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Gregory Flap Cole
Brown may forge alliance with GOP governors on health plan - http://www.latimes.com/health...
When Gov. Jerry Brown meets with the nation's other governors this weekend in Washington, D.C., he will find common ground with some unlikely counterparts on an unlikely issue: President Obama's healthcare plan. Among the governors now moving nearly as aggressively as Brown to implement the federal healthcare law are conservatives who have long fought to unravel it. They are finding that they cannot afford to pass up Obama's offer of billions of dollars in federal aid to cover expansion of their Medicaid programs for the poor. Arizona's Jan Brewer, New Mexico's Susana Martinez and Nevada's Brian Sandoval — all Republicans — have bucked the GOP trend on the Obama law by opting to accept the new federal money. In Florida, where 20% of residents do not have health insurance, Gov. Rick Scott announced Wednesday that he is joining the renegade group. - Gregory Flap Cole
Gregory Flap Cole
Freer home sales market draws Californians to Texas - http://www.calwatchdog.com/2013...
What draws working and middle class Californians to states like Texas is mostly a freer home sales market, which brings lower prices.  A zero state income tax rate and lower business tax rates that provide incentives for job creation also matter, but to a lesser extent. The Texas advantage occurs even though its property base tax rates are double or triple those in California. However, although the tax rates are higher, because home prices are lower, the rates are applied to the lower values. That is the conclusion of Jed Kolko, the chief economist for Trulia, an online home sales listing company.  Kolko found that net California out-migration (those leaving minus those coming in) is higher for the working and middle class than it is for the wealthy.  Kolko’s statistical analysis actually found that high-income households making $200,000 per year or more were holding steady in California. - Gregory Flap Cole
Gregory Flap Cole
California faces rising bill for retiree healthcare - http://www.latimes.com/news...
First the good news: The state controller says the cost of providing healthcare to retired public employees did not rise as fast as expected. Now the bad news: Over the next three decades, the bill is expected to be $63.84 billion more than Sacramento has set aside to pay for it, and state officials don't have a clear plan to cover those costs. The updated figures were released Thursday by state Controller John Chiang. "The current pay-as-we-go model of funding retiree health benefits is shortsighted and a recipe for undermining the fiscal health of future generations of Californians," Chiang said in a statement. "However, today's challenge won’t necessarily become tomorrow’s crisis if policymakers can muster the fiscal discipline to invest now so that we can pay tens of billions of dollars less later." The unfunded liability for retiree healthcare, considered one of the most troublesome threats to California's financial health, was previously pegged at $62.1 billion. - Gregory Flap Cole
Gregory Flap Cole
Kristin Olsen to move to smaller office after failed GOP move - http://blogs.sacbee.com/capitol...
Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen was ordered to move immediately into a much smaller office in the wake of a failed effort within the Assembly Republican Caucus to oust its leader, Connie Conway. The move was widely regarded as punishment for Olsen, R-Modesto, who had been touted by some Assembly Republicans as a potential successor to Conway. The caucus decided nearly unanimously Thursday to retain Conway, with only one person voting no, members said. "I don't know the exact circumstances of the reason for the move, but I do know that Assembly member Olsen was not the vote to vacate the chair," said Kim Nickols, Olsen's spokeswoman. Nickols declined substantive comment about the caucus leadership turmoil, saying only that "I know that the only thing that's important to her is that the party unifies, refines its message and implements winning strategies." - Gregory Flap Cole
Gregory Flap Cole
572 San Francisco city workers paid more than governor - http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea...
No fewer than 572 San Francisco city workers and executives made more than Gov. Jerry Brown last year. More than 1,500 city workers made more than state Attorney General Kamala Harris. And that's without overtime. "That's pretty staggering," said Tom Dalzell, head of the California Citizens Compensation Commission, which sets pay for state lawmakers. With a salary of $173,987, Brown makes about as much as a senior police sergeant in San Francisco, once premium pay for the cop's years of service, special training and the like are included. - Gregory Flap Cole
Gregory Flap Cole
California laws banning 'one-stop' optician shops withstands challenge - http://www.sacbee.com/2013...
