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  • Troopers Remove Final Occupy Nashville Tent From Plaza

    03/12/2012 7:48:01 AM PDT · by SmithL · 4 replies
    WTVF-5 CBS ^ | 3/12/12
    NASHVILLE, Tenn. – About 30 Tennessee Highway Patrol officers moved into War Memorial Plaza overnight and removed the final Occupy Nashville tent, according to the group. Occupy Nashville said that the troopers came onto the Plaza around 3:50 a.m. Monday. The group said Christopher Humphrey was asked to come out of the tent on War Memorial Plaza. When he did, he said the troopers proceeded to remove his tent, as well as one nearby from the plaza. They said the troopers initially removed their information table, donation box, and other protest materials, but the troopers agreed to return them after...
  • Dozens arrested at California Capitol protests as thousands decry high cost of education

    03/06/2012 9:06:24 AM PST · by SmithL · 8 replies
    Sacramento Bee ^ | 3/6/12 | Sam Stanton, Torey Van Oot, Ed Fletcher, and Kim Minugh
    Another day of protests played out at the state Capitol on Monday with thousands of demonstrators denouncing soaring higher education costs and a select group spending most of the day inside the rotunda to achieve one goal: getting arrested. By the time the spectacle petered out Monday night, the California Highway Patrol tallied 68 arrests of people who refused to leave the Capitol rotunda after it closed at 6 p.m. Four others were arrested earlier, three on charges of creating a disturbance and one because he was carrying a switchblade, authorities said. The main group of arrestees, who will be...
  • State government contracting debate back at California's Capitol

    03/05/2012 7:16:42 AM PST · by SmithL · 4 replies
    Sacramento Bee ^ | 3/5/12 | Jon Ortiz
    The debate over whether government runs best with civil service workers or privately contracted help is re-igniting in the Capitol over legislation that, among other things, would give state workers first dibs whenever the state has work to do. Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento, contends the civil service-first provision in his "Public Employees Bill of Rights" would produce better and cheaper government. Unions backing the measure agree. Critics say the bill reads like a union wish list and could make government more expensive. "If your goal is for the state to provide the best services and do it most efficiently, you...
  • Oakland center payment wrongly OKd, records say

    03/05/2012 7:09:54 AM PST · by SmithL · 2 replies
    San Francisco Chronicle ^ | 3/5/12 | Demian Bulwa, Chronicle Staff Writer
    Oakland City Councilwoman Desley Brooks approved payment of more than $18,000 in city redevelopment funds to buy music studio equipment for a teen center staffed by her aides that top city officials have been scrutinizing, records show. Brooks, who opened the Digital Arts and Culinary Academy last year, is authorized to sign payment approvals only for items involving her office budget, city officials said. A city staffer who is authorized to approve payments such as the one for the studio equipment had refused to do so, two high-ranking sources in city government told The Chronicle. City documents that are part...
  • { Students, Occupy, & Union } Groups joust over Capitol rally role

    03/04/2012 1:28:15 PM PST · by SmithL
    Sacramento Bee ^ | 3/4/12 | Ed Fletcher
    A massive student rally in support of higher education funding planned for Monday at the state Capitol is being co-opted by labor and Occupy activists, says an executive with one of the student groups. In the run-up to Monday's rally, two groups, Refund California and Occupy Education California, have issued press releases and given interviews about their plans to "Occupy the Capitol." But Miles Nevin, executive director of the California State Student Association, says those two groups have "nothing to do with this event." "We are majorly losing the media battle. They are trying to take over our event," Nevin...
  • Stockton on verge of declaring bankruptcy

    03/04/2012 12:27:38 PM PST · by SmithL · 12 replies
    San Francisco Chronicle ^ | 3/4/12 | Wyatt Buchanan, Chronicle Sacramento Bureau
    Black-and-white photos of Stockton in its heyday - of handsome buildings and bustling streets - flash on the flat-screen television at Henry's Miracle Mile Hair Styling in the city's historic shopping district. Customers also get a sobering dose of color images showing empty, boarded up stores and restaurants that left downtown long ago. Stockton is on the verge of becoming the largest city in the United States to declare bankruptcy, and on a recent weekday the talk inside the old school barber shop centered on the financial havoc at City Hall that threatens the often derided city of nearly 300,000...
  • Student protesters shut down most of UC Santa Cruz

