* LAX concession contracts, big $$$ involved.... As noted here the other day, the Board of Referred Powers is scheduled to meet today to take up recommendations for food and beverage and/or retail contract awards at LAX. Daily Breeze article details various issues being raised by a long-time concessionaire that was not recommended for any of the new contracts. Agenda for the meeting notes the items to be taken up, also that this is "to be continued to a future meeting date", which, I am assuming, means they will be taking up some of this material today but that no actions will be taken at this point. (DB)
* Immigration reform, sham marriages.... With immigration reform apparently stalled, and with undocumented immigrants -- especially those who have been in the U.S. for a long-time and who have assimilated into U.S. lifestyle but who cannot otherwise legally live or work here -- LA Weekly takes a look at "sham marriages" and the level of detailed planning -- and the fear and apprehension -- accompanying all of this. And how friends are colleagues are finding ways to help each other by tying the knot:
With no chance of legalizing their status any time soon and any substantial immigration reform having been stalled in Congress for more than a decade, some young illegal immigrants in recent years have decided to enter into fake marriages in the hope of expediting the process. They're doing it with the help of friends and relatives who have gone through the process before.
When USCIS determines that a case is phony, the agency forwards it to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau (ICE), which prosecutes those cases in conjunction with the U.S. Attorney's Office. [Chief of Staff for a local UCSIS district office] is not sympathetic to people who commit the crime, no matter the circumstances. "The penalties for marriage fraud are written on the back of the I-130 petition," Flores notes. "We're not the prosecuting branch of the service; we just do the denial. But the next level shows no mercy."
[USCIS manager] is not exaggerating. In 2005, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Santa Ana indicted 44 individuals, most of them Vietnamese-Americans, for marriage fraud after completing a years-long investigation dubbed Operation Newlywed Game. The scam involved American citizens marrying Vietnamese and Chinese nationals, most of whom paid tens of thousands of dollars to enter into the marriages. Among those arrested were students from Cal State Fullerton and UC Irvine. All those charged pleaded guilty; sentences ranged from 33 months in federal prison to probation. (LA Weekly)
* And, speaking of immigration policy.... Washington Post item today notes that, although most of the attention is focused on Arizona and the federal government's challenge to that state's strict new immigration law, three other states might adopt similar laws next year: that lawmakers in Oklahoma, South Carolina and Utah, which have already taken steps against illegal immigration, say that Arizona-style measures have a realistic chance of passing when their legislatures reconvene in 2011. (WP)
* Water bond politics.... Sacramento Bee editorial argues that, yes, it was a wise move by the governor to pull the bond from the November ballot and ask that it be delayed until 2012. But that, given the "pork-filled package" that legislators cobbled together in the waning wee hours of a session last Novevmber, it would be far better overall public policy to scrap this package altogether and come up with a smaller and more equitable package -- and one with less "pork" -- to present to skeptical voters. Also, editorial cartoon on this issue by the Bee's Rex Babin. (Sac Bee)
* Revision of California's campaign finance laws.... From the Sacramento Bee: FPPC chair Dan Schnur says that he plants to have the commission create a task force to recommend updates and clarifications to the state's lengthy and complicated campaign laws. Schnur said the move is intended to ensure the 1974 Political Reform act can "meet the challenges of the 21st century" and is clear and accessible for candidates and the public. The task force will focus on updating aspects of the law governing campaign activities. Members will be asked to present the group's recommendations at the commission's meeting in January, with the intention that the Legislature put the suggested revisions on the 2012 ballot. The co-chairs of the bipartisan panel, which which Schnur said would include "reformers and practitioners," will likely be announced later this month....... Schnur said the commission will also look to bring more attention to the agency's enforcement activities, pledging to "shine light in real time" on both potential violations of campaign laws and frivolous complaints filed by rival campaigns or interests. (Sac Bee)
* Nationwide search for new Inspector General for LAUSD; a retired district lawyer has been appointed on an interim basis to oversee investigations relating to fraud, waste and abuse. (DN)