Whack-job deputy wreaked havoc on citizens for years and no one did anything about it...now taxpayers are on the hook for millions
Legal payouts involving former Sacramento County sheriff’s deputy now accused in molestation case totaled more than $2 million
Once referred to by a local attorney as the “Million Dollar Man,” a former sheriff’s deputy cost the county of Sacramento more than $2 million in awards and settlements during his 23 years on the force. By the time Donald Black retired Oct. 1 following his arrest on suspicion of child molestation and steroid possession, his actions had resulted in at least 10 payouts by the county, most of them involving excessive force allegations, according to a spreadsheet provided to The Sacramento Bee in response to a Public Records Act request. The largest payout – $1.5 million – went to a woman who had a 3-inch chunk of flesh taken out of her calf by Black’s then-K-9 partner. In another case, according to a court complaint, Black and another deputy allegedly terrified a man during a traffic stop by pointing an unloaded pellet gun at his head and pulling the trigger. Black, who was arrested by Nevada County authorities in September, retired from the department before the conclusion of two internal administrative investigations initiated by his arrest. Even some who are familiar with Black’s controversial history expressed shock at the $2 million total payout – and questioned how a deputy who had become such a financial liability managed to keep his job. “It’s utterly amazing…. This guy is off the charts,” said local attorney Stewart Katz, who represented the man awarded $90,000 in the pellet gun incident. “It would (have been) cheaper for him to never work a day,” Katz said. At the time that he retired, Black, 43, earned about $95,000 annually, including educational incentive pay. He has begun to draw his pension, totaling almost $5,400 per month, according to county spokeswoman Chris Andis. Even if Black is convicted of any of the charges he faces, he is likely to remain eligible for that money, according to guidelines in the California Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act of 2014.
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|San Francisco Chronicle
Firefighters left girl for dead...
SFO crash survivor was run over by not one but two fire rigs
A teenage survivor of the Asiana Airlines crash at San Francisco International Airport was run over by not one but two Fire Department rigs after firefighters mistakenly concluded she was dead without checking her vital signs, according to findings of a federal investigation released Wednesday. The Fire Department had already admitted that one foam-spraying rig ran over 16-year-old Ye Meng Yuan of China as it took part in firefighting efforts after the July 6 crash. But documents released Wednesday show that a second rig also ran over Ye. That rig's spotter had seen the girl on the ground and directed the driver around her as she lay near the burning Boeing 777's left wing. The spotter then went to help at the crash site. Fourteen minutes later, that rig was the first to strike the girl, who by then was covered with flame-retardant foam, according to summaries of firefighter interviews released by the National Transportation Safety Board. Several minutes later, another rig ran over Ye as the driver left to refill her vehicle with water. The San Mateo County coroner has concluded that Ye was alive before she was struck. However, she appeared to be dead to firefighters who saw her in the first minutes after the crash, the federal documents show.
Assembly Democrats say they want to pay down debt, save and spend more
Pols playing the fiscal responsibility card...can they be trusted?
Assembly Democrats presented a 2014 budget agenda Wednesday that calls for using billions in projected new revenue to pay down debt and build an $8 billion reserve by 2017, while also proposing spending increases for California schools, hospitals and other programs. The caucus plan comes three weeks after the Legislature’s nonpartisan fiscal analyst projected multibillion-dollar surpluses through mid-2020, the most optimistic fiscal outlook for the state since the dot-com bust more than a decade ago set off years of chronic budget gaps. Influential groups representing schools, social services and others already have called for restoring recession-era spending cuts, while Gov. Jerry Brown has urged caution. Speaking to reporters, Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez called Wednesday’s blueprint a “conceptual approach” that will be fleshed out in upcoming negotiations with Brown and the Senate. He declined to put a price tag on many of the blueprint’s “investments,” and said a proposed $2 billion reserve in June 2015 – far below the $5.6 billion surplus projected by the legislative analyst – is only a “baseline” figure that will likely change. Assembly Democrats, he insisted, would not repeat the mistakes of the late 1990s and early 2000s, when lawmakers locked in billions of dollars in tax cuts and new spending, only to have to slash programs, raise taxes and approve various gimmicks to bridge subsequent shortfalls. Assembly Democrats said they want to put a rainy-day fund constitutional amendment on the November 2014 ballot. It would limit overspending in good years and offset cuts in bad years. The goal is to build a $8 billion reserve by 2016-17, an amount that mirrors the legislative analyst’s projected surplus that year.
