Archive for December, 2009

RivPE: Region historically produces few candidates for statewide races

10:38 PM PST on Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Sacramento Bureau

The Sacramento area will be represented, as will Orange County, California’s Central Coast and greater Fresno. The Los Angeles and San Francisco regions will have sizable contingents.

But when voters go to the polls in the spring, their ballots likely will lack any candidates for statewide office who hail from Riverside or San Bernardino counties. And that’s nothing new.

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WSJ: California Pushes for Federal Help


Facing a $21 billion shortfall through June 2011, California leaders want billions of dollars in budget relief from Washington that could head off deep cuts expected to state programs.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will ask the White House to waive rules that require the state to spend its own money on certain programs to receive federal funds, according to California officials briefed on the Republican’s coming budget proposal.

Such relief, combined with additional stimulus funds, could save the state as much as $8 billion in the next 18 months, the officials said.

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Merry Christmas from Inland Politics

Inland Politics would like to wish all of our readers a Merry Christmas.

Today, in a surprise development the California Supreme Court has requested briefing related to a Petition for Review filed by former Assistant Assessor Jim Erwin.

On December 10, 2009, Erwin filed an appeal of Superior Court Judge Duke Rouse’s denial of an evidentiary hearing to determine whether sufficient evidence exists to disqualify the San Bernardino County District Attorney from prosecuting the case against him.

The appeal was summarily denied by the Fourth District Court of Appeals last Friday.

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LATimes: Senate passes healthcare overhaul

Democrats win the vote 60-39 over Republican objections. It must be reconciled with the House’s legislation in the New Year before President Obama can sign off on his top domestic priority.

By James Oliphant

December 24, 2009 | 5:32 a.m.

Reporting from Washington – Senate Democrats this morning passed a sweeping healthcare overhaul bill, setting the stage for reconciliation early next year with similarly historic legislation passed by the House last month.

The vote was 60-39. It came after months of bitter partisan warfare, culminating in a series of votes this week that thwarted a threatened Republican filibuster.

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OCRegister: Effort abandoned to recall Assemblyman Adams

December 23rd, 2009, 4:39 pm
Posted by Martin Wisckol, Politics reporter

The Orange County-based effort to recall Assemblyman Anthony Adams, R-Hesperia, has been abandoned as proponents have decided not to sue to put the recall on the ballot.

The group sought to recall their fellow Republican because he was one of six GOP legislators who helped approve a budget this year that included temporary sales tax and vehicle license fee hikes. A total of 35,825 valid signatures were needed to qualify the recall. A sample of the 58,384 signatures submitted projected that only 24,579 would be valid.

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Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger plans to save $1.6 billion in state employee costs by extending monthly furloughs past June, laying off staff or shifting general fund workers into state jobs financed by other revenues, according to sources familiar with the governor’s forthcoming budget proposal.

Schwarzenegger and lawmakers must eliminate an estimated $20.7 billion general fund budget deficit over the next 18 months. The governor already has dismissed higher taxes as an option after temporarily raising them in February. Instead, he hopes to rely on spending cuts, a massive infusion of federal aid and creative ways of reassigning revenues to cover the gap.

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VVDailyPress: Caldwell, Roberts still face fraud claims

December 23, 2009 3:32 PM

VICTORVILLE • A judge declined to dismiss fraud claims against Councilman Terry Caldwell and former city manager Jon Roberts, in a $33 million civil suit filed by CMB Exports.

The suit stems from a 2008 trip to China, where CMB took Caldwell, Roberts and Inland Energy’s William Buck Johns along to seek funding for Southern California Logistics Airport through the EB-5 investments-for-visas program. The federal program allows foreign citizens to get American visas in exchange for loaning $500,000 to the city.

While in China, Caldwell signed a memorandum of understanding with CMB agreeing to explore a partnership and forbidding the city from using any of the company’s information or consultants for two years.

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SBSun: Schwarzenegger cool to health bill

Rebecca Kimitch, Staff Writer
Posted: 12/23/2009 10:16:35 PM PST

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has long championed national health care reform, but now that it is finally advancing, he is raising concerns about the $3 billion annual price tag he says it will cost California.

But reform supporters, including Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, say the benefits of reform for the state far outweigh the costs.

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By Shane Goldmacher and Ari B. Bloomekatz

December 24, 2009

Reporting from Los Angeles and Sacramento – Mass transit boosters reacted angrily Wednesday to news that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger plans to tap public transportation funds again in an effort to balance California’s budget.

The governor’s latest plan, a complex gas-tax swap that officials familiar with the plan said would shrink transit funds by as much as $1 billion, could trigger another round of route closures and fare hikes for buses and rail lines across the state, transit advocates said.

It follows a state Supreme Court ruling in June that declared years of administration raids on transit money illegal.

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LATimes: Schwarzenegger to seek federal help for California budget

Facing another huge deficit, the governor wants $8 billion or threatens massive cuts in social services. He also plans to renew push for offshore oil drilling.
By Shane Goldmacher and Evan Halper

December 23, 2009

Reporting from Sacramento – Facing a budget deficit of more than $20 billion, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is expected to call for deep reductions in already suffering local mass transit programs, renew his push to expand oil drilling off the Santa Barbara coast and appeal to Washington for billions of dollars in federal help, according to state officials and lobbyists familiar with the plan.

If Washington does not provide roughly $8 billion in new aid for the state, the governor threatens to severely cut back — if not eliminate — CalWORKS, the state’s main welfare program; the In-Home Health Care Services program for the disabled and elderly poor, and two tax breaks for large corporations recently approved by the Legislature, the officials said.

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SBSun OpEd: It’s time to get people back to work

Sen. Bob Dutton
Posted: 12/22/2009 06:04:10 PM PST

This holiday season, Sacramento policymakers have little reason for good cheer. Deficit spending, high taxes and excessive regulations are the equivalent of a large lump of coal in politicians’ stockings.

The public gets it. Most Californians appropriately blame California’s leaders for our failure to act: the governor’s approval rating has sunk to 27 percent, while a record low 17 percent approve of the Legislature’s work.

