Index
Friday
Dec022016

LOCAL GOVERNMENT (Bay Area): San Francisco charity, "Helpers Community Inc.," questionable practices?: "A fashionable San Francisco charity's ugly reality" ....  

* San Francisco Chronicle:  "A fashionable San Francisco charity's ugly reality" - From the Chronicle:

San Francisco socialite Joy Venturini Bianchi has long been a striking presence among the city’s elite, soliciting donations and earning accolades from fashion icons, philanthropists and politicians for the cause she says propels her: helping people with developmental disabilities. At a recent VIP fundraiser at Ghirardelli Square, Bianchi, 78, beamed in a silver-sequined dress and her signature oversized eyeglasses as she received a state Senate resolution honoring her “outstanding community service” and “high business ethics.”

Yet some donors to Bianchi’s 60-year-old charity have struggled with concerns that their donations were misused, raising doubts they said were never resolved.

A Chronicle examination of the public financial records of Helpers Community Inc. — known until 2015 as Helpers of the Mentally Retarded — shows the $6 million charity indeed appears to have strayed from its cause, pursuing questionable practices with scant oversight from a small board that includes its director, Bianchi, and her longtime friend.

Over the last decade, filings to the Internal Revenue Service reveal the nonprofit has done little charitable work while amassing millions of dollars in assets and donations and generously compensating Bianchi, whose work includes attending red-carpet galas from Beverly Hills to Manhattan where she appears alongside celebrities such as Demi Moore, Gwyneth Paltrow and Katy Perry.

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Five accounting experts and a former bookkeeper for Helpers, who reviewed 18 years of the charity’s financial disclosures to the IRS at The Chronicle’s request, questioned Helpers’ legitimacy as a nonprofit and cautioned future donors about contributing .......................

Friday
Dec022016

SACRAMENTO: Gov. Jerry Brown, Rep. Xavier Becerra: "How Jerry Bropwn came to appoint Xavier Becerra as attorney general" ....

***Following up on most recent earlier item noted here (Gov. Jerry Brown, Rep. Xavier Becerra, interim California Attorney General)....

* Sacramento Bee:  "How Jerry Brown came to appoint Xavier Becerra as attorney general" - From the Bee:

Gov. Jerry Brown’s surprise selection of Democrat Xavier Becerra for state attorney general came into sharper focus after the election of Donald Trump as president – when administration officials said they saw the veteran congressman as more likely to accept the position.

While Brown aides began pursuing Becerra after Trump’s win on Nov. 8, putting him on the short list of top contenders, it wasn’t until this week that Becerra began talking with the governor himself, whom he did not know well. A Brown official, speaking on background, said it was those conversations, in which Becerra was able to convey a level of smarts and political savvy reflected in his resume, that convinced Brown he was right for the job.

Though Brown could have made his decision when U.S. Sen.-elect Kamala Harris formally leaves the attorney general’s office, congressional leadership wrangling essentially meant the governor had to move more quickly. Becerra, preparing to vie for the top Democratic post on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, would have needed to begin whipping votes from colleagues.

Brown announced his choice Thursday ............

Friday
Dec022016

LOCAL GOVERNMENT: O.C., "Anaheim's New Majority Eager to Set a Different Course"; Los Angeles, "A New Path for the L.A. River"; O.C., "Brea police asking D.A. to charge city treasurer in suspected DUI, hit and run"; L.A., "Ex-charter school chief gets $215K after resigning in wake of spending controversy" ....

***Various items relating to local issues/local government, in and around Southern California....

* Orange County Register:  "Brea police asking D.A. to charge city treasurer in suspected DUI, hit and run"

* Downtown News:  "A New Path for the L.A. River"

* Voice of OC:  "Anaheim's New Majority Eager to Set a Different Course"

* Daily News:  "Ex-charter school chief gets $215K after resigning in wake of spending controversy"

Friday
Dec022016

POLITICS (National, Local/Los Angeles): President-elect Donald Trump/Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti?: "Mayor Eric Garcetti is trying to strike a balance with Donald Trump. Will it pay off?" ....

* Los Angeles Times:  "Mayor Eric Garcetti is trying to strike a balance with Donald Trump. Will it pay off?" - From the LAT:

Before election day, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti didn’t hold back when it came to Donald Trump. “He’s a racist. He’s a bigot. He’s sexist,” Garcetti told reporters in May, criticizing the Republican presidential hopeful for his views on the economy, immigration and women, among other things. “What we cannot do with Donald Trump is normalize him as a candidate.”

That kind of criticism was common for Democratic leaders in deep-blue California, where slamming Trump brought few political risks. But since Trump’s victory, Garcetti has adopted a more civil tone. They spoke by phone last week, and Garcetti has expressed his willingness to work with the president-elect on infrastructure and the economy. At the same time, Garcetti has offered assurances that the city won’t aid Trump on any widespread crackdown against immigrants who are in the country without authorization. 

It amounts to a political tightrope walk by Garcetti — an approach that could help the city in significant ways but may disappoint groups that want the mayor to take a harder line against Trump, especially on immigration. “If Trump plays him for a fool, Garcetti is going to look bad,” said Brent Wilkes, national executive director of the League of United Latin American Citizens. “And there will be progressives that are angry that he didn’t take a tougher stance.” ..................

Friday
Dec022016

LOCAL GOVERNMENT/MEDIA: Former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, corruption case: "Judge rules ex-L.A. Times reporter must testify in corruption trial of former Sheriff Lee Baca" .... 

* Los Angeles Times:  "Judge rules ex-L.A. Times reporter must testify in corruption trial of former Sheriff Lee Baca" - From the LAT:

A federal judge ruled Thursday that a former Los Angeles Times reporter who interviewed then-Sheriff Lee Baca during an unfolding scandal over abuses in the county jails must testify in the former sheriff’s corruption trial, which is scheduled to begin next week. Prosecutors want the reporter, Robert Faturechi, to testify about a Sept. 29, 2011, article in which Baca described an FBI undercover sting and a visit that sheriff’s investigators made to an FBI agent’s home. They also want to ask Faturechi about statements he made on KCRW radio earlier this year.

Attorneys for Faturechi, who is now with the nonprofit news outlet Pro Publica, argued that the First  Amendment protects him from testifying, in part because prosecutors could find other witnesses to establish similar facts. U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson said the prosecution’s need for disclosure outweighs Faturechi’s 1st Amendment protection as a journalist. He noted that Faturechi’s attorney has not argued that the interview with Baca was confidential or that the reporter would be reneging on a promise to keep the conversation off the record.

Faturechi’s testimony will generally be limited to the content of the newspaper article and the radio appearance, but attorneys may be allowed to ask related questions, such as where he interviewed Baca ..................