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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...