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Joe Nelson, Staff Writer
Posted: 12/22/2009 08:56:21 PM PST

The San Bernardino Chamber of Commerce plans to present a resolution stating its position on a proposed county government center at the Carousel Mall by the first of the year, chamber president Judi Penman said Tuesday.

The chamber is pushing to have its resolution presented to the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors sometime after its first meeting in January, Penman said.

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SBSun: Colton mayor is 2009 recipient of Thalman award

Michael J. Sorba, Staff Writer
Posted: 12/22/2009 03:08:10 PM PST

COLTON – This month, Mayor Kelly Chastain was presented with the League of California Cities James S. Thalman Memorial Public Service Award.

Chastain is the seventh recipient of the award, which honors elected and appointed city officials for outstanding efforts on behalf of their city.

The league’s Inland Empire Division President, Rancho Cucamonga Councilman L. Dennis Michael, said Chastain was selected “for her dedication of service on behalf of her city and region to protect and further the cause of vital local government services.”

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SBSun: Senator stands by moderate label

James Rufus Koren, Staff Writer
Posted: 12/22/2009 02:47:04 PM PST

Around this time every year, special interest groups in California publish grades for state lawmakers – ranking Assembly members and Senators on how often they stood up for the environment or for business owners or for public schools.

For many lawmakers, it’s an unpleasant part of the holiday season.

“A lot of people just dread the scorecards,” said Sen. Gloria Negrete McLeod, D-Montclair.

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By Steven Harmon
Contra Costa Times

Posted: 12/21/2009 04:25:50 PM PST
Updated: 12/21/2009 09:55:18 PM PST

SACRAMENTO — A brutal economy has put Democrats at an even worse cash disadvantage than they could have expected in seeking to win back the governorship against a potential Republican candidate with unlimited means to finance a campaign.

Big-money donors gave cash less freely in 2009, resulting in a relatively lackluster year of fundraising, Democrats acknowledged.

“It’s tough out there, no question,” said Democratic fundraiser Dan Weitzman, who helps raise cash for the state Democratic Party, Assembly Speaker Karen Bass and a handful of legislative candidates.

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LATimes: Small-business bankruptcies rise 81% in California

With credit tight and consumers still pinching their pennies, many business owners find they can’t go on.

More prime mortgages default in 3rd quarter More prime mortgages default in 3rd quarter

By Nathan Olivarez-Giles

December 22, 2009

The Obama administration’s new plan to give a boost to small businesses reflects continued trouble in that sector, which is facing new failures even as much of the nation’s economy is stabilizing.

As credit lines have shrunk and consumers have cut back on spending, thousands of small businesses have closed their doors over the last year. The plight of struggling firms has been aggravated by the reluctance of banks to lend money, said Brian Headd, an economist at the Small Business Administration’s office of advocacy.

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SFChronicle: Court accuses state lawyers of lying

Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

(12-21) 17:58 PST SAN FRANCISCO — A federal appeals court bluntly accused the Schwarzenegger administration and state Attorney General Jerry Brown’s office on Monday of lying about its defense of cuts in Medi-Cal fees.

Lawyers in Brown’s office committed a “clear violation” of State Bar rules that prohibit attorneys from misleading judges, raising doubts about the credibility of any future statements they make on behalf of state health officials, said the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

The court said health officials, through their lawyers, had lied about why the state waited more than a year to make its current arguments in the case.

Brown’s office said the court’s comments were “based on a misunderstanding” that the state’s lawyers will try to clear up in the next few days.

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SBSun Editorial: Let commission redraw lines

Posted: 12/21/2009 08:56:44 PM PST

Reporter James Rufus Koren’s two-part series on redrawing political districts in California leads us to draw this conclusion:

We hope the same independent, 14-member commission being formed to redistrict legislative seats also will be called upon to redraw the state’s congressional boundaries. That could happen if an initiative to that effect qualifies for the ballot and is passed in 2010.

It’s an easy conclusion to reach. We’d rather have an independent group draw up the districts based on the 2010 Census than have legislators do it. We’ve seen how the legislators handle it, and it’s to benefit politicians, not voters.

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LATimes: More prime mortgages default in 3rd quarter


Many homeowners with modified mortgages fall behind again. And the number of homes in foreclosure rises, though new foreclosures are steady, report shows.

By Jim Puzzanghera

December 22, 2009

Reporting from Washington – Troubled home loans continued to mount in the nation’s banks in the third quarter as even once-solid borrowers increasingly fell behind on their mortgage payments.

For the first quarter ever, the number of homes in foreclosure with mortgages serviced by U.S. national banks and savings and loans topped the 1-million mark, according to figures released Monday by the Office of Thrift Supervision and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

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10:41 PM PST on Monday, December 21, 2009

The Press-Enterprise

Sen. Dianne Feinstein introduced legislation Monday that would create two national monuments and protect more than a million acres of public land in eastern San Bernardino County and northwest of Palm Springs.

The bill also would enlarge existing parks and designate permanent off-road vehicle play areas.

The proposed legislation represents an apparent compromise Feinstein reached in private talks with alternative-energy developers and preservationists over the past few months.

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RivPE: Baca will bring back his bill if Tiger cleans up his act


11:05 PM PST on Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Press-Enterprise

After leaving legislation to honor Tiger Woods in the proverbial rough, Inland Rep. Joe Baca says a mulligan could be in order sometime in the future — if the scandal-plagued golfer cleans up his act.

Baca recently announced that he has no plans to move forward with his bill seeking the Congressional Gold Medal for Woods, in light of Woods’ admission of “transgressions” in his personal life and rumors of extramarital affairs.

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SBSun: Area could gain clout in Congress

Lines to shift for I.E. politics

James Rufus Koren, Staff Writer
Posted: 12/20/2009 09:24:19 PM PST

It’s not clear who will redraw California’s congressional districts in 2011, but it’s a near certainty that the Inland Empire will have more seats in Congress once the new lines are in place, experts say.

Thanks to the state’s partisan redistricting process, a new Inland Empire seat would likely be Democrat-controlled and would come at the expense of the Bay Area, which has grown much more slowly than San Bernardino and Riverside counties.

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Documents show Alfred J.R. Villalobos was helping private equity firms win deals with the California pension fund while also working for a firm hired by CalPERS to give it investment advice.