    03/01/2012 1:25:37 PM PST · by SmithL · 27 replies · 3+ views
    Student protesters at the University of California, Santa Cruz, shut down most of the campus Thursday as part of statewide demonstrations against budget cuts to higher education. Hundreds of students blocked all entrances to the coastal campus and prevented vehicles from entering, said Josh Brahinsky, a graduate student and union representative who helped organize the action. The protest at Santa Cruz is part of demonstrations being held by college students at about 30 campuses across California and was scheduled to coincide with state budget negotiations, organizers said. Rallies, marches, teach-ins and walkouts to call on lawmakers to restore funding to...
  • CALIFORNIA: High-speed rail construction delayed

    02/29/2012 8:58:36 PM PST · by SmithL · 9 replies
    San Jose Mercury News ^ | 2/29/12 | Mike Rosenberg
    With a long-standing federal deadline breathing down their necks, California's polarizing $100 billion bullet train suddenly got a much-needed reprieve Wednesday after the Obama administration eased the target for starting construction. For years, state high-speed rail leaders aimed for a September 2012 groundbreaking to meet the assumed deadline for the federal stimulus program, which funded about one-third of the $6 billion first leg of track. But in a statement Wednesday, federal rail officials said the train "is making continual progress" and for the first time revealed that the law does not specifically require a deadline to start construction. Technically, it...
  • Assembly Democrats reject Gov. Jerry Brown's welfare cuts

    02/29/2012 6:51:02 PM PST · by SmithL · 11 replies · 1+ views
    SacBee: Capitol Alert ^ | 2/29/12 | Kevin Yamamura
    In a hearing that included testimony from children as young as 6 years old, an Assembly budget panel on Wednesday rejected Gov. Jerry Brown's welfare-to-work cuts. The Assembly's health and human services budget subcommittee voted 3-1 along party lines against cutting grant levels and eliminating adults after 24 months, instead of 48, if they cannot find work. Brown had counted on CalWORKs cuts to save $946 million to help close a deficit he estimates at $9.2 billion. The state has reduced welfare benefits since the recession, such as shrinking the adult time limit from 60 months to 48 months and...
  • Prosecutor sues prosecutor over 2010 election-driven fight in Contra Costa DA's office

    02/29/2012 6:20:47 PM PST · by SmithL · 2 replies
    Contra Costa Times ^ | 2/29/12 | Malaika Fraley
    A top administrator in the Contra Costa District Attorney's Office is being sued by a former colleague for punching him in the face during an office brawl two years ago. The fight came amid a highly contentious 2010-election in which the two high-ranking prosecutors backed opposing candidates in the district attorney's race. Paul Sequeira, who was assistant district attorney under former DA Robert Kochly and now holds the same job in Mendocino County, filed the suit Wednesday against senior deputy district attorney Harold Jewett for attacking him during a heated argument inside the DA Office's Martinez headquarters in March 2010....
  • Nadia Lockyer's ex-lover: 'There's a way bigger story than the sex tapes'

    02/28/2012 7:52:22 PM PST · by SmithL · 6 replies · 4+ views
    San Jose Mercury News ^ | 2/28/12 | Julia Prodis Sulek
    The man at the center of the drug-infused, sex-laced scandal that has rocked the political careers and shaky marriage of state Treasurer Bill Lockyer and his wife, Nadia, strode into a San Jose courtroom Tuesday, his hair slick, his shirt untucked and told a reporter, "There's a way bigger story than the sex tapes." Before he had a chance to explain much more, his private defense attorney interrupted: "Do you want me to be your lawyer?" It was Adrienne Dell, a no-nonsense lawyer in a St. John Knit, telling him to clam up. Stephen Chikhani, 35, with wraparound dark glasses...
  • Police delay charges to avoid 'astronomical' meth burn costs

    02/27/2012 7:18:08 PM PST · by SmithL · 24 replies · 1+ views
    Memphis Commercial Appeal ^ | 2/27/12 | Kristina Goetz
    Sitting in the driver's seat of his Chevy Cavalier, Chris Burns gripped a 20-ounce soda bottle and waited for his "shake and bake" methamphetamine to cook. Then came the explosion and fire. Burns and passenger Bobby Joe Joyner fled as blazing chemicals scorched their skin. When police caught up with the pair, they admitted to cooking meth and causing the explosion while sitting at a stop sign on a rural Fayette County road. But it was months before either faced criminal charges. To have charged the men en route to the hospital would have shifted the burden of paying for...
  • California AG calls for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to halt foreclosures

    02/27/2012 6:54:42 PM PST · by SmithL · 2 replies · 1+ views
    Sacramento Bee ^ | 2/27/12 | Rick Daysog
    California Attorney General Kamala Harris has called on federal mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to place a "good-faith pause" on all foreclosure sales in the state following the multi-state settlement with the nation's largest banks over mortgage abuses.
  • Analyst: Jerry Brown too optimistic on revenues by $6.5 billion

