Nice call your honor: Judge says Kamala Harris can punt on the gay murder initiative

Attorney General Kamala Harris does not need to advance a widely reviled ballot initiative authorizing the murder of homosexuals, a Sacramento Superior Court has ruled.

The so-called Sodomite Suppression Act has been condemned across the political spectrum. It has prompted both legislation seeking to raise the initiative filing fee and a debate about whether the attorney general can halt clearly unconstitutional ideas contained in citizen initiatives.

Saying she did not want to be “in the position of giving any legitimacy” to the initiative, Harris asked to be relieved of her official duty of preparing the measure’s title and summary, a necessary step before proponents can collect signatures. Judge Raymond M. Cadei granted that request in a Monday decision that became public today, effectively halting the initiative’s progress.

via Court says Kamala Harris can block gay murder initiative – The Sacramento Bee.

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Nope, no new gun laws coming from Washington

guns

No new laws restricting access to guns will be passed as a result of Wednesday’s racist shooting rampage, which left nine dead at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Americans can be confident this is true for several reasons.

via Why gun control is doomed – The Economist.

The Tobacco Industry’s next big thing: Hooking kids on e-cigarettes

While e-cigarettes are still a tiny fraction of the U.S. tobacco market, they’re a fast-growing part of an industry that has seen broad declines in regular cigarette use.

The Big Three tobacco companies have embraced the technology in recent years, buying up existing e-cigarette makers or launching their own products.

via Alarmed at rising teen e-cigarette use, Hawaii raises smoking age to 21 – Washington Post.

America’s leaders are doing great financially…everyone else, not so good

With people less worried these days about losing their jobs, Americans are feeling much better about their finances. Yet after the bills are paid, many people struggle to keep extra cash in the bank.

Roughly one in four, or 29 percent, of people don’t have money set aside to cover emergencies, up from 26 percent last year, according to an annual survey from Bankrate.com. The findings pointed to the lowest saving rates seen in five years. “This is the money that helps you sleep at night,” says Greg McBride, chief financial analyst for Bankrate.com. “You know if something unplanned arises, you’ve got money squirreled away to cover it.”

Many of the people who had savings didn’t have enough money to get them through a serious emergency or prolonged period of unemployment. About 20 percent of people said their savings would not last longer than three months, the amount often recommended by financial planners.

via A quarter of Americans are one emergency away from financial ruin – Washington Post.

Court ruling sheds more light on San Francisco’s bigot cops

SF Examiner file photoAttorneys representing San Francisco police officers facing termination over bigoted text messages are hailing a Superior Court decision Monday they say will shed light on why authorities did nothing about the matter for years.

At issue in the explosive case is whether police officials knew about the bigoted messages but didn’t act until it was too to take action. Lawyers representing the eight officers don’t trust the department’s version of events and thus do not believe the Police Commission would properly handle the statute of limitations question.

via Attorneys for SF cops in text message scandal hail Superior Court decision – San Francisco Examiner.

Cali happy with Common Core

While the Common Core education standards provoked political backlash and testing boycotts around the country this year, the state that educates more public school children than any other — California — was conspicuously absent from the debate.

Gov. Jerry Brown and California’s elected K-12 schools chief are united in their support of the embattled benchmarks. The heads of the state’s teachers’ unions, universities and business groups are on board, too.

More than one-quarter of the 12 million students who were supposed to take new online tests linked to the standards this spring were Californians, but the technical glitches and parent-led opt-out campaigns that roiled the exams’ rollout elsewhere did not surface widely here.

via Common Core’s smooth debut in California – Mercury News.

Bay Area poll: Are the good times coming to an end?

Bay Area residents see the region’s economy as robust but may be starting to fear that the boom will start to cool a bit before long, according to a new poll released Tuesday.

“There’s a lot of attention on how hot the tech sector is, but there may be a concern that we are reaching a high water mark here,” said Rufus Jeffris, spokesman for the Bay Area Council, which released the report as part of its 2015 annual poll of residents in the nine-county region.

About 24 percent of Bay Area residents listed the California drought as the top concern for the region, the poll determined.

via Bay Area poll: Economic boom may be reaching plateau – Mercury News.

Vote by mail is the best way for California

It is a dismal statistic indeed, and we understand the handwringing about it, having done some of it ourselves.