Will city warm to a costly climate plan?
San Diego plan promotes unions and 'social equity'
Many scientists and environmental activists have declared the debate over man-made global warming to be over. Even climate-change skeptics seem to admit as much, at least in terms of public-policy. Like it or not, officials at every level of government view climate change as a given and are crafting regulations to combat it. It may be pointless to get into scientific scuffles at this point, but there is another global-warming debate that is emerging. It centers on a crucial question: Should efforts to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions impose minimal or dramatic changes in how we live? Some analysts argue that increased fuel-economy standards and reductions in emissions from electrical plants, especially in developing nations, will address the bulk of the emissions problem. Global-warming regulations, they say, should be evaluated on their costs and benefits. They don’t deny that warming is a problem, but seek unobtrusive solutions. Many others believe the threat from climate change is so severe that everything – from driving habits to development patterns to utility usage to waste disposal – must be dramatically altered. The regulations they propose are far-reaching and it appears as if they have the most influence these days. Even at the local level. On Monday, San Diego officials released the working draft of the city’s Climate Action Plan – a 74-page proposal for slashing greenhouse-gas emissions. San Diego and other California cities have crafted these plans in response to state laws designed to rollback California’s “carbon footprint.” The climate plan calls for major cutbacks in each household’s waste production, a reduction in parking spaces to increase transit use, new “water rate and billing structures that promote efficiency and conservation” (i.e., price increases), an anti-idling ordinance, additional fees for the disposal of carpets and other “problem materials,” and myriad other regulations. The city would hire an “Urban Forest Manager.” Many of these rules are minor, but they could have a large cumulative effect. Critics argue that it is the anti-global-warming policies themselves which harm the poor as they drive up home and utility costs, reduce car mobility and chase away manufacturing jobs. The subsidized green industry might someday offer myriad union jobs, but for now it is only a tiny slice of the economy. In the meantime, such plans will make it costlier to start a small business. And it may be for naught. Local measures won’t make a dent in the world’s global-warming problem, argues conservative urban-policy consultant Wendell Cox. “I won’t argue with the necessity to reduce greenhouse gases,” he added, “but we can sufficiently reduce such gases without interfering with people’s lives.”
Lawsuit raises question for California immigration reform
Immigration laws are a mess...just ask Victor Guerrero
Jerry Brown has signed bills that give driver’s licenses and college money to undocumented immigrants, and allow them to practice law. Now a federal discrimination lawsuit filed in San Francisco has added an ironic twist to Brown’s immigration record. The complaint by 34-year-old Victor Guerrero says Question No. 75 on the state’s correctional-officer job questionnaire unfairly targets Latinos by asking applicants if they have ever used a different Social Security number. In 2011 and again this year, Guerrero answered “yes.” Guerrero’s parents brought him across the border in 1991 when he was 11. At 15,, he was given a Social Security number for work, according to his lawsuit, but didn’t know he was undocumented and that the number wasn’t his. He found out two years later, but kept using the number, in one instance to file a workers’ compensation claim. Guerrero paid taxes with an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number issued by the Internal Revenue Service until becoming a legal permanent resident and receiving his own Social Security number, his lawsuit says. He became a U.S. citizen in 2010. Guerrero twice passed written and physical-agility tests to become a correctional officer, but the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation dumped him. He appealed to the State Personnel Board the first time and lost. After the second rejection, he sued.
