Portal

  • No Personal Belief Exemption for Vaccinations, Except for Most Students Now

    Wednesday, July 01, 2015
    The legislation will not reverse, overnight, the lax California policy on vaccination exemptions. It will almost certainly face legal challenges and could be subject to a referendum. The law doesn't take effect until 2016-17 school year and will only affect kindergartners and seventh-graders each year. Even if unchallenged, it would be half a dozen years before all K-12 students would be subject to the law.   read more
  • L.A. Mayor Says He’ll Shake a Stick at Homeless Instead of Beating Them With It

    Wednesday, July 01, 2015
    The city passed separate ordinances governing streets/sidewalks and parks that empower police to take down encampments and haul away stuff with 24-hour notice. Big stuff, like tents and mattresses, can go immediately. Homeless are subject to tickets and misdemeanor charges. The mayor supported the ordinances, then said he would delay implementation until amendments were passed.   read more
  • Report Maps Oil-Train Paths Across Socially Vulnerable Urban Areas

    Wednesday, July 01, 2015
    ForestEthics and Communities for a Better Environment (CBE), a couple of nonprofit groups, found that “while 60% of Californians live in environmental justice communities . . . 80% of the 5.5 million Californians with homes in the blast zone live” in them. About 75% of those in the blast zone are Hispanic-Latino, African-American or Asian. Twenty-two percent of the residents within the blast zone are white, compared to 45% outside the zone.   read more
  • U.S. Supreme Court Redistricting, Death Penalty Decisions Reverberate in California

    Tuesday, June 30, 2015
    Two U.S. Supreme Court rulings on Monday will have a lasting effect on California although the state was not a party to either one. The court fell one vote shy of eviscerating Arizona's anti-gerrymandering law, and by extension California's, when it upheld the creation of a redistricting commission by voters. The court, by the same 5-4 margin, voted to let Oklahoma execute prisoners with a lethal injection that could clear the way for California to do the same.   read more
  • L.A.’s Mono Lake Water Running Out Just Ahead of Ecosystem Crisis

    Tuesday, June 30, 2015
    Despite the respite from L.A.’s rapacious thirst, it’s hard to imagine much of a future for Mono Lake in the Age of Drought. It has been the subject of lengthy litigation over its decline, beginning with a Public Trust lawsuit in 1979, and is about to reach a new marker of devastation. The Los Angeles Times sketched out the very sketchy-looking future of California’s second-largest gull colony.   read more

PHOTO GALLERY

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

Top Stories

  • State Issues New Senior Water Rights Restrictions Even As Old Ones Are Ignored

    Monday, June 29, 2015
    San Francisco lost some of its rights to Tuolomne River along with farmers and Pacific Gas & Electric Company in the Central Valley that tapped into the upper San Joaquin and Merced rivers. A report from the water board last week indicated that only 31% of the 9,112 curtailment orders sent to junior and senior water rights holders have been acknowledged within the seven-day statutory limit.   read more
  • Reform Group Wants San Onofre Deal It Signed Off on Reopened

    Friday, June 26, 2015
    TURN’s turnaround was prompted by the revelation in February that then-commission President Michael Peevey met privately with Edison executive Stephen Pickett in Warsaw, Poland, in March 2013 to discuss a framework for settlement without the pesky public involved. Peevey is a former president of Edison. The meeting was detailed in some of the thousands of e-mails released last year that revealed an overly close, if not illegal, relationship between the regulator and the utilities it regulated.   read more
  • Cracked Rods on Bay Bridge Called a “Portent of Catastrophe”

    Thursday, June 25, 2015
    The problem is water. It shouldn't be sloshing about in spaces around the rods. At first, the dampness was blamed on poor grouting, rainwater or wash water from above. That's not good, but not as bad as corrosive saltwater leaking in through the foundation cap below. It causes microcracks and makes steel rods brittle. Almost all of the rods have gotten wet and a fourth of them regularly get soaked.   read more

Controversies

  • State Toxic Substances Watchdog Gets a Watchdog

    Tuesday, June 30, 2015
    It’s usually not a good thing when your foundation needs to be fixed, especially if problems have been evident for years and people are already being harmed. The state budget signed by Governor Jerry Brown last week took a stab at answering public demands for reform by funding an oversight panel to report on how the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) is doing.   read more
  • Judge Rules Nursing Homes Can't Make End-of-Life Decisions for Patients