The secretary would like to see a voting system based on Oregon’s in which the state of California would send ballots to every registered voter, who could then either mail them back, drop them off or use an old-fashioned voting machine at one of the (far fewer) remaining polling places.

via California should endorse vote-by-mail plan – Los Angeles Daily News.

Farmers ignoring water rationing deadline…

A majority of farmers and others holding some of California’s strongest claims to water have missed a deadline to confirm they stopped pumping from rivers and streams, state officials said Monday.

Data show less than a third of the farmers, water districts and communities responded to the broadest conservation order for those with nearly ironclad water rights by the State Water Resources Control Board.

The board’s order earlier this month affected 277 century-old rights to water from the Sacramento, San Joaquin and delta watersheds in the agriculture-rich Central Valley. State officials expect to demand even more of these senior water rights holders to stop diverting water as rivers and streams run too dry to meet demand in California’s fourth year of drought.

via California: Many Farmers Miss Deadline To Report Water Cuts – CBS News.

Notorious secret talks between utilities, CPUC should be banned

The ability of Pacific Gas and Electric Co. and other utilities to engage in back-channel talks with top California Public Utilities Commission officials unfairly skews decisions in favor of big-money interests, and the practice should be banned in rate cases, a review requested by the state agency concluded Monday.

Such back-door communications became notorious last year when e-mails showed that a PG&E executive had engaged in a secret campaign to obtain a preferred judge in a $1.3 billion rate-setting case before the utilities commission. Those and other back-channel contacts — known as ex parte communications — are the focus of federal and state criminal investigations into whether commission officials violated influence-peddling or other laws.

via Report blasts secret talks between utilities, CPUC – SFGate.

Legislators love sunlight, unless it shines on them

California legislators are steadfast champions of transparency in government – until it comes to themselves.

If applied to local governments and other state agencies, the Legislature says taxpayers and voters have a right to attend open meetings where decisions are made, access public documents and otherwise enjoy the protections of “sunshine laws.”

But as last week amply demonstrated, lawmakers reserve the right to draft major sections of the state budget in secret and bring it to a vote with little or no time for review, even by members of the minority party.

Read more here: There’s very little sunshine in California’s Capitol – Merced Sun-Star.

Labor ruling is a threat to the broader tech economy

FILE - In this photo taken Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2014, a man leaves the headquarters of Uber in San Francisco. A ruling filed Tuesday, June 16, 2015 in the case of a single Uber driver could have much broader implications for the popular ride-hailing service and for companies like it that rely on part-time workers for on-demand services. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)A few months ago, my wife and I wanted to build a small office addition to our house. Because of the nature of the project, we decided to skip the handyman and do it “right” — i.e., hire a licensed contractor who pays workers’ compensation, follows state labor rules and files all the necessary permits.

Suffice it to say, I’m still sharing the garage office with my cat given the cost of the estimates. This experience jumped to mind after a California labor commission ruled this month on the unrelated topic of Uber — the “ride-sharing” company that has become a bogeyman to some folks in the Capitol and the bureaucracy.

It looks like state labor rules could end up crushing this burgeoning industry just as all the costly rules may have helped crush my dream of some extra space.

via State takes aim at Uber’s business model – UTSanDiego.com.

GOP finally coming to grips with the fact that the South lost the war

Republicans are finally realizing that the Civil War is over, the South lost, and it’s time to welcome African-Americans, Hispanics, and other minorities into the American family.

It may not be because Republicans have come to realize that the Constitution applies to everyone…more likely it’s because the GOP has come to realize that you can’t win national elections without them.

Republicans stumble through Confederate flag debate – Politico.

Supremes tell #PoliceState to knock off the motel raids

supremesThe Supreme Court has struck down a Los Angeles ordinance that permits the police to check guest registries at motels and hotels at any hour of the day or night.

The 5-4 decision upheld a ruling of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that vacated the law, saying it authorized unreasonable searches.

via Supreme Court strikes down Los Angeles motel registry law – LA Times.

California Native Son Spearheading Criminal-Justice Reform

Pat Nolan did not emerge from prison any less conservative, but he says he experienced a profound disillusionment, which has led him to play a central role in a cause that is only now finding its moment.

These days, it is hard to ignore a rising conservative clamor to rehabilitate the criminal-justice system.

via The Conservative Spearheading Criminal-Justice Reform – The New Yorker.