Feds: More than 100K select health insurance plans in California
About 107,000 Californians have obtained health insurance plans offered by the state's insurance marketplace, according to the latest figures Wednesday. Officials with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a report that spans the launch of the exchange through November 30. Covered California has scheduled a more detailed airing of the figures Thursday. The federal report showed a marked increase in enrollment nationwide since officials ironed out many of the kinks that have plagued activity on Healthcare.gov. Some 364,682 people selected a plan during the first two months of the initial open enrollment period. The figures include people who have yet to pay their first premium.
Field Poll: Cali's rich and elite are doing great, everybody else feels screwed
Californians hold improving view of state, but partisan gulf widens
As California emerges from a recession and years of state budget deficits, the electorate is growing cheerier about life in the Golden State. But the chasm between Democrats and Republicans has widened, according to a new Field Poll, and the view from the right is not so bright. While 53 percent of Democrats say California is one of the best places to live, just 29 percent of Republicans rate the state so favorably, according to the poll. The gulf between Republicans and Democrats is more than 10 percentage points wider than two years ago. Positivity also varies widely from the state’s coastal areas to its more conservative, inland reaches. Forty-seven percent of voters living in coastal counties say California is one of the best places to live; only 34 percent of inland county residents share that view. The differences suggest not only the unevenness of the economic recovery in California, but also the difficulty of belonging to the political minority in a state where Democrats control the Legislature and every statewide office. The state’s improving outlook is largely a product of public opinion in the heavily populated San Francisco and Los Angeles areas. People are nowhere happier than in the San Francisco Bay Area, where 54 percent of voters say California is one of the best places to live, according to the poll. In the Central Valley, the proportion of voters who feel so content is more than 20 percentage points lower, at 33 percent.
San Francisco Chronicle
Was this guy really wrong in his assessment of San Francisco?
Startup CEO Who Said San Francisco Is Overrun By 'Homeless, Drug Dealers, Dropouts, And Trash' Says He's Sorry
AngelHack CEO Greg Gopman recently took to Facebook to berate the homeless population in San Francisco, Calif., saying that the city has been overrun by "crazy, homeless, drug dealers, and trash..." He has since publicly apologized on Facebook. "Last night, I made inappropriate comments about San Francisco and its less fortunate citizens on Market st. I'm really sorry for my comments. I trivialized the plight of those struggling to get by and I shouldn't have. I hope this thread can help start an open discussion on what changes we can make to fix these serious problems. Again, I am deeply sorry."
San Francisco Examiner
Suck It Code-Head! See'yah on skid row, when tke Technology Bubble pops...
CEO's post about homeless in SF highlights tech PR problem
It has not been a good week for the tech industry’s image in San Francisco. Amid growing worries about rent increases and the cost of living here, which many blame on well-off tech workers, the brand needs a PR strategy, say industry leaders and others. “The tech industry is a vital part of San Francisco and the Bay Area … but from an image/credibility standpoint, it’s really suffering right now,” said Sam Singer, who heads public relations firm Singer Associates. Some in the industry agree with that assessment. San Francisco native Kane Russell, a marketer for the startup Waterfall who makes $100,000 a year, said the industry needs a better image. “Elitism,” said the 31-year-old, is something the tech community “should focus on addressing.” Two incidents this week have fed the seething anger against what many see as the main source of San Francisco’s wealth-driven woes: tech workers. The first incident — an imposter Google employee yelling at people protesting one of the company’s shuttle buses — revealed what many thought was the real face of tech: snobbish, elitist and entitled. But it turned out to be a straw man caricature. However, the second incident — a tech CEO’s Facebook post about homeless and poor people in The City — did confirm to many how snobbish, entitled and elitist some in the industry can be. No matter which image best characterizes techies, the prospect of a backlash against the industry has everyone from builders and politicians worrying about what to do next. Even tech-boosting Mayor Ed Lee has changed his tune as of late, proposing a hefty hike to the minimum wage to counter the effects of cost-of-living increases.
