Portal

  • Millions Donated at Tax Time Don't Reach Their Target

    Tuesday, September 01, 2015
    The lowlights of the AP investigation begin with the California Military Family Relief Fund, established by the Legislature in 2004 to assist dependents of National Guard troops who are deployed overseas. The check-off raised $1.5 million, of which $1.2 million went unspent. None of the $235,000 collected for California Colorectal Cancer Prevention Fund was spent on cancer.   read more
  • Can Ships Carrying Water from Alaska Save California?

    Tuesday, September 01, 2015
    Alaska Bulk Water CEO Terry Trapp told USA Today last week his company was this close to bringing the complex deal together and would begin shipping water by tanker to California by the end of the year. His company has rights to 9 billion gallons of water in Sitka’s Blue Lake. One can almost hear thirsty Californians salivating at the prospect, but it might be advisable for them to preserve their precious bodily fluids.   read more
  • State Lags Nation in Vaccinations One Year Before Strict Law Kicks In

    Tuesday, September 01, 2015
    New statistics from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that California grants more exemptions from vaccinations and has lower immunization rates than the national median. The vaccine exemption rate in California is 2.7%, compared to the national median of 1.7%. That is actually an improvement for the state over the 2013-14 rate of 3.4%, inspired in part by the high-profile debate over vaccines nationally.   read more
  • Giant Utilities Want to Promote Solar by Making It More Expensive

    Monday, August 31, 2015
    The San Francisco Chronicle said PG&E clarified some its cost estimates and they look even worse for solar users. Most solar users would pay $29 more a month than they do now while the more aggressive solar users, who install batteries to reduce their power usage, would pay just $13 more. PG&E calculated that the average cost to solar users would be an additional $20 a month.   read more
  • Drone Fly-by Interferes with LAPD Helicopter During Hunt for Suspect

    Monday, August 31, 2015
    State lawmakers are developing targeted drone laws on the fly, often as highly-publicized incidents make ignoring the problem difficult. A year ago, LAPD got pretty ticked off about Torrance resident Daniel Saulmon flying his drones over DUI checkpoints, traffic stops, police stations and other places where he suspects misconduct by the authorities. This year, pending Senate Bill 170 would make it a misdemeanor for knowingly flying a drone over a prison or jail.   read more

PHOTO GALLERY

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

Top Stories

Controversies

  • Uber and Its Suspect Drivers Are Headed for LAX

    Friday, August 28, 2015
    L.A. and S.F. district attorneys filed a 62-page amended complaint last week in a civil lawsuit that claims Uber is a “continuing threat to consumers and the public.” The DAs detailed the criminal histories of 25 drivers, including a convicted murderer and other felons. The lawsuit claims the company misleads the public by calling its background checks rigorous.   read more
  • State Removes Old Student Test Scores from Database to Avoid “Confusion”

    Friday, August 28, 2015
    The department said it was following a state law passed in 2013 that says school districts and the department, “shall not use a comparison resulting from the scores and results” of the new tests “and the assessment scores and results from assessments that measured previously adopted content standards.” That is a directive for agencies not to use old data in their official actions. The law does not comment on parents and nongovernmental organizations having access to the information.   read more
  • Ninth Circuit Tells San Diego Federal Court to Stop Shackling Its Pretrial Detainees

    Thursday, August 27, 2015
    The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals acknowledged that the financially-strapped U.S. Marshals Office would save money on staffing and logistics by shackling everyone. But the three-judge panel ruled that wasn’t an excuse for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California to deny people their Constitutional rights. It also looked bad.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • State’s Giant Pension Funds Lost $5.2 Billion in Fossil Fuel Investments

    Monday, August 17, 2015
    CalPERS lost $2.5 billion in oil and gas investments and $542 million in coal. The price of oil dropped by around 50%. CalSTRS dropped $1.8 billion on losing oil and gas investments and $333 million on coal. CalPERS lost $40 million on a single investment, Texas oil shale company Pioneer Natural Resources, according to Bloomberg.   read more
  • Six Charged in Big-Rig-License-for-Cash Scandal at DMV

    Thursday, August 13, 2015
    Federal authorities charged three DMV employees and three truck-school operators in three separate conspiracies that yielded 100 fraudulent licenses without a single test passed. The probe began as three separate investigations before they merged. “Allowing unqualified drivers to operate heavy commercial trucks on our highways is honestly quite chilling,” said Carol Webster, acting assistant special agent in charge of the U.S. Homeland Security Investigations office in Sacramento.   read more
  • Public Advocate Flips Position, Wants $4.7-Billion San Onofre Deal Reopened