By Evan Halper and Marc Lifsher

December 21, 2009

Reporting from Sacramento – A Nevada businessman was paid $17 million by two private equity firms to help them win business from California’s giant pension fund at the same time he was working for a La Jolla company that was advising the fund on those investments.

The board of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System had been informed about the arrangement during a closed-door meeting.Its legal staff determined there was no conflict of interest, and the board approved $1 billion in investments with private equity funds Apollo Global Management and Aurora Capital Group.

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More borrowers with mortgages serviced by national banks and savings and loans, which hold 34 million loans, or 65% of all outstanding U.S. mortgages, fell into arrears from July 1 to Sept. 30.

By Jim Puzzanghera

December 21, 2009 | 7:34 a.m.

Reporting from Washington – The number of home foreclosures for a major sector of the banking industry topped 1 million for the first time in the third quarter of the year as struggles spread to homeowners with prime loans and modified mortgage payments, according to new data released today by federal regulators.

The report covers mortgages serviced by national banks and savings and loans — about 34 million loans, or 65% of all outstanding U.S. mortgages. It showed that housing troubles continued to rise for the period from July 1 to Sept. 30, with the percentage of homeowners at least 60 days delinquent on their payments rising to 6.2%. That represented a 16.7% increase over the second quarter and a 73.8% increase from a year earlier, according to the report by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Office of Thrift Supervision.

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RivPE: Campaign-finance laws snared San Jacinto defendants

10:59 PM PST on Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sacramento Bureau

SACRAMENTO – Nine years ago, Stephen Holgate could have given as much as he wanted to aid the Assembly aspirations of San Jacinto Councilman Jim Ayres. Both men would have been in good company.

But now the two face dozens of charges for running afoul of California’s campaign-finance law. It is at the heart of last month’s 155-count indictment against nine political and civic leaders in San Jacinto, and the basis of last week’s charges against six more people.

The case highlights Riverside County’s role as one of the few — if only — counties in California to prosecute contribution-limit violators, who usually are dealt with by the state’s campaign-finance watchdog agency.

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RivPE: Developer describes how political access helps process

11:01 PM PST on Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Press-Enterprise

Getting a development done in San Jacinto, like many places in Southern California, is a matter of preparation and communication.

It’s having the right permits, making the necessary estimates of time and cost, and then selling that plan — just lines on a plat map — to local officials.

That takes face time. Whether it’s in a coffeehouse around the block from city hall or a developer’s home, the businessmen trying to build and the city leaders trying to encourage growth rub elbows, share stories, and talk about how to make development — inevitable in the region — harmonious with the city.

But sometimes those meetings, close encounters that are the bedrock of business in small cities such as San Jacinto, cross from perfectly legal to prosecutable.

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DailyBulletin: Claremont’s budget is key in new year

Wes Woods II, Staff Writer
Created: 12/20/2009 09:25:18 PM PST

CLAREMONT – Like many cities in California, city and school board officials contend that budgetary issues will be at the top of their agendas in 2010.

“The big stuff for us is going to be No.1. We start our budget process for our two-year budget come January,” Claremont City Manager Jeff Parker said.

“Obviously, we’re working on that with the economics of today.”

The city will first have to deal with additional impacts from the state budget cuts, Parker said. He also strongly criticized lawmakers in Sacramento and the impact of their actions on Claremont.

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Maritza Velazquez, Staff Writer
Created: 12/20/2009 09:25:23 PM PST

POMONA – For the past year, students, faculty and staff at California’s public universities have protested massive budget cuts, but most of their demands have fallen upon deaf ears.

But at Cal Poly Pomona, where a 21 percent budget reduction is threatening dozens of programs and departments, the school president is meeting with legislators to drum up support for higher education.

Cal Poly Pomona President J. Michael Ortiz spent time this month with local legislators to try to persuade them to become “champions” for higher education. He also invited the campus community to join him.

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SBSun: Fontana ACORN activist steps up fight

Josh Dulaney, Staff Writer
Posted: 12/20/2009 07:31:43 PM PST

FONTANA – Bobbi Jo Chavarria got her first taste of political involvement more than 30 years ago in Santa Ana, where her grandmother volunteered as a poll worker during the 1976 elections.

Three decades and a Rage Against the Machine concert later, the 38-year-old ACORN activist has drawn the ire of city officials, conservative residents and right-wing activists in the wake of her public calls for local leaders to condemn the federal 287(g) Program, which allows designated law enforcement authorities to enforce federal immigration laws.

She’s been called a race baiter and a Marxist.

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Well, here we are. December 2009. The date promised for the arrival of the long-awaited passenger airline.

It’s time to justify the $130 million in taxpayer funds spent on the upgrade and construction of facility improvements to include a new passenger terminal.

I was stationed at the former Norton Air Force Base four more than four years in the 1980’s. I was saddened to see the base close and drain the area of its life blood. I would like nothing more to see air traffic once again fill the sky over SanBernardino . But let’s face the facts. The severe economic downturn enveloping the area and the country has delayed any potential arrival of a air carrier to the converted military base.

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11:09 PM PST on Saturday, December 19, 2009

Sacramento Bureau

SACRAMENTO – Inland cities and counties have been hit with a one-two punch of falling sales tax revenue and a widespread drop in property tax receipts.

The two are the biggest sources of money for parks, public safety, libraries, homeless services and other local programs. Inland officials planning next year’s budgets are weighing salary freezes, service cuts, layoffs and other measures to deal with the downturn in revenue.

Late last month, the state Board of Equalization notified 535 cities and counties that they would be getting smaller sales tax allocations than had been projected because of the steep drop in taxable sales.

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Questionable practice alarms forensic auditor

By Brooke Edwards
Staff Writer

VICTORVILLE • The city has two versions of its Water District audit done by two different firms for the 2007-08 fiscal year — and the reports show the same $51 million used two different ways, the Daily Press has learned.

On the Water District audit completed by Charles Z. Fedak & Company, the district was shown to have $58 million in cash and cash equivalents as of June 30, 2008.

