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THE NOONER for November 19, 2015
Happy Thursday y'all. You're almost therea, and for most of you, next week only means three days of work.
And, for those of who care about the state budget, it's a very happy Thursday following yesterday's release of the Legislative Analyst Office's annual November fiscal update and multi-year forecasts. The Bee's Jim Miller writes "Under a scenario deemed most likely, though, the state would end the next several fiscal years with anywhere from $3.2 billion to $18.2 billion left over. And when the economy does flatten, lawmakers will be able to tap billions of dollars that have been socked away into a voter-approved rainy-day reserve that would help offset any spending cuts, even during a recession."
The Merc News's Jessica Calefati looks at the political challenges that come with the new money. "The news was cheered by Democrats, Republicans and the Brown administration, but it quickly became obvious how much they disagreed sharply about what to do with the windfall, setting up the possibility of an ugly budget battle in 2016."
Of course, lots of the new dough will be going to the pension funds. The LAT's Melody Peterson writes "Taxpayers will pay billions more as CalPERS lowers estimate of investment returns [Melody Peterson @ LAT] - "For years, the California Public Employees' Retirement System has estimated it will earn an average of 7.5% or more a year from its investments. Under the new plan, the pension fund will slowly reduce that rate to 6.5%. . . . The vote was criticized by Gov. Jerry Brown, who had urged the board to move more aggressively to 6.5% rather than stretching the change over decades."
SIGNED, SEALED AND DELIVERED: Darrell Steinberg picked up the endorsement of the Sacramento Central Labor Council in his bid for mayor.
Meanwhile, Kamala Harris picked the endorsement of AFSCME for her Senate bid.
MY JUNKETS WERE IN BURLINGAME: Inside California lawmakers' paid trips to Maui [Alexei Koseff @ SacBee] - "The California Independent Voter Project's annual conference has once again arrived at this $360-a-night hotel on Maui’s southwest shore, bringing together 21 lawmakers and dozens of corporate sponsors for five days of policy discussions and schmoozing."
THE DEAN SPEAKETH: What's behind a bid to shift dollars from the bullet train to water projects [George Skelton @ LAT] - "While high-speed rail certainly will draw the headline focus, the proposal's primary purpose apparently is to reduce water for the environment and provide more for agriculture. It would amend the state constitution to make domestic use and crop irrigation the top priorities for California water. And those would be the only listed priorities."
ROAD BLOCK? Steve Westly runs into trouble [Scott Herhold @ MercNews] - "Put bluntly, Westly confused his roles as a venture capitalist and a politician -- in a way that raises questions about his ability to sell himself as a straight-shooter. It may well force him to think twice about running for governor."
A MAKE OR BREAK YEAR? Money and clout on the line for teachers union in 2016 [Laurel Rosenhall @ CALmatters] - "The California Teachers Association, one of Sacramento’s most powerful interests, is heading into an extraordinary year with decisions on the ballot, in the Capitol and in the courts holding the potential to impact its clout for many years to come. . . .Billions of dollars for schools will likely be at stake on the 2016 ballot as well as pivotal campaigns for state Legislature and a question about union pensions. Meanwhile, the Capitol is expecting a robust debate about how schools are evaluated and courts will hear two lawsuits challenging the teachers union."
UNDER THE MICROSCOPE: California tax board mishandled money, state controller's audit finds [Patrick McGreevy @ LAT] - "The California Board of Equalization is failing to properly handle the money it collects, leading to funds being deposited in the wrong accounts and the failure to collect debts owed to the state, according to a review released Wednesday by state Controller Betty T. Yee." Yee is a member of the board, and served on the board before being elected Controller. [the report]
SPIKE! CalPERS To Vernon Pensioner: Repay $3.5 Million [Ed Mendel @ Calpensions] - "First CalPERS announced last year that it was cutting the eye-popping pension of a former city of Vernon official, Bruce Malkenhorst, from $551,688 a year to $115,848. Then yesterday the CalPERS board approved the recovery of a $3.5 million pension overpayment from Malkenhorst, 84, who retired in 2005 from the tiny industrial city south of downtown Los Angeles known for corruption."
SEPARATE AND UNEQUAL: Medi-Cal cancer patients don't fare much better than the uninsured, UC Davis study says [Soumla Karlamangla @ LAT] - "In the first study of its kind, UC Davis researchers found that compared with patients with other kinds of insurance, cancer patients with Medi-Cal were generally less likely to have their cancers caught at early stages, receive recommended treatments and be alive five years after diagnosis."
THE NEW GENERATION: What happened to Cudahy when a 29-year-old took over as mayor [Ruben Vivas @ LAT] - "The heavily immigrant, working-class towns along the 710 Freeway have long struggled with municipal corruption, in part because there was little public scrutiny of City Hall. A new generation of younger leaders now believes technology can lead to more transparency, and participation."
As the report came yesterday that 450 illicit tamales from Mexico were incinerated--not steamed--at LAX, Donald Trump called for a HUGE wall around the masa.
Congratulations to my longtime friend abd classmate at UC Davis and UC Davis School of Law Lisa Chin on her appointment as Policy Director to Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León! She replaces retiring Geoff Long.
Finally, LA Observed's Kevin Roderick reports on the buyouts at the LA Times, which includes elections reporter Jean Merl. Best wishes Jean, and than you for your coverage.
#CAKEDAY: Light them candles for Senator Bob Hertzberg!
Marco Rubio Picks Up First California Congressional Endorsement; Plans Sacramento Fundraiser
David Siders @ sacbee.com
Doug LaMalfa endorses Florida senator in presidential race
CalPERS To Vernon Pensioner: Repay $3.5 Million
Ed Mendel @ calpensions.com
First CalPERS announced last year that it was cutting the eye-popping pension of a former city of Vernon official, Bruce Malkenhorst, from $551,688 a year to $115,848.
