Index
Tuesday
Sep162014

POLITICS/EDUCATION: New California "Middle Class Scholarship program": "73,000 state university studenets awarded Middle Class Scholarship funds" .... 

* Los Angeles Times:  "73,000 state university students awarded Middle Class Scholarship funds" - From the LAT:

Despite concerns that California's new Middle Class Scholarship program awards would have to be reduced because of high demand, officials said Monday that there was plenty of money to fully fund all the eligible applicants.

Nearly 73,000 state university students were notified Monday that they would receive the tax-funded tuition credits — about half the number projected several months ago.

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The Legislature created the scholarships to aid students from families with annual incomes between $80,000 and $150,000 who probably would not be eligible for traditional state and federal assistance. The awards were established to be relatively low at the outset but could more than triple over the next three years, covering 10% to 40% of UC and Cal State tuition if funding comes through.

Administrators had worried that this year's $107-million appropriation might not fully fund the 156,000 expected eligible students. But fewer in the $100,000-plus income range than had been projected filed the federal FAFSA aid form that automatically puts them in consideration for a middle-class grant. . . . Also, many more applicants than expected were deemed ineligible because they already had received substantial aid from other federal, state and campus sources. . . . . . .

An additional 11,000 awards may be given out to transfer students and others who start in the winter and spring terms, administrators said........................

Tuesday
Sep162014

POLITICS (State, Local/Bay Area): Pacific Gas & Electric Co., California Public Utilities Commission: "Shakeup at PG&E, state agency over 'inappropriate' talks"; also, "PUC president removes himself from PG&E proceedings, top aide resigns" ....  

* San Francisco Chronicle:  "Shakeup at PG&E, state agency over 'inappropriate' talks" - From the Chronicle:

Three Pacific Gas and Electric Co. executives and a top aide to the head of the California Public Utilities Commission were ousted Monday over "inappropriate" back-channel communications showing that the company lobbied regulators to appoint its preferred judge to a key rate-setting case stemming from the San Bruno explosion.

The president of the utilities commission, Michael Peevey, also agreed to step aside from voting on whether to uphold a proposed $1.4 billion penalty against the company for the deadly disaster.

The revelations and shakeup followed a lawsuit by San Bruno officials seeking communications between the utility and the commission. After receiving a batch of 7,000 e-mails in July, the city asked Peevey to recuse himself from the penalty case, saying the e-mails showed an overly cozy relationship between the company and the state agency that regulates it.

While denying wrongdoing, PG&E promised a probe of 65,000 additional e-mail communications over a five-year period.........................

* Los Angeles Times:  "PUC president removes himself from PG&E proceedings, top aide resigns" - From the LAT:

Stung by criticism the Public Utilities Commission had developed "too cozy" a relationship with the state’s largest utility, PUC President Michael Peevey removed himself from further proceedings over a huge explosion in 2010 in the Bay Area city of San Bruno that killed eight.Peevey also said he had asked his chief of staff to resign for "inappropriate communications" with the utility, Pacific Gas & Electric Co., and she did.

At the same time, PG&E confirmed that it had made improper communications relating to the selection of judges on a natural gas rate case. As a result, the company said it fired three top vice presidents. 

The PUC moves were part of a number of actions the commission announced Monday to distance itself from PG&E............................

Tuesday
Sep162014

POLITICS (National): Bureau of Labor Statistics report, workplace fatalities, commentary (Opinion L.A. -- Scott Martelle): "Workplace deaths are down, but women and Latinos face special risks" ....

* Los Angeles Times (Opinion L.A. -- Scott Martelle):  "Workplace deaths are down, but women and Latinos face special risks" - From the LAT:

Here’s a chilling bit of data from a recent Bureau of Labor Statistics report on workplace fatalities in 2013: Homicides accounted for one in five women's deaths on the job, compared with less than one in 10 for men. And the killer in more than a third of the cases with a female victim was a relative or domestic partner.

The report says 22% of the 302 women who died at work were homicide victims, second only to roadway incidents, at 26%. For men, 22% of the 4,101 deaths last year occurred in roadway incidents, followed by “contact with objects and equipment” at 17%, and slips or falls at 16%. Only 8% of male deaths were the result of homicide, and the leading cause was robbery; for women, 24% were robbery victims. Men also accounted for 57% of hours worked, but 93% of the year’s 4,405 workplace deaths.

The good news: Deaths overall dropped from the previous year. But among Latino workers, the rate went up 7%, the only major racial or ethnic group that saw an increase. The 797 Latino workers who died (about half were foreign-born) was the highest number since 2008. Since 1997, the worst year for Latino worker deaths was 2006 when 990 were killed on the job. Of 845 foreign-born workers killed last year, 42% were from Mexico.

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In terms of age, older workers were the most vulnerable......................

Tuesday
Sep162014

POLITICS/EDUCATION: Los Angeles Unified School District, "bickering," editorial: "Bickering between L.A. Unified leaders won't make schools better" ....

* Los Angeles Times (editorial):  "Bickering between L.A. Unified leaders won't make schools better" - From the LAT:

This would be a difficult period for Supt. John Deasy and the Los Angeles Unified School District even if he and the school board were intent on working together for the benefit of students. But these aren't the most cooperative of times, to put it mildly. The questions surrounding the superintendent's 2012 emails with Apple and Pearson, well before the companies were picked as the winners of the contract to provide thousands of iPads for the district's students, have further damaged the already tenuous relations between Deasy and the board. Nothing is likely to get better until the matter is resolved by further investigation.

After a period of relative peace between reform-oriented and union-allied political forces, things are now back to where they were last October. Board members are questioning Deasy about every step. Deasy is responding in an increasingly hostile way and talking once again about quitting. In a sign of the frayed relationship, he even made a formal request to obtain any emails between the board members — his bosses — and the two technology companies. It is unclear exactly what he is looking for, but it was a characteristically bold move for Deasy and illustrated his tendency to become pugilistic under pressure.

Meanwhile, the board seems unable to find its proper role, though in all fairness, previous boards didn't do much better. . . . . . . .

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Yes, there are legitimate concerns about the Deasy emails, and that investigation should move forward. But in the meantime, the district has a job to do. It can't quibble its way to better education. And Deasy, even though he clearly feels under attack, can't threaten resignation every year. There's always hope that L.A. Unified leaders will set their political agendas aside in the cause of educational improvement, but it's a hope that is seldom realized.

Tuesday
Sep162014

SACRAMENTO: AB 1371, California "Three Feet for Safety Act" to take effect today, various reports: "3-foot buffer zones for cyclists to take effect across California"; "State says drivers must give cyclists 3-foot safety cushion"; "California drivers must gives bikes 3-foot buffer" ....

***Varioius reports, sampling of coverage, AB 1371 taking effect today....

* Los Angeles Times:  "3-foot buffer zones for cyclists to take effect across California"

* San Francisco Chronicle:  "State says drivers must give cyclists 3-foot safety cushion"

* CBS8 San Diego (AP):  "California drivers must give bikes 3-foot buffer"