    02/27/2012 6:52:31 PM PST · by SmithL · 7 replies · 1+ views
    SacBee: Capitol Alert ^ | 2/17/12 | Kevin Yamamura
    Gov. Jerry Brown is counting on $6.5 billion too much through June 2013 even with a Facebook stock sale on the horizon, according to a new review by the state's fiscal analyst. The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office has taken a more pessimistic view of capital gains in California over the next 16 months, though it acknowledges in its new report that predicting those totals is "notoriously difficult." California's heavy reliance on volatile capital gains income has been a huge reason why the state has found it so difficult to budget in recent years. The analyst's latest revenue forecast is not...
  • California households owe an average $30,500 for public employee pension debt

    02/26/2012 10:11:25 AM PST · by SmithL · 21 replies
    Contra Costa Times ^ | 2/26/12 | Daniel Borenstein - Staff columnist
    The average California household's share of the debt for underfunded state and local government employee pensions comes to about $30,500. Stanford University studies released last week and in December for the first time aggregate public pension shortfalls statewide. Using moderate assumptions about future investment returns, the unfunded liability is about $379 billion. Hard-core pension reformers will maintain that the number is much more. Defenders of the status quo will insist it's significantly less. Before sorting out that dispute, let's understand what the numbers mean. Each year public employees work, they increase their future pensions. So, as they work, they and...
  • Pension battlefield shifts to San Jose and San Diego

    02/26/2012 9:58:02 AM PST · by SmithL · 3 replies
    Sacramento Bee ^ | 2/26/12 | Dan Walters
    Gov. Jerry Brown says he's serious about reforming California's "unsustainable" public employee pension system, and has warned state legislators that if they don't do it, they could doom voter approval of new taxes this year. "Examine it. Improve it," Brown said in his State of the State address. "But please take up the issue and do something real." Critics of Brown's 12-point plan – a union-backed coalition, primarily – were not moved. They've made it clear that they don't want any fundamental changes in California's relatively generous state and local government pensions and are urging the Legislature to just make...
  • Democrats want to extend guaranteed retirement savings to private sector

    02/23/2012 1:50:36 PM PST · by SmithL · 15 replies
    SacBee: The State Worker ^ | 2/23/12 | Jon Ortiz
    New legislation unveiled this morning aims to build a sort of CalPERS-for-all retirement savings system that the measure's author says could cover an estimated 7 million working Californians in the private sector. Senate Bill 1234 by Los Angeles Democratic Sen. Kevin de León would require businesses with five or more employees to enroll them in a new "Personal Pension" defined benefit program or offer an alternative employer-sponsored plan. De León, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and other political and labor leaders who touted the measure noted that public discourse has focused on public employee pensions. The press event came...
  • What did Bill Lockyer know about his wife's rehab?

    02/23/2012 1:34:38 PM PST · by SmithL · 6 replies
    San Francisco Chronicle ^ | 2/23/12 | Editor
    One of the disturbing revelations about the evolving Nadia Lockyer case involve the timing and circumstance of her introduction to a man accused of assaulting her. Matier & Ross have quoted sources as saying that Lockyer met the man, who has a long history of methamphetamine arrests, at a drug rehabilitation program in 2010 - the same year she was elected to the Alameda County Board of Supervisors. The possibility that Lockyer had a serious enough substance-abuse problem to merit treatment raises unsettling questions for the benefactor whose connections and contributions made her election possible: state Treasurer Bill Lockyer. Namely:...
  • Lesbian federal worker wins health benefits case

    02/22/2012 8:52:43 PM PST · by SmithL · 39 replies
    AP via SFGate ^ | 2/22/12 | Lisa Leff, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    an Francisco (AP) -- A federal judge in San Francisco ruled Wednesday that the U.S. government cannot deny health benefits to the wife of a lesbian court employee by relying on the 1996 law that bars government recognition of same-sex unions. U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White said that because the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutionally discriminates against same-sex married couples, the government's refusal to furnish health insurance to Karen Golinski's wife is unjustified. "The Court finds that DOMA, as applied to Ms. Golinski, violates her right to equal protection of the law ... by, without substantial justification or rational basis,...
  • UC Davis students sue over pepper spraying