Santa Rosa Press Democrat
Two arrested as Lopez protest halts meetings
City puts killer cop back on duty - public lashes back
A preliminary internal review by the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office has found that a veteran deputy who shot and killed a 13-year-old Santa Rosa boy did not violate department procedures, sheriff's officials said Tuesday, as angry demonstrators marched through Santa Rosa and temporarily halted public meetings by city and county officials. Two people were arrested during the demonstrations, which were largely fueled by Deputy Erick Gelhaus' return to work Monday, nearly seven weeks after he fatally shot Andy Lopez. Gelhaus' return to duty amid ongoing investigations escalated tensions between local law enforcement officials and demonstrators seeking quick justice for Lopez's killing to their highest level since the Oct. 22 shooting. Critics of law enforcement have branded the incident a blatant use of excessive force while frequent protests have spotlighted a shattered relationship with local government, a rift widened by racial and economic divides, protesters say. On Tuesday, it was clear Gelhaus' return from paid administrative leave to a desk assignment had created a new flashpoint. One protester said Gelhaus had received “two months paid vacation and a desk job” in the shooting's wake. About 75 protesters, some carrying bullhorns and crosses to symbolize people who've died at the hands or in the care of local law enforcement in recent years, forced the Santa Rosa City Council to halt its meeting for at least 20 minutes.
Los Angeles Times
Cops hoping voters hate criminals enough to endorse their shredding the Constitution
Fallout of scandal for Sheriff Lee Baca is unclear
In wake of the jail abuse scandal, Sheriff Baca's hopes for reelection could come down to how much voters really care about inmates
Only hours after FBI agents swept up 18 deputies and supervisors in a jail abuse and corruption case, Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca was being lauded at a $1,500-a-head downtown campaign fundraiser co-hosted by a former governor and a former L.A. city attorney. The contrasting images Monday — Baca somberly telling a crowded news conference it was a "sad day" for the agency he's led for 15 years and later celebrating his chances of winning a fifth term — captured both the increased vulnerability and time-tested resiliency of the county's top lawman at the threshold of another run for office. Baca, 71, has faced a drumbeat of investigations and a blue-ribbon commission report attacking his management of the nation's largest sheriff's department. But analysts say the sheriff's political baggage grew heavier with Monday's charges against current and former members of his department for allegedly abusing jail inmates and obstructing justice. The U.S. attorney pointedly declared that the problems had become "institutionalized" at the agency. "There is no coronation in his future," said veteran Democratic political consultant Darry Sragow. Baca may well recover. He remains in effect the police chief in dozens of communities his department patrols and can point to sharp drops in serious crime. And, as Monday's fundraiser demonstrated, he's still a draw in the political establishment. In the end, campaign strategists say, the election may hinge on how much voters care about alleged mistreatment of jail inmates. Nonetheless, the risk confronting Baca this political season is a dramatic change for one of Southern California's most enduring elected leaders. He won office fortuitously in 1998 when his rival, incumbent Sheriff Sherman Block, died days before the election. In the next three elections, he easily won in primaries against fields of lesser-known candidates, avoiding head-to-head runoff elections. By 2010, no one bothered to challenge him. This election was going to be different, even before the news broke that federal charges were filed against 13 current and former deputies, three sergeants and two lieutenants. Among the allegations were the beating of prisoners and visitors, filing false reports to cover up misconduct and attempting to block FBI access to a jail informant.
