Index
Sunday
May242015

POLITICS (State, Local/Southern California): California Public Utilities Commission, former President Michael Peevey, Southern California Edison, San Onofre plant shutdown, settlement agreement: "San Onofre deal concocted in secret" ....

* San Diego Union-Tribune:  "San Onofre deal concocted in secret" - "Warsaw was not the only undisclosed gathering while nuclear plant shutdown pact took shape" - From the U-T:

The public was none the wiser. All the key parties in the room for the only public hearing on the $4.7 billion settlement agreement for shutdown costs at the failed San Onofre nuclear plant knew that the pact had its origins at a secret meeting in Poland.

The consumer advocate and power company executive who agreed to the settlement, and two regulators who would sign off, all knew about handwritten notes laying out a framework on the stationery of the luxury Hotel Bristol Warsaw. Even as iconoclastic San Diego attorney Michael Aguirre grilled them about suspected backchannel communications at that May 2014 hearing in San Francisco, the meeting remained a secret.

When California Public Utilities Commission members went to approve the agreement last November, assigning 70 percent of costs to utility customers, they did so by approving a document that repeatedly asserted there was no collusion baked into the deal.

A trove of emails and corporate correspondence released in the past two months shows the extent to which the parties knew about the encounter between top regulators and a Southern California Edison executive during a study trip to Poland in March 2013. . . . . . . . .

   ****

The private communications date back to November 2012 . . . . . . . .

   ****

None of the communications – even the meeting that same day – were disclosed under questioning at the hearing. None of the communications were reported on disclosure forms for behind-the-scenes communications, and Edison says they did not have to be ..................................

Sunday
May242015

LOCAL GOVERNMENT (Bay Area): San Francisco political consultant Enrique Pearce, "secret life," child pornography arrest, commentary (Matier & Ross) ....

***Following up on earlier items noted here (San Francisco political consultant, child pornography charges)....

* San Francisco Chronicle (Matier & Ross):

   ****

Secret life: One of the more intriguing aspects of the Enrique Pearce child pornography case was how he came to the attention of police.

According to prosecutors, Pearce — a political consultant whose clients included both Mayor Ed Lee and the Golden State Warriors — used the name “Jeremy” to strike up an online conversation with a local attorney who teaches at UC Hastings College of the Law. The lawyer, whose name prosecutors urged us not to publish, said he recognized Jeremy as someone he had chatted with online in the past. The new conversation, however, included messages like, “Do you perv?” and, “Do you like ‘8-12?’” — an apparent reference to 8- to 12-year-old boys.

Jeremy offered to send two child porn photos to the attorney and asked that he return the favor by sending him a sexually explicit picture of himself, according to the prosecution’s charging documents. Instead, the lawyer went straight to Central Police Station and reported the messages to the authorities — prompting a three-month investigation that culminated in this month’s raid on Pearce’s McAllister Street apartment, where his computers were seized and he was arrested.

Sunday
May242015

SACRAMENTO: State traffic courts, fines, due process, editorial: "California is steering toward more reasonable traffic ticket laws" ....

* Los Angeles Times (editorial):  "California is steering toward more reasonable traffic ticket laws" - From the LAT:

Here's something to elicit happy honks from California motorists: Two of the more abusive aspects of traffic citations — "bail for trial" and excessive fines — are being hauled off the road.

California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye last week ordered the state's traffic courts to stop requiring drivers who want to contest a moving violation to pay their fine first. This is very good news for motorists, especially poor ones. Even if they get a refund when they prevail, the pay-first system is a clear violation of the constitutional right to due process. People shouldn't lose their access to justice because they don't have the cash to pay a ticket.

   ****

"Irrational" is a good description of the system we have now, which injures motorists and chokes the county and state programs that rely on the assessment revenue. The state is carrying about $10 billion in unpaid ticket fines and penalties, some of which Gov. Jerry Brown is trying to recoup in this year's budget by offering to slash ticket debts for those stuck in "a hellhole of desperation."

