#PoliceState Update: Crooked #SFPD resisting Gascón’s corruption probe

San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón said Monday that he has formed a task force to look into cases of alleged corruption, misconduct and racism in the city’s law enforcement structure — a move that Police Chief Greg Suhr criticized as politically motivated.

Gascón’s office was already investigating the Police Department for racist and antigay text messages sent between officers when allegations emerged last week that sheriff’s deputies had forced inmates to fight for their entertainment. On Sunday, The Chronicle reported that hundreds of criminal cases had been called into question because a police crime lab technician and her supervisor had violated testing standards on DNA analyses.

“In my 30-years plus in law enforcement, I have seen a good deal of misconduct by police officers. I have seen scandals,” Gascón said at a news conference. “But the level of the problems and the frequency of the problems that we’re facing here today are very unusual.”

via S.F. police chief, D.A. clash over corruption task force – San Francisco Chronicle.


#PoliceState: L.A. uses “stealth laws” to steal thousands of cars from citizens

Impounded cars
Rat cops steal thousands of cars from citizens in L.A. and the law lets them get away with it.

Last year, Los Angeles authorities towed and impounded 4,539 motor vehicles for violating the city’s 72-hour time limit for parking in the same spot. One of them was a 1999 Toyota Sienna belonging to attorney J. David Sackman and his wife, Jerolyn.

That action has landed the city in federal court.

The Sackmans, whose small van was hauled away in September while they were out of town, are challenging the city’s three-day restriction and impoundment process. They believe the case they are making marks the first time someone has based a complaint on the lack of a clear warning.

They allege that the municipal ordinance violates the California Vehicle Code and the constitutional right of due process because signs about the time limit are not posted on Los Angeles streets, which have long had parking signs related to street sweeping, permits and other restrictions. And the city acknowledges that no such 72-hour signs have ever been installed.

“We did not know about the rule,” Sackman said. “We have a city parking permit and we always park in accordance with the street signs. It’s a daily routine for us. But even if you try to follow the law and the signs scrupulously, you can still get towed.”

via L.A. is carried away on impounding vehicles, suit says – LA Times.

5 demographic trends to know about Los Angeles County

Diminished immigration, slow but steady population growth, fewer young children and a soaring senior ratio are changing the way demographers and others are thinking about the future of Los Angeles County.

Such trends as well as projections are important because they shape beliefs about taxation and broader California policy narratives, experts say.

“People are unconsciously working with a set of assumptions that are about 20 years out of date,” said Dowell Myers, a professor of public policy at USC. “It’s taken a while for everyone to adjust. Even the professional demographers have been behind the times, and they are just now catching up.”


via 5 demographic trends to know about Los Angeles County – Los Angeles Daily News.

California leaders routinely use private email

Gov. Jerry Brown, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and other top elected officials in California acknowledge using personal email accounts to conduct government business, and it’s not clear if their private exchanges are retained as public records or subject to disclosure.

An Associated Press survey of email use by the state’s four legislative leaders and eight top elected officers found a loose patchwork of practices under which private electronic conversations while on the job are alternately commonplace, infrequent or discouraged.

via AP Exclusive: California leaders routinely use private email – The Sacramento Bee.

Tom Steyer wants ‘answers’ for California gas price spike

When California lawmakers met last week to begin asking questions about the recent rise in gasoline prices, Tom Steyer took notice.

Steyer, the billionaire environmental activist and Democratic mega-donor, signed his name to a letter Monday sharing his appreciation for the Senate’s preliminary probe into why gas prices rose by more than $1 a gallon in early March.

Using one of his signature phrases, Steyer told Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León and colleagues that such inquiries are vital to giving consumers a “fair shake” at the pump.

Steyer and consumer advocates believe the market is rigged to benefit an oligopoly. The rules, they wrote, need to be changed to benefit consumers.

“Unfortunately,” the letter states, “the hearing raised more questions than it answered because those with the answers – representatives of the oil industry – refused to attend the hearing.”

via Tom Steyer wants ‘answers’ for California gas price spike – The Sacramento Bee.

Hertzberg uses futuristic lingo to push old ideas: taxing and spending

Is this a futuristic plan to increase upward mobility or the oldest idea in Sacramento: Increasing taxes to fund more government spending? “(Hertzberg’s) first bill is a huge, historic tax hike,” explained columnist George Skelton, who supports it. I disagree with his conclusion, but am glad someone finally is using words based in reality.

via Sen. Hertzberg uses futuristic lingo to push old ideas: taxing and spending – Steven Greenhut, San Diego Union-Tribune.

Just how big is government, anyway? Really, really, really big.

With Tax Day only two weeks away (haha, happy Monday morning!), it seems like an appropriate time to entertain a common non-Tax-Day-specific gripe: government is expensive and big and pays for things I don’t want. Very good; complaining about taxes and the size of government is timeless, if recently very much in vogue.

But how big is government, you might wonder? In a post at the liberal blog Daily Kos over the weekend, David Nir cited a 2012 book by Jennifer Lawless, “Becoming A Candidate,” to answer the question. We’re not going to spoil it for you. Instead, we’ll walk through it.

via Just how big is government, anyway? Really, really, really big. – The Washington Post.

Carly Fiorina, former head of HP, likely to seek Republican presidential nomination

Former technology executive Carly Fiorina says she is more than 90 percent likely to seek the Republican presidential nomination. and she is questioning the confidence people can have in likely Democratic contender Hillary Rodham Clinton.

On “Fox News Sunday,” Fiorina challenged several Clinton comments, including saying she used a personal email account for State Department work because it would be easier to carry one device than two. She said such statements raise a confidence issue about the former secretary of state, senator and first lady.

Fiorina also said Clinton is not candid. She said that “suggests her character is flawed.”

Fiorina, who has attacked Clinton before, is former CEO of the Hewlett-Packard Co. She lost a 2010 California race for the U.S. Senate.

via Carly Fiorina, former head of HP, likely to seek Republican presidential nomination – Los Angeles Daily News.

