Index
Thursday
Oct162014

L.A. CITY HALL: Los Angeles Police Department, Inspector General report, "ghost cars," Los Angeles Police Commission: "LAPD officials downplay report on 'ghost cars'" ....  

* Los Angeles Times:  "LAPD officials downplay report on 'ghost cars'" - From the LAT:

Los Angeles police officials Tuesday downplayed a recent report about falsified patrol records, saying it was an isolated problem that had been overstated and corrected.

Last week, the inspector general for the Police Commission, Alex Bustamante, released the findings of an investigation into the so-called "ghost car" scheme, in which officers were inaccurately shown in department databases and deployment logs to be on patrol. In the report, Bustamante said his investigators had found evidence of problems with deployment records in at least five of the LAPD's 21 divisions. Officers, the report said, were signed on to department computers and recorded as being on patrol, when in fact they were working behind a desk at a police station or handing out equipment to other officers.

Bustamante did not specify who was responsible for the deception but said it stemmed from department requirements that call on commanders in each division to have a minimum number of officers on the streets for every shift.

After Bustamante presented his findings to the commission at its weekly meeting, LAPD Assistant Chief Earl Paysinger sought to convince the oversight body that any problems with deployment records were an isolated issue and were not as serious as Bustamante had stated in his report. Paysinger said he had ordered an internal examination of deployment records throughout the department and found no indication of "troublesome patterns" that the problem was widespread. He also tried to refute examples of what he said was inaccurate reporting included in Bustamante's report, saying there were probably legitimate explanations why the officers were shown to be on patrol.

In a rare display of public testiness and open disagreement, Bustamante responded, telling the commission that Paysinger's comments were inaccurate.

Paysinger's attempts to undercut Bustamante's report seemed to flummox commissioners, including President Steve Soboroff, who cut the assistant chief off........................

Thursday
Oct162014

MEDIA: Orange County Register, Los Angeles Times lawsuit: OC Weekly, "Lawsuit: LA Times Says OC Register Owner Aaron Kushner Won't Pay Bills, Keeps Tips of Delivery Drivers" ....

* OC Weekly (Gustavo Arellano):  "Lawsuit: LA Times Says OC Register Owner Aaron Kushner Won't Pay Bills, Keeps Tips of Delivery Drivers" - From OC Weekly:

The Weekly obtained a copy of the lawsuit filed yesterday by the Los Angeles Times against the Orange County Register for unpaid distribution bills, and it's a hoot. The complaint, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, claims to know Reg owner Aaron Kushner's true modus operandi when it comes to the newspaper industry: He's a moocher in the vein of Wimpy, Popeye's rotund pal who'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.

But even ol' J. Wellington had a regal air to him when explaining why he couldn't pay up. In emails attached to the court filing, Kushner's carefully crafted public persona as a cool-headed Stanford grad is exposed as a farce, and the the true Kush emerges: a man way over his head who's begging his debtors not to chop off his proverbial thumbs..................................

Thursday
Oct162014

LOCAL GOVERNMENT (Bay Area): Oakland mayor's race, local poll: "Kaplan holds lead in Oakland mayor race; Schaaf surges to second" ....  

* San Francisco Chronicle:  "Kaplan holds lead in Oakland mayor race; Schaaf surges to second" - From the Chronicle:

Rebecca Kaplan has a commanding lead in Oakland’s mayoral race, but support for her rival Libby Schaaf is on the rise, according to a poll released Wednesday by the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. Schaaf appeared to get a boost from Gov. Jerry Brown’s endorsement last week, coming in second place, ahead of Mayor Jean Quan.

The poll found that 21 percent of voters remain undecided and underscores how much could change in the race. None of 15 candidates included in the poll collected more than a quarter of first-round votes.

The sampling of 500 likely voters between Oct. 5-9 found that Kaplan held the lead through 13 rounds of ranked-choice voting and got 59 percent of votes, while Schaaf finished in second place with 41 percent. The margin of error was 4.4 percentage points. But the poll also noted that besides the 21 percent of likely voters who have not picked any candidate, another 34 percent did not use their second- and third-place votes.