    Monday, June 29, 2015
    Alameda County Superior Court Judge Evelio M. Grillo ruled last week that patients must be notified when classified as incapacitated and given an opportunity to argue the case in court should they be so inclined. Anything less is a denial of constitutionally guaranteed due process of law.   read more
  • Silicon Valley High School Is First in Nation to Install a Gunshot-Detection System

    Friday, June 26, 2015
    Newark is a fairly safe Silicon Valley community by conventional standards, but statistics don’t necessarily correlate with risk aversive fear factors. Newark Unified Superintendent Dave Marken told the Contra Costa Times, “Unfortunately, we have an increase in deranged individuals who go into campuses, churches, malls and theaters with one thing in mind: to create as much carnage as possible.”   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Sharing-Economy on Alert: Uber Driver Declared Employee, not a Contractor

    Thursday, June 18, 2015
    The California Labor Commissioner ruled in a case that Uber owed driver Barbara Ann Berwick of San Francisco $4,152, mostly mileage money and toll costs, because the law says company employees get reimbursed for stuff like that. Uber lost the argument that the company was just an app developer and the drivers were independent contractors.   read more
  • FedEx Settles Lawsuit with Employees It Called Contractors for $227 Million

    Wednesday, June 17, 2015
    The settlement, which must still be approved by the Ninth Circuit Court, covers 2,300 California FedEx drivers and 363 from Oregon who worked between 2000 and 2007, according to the Courthouse News Service. The drivers had to dress in FedEx uniforms, meet FedEx grooming standards, and drive a truck (sometimes there own) festooned with the FedEx logo. Yet, FedEx called them contractors, not employees.   read more
  • Judge Tells California to Repay $331 Million Taken from Homeowners Bailout Fund

    Tuesday, June 16, 2015
    The money was California's share of a $25-billion settlement reached in 2012 with the nation's five largest mortgage servicers for helping crash the economy and destroying people's lives. The $331 million was supposed to be spent on counseling, consumer fraud education and assistance for people trying to save their homes from foreclosure. Wronged property owners were to receive loan modifications and principal reductions to save their homes.   read more

California and the Nation

  • $40 Billion in U.S. Coastal Park Assets Are at “High Risk” from Rising Seas

    Monday, June 29, 2015
    A new report from the National Park Service says sea level rise at 40 coastal national park sites, including eight in California, will cause problems. The 40 park units contain 10,000 assets, including roads, buildings, bridges, water systems, parking lots, tunnels, sea barriers, lighthouses, fortifications and archaeological sites. The report assumes that sea levels would rise 1 meter, or 3.28 feet, in the next 100 to 150 years.   read more
  • Think Tank Crowdsources Government Transparency

    Friday, June 26, 2015
    Late last year, the data-driven policy analysis organization launched the Open Records Initiative, an attempt to accumulate local, state and federal government data in accessible formats at a central location. The site has been seeded with nearly 71,000 documents, which is expected to double by year’s end. But the exponential growth needed to make this effort meaningful relies on crowd-sourcing.   read more
  • Court Rules That Not Every “Knucklehead” Pointing a Laser at Aircraft Is Osama bin Laden

    Thursday, June 25, 2015
    There is a law against shining a laser pointer at an aircraft. Rodriguez didn't contest his conviction for breaking that law. He was appealing his additional conviction for violating a law Judge Silverman described as being “designed for both the Osama bin Ladens of the world—people trying to bring down a plane, intending to cause harm—and those who are aware that their actions are dangerous and could harm others, but just don't care.”   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • Director of the California Department of Conservation: Who is David Bunn?

    Friday, June 19, 2015
    David Bunn has worked in the private sector, the state Legislature, the executive branch and academia. He has participated in village poultry health and extension projects in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Ghana and Nepal since 2006. Bunn was a co-leader of the Global Livestock CRSP and USAID Flu School Program. He conducted avian flu workshops in eight African countries for health and agriculture ministry professionals.   read more
  • Chairman of the California Gambling Control Commission: Who Is Jim Evans?