That audit was used to help try and secure bond financing for the city’s wastewater treatment plant, according to Deputy City Manager Doug Robertson. But on the citywide audit for the same time period, completed by Mayer Hoffman McCann P.C., the Water District was listed as having just $7 million in cash.

That’s largely because the city’s audit includes $39 million in interfund loans not mentioned on the Water District audit. The city audit states these loans were needed to plug revenue holes for Southern California Logistics Airport Authority, the city’s utility and its golf courses.

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SBSun: New I.E. Assembly seat likely

Area’s growth seen as helping Democrats
James Rufus Koren, Staff Writer
Posted: 12/19/2009 04:43:34 PM PST

The Inland Empire’s rapid growth over the past decade means the region will almost certainly have more representation – and more elected Democrats – in Sacramento beginning in 2012, experts say.

“There’s no question in my mind, as far as population goes, that the Inland Empire will gain additional seats,” said Tony Quinn, a California political analyst and co-author of the California Target Book, which handicaps political races. “I would expect to see at least one additional assembly seat in your general area, maybe more.”

Political observers say gaining a few more seats – perhaps two Assembly seats and one Senate seat – won’t give the region much more political clout, but new seats could change the region’s political face.

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Budget Cuts

By Steve Wiegand
Published: Sunday, Dec. 20, 2009 – 12:00 am | Page 24A

Six months into the leanest fiscal year in memory, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and California legislators soon will begin wrestling with a new state spending plan – and a new budget deficit.

And while revenues are in relatively short supply, there is an abundance of aphorisms applicable to the looming budget battle.

Things are never so bad that they can’t get worse.

Lawmakers and the governor spent much of 2009 cobbling together a way to close a $60 billion budget deficit, with the full realization that whatever they did, it wouldn’t be enough to fend off a new deluge of red ink in 2010.

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RivPE Editorial: Pension payoffs


10:00 PM PST on Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Press-Enterprise

California should treat the middlemen who solicit investments from public pension funds as lobbyists, for that is what they are in all but name. The state’s largest public retirement fund now supports that approach, and the Legislature should write it into law.

Such a step would not be a panacea, but would help deter the perceptions of insider dealing and influence swirling around the California Public Employees Retirement System. Rules that provide greater public scrutiny and put limits on giving by these middlemen would also help protect taxpayers’ stake in the funds. The pension fund, known as CalPERS, has been rocked by revelations about its dealing with “placement agents.” These middlemen help private companies land investment contracts from pension funds, and receive hefty fees from the companies in return.

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11:07 PM PST on Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Press-Enterprise

The high-profile criminal charges came just weeks apart — one after the other — and now threaten the San Jacinto Valley’s reputation for years to come, residents, local officials and experts say.

Public officials at five prominent institutions were ensnared in bribery, corruption and campaign-finance scandals that could send them to prison.

Now, some residents worry the spotlight might hurt the community’s ability to attract new jobs and residents and stick the region with a corruption label they won’t be able to easily shed.

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California Assembly Seal

Mediha Fejzagic DiMartino, Staff Writer
Created: 12/18/2009 04:10:11 PM PST

SACRAMENTO – The day Assemblyman Curt Hagman was sworn into office last year was bittersweet.

“It was a very short honeymoon,” Hagman said. “That afternoon they called us into the chambers and told us the deficit is not $20 billion, it’s $42 billion.”

Hagman, R-Chino Hills, was among 28 freshmen legislators – 17 Democrats and 11 Republicans – who had to learn on their feet and, almost immediately upon taking office, dole out steep cuts to public schools, social services and health programs – something most of them did not aspire to do when they threw their hats in the ring.

But although it looks like 2010 will bring more of the same, veteran lawmakers as well as newbies are hopeful that the current chaos will bring an opportunity for a long-term change.

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VVDailyPress: Postmus corruption hearing moved to Feb. 5

December 18, 2009 4:45 PM

SAN BERNARDINO • Court proceedings for former San Bernardino County Assessor Bill Postmus and his former aide Greg Eyler — targets in a wide-ranging county corruption probe — have been delayed until Feb. 5.

Both former county workers appeared briefly Friday morning in San Bernardino Superior Court.

Deputy District Attorney Lewis Cope said all parties agreed on a continuance as they continue with the discovery process and the District Attorney’s office awaits reports from the grand jury.

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SBSun: More class sections cut at area colleges

Debbie Pfeiffer Trunnell, Staff Writer
Posted: 12/18/2009 04:50:32 PM PST

San Bernardino area college students who struggled to get into much-needed classes in 2009 won’t have it any easier in 2010.

More class sections are being cut due to the budget crisis, which means a bleak winter across the board for everyone at the local community colleges and universities.

“One-time San Bernardino Community College District savings from the previous budget year allowed for section cuts to be minimal, but the demand for programs and services at both our colleges continues to climb without state funding to support it,” said Debra Daniels, president of San Bernardino Valley College. “And we are thereby forced to live within the reality of our budgets.”

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Capitol Weekly: Capitol Weekly’s Legislative Scorecard

By Capitol Weekly Staff | 12/17/09 12:00 AM PST

It’s that time of year again, when the editorial team and mathematicians here at Capitol Weekly go about the exercise of reducing our 118 legislators to simple numerical statistics. Yes, boys and girls. We are proud to present the Third Annual Legislative Scorecard.

Now for the usual round of disclaimers and preemptive apologies. Every political scorecard has its problems, and this one is no exception. The selection of bills is subjective, chosen after conversations with Capitol staff and experts, and our own observations of big debates over the last year under the dome. We also took our cues from other organizations who do this kind of thing on a regular basis. In fact, the Capitol Weekly scorecard is, in many ways, a compilation or synthesis of other scorecards that have been floating around insider circles in recent weeks.

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By Dan Smith and Jon Ortiz
Published: Saturday, Dec. 19, 2009 – 12:00 am | Page 4A

The union that represents 30,000 correctional officers in California has ended its consulting contract with Don Novey, the one-time president of the organization credited with building its political muscle.

In an e-mail obtained by The Bee, Novey lashed out at Mike Jimenez, current president of the California Correctional Peace Officers Association, for terminating his three-year deal. Jimenez was Novey’s second-in-command until taking the reins in 2002.