A decadelong legal fight that originated in Sacramento to scuttle California's prohibition on "one-stop-shops" offering both eye examinations and prescription lenses has finally hit the wall with the U.S. Supreme Court refusing to accept the issue for review. Three entities representing "dispensing opticians" – Lenscrafters Inc., Eye Care Centers of America Inc., and the National Association of Optometrists & Opticians – had asked the high court to consider a federal appellate court's rejection of their challenge to the laws. The plaintiffs went to Sacramento federal court in 2002 over California's statutes and regulations that reserve to optometrists and ophthalmologists the ability to offer both eye exams and glasses while denying it to optical companies, many of them national chains. Optometrists and ophthalmologists are classified as health care providers, as opposed to opticians, who fill prescriptions for eyewear. The California Optometric Association, which supported the s... - Gregory Flap Cole
Gregory Flap Cole
California Field Poll: Gov. Brown's approval rating up in poll - http://www.sfgate.com/default...
Gov. Jerry Brown's approval rating has surged to its highest level since he was elected and, despite still giving the Legislature low marks, a strong majority of voters view the Democrats' two-thirds supermajority as a positive, according to a Field Poll released Thursday. The survey also found the highest number of voters who think California is headed in the right direction since the summer of 2007. Brown's approval rating has jumped to 57 percent among those surveyed, with 31 percent disapproving and 12 percent having no opinion. It's the first time the poll has found that the governor has had a majority of voters approving of his performance since he took office in 2011. The previous Field Poll conducted last fall found 46 percent of voters approving his performance, and 37 percent disapproving. The uptick for the governor is due largely to his ability to erase the state's chronic budget deficit that voters had become accustomed to, said Mark DiCamillo, director of the Field Pol - Gregory Flap Cole
Gregory Flap Cole
In California, thousands of teachers missing needed credentials - http://californiawatch.org/k-12...
Every year in California, public school administrators assign thousands of teachers to classes for which they lack the credentials or legal authorization to teach. Untrained teachers have been assigned to a variety of difficult classes, including those filled with English-language learners and others with special intellectual and physical needs. Or, in Parker’s case, to teach social studies when they’re credentialed for biology. Nearly 1 in 10 teachers or certificated personnel – more than 32,000 school employees – did not have the credentials or authorization for their positions from 2007 through 2011, according to data compiled by the state Commission on Teacher Credentialing. The problem is greater at low-performing schools, where students are overwhelmingly low-income and Latino. The average rate of improperly assigned teachers at these schools was 16 percent over the same period. - Gregory Flap Cole
Gregory Flap Cole
California Dept. of Transportation: ‘Be Sure to Black Out the ‘United States’ and [the] Motto’ - http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs...
For three years, a private citizen named Steve LeBard has led the effort to build a privately funded memorial in Orcutt, California—a tranquil small town located on the Golden State’s gorgeous Central Coast—to honor military veterans. And for the better part of those three years, he has run into a toxic blend of political correctness, anti-Americanism, and bureaucratic senselessness. Today, the memorial, which was to be built with private funds on a small piece of public land, remains unbuilt. - Gregory Flap Cole
Gregory Flap Cole
Mistake in First California Carbon Auction Raises Questions About Secrecy - http://blogs.kqed.org/newsfix...
California’s cap-and-trade program to cut greenhouse gases resumed this week with its second auction of carbon allowances to industrial polluters. The market is being closely watched around the world, and billions of dollars are at stake. But some nagging questions are lingering from the first auction. The state’s first-ever carbon auction last November was a very exclusive online event, open only to bidders and regulators at the California Air Resources Board (CARB). Four days later, Mary Nichols, who heads the board, declared it a resounding success, saying the auction came off "without a hitch." - Gregory Flap Cole
Gregory Flap Cole
We predicted there was no California tax ‘windfall’ - http://www.calwatchdog.com/2013...
The bottom line is that people react to tax increases. When he was plumping for the $6 billion Proposition 30 tax increase last fall, Gov. Jerry Brown touted a study by two Stanford sociologists that rich people supposedly don’t leave to avoid paying higher taxes. I debunked that study here and here. Wayne Lusvardi did so here. In about two months we’ll know much more about how Prop. 30 — and the federal Obamacare and fiscal cliff — tax increases have affected tax receipts and employment. - Gregory Flap Cole
Gregory Flap Cole
CalPERS to sell all its stock in two gun manufacturers - http://www.latimes.com/busines...
