Archive for January, 2010

Cases involving four criminal defendants which are now entering the evidentiary stage appear to now rest on the sole testimony of one key witness.

Former Assistant Assessor Adam Aleman who has plead “no-contest” to one count of Vandalism, two counts of Destroying or Altering Documents, and one count of Presenting a false claim, is now the “go to” guy for District Attorney Michael Ramos, who is attempting to portray himself as a corruption fighter.

Some glaring issues arise here when taking a look at Aleman’s charges.

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Posted by Administrator at 30 January 2010

The 2010 San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors meeting calendar is posted to the county’s website.  Now that our board members have achieved their full 50-percent raise, they are offsetting it by only showing up for public board meetings slightly more than 50 percent of the time.  The board is dark 25 out of 52 weeks this year.

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Posted by Administrator at 30 January 2010

At the last court appearance former Assistant Assessor and Chief of Staff Jim Erwin made in front of Judge Duke Rouse, arguments were heard to have an evidentiary hearing to recuse the District Attorney’s office from Erwin’s case.  During those arguments, the deputy Attorney General assisting in the prosecution suggested to Judge Rouse that Erwin wants to be given “special” treatment.

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LATimes: Ignorance bites California in the wallet

THE WEEK

A new poll shows that the people want control of the state budget, but most don’t know where the money comes from or where it goes.
By Cathleen Decker

January 31, 2010

Last week brought a blizzard of polling on how Californians feel about their government and the economy. In two words: dislike and despair. The fine print suggested we should save a little distaste for ourselves.

A survey by the Public Policy Institute of California found that, overwhelmingly, Californians want themselves — not the governor or the Legislature — to be in charge of big budget matters.

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RivPE: For lease: America’s airports

Los Angeles owns Ontario facility and needs money, but would anyone pay the price?

10:11 PM PST on Saturday, January 30, 2010

By KIMBERLY PIERCEALL
The Press-Enterprise

Faced with a $200 million shortfall in its current fiscal year, the city of Los Angeles has considered putting a price tag on Ontario International Airport which it’s owned since 1967.

But will anyone buy?

Aviation experts say no. City officials say they’re simply researching options available to them which include an FAA program started in 1996 allowing five public airports at a time to be leased to interested management firms.

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10:17 PM PST on Saturday, January 30, 2010

By LESLIE PARRILLA
The Press-Enterprise

Corona is picking up a conversation that started at least 18 years ago.

In 1992, then-City Council candidate Bob McMackin campaigned on the platform that being a charter city, versus a general law city, would allow more local control and keep the state from tapping into coffers.

But for reasons that included the city’s smaller size, the idea never gained a louder voice.

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VVDailyPress: VV2 to go back on market?

City still scrambling to resolve $126 million dispute with GE
BY BROOKE EDWARDS
STAFF WRITER

VICTORVILLE • It’s been nearly four months since the city quietly selected a New Jersey company as the leading contender to buy development rights for the planned $1.2 billion Victorville 2 power plant.

The deal was meant to help stabilize the city’s precarious financial position, with a $126 million payment to General Electric for the power plant’s equipment roughly 15 months past due.

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January 30, 2010 10:34 AM
Natasha Lindstrom

SAN BERNARDINO • With Assemblyman Anthony Adams bowing out of a bid for re-election in June, several candidates have emerged hoping to claim his seat in the 59th District Assembly.

The 59th District includes Hesperia and Apple Valley and stretches to San Dimas and Glendora in Los Angeles County.

The following residents — mostly Republicans — have announced intentions to run for the seat:

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Michael J. Sorba, Staff Writer
Posted: 01/30/2010 06:12:16 AM PST

HIGHLAND – The City Council has committed $11 million in Redevelopment Agency bond money to fund infrastructure improvements along Greenspot Road, between the 210 Freeway and Boulder Avenue.

The design for the improvements could be completed by April, said Public Works Director Ernie Wong. It’s likely that sometime after April the city will begin awarding bids for some projects, Wong said.

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SBsun: Weak economy slows Fontana’s annexation agenda

Josh Dulaney, Staff Writer
Posted: 01/30/2010 06:12:16 AM PST

FONTANA – Annexation has cooled in the last couple of years and it looks like it might be put on ice after the city squares off its corporate boundaries on the south side.

“I don’t think I see us going forward unless some state legislation made it really attractive to go forward and do some annexation,” Mayor Mark Nuaimi said Friday.

The city later this year hopes to initiate plans to annex 472 acres on the south side of the 10 Freeway between Mulberry and Almond avenues north of Jurupa Avenue.

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Stephen Wall, Staff Writer
Posted: 01/30/2010 02:59:01 PM PST

San Bernardino County public schools are spending more than $34 million in state and federal money this school year to educate English learners, a group whose population has doubled since 1995.

That amount doesn’t include additional funding for services and programs available to English learners as well as other students.

Fueled by skyrocketing immigration over the past 15 years, the growth is forcing school districts to make dramatic changes in the classroom.

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By Dan Morain, Senior editor
dmorain@sacbee.com The Sacramento Bee
Published: Sunday, Jan. 31, 2010 – 12:00 am | Page 1E

It’s not easy being Steve Poizner, at least not when you’re compared to former eBay chief executive Meg Whitman.