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SacBee: Caltrans confirms number of new but idle vehicles

By Andrew McIntosh
Published: Saturday, Dec. 19, 2009 – 12:00 am | Page 1A

More than 12 percent of the 2,667 new vehicles that Caltrans has bought since 2007 are sitting unused and gathering dust on state lots, according to newly released data confirmed by the department.

Caltrans officials say that after they buy new vehicles and trucks, their department takes up to three years to assemble various components for their custom-designed light- and heavy-duty trucks in Sacramento before they actually hit the road.

The department also says state-mandated furloughs have cut the staff’s ability to complete orders at the Sacramento assembly plant by 15 percent.

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10:00 PM PST on Friday, December 18, 2009

The Press-Enterprise

The Lake Elsinore City Council will consider a proposal Tuesday to establish a 45-day moratorium on legal marijuana-growing activities in the city so it can determine how the operations can be regulated.

The proposal is in response to a request for a business license and phone inquiries to the city about establishing operations to grow, dry, farm, package, process and distribute medical marijuana on a wholesale level, according to the staff report.

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SacBee: Sacramento judge throws out lobbyists’ campaign financing lawsuit

By Andy Furillo
Published: Friday, Dec. 18, 2009 – 12:00 am | Page 4A

A lobbyist group’s lawsuit to kill a ballot measure that wants the influence industry to pay for an experiment in public campaign financing has been kicked out of Sacramento Superior Court.

Judge Michael P. Kenny, in a ruling last month, said the Institute of Governmental Advocates and other plaintiffs can’t pursue the action until and unless voters approve the measure.

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RivPE OpEd: Probe CalPERS’ investment choices


08:41 PM PST on Tuesday, December 15, 2009


For many years the California Public Employees Retirement System, known as CalPERS, had a gilt-edged, well-managed portfolio with a steadily increasing return based on conservative investment principles.

CalPERS had a fine reputation with confidence in its management. Nearly 2 million retired or active government workers shared that confidence and felt their retirement funds would be there for them. In recent years, that confidence has been severely shaken.

In the recent near-depression, net assets in the retirement fund fell from a peak of $260 billion in late 2008 to slightly less than $180 billion at the beginning of this year, a drop of almost 30 percent.

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Re: “This ‘n that” (Our Opinion, Daily Press, Dec. 15).

The Board of Supervisors has no control over the salaries of board members. Salaries for members of the Board of Supervisors have been set by voter-approved ballot measures — Measure P in 2006, and Measure K in 1986. This salary level was recently reduced due to a reduction in the average salaries of county supervisors derived from a formula established by Measure P.

It is also important to note that I voted against the proposal to increase medical and other benefits for county supervisors when they were first proposed and implemented, and I voted to repeal them when they were later reconsidered and rescinded.

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SBSun Editorial: Plan holds promise for SB

San Bernardino Seal

Posted: 12/17/2009 06:56:03 PM PST

Plans to redevelop Carousel Mall into a government center with shops and offices offer more hope for San Bernardino’s struggling downtown than we’ve seen in a while.

Clearly, change is needed downtown, which suffers from a dearth of entertainment venues and empty storefronts. Just as clear is the need for change at Carousel Mall, the decades-old shopping center that occupies a prime piece of downtown real estate east of the 215 Freeway. The mall is not the moneymaker it was in the 1970s, and today costs the city of San Bernardino more than it can give in return.

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LATimes: Capitol Journal: A reality check for California’s excessive borrowing


California debt default ‘increasingly likely,’ Cal Lutheran economist says

Payments on bond borrowing are becoming uncomfortably high, crowding out funds for universities, healthcare, parks — and all the other government services being slashed these days.

By George Skelton Capitol Journal

December 17, 2009

From Sacramento

State Treasurer Bill Lockyer is playing Scrooge, admonishing Capitol politicians that they can’t have everything they want — or even think they need.

It’s a sound message not just for the politicians, but also for the California public.

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LATimes: Schwarzenegger approval rating hits new

Southern California

December 16, 2009 | 9:00 pm

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s approval rating has dropped to a new low as Californians continue to worry about the economy and the state’s dismal finances, according to a new poll by the Public Policy Institute of California.

The poll found that just 27% of Californians approve of the job the governor is doing — a career low for Schwarzenegger in the institute’s surveys. The Legislature also remains unpopular, with approval from just 17% of Californians, matching a record low in July.

More than 60% of respondents said the economy and jobs topped their list of concerns. State budget problems were the second most cited worry, with 13% calling the budget the most important issue facing the state. Answering a separate question, 88% said the state’s budget situation was a big problem.

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iePolitics Commentary: Fraud and HSS: None here!

Posted by Michael Kane on December 17th, 2009


Since deposed County Administrative Officer Mark Uffer has left it’s amazing what information is coming out of the woodwork. And at HSS it’s not looking good for Uffer-Appointees HSS Honchos Linda Haugan and Nancy Swanson. And a new name on the scene, HSS Fraud Chiefster Virginia Lugo.

Since the IE POLITICS story on massive internal fraud at HSS (TAD) a number of former and retired welfare fraud investigators have surfaced to share their opinions of why fraud detection and investigation is so ineffective at HSS. Apparently there are as many unhappy former fraud employees as are currently on staff.

This is their story:

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Posted by Senor Blogger on December 16th, 2009

Today’s news developments of San Bernardino District Attorney Mike Ramos’ settlement of charges by the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) for failing to properly disclose a $10,000.00 payment from his campaign fund to his wife, by fine in the amount of $200 proves a point that Ramos and especially his consultant just can’t or refuse to comprehend.

Offenses for violating the Political Reform Act are treated as administrative violations and nothing more. The Ramos incident is a great example. The fine should have been no higher than $1,000.00 at the maximum. In this case $200 could be perceived a little low, but not enough to cry over.

All in all, the ending is appropriate and consistent with similar cases. Except one.

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California Assembly Seal

Southern California

December 16, 2009 | 4:06 pm

For the second time in as many months, state lawmakers have attempted to avoid an 18% cut in their tax-free daily expense allowance, but again the effort has been foiled.