The nation's biggest public pension fund is taking a stand against gun violence by voting to sell all its investments in two firearms manufacturers: Smith & Wesson Holding Corp. and Sturm, Ruger & Co. On Tuesday, the Investment Committee of the California Public Employees' retirement System voted to sell about $5 million worth of the gun makers' stock and other securities. Some of the two companies' products -- particularly assault weapons and cheap handguns, known as Saturday night specials -- are illegal in California. They "present a significant danger to the health, safety and lives of California residents, including our members, no matter where such weapons are sold or trafficked in the United States," read the motion approved by the CalPERS board's Investment Committee in a 9 to 3 vote. Representatives of Smith & Wesson and Sturm, Ruger did not respond to requests for comment on the CalPERS vote. - Gregory Flap Cole
Gregory Flap Cole
California Insurance commissioner touts new plan for CA health-care regions - http://blogs.sacbee.com/capitol...
Saying the Legislature's existing proposal could exacerbate rate shock, state Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones unveiled his own proposal Tuesday for dividing California into geographic regions for implementing federal health-care reform. Jones vowed to appear Wednesday before Senate and Assembly health committees to push his 18-region plan instead of existing legislative proposals for six regions in 2014 and 13 regions in 2015. "I believe very strongly that we should draw regions in a way that minimizes rate increases," Jones said. Because costs of providing health care differ among communities, residents could find themselves paying higher or lower premiums based on the extent to which regions drawn by the state differ from those currently used by health insurance firms. - Gregory Flap Cole
Gregory Flap Cole
Second cap and trade California auction needs big bucks - http://www.news10.net/capitol...
In a private and somewhat secret event on Tuesday, Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed state budget inched a little more towards balance... or further towards a multi-million dollar hole created by what's turned out to be relatively low demand for greenhouse gas pollution credits. It was the second of three initial auctions of carbon dioxide credits, and the first since November's offering came up significantly short in revenues available to the state. Net proceeds won't be revealed by the California Air Resources Board until Friday.  The first auction brought in $55.8 million, less than a third of the $200 million expected in the governor's budget through the end of June. - Gregory Flap Cole
Gregory Flap Cole
California inmates renew demands - http://www.latimes.com/news...
California prison inmates housed in the state's highest-security prison have sent an open letter to Gov. Jerry Brown, threatening hunger strikes and work stoppages if the state does not limit the length of time prisoners can be held in isolation cells. The undated letter, signed by four prisoners housed in segregation at Pelican Bay State Prison, contends California prison officials failed to deliver on promises made to end a series of prison hunger strikes that involved as many as 6,500 inmates in 2011. Giving a July 8 deadline, the inmates ask for an end to indefinite holding of prisoners in Security Housing Units, where they are isolated from other inmates, denied privileges and allowed out of the cell 90 minutes a day. - Gregory Flap Cole
Gregory Flap Cole
Jerry Buss dies at 80; Lakers owner brought 'Showtime' success to L.A. - http://www.latimes.com/sports...
When Jerry Buss bought the Lakers in 1979, he wanted to build a championship team. He also wanted to put on a show. The new owner gave courtside seats to movie stars. He hired pretty women to dance during timeouts. He spent freely on big stars and encouraged a fast-paced, exuberant style of play. As the Lakers sprinted to one NBA title after another, Buss cut an audacious figure in the stands, an aging playboy in bluejeans, often with a younger woman by his side. - Gregory Flap Cole
Gregory Flap Cole
N.J. Gov. Christie in La Jolla, Romney sons join the party - http://www.utsandiego.com/news...
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie swooped into town last week for a fundraiser in La Jolla that drew about 50 people, including two of Mitt Romney’s sons, Matt and Craig. The robust governor alienated many Mitt Romney supporters by making nice with President Barack Obama in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and just days before the November election. The La Jolla conclave came between a similar cash grab in Los Angeles on Monday and one in Santa Barbara on Wednesday. Christie was warmly received here with no rancor stemming from his recent coziness with the president, according to Ron Nehring, vice chair of the county GOP. - Gregory Flap Cole
Gregory Flap Cole
California's budget windfall could end soon, officials say - http://www.latimes.com/news...
The surge of revenue that showed up unexpectedly in state coffers last month may well be offset by a revenue dip in coming months, according to Gov. Jerry Brown's administration. The surprise money has been the source of much speculation in the Capitol. Unanticipated tax receipts filled state coffers with more than $5 billion beyond initial projections for January — more tax dollars than are allocated to the entire state university system in a year. The revenue bump was historic. But the question for budget experts was whether lawmakers could begin allocating the windfall toward government programs and tax breaks — or whether the money amounted to an accounting anomaly. - Gregory Flap Cole
Gregory Flap Cole
Battle builds over calculating California Public Employee pensions - http://www.utsandiego.com/news...