Ronald Reagan’s time as Cali gov often overlooked…

A statue of Ronald Reagan will be unveiled in the California state Capitol rotunda Monday. It’s funded by private donations under a law signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2012. Much has been said of Reagan’s legacy as president – but as his time as California governor often goes overlooked.

via Ronald Reagan’s Nuanced Legacy as California Governor – capradio.org.

California bill gives terminally ill patients “Right To Try” experimental meds; but drug companies stand in the way

Right To Try legislation would allow terminally ill patients who have exhausted all other options the opportunity to try experimental drugs, products or devices that have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Senate Bill 149 by Sen. Jeff Stone, R-Temecula, and Assembly Bill 159 by Assemblyman Ian Calderon, D-Whittier, are similar to legislation passed by 21 states since last year — 16 this year alone.

So far, both California bills have sailed through their respective chambers and will likely be combined into a single bill, the two lawmakers say.

via California bill gives terminally ill patients Right To Try experimental drugs – San Jose Mercury News.

Cali Obamacare exchange running massive data mining project

Covered California enrollmentCalifornia’s health insurance exchange wants to know why you got sick this summer.

With 1.4 million people enrolled, the state-run marketplace is embarking on an ambitious effort to collect insurance company data on prescriptions, doctor visits and hospital stays for every Obamacare patient.

The effort has raised questions about patient privacy and whether the state is doing enough to inform consumers about how their data will be used.

There are also worries about security amid massive breaches at Anthem Inc. and other health insurers affecting millions of Americans.

via California’s Obamacare exchange to collect insurance data on patients – LA Times.

Newark High School installs security system to pinpoint gunfire

A high school in Newark, California, has become the first in the country to install a high-tech system designed to pinpoint the location of gunfire. It’s called ShotSpotter, and it’s already in use across several cities across the US, including New York, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Oakland, Minneapolis, and more. And that’s what it’s designed for — even wealthy cities like New York have only deployed the system in high-crime precincts that see frequent episodes of gunfire.

via California high school installs security system to pinpoint gunfire – The Verge.

Pols ignore drug dealers with badges as illicit drugs run ‘rampant’ in Cali prisons

More than 150 California inmates have died of drug overdoses since 2006, with a high of 24 in 2013.

Moreover, the sharing of intravenous needles often spreads hepatitis C infections, which killed 69 inmates in 2013 alone.

via Illicit drugs ‘rampant’ in California prisons – San Jose Mercury News.

Jailhouse nation

Advocates of tough justice point out that America’s crime rate has fallen as the incarceration rate has risen.

Criminals who are locked up cannot mug law-abiding citizens, and the prospect of going to prison must surely deter some from breaking the law in the first place.

All this is true, but only up to a point. In the 1980s expanding prisons probably did help slow the rise of crime by taking thugs off the streets.

But mass incarceration has long since become counter-productive.

A recent study by the Brennan Centre for Justice, a think-tank, concluded that at most only 12% of the reduction in America’s property crime rates since the 1990s can be attributed to higher rates of imprisonment—and that there might be no effect at all.

States with larger prison populations have no less crime than states with smaller ones.

via Jailhouse nation – The Economist.

“We always do that”: LAPD officers brutalize unarmed man after shooting him

The graphic video showed two Los Angeles police officers handcuffing an unarmed man who had just been shot and whose head was covered in blood.

The video, which was circulated on social media on Saturday, prompted questions as to why police would handcuff a man who was seriously injured. The unidentified man remains in critical condition.

Cmdr. Andrew Smith, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Police Department, said “We always do that.”

via Some question why LAPD officers handcuffed unarmed man after he was shot – LA Times.

California vocational education in danger

California, College, Career & Technical Education Center (CCCTEC) - a public, tuition-free charter school in West Sacramento with a rigorous curriculum focused on both academics and career technical education.Arnold Schwarzenegger’s governorship can be faulted for many failings – particularly squandering opportunities to clean up the state’s tortured finances.

Even as debt-saddled college graduates hunt for jobs, often in vain, and even as too many students drop out of high school, there are serious shortages of skilled workers.

via Opinion: California vocational education in danger – The Sacramento Bee.