Federal study finds alarming use of antipsychotics among nation’s poor children, foster kids

When federal inspectors set out to examine how powerful antipsychotic drugs were being used on children in the nation’s public health systems, they found a 4-year-old on four psychiatric drugs, a 10-year-old prescribed without medical records, and a 16-year-old on six psych meds, including a prescription at double the maximum recommended dosage.

Poor children and foster kids covered by Medicaid are prescribed too many antipsychotic drugs, too young, for too long, and at the wrong dosages, according to an alarming new five-state review by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The department’s Office of the Inspector General report included California children in its in-depth look at hundreds of medical files and found “quality-of-care concerns” in two-thirds of cases. More than half the children nationwide were poorly monitored, even though the drugs can cause obesity, diabetes and irreversible tremors; more than 40 percent received the “wrong treatment;” and more than one-third simply got “too many drugs,” the report states.

via Federal study finds alarming use of antipsychotics among nation’s poor children, foster kids – Los Angeles Daily News.

PUC scandal stretches to UC Berkeley

PUC's Michael Peevey under scrutiny at Senate panel hearingThe growing scandal at the Public Utilities Commission in San Francisco has reached across the bay to UC Berkeley.

Money raised by a $250-a-plate retirement dinner for Michael Peevey, the former president of the California Public Utilities Commission, has become too hot to handle for the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley. The school was designated as the dinner’s charity.

But after PUC critics condemned the dinner and criticized the school’s role in it, Goldman’s dean announced that the school would not accept the contributions generated by the Peevey affair.

Peevey, who retired Dec. 31 after two six-year terms as PUC president, is at the center of a scandal involving improper communications between top PUC officials and regulated electric, natural gas, water and other utilities. Peevey has denied any wrongdoing but has not responded to requests for comment.

via PUC scandal stretches to UC Berkeley – LA Times.

California leaders routinely use private email

Gov. Jerry Brown, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and other top elected officials in California acknowledge using personal email accounts to conduct government business, and it’s not clear if their private exchanges are retained as public records or subject to disclosure.

An Associated Press survey of email use by the state’s four legislative leaders and eight top elected officers found a loose patchwork of practices under which private electronic conversations while on the job are alternately commonplace, infrequent or discouraged.

via California leaders routinely use private email – San Jose Mercury News.

Sierra Nevada snowpack hits historic low

The abominable snowpack in the Sierra Nevada reached an unprecedented low this week, dipping below the historic lows in 1977 and 2014 for the driest winter in 65 years of record-keeping.

Electronic surveys show the water content of the snow throughout the Sierra is a shocking 8 percent of the historical average for this time of year, by far the driest it has been since 1950, the year record-keeping began, because of the lack of rain and snowfall and the exceedingly high temperatures. It is a troubling milestone that water resources officials say is bound to get even lower as the skies remain stubbornly blue.

via California drought: Sierra Nevada snowpack hits historic low – San Francisco Chronicle.

California’s per-pupil spending hits the national average

One of the Capitol’s perpetual debates is over how much California spends to educate its 6.2 million elementary and high school students, especially in relationship to other states.

Education groups, led by the influential California Teachers Association, have complained for years that the state is near the bottom in per-pupil spending, but with recent and sharp increases in spending, California has climbed rapidly in state-to-state comparisons.

A new report by the National Education Association, the national teachers union, shows that California is now 29th in per-pupil spending, just a few dollars under the national average.

When all forms of school spending – such as capital outlay and repaying school construction bonds – are included in the calculations, California’s per-pupil spending hits the national average.

via Opinion: California’s schools gain in financing – The Sacramento Bee.

Despite Peevey’s departure, PUC scandal continues to grow

Michael Peevey’s announcement last fall that he would not seek reappointment to the California Public Utilities Commission appeared to offer closure to years of controversy surrounding his tenure.

The commission, which regulates California’s massive energy and telecommunications industries, had been shaken by revelations of back-channel communications with Pacific Gas and Electric Co. following a fatal gas line explosion in San Bruno in 2010.

In the months since Peevey left the PUC, however, the scandal that ushered him out of office continues to erupt.

via Probe of back-channel dealing continues at California PUC – The Sacramento Bee.

Seven lawmakers have committees for 2018 lieutenant governor’s race

State electionWith Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom termed out in 2018, seven current and former state legislators, including Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles), have opened committees to raise money for possible campaigns for lieutenant governor.

De Leon has begun fundraising in the last month for a possible candidacy, bringing in $42,000 from three Indian casino operators, a law enforcement group and the California Assn. of Health Underwriters PAC.

This a worthless statewide office. For years there has been discussions to remove this office in the California. Why don’t we start now to save money in this state by cutting this office and millions it costs to support it. You can have the Senate Pro Tem take office if the Governor can…

De Leon held a fundraiser on March 19 at Donovan’s Steakhouse in La Jolla, according to Jason Kinney, a spokesman for the senator. “Senator De Leon is currently and completely focused on leading the State Senate,” Kinney said. “This is however his final term in the Senate and he has opened a Lieutenant Governor 2018 Committee to explore his future political options.”

Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Glendale) has scheduled an April 9th fundraising dinner at the Kokkari Estiatorio Greek restaurant in San Francisco for his 2018 lieutenant governor committee and his 2016 state Senate campaign committee. He has raised more than $58,000 for the 2018 contest.

Gatto is committed to running for state Senate in 2016, said Parke Skelton, his political consultant. But if he loses the Senate race he could run for lieutenant governor two years later, Skelton said.

Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) reports having raised $88,000 for a campaign committee for lieutenant governor in 2018. Others who have formed committees include Sen. Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres), Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina), former Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) and GOP Rep. Jeff Denham of the Central Valley.

via Seven lawmakers have committees for 2018 lieutenant governor’s race – LA Times.