    02/22/2012 12:51:07 PM PST · by SmithL · 43 replies
    San Francisco Chronicle ^ | 2/22/12 | Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer
    UC Davis students who were pepper-sprayed by campus police during a sit-down protest in November sued the officers and university administrators in federal court today,claiming excessive force and suppression of free speech. Police, acting at the orders of UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi and other officials, decided to forcefully break up a peaceful assembly "because of the demonstration's message and who was delivering it," lawyers for 17 students and two graduates said in papers filed in U.S. District Court in Sacramento. The students sat in the campus quad Nov. 18 to protest recent tuition increases and the use of force...
  • Antipoverty program leaders charged with theft

    02/22/2012 8:46:22 AM PST · by SmithL · 9 replies
    San Francisco Chronicle ^ | 2/22/12 | Phillip Matier, Andrew Ross, Chronicle Columnist
    A husband and wife who headed an antipoverty program in Alameda County were indicted Tuesday for allegedly misusing more than $200,000 in taxpayer money, which prosecutors say they spent on travel, meals and home repairs. Nanette Dillard, who headed the Associated Community Action Program, and her husband, Paul Daniels, the program's former grant administrator, were charged with one count each of grand theft, conspiracy and crime by a public officer. Although the couple are charged with misspending $200,000, "the final bill" was probably in the neighborhood of $1.5 million, said Robert Lieber, an Albany city councilman and former chairman of...
  • Free Oakland PD, Berkeley PD & all political prisoners

    02/20/2012 9:18:54 AM PST · by SmithL · 1 replies
    SFGate: Token Conservative ^ | 2/20/12 | Debra J. Saunders
    Over the weekend, Berkeley resident Peter Cukor, 67, was killed during an assault in front of his home. He had called police, but as the Chronicle reported, Berkeley police were busy monitoring an Occupy Oakland march to UC Berkeley, and officers were dispatched only to high-priority calls. After the weekend of Jan. 28, during which authorities arrested 400 Occupy Oakland activists, there were five homicides in Oakland. Police Chief Howard Jordan makes no bones about his belief that the protests have thinned the force in Oakland’s most dangerous neighborhoods. So while Occupy Oakland activists and the ACLU are complaining about...
  • CSU professors to be paid for protest day

    02/20/2012 7:34:52 AM PST · by SmithL · 4 replies
    San Francisco Chronicle ^ | 2/20/12 | Phillip Matier, Andrew Ross, Chronicle Columnist
    California State University East Bay professors who played hooky to protest state budget cuts - but then put in for a full day's pay - are getting a pass from the system's chancellor. "Following the California Faculty Association's one-day strike at California State Universities Dominguez Hills and East Bay on Nov. 17, 2011, faculty on your campuses were asked to properly report their time for that day," CSU Chancellor Charles Reed wrote in a Feb. 13 memo. At CSU Dominguez Hills in Carson (Los Angeles County), where there was a sign-in system, 359 faculty members did not work that day...
  • Sea otter recovery deal threatened by 'military readiness' legislation

    02/19/2012 12:59:50 PM PST · by SmithL · 22 replies · 2+ views
    Contra Costa Times ^ | 2/19/12 | Donna Jones, Santa Cruz Sentinel
    Legislation introduced into Congress this week threatens to scuttle a deal to end a quarter-century exclusion of sea otters from Southern California waters. Rep. Elton Gallegly, R-Simi Valley, says HR 4043, the Military Readiness and Southern Sea Otter Conservation Act, aims to ensure the Navy can continue testing weapons on a remote Channel Island and to protect endangered abalone and the commercial shellfish industry. The move has angered sea otter advocates, who want to see the federally designated threatened marine mammal recover throughout its historic range, from Oregon to Baja, Mexico. The bill should be called "S.O.S., Sacrifice Otters for...
  • Public deserves to know if officials enabled ex-judge

    02/19/2012 8:06:51 AM PST · by SmithL · 12 replies
    Knoxville News Sentinel ^ | 2/19/12 | NEWS SENTINEL EDITORIAL BOARD
    As more details of ex-Judge Richard Baumgartner's behavior while in the grip of prescription drug addition come to light, more disturbing questions arise. The public needs answers. A News Sentinel investigative report published one week ago revealed the disgraced Criminal Court judge allegedly shook down court employees for painkillers and intimidated a court security officer into becoming one of his pill suppliers, and that the Knox County Sheriff's Office had at least three chances to uncover his misdeeds. Baumgartner's fall has thrown the criminal justice system in Knox County into disarray. The four defendants in the gruesome Christian/Newsom killings will...
  • Going green will cost California more green