This wreck should be junked, and now, it seems, the tow trucks are on the way. Beep-beep for that.

Sunday
May242015

LOCAL GOVERNMENT (Burbank): Downtown Burbank, street performers, regulation?: "Rising number, volume of street performers spark debate in Burbank" .... 

* Los Angeles Times:  "Rising number, volume of street performers spark debate in Burbank" - From the LAT:

Jerry McQueen lives in Sherman Oaks, but he was in downtown Burbank enjoying a bite to eat Monday while watching Carla Buffa sing and play guitar at the corner of San Fernando Boulevard and Palm Court — the pedestrian area that was formerly part of Palm Avenue.  McQueen said he’s made trips to Burbank with friends to see performances, including one by a performer who uses the social media app Meerkat to broadcast his performances live, and he thinks “most of the time it seems like a good thing and people enjoy it while they’re waiting for a movie or dinner.”

“I know it draws a lot of people down here,” McQueen told Times Community News. However, as the area has become more popular for street performers, it’s created some problems. The city is looking at ways to implement some guidelines that respect the free speech rights of performers while creating some order.

City Manager Mark Scott said city staff has received complaints about noise. For example . . . . . . . .

   ****

Scott said he’s seen performers argue over their turf and other behavior that he doesn’t think is “conducive” to the type of downtown Burbank wants.

   ****

Scott said city staffers were working on an ordinance that would, as a first step, ban amplified sound. He’s also directed staffers to consult with Santa Monica officials to learn how it regulates the Third Street Promenade, which includes requiring performers to get a permit. Regulation is tricky, he said, because “we have to be very careful how we restrict speech in public places.”

   ****

McQueen said he thinks the street performers create an atmosphere that keeps people in the area longer and creates a destination, “as long as it doesn’t get over-saturated.”

Sunday
May242015

POLITICS/SPORTS (Bay Area): Oakland Raiders, new Oakland stadium?: "Why Oakland, Alameda County aren't clamoring to keep the Raiders" ....

* San Francisco Chronicle:  "Why Oakland, Alameda County aren't clamoring to keep the Raiders" - From the Chronicle:

Raiders owner Mark Davis and his colleagues at the NFL might have to wait a long time to hear from Oakland and Alameda County on a plan to help finance a new $900 million stadium. That’s because elected officials are in no hurry to help the team close a $400 million funding gap, partly because taxpayers in Oakland and Alameda County are still paying millions of dollars a year for the Coliseum renovations that lured the team back in the mid-1990s. And that debt won’t be paid off until 2026.

“That money we’re paying now is general-fund money we could spend on police, parks or libraries,” said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, who has said she cannot support spending a dime of public funds for a new stadium. 

Schaaf was elected last year on promises to bolster the city’s public safety, and her current budget proposal for fiscal 2015-17 emphasizes hiring more police, while mending an $18 million shortfall this year. Oakland eliminated 80 police officer jobs in 2010 during the midst of the recession, and crime surged. The city has been working to build up its police force again.

If Davis was looking for public subsidies to help pay for a new Oakland stadium, he may be out of luck. The Raiders announced plans in February to build a $1.7 billion stadium in Carson (Los Angeles County) along with the San Diego Chargers. But the announcement did little to create a sense of urgency among East Bay civic leaders. On Wednesday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the league has received no response from either Oakland or Alameda County about whether they would provide $400 million to keep the team in Oakland.

   ****

Schaaf said she would support using public dollars to improve transportation or upgrade the Coliseum land, but she thinks the stadium itself should be privately financed. Private investors have bankrolled other nearby sports venues, she said, citing AT&T Park and the planned Golden State Warriors arena in San Francisco’s Mission Bay as examples. She said she’s waiting on Floyd Kephart, the lead financier on the current Coliseum City, to come back with a viable plan. But his proposal is not due until June 21.

In the meantime, the mayor is sticking to her guns. “We don’t have $400 million lying around,” she said ................