Big Tobacco in the crosshairs: California cigarette tax backers commit $2 million

Proposed ballot initiatives in California would impose a $2-per-pack tax on cigarettes to help fund Medi-Cal.Hoping to influence a special health care budget session, a coalition of labor and medical groups has put $2 million into an initiative to raise California’s tobacco tax and use the revenue to fund health care for low-income Californians.

The money flowed from a coalition of groups that include SEIU California State Council – a union umbrella group whose members include thousands of health care workers – the California Medical Association, the California Dental Association, the American Cancer Society and groups promoting heart and lung health.

Their twin ballot initiatives would impose a $2-per-pack tax on cigarettes to fund health programs that include smoking prevention and Medi-Cal, California’s health insurance program for low-income residents.

via California cigarette tax backers commit $2 million – The Sacramento Bee.

Saudis spread lots of cash around and there are plenty of people lined up to get some…

While the documents appear to contain no shocking revelations about Saudi Arabia, say, eavesdropping on the United States or shipping bags of cash to militant groups, they contain enough detail to shed light on the diplomacy of a deeply private country and to embarrass Saudi officials and those who lobby them for financial aid. And they allow the curious to get a glimpse of the often complex interactions between a kingdom seen by many as the rich uncle of Middle East and its clients, from Africa to Australia.

via Cables Released by WikiLeaks Reveal Saudis’ Checkbook Diplomacy – The New York Times.

What Obama gets right in the fight with Islamic State

Training for combatIf defeating Islamic State is such a high priority, some might ask, why should the U.S. refuse to commit ground troops and instead rely on dispirited and disorganized Iraqi forces? The best answer to that is a sobering statistic: the nearly 4,500 Americans who lost their lives in Operation Iraqi Freedom, the protracted conflict that followed George W. Bush’s disastrous decision to invade Iraq in 2003. The American people are understandably disinclined to see more fatalities on that scale in a conflict in which the interests of the U.S. are not directly threatened and in a region where our previous efforts have been so disappointing.

via What Obama gets right in the fight with Islamic State – LA Times.

California Republicans have made it easy for Obama, Clinton to mine state’s gold, but not voters

Barack Obama, Ed LeeWhen a state is completely in the bag for either political party, there’s no need — indeed, it arguably would be wasteful — to spend the resources it takes to mount an effort to persuade voters. And with more than a little help from Republicans, Democrats have commanded the state completely for two decades.

via Obama, Clinton mining state’s gold, not voters – LA Times.

Issa escorted out of Benghazi deposition, throws a fit and storms off

Former House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) tried to crash former Hillary Clinton adviser Sidney Blumenthal’s deposition before the House Select Committee on Benghazi on Tuesday.

Issa marched into the closed-door deposition and remained inside for about a minute before he was escorted out by the panel’s chairman, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.).

The pair briefly exchanged hushed words in a nearby hallway before Issa stormed off, throwing an empty soda can into a nearby trash bin.

Issa conducted his own lengthy investigation into the deadly 2012 siege in Benghazi, Libya, when he was chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. At one point, he called the former secretary of State to testify.

via Issa escorted out of Benghazi deposition – TheHill.

SEIU study shows California franchise owners struggle more than in rest of the nation

Franchise owners in California have a harder time staying current on their loans than in the rest of the nation, according to a study released Friday.

Nearly 30 percent of Small Business Association loans have failed in the past four years in California, a higher rate than the national average, according to the study by the Service Employees International Union.

“Franchise corporations promise potential franchise investors experience and support that will help small businesses succeed, but this new report shows that the opposite is true: Small business owners of franchise outlets in California are facing extreme financial duress. It is not a safe haven,” said John Gordon, a franchising expert with the Pacific Management Consulting Group.

In the study by the SEIU, 16.5 percent of SBA loans taken by California franchises failed in the past 20 years. From 2001 to 2005, the California failure rate was 12 percent, but from 2006 to 2010, the failure rate grew to nearly 30 percent, 10 percent more than the national average. In that time frame, the national average increased by 2 percent.

In California, competition among franchises is more intense, and other states have stronger laws protecting franchises, according to the SEIU. According to another study, 71 percent of California franchisees operate at a loss or are just breaking even.

via Study shows California franchise owners struggle more than in rest of the nation – San Jose Mercury News.

Seriously!!! You’re paying more for healthcare so Cali Obamacare boss can get rich???!!!