Poizner made a bunch of money in his earlier Silicon Valley life. Whitman made a ton of money, too, though her bundle may exceed a billion dollars and perhaps is bigger than his.

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MANY REQUIRED COURSES NOT AVAILABLE; STUDENTS SPILL INTO CSUS HALLWAYS

By Laurel Rosenhall
lrosenhall@sacbee.com The Sacramento Bee
Published: Sunday, Jan. 31, 2010 – 12:00 am | Page 1A
Last Modified: Sunday, Jan. 31, 2010 – 9:45 am

California’s budget crisis came into stark focus in the halls of Sacramento State last week, where many students returning for spring semester were turned away from classes they had hoped to get into, or strained from hallways to hear lectures in classes that had enrolled way more students than there were seats.

In Alpine Hall, a group of dejected seniors stood in the hallway after being booted from a writing class they must take if they are to graduate in May. It was full, they weren’t on the waiting list, and the professor didn’t let any extra students in.

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TheHill: Report: TARP benefits have fallen far short

By Silla Brush – 01/31/10 12:01 AM ET

The $700 billion bailout program for the financial industry has so far done little to boost bank lending, aid small businesses or reduce home foreclosures, a top government watchdog said in a report.

Neil Barofsky, the special inspector general over the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), said in a report that while the bailout has helped stabilize the financial system, many of the program’s original goals have not been met.

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InlandPolitics: Ramos investigation doesn’t add up – Part 2

More questions continue to be raised regarding the recently released report into the conduct of District Attorney Michael Ramos and his department, involving a former mistress of Ramos.

I last focused on statements made to investigators by Ramos and the number of inconsistencies.

Now let’s look at the treatment of Investigative Technician Cheryl Ristow. Ristow had a 17-month long affair with Ramos in the 2003 to 2005 period of time.

Even though it would now appear it was more of a relationship of necessity and convenience for Ramos.

Wanna have sex? Just pick up the phone.

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RivPE: DA Report Disappoints

10:00 PM PST on Friday, January 29, 2010

By CASSIE MACDUFF
The Press-Enterprise

Anybody who expected San Bernardino County to investigate allegations that District Attorney Mike Ramos had affairs with several women who work for him must be disappointed.

A report released this week reads like an investigation of the woman who went public about her alleged affair, not of the DA.

If any other women were thinking of coming forward, they surely won’t after seeing the outcome for Cheryl Ristow, 50, of Redlands.

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10:00 PM PST on Friday, January 29, 2010

By IMRAN GHORI
The Press-Enterprise

A former San Bernardino County official must stand trial on corruption charges stemming from a probe at the assessor’s office, a superior court judge ruled Friday.

Judge Duke Rouse found that there was enough evidence to try Rex Gutierrez on charges of grand theft and misappropriation of public funds. The two felony counts carry a sentence of up to four years in prison.

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LATimes: L.A. considering 500 more layoffs

In an effort to close the city’s $208-million budget shortfall, the proposal would be in addition to 1,000 job cuts already threatened.
By David Zahniser and Maeve Reston

January 30, 2010

Faced with a shortfall now reaching $208 million, the top budget official at Los Angeles City Hall said Friday that he is preparing a list of 500 jobs to be cut from the payroll — on top of the 1,000 already threatened with elimination.

Those reductions, if approved by the City Council over the next several weeks, would bring city government personnel cuts to 3,900 this year. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the council have already agreed to let 2,400 employees retire with full benefits up to five years early.

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OCRegister: O.C. Rep: Better Limbaugh than Obama

January 29th, 2010, 3:14 pm
Posted by Dena Bunis, Washington Bureau Chief

As far as Rep. Dana Rohrabacher is concerned he’d rather Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck came to talk to the House Republican retreat in Baltimore today than the President of the United States.

President Barack Obama did an almost unheard of thing – a president of one party going to the retreat of another. He not only made a statement but took some tough questions from the Republican lawmakers.

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SacBee: Sparks fly at CalPERS forum on pension costs

By Dale Kasler
and Jon Ortiz dkasler@sacbee.com The Sacramento Bee
Published: Saturday, Jan. 30, 2010 – 12:00 am | Page 3A

CalPERS billed it as a sober, factual discussion of pension fund costs, aimed at toning down the rhetoric over an explosive political issue.

But there was no shortage of emotion during the daylong forum – particularly when a panel discussion including a prominent labor leader and a key aide to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger turned personal.

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SacBee: U.S. Senate race: Fiorina has the money edge

Carly Fiorina

Capitol Alert
The latest on California politics and government
January 29, 2010

Republican U.S. Senate candidates Carly Fiorina and Assemblyman Chuck DeVore each raised more than $1 million through the end of 2009, but Fiorina had a significant cash-on-hand advantage after loaning her campaign $2.5 million, according to year-end statements they released Friday.

Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard CEO, had $2.75 million in cash at the end of 2009, compared to $226,364 for DeVore. Former congressman Tom Campbell entered the Senate race two weeks ago and had to start his fundraising anew after dropping his gubernatorial bid.