Recent election gains show Asian American voters’ power surge

Ted LieuFrom his new perch in Washington, Ted Lieu has suffered through an East Coast winter and other confounding indignities of life as a freshman member of the House from the party out of power. No matter, he says; he learned from his predecessor, the 40-year member Henry Waxman, that influence will be marked in years and decades, not the three months Lieu has spent in the capital.

For one of Lieu’s bases of support, however, a far swifter assertion of power is underway. The Torrance Democrat’s victory in November’s election was only one sign of the surge in importance of Asian American voters and Asian American politicians.

via Recent election gains show Asian American voters’ power surge – LA Times.

#PoliceState Update: LAPD ignores patrol car videos for officer misconduct

LAPD patrol car camerasThe Los Angeles Police Commission’s civilian watchdog released a report Friday faulting police department supervisors for not proactively checking in-car video recordings to monitor for officer misconduct.

Inspector General Alex Bustamante said police officials generally review recordings only when investigating “critical incidents” such as shootings and pursuits, or when a complaint is made against an officer.

LAPD’s in-car camera effort is lagging

Although the department checks to see whether the cameras were activated, Bustamante said, supervisors generally don’t look at what is captured on the videos or review them to assess officer conduct, tactics or decision-making. Doing so would be “too time-consuming and labor intensive,” according to the report.

Moving forward, Bustamante wrote, his office will conduct “regular and substantive reviews” of the recordings to help LAPD officials more routinely evaluate the use of the technology and officers’ actions.

LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith said the department was reviewing the inspector general’s findings, but declined to comment until the report was publicly presented to the Police Commission on Tuesday.

via LAPD not sufficiently checking patrol car videos for officer misconduct, audit finds – LA Times.

#PoliceState Update: LAPD is more diverse, but distrust in the community remains

Joe Chacon, Dan RiosThe sweeps came on Friday nights in South Los Angeles, often before big events like Raiders games. Police would round up young men they thought were gang members and hold them over the weekend to keep violence down, a campaign launched by then-Chief Daryl F. Gates to control “the rotten little cowards.”

Francisco McClure recalled being arrested several times, only to be released the following Monday mornings without being charged. For the young black man, the fact that most of the officers were white made the experience even more bitter.

The martial arts instructor, 50, these days sees more Latino and black faces patrolling his community of Jefferson Park, and he says the officers don’t hassle residents as much. He commends them for holding neighborhood forums and using more dashboard cameras.

But, he said, “they just cleaned up their act a little. Before it was white against blacks. Now it’s just blue against blacks.”

via LAPD is more diverse, but distrust in the community remains – LA Times.

LAUSD cops sucked up money that should have gone to teachers

Lawyers, metal workers and police employed by the Los Angeles Unified School District were among groups of employees who earned more on average than a typical teacher last year, according to recently released payroll records.

While certificated educators earned the lion’s share of all payroll in 2014 at about $2.48 billion, more than $966 million went to classified employees — a group that includes window washers to high-level administrators.

Among the bigger and higher paid groups of employees was the district’s police force. In the second largest department of school police in the nation, its 250 rank-and-file officers earned on average $87,399 last year.

An additional 26 detectives collected $106,015, while 44 sergeants earned $128,757 and 10 lieutenants received $135,984.50 on average. Police Chief Steven Zipperman earned $179,289, the data showed.

via LAUSD pays metal workers, lawyers, police better than teachers – Los Angeles Daily News.

Silicon Valley isn’t alone: Gender inequities persist on California Capitol payroll

Two days after actress Patricia Arquette made an impassioned call for women to be paid equally to men as she accepted an Academy Award last month in Hollywood, state legislators called a news conference in Sacramento to make the same demand.

“Equal pay for equal work is long overdue,” said state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, a Santa Barbara Democrat who chairs the Legislature’s women’s caucus.

“The time is now. It isn’t just the right thing for California women, it is the right thing for our economy and our state.”

via Gender inequities persist on California Capitol payroll – The Sacramento Bee.

When conventional wisdom slips

You have to love it when conventional wisdom is badly mistaken.

When insiders guess wrong, politics can go askew. A politician elected without establishment backing can turn out to have an independent streak. No telling what might happen then.

Select and elect, as Samish would say. Smart lobbyists do the same today. You’d better guess right, however.

via When conventional wisdom slips – Dan Morain, The Sacramento Bee.

Emergency relief bills use the water crisis to enhance state power

FILE - In this Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014 file photo, houseboats sit in the drought lowered waters of Oroville Lake, near Oroville, Calif. California voters overwhelmingly see the state's ongoing water shortage as a serious problem. A Field Poll released Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015 says 94 percent consider the shortage serious, and of those 68 percent find it extremely serious. California is entering its fourth year of drought with lower than normal rain and snow falling on the state that leads the nation in agriculture production. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)As the rainy season ends after little rainfall, Californians are well aware of the seriousness of the state’s three-year-old drought. Snowpack is down. Reservoirs are parched. So legislators this week voted in favor of a quickly assembled drought-relief package.

The centerpiece (AB 91) mainly speeds up the spending of more than $1.1 billion in already approved dollars for various programs. But critics says that it does more to expand the power of regulatory officials than to lessen the impact of the drought.

via Legislators not wasting a serious drought – Steven Greenhut, San Diego Union-Tribune.

Ouch! California lawmakers OK millions more for troubled tech project

Despite the Legislature’s concerns, a leading state lawmaker has authorized spending another $17.5 million on a flawed state computer system that has blasted its budget, fallen behind schedule and still doesn’t work as originally promised.

Next question: Who should pay for it?

In a letter to the Brown administration, Sen. Mark Leno, who chairs the Senate Budget Committee, said this week the Department of Consumer Affairs will get the money it requested a few months ago to shore up its BreEZe project.

While Leno said he won’t block the funds, he remains “concerned with (the Department of Consumer Affairs) management,” he wrote. The money, he stated, comes with the expectation of more updates to the Legislature.