“There are still a lot undecided voters, although fewer than there were,” said pollster David Metz, who conducted the poll at the request of Oakland’s Chamber of Commerce. “When you look just at the first-choice votes, Kaplan is only at 21 percent, so there a lot of voters who have not made up their mind.”

   ****

The poll found that Oakland residents are feeling safer than last year and more confident that Oakland is on the right track. Sixty-one percent of likely voters said Oakland’s economy was improving, while 45 percent said the was on the right track, up from 27 percent in September 2013. Thirty-five percent said they felt safer than a “year or two” ago.

But voters don’t give City Hall politicians any credit for the improvements, Metz said ...........................

Thursday
Oct162014

SACRAMENTO: Proposition 45, Covered California, Consumer Watchdog, commentary (Opinion L.A. -- Jon Healey): "Covered California becomes a prime target in Proposition 45 debate" ....

* Los Angeles Times (Opinion L.A. -- Jon Healey):  "Covered California becomes a prime target in Proposition 45 debate" - From the LAT:

Proposition 45 would extend the regulatory power that Proposition 103 gave the state Insurance Commissioner over property and casualty coverage to a new branch of the insurance market: the health policies sold to individuals and small groups. So it's no surprise that the Proposition 45 campaign would turn into a reprise of 1988's battle over Proposition 103, pitting the consumer advocates at Consumer Watchdog against big insurance companies.

What has been surprising is the degree to which the campaign has devolved into a fight between Consumer Watchdog and Covered California, the health insurance exchange the Legislature created to implement the 2010 federal healthcare reform law (better known as Obamacare). 

The exchange hasn't taken a formal position on the ballot measure, other than to raise questions about how it would mesh with Covered California's efforts to negotiate rates with insurers. Some members of the exchange's board, however, have voiced concerns that the proposition could undermine its work. So has Peter V. Lee, the exchange's executive director. In response, Consumer Watchdog and other proponents of the measure have trained much of their rhetorical fire on the exchange, arguing that it's been an ineffective negotiator and even a captive of the insurance industry. The attacks took a sharper turn Monday after the Associated Press reported that the exchange had awarded $184 million in no-bid contracts.......................

Thursday
Oct162014

L.A. CITY HALL: Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety, earthquake retrofitting, older apartment buildings: "L.A. agency to urge mandatory quake retrofits for older apartments" ....

* Los Angeles Times:  "L.A. agency to urge mandatory quake retrofits for older apartments" - From the LAT:

After months of studies, Los Angeles' building department will recommend requiring owners to retrofit thousands of wood apartment buildings vulnerable to collapse during a major earthquake. The retrofitting would be mandated for apartments with weak first floors, such as those built on top of carports and supported by slender columns. These types of buildings have collapsed during both the 1989 Loma Prieta and 1994 Northridge earthquakes. Sixteen people died when the Northridge Meadows apartment complex pancaked.

Raymond Chan, who heads the Department of Building and Safety, told The Times on Wednesday the agency decided to seek mandatory retrofitting after spending months working on an inventory of so-called "soft story" apartments in the city. The survey, ordered by the City Council, is expected to be completed by January. Officials estimate there are 5,800 buildings that need strengthening and about 11,600 more that require further study.

The proposal needs the backing of the City Council and Mayor Eric Garcetti. Garcetti in his state of the city speech expressed support for some form of mandatory retrofitting, and a spokesman said Wednesday the mayor would address the issue in coming months. If approved, the retrofitting could be completed in four to five years, Chan said. Los Angeles would follow San Francisco, Santa Monica and other, smaller cities in ordering property owners to strengthen apartment buildings, a step that can cost $60,000 to more than $130,000.

Some L.A. property owners said they now expect the city to pass a mandatory retrofitting ordinance but hope that it comes with some type of financial aid.........................