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Joe Nelson, Staff Writer
Posted: 01/29/2010 08:56:21 PM PST

A Rancho Cucamonga city councilman and former county employee stole from taxpayers when he attended city events on county time, billing the city for mileage and collecting pay from the county, according to court testimony on Friday.

At the conclusion of Councilman Rex Gutierrez’s preliminary hearing in San Bernardino Superior Court, Judge Duke D. Rouse ordered Gutierrez, 50, to stand trial on charges of felony grand theft and misappropriation of public funds.

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Matt Wrye, Staff Writer
Posted: 01/29/2010 02:46:15 PM PST

U.S. growth domestic product shot up 5.7 percent in the fourth quarter.

But the good news might have easily fallen on deaf ears if you’re jobless or facing mounting financial burdens.

As some people cheer the unexpectedly high GDP number showing that our national economy grew much more than expected, unemployed Inland Empire residents have yet to see relief.

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FlashReport: Who will Replace Anthony Adams?

by Mike Spence – Los Angeles County

1-19-2010 8:58 am

The surprise decision by Assemblyman Adams not to seek re-election to the 59th Assembly District has set off a scramble for the sprawling Los Angeles and San Bernardino County seat.

The 59th District contains all or parts of the Eastern Los Angeles County communities of. Los Angeles County communities of Claremont, La Verne, Glendora, San Dimas, Sierra Madre, Monrovia, Bradbury, Arcadia and La Crescenta then suddenly goes north through the Angeles Forest and East into San Bernardino to take in the San Bernardino County communities of Apple Valley, Hesperia, Lake Arrowhead, Crestline, San Bernardino, Highland and Mentone. It is a district that makes the case for redistricting reform.

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iePolitics: The corruption scandal is about to get ugly

Posted by Administrator at 29 January 2010

Former San Bernardino County Assessor’s Office Intergovernmental Affairs Officer Rex Gutierrez appeared in court today for a preliminary hearing on charges of embezzlement and grand theft relating to time card fraud. His case was bound over for trial starting in about 60 days.

Among the witnesses was San Bernardino County Human Resources Director Andrew Lamberto, who testified that Gutierrez’s work hours were determined by his immediate supervisor, former Assistant Assessor Adam Aleman.   Aleman has already plead guilty to four felonies in connection with the scandal, including presenting a false claim, in exchange for his testimony against the remaining defendants.

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Published: Jan. 28, 2010
Updated: Jan. 29, 2010 9:47 a.m.

By RONALD CAMPBELL
THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

Chriss Street’s personal fortune and political career are on the line in a civil trial next week.

The Orange County treasurer-tax collector is fighting allegations that he looted a bankrupt trucking company while serving as its trustee. His replacement as trustee, Los Angeles money manager Dan Harrow, has sued him for $7 million.

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‘Underemployment’ near or above 20 pct in 9 states as part-timers, discouraged workers grow

By Christopher S. Rugaber,
AP Economics Writer,

On Friday January 29, 2010, 5:57 pm EST

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama said in his State of the Union Wednesday that “one in 10 Americans still cannot find work.” But in nine states the figure is much worse — closer to one in five, according to Labor Department data released Friday.

The figures are a stark illustration of how tough it is to find a full-time job, even as the economy has grown for two straight quarters. The official unemployment rate of 10 percent doesn’t include people who are working part-time but would prefer full-time work, or the unemployed who have given up looking for work.

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SBC Sentinel: Law firm tracked at least four Ramos affairs

The law firm of Curiale Hirschfeld Kraemer tracked information suggesting that district attorney Mike Ramos had sexual relations with at least four employees who currently or formerly worked in his office, according to information gathered for a report tendered by that law firm on January 12 and released by the county January 27.

The report itself together with information cross-referenced by the Sentinel and augmented by the law firm’s investigative work product that included interviews with district attorney’s employees which were not included in the report either confirmed or otherwise indicated that Ramos’ liaisons with women linked to him in previous public reports could in some fashion be substantiated.

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SBC Sentinel: Cortes focus of complaint lodged with DA

A group of 12 Grand Terrace residents has filed with the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office a complaint alleging that city councilwoman Bea Cortes engaged in multiple flagrant violations of Government Code Section 1090, the state of California’s conflict of interest law.

The complaint, which was provided to the public integrity unit formed by district attorney Mike Ramos in 2003 to deal with violations of the public trust perpetrated by elected and appointed city and government officials, contains allegations that Cortes voted repeatedly over the last four years to approve city payments to her employer, Terra Loma Real Estate and compounded the matter by attempting to hide the matter from public scrutiny by failing to report her relationship with Terra Loma on the economic interest disclosure documents she is required to file as a public official.

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RivPE: POLL: State seriously on wrong track

06:37 AM PST on Friday, January 29, 2010

By JIM MILLER
Sacramento Bureau

SACRAMENTO – Fewer Californians think the nation is on the right track compared to three months ago, with only a small percentage of voters happy with the direction of the state, according to a new Field Poll.

Today’s survey shows that 41 percent of voters think the country is on the right track, down from 48 percent in October. Forty-nine percent of voters think the country is on the wrong track, up from 41 percent.

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Josh Dulaney, Staff Writer
Posted: 01/28/2010 05:10:06 PM PST

FONTANA – Mayor Mark Nuaimi delivered a state-of-the-city address Thursday before more than 100 officials, politicos and public employees gathered at the Jesse Turner Community Center in Fontana Park.