Pervert cop costs taxpayers $795K
Psychopath with a gun and a badge arrested then sexually assaulted women
The actions of former San Diego police Officer Anthony Arevalos have now cost taxpayers at least $2.3 million as the City Council on Tuesday finalized a $795,000 settlement to a woman who said he sexually assaulted her. That sum is the largest payment the city has made in the flurry of a dozen lawsuits filed by women who said they were harassed or assaulted by Arevalos, a former traffic officer with the department. He was convicted of sexual battery and other charges and in February 2012 was sentenced to almost nine years in state prison. The latest settlement stems from a lawsuit filed by a woman identified in court papers as Jane Roe who alleged that she was sexually assaulted by Arevalos in the back seat of a police car after her arrest for drunken driving in February 2010. The settlement agreement was first announced in September at a brief hearing in federal court. At the time, Roe said she was relieved and settled the case to avoid it dragging out for years. The council voted unanimously Tuesday to approve the settlement in a perfunctory decision as a council majority had previously approved it in closed session months ago. One more case is pending in federal court. That case involves a woman whose complaint that Arevalos sexually battered her in the bathroom of a convenience store after her arrest for drunken driving triggered the criminal charges against him.
San Francisco Chronicle
More "we feared for our life" bull$hit from trigger happy cops
Suicidal man shot dead by deputy in Saratoga
A suicidal man was shot and killed by a Santa Clara County sheriff's deputy in Saratoga on Tuesday. The incident, the second involving Santa Clara deputies in less than a month, began shortly after noon when deputies responded to the 12000 block of Saratoga Avenue to investigate reports of a man in distress who was possibly contemplating suicide, said sheriff's Sgt. Kurtis Stenderup. Deputies arrived and began speaking with the man, but he "suddenly became agitated and pulled out a blunt metal object and attacked one of the deputies," Stenderup said. The deputy was hit by the object and, fearing for his life, shot the man once in the chest, Stenderup said. The man was "still combative" and had to be restrained before he could be treated medically, Stenderup said. The man died at a hospital. His name wasn't released. A second deputy was hurt in the altercation, but authorities did not say how. Both deputies were treated at a hospital and released. Their names were withheld. The shooting is under investigation by the sheriff's office and prosecutors, who are also looking into the actions of a fatal shooting involving a deputy last month. On Nov. 16, Deputy Jennifer Galan, who has served three years with the department, shot and killed Andrea Naharro-Gionet, 61, outside the woman's home on Cleveland Avenue near San Jose after the woman brandished a knife at deputies, authorities said.
San Jose council hires police chief and hands out raises to cops
Pols shower $$$'s on cops as homicide rates continue to climb
Hoping to shore up its shrinking police force, the City Council on Tuesday officially named a widely respected veteran insider as the city's new chief and handed out raises worth nearly 11 percent to its police officers. The council votes represent the final actions to two key moves designed to help bolster a San Jose Police Department that is down to about 910 active cops patrolling a city of almost 1 million people. First, the council unanimously approved a contract with acting Chief Larry Esquivel to take on the job permanently. City Manager Deb Figone had recommended Esquivel for the job in late October but the San Jose native had not confirmed until now that he would take the post. Esquivel, who started with the department as a reserve officer in 1985, rose up the ranks before being named acting chief in January when former top cop Chris Moore retired. Esquivel, who made $170,109 as deputy chief last year, will make a new salary of $203,000, about equal to his predecessor's pay. After being sworn in at Tuesday's council meeting, Esquivel said he hoped to "invest" in officers to attract cops and make them happy to work for the department, where morale has been low. He vowed to make the city safer as homicide rates continue to climb in what was once called America's safest big city. Second, council members voted unanimously to ratify a new union contract with the San Jose Police Officers' Association that calls for officers to receive raises totaling 10.66 percent through the end of 2015. The contract, which 79 percent of union members approved last week, also includes a one-time bonus of 2 percent of officers' pay.
Sacramento council votes to exempt arena project from competitive-bidding requirements
It will be several weeks before Sacramento knows if there will be a public vote on the proposed $258 million subsidy for the new downtown NBA arena. But on Tuesday, with cartons of petitions landing in City Hall and the mayor blasting his opponents, it felt as though the election campaign was well underway. Meanwhile, the City Council continued to forge ahead on the $448 million arena proposed for Downtown Plaza. The council late Tuesday agreed to exempt the project from the city’s competitive-bidding requirements. The council also received a briefing from City Treasurer Russ Fehr on the plan to finance the city's subsidy – specifically, by borrowing against future revenue. So far, the council has only tentatively approved the financing plan, and a vote on issuing the bonds won’t come until next spring. What isn’t known is whether the subsidy issue will come to a public vote in June.
