Archive for January 21st, 2010

RivPE Editorial: Secret probe?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

San Bernardino County needs to make public a report on an investigation into District Attorney Mike Ramos’ behavior. No county – particularly one with a history of high-level scandal – should tolerate secrecy about official conduct. And total openness the best way to avoid clouding an ongoing county corruption probe in irrelevant distractions.

One of Ramos’ employees last summer accused him of harassment and retaliation, and the county hired an outside law firm to vet the allegations.  The county last week received the results of the investigation, which began in August.  But officials released only a three-page summary of the 186-page document, saying the prob e cleared Ramos of misconduct.  The county is still weighing whether to release the full report.

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Was the true scope of the law firm hired by San Bernardino County Human Resources Director Andrew Lamberto to mount a politically explosive investigation really focused on just three questions?

Will county supervisors answer that question soon, or just try and delay until after the June election.

The Santa Monica office of the law firm of Curiale Hirschfeld Kraemer, LLP was hired to investigate misconduct allegations leveled against District Attorney Michael Ramos and certain members of his management team by Investigative Technician Cheryl Ristow. Ristow says she had a 17-month long affair with Ramos and that when the affair became public last May she was retaliated against after expressing concerns to management.

The choice of the law firm was Lamberto’s decision.

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Once again, thank you.

RivPE: Cassie MacDuff: Mergers made in heaven?

10:00 PM PST on Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Cassie MacDuff

Considering how long it took to merge the San Bernardino County sheriff’s and coroner’s offices, it was amazing to see how seamlessly the merger of the auditor/controller and treasurer/tax collector slid through last week.

The sheriff-coroner merger was recommended in 1996 by the grand jury. A blue ribbon panel studied the plan in 2001. But it wasn’t until a fifth grand jury report criticized the coroner in 2004 that the merger finally took place.

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Wendy Leung, Staff Writer
Posted: 01/20/2010 09:26:56 PM PST

RANCHO CUCAMONGA – The city is looking for ways to cut its budget deficit by a third as a response to sales-tax and other revenue shortfalls.

During a midyear budget review on Tuesday, the City Council directed City Manager Jack Lam to look for ways to trim the budget by about $1.2 million without affecting services.

City staff members are expected to present money-saving measures that are available in 30 days.

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Michael J. Sorba, Staff Writer
Posted: 01/20/2010 04:21:51 PM PST

COLTON – A “paper trail” that will serve as a reference for lobbyists who advocate for the city’s interests at the state and federal level has been approved by the City Council.

The Legislative Year 2010 Program states the city’s general position on legislation that affects the city or region as it works its way through Washington or Sacramento and also lists specific projects that are city goals.

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SBSun: Supervisor Derry aids San Bernardino annex challenge

Supervisor Neil Derry

Andrew Edwards, Staff Writer
Posted: 01/20/2010 03:13:20 PM PST

SAN BERNARDINO – Third District Supervisor Neil Derry said Wednesday his office will pay the $6,600 cost of challenging a government panel’s power to merge six county islands into the city.

The basis of the challenge is whether the Local Agency Formation Commission for San Bernardino County, also known as Lafco, correctly followed state laws that allow cities to annex unincorporated territory without a popular vote.

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LATimes: 26 lawmakers admit not disclosing gifts

January 20, 2010 | 4:37 pm

At least 26 state legislators have admitted they failed to report accepting gifts from lobbying groups and will pay fines for violating financial reporting laws.

The fines are the first penalties revealed as part of an investigation by the state’s political watchdog agency into suspicions that 38 state lawmakers – including Assembly Speaker Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) — and 15 staff members failed to disclose gifts. The gifts included sports and concert tickets, meals, spa treatments and hotel rooms; those who gave included a casino, horse-racing track, union, bank and various other interest groups.

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LATimes: Whitman chips in another $20 million

Meg Whitman

January 20, 2010 | 9:00 pm

Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman’s campaign spent nearly $19 million in 2009, according to figures provided by her advisers. The former EBay chief executive donated an additional $20 million this week to her gubernatorial effort — bringing her personal contributions thus far to $39 million.

With the new $20-million infusion, Whitman will have $30.5 million in her gubernatorial bank account, according to a campaign statement. Whitman has said she is willing to spend more than $100 million of her own money in her quest for the governorship.

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LATimes: Legislative leaders named in ethics investigation

January 20, 2010 | 9:56 am

An ethics probe into state lawmakers suspected of not reporting gifts they received from lobbying groups has implicated much of the leadership of the Legislature, records show.

Those who have been questioned in writing by the state Fair Political Practices Commission about gifts they received include Assembly Speaker Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles), state Senate Republican leader Dennis Hollingsworth of Murrieta, Senate Republican leader-elect Bob Dutton of Rancho Cucamonga and Assemblyman Martin Garrick of Solano Beach, who was elected this week to become the next Assembly Republican leader.

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By Bob Willis

Jan. 21 (Bloomberg) — More Americans than anticipated filed claims for unemployment benefits last week, reflecting a backlog of applications from the year-end holidays.

Initial jobless claims rose by 36,000 to 482,000 in the week ended Jan. 16, the highest level in two months, from 446,000 the prior week, Labor Department figures showed today in Washington. The jump was due to an “administrative” accumulation from late December and early January holidays, and did not reflect “economic” reasons, a Labor Department spokesman said.

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Distressing times for district

Josh Dulaney, Staff Writer
Created: 01/20/2010 09:12:12 PM PST

FONTANA – Educators scrambling to close a record deficit issued warnings on Wednesday that painful cuts are coming to a school district battered by budget shortfalls over the past couple of years.

“There are no superficial wounds to the budget,” said Superintendent Cali Olsen-Binks.