A representative of state Controller John Chiang said today that state Assembly officials filed a claim on behalf of 71 members for per diem expenses at $170 a day but that his office rejected the claim, saying it was not consistent with a recent cut in the rate to $141.86 starting this month. The reduction was made by a citizen panel that sets lawmakers’ pay and benefits.

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SacBee: CalPERS backs limits on placement agents


Published: Thursday, Dec. 17, 2009 – 12:00 am | Page 8B

The CalPERS board on Wednesday formally endorsed new legislation that would limit the activities of placement agents and require them to register as lobbyists.

Placement agents are marketing middlemen hired by private-equity firms and others to solicit investment dollars from public pension funds such as CalPERS.

CalPERS has launched an investigation into placement agents after disclosing that one agent, former CalPERS board member Alfred Villalobos, had earned more than $60 million in commissions from CalPERS deals.

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By Rob Hotakainen
Published: Thursday, Dec. 17, 2009 – 12:00 am | Page 20A
Last Modified: Thursday, Dec. 17, 2009 – 8:36 am

WASHINGTON – Washington is moving to assist California and other cash-strapped states that face the prospect of raising taxes or cutting spending again in 2010 to balance their books.

The House took the first step Wednesday evening, passing a $75 billion jobs bill that would help states pay for infrastructure projects and prevent more public employees from being laid off.

Some are calling it Stimulus II, and the sequel would come as good news for 35 states that face budget gaps totaling $31.5 billion by the middle of next year. California is projecting the largest shortfall, at $6.3 billion, followed by Illinois and New York, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

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RivPE Editorial: Bond indulgence

10:00 PM PST on Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Press-Enterprise

The enormous costs of California’s debt require legislators to resist thoughtless borrowing and reckless budgeting. The state does not have an unlimited capacity to borrow money for public projects, so the Legislature needs to set careful priorities for future bonds. And legislators could cut the costs of borrowing by truly balancing the state’s budget.

State Treasurer Bill Lockyer and Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor this week offered the Assembly a grim picture of the state’s debt load. California has borrowed prodigiously in recent years, but the cost of repaying that money is taking a growing chunk of the state’s deficit-plagued general fund. The state’s debt service costs, for example, have grown by 143 percent since 1999-00, while revenue has increased by 22 percent in that time.

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RivPE: Local highways a wreck, study says

06:12 AM PST on Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Press-Enterprise

Bumpy roads and cracked pavement are costing Inland drivers hundreds of dollars, and the problem is only getting worse as road repairs are shelved to save the state money, according to officials and a national report released today.

About 88 percent of the highways and freeways in the Inland area are so cracked, old and potholed that they are considered mediocre or poor, the study found.

The report was prepared by TRIP, a Washington, D.C., group that assesses the nation’s roads each year. The report was based on data from Caltrans’ highway maintenance program.

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RivPE: Cedar Glen improvements coming, officials promise


12:10 AM PST on Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Press-Enterprise

An improved business district and continued road and water improvements are part of San Bernardino County’s long-range plan for Cedar Glen.

The five-year plan, adopted by the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, is basically the same as one adopted in 2005 after 323 homes were destroyed in the 2003 Old Fire, about a third of the homes in the San Bernardino Mountains community.

Most of the promised improvements have been slow to come due to bureaucratic and legal wrangling. But with the county’s long-sought purchase of the community’s water company completed in January, the redevelopment agency has begun to make progress, Redevelopment Agency Director Kathy Thomas told supervisors.

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DailyBulletin: LA County seeks to replace voting system

Created: 12/16/2009 04:08:20 PM PST

As Los Angeles County seeks to replace a voting system that has been subject to sharp criticism from state officials, the Board of Supervisors voted this week to terminate a contract with one of the system’s main vendors.

The supervisors ended the contract with Premier Election Solutions Inc., formerly Diebold Election Systems, that would have provided the county with electronic voting equipment and a new central vote tabulation system.

The decision on Tuesday to terminate the contract follows the Secretary of State’s Office’s top-to-bottom review of the state’s voting systems.

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VVDailyPress: O’Connell pushes school construction bond

December 16, 2009 4:21 PM

SACRAMENTO • State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell is championing a new $10 billion state school construction bond, even as California hasn’t been able to sell more than $50 billion in bonds voters already approved.

O’Connell testified Tuesday before the Senate Select Committee on School Facilities, where he stressed the urgency of a bond that would modernize schools, curb classroom overcrowding and put people back to work.
California needs $9.7 billion to improve school facilities and another $200 million for career technical education construction projects, according to O’Connell.

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RedlandsDailyFacts: City to hire new clerk

Jesse B. Gill, Staff Writer
Posted: 12/16/2009 11:24:34 PM PST


Staff Writer

REDLANDS – The City Council could choose the first city clerk in the last 27 years whose name isn’t Lorrie Poyzer Friday.

The council will hold an emergency meeting to interview the 10 candidates vying to replace Poyzer as city clerk. The council may also choose a candidate and appoint a replacement on the spot.

“Our intention is to actually vote on somebody after the interview is complete,” said City Councilman Jerry Bean.

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By Stephen Wall
Posted: 12/17/2009 07:09:29 AM PST

Joe Baca’s support for the rights of illegal immigrants could cause him some political damage but isn’t likely to cost him his seat in the House of Representatives, experts said Wednesday.

Baca, D-San Bernardino, joined a group of Democratic lawmakers on Tuesday to introduce a bill that would overhaul the nation’s immigration system.

The measure calls for a path to citizenship for about 12 million illegal immigrants and would scrap the 287(g) program that allows local law enforcement agencies to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.

Baca’s position gave new ammunition to conservatives and critics of illegal immigration.

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LATimes: Poll: Dissatisfaction could spell trouble for Democrats in 2010

As President Obama’s supporters grow listless and independents grow irritated, Republicans have a greater opportunity to dominate midterm elections, according to findings of the Battleground Poll.

By Mark Silva

December 16, 2009 | 9:27 a.m.

Reporting from Washington – Anger among independent voters about the economy and the direction the nation is taking offer Republicans a significant opportunity to reclaim power in the 2010 midterm congressional elections, according to the results of the bipartisan Battleground Poll released today.