California Ethics Panel Targets Vague Lobbying Payments | The Sacramento Bee
Jeremy B. White @ sacbee.com
Much lobbying activity falls under designation
What's Behind A Bid To Shift Dollars From The Bullet Train To Water Projects
Grab billions from Gov. Jerry Brown's bullet train project and spend it on generating more water. Build some dams. Many Californians have been shouting for that.
Sacramento Union Group Endorses Steinberg For Mayor
Ryan Lillis @ sacbee.com
The Sacramento Central Labor Council, one of the regionâs most influential labor groups, has endorsed former state Senate leader Darrell Steinberg in his campaign for mayor, the group announced Wednesday.
California Tax Board Mishandled Money, State Controller's Audit Finds
State Controller Betty Yee said a review has found money mishandled by the state tax board.
A Sacramento Consultant, The Florida Court, And Control Of Congress
Dan Morain @ sacbee.com
$90.1 million has been spent to shape state supreme courts since 2011, group says
Unitedhealth May Dump Obamacare Plans, Putting California Expansion In Doubt
UnitedHealth warned it may quit selling Obamacare coverage across the country, raising questions about an expansion in California.
Is AG Chilling Charitable Giving?
Steven Greenhut @ sandiegouniontribune.com
California Attorney General Kamala Harris has assured charities that her officeâs demand for the names and addresses of people who make donations are in good hands, given that state policy is to keep such sensitive information private. Yet a federal lawsuit challenging that rule raises questions about the stateâs ability to keep the information private â and offers real concerns to charities who promise anonymity to their donors.
Prop. 98 Guarantee Could Reach $80b By 2020
Tom Chorneau @ cabinetreport.com
Economic uncertainties could threaten the rosy outlook but in its annual report on the general condition of the California economy and the picture moving forward over the next five years, the LAO suggested the stateâs fiscal health couldnât be much better.
Lawsuit Accuses L.A. County Of Denying Welfare Aid To Mentally Ill Homeless People
Hailey Branson-Potts @ latimes.com
A federal lawsuit filed by civil rights attorneys Wednesday accuses Los Angeles County of illegally denying mentally ill homeless people access to general relief, the county's $221-a-month welfare program for the destitute.
Attorney General Kamala Harris Delays Decision On Hospital Deal
Tracy Seipel @ contracostatimes.com
The abrupt change of plan to wait until Dec. 3 came a day after a story by this newspaper first appeared online, questioning whether the proposal by BlueMountain Capital Management to invest in the Catholic hospital chain -- with an option of up to 15 years to buy the system -- was little more than a taxpayer giveaway.
California Drought: Recent Storms Help Sierra Snowpack Not Water Supply - Capradio.org
California remains 92 percent in severe drought, 70 percent in extreme drought and nearly 45 percent in exceptional drought. The U.S. Drought Monitor intensity levels are Abnormally Dry, Moderate, Severe, Extreme and Exceptional Drought.
Berkeley: First-in-nation Soda Tax Begins To Show Results
Whether Measure D is actually achieving its underlying purpose of reducing consumption of sugary drinks and striking a blow against obesity and diabetes, however, is hard to quantify, given that actual figures of local beverage sales are not available. And even if prices overall are being passed on to consumers, bargain prices on soda in Berkeley are still not hard to find.
Why Fewer Mexicans Are Leaving Their Homeland For The U.s.
To its southern neighbor, the United States once represented hope, safety and prosperity. But with the effects of the Great Recession still lingering and tougher enforcement along the U.S. border, fewer Mexicans see a reason to leave their homeland.
S.F. supervisor widens proposal on locking guns left in vehicles
Both regular citizens and law enforcement officers who carry guns in their cars would have to keep the weapons in lock boxes or in the trunk when they park their vehicles in San Francisco, under a proposal being introduced Thursday by Supervisor David Campos. The legislation follows a string of high-profile gun thefts from cars around the Bay Area, most famously the June 27 theft of a firearm from the personal car of a federal Bureau of Land Management ranger in San Francisco. The gun allegedly was used four days later by an immigrant without legal standing in the fatal shooting of Kathryn Steinle as she walked on Pier 14. Campos and several fellow supervisors said at the time that San FranciscoâÂÂs sanctuary city laws were not to blame for the tragedy, that the real issue was the proliferation of easily accessible guns. In September, Campos introduced legislation requiring off-duty local law enforcement officers to secure their guns in lock boxes or locked trunks when they park their cars. Police Chief Greg Suhr supports CamposâÂÂ legislation, and last month issued a bulletin to his department spelling out in detail how all officers must secure their firearms safely. Last month, a gun belonging to an off-duty California Highway Patrol officer was stolen from his personal car in the South of Market neighborhood. A gun allegedly used by three drifters in early October to kill a backpacker in Golden Gate Park and a massage therapist on a Marin hiking trail was stolen from an unlocked car parked near FishermanâÂÂs Wharf. In addition to CamposâÂÂ gun legislation, the package includes a resolution to stop âÂÂneedlessâÂÂ transfers of people from other jurisdictionsâÂÂ custody. A third piece of the package has already passed the Board of Supervisors and calls for the sheriff not to comply with the federal Priority Enforcement Program, which asks that law enforcement officers notify Immigration and Customs Enforcement before releasing immigrants who are in the country illegally. Campos said the guns-in-cars legislation is not intended to shift attention away from the issue of illegal immigration and San FranciscoâÂÂs sanctuary city policy, which limits enforcement of federal immigration laws.