When envisioned in 2009, the system was supposed to overhaul licensing and enforcement work for nearly 40 regulatory boards and bureaus for $28 million.

The system launched late. The public and government employees struggled to use it. As the problems mounted and costs rose, so did the system’s budget. The latest infusion of money puts the BreEZe budget at $96 million. Consumer Affairs will use the funds to finish a partial rollout by year’s end and then decide what to do next. Lawmakers decided that course was more prudent than forging ahead and running the risk of spending much more money to force a flawed project to conclusion. The department could have shut down the project immediately, but that would have left it obligated to pay the vendor tens of millions of dollars anyway.

via California lawmakers OK another $17.5 million for troubled tech project – The Sacramento Bee.

How gov’t aims to protect low-income users of ‘payday’ loans

Each month, more than 200,000 needy U.S. households take out what’s advertised as a brief loan.

Many have run out of money between paychecks. So they obtain a “payday” loan to tide them over. Problem is, such loans can often bury them in fees and debts. Their bank accounts can be closed, their cars repossessed.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau proposed rules Thursday to protect Americans from stumbling into what it calls a “debt trap.” At the heart of the plan is a requirement that payday lenders verify borrowers’ incomes before approving a loan.

The government is seeking to set standards for a multibillion-dollar industry that has historically been regulated only at the state level.

“The idea is pretty common sense: If you lend out money, you have to first make sure that the borrower can afford to pay it back,” President Barack Obama said in a speech in Birmingham, Alabama. “But if you’re making that profit by trapping hard-working Americans into a vicious cycle of debt, you’ve got to find a new business model.”

via How gov’t aims to protect low-income users of ‘payday’ loans – San Francisco Examiner.

Majority of Californians ready to legalize marijuana, new poll confirms

A historic new majority of Californians are ready to legalize cannabis, a new poll from Public Policy Institute of California finds.

PPIC reports that 55 percent of likely California voters want to replace marijuana prohibition — which has failed — with a system that taxes, and regulates the state’s multi-billion cannabis industry.

via Majority of Californians ready to legalize marijuana, new poll confirms – San Francisco Chronicle.

#PoliceState Update: The public wants justice in the case of woman executed by #SFPD

Family members of a woman fatally shot by San Francisco police are calling for an investigation into whether the plainclothes officers who shot her had properly identified themselves when they approached her car, a family attorney said Monday.

Police say the officers shot Alice Brown, 24, after she sped away from a gas station at Van Ness Avenue and Pine Street, crashing into vehicles and a building, turning around and driving down a one-way street in the wrong direction and posing a danger to other motorists.

But at a town hall meeting Monday, attorney DeWitt Lacy said he was looking into the possibility that Brown reacted erratically because she did not know the intentions of the two men — identified by Police Chief Greg Suhr as Sgt. Thomas Maguire and Officer Michael Tursi — who were chasing her.

“There is some suggestion that the officers had not properly identified themselves as officers and were plainclothes officers,” Lacy said, as Brown’s aunt, brother, cousin and family friends stood behind him.

Lacy said some eyewitnesses reported that they did not see identification on Maguire and Tursi and that they “didn’t know whether they were attackers or carjackers.”

via S.F. meeting over police shooting shut down by protests – San Francisco Chronicle.

Wow!!! U.S. drug agents attended drug cartels’ sex parties, report says

A federal watchdog on Thursday faulted the Drug Enforcement Administration over allegations that agents attended sex parties with prostitutes on government-leased property while stationed overseas.

The sex parties are just one example of questionable behavior highlighted in a report by the Justice Department inspector general that examines the department’s handling of sexual harassment and misconduct allegations from 2009 to 2012.

It said some allegations were not fully investigated or went unreported to headquarters. It also criticized poor communication among internal affairs investigators assigned to look into the bad behavior and security officers responsible for the security clearance process. And it said the FBI and DEA balked at requests for information, to the point that investigators “cannot be completely confident” that they got complete information.

The report chronicles varied allegations of other inappropriate sexual behavior — from unwanted advances to relationships between a supervisor and a subordinate — involving employees of the federal law enforcement agencies within the Justice Department. Those include the FBI, DEA, U.S. Marshals Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

One section recounts allegations that DEA agents attended sex parties with prostitutes, funded by local drug cartels, in a foreign county. Those claims came to light in a series of interviews with foreign police officers by DEA internal affairs investigators in 2009 and 2010. The parties were allegedly arranged over the course of several years by a foreign officer, who also alleged that several agents were provided with money, expensive gifts and weapons.

via U.S. drug agents attended drug cartels’ sex parties, report says.

#PoliceState Update: Hideous Modesto cop sentenced for raping daughter

A 19-year-old woman stood up in court Thursday afternoon and told the judge she wishes the past several years were a nightmare from which she could wake up.

“Unfortunately, my father raped me and molested me,” said the young woman, who is referred to in court as Jane Doe. “It is reality; there is no waking up.”

She spoke in court moments before her father, Robert Hodges, was sentenced to five years in prison for sexually abusing her when she was 15 years old.

Stanislaus Superior Court Judge Thomas Zeff also ordered Hodges, a former Modesto police sergeant, to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

The judge said his sentence was based on the aggravating factors that the victim was vulnerable, the defendant took advantage of a position of trust, and the defendant’s attitude toward the offense.

A jury late last month found Hodges guilty of four felony sexual abuse charges.

via Daughter speaks before former police sergeant sentenced for sex abuse – The Modesto Bee.

Assembly Republicans revamp caucus operations in bid to woo voters

Kristin OlsenRepublicans in the California Assembly, apparently resigned to the party’s diminished influence in Capitol policy debates, will announce Thursday that they will focus less on trying to sway Democratic legislators and more on winning over voters.

The lawmakers said they would enlarge their communications operation, adding specialists in social media and in outreach to Latinos and Asian Americans.