Delta water tunnel plan presents California with tough choices
Is this a much needed project, or just another High Speed Rail style scam?
A new future for the troubled Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta was laid out for public review Monday in 34,000 sprawling pages of analysis associated with two giant water-diversion tunnels proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown. The question now for the public and policy makers: Is this the future they want? The California Department of Water Resources released the draft documents as part of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, a proposed $25 billion project to resolve decades of conflict between water demand and wildlife habitat in the estuary at the heart of the state. The documents – a habitat-conservation plan and environmental-impact study – launch a formal public review period that will lead to a decision on the proposal by the end of 2014. Although the Delta plan has been in the works for seven years and revealed in preliminary form on several occasions, the documents released Monday are the first complete look at the official project proposed for construction. Although the documents released Monday are enormous, many questions remain unanswered. Some long-term financing details are left to future political actions, for example, and how much water the tunnels ultimately divert depends on a scenario to be chosen later. Overall, the goal is to simultaneously improve wildlife habitat and stabilize water supplies from the estuary, a source of water for 25 million people and 3 million acres of farmland from San Jose to San Diego. Population growth, imperiled fish species and climate change have made that water supply increasingly vulnerable, and the project aims for a comprehensive fix.
Los Angeles Times
"Behavior that had become institutionalized"
18 current, former L.A. County sheriff's deputies face federal charges
Prosecutors say they found a 'wide scope of illegal conduct' by deputies and supervisors that went beyond mistreating inmates
Federal authorities announced charges Monday against 18 current and former Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies accused of beating jail inmates and visitors, trying to intimidate an FBI agent and other crimes following an investigation of corruption inside the nation's largest jail system. Prosecutors said they found a "wide scope of illegal conduct" by deputies and their supervisors that went beyond mistreating inmates to actively attempting to hinder an FBI investigation into jail misconduct. The actions of federal authorities marked the largest mass arrest of sheriff's officials in more than two decades and represents another blow to a department that recently has been accused of racially biased policing, hiring officers with tainted backgrounds and cronyism. "These incidents did not take place in a vacuum — in fact, they demonstrated behavior that had become institutionalized," U.S. Atty. Andre Birotte Jr. said in a statement. "Some members of the Sheriff's Department considered themselves to be above the law." The indictments allege two assaults on inmates and three on people who visited the jail. They also include claims that deputies wrote false reports to justify using force and conducted illegal arrests and searches of jail visitors. A sergeant who supervised deputies in the visiting area of Men's Central Jail was accused of encouraging violence and reprimanding employees "for not using force on visitors ... if the visitors had supposedly 'disrespected'" jail deputies, according to an indictment.
Time to curb taxpayer-funded travel junkets in Richmond
Richmond city officials have turned their sister-city relations with communities in China, Japan and Cuba into travel junkets for the mayor, council members and city staff.
Not even California Strategies partners are above the law
In September, the Fair Political Practices Commission imposed combined fines of $40,500 on the firm, Kinney and two other partners for failing to register as California lobbyists. The charitable explanation is that the firm has been sloppy. Less charitably, some people in the firm may think they are above the law. That’d be dangerous. They’re not.
Baca’s failures are displayed again
It just keeps getting worse for Sheriff Lee Baca — and, more important, for Los Angeles County residents who counted on him to lead the world’s largest sheriff’s department. Whether Baca can be relied upon to lead is in more doubt than ever after an FBI investigation of jail inmate abuse led to the indictments handed down Monday against 18 current and former sheriff’s deputies. The 18, of whom at least 16 were taken into custody, are subordinates, not L.A. Sheriff’s Department brass. But for anyone who wonders if blame for the department’s failures goes all the way to the top, a statement from the U.S. attorney announcing the indictments was damning.