    02/19/2012 7:41:33 AM PST · by SmithL · 27 replies
    Sacramento Bee ^ | 2/19/12 | Dan Walters
    The state of California has made a full-blown commitment to reducing reliance on fossil-fuel energy and other limited resources. Utilities are required to use solar, wind and geothermal sources for a third of their electricity supply by 2020, while owners of homes and businesses are being urged to install solar panels. The state is mandating that automakers dramatically ramp up sales of battery-powered and other low-emission cars. It is imposing new cap-and-trade emission controls on business with hefty fees. Essentially, the state is trying to force California into an entirely new economic structure, claiming, in Gov. Jerry Brown's words, that...
  • 2 Fresno homeless men run up big ambulance bill

    02/19/2012 7:38:08 AM PST · by SmithL · 20 replies
    Sacramento Bee ^ | 2/19/12 | Marc Benjamin, Fresno Bee
    FRESNO – Two homeless men in Fresno have called for an ambulance an average of nearly twice a day for more than a year, racking up hundreds of thousands of dollars in costs – and even more when they get to a hospital. They are Fresno County's highest-volume ambulance users – "frequent fliers" as they are called in the business – and their 1,363 combined trips made up 1.34 percent of all American Ambulance calls in the county last year. "I call all the time," Cesar Arana, 41, said while sitting on a bus-stop bench downtown. "I have a major...
  • Occupy Oakland, then lock and load

    02/19/2012 6:27:37 AM PST · by SmithL · 8 replies
    San Francisco Chronicle ^ | 2/19/12 | Debra J. Saunders
    Occupy Oakland activists have filed a lawsuit against Oakland and are seeking damages. The ACLU-backed suit argues that protesters are engaged in "peaceful expressive activity," while Oakland police have used "excessive force" that has inflicted "mental stress" on activists. The lawsuit also complains that police have not sufficiently warned activists before dispersal orders. Thus Occupiers "did not have an opportunity to gather their belongings and leave the camp without being arrested or harmed." Of course, participants are aware that when they trespass on others' property or block streets to keep people from getting to work that police are supposed to...
  • Bill and Nadia Lockyer: A seemingly perfect life becomes a messy affair

    02/18/2012 11:19:18 AM PST · by SmithL · 18 replies · 1+ views
    Oakland Tribune ^ | 2/18/12 | Josh Richman and Julia Prodis Sulek, Staff Writers
    Over the years, Bill and Nadia Lockyer's neighbors watched the couple walk their young son up and down their Hayward street at Christmastime, admiring the festive lights. The image of this political power couple seemed as perfect as a campaign commercial. Everything seemed "hunky-dory" between the 70-year-old state treasurer and the 40-year-old Alameda County supervisor, said neighbor Stephen Welch. "He seemed happy. She seemed happy. I've never seen conflict or strife or anything," he said. But this week, after stories emerged of Nadia Lockyer's substance abuse, extramarital affair and alleged beating by a former lover in a Newark motel room,...
  • Brown pins legacy to Calif. high-speed rail plans

    02/18/2012 11:02:29 AM PST · by SmithL · 21 replies · 1+ views
    AP via SFGate ^ | 2/18/12 | JULIET WILLIAMS, Associated Press
    Critics have called it the train to nowhere and a $98 billion boondoggle. As concerns mount over the practicality and affordability of California's plan to build a high-speed rail system, even many former supporters are beginning to sound skeptical. Not so Gov. Jerry Brown. He has emerged as the most vocal cheerleader of a project that is as risky as it is ambitious. Building a first-in-the-nation project would provide a lasting legacy for the 73-year-old Democratic governor as he moves into the twilight of a long political career. His father is revered for promoting the construction of California's comprehensive water...
  • FBI probes Oakland teen center renovation

    02/18/2012 10:58:28 AM PST · by SmithL · 2 replies
    San Francisco Chronicle ^ | 2/18/12 | Demian Bulwa, Chronicle Staff Writer
    The FBI has joined Oakland officials in examining a city-funded teen center, asking two construction firms why city Redevelopment Agency officials sought bids from them for a 2010 renovation of the center that had already been completed, representatives of the companies said Friday.The Digital Arts and Culinary Academy, offering free classes in cooking, agriculture and multimedia production, has been run by aides to Councilwoman Desley Brooks since it opened in her East Oakland district last summer. It was renovated in spring 2010 without a contract or City Council approval.Brooks has been trying to get Oakland to pay prime contractor Pulte...
  • Metro Council Member Arrested In Prostitution Sting

