cities were all in the state’s farm belt.   read more
  • City Undeterred by State Drought Restrictions, Threatens Couple with Fine for Brown Lawn

    Monday, July 21, 2014
    Laura Whitney and her husband, Michael Korte, weren't quite sure what lesson to draw from the dual warnings. “My friends in Los Angeles got these letters warning they could be fined if they water, and I got a letter warning that I could be fined for not watering,” Whitney told the Associated Press. “I felt like I was in an alternate universe.”   read more
  • Oakland Police Backtrack on Report that Mayor Wasn’t Using Cell During Car Accident

    Wednesday, July 16, 2014
    On Tuesday, the police released a new 12-page report that says the officer who originally took the report said he saw no evidence of cellphone use, but the investigator who handled the case could not make any determination. The accident occurred about a week after Quan, who is running for re-election in November, was photographed driving while talking on the phone without a hands-free device. That is against the law.   read more

PHOTO GALLERY

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