Archive for December 17th, 2009

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

california_state_flag

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

L.A. NOW
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

fraud

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

L.A. NOW
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

calpers

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
rhotakainen@mcclatchydc.com
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

By DUG BEGLEY
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

SBCO Seal

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

By IMRAN GHORI
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
NATASHA LINDSTROM Staff Writer

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

By JESSE B. GILL

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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