    02/16/2012 7:31:33 PM PST · by SmithL · 12 replies
    WTVF-5 CBS ^ | 2/16/12
    NASHVILLE, Tenn.- A Metro Nashville Councilman was arrested Thursday afternoon during a prostitution sting operation in Metro Center. Police said that 33-year-old Metro Councilman Brady Banks paid $100 to female undercover officer in exchange for sex. Officials said that Banks met the officers in a hotel room after responding to an escort service ad posted by the police.Banks was one of three men arrested in the sting. Police also arrested Matthew Moynihan, 38, of Hendersonville and Jyotin Arora, 37.Banks was booked into the Davidson County Jail and was held on $1,000 bond.
  • CalPERS will look again at adjusting forecast

    02/15/2012 3:42:51 PM PST · by SmithL · 6 replies
    Sacramento Bee ^ | 2/15/12 | Dale Kasler
    CalPERS is going to look again at adjusting its investment forecast, a move that could increase taxpayer contributions while ramping up the political heat on public pension funds in California. Just a year ago, the board of the California Public Employees' Retirement System ignored recommendations from senior staff to cut its forecast a quarter-point, to 7.5 percent. Yet on Tuesday, senior actuary Alan Milligan said CalPERS staff will make another recommendation to the board next month. He didn't say what the recommendation will be. But other big public pension funds have been cutting their forecasts in recent years to reflect...
  • SAN FRANCISCO: Play with a condom, get extra credit

    02/15/2012 12:53:06 PM PST · by SmithL · 34 replies
    SFGate: Token Conservative ^ | 2/15/12 | Debra J. Saunders
    As The Chronicle reported today, Galileo High School celebrated Valentine’s Day with a “Love Fest” that featured same-sex marriage ceremonies and safer-sex games. In one exercise, students puts on goggles “that made their vision slightly blurry, simulating a drunken state.” A teacher told students “to put a condom on a wooden penis. Most of the students left air in the condom tip, which could lead to breakage, and that prompted an instructional rebuke from (teacher Raina) Meyers.”
  • State employee unions aren't counting on generous contracts from Democrat Jerry Brown

    02/13/2012 7:52:12 AM PST · by SmithL · 2 replies
    SacBee: The State Worker ^ | 2/13/12 | Jon Ortiz
    Contract talks kicking off this month between the state and four employee unions present Gov. Jerry Brown with a political dilemma: How does he deal fairly with his key labor constituency without exposing himself to charges he's kowtowing to them? The 73-year-old Democrat needs labor's continued backing if he decides to run for another term, but California's $9.2 billion state budget deficit limits what he can offer at the bargaining table. Beyond that, Brown wants to put a tax increase before voters in November, but employee contracts that don't share the fiscal pain would give opponents plenty of ammunition to...
  • California Democrats debate how to raise taxes at statewude convention

    02/12/2012 8:01:11 AM PST · by SmithL · 22 replies
    Sacramento Bee ^ | 2/12/12 | David Siders
    SAN DIEGO – Gov. Jerry Brown acknowledged Saturday that his tax proposal for the November ballot has a "few issues," but he sidestepped the controversy in a high-profile speech at the California Democratic Party's annual convention. A growing rift between Democrats about competing measures to raise taxes was evident at the gathering, where supporters of a competing "millionaire's tax" waved banners outside the San Diego Convention Center. Brown referred only in passing to his tax plan, a major part of his agenda this year. "Look, we've got some issues. We've got a tax measure, we have a little, few issues...
  • Disgraced 'Ogle' Teacher Retires (NYC - King of the 'Rubber Room' Teacher Quits)

    02/10/2012 8:41:06 PM PST · by DogByte6RER · 7 replies
    New York Post ^ | February 10, 2012 | TODD VENEZIA
    Disgraced 'ogle' teacher retires The city's king of the "rubber room" has stepped down. Disgraced educator Alan Rosenfeld, 66, retired on February 3, after a decade of milking tax payers for a $100,049-a-year salary even though he hasn't set foot in a classroom since 2001, school officials said today. The retirement came just days after the Post ran a series of stories exposing Rosenfeld, including how he was banished to a "rubber room" in 2001 for allegedly ogling eighth grade girls -- but then spent his time working on a personal real estate portfolio worth up to $10 million. An...
  • Oakland City Council's disappointing failure

    02/10/2012 9:13:59 AM PST · by SmithL · 3 replies
    San Francisco Chronicle ^ | 2/10/12 | Chip Johnson
    The Occupy movement isn't the only Oakland organization without leadership. Anyone catch the Oakland City Council in action earlier this week? The council failed to pass a resolution calling on police to enforce all available laws to prevent another shutdown of the Port of Oakland or another violent demonstration. The seaport terminal has been shut down twice by Occupy Oakland protests since November. Council members Ignacio de la Fuente, Libby Schaaf, Jane Brunner and Desley Brooks voted in favor of the resolution, which also would have required Occupy protesters to obtain permits for their marches and rallies. But it did...
  • Are Democrats in Sacramento off the hook on pension reform?