A lack of passion among President Obama’s core supporters and an absence of confidence that the administration’s policies and congressional spending are producing sorely needed new jobs also pose a serious challenge to the president’s party in 2010.

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10:00 PM PST on Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Press-Enterprise

San Bernardino County supervisors are continuing their search for a new county administrator following a closed-session meeting Tuesday where they came to no decision.

Two weeks ago, the county began a search for a new county administrative officer following the board’s firing of Mark Uffer from the position on Nov. 14. No specific reason was given for the ouster of Uffer, who had been administrator since 2004.

Tuesday’s closed-session agenda included an item listing possible appointment for the position but no decision was announced.

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10:00 PM PST on Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Press-Enterprise

The California Fair Political Practices Commission has agreed to settle a complaint of failure to disclose income against San Bernardino County District Attorney Mike Ramos for a $200 fine, a campaign spokesman for Ramos announced Tuesday.

David Ellis, Ramos’ campaign consultant, said the state watchdog agency offered a proposed settlement. Ramos signed the agreement on Dec. 8, according to a news release.

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10:00 PM PST on Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Press-Enterprise

Newly-elected San Bernardino County supervisors will be allowed to hire two staff members for up to 45 days before they are sworn in, under a policy approved by the board Tuesday.

The Board of Supervisors approved the transition staff policy on a 3-1 vote with Supervisor Josie Gonzales opposed and Supervisor Paul Biane absent.

The proposal was introduced by Board Chairman Gary Ovitt following a grand jury report in July that recommended the board establish rules for transition staff. In August 2008, the board approved staffing for Supervisor Neil Derry three months before he was sworn in, a process the grand jury report criticized as “arbitrary.”

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06:32 AM PST on Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Press-Enterprise

Riverside County supervisors put off until January a decision on the 11,150-home Villages of Lakeview sought for a scenic valley between Perris and San Jacinto.

The project, next to the San Jacinto Wildlife Area, would be one of the largest in the county.

The delay was sought by Supervisor Marion Ashley, who said the extra time will give county staff a chance to answer questions raised by about 15 people who spoke Tuesday during a public hearing in Riverside.

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10:00 PM PST on Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Press-Enterprise

Two alternate proposals to cut $18 million for 2009-10 in Corona-Norco schools would either have all employees take five furlough days or lay off an estimated 280 people.

Corona-Norco Unified School District Superintendent Kent Bechler gave both proposals to the board Tuesday but said he won’t ask the board to vote on the cuts until February.

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RivPE: More charged in San Jacinto probe

11:32 PM PST on Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Press-Enterprise

Six more people linked to a San Jacinto corruption probe were charged Tuesday for their alleged roles in funneling money into election coffers at the center of a lengthy Riverside County criminal grand jury indictment.

All are relatives of elected officials charged last month in the 155-count indictment.

Shanda Lynn Mansperger, 34, of San Jacinto; Christopher Ray Mason, 25, of San Jacinto; Marcia Lynn Mathews, 43, of Hemet; Kirk William Mathews, 50, of Hemet; Carol Ann Gehrum, 68, of San Jacinto; and John Richard Gehrum, 40, of Hemet, all appeared Tuesday in Riverside County Superior Court.

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Mike Sprague, Staff Writer
Created: 12/15/2009 10:37:39 PM PST

In three years, up to nine of the 50 Los Angeles County courthouses may be shuttered as a result of state budget cuts, the county’s presiding judge said.

In early 2010, as many as 300 court employees – in addition to 150 employees expected to leave on their own – will need to be laid off, presiding Judge Charles McCoy said Monday.

That probably would cause the closure of 38 courtrooms, he added. It takes about 10 employees to operate one courtroom.

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Sandra Emerson, Staff Writer
Created: 12/15/2009 10:19:08 PM PST

UPLAND – The City Council on Monday approved a four-year labor agreement with members of its Police Department that will save the city $29,476 this fiscal year.

City police unions agreed to defer any raises until July 1, 2011, to address the city’s sluggish fiscal condition.

According to a staff report, the city will:

Open the door to pay raises beginning July 1, 2011.

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VVDailyPress Editorial: This ‘n that

December 15, 2009 10:49 AM

Opinion Page Editor

San Bernardino County’s government, as regularly recurring news of criminal behavior, scandals, and other tawdry revelations keep reminding us, ranks high among the most ethically challenged governmental bodies in the United States. A recent piece by Cassie MacDuff, a columnist for the Riverside Press-Enterprise, cites some figures which help explain why ethical behavior at the county level seems so far removed from the ideal.

For instance, MacDuff points out that while the inflation rate has stayed in the low single digits for the past five or six years, the budget of the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors has doubled. In fiscal 2004-05, county supervisors spent a total of $3.25 million to staff the five district offices. By fiscal 2008-2009, that had mushroomed to $6.5 million. In the same period, the number of each supervisor’s staff went from five or six people to today’s 10 to 14.

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Stephen Wall, Staff Writer
Posted: 12/15/2009 06:57:25 PM PST

Congressional Democrats on Tuesday launched a renewed effort to pass comprehensive immigration reform legislation.

Rep. Joe Baca, D-San Bernardino, is a co-sponsor of the bill that provides a path to citizenship for the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in the country.

The bill by Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Illinois, would also repeal the 287(g) program that allows local law enforcement agencies to perform some immigration functions.

Baca said the bill is a collaborative effort to “finally fix” America’s broken immigration system that has caused “both a humanitarian and economic crisis for our nation.”

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SacBee: Editorial: State must cool it with the credit

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2009 – 12:00 am | Page 20A

Like parents lecturing a group of overindulgent kids, state Treasurer Bill Lockyer and Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor warned an Assembly committee this week that the state’s growing debt load threatens to further imperil California’s ailing general fund.

Over the last 10 years, the general fund grew by 22 percent while its debt service payments shot up an astonishing 143 percent. Interest payments on the state’s debt topped $6 billion this year – double that of a decade ago.

If bonds are issued at the same rate they have been in the past, our debt payments could grow to more than $10 billion within a few years, consuming close to 10 percent of the general fund budget.

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SacBee: CalPERS may boost long-term care premiums by 22%


Bee Business Staff
Published: Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2009 – 12:00 am | Page 8B

The CalPERS board will vote today on whether to raise premiums by as much as 22 percent for enrollees in its long-term care insurance plan.

