SACRAMENTO: Public employee pensions, reductions?: Report/analysis, "California promised public employee generous retirements. Will the courts give government a way out?" ....

* Los Angeles Times (CALMatters - Maura Dolan):  "California promised public employees generous retirements. Will the courts give government a way out?" - "A case before the state Supreme Court could clear the way for reductions in public retiree benefits, which have become hugely expensive. But for now the outcome is 'hard to predict.'"  - From the LAT:

California’s generous public employee pensions, shielded for decades by the state’s courts, may soon no longer be sacrosanct.

In a potentially huge win for advocates of cutting government pensions, an appeals court in August declared that public retirement plans were not “immutable” and could be reduced. The three-judge panel said the law merely requires government to provide a “reasonable” pension. That unanimous ruling, now before the California Supreme Court, could be a vehicle for reducing a shortfall amounting to hundreds of billions of dollars in state and local pension systems. If upheld, the decision could lead to the kinds of cutbacks previous courts blocked.

Emory University Law Professor Alexander Volokh called the decision “a big change from what the doctrine has been so far” and expressed doubt that it would be upheld. University of Minnesota Law Professor Amy B. Monahan described the ruling as “novel” and the outcome “hard to predict.”

The decision has attracted national attention because of California’s influential role in pension law. Like California, other states are facing massive shortfalls in public pensions and wrangling with ways to head off staggering debts. Standing in the way have been decades of court decisions that created what is called the “California Rule.” It guarantees government workers the pension that was in place on the day they were hired.

The formula for calculating retirement income generally can be changed only if it is neutral or advantageous to the employee, courts have ruled. It cannot be reduced, except for new hires. “It is a rule that makes it extremely difficult for states to reform their pensions,” Volokh said, “and lots of states have really big pension problems now.” ....................


SACRAMENTO: Proposition 64, recreational use, marijuana: Editorial, "The perils of California's pot economy" ....

* Los Angeles Times (editorial):  "The perils of California's pot economy" - From the LAT:

Medical marijuana may be a billion-dollar industry in California, but it’s a cash business. Because marijuana remains illegal under federal law, most pot shops can’t get bank accounts or accept credit card transactions because the financial services companies fear they would be penalized or shut down by federal regulators for handling money gained from unlawful drug sales. That means marijuana products are typically sold for cash, and dispensary owners pay their employees, their landlords and others in cash as well. It’s not unusual for pot shop owners to haul bags of money — tens and sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars — to the state tax collector’s office.

But as unwieldy as the cash-only system is now, California regulators and cannabis businesses could be swimming in even more cash if voters pass Proposition 64 in November and the state legalizes adult recreational use of marijuana. California dispensaries sold an estimated $2.7-billion worth of marijuana last year, and industry observers predict the recreational and medicinal market could increase to $6 billion by 2020.

Proponents of Proposition 64 have drafted a logical, pragmatic plan for legalization, which includes a comprehensive licensing and regulatory system, and which the gives state legislators the flexibility to change the law to address unintended consequences. That’s one reason why The Times has endorsed Proposition 64 . . . . . . . .

But even proponents must acknowledge that as long as the marijuana industry is a cash business, it will be harder for California to regulate and control. And there is little state officials can do to fix the banking problem as long as the federal government considers marijuana an illegal drug and classifies marijuana revenues as illegal proceeds.

The problems are already apparent ...................


POLITICS/LEGAL (National): United States Supreme Court, filling of vacancy?: Editorial, "GOP obstructionism gone haywire: No new Supreme Court justices until next Republican president" ....

* Los Angeles Times (editorial):  "GOP obstructionism gone haywire: No new Supreme Court justices until next Republican president?" - From the LAT:

After Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died this year, President Obama went about nominating a successor, as required by the Constitution. But Senate Republicans — including John McCain of Arizona — resisted, insisting that the vacancy should be filled by the president chosen by voters in November. They invoked (or fabricated) a “rule” that a president’s right to have his Supreme Court nominees considered by the Senate lapses in an election year.

Now that Hillary Clinton seems likely to win the election, however, some Republicans are changing their tune. This week, McCain promised that “we will be united against any Supreme Court nominee that Hillary Clinton, if she were president, would put up.” Huh?

It was a reminder of just how unprincipled Republicans have been in refusing to bring the court up to strength. This fight has been all about partisan advantage, and if that means the court must leave some important issues unresolved because of a 4-4 deadlock, so be it.

McCain’s outrageous threat also highlighted a longer-term problem: the bipartisan repudiation of the idea that the Senate should defer to a president’s choice of a Supreme Court justice so long as the nominee is well qualified, untarnished by accusations of personal wrongdoing and within the mainstream of legal thought.

In 2005 . . . . . . . .

And now McCain threatens to . . . . . . . .

The Constitution does provide for a role for the Senate in the appointment of judges, including Supreme Court justices. But senators abuse that authority when they reflexively reject or block a nominee from a president of the opposite party ..............


LOCAL GOVERNMENT: Santa Monica, "Santa Monica temporarily stops airort evictions amid federal investigation"; Oakland, "Oakland City Council delays vote on McElhaney flap"; LAUSD, "Principal of El Camino charter high school will step down, ending drama over school's future"; Oakland, "Oakland Raiders mull future, leaving fans on the sideline" ....

***Various items relating to local issues/local government -- Northern California, Southern California....

* Los Angeles Times:  "Santa Monica temporarily stops airport evictions amid federal investigation"

* KPCC:  "Principal of El Camino charter high school will step down, ending drama over school's future"

* San Francisco Chronicle:  "Oakland City Council delays vote on McElhaney flap"

* East Bay Times (Gary Peterson)  "Oakland Raiders mull future, leaving fans on the sideline"


POLITICS (National): 2016 presidential election: Commentary (David Horsey), "Embattled Trump finds allies and inspiration in the lunatic fringe"; report/analysis (Cathleen Decker), "To win the debate, Donald Trump needs to turn the attention to Hillary Clinton"; report/analysis (David Lauter), "Even lots of Donald Trump supporters are starting to think he'll lose the election" ....

***2016 presidential election....

* Los Angeles Times (David Lauter):  "Even lots of Donald Trump supporters are starting to think he'll lose the election"

* Los Angeles Times (Cathleen Decker):  "To win the debate, Donald Trump needs to turn the attention to Hillary Clinton"

* Los Angeles Times (David Horsey):  "Embattled Trump finds allies and inspiration in the lunatic fringe"