Los Angeles Times
Monday morning massacre at L.A. Sheriff's Dept.
Any lingering doubt about whether there are deep-seated problems of abuse at Los Angeles County jails should be put to rest by Monday's arrests following the unsealing of formal charges against 18 current or former sheriff's deputies. Any inclination to pass off more than two years of news reports and official probes detailing inmate beatings as simply the result of a few rogue deputies should be shelved.
Detroit ruling should wake up California unions
A federal judge's ruling last week that Detroit employees and retirees could lose pension benefits in bankruptcy court is a warning to California labor unions. Confidence that public pensions are secure, even if a city goes bankrupt, has encouraged unions to resist any attempt to change promised future benefits. But Detroit's is the second federal ruling that pension benefits, even those already earned, are similar to other debts in bankruptcy filings and can be altered by the court. Nobody wants to reduce payments to retirees living on fixed incomes. So government agencies need the legal tools to ratchet back future pension promises to public employees to a sustainable level. Private employers can adjust pension obligations that become unaffordable. Government agencies shouldn't have to wait until they're insolvent to do it.
Desal battle over growth, not plankton
Critics of the “green” movement often claim that environmentalists put the needs of snail darters and other critters above the well-being of humans. But I’ve never heard even those given to overstatement say that green activists care more about plankton and microorganisms than people. That might soon change.
Will NIMBY's ruin Delta Tunnels like they did High Speed Rail
Release of twin tunnels plan touches off a fierce battle
Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration released two massive documents Monday, detailing its plans to build twin tunnels beneath the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and complete the last link of the water system his father began more than a half-century ago. Minutes later, opponents of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan declared that they will use every available legal and political process to kill it. It’s likely that years, or even decades, will pass before the issue is resolved one way or the other. It’s Brown’s second stab at building a conveyance for Sacramento River water to bypass the Delta.
With budget surpluses looming, will Capitol politicians create reserve?
California appears to be on the verge of another major surge in revenues, partially from the 2012 hike and partially from an improving economy. Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor sees an annual surplus approaching $6 billion by the end of the 2014-15 fiscal year and nearly $10 billion by 2017-18, barring another downturn. Brown’s bean-counters aren’t disagreeing. Taylor says it’s an opportunity to create “a strong reserve” to cushion the impacts of future downturns, as well as pay off debts that were run up during the deficit years and close shortfalls in pension and retiree health care obligations. Brown implies that he wants to pursue a cautious course as well. However, there’s mounting pressure from advocates of health, welfare and education programs to use the surpluses, and Brown’s final decisions on a 2014-15 budget proposal this month will set the stage for another chapter in a very old saga.
Brown’s overhaul of California school finances sparks infighting over details
Gov. Jerry Brown’s landmark overhaul of public schools’ finances was aimed at their most vexing issue – chronically low academic achievements among poor or “English-learner” students. Not only would more money be spent – billions more, in fact, thanks to a tax increase – but state aid would be “weighted” toward districts with large numbers of targeted kids. Spending more and weighting the spending both drew broad support within the often fractious education community, even though there’s no consensus in academic circles about the efficacy of increased school spending.
Ruling gives unions reason to negotiate
Detroit's bankruptcy may change pension debates in California
This was a landmark decision not because of any surprise about the fate of Detroit, with its $18 billion in debt. The big news is the judge ruled that pension rights, which have protections in the Michigan constitution, can be “impaired” under federal bankruptcy law. This could have nationwide impact if it becomes precedent.
Assembly GOP leader defends the indefensible...
Nothing here about helping people get access to affordable healthcare
The Sacramento Bee editorial board took issue with Assembly Republicans’ website, www.coveringhealthcareca.com, (“Assembly GOP sows health care confusion,” Editorials, Dec. 5). However, I take issue with the board’s criticism.
Sacramento Update Washington D.C. Update