    Wednesday, June 17, 2015
    Evans replaces Richard J. Lopes, 50, who abruptly announced his “retirement” as chairman last month. Lopes reportedly did not mention the ongoing scandal, which includes accusations against former gambling enforcement chief Robert E. Lytle, who worked with him during his 30 years at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). His announcement came two weeks after Executive Director Tina Littleton announced she would take a lower-level position at the end of May.   read more
  • State Department of Conservation Director Quits Days after Oil-Drilling RICO Suit Is Filed

    Monday, June 08, 2015
    Nechodom, the husband of former California Secretary of State Debra Bowen, was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown in December 2011 after the dismissal of Acting Director Derek Chernow for taking a harder line on hydraulic fracturing (fracking) than his boss wanted. At the time, industry critic Dan Bacher called it “a move that reeks of political cronyism and demonstrates the inordinate power of the oil industry.”   read more

Unusual News

  • Santa Ana, Mayor Sued After Police Raid Pot Shop, Munch Edibles on Viral Video

    Wednesday, June 24, 2015
    At one point in the video, an officer is heard expressing a desire to kick passive Sky High collective member Marla James, an amputee in a wheelchair, “in her fucking nub.” The cops may have mellowed a bit by the end of the raid, judging by the number of marijuana edibles they consumed.   read more
  • What Better Time to Build a Giant Water Park Than in a Drought?

    Tuesday, June 16, 2015
    The 31,000-square-foot Emerald Glen Recreation and Aquatic Complex is under construction and under fire for its inappropriateness in Year Four of the drought. It is expected to be completed in 2017. The center includes an 11-lane Olympic-size pool, two other pools, six water slides, and an amphitheatre that seats 2,000. The pools would hold 480,000 gallons of water, about 5% of the water used by city residents in an average day.   read more
  • Orange County Judge Undoes Hundreds of “Settled” Cases as FBI Probes for Fraud

    Monday, June 15, 2015
    The feds and Orange County prosecutors are investigating around 600 cases dating back to 2006, according to the Register. The cases are misdemeanor and traffic offenses. Nearly all of them appear to involve Latino defendants accused of driving under the influence (DUI) or driving without a license. Early betting is that a single rogue clerk is the perpetrator. That would indicate an employee who is crazy, incompetent or―again, an early frontrunner―corrupt.   read more
  • No Personal Belief Exemption for Vaccinations, Except for Most Students Now

    Wednesday, July 01, 2015
    The legislation will not reverse, overnight, the lax California policy on vaccination exemptions. It will almost certainly face legal challenges and could be subject to a referendum. The law doesn't take effect until 2016-17 school year and will only affect kindergartners and seventh-graders each year. Even if unchallenged, it would be half a dozen years before all K-12 students would be subject to the law.   read more
  • L.A. Mayor Says He’ll Shake a Stick at Homeless Instead of Beating Them With It

    Wednesday, July 01, 2015
    The city passed separate ordinances governing streets/sidewalks and parks that empower police to take down encampments and haul away stuff with 24-hour notice. Big stuff, like tents and mattresses, can go immediately. Homeless are subject to tickets and misdemeanor charges. The mayor supported the ordinances, then said he would delay implementation until amendments were passed.   read more
  • Report Maps Oil-Train Paths Across Socially Vulnerable Urban Areas

    Wednesday, July 01, 2015
    ForestEthics and Communities for a Better Environment (CBE), a couple of nonprofit groups, found that “while 60% of Californians live in environmental justice communities . . . 80% of the 5.5 million Californians with homes in the blast zone live” in them. About 75% of those in the blast zone are Hispanic-Latino, African-American or Asian. Twenty-two percent of the residents within the blast zone are white, compared to 45% outside the zone.   read more
  • U.S. Supreme Court Redistricting, Death Penalty Decisions Reverberate in California

    Tuesday, June 30, 2015
    Two U.S. Supreme Court rulings on Monday will have a lasting effect on California although the state was not a party to either one. The court fell one vote shy of eviscerating Arizona's anti-gerrymandering law, and by extension California's, when it upheld the creation of a redistricting commission by voters. The court, by the same 5-4 margin, voted to let Oklahoma execute prisoners with a lethal injection that could clear the way for California to do the same.   read more
  • L.A.’s Mono Lake Water Running Out Just Ahead of Ecosystem Crisis