“Locally, at the state level, federally, globally, 2009 was an unprecedented opportunity for pain for a lot of people in and around our community,” Nuaimi said.

The mayor’s words followed a video featuring City Council members highlighting the community’s progress during the last decade in what was a concentrated effort by officials to blunt bad economic news with past achievements.

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Stacia Glenn and Michael J. Sorba, Staff Writers
Posted: 01/28/2010 07:18:35 PM PST

Law enforcement officials throughout the region and across the state are bracing for a possible spike in crime as thousands of state and county prisoners are returned to the streets under a new law aimed at cutting government expenses.

More than 130 non-violent San Bernardino County jail inmates have been turned loose early since Monday and more than 1,000 others could soon join them on the outside.

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January 28, 2010 5:44 PM
FROM STAFF REPORTS

WASHINGTON, D.C. • In response to the President’s State of the Union address, Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon cited three Republican alternatives on key Obama administration priorities.

“Republicans continue to stand ready to work with the President to address the nation’s most pressing issues such as the economy, job creation, small business investment, federal spending, energy, and national security,” McKeon said in a news release.

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Staff and Wire Reports
Created: 01/28/2010 04:27:31 PM PST

Backers of a California initiative to legalize marijuana said they would submit far more signatures Thursday than needed to qualify the measure for the November ballot.

Volunteers intended to submit about 700,000 signatures collected across all 58 California counties, campaign spokesman Dan Newman said. The initiative needs about 434,000 signatures from registered voters to make the ballot.

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SacBee: Goal is money shift, no tax hike

DEMS PITCH ‘REVENUE NEUTRAL’ PLAN, BUT CRITICS SEE AN END RUN

By Jim Sanders
jsanders@sacbee.com The Sacramento Bee
Published: Friday, Jan. 29, 2010 – 12:00 am | Page 1A

Tempers are short, coffers low and a partisan skirmish Thursday on the Assembly floor made the target clear: Take money from some to help others while avoiding the dreaded two-thirds vote requirement.

Assembly Democrats decided to find money to cut textbook costs for college students by closing a corporate tax loophole on multinational corporations.

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LATimes: Teachers pension fund is $43 billion short

PENSIONS

The California State Teachers’ Retirement System says that as of June 30, 2009, it could meet only an estimated 77% of its future pension obligations — far less than the 100% recommended by actuaries

By Marc Lifsher

January 29, 2010

Reporting from Sacramento – Another pension alarm bell is ringing in Sacramento, this time at the teachers retirement system, where the nation’s second-largest public pension fund is reporting a $43-billion shortfall.

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Economy grows for 2nd straight quarter at better-than-expected 5.7 pct rate, best since 2003

By Christopher S. Rugaber,
AP Economics Writer
On Friday January 29, 2010, 9:54 am

WASHINGTON (AP) — The economy grew faster than expected at the end of last year, though the engine of that growth — companies replenishing stockpiles — is likely to weaken as consumers keep a lid on spending.

The 5.7 percent annual growth rate in the fourth quarter was the fastest pace since 2003. The Commerce Department report Friday is the strongest evidence to date that the worst recession since the 1930s ended last year, though an academic panel that dates recessions has yet to declare an end to it.

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Calpensions: CalPERS, CalSTRS funding levels plunge

By Ed Mendel

A decade ago, when the stock market was booming, the funding levels of CalPERS and CalSTRS were both over 100 percent, a projection that assets would be more than enough to meet pension costs in the decades ahead.

Now the funding levels of the nation’s two largest public pension funds have dropped below what some regard as the acceptable minimum, 80 percent, and for different reasons are not likely to bounce back anytime soon.

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SacBee: Jerry Brown takes off gloves, dings Gavin Newsom

Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

January 28, 2010

Jerry Brown promised to “mix it up” this morning on his weekly call into San Francisco radio station KGO. And mix it up he did. Listen here.

The attorney general and undeclared Democratic gubernatorial candidate was asked about San Francisco Mayor and former gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom’s recent remark that Brown didn’t appear to have “fire in his belly” for the race.

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SBSun OpEd: Counties can’t keep backfilling funds

Supervisor Paul Biane

Point of View

Supervisor Paul Biane
Posted: 01/28/2010 05:56:51 PM PST

Imagine this – you run a nonprofit business that helps a lot of people. Each year, your budget shrinks, but demand for your services increases, forcing you to dip into your bank account to keep things running.

Meanwhile, your personal expenses steadily increase, yet you still have to run the nonprofit to continue providing people with services they need.

California’s most populous counties – including the County of San Bernardino – find themselves in a similar situation with the numerous state and federal social service programs counties are required to administer.

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The long-awaited investigation into sexual-related misconduct and work place activity of District Attorney Mike Ramos and his department management staff was released yesterday afternoon. The investigation was triggered by allegations made against Ramos and his managers by Cheryl Ristow, an employee in the District Attorney’s office.

True-to-form, San Bernardino County fails to disappoint by creating a bigger mess.

Local newspapers jumped on the “Ramos is cleared” band-wagon immediately. One even attacked the claimant Cheryl Ristow in the headline.