Debate is brewing across the state over which types of pay can be counted toward a public worker’s pension — fallout from landmark changes that went into effect this year. The overhaul, signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown, was intended to slash swelling pension costs by raising the retirement age for new workers and increasing employee pension contributions. The sweeping revision, known as the California Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act of 2013, also limits what’s considered pensionable compensation. This is crucial because it’s aimed to curb pension spiking and other issues that have caused governments to bleed money. However, redefining what types of pay can be used to determine pension amounts has led to at least four legal challenges from labor groups mainly in northern California. And the state’s largest public retirement system, which includes nearly all the cities in San Diego County, has stepped in to offer its interpretation of the term. - Gregory Flap Cole
Gregory Flap Cole
Crazifornia: Will it be Gov. Brownout? - http://www.calwatchdog.com/2013...
With long-time environmentalist Gov. Jerry Brown at California’s helm, green-leaning Democrat super-majorities in both houses of the state legislature and entrenched eco-crats ruling the state’s regulatory agencies, the AES plant is certain to remain shuttered no matter what the summer may bring. The carbon crusaders simply cannot afford to allow a high-profile precedent to undercut the centerpiece of their carbon-fighting battle so early in the auction’s history. So, should brownouts and blackouts return to California this summer, remember this: It wasn’t really problems at the San Onofre nuclear power plant that caused them. It was problems in the thinking of California’s leadership. - Gregory Flap Cole
Gregory Flap Cole
Manuel Rojas, burrito maestro of El Tepeyac has passed away? - http://www.laobserved.com/archive...
Reports on social media are saying that the proprietor of Manny's Original El Tepeyac in Boyle Heights has died. KFI News tweeted that employees of the burrito stand on Evergreen Avenue confirmed Rojas' death. The station notes Rojas is credited with creating the Hollenbeck Burrito: it's made with pork verde, rice, beans and guacamole and topped with chile verde. - Gregory Flap Cole
Gregory Flap Cole
Health care topic of California special legislative session - http://www.sfgate.com/health...
California leaders are getting ready to consider legislation to expand health insurance coverage to millions of uninsured state residents as the start date of the federal Affordable Care Act moves closer. The act was signed into law by President Obama in 2010, but California must still pass bills to expand its Medicaid program, known as Medi-Cal, for more than 1 million new people and set the rules that the insurance industry must follow when individuals begin to purchase medical insurance through an open market exchange. Starting next week, lawmakers at the Capitol will hold hearings on bills that will help California set the stage for Obamacare. "These are the bills that make these reforms real," said Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, a health care advocacy organization. "In order for these consumer protections to be enforced by our regulators, they need to be in state law. In order for coverage expansion to happen, we need to put these changes to ... - Gregory Flap Cole
Gregory Flap Cole
Bill would require 3-day wait before California state lawmakers act - http://www.ocregister.com/news...
Jamming major bills through the Legislature at the last minute with little if any time for review has been an ongoing source of frustration for some lawmakers, especially minority Republicans. The practice has been used often on budget bills, forcing lawmakers to vote on spending issues with long-term consequences without having the ability to actually read what's in them. That would change under legislation being proposed by two lawmakers. ADVERTISEMENT The identical bills by Democratic Sen. Lois Wolk of Davis and Republican Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen of Modesto would require all legislation to be in print and online 72 hours before it comes to a vote. Both bills would be constitutional amendments and would have to be approved by the voters. To get on the ballot, SCA10 or ACA4 need a two-thirds vote in the Legislature. - Gregory Flap Cole
Gregory Flap Cole
Cardinal Mahony used cemetery money to pay sex abuse settlement - http://www.latimes.com/news...
Pressed to come up with hundreds of millions of dollars to settle clergy sex abuse lawsuits, Cardinal Roger M. Mahony turned to one group of Catholics whose faith could not be shaken: the dead. Under his leadership in 2007, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles quietly appropriated $115 million from a cemetery maintenance fund and used it to help pay a landmark settlement with molestation victims. The church did not inform relatives of the deceased that it had taken the money, which amounted to 88% of the fund. Families of those buried in church-owned cemeteries and interred in its mausoleums have contributed to a dedicated account for the perpetual care of graves, crypts and grounds since the 1890s. Mahony and other church officials also did not mention the cemetery fund in numerous public statements about how the archdiocese planned to cover the $660-million abuse settlement. In detailed presentations to parish groups, the cardinal and his aides said they had cashed in substantial inv... - Gregory Flap Cole
Gregory Flap Cole
California lacks doctors to meet demand of national healthcare law - http://www.latimes.com/health...
