Index
Monday
Sep292014

SACRAMENTO: Proposition 47 campaign, fundraising: "California's criminal-penalty ballot measure draws big money" ....

* Sacramento Bee:  "California's criminal-penalty ballot measure draws big money" - From the Bee:

Almost $1 million has poured into campaign committees supporting and opposing Proposition 47 on the Nov. 4 ballot in the past week, with proponents of the measure to reduce penalties for certain crimes outraising critics by more than 4-to-1 over the past two months. The initiative would change some drug and property crimes to misdemeanors instead of felonies. It would direct any savings to mental health and substance abuse treatment, efforts to reduce school truancy, and other programs.

Saturday, Public Storage executive B. Wayne Hughes contributed $505,000 to the yes-on-Prop. 47 committee, on top of the $750,000 he gave earlier this year. Last Thursday, Silicon Valley venture capitalist Sean Parker, a former president of Facebook, donated $100,000 to the yes-on-47 campaign.

A day earlier, the Peace Officers Research Association of California, an umbrella group of law enforcement unions, gave $230,000 to the No-on-47 committee, which had raised less than $44,000 until then. The same day, New York-based Drug Policy Action gave $100,000 to Yes-on-47.

Other yes-on-47 donors who have given at least six figures. . . . . . . .

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Since Aug. 1, the yes-on-47 committee has raised almost $1.2 million. Opponents have raised $273,500. A Public Policy Institute of California poll released this week found that 62 percent of likely voters back the measure, 25 percent oppose it, and 13 percent have no opinion.

Monday
Sep292014

POLITICS (National, State): 2014, new laws enacted, state(s), national: "State legislatures are very, very busy" ....

* Washington Post ("GovBeat"):  "State legislatures are very, very busy" - From the WP:

California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) must be icing his hand Monday. With just over two days to go until the deadline for signing or vetoing legislation passed during the 2014 session, Brown spent his Sunday signing 48 measures into law and vetoing another 14. And he’s far from done: Before Tuesday’s deadline, Brown will have to decide how to act on another 245 measures.

Across the country, state legislatures in 47 states and the District of Columbia’s city council have passed more than 24,000 bills into law this year alone. That’s an average of 462 new laws per state.

Tennessee skews the average: The legislature in Nashville passed an incredible 2,979 bills between Jan. 14 and April 17, when they called it quits for the year. Gov. Bill Haslam (R) must have run out of pens.

Legislatures in Illinois and Rhode Island passed more than 1,000 new laws each. Legislatures in all but 11 states passed more new laws than the 181 that the 113th Congress has passed since convening last year. Among those 11 states, four — Montana, North Dakota, Nevada and Texas — don’t hold regular legislative sessions during even-numbered years. Nevada legislators met earlier this month for a special session to vote on tax subsidies and enticements for Tesla, the electric car manufacturer.

Here’s a look at how many bills have been passed in each state..........................

Monday
Sep292014

POLITICS (National, State, Local): America's "affluent society," commentary (Op-Ed: Paul Krugman): "Our Invisible Rich" ....

* New York Times (Op-Ed: Paul Krugman):  "Our Invisible Rich" - From the NYT:

Half a century ago, a classic essay in The New Yorker titled “Our Invisible Poor” took on the then-prevalent myth that America was an affluent society with only a few “pockets of poverty.” For many, the facts about poverty came as a revelation, and Dwight Macdonald’s article arguably did more than any other piece of advocacy to prepare the ground for Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty.

I don’t think the poor are invisible today, even though you sometimes hear assertions that they aren’t really living in poverty — hey, some of them have Xboxes! Instead, these days it’s the rich who are invisible.

But wait — isn’t half our TV programming devoted to breathless portrayal of the real or imagined lifestyles of the rich and fatuous? Yes, but that’s celebrity culture, and it doesn’t mean that the public has a good sense either of who the rich are or of how much money they make. In fact, most Americans have no idea just how unequal our society has become.

The latest piece of evidence to that effect is a survey asking people in various countries how much they thought top executives of major companies make relative to unskilled workers. In the United States the median respondent believed that chief executives make about 30 times as much as their employees, which was roughly true in the 1960s — but since then the gap has soared, so that today chief executives earn something like 300 times as much as ordinary workers.

So Americans have no idea how much the Masters of the Universe are paid, a finding very much in line with evidence that Americans vastly underestimate the concentration of wealth at the top.

Is this just a reflection of the innumeracy of hoi polloi? No — the supposedly well informed often seem comparably out of touch.

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So how can people be unaware of this development, or at least unaware of its scale? The main answer, I’d suggest, is that the truly rich are so removed from ordinary people’s lives that we never see what they have. . . . . . . . .

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The exceptions are celebrities, who live their lives in public. And defenses of extreme inequality almost always invoke the examples of movie and sports stars. But celebrities make up only a tiny fraction of the wealthy, and even the biggest stars earn far less than the financial barons who really dominate the upper strata. . . . . . . . .

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Does the invisibility of the very rich matter? Politically, it matters a lot.........................

Monday
Sep292014

LOCAL GOVERNMENT (Bay Area): San Jose mayoral election: "S.J. mayor's race heats up as candidates battle over key police issue" ....

* San Jose Mercury News:  "S.J. mayor's race heats up as candidates battle over key police issue" - From the MN

SAN JOSE -- Two glossy ads now arriving in San Jose mailboxes tell the story of the mayor's race: In one, a man in dark clothes and a black wool cap peers out threateningly with a crowbar, ready to break into a house, a reminder of the thugs that the police union say have been turned loose under City Hall's watch. In another, cut-up credit cards and a warning about runaway spending argue that the race is more about making sure your tax money is protected.

Yes, the mayoral runoff to replace termed-out Mayor Chuck Reed is starting to heat up as the race reaches its final five weeks.

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San Jose's 413,000 registered voters already have started receiving mailers from both candidates and the independent union or business groups that support them. In all, well more than $1 million is expected to be spent on the race leading into the Nov. 4 election, and it could be the highest-spending mayoral race in the city's history.

With mail ballots being sent out Oct. 6, the race is only now kicking into full gear........................

Monday
Sep292014

POLITICS/EDUCATION (Los Angeles County): Wisdom Academy for Young Scientists, audit, Los Angeles County Board of Education, revocation of charter, possible criminal fraud: "L.A. County education officials seek to revoke group's charter" .... 

* Los Angeles Times:  "L.A. County education officials seek to revoke group's charter" - From the LAT:

The Los Angeles County Board of Education has notified a South Los Angeles charter school organization that it intends to revoke its charter after a state audit found that administrators funneled millions in state funds to the schools' founder and former director, her relatives and close associates.

The county board voted unanimously this month to notify officials of Wisdom Academy for Young Scientists of its intent after a lengthy review of the audit's findings. A public hearing is scheduled for Oct. 21. Meanwhile, the audit's findings have been turned over to the Los Angeles County district attorney's office, said Kostas Kalaitzidis, a spokesman for the county office of education.

The audit, which was released in March, details a litany of financial irregularities at the charter school, which investigators described as rife with possible criminal fraud, conflicts of interest and misappropriation of public funds.

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The audit, conducted by the state's Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team, detailed a complicated web of transactions, payments and contracts among family members, close associates and businesses controlled by relatives or friends of [school founder and former director Kendra] Okonkwo.

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Investigators found about $2.6 million in payments were made to Okonkwo, her family members and close associates. None of the employees in question indicated any financial interest in school affairs on required conflict-of-interest statements, according to the audit.

Among the audit's findings.............................