Ramos immediately claimed vindication on all fronts and denied everything once again.

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January 27, 2010 10:12 AM
Natasha Lindstrom

SAN BERNARDINO • An independent investigation into alleged harassment and hostile work environments found San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael A. Ramos and his colleagues did not retaliate against a female employee who filed a $1.5 million claim against the county.

“Ultimately, the weight of evidence compels a finding that there was no retaliation taken against Ristow,” states the report by Santa Monica-based legal firm Curiale Hirschfield Kraemer.

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LEGISLATURE URGED TO BYPASS UNIONS IN REDUCING SALARIES

By Jon Ortiz
jortiz@sacbee.com The Sacramento Bee
Published: Thursday, Jan. 28, 2010 – 12:00 am | Page 1A
Last Modified: Thursday, Jan. 28, 2010 – 7:46 am

The Legislature’s budget analyst on Wednesday recommended that lawmakers go along with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposal to cut state employee pay, even without labor unions’ consent, saying the state’s fiscal distress warrants the action.

The report by Diego Martin and Jason Dickerson of the Legislative Analyst’s Office suggests that the state’s finances are so grim and Schwarzenegger’s bargaining position so weak that the Legislature should use its wage-setting powers to reduce state workers’ pay.

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11:03 PM PST on Wednesday, January 27, 2010

By IMRAN GHORI
The Press-Enterprise

An investigative report into allegations that San Bernardino County District Attorney Mike Ramos sexually harassed and retaliated against an employee who says the pair had an affair describes his accuser as having an agenda against him.

The county released the 183-page report Wednesday, a day after a four-hour closed-session meeting in which the Board of Supervisors first saw the report and met with the attorneys who handled the investigation.

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Joe Nelson, Staff Writer
Posted: 01/27/2010 07:05:27 PM PST

Download: Investigation Report

A 183-page report released Wednesday clears Bernardino County District Attorney Michael A. Ramos of alleged sexual harassment and workplace retaliation and paints his accuser as lacking credibility.

Cheryl Ristow, an investigative technician for the district attorney’s bureau of investigation, claims she had an affair with Ramos from September 2003 to February 2005.

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New jobless claims, factory order reports disappoint in fresh evidence of an uneven recovery

By Christopher S. Rugaber and Martin Crutsinger, AP Economics Writer , On Thursday January 28, 2010, 11:57 am

WASHINGTON (AP) — Evidence that the economic rebound remains sluggish emerged from reports Thursday on new claims for unemployment aid and orders to U.S. factories.

Scant job creation is restraining consumer spending and holding back economic growth. And factory orders for durable goods, a barometer of the manufacturing industry, are rising too slightly to provide much fuel to the rebound.

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By John Howard | 01/28/10 12:00 AM PST

In the intensifying debate over budget-driven releases of state prison inmates, the state’s cash problems are well known. But at least one private correctional company is reaping major rewards.

In three years, a private-prison construction and management company, the Corrections Corporation of America, has seen the value of its contracts with the state soar from nearly $23 million in 2006 to about $700 million three months ago – all without competitive bidding. Even in a state accustomed to high-dollar contracts, the 31-fold increase over three years is dramatic.

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Capitol Journal

It “defies logic to presume that a corporation is entitled to the same constitutional rights as the people,” says Ross Johnson of the Fair Political Practices Commission. (Los Angeles Times)

How about tossing all limits and just fully disclosing?
By George Skelton Capitol Journal

January 28, 2010

From Sacramento

Maybe it’s time — time to junk all the political campaign contribution limits with their jumbo loopholes. Just give it up.

In many ways, the restrictions are useless and counterproductive, driving contributions underground and often through the laundry room.

Read the rest of this entry »

LATimes: Testimony ends in same-sex marriage trial

Proposition 8 opponents express confidence. The judge could rule by March; an appeal is expected regardless of the ruling.
By Maura Dolan

January 28, 2010

Reporting from San Francisco – Testimony in the historic federal same-sex marriage trial ended Wednesday, with ebullient attorneys for two gay couples expressing confidence and defenders of Proposition 8 conceding they may have to wait for victory from a higher court.

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By Malcolm Maclachlan | 01/28/10 12:00 AM PST

The battle over whether California Indian tribes can provide Internet poker is coming back to the Capitol, with many in the gambling industry looking towards a hearing next month. Meanwhile, the tribe behind an effort last year to create a state-sanctioned poker site have apparently renewed their efforts to push a bill.

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10:00 PM PST on Wednesday, January 27, 2010

By JIM MILLER
Sacramento Bureau

SACRAMENTO – State lawmakers continue to solicit tens of thousands of dollars in charitable contributions from businesses and other donors with a stake in Capitol decision-making.

Last month, Senate Minority Leader Dennis Hollingsworth, R-Murrieta, steered $120,000 in donations to a nonprofit organization that helped pay for a recent Republican legislative retreat at a beachfront resort in Santa Barbara.

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January 27, 2010 | 9:00 pm

Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown’s lead over former EBay Chief Executive Meg Whitman in the California gubernatorial race has narrowed to just five points, according to a new poll from the Public Policy Institute of California. The poll shows Brown with a 41%-36% advantage over Whitman. Brown enjoys a 44%-29% lead over Republican Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner.