Starting July 1, Peter Lee will have a base salary of $333,120 as head of Covered California. The exchange’s board granted him a 24% raise in February and it gave Lee another 2.5% increase Thursday.

Covered California’s board chairwoman, Diana Dooley, said Lee deserved the additional compensation for his work building the state-run marketplace and his continued commitment to serving consumers statewide.

“We are deeply appreciative of Peter’s leadership and we are very happy to recognize his work,” Dooley said.

The exchange didn’t announce the Feb. 1 raise at the time. A spokeswoman said it was posted on the exchange website May 21 along with salary information for 14 other top managers who all earn more than $100,000 annually.

via Obamacare chief in California gets $65,000 bonus on top of two raises – LA Times.

Cali GOP can’t stop legislature from getting tough on local water districts

Failure
Republicans kick and scream, but as usual, have no impact on state government decisions.

A California budget bill that would allow the state to force consolidation of water systems, exempt certain water projects from environmental review and make other far-reaching changes in response to the drought cleared the Legislature on Friday over the angry objections of Republicans.

The legislation, Senate Bill 88, also would require anyone who diverts 10 acre-feet of water or more to measure and report on their diversions and allows agencies to fine people who violate a water conservation measure as much as $10,000.

The measure passed the Senate 24-14, shortly after it cleared the Assembly 52-28, with all Republicans opposed.

via California Legislature passes drought bill imposing fines, water system consolidation – The Sacramento Bee.

Water districts to their thirsty California neighbors, “this is our water”

A group of water districts are suing California regulators over the state’s order prohibiting holders of senior water rights from pumping water out of rivers and streams.

The plaintiffs are challenging the State Water Resources Control Board’s decision last week to ban diversions by 114 different rights holders in the Sacramento and San Joaquin river area.

“This is our water. We believe firmly in that fact, and we are willing to take on the state bureaucracy to protect that right,” said Steve Knell, general manager of the Oakdale Irrigation District, in a prepared statement. Joining in the lawsuit was the South San Joaquin Irrigation District and an umbrella group called the San Joaquin Tributaries Authority.

via Lawsuits challenge California’s drought plan – The Sacramento Bee.

University of California’s war on ‘microaggression’

The University of California has been the subject of derision lately for its recent faculty seminars designed to wipe out so-called “microaggressions,” which the university describes as “everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs or insults” that “communicate hostile messages” to members of “marginalized” groups. These can be unintentional and even “preconscious” or “unconscious” slights.

Most students and faculty — liberal, conservative and otherwise — no doubt roll their eyes and go on with their work. But many critics say it poisons the campus atmosphere.

via UC seeks to stamp out ‘microaggression’ – Steven Greenhut, UTSanDiego.com.

Nevada law opens door to 80 mph speeds

A new law in Nevada permits the state highway department to bump the speed limit by 5 mph on certain stretches of road.

Gov. Brian Sandoval signed into law a bill to authorize 80 mph speeds for all vehicles on stretches of highway deemed appropriate by the Nevada Department of Transportation – up from 75 mph.

Sen. Don Gustavson, R-Sparks, has said the change would reflect the top speeds in neighboring Utah and Idaho.

Critics said that increasing the speed limit by 5 mph would likely result in travelers driving in excess of 85 mph.

Gustavson refutes that claim. He said he believes the bump in the speed limit can be made without drivers abusing the new speed. The former truck driver has cited research collected in Utah.

Utah law authorizes 80 mph speeds on rural stretches of interstates and limited-access highways throughout the state.

via Nevada law opens door to 80 mph speeds – Land Line Magazine.

Mike Gatto marks second Father’s Day since dad’s slaying

State Assemblyman Mike Gatto will awaken Sunday morning thinking of his father, just as he does every day. He figures his children and wife will celebrate his own role as a dad on Father’s Day, and then he’ll drive over to Forest Lawn Memorial Park to sit with his dad at his grave site.

Sunday marks the second Father’s Day since Gatto’s 78-year-old father, Joseph Gatto, was found shot to death in his Silver Lake home. It also marks the second Father’s Day that the case remains unsolved.

via Assemblyman Mike Gatto marks second Father’s Day since dad’s slaying.

Hillary Clinton dominates the California landscape

Hillary’s dominant position lets her suck money from eager Cali Dems with ease.