Members of the pension fund’s Health Benefits Committee on Tuesday recommended increases for 2010 ranging from 15 percent to 22 percent, depending on individual coverage options.

CalPERS said the rate hike is necessary because of heavy investment losses and the disproportionate number of people drawing benefits compared to those paying in.

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SBSun: Ramos pays fine, settles Political Reform Act violation


Joe Nelson, Staff Writer

Posted: 12/15/2009 05:21:20 PM PST

San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael A. Ramos has paid a $200 fine to settle a Political Reform Act violation for failing to report a $10,000 payment to his wife for working on his campaign.

The Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) on Nov. 2 notified Ramos of a complaint filed against him by former assistant assessor Jim Erwin, who faces felony charges for failing to report about $15,000 in gifts he received from a Rancho Cucamonga developer in January 2007.

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iePolitics: SB County: Stringer just doesn’t get it

It’s time to get out the toy blocks. You know. Those one’s with the big color letters.

News off the San Bernardino County Government Center never ceases. Even during the holidays.

Extensively covered on this blog for the past few months is the lack of trust the Board of Supervisors has with their senior in-house legal counsel Ruth Stringer. It has been revealed here about the Board of Supervisors desire to make a change in the position for a myriad of reasons we won’t rehash again. The position of county counsel is an at-will board appointment.

Sounds simple? You would think.

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By Dan Walters
Published: Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2009 – 12:00 am | Page 3A

Capitol politicians bemoaning the size and cost of the state’s bonded debt is something like drunkards arguing over hangover remedies.

Members of the Assembly Budget Committee, most of whom voted for tens of billions of dollars in new bonds, including $11-plus billion in new water bonds, convened Monday to worry publicly about how the debts will be repaid from a state budget awash in red ink.

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Reuters: California debt costs to surpass $10 bln-Treasurer


Mon Dec 14, 2009 5:55pm EST

WASHINGTON, Dec 14 (Reuters) – California, the largest borrower among U.S. states, may see its debt interest costs nearly double to over $10 billion in 2020, the state treasurer reported on Monday.

General fund debt service on outstanding bonds, authorized but unissued bonds and proposed water bonds is set to peak in fiscal 2020 at $10.45 billion, compared with a current level around $6 billion, and stay near that level through fiscal 2028, Treasurer Bill Lockyer said in a presentation for the state legislature.

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By Jim Sanders
Published: Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2009 – 12:00 am | Page 1A

For Californians willing to invest big hours for a shot at making history and creating a more competitive Legislature, today marks your chance.

Cost to apply? Nothing.

Expected to be watched closely nationwide, California will begin implementing a power-to-the-people initiative, Proposition 11, passed by voters last year.

State Auditor Elaine Howle will begin accepting applications today for a 14-member citizens commission that will draw state legislative and Board of Equalization districts, but not those of Congress, in 2011.

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By Dale Kasler
Published: Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2009 – 12:00 am | Page 3A

Setting up a possible fight between Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Legislature, the CalPERS board is about to approve a moderate increase in the state’s annual contribution to the pension fund.

The rate hike is at least $1 billion lower than what Schwarzenegger wants to pay.

Schwarzenegger says the state should pay off CalPERS’ multibillion-dollar investment losses as quickly as possible rather than defer the cost. But some state employees unions say the Republican governor really wants to pay more so he can build political support for his proposal to reduce pension benefits.

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VVDailyPress: City, firm squabble over hangar

SCLA’s biggest employer files claim against Victorville
By Brooke Edwards

VICTORVILLE • They’re already at the center of a $200 million RICO claim against the city and of a $36 million difference in opinion between Victorville’s last two auditors.

Now a set of hangars at Southern California Logistics Airport has triggered another claim against the city, with Leading Edge Aviation Services — the largest employer at SCLA — asking for more than $1 million it says was lost after the city leased the same space twice.

The council is expected to deny that claim during tonight’s meeting, though spokeswoman Yvonne Hester said the city declined to comment per its usual policy on pending litigation.

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SBSun: San Bernardino deficit includes $350,000 mistake

San Bernardino Seal

Andrew Edwards, Staff Writer
Posted: 12/14/2009 10:48:30 PM PST

SAN BERNARDINO – City officials said Monday that a $350,000 budget mistake was a result of miscommunication and honest oversight that should never happen again.

The error prompted a Monday morning meeting with Mayor Pat Morris and other top officials, which mayoral chief of staff Jim Morris said involved conversations on how to prevent future errors and make San Bernardino government more efficient.

Jim Morris said the mayor met with City Manager Charles McNeely and interim San Bernardino Economic Development Agency chief Emil Marzullo. City Hall and the EDA have separate budgets and officials have blamed the error on the Finance Department’s incorrect assumption the EDA would transfer $350,000 in golf course money to the city’s budget.

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iePolitics: Massive internal fraud in San Bernardino County social services arm


News emerged this weekend related to a massive internal fraud, a portion of which was recently uncovered within the agency responsible for the delivery of San Bernardino County’s social services programs.

iePolitics has learned that hundreds of thousands of dollars in funds meant to provide aid for the disadvantaged has been illegally diverted by county personnel in an ongoing massive theft. It is believed that several schemes and abuses has been uncovered.

The San Bernardino County Human Services System, commonly referred to as HSS, administers the county’s various social services programs such as general assistance, Medi-Cal, and welfare. Annually, Hundreds of millions of dollars pass through HSS and into the hands of the needy who legitimately qualify for assistance.

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TheSentinel: GT Councilwoman Ramos’ latest liaison

Bea Cortez

December 11, 2009

The womanizing scandal plaguing district attorney Mike Ramos has plummeted to new depths with the revelation that his office failed to take prosecutorial action with regard to the alleged criminal activity of a woman he is purported to have been personally involved with.

While Ramos has been publicly linked with at least a dozen women who either work for him in the county prosecutor’s office or with whom his official position brings him into contact, the circumstance entailed in the most recently identified liaison is one with a public official whose only direct connection to the district attorney’s office is that she was potentially subject to prosecution though never criminally charged by the office’s public integrity unit.

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