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Saturday
Dec092017

POLITICS (National, State/Arizona): Rep. Trent Franks, resignation: "House Republican Trent Franks Resigns Amid Harassment Investigation"; "Rep. Trent Franks offered $5 million to aide to bear his child, resigns amid inquiry"; "Rep. Trent Franks says he will resign immediately as details of allegations emerge"; also, "Rep. Trent Franks' absolutely bizarre resignation letter" ....

Saturday
Dec092017

SACRAMENTO: Background checks, state employees, contractors: "Thousands of state workers face criminal background checks, and some could lose their jobs" ....  

***Background checks, state employees, contractors....

* Sacramento Bee (The State Worker):  "Thousands of state workers face criminal background checks, and some could lose their jobs" - From the Bee:

Thousands of public workers at nine state departments will undergo criminal background checks that could affect their employment, according to the state Human Resources Department. If the background checks turn up past criminal convictions, employees could be “non-punitively separated,” according to notices sent to labor unions.

The reviews are intended to bring California in compliance with security guidelines from the Internal Revenue Service that require criminal background checks for contractors and public employees who have access to federal taxpayer information. Separately, hundreds of employees at the Office of Emergency Services also will have to participate in upcoming criminal background checks because of regulations from the federal Department of Homeland Security. The departments did not say when background checks would begin.

It’s not clear yet which criminal convictions would disqualify a worker from civil service . . . . . . . .

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Labor notifications about the background checks show the state is casting a wide net in considering who might be able to observe sensitive information. For instance ................

Saturday
Dec092017

SACRAMENTO: Transportation, "California looks at dumping gas tax for per-mile fee as cars use less fuel"; land use/development, "Key environmental law not a barrier to development, new state report says"; education, commentary (Dan Walters), "California's school duel headed for new arena" ....

***Various items relating to doings in and/or around the Capitol....

* Sacramento Bee:  "California looks at dumping gas tax for per-mile fee as cars use less fuel"

* Los Angeles Times: "Key environmental law not a barrier to development, new state report says"

* CALmatters (Dan Walters): "California's school duel headed for new arena"

Saturday
Dec092017

POLITICS (National, State): New federal tax law, protection, California taxpayers?: "California can preserve state and local tax deduction, even if Congress ends it" ....  

***New federal tax law, protection, California taxpayers?

* Sacramento Bee (McClatchy D.C.):  "California can preserve state and local tax deduction, even if Congress ends it" - From the Bee:

If Republicans’ tax overhaul passes next week, California taxpayers are likely to lose many of the state and local deductions that saved them more than $100 billion on their taxes in 2015. But legislative staffers and tax law experts are already gaming out ways to adjust the state’s tax code to offset the loss of those deductions and counter other changes to federal taxes. That could save Californians a lot of money – but also explode the federal deficit.

State lawmakers have not yet put a specific proposal on the table. They don't want to get ahead of unfinished federal policy. But one senior California Assembly aide said it wasn’t a matter of whether state leaders adjust tax laws, but how and how much. And those legislative maneuvers are likely to have a lot more success protecting California taxpayers than lawsuits . . . . . . . .

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Tax law experts . . . are dubious. “Any constitutional challenge to the rollback of the state and local tax deduction would face an uphill battle,” University of Chicago Assistant Professor of Law Daniel Hemel said via e-mail. “The 16th Amendment gives Congress the power to tax income from whatever source derived, and the Supreme Court has said repeatedly that deductions are a matter of legislative grace.”

Hemel and other academics say there are far more promising ways for states like California and New York to counteract the rollback of the state and local tax deduction that congressional Republicans are on the verge of enacting .................

Saturday
Dec092017

MISCELLANEOUS: London, top-rated restaurant?: "'The Shed at Dulwich' was London's top-rated restaurant. Just one problem: It didn't exist."; "TripAdvisor Gets Totally Punked When Fake Restaurant is Ranked No. 1"; "Writer 'tricks' TripAdvisor into making Dulwich shed number one ranked restaurant in London"; "Hoaxer gets his SHED to the top of TripAdvisor's London restaurant rankings" ....

***London, top-rated restaurant (that never actually existed)....

* Washington Post (Eli Rosenberg):  "'The Shed at Dulwich' was London's top-rated restaurant. Just one problem: It didn't exist" - From the WP:

It was a unique restaurant in London and certainly the hardest to get into. And it beat out thousands of upscale restaurants in the city to earn the top ranking on the popular review site TripAdvisor for a time, drawing a flood of interest.

There was just one small problem: It didn’t exist. The restaurant was just a listing created this year by a freelance writer, Oobah Butler, who used his home — a shed in the Dulwich area in South London — as the inspiration for a high-concept new restaurant that he posted on TripAdvisor: “The Shed at Dulwich.” With hardly more than some fake reviews — “Best shed based experience in London!” a particularly cheeky one read — and a website, it had gamed the site’s ratings in London, a highly sought after designation that could bring a surge of business to any restaurant, let alone one in major global capital.

The story has by now traveled around the globe and back, after Butler wrote a piece that exposed the ruse on Vice. It has been hailed as an incredible feat. But in an era increasingly influenced by disinformation online, it also has served as another reminder of the ease with which pranksters and other dishonest actors are able to manipulate online platforms to sometimes unthinkable results ..................

***ALSO:

* Forbes:  "TripAdvisor Gets Totally Punked When Fake Restaurant is Ranked No. 1"

* Evening Standard:  "Writer 'tricks' TripAdvisor into making Dulwich shed number one ranked restaurant in London"

* The Sun:  "Hoaxer gets his SHED to the top of TripAdvisor's London restaurant rankings"