As part of the reorganization, they will consolidate some functions and eliminate eight consulting and clerical positions.

State GOP, emerging from denial, is taking steps to recovery

The revamp is the most recent sign of the embattled Republican Party’s efforts to claw back to relevance in a state, and state Legislature, dominated by Democrats.

“We have to accept the playing field for us has changed and put our resources into tactics that move the ball for Republicans,” said Assembly GOP leader Kristin Olsen of Modesto.

via Assembly Republicans revamp caucus operations in bid to woo voters – LA Times.

#PoliceState Update: Lancaster father of fugitive LAPD officer arrested for allegedly lying about helping son flee

The father of a former Los Angeles Police Department officer wanted for the fatal shooting of a man in Pomona was arrested today for allegedly lying to FBI agents after helping his son flee to Mexico.

Victor Solis, 53, is accused of telling agents that he drove his son — now-fired Officer Henry Solis, 27 — to Texas and dropped him off at a bus station in El Paso. Henry Solis is wanted in connection with the March 13 shooting death of Salome Rodriguez Jr., 23.

Victor Solis told agents he traveled alone to Mexico on March 14, “… when in truth and in fact the defendant traveled to Mexico with his son on March 14, 2015, and the defendant’s false statement was an attempt to conceal his son’s whereabouts from law enforcement,” according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in El Paso.

via Lancaster father of fugitive LAPD officer arrested for allegedly lying about helping son flee.

Leftists say $1 billion isn’t enough: State drought relief package falls short, conservation advocates say

Drought-Stricken California Community Close To Running Out Of WaterNot only will the $1-billion spending plan approved by lawmakers Thursday provide little immediate relief to drought-stricken Californians, state leaders are missing an opportunity to take more decisive action to restrict water use, conservation advocates said.

“Until we have statewide mandatory restrictions … we’re not going to see the kind of cutbacks the governor has called for,” said Conner Everts of the Environmental Water Caucus, which promotes sustainable water management.

Poll: Your neighbors probably think you’re a water waster

Brown set a goal of a 20% reduction in water use, but Californians reduced consumption by just 8.8% in January.

via State drought relief package falls short, conservation advocates say – LA Times.

Censorship of evil idea also wrong for ‘killing’ initiative

California’s political commentariat is vigorously debating whether Attorney General Kamala Harris should refuse to process a proposed ballot measure that would legalize murder of gays.

Some argue that as odious as it may be, Harris cannot block the “Sodomite Suppression Act” by an Orange County attorney because state law says that issuing a title and summary is a ministerial duty she can’t shirk.

The measure, others argue, so outrageously violates civilized principle that Harris is morally bound to strangle it. And Harris, who’s running for the U.S. Senate, agrees. Calling it “utterly reprehensible,” she’s asking a judge to allow rejection.

A third view is that it may be a satiric – or sick – joke along the lines of Jonathan Swift’s “modest proposal” that Ireland’s 18th century problems be solved by selling its children for food. But since no one can contact the sponsor for a rationale, we don’t know.

The fourth from this corner is that were Harris to kill the measure and make it stick legally, it could have dangerous repercussions. It could make her and her successors censors of anything they didn’t want on the ballot.

via Censorship of evil idea also wrong for ‘killing’ initiative – The Sacramento Bee.

The #GOP continues its drift towards irrelevancy: The troubling implications of believing our rights don’t come from God

CNN anchor Chris Cuomo recently declared: “Our rights do not come from God.”

Then this week, Sen. Ted Cruz’s assertion that “our rights don’t come from man, they come from God Almighty” came under scrutiny when Meredith Shiner, a Yahoo reporter, tweeted: “Bizarre to talk about how rights are God-made and not man-made in your speech announcing a POTUS bid? When Constitution was man-made?”

I am astounded by how many people in this country (and particularly in the media) don’t believe the Declaration of Independence’s assertion that all men are “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.” The Declaration of Independence also refers to “The Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.” Believing that our laws are God-given, and not man-made, has become something that secular liberals seem to take joy in openly mocking. As if there were something inherently funny or backwards about faith. As if there were something hollow and foolish about believing in God.

via The troubling implications of believing our rights don’t come from God.

Bill seeks direct arms shipments to Kurds

A bipartisan House bill would let the Obama administration ship U.S. arms directly to Iraqi Kurds to aid their fight against the Islamic State, but also potentially bolstering their ability to seek independence.

The legislation introduced Thursday by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce, R-Calif., and Eliot Engel of New York, the panel’s ranking Democrat, would allow the direct shipment of arms to the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government, and states that it would be the policy of the United States to arm the Kurds directly. The authority would expire in three years.

The Kurds currently are being supplied with U.S. weapons — and U.S. troops are in Iraqi Kurdistan training and advising Kurdish peshmerga forces — but all assistance is being funneled through the central government in Baghdad and there are limits on supplies of heavy weapons. This is a matter of concern for many lawmakers, who say Baghdad is lagging in keeping them supplied with what they need.

via Bill seeks direct arms shipments to Kurds – WashingtonExaminer.com.

Senate Passes GOP Budget After Late-Night Debate

The Senate early Friday passed a Republican budget plan that would cut spending by $5.1 trillion over 10 years, raise military funding and repeal Obamacare.

The non-binding budget, debated all week and passed 52-46 during a 15-hour marathon session before the Easter recess, gives Republicans another crack at repealing the Affordable Care Act, probably through a process known as reconciliation, and increases defense spending while slashing funds in other areas, including education and health care. The House passed a similar spending plan Wednesday.

An aide to Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) said they were cautiously optimistic the budget would pass in the final hours leading up to the 3:30 a.m. vote. Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) broke party lines and voted against it. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) voted for it.

via Senate Passes GOP Budget After Late-Night Debate – Huffington Post.