    Tuesday, June 30, 2015
    Despite the respite from L.A.’s rapacious thirst, it’s hard to imagine much of a future for Mono Lake in the Age of Drought. It has been the subject of lengthy litigation over its decline, beginning with a Public Trust lawsuit in 1979, and is about to reach a new marker of devastation. The Los Angeles Times sketched out the very sketchy-looking future of California’s second-largest gull colony.   read more

Top Stories

  • State Issues New Senior Water Rights Restrictions Even As Old Ones Are Ignored

    Monday, June 29, 2015
    San Francisco lost some of its rights to Tuolomne River along with farmers and Pacific Gas & Electric Company in the Central Valley that tapped into the upper San Joaquin and Merced rivers. A report from the water board last week indicated that only 31% of the 9,112 curtailment orders sent to junior and senior water rights holders have been acknowledged within the seven-day statutory limit.   read more
  • Reform Group Wants San Onofre Deal It Signed Off on Reopened

    Friday, June 26, 2015
    TURN’s turnaround was prompted by the revelation in February that then-commission President Michael Peevey met privately with Edison executive Stephen Pickett in Warsaw, Poland, in March 2013 to discuss a framework for settlement without the pesky public involved. Peevey is a former president of Edison. The meeting was detailed in some of the thousands of e-mails released last year that revealed an overly close, if not illegal, relationship between the regulator and the utilities it regulated.   read more
  • Cracked Rods on Bay Bridge Called a “Portent of Catastrophe”

    Thursday, June 25, 2015
    The problem is water. It shouldn't be sloshing about in spaces around the rods. At first, the dampness was blamed on poor grouting, rainwater or wash water from above. That's not good, but not as bad as corrosive saltwater leaking in through the foundation cap below. It causes microcracks and makes steel rods brittle. Almost all of the rods have gotten wet and a fourth of them regularly get soaked.   read more

Controversies

  • State Toxic Substances Watchdog Gets a Watchdog

    Tuesday, June 30, 2015
    It’s usually not a good thing when your foundation needs to be fixed, especially if problems have been evident for years and people are already being harmed. The state budget signed by Governor Jerry Brown last week took a stab at answering public demands for reform by funding an oversight panel to report on how the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) is doing.   read more
  • Judge Rules Nursing Homes Can't Make End-of-Life Decisions for Patients

    Monday, June 29, 2015
    Alameda County Superior Court Judge Evelio M. Grillo ruled last week that patients must be notified when classified as incapacitated and given an opportunity to argue the case in court should they be so inclined. Anything less is a denial of constitutionally guaranteed due process of law.   read more
  • Silicon Valley High School Is First in Nation to Install a Gunshot-Detection System

    Friday, June 26, 2015
    Newark is a fairly safe Silicon Valley community by conventional standards, but statistics don’t necessarily correlate with risk aversive fear factors. Newark Unified Superintendent Dave Marken told the Contra Costa Times, “Unfortunately, we have an increase in deranged individuals who go into campuses, churches, malls and theaters with one thing in mind: to create as much carnage as possible.”   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Sharing-Economy on Alert: Uber Driver Declared Employee, not a Contractor

    Thursday, June 18, 2015
    The California Labor Commissioner ruled in a case that Uber owed driver Barbara Ann Berwick of San Francisco $4,152, mostly mileage money and toll costs, because the law says company employees get reimbursed for stuff like that. Uber lost the argument that the company was just an app developer and the drivers were independent contractors.   read more
  • FedEx Settles Lawsuit with Employees It Called Contractors for $227 Million

    Wednesday, June 17, 2015
    The settlement, which must still be approved by the Ninth Circuit Court, covers 2,300 California FedEx drivers and 363 from Oregon who worked between 2000 and 2007, according to the Courthouse News Service. The drivers had to dress in FedEx uniforms, meet FedEx grooming standards, and drive a truck (sometimes there own) festooned with the FedEx logo. Yet, FedEx called them contractors, not employees.   read more
  • Judge Tells California to Repay $331 Million Taken from Homeowners Bailout Fund

    Tuesday, June 16, 2015
    The money was California's share of a $25-billion settlement reached in 2012 with the nation's five largest mortgage servicers for helping crash the economy and destroying people's lives. The $331 million was supposed to be spent on counseling, consumer fraud education and assistance for people trying to save their homes from foreclosure. Wronged property owners were to receive loan modifications and principal reductions to save their homes.   read more