Unlike the opponents her husband faced, Hillary Clinton’s rivals are longshots at best and have no substantial ties to California. Rather than worry about a contested primary, this Clinton can focus on California’s other role in Democratic politics, the cash machine.

via Hillary Clinton sees a different California than her husband once did – LA Times.

“Prisons are for people we are afraid of but we are filling them with many people we are just mad at”

“Prisons are for people we are afraid of but we are filling them with many people we are just mad at.” – Pat Nolan

This Sunday my wife and three children, along with millions of other American families, will celebrate Father’s Day. Nothing makes me happier than being surrounded by my family on special days like this. But for two years, there was no gathering for Father’s Day in our house.

I was an absent father, not by choice, but because I was a federal prisoner, inmate 06833-097.

For two years, I was separated from my wife and children on Father’s Day. For our family, the holiday was not a day to be celebrated, but rather a reminder of my missing place in their lives and in our home. That’s how it is for the families of the 2.5 million children in the United States who have parents behind bars—a time to reflect on what their lives would be like if they were part of a unified family.

Prison is certainly the right place for violent and career criminals. But many prisoners are not dangerous, and separating them from their families is not necessary to hold them accountable for their crimes.

via Uniting Children with Their Fathers on Father’s Day – Pat Nolan.

Hideous NRA board member denigrates deaths in Charleston

A woman places flowers at a memorial outside the Emanuel AME Church June 19, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina. US police arrested a white high school dropout Thursday suspected of carrying out a gun massacre at one of America's oldest black churches, the latest deadly assault to fuel simmering racial tensions. Authorities detained 21-year-old Dylann Roof, shown wearing the flags of defunct white supremacist regimes in pictures taken from social media, after nine churchgoers were shot dead during a Bible study class on Wednesday evening. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI        (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)It can’t get much worse for the morons at the National Rifle Association.

A board member for the National Rifle Association blamed the gun-control position of South Carolina state Sen. Clementa Pinckney, a pastor who was killed in Wednesday night’s shooting at a historic black church in Charleston, for the deaths of his congregation.

If he had voted to allow gun owners to carry their own weapons, Charles Cotton wrote, “eight of his church members … might be alive.”

Cotton, who according to his bio page has been a board member for 13 years, also moderates TexasCHLforum.com, described as “the focal point for Texas firearms information and discussions.”

via Charleston shooting: NRA board member blames pastor for deaths in church – POLITICO.

Racism isn’t a religion 9th Circuit rules

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that California may deny an inmate’s religious worship request in order to avoid the potential for unconstitutional racial segregation in its prison system.

The appellate opinion describes Dennis Walker as a “devout racist.” He is an Aryan Christian Odinist, a religion that forbids adherents from integrating with members of other races and also forbids communication with its deity in the presence of a non-Aryan. As used by Odinists, “Aryan” refers only to white individuals of Northern European heritage.

Walker, 57, is classified by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation as an inmate eligible to share a cell with someone of another race. He went to federal court in 2011 with a challenge to the CDCR’s classification policies.

via Devout racist’s religion doesn’t trump racial segregation in prison, appeals court says – The Sacramento Bee.

Feckless Joe Dunn’s legacy remains at the State Bar

Joe Dunn, when he served in the state Senate, speaks during a committee hearing. He went on to serve four years as executive director of the California State Bar until he was fired in December.A state audit issued Thursday paints an unflattering picture of the California State Bar as willing to settle attorney discipline cases too quickly, track case data too loosely and spend too freely, all at the expense of its mission to protect the public from bad lawyers.

The State Bar for years has endured criticism as politicized and ineffective, but the audit follows a particularly low point late last year when the bar fired executive director Joe Dunn.

via Audit: California State Bar went easy on lawyers to cut complaint caseload – The Sacramento Bee.

Pundit rips Cali highways…and rightly so

There was a time when California was teaching the world how to build first-class highway systems.ways and freeways.

Today, California’s state highways and local streets and roads are – or should be – a civic embarrassment, ranking at or near the bottom in state-to-state quality comparisons.

via Opinion: Our roads are just shameful – The Sacramento Bee.

Medical Records of 4,859 patients breached at UC Irvine Medical Center

On Thursday, University of California, Irvine Medical Center, announced that an employee viewed medical information of nearly 5,000 patients ‘without a job-related purpose’ from June 2011 to March 2015.