Lawmakers intent on overhaul after oil regulators’ lapses

Wastewater pitsThe agency that regulates the oil industry in California is — by its own admission — in disarray. After a series of embarrassing disclosures about regulatory lapses that allowed drilling in protected aquifers, officials at the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources are trying to untangle years of chaotic operation.

But the fixes aren’t happening fast enough to satisfy many state lawmakers. In recent weeks, elected officials have publicly chided the agency, launched their own investigations and introduced at least a half-dozen bills that aim to recast DOGGR’s mission to prioritize protecting public health and the environment over promoting energy development.

“The Legislature is going to be very engaged on this entire subject, relating to the safe operation of oil and gas drilling,” said Sen. Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills). “We are not going to advance one industry over the health and safety of other industries and the citizens of California.”

Pavley introduced a bill that would overhaul DOGGR and the agency’s troubled Underground Injection Control program. It would require disclosure of records that detail the chemicals and techniques used to extract oil and the waste those operations produce.

via Lawmakers intent on overhaul after oil regulators’ lapses – LA Times.

Payday lenders get slammed again…Consumer financial bureau cracking down

Agency aims to crack down on payday lendersFederal regulators are launching a major crackdown on payday and other short-term, high-interest lenders by proposing tough new regulations to halt the cycle of debt that cripples some consumers.

The planned rules from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau would require lenders to determine a borrower’s ability to repay and to limit how often a consumer can roll over existing loans into new ones.

The proposed regulations are designed to keep cash-strapped Americans from falling into what the agency describes as a predatory debt trap in which they must take out new loans to pay off the old ones — ultimately paying more in fees than the original amount they borrowed.

via Consumer financial bureau cracking down on payday lenders – LA Times.

500,000 more will be able to apply for Medi-Cal under Obama’s deportation relief plan

President ObamaPresident Obama’s executive actions on immigration, which have sparked a fierce political backlash nationwide, could also provide an unlikely boost for another of his goals: increasing health insurance signups.

Immigrants living in the U.S. without permission can’t enroll in Obamacare, but an unusual policy in California allows those granted temporary relief from deportation to sign up for Medi-Cal.

That means up to half a million more Californians could apply for the state’s low-income health program, according to data released Wednesday by UC Berkeley and UCLA.

via Medi-Cal rolls could swell under Obama’s deportation relief plan – LA Times.

Kamala Harris seeks to block ‘kill the gays’ ballot measure

California Attorney General Kamala Harris asked a court Wednesday to intervene and allow her to block an incendiary planned ballot measure authorizing the killing of gays and lesbians.

Calling the proposed “Sodomite Suppression Act” patently unconstitutional and utterly reprehensible, Harris filed a request with the Superior Court in Sacramento seeking to be relieved of her ministerial duty to prepare a title and summary for the measure before it advances to the signature-gathering stage.

Harris argues that readying it for circulation would waste state resources, generate unnecessary divisions and mislead the public.

“This is not about whether we like something or not, or whether we simply find it offensive or troubling,” Harris said.

“In this case, we are talking about a proposal that literally is calling for violence. It’s calling for vigilantism. It’s calling for the public to be able to shoot in the head a member of the LGBT community.

Huntington Beach attorney Matt McLaughlin paid $200 to file the measure. It refers to “sodomy” as “a monstrous evil” and specifies that anyone who touches another person of the same gender for sexual gratification be put to death by “bullets to the head” or “any other convenient method.”

via Kamala Harris seeks to block ‘kill the gays’ ballot measure – The Sacramento Bee.

Cali @GOP can’t block drought relief bill

In this Nov. 17, 2014 file photo, boat slips sit on the dry lake bed at Brown's Marina at Folsom Lake, near Folsom Calif.Responding to a drought that shows no sign of abating as it enters a fourth year, the California State Senate on Wednesday advanced a $1.1 billion relief package that mostly allocates previously approved funds.

“There’s something in this for every community that has a dramatic need about drought, and that’s all of us,” said Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis.

Senators approved Assembly bills 91 and 92 on votes of 35-1 and 24-14, respectively, after Republicans deliberated in a lengthy caucus meeting and then castigated the bill for broadening government powers over water. The Assembly expects to take up the measures Thursday, after which the package would go to Gov. Jerry Brown if passed.

via Senate approves California drought relief bill amid Republican complaints | The Sacramento Bee The Sacramento Bee.

Can California government stop the string of tech failures?

California state government has a long, perplexing history of bungled technology projects.

In just the last few years, officials killed an effort to update the state’s ancient payroll system after spending nearly a decade and $250 million; the Department of Motor Vehicles abandoned an upgrade of its vehicle registration program; and the judiciary cancelled a new case management system after burning through half a billion dollars.

Meanwhile, lawmakers are sifting through the wreckage of the Department of Consumer Affairs’ troubled BreEZe project, and the University of California is currently trying to gets its payroll upgrade, already two years behind schedule and $50 million over budget, back on track.

How does this keep happening – in the home state of Silicon Valley no less?

via Can California government stop the string of tech failures? – The Sacramento Bee.

Rat Bergdahl charged with desertion

The Army has charged Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl with desertion, his lawyer said Wednesday, reigniting the debate over whether President Obama paid too high a price to secure his release from the Taliban.

Bergdahl’s lawyer, Eugene Fidell, told The Hill that the solider has been charged with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy under two articles of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Bergdahl, 28, went missing from his base while serving in Paktika province in Afghanistan in 2009 and was captured by the Taliban.

Obama secured his release from the Taliban last year by releasing five detainees from Guantánamo Bay but did not notify Congress about the swap ahead of time, outraging lawmakers.

via Bergdahl charged with desertion – TheHill.

Feckless DC pols…War budget might be permanent ‘slush fund’

The practice of slipping unrelated or pet projects into spending bills for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — from new helicopters to fighter aircraft — has long been derided as deceptive and financially irresponsible.