As the state moves to expand healthcare coverage to millions of Californians under President Obama's healthcare law, it faces a major obstacle: There aren't enough doctors to treat a crush of newly insured patients. Some lawmakers want to fill the gap by redefining who can provide healthcare. They are working on proposals that would allow physician assistants to treat more patients and nurse practitioners to set up independent practices. Pharmacists and optometrists could act as primary care providers, diagnosing and managing some chronic illnesses, such as diabetes and high-blood pressure. "We're going to be mandating that every single person in this state have insurance," said state Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina), chairman of the Senate Health Committee and leader of the effort to expand professional boundaries. "What good is it if they are going to have a health insurance card but no access to doctors?" - Gregory Flap Cole
Gregory Flap Cole
California Ballot Prop Would Force State Takeover of Utilities - http://www.kcet.org/news...
Activist Ben Davis, Jr., who led the 1980s initiative campaign to close the Rancho Seco Nuclear Power Plant near Sacramento, now has an even more ambitious initiative project in the works. The measure, which was cleared for signature-gathering Monday by Secretary of State Debra Bowen, would abolish the state's investor-owned power companies -- including Southern California Edison (SCE), Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), and San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E), and replace them with the publicly owned "California Electrical Utility District." The measure must gain 504,760 voter signatures by July 1 to qualify for the ballot. - Gregory Flap Cole
Gregory Flap Cole
Environmental groups, unions team up to oppose CEQA push - http://blogs.sacbee.com/capitol...
The battle lines are being drawn in the upcoming legislative fight over California's environmental review laws. More than a dozen environmental, labor and social justice groups announced Wednesday that they are joining forces to oppose an expected push to overhaul the California Environmental Quality Act. Members pledged to fight "radical reforms that would limit public input into land use planning, threaten public health, and weaken environmental protections." The group, CEQA Works, includes the California League of Conservation Voters, Planning and Conservation League, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club California, the California Teamsters Public Affairs Council, State Building and Construction Trades Council, United Food & Commercial Workers and the League of Women Voters of California. - Gregory Flap Cole
Gregory Flap Cole
California Democrats to push 10-bill package on gun control in Senate - http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/califor...
State Senate Democrats on Thursday finalized a package of 10 gun-control bills they will pursue this year, and received backing for the measures from the mayors of Los Angeles and San Francisco. Among the bills, Sen. Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley) called for outlawing possession of large-capacity ammunition magazines over 10 rounds. The sale of such magazines had been banned, but Hancock said some possessors of the clips have been able to escape prosecution by claiming they were purchased before the law was changed. Senate President Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) proposed a ban on the future sale, purchase and manufacture in California of semi-automatic rifles that can accept detachable magazines. "The truth of the matter is that we can save many lives by curbing the proliferation of rapid-fire weapons," Steinberg told reporters at the Capitol. "We can save lives by getting guns out of the hands of people who should not have them." - Gregory Flap Cole
Gregory Flap Cole
Budget analyst warns that Los Angeles is at a financial crossroads - http://www.dailynews.com/news...
Los Angeles' top budget analyst warned that the city could lose 500 cops and be forced to close jails, cut the Fire Department and make other public-safety cuts if a proposed half-percent sales tax doesn't pass on March 5. Los Angeles is at a financial crossroads, City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana wrote in a detailed report released Thursday. Although the city has made significant budget savings in recent years, without new money, the city could have to reverse hard-fought police staffing gains. Santana's report comes as voters consider the Measure A half-percent sales tax increase on the ballot and as Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa prepares his final budget for 2013-14. "While we are starting to see the `light of the end of the tunnel,' the security provided by this optimistic picture is still very fragile and not an accurate reflection of the structural problems that the city is facing," Santana said. - Gregory Flap Cole
Gregory Flap Cole
The Pension Fund That Ate California - http://www.city-journal.org/2013...
CalPERS’s advocacy for higher benefits and its poor investment performance in recent years have locked in long-term debt in California and driven up costs, problems for which there are no easy solutions. As former Schwarzenegger economic advisor David Crane, a California Democrat, has said of the fund’s managers and board: “They are desperate to keep truths hidden.” - Gregory Flap Cole
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