    Tuesday, August 11, 2015
    The Office of Ratepayer Advocates (ORA) joined The Utilities Reform Network (TURN), another advocacy group that was a party to the settlement, in flipping its support after e-mails surfaced about backchannel talks between top PUC and Southern California Edison officials over how to structure a deal. The e-mails, along with state and federal criminal investigations, have lent credence to longstanding allegations that the agency was far too cozy with the utilities it regulates.   read more

California and the Nation

  • Californians Sue Nestlé over Cat Food from Fish Caught by Asian Slave Labor

    Monday, August 31, 2015
    “Knowing that much of the fish sold in Nestlé’s pet food is likely the product of slave labor is material to consumers not wishing to support slave labor with their purchasing power,” the 32-page complaint claims. The legal action follows by one week a class-action lawsuit filed against Costco Wholesale Corporation on behalf of a California woman who claims the company buys its farmed prawns from Thailand, where they are fed fish caught by slave labor on boats.   read more
  • California’s Obamacare Networks Are Fourth Narrowest in the Nation

    Wednesday, August 26, 2015
    Seventy-five percent of California’s marketplace plans have narrow networks. The nationwide average is 41%. Twelve states managed to avoid any narrow networks. There is no way for a consumer to find out the size of a particular network when shopping for a plan. “It is difficult for a consumer to assess network size, even as a broad concept,” the report says. “As a result, the trade-off between network size and premiums is not at all transparent.”   read more
  • Hungry Russia Is Destroying Food and Banning California Wines

    Wednesday, August 19, 2015
    Russia has been the subject of trade restrictions by the West because of belligerency in Ukraine and Crimea. This week, it was revealed that Russia's consumer rights watchdog Rospotrebnadzor has banned three California wines, although the reason given is health, not retaliation. Rospotrebnadzor said the wines were banned because they showed high levels of phthalic acid and pesticides.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • Director of the California Conservation Corps: Who Is Bruce Saito?

    Thursday, August 27, 2015
    Bruce Saito was part of the CCC team in 1976 that created the model for youth development and environmental enhancement programs at a time when there were few other 501 (c)(3) non-profits in existence. He was recruited by the L.A. Conservation Corps after former U.S Secretary of Commerce Mickey Kantor founded it in 1986. Saito was executive director emeritus and senior advisor at the L.A. Conservation Corps since 2014.   read more
  • U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag, Scourge of Medical Marijuana, Is Quitting

    Friday, August 07, 2015
    President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder would periodically make sounds about lightening up on states where medical marijuana is legal despite federal laws banning the drug. And then U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag, a 2010 appointee of President Obama, would bust a bunch of dispensaries and give voice to a far less conciliatory policy.   read more
  • Director of the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery: Who Is Scott Smithline?

    Wednesday, July 22, 2015
    Smithline is an environmental lawyer who has split his time between the private and public sectors.Governor Jerry Brown appointed him this month to replace Caroll Mortensen, who was director since October 2011. Mortensen is now senior environmental specialist in CalRecycle’s Legislative and External Affairs Office, agency spokesperson Mark Oldfield told Resource Recycling.   read more

Unusual News

  • Reported Vehicle Break-Ins Spike in San Francisco

    Thursday, August 20, 2015
    The database shows 15,822 total thefts from vehicles to date as of July 31, compared to 11,084 last year. The vast majority qualify as grand theft, 12,742 this year, while 3,080 are petty. Thirteen percent (2,099) of those submitting reports to the police indicated their cars were unlocked.Not everyone files a police report, so it’s hard to interpret the statistics.   read more
  • Most New Driver’s Licenses in California Go to Undocumented Immigrants

    Friday, August 14, 2015
    As of June 30, the agency had issued 397,000 licenses to undocumented applicants out of a total of 759,000 people this year. By the end of July, the numbers were 443,000 licenses to undocumented immigrants out of a total of 883,000 licenses issued in 2015. The DMV expects to issue 1.5 million licenses to undocumented immigrants within three years. California is home to more undocumented immigrants than any other state, with approximately 3 million of them.   read more
  • Millions of Floating Shade Balls Shield L.A. Reservoir from the Sun and EPA

    Wednesday, August 12, 2015
    On Tuesday, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP) capped off dumping the last of 96 million black plastic balls partially-filled with water into the Los Angeles Reservoir. The two-year, $34.5-million program is a way to preserve the 175-acre reservoir, cut cleaning costs and even save a little water (300 million gallons a year) by preventing evaporation.   read more
  • Millions Donated at Tax Time Don't Reach Their Target

    Tuesday, September 01, 2015
    The lowlights of the AP investigation begin with the California Military Family Relief Fund, established by the Legislature in 2004 to assist dependents of National Guard troops who are deployed overseas. The check-off raised $1.5 million, of which $1.2 million went unspent. None of the $235,000 collected for California Colorectal Cancer Prevention Fund was spent on cancer.   read more
  • Can Ships Carrying Water from Alaska Save California?