But now lawmakers have taken the budget gimmickry to a whole new level — no longer even pretending that billions of dollars in additional war spending would go to fight Islamic State militants and the Taliban.

via War budget might be permanent ‘slush fund’ – POLITICO.

Is doing your taxes on-line safe? TurboTax customers had refunds stolen after they filed

Michelle Quinn filed her tax return in January and got the good news that she was due a refund of about $8,000.

But days after the refund was supposed to arrive, the 33-year-old mother of three still didn’t see the cash in her bank account. When Quinn logged onto TurboTax, she learned that her refund had in fact been deposited — into someone else’s bank.

These cases highlight the different ways that people can cheat the system after accessing a person’s online tax account or obtaining sensitive tax information. The IRS and state tax officials, which are ultimately responsible for determining if a tax return is fraudulent, are struggling to keep up with the rising sophistication of online tax criminals.

So are online tax preparation firms. A spike in suspicious state filings through TurboTax earlier this season caused the company to temporarily halt the transmission of state returns and gained the attention of Congress, the FBI and the Justice Department, which launched probes into tax fraud. State tax authorities say that the fraud isn’t unique to any one tax preparation Web site.

via Some TurboTax customers had refunds stolen after they filed – The Washington Post.

Another Government Failure: F.B.I. Lagging Behind U.S. Terrorism Threat, Report Says

The F.B.I. urgently needs to improve its intelligence capabilities and hire more linguists to counter the rapidly evolving threats to the United States, according to a report released on Wednesday that examined the bureau’s progress since the Sept. 11 attacks.

The report by the F.B.I. 9/11 Review Commission said that the bureau had made great strides in its intelligence collection and sharing, but that its ability to gain information from people and to analyze it lags “behind marked advances in law enforcement capabilities.”

“This imbalance needs urgently to be addressed to meet growing and increasingly complex national security threats, from adaptive and increasingly tech-savvy terrorists, more brazen computer hackers, and more technically capable, global cyber syndicates,” the report said.

via F.B.I. Lagging Behind U.S. Terrorism Threat, Report Says – New York Times.

#Brutal cop fired: Panel upholds firing of police officer Manney in Hamilton case

A panel of three Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission members unanimously upheld the firing of Christopher Manney, finding Monday night that he violated Milwaukee Police Department rules during his encounter with Dontre Hamilton.

Manney was fired after the fatal on-duty shooting of Hamilton, 31, at Red Arrow Park on April 30.

Commissioners Sarah Morgan, Kathryn Hein and Steven M. DeVougas made their decision after five days of testimony in the appeal hearing.

The panel’s decision brought tears to the eyes of Nate Hamilton, Dontre’s brother.

“Dontre has no voice no more, but today he spoke. Dontre spoke. He continues to speak through us, through the community, through change,” Hamilton said.

“The police officers, we’re not saying that all of them are bad, but you have to remove those that are,” Hamilton said as he stood with his mother, Maria Hamilton, and brother Dameion Perkins.

“You have to hold those accountable that aren’t doing and following the procedures of the Milwaukee Police Department,” he continued.

Manney should not get his job back, Nate Hamilton said.

via Panel upholds firing of police officer Manney in Hamilton case – Milwaukee Journal.

Anti-fracking protesters rally outside Long Beach workshop

The question of how the state’s petroleum companies should dispose of wastewater that comes from the ground mixed with newly pumped crude oil attracted a gathering of anti-fracking protesters in Long Beach on Tuesday.

The meeting between regulators and industry figures was not technically focused on “fracking,” which is more properly known as hydraulic fracturing and involves the use of pressurized water and chemicals to break up rocks to access oil resources. Instead, it was described as a workshop to instruct oil companies on how to obtain permits to dispose of wastewater underground in what are known as injection wells.

The workshop was held after state regulators at the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources promised federal regulators they would improve oversight of injection wells.

For environmentalists, concerns over fracking overlap with the disposal of wastewater: They believe both oil industry practices risk groundwater contamination.

via Anti-fracking protesters rally outside Long Beach workshop – Los Angeles Daily News.

Big oil scam or just stupid government policies? Gas price swings prompt questions about Cali’s market

State lawmakers on Tuesday questioned the recent wild swings in California’s gas prices and asked whether regulators can do more to reduce market volatility while government promotes alternative fuels to increase competition.

“How can such a well-functioning market be subject to such volatility?” asked Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose, who helped lead the legislative hearing in Sacramento.

California has experienced one of the largest price swings in recent history. State energy officials said two refineries that make up 17 percent of the state’s crude-oil processing capacity remain offline after a recent plant explosion and labor dispute.

Gas prices surged as much as 25 cents a gallon last month after an explosion stopped gasoline production at an Exxon Mobil refinery in Torrance, a plant that provides about 10 percent of the state’s gasoline supply. At that time, Tesoro’s oil refinery in Martinez, in Northern California, also wasn’t producing oil because of labor unrest.

The average statewide price for regular gas was $3.27 on Monday, according to the California Energy Commission. That’s compared to $2.46 for the national average, meaning Californians are paying 81 cents more per gallon.

via Gas price swings prompt questions about California’s market – Long Beach Press-Telegram.

Leftists continue their crusade to destroy charter schools…latest report puts focus on financial fraud

California’s 1,100 charter schools are subject to insufficient financial oversight, lax practices that leave the door wide open to fraud, mismanagement and abuse, according to a report released Tuesday by a trio of education policy groups.

Since the first charter school opened in 1992, state or local officials have uncovered more than $81 million in fraud or mismanagement. But that’s probably the tip of a very big iceberg, according to the report released by Public Advocates, Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment and the Center for Popular Democracy.

The report’s authors estimate that charter school fraud could be closer to $100 million in 2015 alone, based on methodology cited the Association for Certified Fraud Examiners 2014 Report to Nations on Occupational Fraud and Abuse.