The remarks came a day after a budget committee comprising administrators and employee representatives met for hours to initiate solutions to a projected $28million shortfall for the 2010-11 school year.

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DailyBulletin: Many call for cut in state pay, perks

Troy Anderson, Staff Writer
Created: 01/20/2010 09:12:13 PM PST

At a time when the salaries and retirement benefits enjoyed by public employees in California are among the most generous in the nation, a growing number of prominent leaders are calling on elected officials to cut government pay, perks and pensions rather than reducing services to poor, sick and disabled people.

In an attempt to close a $19.9 billion shortfall, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposed budget calls for cutting or eliminating health and welfare services to millions of seniors, children and low- income residents.

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SBSun: Redlands takes initial steps to raise trash rates

Jesse B. Gill, Staff Writer
Posted: 01/20/2010 08:07:52 PM PST

REDLANDS – The first steps in 18 years toward raising the rates for waste management services were taken Tuesday night by the City Council.

The council voted 4-1 to prepare and distribute notices to ratepayers and set a April 20 public hearing date.

“The (city) staff’s recommendation to proceed with a rate increase at this time is necessary in order to provide for the long-term health and viability of the solid waste fund,” said Gary Van Dorst, director of the city’s Quality of Life Department.

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RivPE: Riverside may lend hotel developer $20 million

10:00 PM PST on Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Press-Enterprise

Riverside officials are hammering out a deal to give a $20 million loan to a developer who plans a 125-room hotel near the reopened Fox theater.

The city sees the hotel as a key piece of downtown revitalization plans that include expanding the convention center. Officials say right now, the city is the only available creditor for the project and that they’ve included several safeguards to protect its investment.

The City Council is expected to vote on the deal in February. If it’s approved, the city would sell $20 million in tax-exempt bonds that are available under a federal stimulus bill and lend the money to developer Siavash Barmand’s MetroPacific Properties.

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RivPE: San Bernardino annexation foe may get county help

10:00 PM PST on Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Press-Enterprise

SAN BERNARDINO – San Bernardino County Supervisor Neil Derry said Wednesday he will ask the county to pick up the tab for a woman’s battle against the annexation of six parcels to San Bernardino.

“I’m flabbergasted,” north San Bernardino resident Susan Hulse said after Derry came to her aid before the San Bernardino County Local Agency Formation Commission.

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In a 5-4 decision that strikes down a 1907 law, the justices say the 1st Amendment gives corporations, just like individuals, a right to spend their own money on political ads for federal candidates.

By David G. Savage

January 21, 2010 | 9:28 a.m.

Reporting from Washington – The Supreme Court today overturned a century-old restriction on corporations using their money to sway federal elections and ruled that companies have a free-speech right to spend as much as they wish to persuade voters to elect or defeat candidates for Congress and the White House.

In a 5-4 decision, the court’s conservative bloc said corporations have the same 1st Amendment rights as individuals and, for that reason, the government may not stop corporations from spending freely to influence the outcome of federal elections.

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OCRegister: Deputy union approves new pension deal

January 20th, 2010, 7:25 pm · posted by Jennifer Muir

Sheriff’s deputies have agreed to start paying for a share of their retirement costs and reduce the lucrative “3 at 50″ pension benefit for new employees.

Members of the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs voted overwhelmingly to approve a tentative three-year contract agreement with the county, union spokesman George Urch said tonight. The plan comes after months of negotiation with the county, which was pushing for ways to reduce deputy retirement costs.

About half the union’s members voted, and 86.5 percent — or 766 members — approved the tentative agreement, Urch said. The union’s president Wayne Quint declined to comment until after county supervisors vote on the agreement.

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CapitolWeekly: The state budget: funny money and quicksand

By John Howard | 01/21/10 12:00 AM PST

The Schwarzenegger administration, like others before it, knowingly includes items in its budget proposals that deliberately overestimate revenue and ease the pressure for cuts, loans or new taxes – or all three.

“When the governor proposes these things, there is a huge incentive for everyone, including the Legislature, to go along with it because it saves pain, even though everybody knows it’s a fiction,” said one veteran Capitol fiscal expert and an adviser to three governors. “It’s pretending the budget is in balance when it isn’t.”

The pretense is more than semantics.

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Strategists say confidence has faded that Sen. Boxer, running for reelection, and Atty. Gen. Brown, perhaps running for governor, would coast to wins. Analysts say GOP could pick up legislative seats.

By Evan Halper and Shane Goldmacher

January 21, 2010

The impact of Tuesday’s Senate election in Massachusetts hit California within hours, as Republican office- seekers moved to grab opportunities and nervous Democrats scrambled to assess how vulnerable their party’s largest stronghold may have become.

Until recently, many Democratic strategists believed that incumbent Sen. Barbara Boxer was a prohibitive favorite for reelection in November and that their party’s presumed candidate for governor, Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown, would coast to victory. Now, confidence has faded on both.

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SFChronicle: Fiorina talks about Mass., Campbell

Fiorina talks about Mass., Campbell

Senate hopeful Carly Fiorina joined gleeful Republicans across the nation today in touting Scott Brown’s Tuesday victory as proof that Democrats are weak — and wasted no time bringing it home.

“I see parallels (with California’s Senate battle) in the sense that conventional wisdom had the race all figured out — ‘Oh sure, Martha Coakley is going to win’ — Martha Coakley was going to win just 30 days ago in a landslide, but once again the voters made up their own minds,” she said.

“I see parallels in what voters are concerned about. All the poll data here in California shows that Californians are most concerned about jobs, and they are most concerned about out of control government spending. And that’s true whether they are Democrats or independents or Republicans, and they are concerned about the direction health care reform is taking. And those issues are going to play in California just as they played in Massachusetts.”

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