Index
Thursday
Jan192017

POLITICS (National, State/Texas): Texas, state law enforcement personnel to protect the Mexican border, $2.8 billion bill to U.S. taxpayers?: Editorial, "Texas has no business billing U.S. taxpayers for their own silly border patrols" ...."  

* Los Angeles Times (editorial):  "Texas has no business billing U.S. taxpayers for their own silly border patrols" - From the LAT:

Maybe everything is bigger in Texas — including political grandstanding.

Texas Republicans have worn their disdain for the Obama administration, and the federal government in general, as a badge of honor. They have led efforts to kill the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents program, which would grant relief to parents of legal U.S. residents, and to rein in expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. They have found inventive, yet transparently unconstitutional, ways of limiting women’s access to abortions. And they have challenged the administration’s authority to change the threshold under which white-collar workers must be paid for overtime hours worked.

Now they are trying to get the nation’s taxpayers to foot a $2.8-billion bill for Texas’ decision — unbidden by the federal government — to send National Guard troops and state law-enforcement personnel to protect the Mexican border. The answer should be: No.

Texas’ border surge was couched as a security move, an effort to counter the cartels ferrying guns, drugs and people across the border, but the idea was always . . . . . . . .

Texas’s deployments were made without prior agreement by federal officials to underwrite any of the costs, and the program exceeds state responsibility. Border security and immigration control are indisputably federal jurisdictions, and if a state dislikes how the federal government is handling such responsibilities, it should press political levers, not just decide unilaterally to step in where it doesn’t belong.

And even if Texas could make the case that the patrols fall under the state’s police powers, that’s hardly a reason for the nation’s taxpayers to foot the bill . . . . . . . .

Texas’ decision to take the law into its own hands on the border was a political choice. And Congress and the incoming Trump administration should stamp “return to sender” on whatever invoice Texas may ultimately deliver to Washington.

Thursday
Jan192017

POLITICS/TRANSPORTATION: Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Downtown Regional Connector, budget increase?: "Metro officials want to increase the budget for this downtown subway project -- again" ....

* Los Angeles Times:  "Metro officials want to increase the budget for this downtown subway project -- again" - From the LAT:

Three years ago, when transportation officials began an ambitious project to connect a tangle of light-rail lines beneath downtown Los Angeles, they said construction would cost $1.36 billion. Since then, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has twice sought more funding for the Downtown Regional Connector, including a request this week for an additional $199 million. If approved, the increase will raise the cost of the project to $1.75 billion, 28% higher than originally budgeted.

Officials blamed the latest increase on delays arising from the complex task of locating and moving long-buried utility lines, many of which were not listed in government records. The regional connector has become “about 6% construction project, with the remainder being a utilities project,” Metro director Jacqueline Dupont-Walker said Thursday at a committee meeting.

Officials also acknowledged that . . . . . . . .

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Metro staff warned in a report that more delays and cost increases “are to be expected” if any new problems arise over the next four years, including difficulties securing permission for crews to work late at night and early in the morning.

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The report said planners had not budgeted adequately for unexpected cost increases . . . . . . . .

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The latest budget increase request comes as Metro’s Washington seeks more authority to negotiate contract modifications without board approval. Currently, any so-called change order of more than $1 million requires a board vote, which Washington said can add weeks of costly delays to fast-moving projects. Instead, he has proposed negotiating all contract changes without board approval, unless they increase the total budget, with monthly reports provided to directors.

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The board is expected to take up the proposal on change orders next week. On Thursday, board members expressed concern that granting more leeway to negotiate changes could reduce transparency and add to cost overruns. “The idea that the CEO could approve change order after change order after change order, and then tell us, ‘We’ve hit the top’ — is that not a possibility? ” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl. She added that the idea gave her “a little heartburn.”

Thursday
Jan192017

AFTERNOON MEMOS: :Ex-aide for Costa Mesa congressman pleads guilty to embezzling more than $300,000"; "Business manager admits to embezzling $4.8 million from singer Alanis Morissette, document shows"; "3 O.C. men plead guilty to not telling IRS about foreign bank accounts worth millions" .... 