California and the Nation

  • $40 Billion in U.S. Coastal Park Assets Are at “High Risk” from Rising Seas

    Monday, June 29, 2015
    A new report from the National Park Service says sea level rise at 40 coastal national park sites, including eight in California, will cause problems. The 40 park units contain 10,000 assets, including roads, buildings, bridges, water systems, parking lots, tunnels, sea barriers, lighthouses, fortifications and archaeological sites. The report assumes that sea levels would rise 1 meter, or 3.28 feet, in the next 100 to 150 years.   read more
  • Think Tank Crowdsources Government Transparency

    Friday, June 26, 2015
    Late last year, the data-driven policy analysis organization launched the Open Records Initiative, an attempt to accumulate local, state and federal government data in accessible formats at a central location. The site has been seeded with nearly 71,000 documents, which is expected to double by year’s end. But the exponential growth needed to make this effort meaningful relies on crowd-sourcing.   read more
  • Court Rules That Not Every “Knucklehead” Pointing a Laser at Aircraft Is Osama bin Laden

    Thursday, June 25, 2015
    There is a law against shining a laser pointer at an aircraft. Rodriguez didn't contest his conviction for breaking that law. He was appealing his additional conviction for violating a law Judge Silverman described as being “designed for both the Osama bin Ladens of the world—people trying to bring down a plane, intending to cause harm—and those who are aware that their actions are dangerous and could harm others, but just don't care.”   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • Director of the California Department of Conservation: Who is David Bunn?

    Friday, June 19, 2015
    David Bunn has worked in the private sector, the state Legislature, the executive branch and academia. He has participated in village poultry health and extension projects in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Ghana and Nepal since 2006. Bunn was a co-leader of the Global Livestock CRSP and USAID Flu School Program. He conducted avian flu workshops in eight African countries for health and agriculture ministry professionals.   read more
  • Chairman of the California Gambling Control Commission: Who Is Jim Evans?

    Wednesday, June 17, 2015
    Evans replaces Richard J. Lopes, 50, who abruptly announced his “retirement” as chairman last month. Lopes reportedly did not mention the ongoing scandal, which includes accusations against former gambling enforcement chief Robert E. Lytle, who worked with him during his 30 years at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). His announcement came two weeks after Executive Director Tina Littleton announced she would take a lower-level position at the end of May.   read more
  • State Department of Conservation Director Quits Days after Oil-Drilling RICO Suit Is Filed

    Monday, June 08, 2015
    Nechodom, the husband of former California Secretary of State Debra Bowen, was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown in December 2011 after the dismissal of Acting Director Derek Chernow for taking a harder line on hydraulic fracturing (fracking) than his boss wanted. At the time, industry critic Dan Bacher called it “a move that reeks of political cronyism and demonstrates the inordinate power of the oil industry.”   read more

Unusual News

  • Santa Ana, Mayor Sued After Police Raid Pot Shop, Munch Edibles on Viral Video

    Wednesday, June 24, 2015
    At one point in the video, an officer is heard expressing a desire to kick passive Sky High collective member Marla James, an amputee in a wheelchair, “in her fucking nub.” The cops may have mellowed a bit by the end of the raid, judging by the number of marijuana edibles they consumed.   read more
  • What Better Time to Build a Giant Water Park Than in a Drought?

    Tuesday, June 16, 2015
    The 31,000-square-foot Emerald Glen Recreation and Aquatic Complex is under construction and under fire for its inappropriateness in Year Four of the drought. It is expected to be completed in 2017. The center includes an 11-lane Olympic-size pool, two other pools, six water slides, and an amphitheatre that seats 2,000. The pools would hold 480,000 gallons of water, about 5% of the water used by city residents in an average day.   read more
  • Orange County Judge Undoes Hundreds of “Settled” Cases as FBI Probes for Fraud

    Monday, June 15, 2015
    The feds and Orange County prosecutors are investigating around 600 cases dating back to 2006, according to the Register. The cases are misdemeanor and traffic offenses. Nearly all of them appear to involve Latino defendants accused of driving under the influence (DUI) or driving without a license. Early betting is that a single rogue clerk is the perpetrator. That would indicate an employee who is crazy, incompetent or―again, an early frontrunner―corrupt.   read more

PHOTO GALLERY

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