    02/09/2012 9:48:05 PM PST · by SmithL · 4 replies
    Oakland Tribune ^ | 2/9/12 | Steven Harmon, Bay Area News Group
    SACRAMENTO -- The decision by a conservative group to drop its pension reform initiatives could mean that Democrats are off the hook for making substantial changes to California's pension system. California Pension Reform suspended its campaign Wednesday after failing to muster any financial backing for either of its two proposed ballot measures, blaming the attorney general's office for a "misleading" title and summary that the group said would have turned voters against them. It's a blow to Republicans, who have long maintained that unfunded liabilities -- at least $75 billion -- are unsustainable and will continue to weigh down the...
  • SAN FRANCISCO: Muni operator “was lost” when bus killed pedestrian

    02/09/2012 2:46:08 PM PST · by SmithL · 17 replies
    SFGate: City Insider ^ | 2/9/12 | Rachel Gordon, Chronicle Staff Writer
    The Muni operator who faces a misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter charge for running over a 23-year-old woman with his bus in a Castro District crosswalk last summer made a brief court appearance this morning on a procedural matter, and in a hallway interview afterward his attorney said that his client shouldn’t be blamed. The real culprit, if there were one, said defense attorney Stuart Hanlon, was inadequate supervision at Muni that allowed his client, Wallace Loggins, to drive a 40-foot bus along unfamiliar streets. “He was was doing everything right, but he was lost,” Hanlon said. “Central Control sent him on...
  • Ninth Circuit Court asks Obama adminstration to clarify its deportation priorities

    02/08/2012 8:24:07 AM PST · by SmithL · 12 replies
    Contra Costa Times ^ | 2/8/12 | Matt O'Brien
    In a direct challenge to the Obama administration, a federal appeals court temporarily halted the deportation of seven immigrants until federal authorities explain whether they should be deported. "It has caused quite a stir," said San Jose immigration lawyer Bernadette Connolly, whose client David Aranda Rodriguez is one of the seven who won the unexpected reprieve Monday. A panel of the San-Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 to give the Obama administration until March 19 to explain if Aranda Rodriguez and the other immigrants deserve a break under a new enforcement policy known as prosecutorial discretion. The...
  • Everyone knows California budget cuts needed, but no one wants to feel the ax

    02/06/2012 2:43:34 PM PST · by SmithL · 20 replies · 2+ views
    Contra Costa Times ^ | 2/6/12 | Tom Barnidge, Contra Costa Times columnist
    If the subject is the state budget, you know what follows: What will be cut this time? This has been an annual discussion ever since California's economy imploded and tax revenues dried up. It was the central topic of state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier's town hall meeting in Concord last week, where he gave a primer on the arcane process by which Sacramento balances income and outflow. He talked about Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed budget for 2012-13, his planned cuts, projected revenues, assumed tax hikes, triggered cuts if the taxes do not pass, and the many meetings that will take place...
  • San Diego judge to decide future of whale 'slavery' case

    02/06/2012 2:36:03 PM PST · by SmithL · 17 replies
    AP via CoCo Times ^ | 2/6/12 | JULIE WATSON, Associated Press
    SAN DIEGO -- A federal judge heard arguments Monday in a case that could determine whether animals enjoy the same constitutional protection against slavery as human beings. Sea World asked U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Miller to dismiss the case filed by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Miller did not make an immediate ruling. PETA named five orcas that were captured in the wild as plaintiffs and claims they are treated like slaves when forced to perform daily at Sea World parks in San Diego and Orlando, Fla. PETA lawyer Jeffrey Kerr said it was a historic day.
  • With $2.4 billion Contra Costa retirement debt, no one should pop champagne corks

    02/05/2012 12:17:27 PM PST · by SmithL · 13 replies
    Contra Costa Times ^ | 2/5/12 | Daniel Borenstein - Staff columnist
    Contra Costa County's finances resemble those of a family that ran up astronomical credit card debts by spending beyond its means. It's not a unique story. Local governments throughout the East Bay face similar problems. Contra Costa leaders deserve credit for starting to adjust their spending about five years ago, earlier than many other public agencies. They began trimming employee salaries, reducing benefits and significantly cutting the size of the workforce. These were painful, but essential, cuts critical to bringing annual expenses in line with income. For next fiscal year, county officials feel confident they have a balanced budget that...
  • Churches balk at birth control rule - Catholics won’t comply, bishop says