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Wendy Leung, Staff Writer
Created: 01/27/2010 09:56:11 PM PST

RANCHO CUCAMONGA – Grant money, capital projects and a new furniture store were some sources of optimism for Mayor Don Kurth, who gave his fourth State of the City speech at Etiwanda Gardens on Wednesday.

Despite a budget shortfall and a shrunken City Hall work force, Kurth remained sanguine, reminding a group of business and community leaders that Rancho Cucamonga is still a “golden city on the hill.”

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Stephen Wall, Staff Writer
Created: 01/27/2010 06:15:55 PM PST

San Bernardino County wants the federal government to pick up the $21 million tab to incarcerate and provide probation services for illegal immigrants.

The funding request is contained in the county’s 2010 priority list for state and federal funds, which was adopted by the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

“Immigration is a federal responsibility,” said County Supervisor Neil Derry. “Neither the state nor local governments should be required to bear the burden of the failure of the federal government to secure our borders.”

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SBSun: San Manuels donate $1.7M for aid to Haiti

Melissa Pinion-Whitt, Staff Writer
Posted: 01/27/2010 02:48:40 PM PST

HIGHLAND – The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians on Wednesday donated $1.7 million to the American Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders to help with relief efforts in Haiti.

The funds will help the groups provide everything from food to hygiene items, and will also allow the organizations to train Haitians to rebuild and recover from the disaster.

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10:00 PM PST on Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Press-Enterprise

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced the appointment of two Inland area residents to state boards Wednesday.

Bruce Barton, 49, of Menifee, has been appointed to the Commission on Emergency Medical Services, according to the governor’s office.

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InlandPolitics: S.B. County: Ramos investigation report released

San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael Ramos is in full spin mode this afternoon following the release of the long-awaited $140,000 investigation into his conduct involving a former mistress, Cheryl Ristow.

In statements made to local newspapers today, Ramos still denies everything, even the affair.

Read the rest of this entry »

Bea Cortes

City of Grand Terrace council member Bertha Bea Cortes is the focus of a complaint submitted to the San Bernardino County District Attorney this week.

InlandPolitics.com received a copy of the complaint by email this morning.

The complaint signed by twelve citizen’s of the city alleges that Cortes committed multiple violations of the Political Reform Act. Specifically, that Cortes engaged in a conflict of interest in violation of section 1090 of the California Government Code, and committed perjury by filing false statements of economic interest, known as Form 700.

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10:00 PM PST on Tuesday, January 26, 2010

By DUANE W. GANG
The Press-Enterprise

Riverside County might have to lay off as many as 1,600 employees over the next two years as it grapples with a $71 million budget gap, officials said Tuesday.

But to lessen the blow, supervisors voted to extend an early retirement offer to more than 3,500 employees, despite concern from two members that the plan adds to the county’s future pension costs and hurts future taxpayers.

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SPONSOR SAYS BASS ASKED HIM NOT TO SEEK ASSEMBLY VOTE

By Jim Sanders
jsanders@sacbee.com The Sacramento Bee
Published: Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2010 – 12:00 am | Page 3A

Legislation to crack down on concert tickets, meal tabs, greens fees, Sacramento Kings tickets and other gifts to California lawmakers has been killed before reaching the Assembly floor.

The derailment marks the second time in two years that bills to restrict gift-giving by interest groups have been shelved with no organized opposition and no lawmaker voting against them.

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CalBuzz: I, Jerry: How Brown Campaign Will Be Run

Attorney General Jerry Brown

Jan 27

It’s been an open secret* for weeks that Jerry Brown planned to hire longtime aide and Brown family retainer Steve Glazer to run his campaign for governor.

With the MSM now trumpeting this “news” to the skies, it seems like a good time to explain what it actually means.

Brown’s political operation quietly moved out of Jerry’s Oakland loft a couple of months ago, into about 5,000 square feet of warehouse space about a mile and a half away. That relocation, coupled with the confirmation of Glazers’ status, means his campaign is finally, if fitfully, under way.

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On Wednesday January 27, 2010, 10:29 am

By Lucia Mutikani

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Sales of newly built U.S. single-family homes fell unexpectedly in December, data showed on Wednesday, the latest indication that the government-led housing recovery might be losing some steam.

The Commerce Department said sales fell 7.6 percent to a 342,000 unit annual rate from an upwardly revised 370,000 units in November. It was the second straight month that new home sales declined.

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January 26, 2010 11:29 AM
JESSICA CEJNAR Staff Writer

BARSTOW • Barstow Mayor Joe Gomez is being investigated by the San Bernardino County Sheriffs Department, The San Bernardino County District Attorney’s office confirmed.

D.A.’s spokesperson Susan Mickey said that the district attorney’s office is reviewing a case involving Gomez, but no decision about filing charges has been made yet. The district attorney’s office received the case from the sheriff’s department Monday, Mickey said. Mickey said she could not comment on what the allegations were.

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RivPE: POLL: Poor marks for federal lawmakers

07:19 AM PST on Wednesday, January 27, 2010

By BEN GOAD
Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON – Two out of three California voters disapprove of the job Congress is doing in Washington, according to a poll released this morning.