Investigation is being carried out. For now, it is not known as to what he has done of the sensitive information, including patient names, birthdays, height and weight, medical record numbers, home addresses, diagnoses, test orders and results, medications and employment status.

via Medical Records of 4,859 patients breached at UC Irvine Medical Center for almost 4 Years – Uncover California.

Drug companies paid Cali lawmakers millions – suddenly vaccine bill starts to move

Critics of Senate Bill 277, which would eliminate the personal belief and religious exemptions for schoolchildren, accuse the measure’s supporters in the Legislature of doing the bidding of donors who make vaccines and other pharmaceuticals.

In addition, the industry donated more than $500,000 to outside campaign spending groups that helped elect some current members last year.

Pharmaceutical companies also spent nearly $3 million more during the 2013-2014 legislative session lobbying the Legislature, the governor, the state pharmacists’ board and other agencies, according to state filings.

via Drug companies donated millions to California lawmakers before vaccine debate – The Sacramento Bee.

Federal regulators hang up on tele-marketers; approve new robocall rules

Tom WheelerFederal regulators approved new protections for consumers against unwanted phone calls and text messages, cracking down on a growing number of automatically dialed robocalls that have led to a flood of complaints.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said telemarketers have used new technology to get around restrictions in the law. The agency received about 215,000 consumer complaints last year about robocalls, more than on any other issue.

Under the new regulations, consumers can stop robocalls by simply telling the caller “in any reasonable way, at any time” to stop calling.

Companies that use automatic dialing technology also would have to stop calling a number that has been reassigned after making just one call.

And the FCC made clear that phone companies can offer blocking technology to their customers without violating rules about delivering calls.

via Federal regulators approve new robocall protections for consumers – LA Times.

Cha Ching! Elon Musk snatches $15 million more from Cali taxpayers

Elon Musk’s Tesla Motors has won a fresh $15-million tax break from the state of California. The company has said it will use the money to add more than 4,000 jobs to its Bay Area factories and plants — enough jobs to make it the largest manufacturing employer in the state.

The California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (also known as GO-Biz) voted late Thursday to include Tesla among more than 60 companies that will share in an almost $50-million tax break package.

Tesla and its chief executive, Elon Musk, have become adept at tapping into local, state and federal sources of money to grow the business.

via Tesla bags $15 million in new state tax credits – LA Times.

Smart H2O Summit Announces Partnerships with Several Industry-leading Associations

Reinforcing the important role of Smart H2O Summit in helping municipalities solve their water challenges, several industry–leading associations and media companies have recently signed on as Endorsing Sponsors/Partners for the inaugural conference and exposition taking place August 17-19, 2015 in San Francisco.

The Alliance for Water Efficiency (AWE), California Urban Water Conservation Council (Council), the Local Government Commission (LGC) and the International Private Water Association (IPWA) will work with Smart H2O Summit (SHS) to make their members and the water conservation marketplace aware of this new educational opportunity.

All the associations will have an information booth on the exposition floor and/or a presence in the Conference program.  Mary Ann Dickinson, President and CEO, Alliance for Water Efficiency, will present a session on Water Offset Programs & Sustainability on August 18, and participate in the Pricing Panel Session on August 17.  Kathy Shandling, IPWA Executive Director, will Chair a Mayors’ Panel discussion on Private and Public Utilities on Wednesday, August 19.

“Between California’s historic drought, mandated water use reductions, and the Sustainable Water Management Act, now more than ever local government leaders and industry professionals must work together to achieve appropriate water use,” said Danielle V. Dolan, Project Manager, Water Programs, LGC.  “This Summit is an important venue for that dialogue, and will help ensure our communities’ resilience in the face of climate change.”

In addition to the associations, several industry business publications are partnering with Smart H2O Summit. These publications include Water & Waste Digest (W&WD), Storm Water Solutions (SWS), Water Technology Online (WTO), WaterWorld (WW), FuturEnviroandThe Water Network.

“We are delighted to have these industry-leading associations and media companies as our partners in educating the marketplace,” said Jane McDermott, SHS Show Director. “They will bring valuable content and perspectives to all our attendees.”

Anyone interested in registering for the event can do so online at http://www.smarth2osummit.com/register-1.html. Companies interested in exhibiting or sponsoring the inaugural event should contact Jane McDermott, jmdermott@smarthh2osummit.com, 415.688.4488 ext. 102.