    02/03/2012 3:40:14 PM PST · by SmithL · 20 replies
    Journal Gazette ^ | 2/3/12 | Rosa Salter Rodriguez
    FORT WAYNE – A federal rule requiring religious organizations to pay the full cost of birth control, possible abortion-causing drugs and sterilization under their employees’ health plans has aroused local ire, including the local Catholic church’s refusal to comply. On Sunday, Bishop Kevin Rhoades of the Fort Wayne-South Bend Roman Catholic Diocese will make the church’s case against proposed provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to the people in the pews with a statement that will be read at Masses. He issued a statement Thursday. District leaders of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod are expected to discuss the...
  • Republicans prohibit funding for high speed rail

    02/03/2012 2:42:03 PM PST · by SmithL · 19 replies
    SFGate: Politics Blog ^ | 2/3/12 | Carolyn Lochhead, Chronicle Washington Bureau
    House Republicans late Thursday night adopted an amendment that would prohibit California from receiving any high speed rail money in a huge five-year transportation bill headed to the House floor next week. The $270 billion bill also eliminates bicycle and pedestrian programs and detaches urban mass transit funding from its traditional revenue source. The underlying bill did not include any high speed rail funding to begin with, and indeed would cut Amtrak by 25 percent, so the prohibition serves mainly as a stick in the eye to California’s plan for bullet trains. The action is part of a continuing effort...
  • California Democrats distort their majority-vote budget power

    02/03/2012 10:32:50 AM PST · by SmithL · 5 replies
    Sacramento Bee ^ | 2/3/12 | Dan Walters
    Many years of partisan wrangling over the state budget reached a climax in 2010 when public employee unions and Democratic politicians persuaded voters to pass Proposition 25, eliminating the two-thirds vote for budgets. It gave the Legislature's majority Democrats the power to pass budgets without having to garner Republican votes. But that's not all it did. Worried that voters might see it as a political power play, the measure's sponsors added a political sugarplum, one declaring that if legislators didn't pass a budget by June 15, the constitutional deadline, their salaries would be cut off. ...The Legislature is now suing...
  • Berkeley considers closing its multimillion dollar Wells Fargo account . . .

    02/02/2012 9:32:19 AM PST · by SmithL · 13 replies
    Oakland Tribune ^ | 2/2/12 | Doug Oakley
    Berkeley considers closing its multimillion dollar Wells Fargo account over bank's handling of foreclosure crisis Berkeley is considering closing its Wells Fargo account worth $350 million and entrusting the money to a community bank or credit union, saying the bank is partly to blame for the financial crisis of the last four years.The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to study cutting ties with the bank and rewarding "responsible financial institutions" with its business. The city manager will return with a report in May on the feasibility of ending the 8-year-old contract, which is up for renewal at the end...
  • CALIFORNIA: How hard is it to fire a state worker?

    02/02/2012 9:24:46 AM PST · by SmithL · 12 replies
    SacBee: The State Worker ^ | 2/2/12 | Jon Ortiz
    Caltrans' recent decision to "unfire" an employee who admitted falsifying structural tests and let him retire may leave you wondering, How hard is it to fire a state worker? So let's take the aforementioned Duane Wiles. The state Transportation Department fired him in November after The Bee's Charles Piller started asking questions about Wiles' job performance in testing the new Bay Bridge span and other projects. As was his right, Wiles appealed his termination to the State Personnel Board. Caltrans and Wiles settled on an agreement that scrubbed the termination from his file and let him retire. In return, Wiles...
  • Jerry Brown negotiates gambling deals as tribes fill campaign fund

    02/01/2012 10:12:31 AM PST · by SmithL · 2 replies
    Sacramento Bee ^ | 2/1/12 | David Siders
    Gov. Jerry Brown is raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for his tax campaign from California Indian tribes at the same time many tribes are seeking to renegotiate lucrative gambling compacts with him. The Democratic governor, who proposes increasing the state sales tax and income taxes on California's highest earners, is considered more accommodating of tribal interests than his predecessor, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, and his administration is in compact talks "on various levels" with 15 to 20 tribes, Brown's tribal negotiator, Jacob Appelsmith, said Tuesday. Any compacts Brown signs could significantly affect a gambling industry that generates more than $7...