“Charter schools promised to innovate and show best practices for schools — but is this how they are living up to that promise? This is not an example of how schools should work – this is an example of what not to do,” said Martha Sanchez, a parent and community leader with the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment.

via Report: Lax oversight leaves charter schools vulnerable to fraud – San Francisco Chronicle.

California Legislative Women’s Caucus bills target gender pay gaps, child care

The California Legislative Women’s Caucus announced a package of bills Tuesday aimed at improving the lives of working women by requiring employers to justify pay gaps among male and female employees and increase state-subsidized child care by $600 million.

The bills would also create more stability in work schedules and eliminate a rule that prohibits additional CalWORKS benefits for children born while a family is already receiving welfare assistance.

Lawmakers said the bills are needed to address the changing economic roles of women, who make up half of the state’s workforce, but who typically earn less than their male coworkers and struggle to find affordable childcare.

via CA bills target gender pay gaps, child care – San Francisco Chronicle.

More #racist cops: “Empire” star says her son was racially profiled at USC

Actress Taraji P. Henson says her 20-year-old son is transferring to Howard University after being racially profiled by police at the University of Southern California.

The “Empire” star made the comments in the latest issue of Uptown magazine, which features her on the cover.

Henson said her son, Marcel, was stopped by police on the Los Angeles campus “for having his hands in his pockets.” She said he now plans to attend her alma mater, the historically black Howard University in Washington, D.C.

The chief of USC’s Department of Public Safety said in a statement Tuesday that any allegation of unequal treatment by university officers would trigger an investigation. Chief John Thomas said he was racially profiled as a teenager and was “deeply disturbed” to learn that Henson’s son felt profiled because of his race.

A publicist for Henson asked for privacy for her son Tuesday and said there would be no further comment.

via Taraji P. Henson says her son was racially profiled at USC – San Francisco Chronicle.

Automatic voter registration sought in California

Every eligible Californian would be automatically registered to vote under legislation Secretary of State Alex Padilla is exploring.

“If government knows who’s here, who’s 18, who’s a citizen, why go through hoops?” Padilla said in an interview. “Let’s just register folks automatically.”

The proposal follows Oregon’s new, first-in-the-nation policy sending ballots to every citizen who has made contact with the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. Padilla was elected to his post last year after a campaign in which he vowed to expand California’s often-miniscule voter participation rates. In addition to the many voters who stay home on Election Day, Padilla’s office estimated that nearly 7 million people eligible to vote have not signed up to do so.

Since federal law already requires Department of Motor Vehicles offices to give customers the option of registering, Padilla said, it would be logical to make the registration automatic. Other state agencies that retain information showing eligibility could potentially perform the same function, he said, and the law would ideally allow people to opt out.

via Automatic voter registration sought in California – The Sacramento Bee.

CSU faculty set stage to push for raise

As it prepares to reopen contract negotiations in May, the California State University’s faculty union has launched a campaign arguing that workers’ salaries have not kept up with the times.

In a series of reports, the California Faculty Association makes the case that the average CSU faculty salary has lost purchasing power over the past decade, with more money shifted to administrators and other purposes. The second of four reports, released Tuesday, asserts that while the CSU budget grew by a third between 2004 and 2014, spending on managers and supervisors went up by 48 percent, compared to 25 percent for faculty.

The report also states that the number of managers and supervisors system-wide grew by about 19 percent during that time, while the number of tenure-track faculty fell by 3 percent. CSU increasingly turned to part-time professors as it looked to cut costs during the recession.

The faculty association pointedly blames the university.

“Those trends cannot be explained by simply pointing to external factors; rather, they are the result of administrative choices based on administrative priorities,” it wrote in the report’s executive summary. “Over at least the last decade, CSU administrators, like many corporate executives, have consistently and vigorously prioritized those at the top of the organizational hierarchy, while others in the CSU have been left to languish.”

via CSU faculty set stage to push for raise – The Sacramento Bee.

Cha-ching! Cali Dems give snazzy party favor to donors

How’s this for a party favor?

Goody bags given to lobbyists and other politicos who attended California Senate Democrats’ annual golf fundraiser in San Diego over the weekend included an order form for an Apple Watch.

“An iProTemCup Gift For You,” said the form asking recipients to pick from 10 different colors and sizes of the snazzy new gadget that Apple is releasing next month. “Your gift will be ordered the day of public release.”

A gift bag containing a hot electronic gadget is common for guests at the annual fundraisers thrown by legislative leaders at seaside golf resorts, where wealthy interest groups that give political donations send representatives to mingle with lawmakers.

The Assembly Democrats’ Speakers Cup is scheduled for May 1 at Pebble Beach. Last year’s Pro Tem Cup was canceled after two senators were indicted in separate public corruption cases and Democratic leaders were eager to separate themselves from the collection of money.

via California Democrats give snazzy party favor to donors – The Sacramento Bee.

#PoliceState Update: The #Ferguson cops simply shredded the Bill of Rights

A video journalist arrested while covering the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, after Michael Brown was fatally shot last summer plans to fight the charges at trial.

St. Louis-based videographer Mary Moore said she wants her reputation, and her criminal record, cleared. Moore was among 13 people taken into custody during a demonstration outside Ferguson police headquarters in early October, and was charged with municipal violations.

Protests have continued since Brown, who was black and unarmed, was shot and killed Aug. 9 by then-Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. Moore is one of an estimated two dozen journalists from around the world and among the hundreds of people who’ve been arrested in Ferguson.

Moore, whose videos have been used by The Associated Press, TV networks and other news organizations, is among the few journalists to actually go to court. She was charged with failure to comply, failure to disperse and resisting arrest. She said she was not part of the protest, but was simply documenting it on video.

Ferguson’s city attorney said Tuesday that Moore was “was participating in the protest and attempted to interfere … by locking arms with other protesters.”

“There was no resisting,” Moore said Monday in a phone interview. “I’m not an idiot.”

via Journalist Arrested In Ferguson: I Didn’t Resist, ‘I’m Not An Idiot’.