    Tuesday, September 01, 2015
    Alaska Bulk Water CEO Terry Trapp told USA Today last week his company was this close to bringing the complex deal together and would begin shipping water by tanker to California by the end of the year. His company has rights to 9 billion gallons of water in Sitka’s Blue Lake. One can almost hear thirsty Californians salivating at the prospect, but it might be advisable for them to preserve their precious bodily fluids.   read more
  • State Lags Nation in Vaccinations One Year Before Strict Law Kicks In

    Tuesday, September 01, 2015
    New statistics from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that California grants more exemptions from vaccinations and has lower immunization rates than the national median. The vaccine exemption rate in California is 2.7%, compared to the national median of 1.7%. That is actually an improvement for the state over the 2013-14 rate of 3.4%, inspired in part by the high-profile debate over vaccines nationally.   read more
  • Giant Utilities Want to Promote Solar by Making It More Expensive

    Monday, August 31, 2015
    The San Francisco Chronicle said PG&E clarified some its cost estimates and they look even worse for solar users. Most solar users would pay $29 more a month than they do now while the more aggressive solar users, who install batteries to reduce their power usage, would pay just $13 more. PG&E calculated that the average cost to solar users would be an additional $20 a month.   read more
  • Drone Fly-by Interferes with LAPD Helicopter During Hunt for Suspect

    Monday, August 31, 2015
    State lawmakers are developing targeted drone laws on the fly, often as highly-publicized incidents make ignoring the problem difficult. A year ago, LAPD got pretty ticked off about Torrance resident Daniel Saulmon flying his drones over DUI checkpoints, traffic stops, police stations and other places where he suspects misconduct by the authorities. This year, pending Senate Bill 170 would make it a misdemeanor for knowingly flying a drone over a prison or jail.   read more

Top Stories

Controversies

  • Uber and Its Suspect Drivers Are Headed for LAX

    Friday, August 28, 2015
    L.A. and S.F. district attorneys filed a 62-page amended complaint last week in a civil lawsuit that claims Uber is a “continuing threat to consumers and the public.” The DAs detailed the criminal histories of 25 drivers, including a convicted murderer and other felons. The lawsuit claims the company misleads the public by calling its background checks rigorous.   read more
  • State Removes Old Student Test Scores from Database to Avoid “Confusion”

    Friday, August 28, 2015
    The department said it was following a state law passed in 2013 that says school districts and the department, “shall not use a comparison resulting from the scores and results” of the new tests “and the assessment scores and results from assessments that measured previously adopted content standards.” That is a directive for agencies not to use old data in their official actions. The law does not comment on parents and nongovernmental organizations having access to the information.   read more
  • Ninth Circuit Tells San Diego Federal Court to Stop Shackling Its Pretrial Detainees

    Thursday, August 27, 2015
    The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals acknowledged that the financially-strapped U.S. Marshals Office would save money on staffing and logistics by shackling everyone. But the three-judge panel ruled that wasn’t an excuse for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California to deny people their Constitutional rights. It also looked bad.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • State’s Giant Pension Funds Lost $5.2 Billion in Fossil Fuel Investments

    Monday, August 17, 2015
    CalPERS lost $2.5 billion in oil and gas investments and $542 million in coal. The price of oil dropped by around 50%. CalSTRS dropped $1.8 billion on losing oil and gas investments and $333 million on coal. CalPERS lost $40 million on a single investment, Texas oil shale company Pioneer Natural Resources, according to Bloomberg.   read more
  • Six Charged in Big-Rig-License-for-Cash Scandal at DMV

    Thursday, August 13, 2015
    Federal authorities charged three DMV employees and three truck-school operators in three separate conspiracies that yielded 100 fraudulent licenses without a single test passed. The probe began as three separate investigations before they merged. “Allowing unqualified drivers to operate heavy commercial trucks on our highways is honestly quite chilling,” said Carol Webster, acting assistant special agent in charge of the U.S. Homeland Security Investigations office in Sacramento.   read more
  • Public Advocate Flips Position, Wants $4.7-Billion San Onofre Deal Reopened