 

Drought breaks through CEQA barrier

Farm workers pull up irrigation drip lines in a garlic field near Huron, CA in Fresno county on Thursday, May 21, 2015. Removing the drip lines is a routine part of the growing process for garlic. Dan Errotabere grows almonds, tomatoes, etc. in the Westlands Water district west of Fresno.Some drought-related groundwater and water recycling projects would gain exemptions from the California Environmental Quality Act under late-emerging legislation at the Capitol.

The exemption, contained in a budget-related trailer bill, offers a narrower exemption than a broader one Gov. Jerry Brown originally proposed. Lawmakers appeared to be nearing a deal Thursday, after pushing back on Brown’s initial proposal.

The language would exempt certain groundwater replenishment projects and the development of building standards by state agencies for recycled water systems. It would also exempt from CEQA the adoption of stricter conditions in the issuance of permits for wells.

The Sierra Club California, called his proposal “a troubling over-reach.”

via CEQA exemptions for water projects inserted into budget bill – The Sacramento Bee.

DCCC looking at Miller and Ford to fill Nevada seat being vacated by Heck

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee members met with former Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller and state Senate Minority Leader Aaron Ford in Las Vegas on Wednesday.

Miller and Ford are being recruited to run for Congressional District 3, which covers an area including Henderson and unincorporated Clark County. The district is currently represented by three-term Republican Rep. Joe Heck, who is expected to run for the state’s open U.S. Senate seat in 2016.

via High-profile Nevada Democrats being courted for Congress – Las Vegas Sun News.

Vaping more deadly than you think: Poison control cases up

The number of exposures to e-cigarettes and liquid nicotine reported to poison control centers nationwide has more than doubled from the previous year, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers.

Poison control centers received 3,783 emergency calls nationwide in 2014. More than half of those cases involved children under the age of six.

Nevada’s Poison Control reported 44 exposure cases in 2014 – which doubled from the year before.

via Poison control cases up for exposures to e-cigs, liquid nicotine – News3LV.

Boarder Patrol’s ‘candy bowl’ overtime racket is just about over

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The culturally accepted practice of clocking in for overtime to pad their paychecks by employees of the Department of Homeland Security is ending, according to the Office of Personnel Management, which published new rules Wednesday on how border patrol agents can earn overtime.

The crackdown comes after a report issued in 2013 by the federal Office of Special Counsel found that some DHS employees were using Administratively Uncontrollable Overtime, known as AUO, to boost their paychecks in what was known as “the candy bowl.” The practice can add up to 25 percent to a paycheck and has become so routine over the last generation that it was offered as a perk when government managers try to recruit new employees, according to these accounts.

The 2014 Border Patrol Agent Pay Reform Act will start on  Jan. 1, 2016, doing away with AUO.

The overtime was intended to be for unanticipated, urgent work, such as capturing criminals or fighting terrorism. But the report found that employees with desk jobs who are not doing work on the border were abusing the overtime and claiming it for their commuting time, for exercising at the gym or for time lounging at their desks where they watched movies or scrolled Facebook.

via The ‘candy bowl,’ is dry. Find out what’s happened to border patrol’s overtime. – The Washington Post.

Blumenthal rips airline’s ‘anti-competitive’ behavior

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) slammed the airline industry and said the Department of Justice should step in to “investigate potential anti-trust violations among airlines.”

His beef seems pretty legitimate since the industry plans to cut back on the number of seats they offer on many routes to boost profits.

 

Deregulation and the subsequent consolidation of the industry through several high-profile mergers has been great for shareholders and boardroom occupants, however consumers, as usual, are paying the cost.

He’s probably right, expect the worst on your next flight.

via Dem senator wants investigation into ‘anti-competitive’ behavior by airlines – TheHill.

President Obama waves the white flag on gun control

There were two emotions evident in President Obama’s statement Thursday about the murders of nine people at a church in Charleston, S.C., the night before.

The first was anger — at the fact that he was, once again, addressing the country in the wake of a mass shooting. The second was more along the lines of resignation — a head-shaking weariness about the almost-certain fact that this latest shooting would do little to move the needle on gun control legislation.

via President Obama waves the white flag on gun control – The Washington Post.