But the survey doesn’t necessarily bode well for Republicans angling for big gains this November in the House and the Senate. Most voters here said they were still leaning toward Democratic candidates.

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10:00 PM PST on Tuesday, January 26, 2010

By SANDRA STOKEY
The Press-Enterprise

GLEN AVON – The California Fair Political Practices Commission has rejected a complaint filed against Jurupa Unified School District board member Mary Burns, citing insufficient information that Burns violated the state’s Political Reform Act.

FPPC Executive Director Roman Porter also advises complainant Denis Fitzgerald that violations of Government Code, section 1090 — which also are alleged in the complaint — are investigated by the local district attorney or the state’s attorney general’s office.

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InlandPolitics: S.B. County to release investigation on DA Ramos

InlandPolitics.com has learned the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors have authorized the release of the investigation report into the conduct of District Attorney Michael Ramos and members of his department.

The investigation was discussed by supervisors this afternoon in a nearly four-hour long closed session.

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InlandPolitics.com has received permission to use excerpts from a journal submitted as an exhibit by the complainant to county investigators.

The journal is handwritten and covers the time period from April 24, 2004 through July 25, 2005.

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YahooFinance(AP): CBO: Federal deficit projected at $1.35T

Congressional Budget Office sees 2010 deficit of $1.35 trillion as economy lags

By Andrew Taylor, Associated Press Writer , On Tuesday January 26, 2010, 10:40 am

WASHINGTON (AP) — The latest congressional budget estimates out Tuesday predict a $1.35 trillion deficit for this year as the economy continues to slowly recover from the recession.

The Congressional Budget Office report predicts a sluggish economic recovery and continued high deficits that present twin political problems for President Barack Obama and his Democratic allies.

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This is the first of a multi-part series delving into the investigation of alleged misconduct by District Attorney Michael Ramos.

Tomorrow, the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors will consider the release of the Ramos investigation report. The report, all memos, findings, conclusions, and most importantly the interview notes are subject to public disclosure. It will be interesting to see what county supervisors do.

As expected, inside sources say that only Supervisor Derry is for full disclosure.

Here is two exhibits in the Ramos investigation provided to county investigators. However, County Counsel Ruth Stringer neglected to mention it in the memo clearing Ramos of a “Purported” relationship, hostile work environment, and retaliation.

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10:00 PM PST on Monday, January 25, 2010

By IMRAN GHORI
The Press-Enterprise

San Bernardino County is proposing to continue its sponsorship of activities at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, but at a reduced level.

The Board of Supervisors will consider today an almost three-year agreement, paying $350,000 a year to market the county through billboards and other signs around the racetrack, which hosts two nationally televised NASCAR races each year.

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Southern California — this just in

January 25, 2010 | 1:46 pm

The California Supreme Court today threw out criminal charges filed by the San Diego County district attorney against five former members of the city retirement board stemming from the city’s pension controversy.

The court, however, allowed conflict-of-interest charges to remain against the firefighters union president because of his alleged role in tailoring a pension boost for himself in 2002.

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CNNMoney.com: Home prices decline for 1st time in 7 months

By Les Christie, staff writer , On Tuesday January 26, 2010, 9:33 am

Home prices fell in November for the first time in seven months, according to a industry report released Tuesday.

The S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index recorded a decline of 0.2% from October. Prices were down 5.3% compared with 12 months ago.

The loss was unexpectedly large. Experts had forecast that prices would be off by only 5% compared with last November, according to Briefing.com. The lone good news is that the rates of year-over-year declines have continued to shrink.

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January 26, 2010 | Lance Williams

Last week, retired eBay CEO Meg Whitman put $20 million of her own money into her quest for the Republican nomination for governor. Her campaign manager, Jill Hasner, quickly noted that contributors other than Whitman had already pitched in $10.2 million to the campaign, demonstrating “overwhelming donor support from Californians.”

Who gives money to a candidate with such deep pockets?

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BY CHRISTINE BEDELL, Californian staff writer
cbedell@bakersfield.com | Monday, Jan 25 2010 07:20 PM

Last Updated Monday, Jan 25 2010 07:20 PM

State Sen. Roy Ashburn, after virtually an entire adulthood in government and politics, said Monday he’s bowing out of public life — at least for now.

Ashburn, R-Bakersfield, told The Californian he’s dropping his bid for the state Board of Equalization and will not run for Democrat Jim Costa’s congressional seat. He’d been thinking about the latter but not made any firm decisions.

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Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger

By Dan Walters
dwalters@sacbee.com The Sacramento Bee
Published: Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2010 – 12:00 am | Page 3A

Arnold Schwarzenegger, with 11 months remaining in his star-crossed governorship, says it’s “a little bit too early to reflect” on his legacy – but California voters appear to be rendering their verdict already, and it’s not a positive one.

Schwarzenegger once enjoyed some of the highest approval ratings ever recorded for a California governor – 65 percent during his first months – but the latest Field Research poll, released on Sunday, found that just 27 percent of registered voters approve of his performance, and 59 percent say he’ll leave state government in worse condition than he found it.