    Tuesday, August 11, 2015
    The Office of Ratepayer Advocates (ORA) joined The Utilities Reform Network (TURN), another advocacy group that was a party to the settlement, in flipping its support after e-mails surfaced about backchannel talks between top PUC and Southern California Edison officials over how to structure a deal. The e-mails, along with state and federal criminal investigations, have lent credence to longstanding allegations that the agency was far too cozy with the utilities it regulates.   read more

California and the Nation

  • Californians Sue Nestlé over Cat Food from Fish Caught by Asian Slave Labor

    Monday, August 31, 2015
    “Knowing that much of the fish sold in Nestlé’s pet food is likely the product of slave labor is material to consumers not wishing to support slave labor with their purchasing power,” the 32-page complaint claims. The legal action follows by one week a class-action lawsuit filed against Costco Wholesale Corporation on behalf of a California woman who claims the company buys its farmed prawns from Thailand, where they are fed fish caught by slave labor on boats.   read more
  • California’s Obamacare Networks Are Fourth Narrowest in the Nation

    Wednesday, August 26, 2015
    Seventy-five percent of California’s marketplace plans have narrow networks. The nationwide average is 41%. Twelve states managed to avoid any narrow networks. There is no way for a consumer to find out the size of a particular network when shopping for a plan. “It is difficult for a consumer to assess network size, even as a broad concept,” the report says. “As a result, the trade-off between network size and premiums is not at all transparent.”   read more
  • Hungry Russia Is Destroying Food and Banning California Wines

    Wednesday, August 19, 2015
    Russia has been the subject of trade restrictions by the West because of belligerency in Ukraine and Crimea. This week, it was revealed that Russia's consumer rights watchdog Rospotrebnadzor has banned three California wines, although the reason given is health, not retaliation. Rospotrebnadzor said the wines were banned because they showed high levels of phthalic acid and pesticides.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • Director of the California Conservation Corps: Who Is Bruce Saito?

    Thursday, August 27, 2015
    Bruce Saito was part of the CCC team in 1976 that created the model for youth development and environmental enhancement programs at a time when there were few other 501 (c)(3) non-profits in existence. He was recruited by the L.A. Conservation Corps after former U.S Secretary of Commerce Mickey Kantor founded it in 1986. Saito was executive director emeritus and senior advisor at the L.A. Conservation Corps since 2014.   read more
  • U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag, Scourge of Medical Marijuana, Is Quitting

    Friday, August 07, 2015
    President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder would periodically make sounds about lightening up on states where medical marijuana is legal despite federal laws banning the drug. And then U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag, a 2010 appointee of President Obama, would bust a bunch of dispensaries and give voice to a far less conciliatory policy.   read more
  • Director of the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery: Who Is Scott Smithline?

    Wednesday, July 22, 2015
    Smithline is an environmental lawyer who has split his time between the private and public sectors.Governor Jerry Brown appointed him this month to replace Caroll Mortensen, who was director since October 2011. Mortensen is now senior environmental specialist in CalRecycle’s Legislative and External Affairs Office, agency spokesperson Mark Oldfield told Resource Recycling.   read more

Unusual News

  • Reported Vehicle Break-Ins Spike in San Francisco

    Thursday, August 20, 2015
    The database shows 15,822 total thefts from vehicles to date as of July 31, compared to 11,084 last year. The vast majority qualify as grand theft, 12,742 this year, while 3,080 are petty. Thirteen percent (2,099) of those submitting reports to the police indicated their cars were unlocked.Not everyone files a police report, so it’s hard to interpret the statistics.   read more
  • Most New Driver’s Licenses in California Go to Undocumented Immigrants

    Friday, August 14, 2015
    As of June 30, the agency had issued 397,000 licenses to undocumented applicants out of a total of 759,000 people this year. By the end of July, the numbers were 443,000 licenses to undocumented immigrants out of a total of 883,000 licenses issued in 2015. The DMV expects to issue 1.5 million licenses to undocumented immigrants within three years. California is home to more undocumented immigrants than any other state, with approximately 3 million of them.   read more
  • Millions of Floating Shade Balls Shield L.A. Reservoir from the Sun and EPA

    Wednesday, August 12, 2015
    On Tuesday, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP) capped off dumping the last of 96 million black plastic balls partially-filled with water into the Los Angeles Reservoir. The two-year, $34.5-million program is a way to preserve the 175-acre reservoir, cut cleaning costs and even save a little water (300 million gallons a year) by preventing evaporation.   read more

PHOTO GALLERY

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