***Various items this afternoon relating to business/politics/policy/law enforcement....

* Los Angeles Times:  "Ex-aide for Costa Mesa congressman pleads guilty to embezzling more than $300,000"

* Los Angeles Times:  "Business manager admits to embezzling $4.8 million from singer Alanis Morissette, document shows"

* Los Angeles Times (Daily Pilot):  "3 O.C. men plead guilty to not telling IRS about foreign bank accounts worth millions"

Thursday
Jan192017

LOCAL GOVERNMENT: Downtown L.A., "Condo HOA Gets More Than $8 Million for Building Defects"; Bay Area/East Bay, "Contra Costa DA slapped with $45,000 fine as criticism builds"; Newport Beach, "Public gets early look at 260-unit, 3-tower condo plan for office park near JWA"; Bay Area, "Oakland City Council's startling move on police oversight pacts" ....

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

* San Francisco Chronicle:  "Oakland City Council's startling move on police oversight pacts"

* Downtown News:  "Condo HOA Gets More Than $8 Million for Building Defects" - "Barker Block Residents Complain Building Had Plumbing and Other Defects"

* East Bay Times:  "Contra Costa DA slapped with $45,000 fine as criticism builds"

* Los Angeles Times (Daily Pilot):  "Public gets early look at 260-unit, 3-tower condo plan for office park near JWA"

Thursday
Jan192017

POLITICS (National): Donald Trump, incoming U.S. President, approval rating?: "Trump Entering the White House Unbent and Unpopular" ....

* New York Times (Peter Baker):  "Trump Entering the White House Unbent and Unpopular" - From the NYT:

WASHINGTON — In one way at least, President-elect Donald J. Trump has already surpassed all of his recent predecessors. It took Barack Obama 18 months in the White House for his approval rating to slip to 44 percent in Gallup polling, and it took George W. Bush 4½ years to fall that far. Mr. Trump got there before even being sworn in.

Indeed, Mr. Trump will take office on Friday with less popular support than any new president in modern times, according to an array of surveys, a sign that he has failed to rally Americans behind him, beyond the base that helped him win in November. Rather than a unifying moment, his transition to power has seen a continuation of the polarization of the election last year.

Where other presidents used the weeks before their inauguration to put the animosities of the campaign behind them and to try to knit the country together again, Mr. Trump has approached the interregnum as if he were a television wrestling star. He has taken on a civil rights icon, a Hollywood actress, intelligence agencies, defense contractors, European leaders and President Obama. The healing theme common at this stage in the four-year presidential cycle is absent.

“He seems to want to engage with every windmill that he can find, rather than focus on the large aspect of assuming the most important position on earth,” Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, said on CNN on Tuesday. “And obviously, apparently, according to the polls, many Americans are not happy with that approach when he has not even assumed the presidency.”

Two polls out on Tuesday — one by CNN and ORC and another by The Washington Post and ABC News — found that just 40 percent of Americans approved of Mr. Trump’s performance heading into the inauguration on Friday. NBC News and The Wall Street Journal put his approval rating at 44 percent, calling it the lowest rating ever for an incoming president. By comparison, shortly after their inaugurations, Mr. Obama was at 68 percent and Mr. Bush was at 57 percent in Gallup surveys. Both used the time after their initial victories to preach a message of inclusion and to extend a hand to their opposition, even if it did not ultimately last.

Mr. Trump’s advisers said privately that his unexpected rise to power showed that such traditional barometers did not matter as much anymore. If polls were to be believed, he would not have been president, they said. Still, the anemic numbers clearly irritated Mr. Trump, who lashed out on Tuesday. “The same people who did the phony election polls, and were so wrong, are now doing approval rating polls,” he wrote on Twitter. “They are rigged just like before.”

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For Mr. Trump, the worry about approval ratings would be less about what it might mean for the next election, still years away, but about how such numbers are interpreted by members of Congress, who historically have been more deferential to popular presidents than unpopular ones .................