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SFChronicle: Meg Whitman turns the page on campaign trail

Meg Whitman

Carla Marinucci, Chronicle Political Writer

Monday, January 25, 2010

“I really hate waste,” writes Whitman, who is estimated to have spent more than $300,000 on polls and untold millions on political consultants in the year since the start of her drive for California’s top post. In her book, “The Power of Many: Values for Success in Business and in Life,” which hits bookstores this Tuesday, she boasts she comes from a family so thrifty that they reused aluminum foil and tea bags and repaired holes in socks.

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VVDailyPress: Victorville giving back 43 vehicles

Move will save $750,000 in three years
January 25, 2010 5:34 PM
BROOKE EDWARDS Staff Writer

VICTORVILLE • The city is returning 43 vehicles it’s been leasing for employees, as another cost-saving measure to get through its current financial crisis.

The move will save $250,00 a year, city spokeswoman Yvonne Hester said, for a total savings of $750,000 over the next three years.

The vehicles were all leased from Sunland Ford Lincoln Mercury for five years starting April 1, 2008, in effort to replace aging, less fuel-efficient models with newer ones.

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Stacia Glenn, Staff Writer
Posted: 01/25/2010 05:35:27 PM PST

BARSTOW – The District Attorney’s Office is deciding whether to charge Mayor Joe Gomez with sexually battering a police officer’s wife after a Christmas party.

The victim, who has not been identified, reported the alleged assault Dec. 18 to the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department because the crime took place in an unincorporated area of Barstow.

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Staff and Wire Reports
Posted: 01/25/2010 09:30:48 PM PST

Under a state law that took effect Monday, California has started to reduce its prison population by about 6,500 inmates over the next year.

The bill was signed as part of last year’s state budget package. Under it, early-release credits for inmates who complete educational and vocational programs will be expanded, letting more inmates leave prison earlier.

At the same time, the state will stop its monitoring of low-level offenders after their release. That is designed to reduce the number of parolees returned to prison, essentially because the state will not know if they are violating the terms of their parole.

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10:00 PM PST on Monday, January 25, 2010

By DUANE W. GANG
The Press-Enterprise

Ed Rose has been a member of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department for 21 years — the last nine as an investigator.

He wants to stay with the department, but he has no desire to enter management. In the past, that would have left him few options — short of leaving for other agencies — to advance his career and earn more money.

Now things have changed.

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Several months ago a story exposing substantial political contributions to District Attorney Michael Ramos by two attorneys who control the San Bernardino County criminal defense conflict panel was published at www.iepolitics.com.

Now, more revelations are coming forward that may give a plausible explanation for $73,000 in political contributions given to Ramos from 01/01/2004 through 06/30/2009.

Sources who have had business dealings with the conflict panel tell of financial difficulties within the group plagued by late payments to employees and contractors. The issues have resulted in threats of going to state labor officials. It is being asserted that the funds from county conflict assignments now subsidize the private practice operations of the law firms involved.

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The summary of conclusions from a high dollar sexual harassment investigation about Mike Ramos makes one point that was overlooked by the main stream media. It confirmed that Ramos did in fact have an affair of long duration with one of his subordinates. Although, Ramos has repeatedly denied that any such affair took place, the investigation has proved otherwise.

This affair is one of over a dozen that were revealed in an Article published in the Sentinel Newspaper and subsequently augmented by others in blog postings. To date not a single allegation has been unfounded. Assuming that the numerous affairs are true, then what can you conclude about the District Attorney of San Bernardino County? Is he a sex addict? It would certainly appear so. It would also appear that he is not only a serial adulterer but a serial liar as well.

Let’s examine the issues.

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Home sales plunge nearly 17 percent in December after tax credit deadline extended

Alan Zibel, AP Real Estate Writer, On Monday January 25, 2010, 10:40 am EST

WASHINGTON (AP) — Sales of previously occupied homes took the largest monthly drop in more than 40 years last month, sinking more dramatically than expected after lawmakers gave buyers additional time to use a tax credit.

The report reflects a sharp drop in demand after buyers stopped scrambling to qualify for a tax credit of up to $8,000 for first-time homeowners. It had been due to expire on Nov. 30. But Congress extended the deadline until April 30 and expanded it with a new $6,500 credit for existing homeowners who move.

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LATimes: Impatient voters want changes now

Legislative leaders know they have to act, but they can’t agree on what to do.

CAPITOL JOURNAL

By George Skelton Capitol Journal

January 25, 2010

From Sacramento

Legislators — the leaders, anyway — know they must change the way they operate. The sooner the better. But they still can’t agree on exactly how.

The problems are clear: Bleeding, gimmicky budgets that lead to more deficit spending. Incessantly late budgets that cripple the state’s credit. Lack of prioritizing or long-range planning. Trivial pursuits. Petty partisanship.

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His proposals to privatize prisons, curtail teachers’ seniority protections and reduce the number of in-home care workers would be major blows to powerful labor interests. They’re girding for a fight.

By Shane Goldmacher

January 25, 2010

Reporting from Sacramento – Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has put organized labor squarely in his cross-hairs in 2010, opening a fight that will largely determine the shape of his final year in office.

Schwarzenegger’s proposals would cut the size of the union workforce, reduce pay, shrink future pensions and roll back job protections won through collective bargaining.

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