Index
Monday
Jul252016

POLITICS/TRANSPORTATION (National, State): California high-speed rail project, 2016 presidential election?: Commentary (George Skelton), "Gov. Jerry Brown's best hope for high-speed rail? A Donald Trump presidency" .... 

* Los Angeles Times (George Skelton):  "Gov. Jerry Brown's best hope for high-speed rail? A Donald Trump presidency" - From the LAT:

Gov. Jerry Brown badly needs a financial angel to salvage his sputtering bullet train. Nobody ever dreamed it might be Donald Trump. But Brown and Trump share at least one viewpoint: High-speed rail is needed for America’s transportation future.

In March, Brown said of the Republican presidential candidate, who promises to build a wall to protect the U.S.-Mexico border: “If Trump were ever elected, we’d have to build a wall around California to defend ourselves from the rest of the country.” Think again, governor. He could be just the right guy for one of your legacy projects. As president, Trump conceivably could pry billions of dollars from Congress for the grossly underfunded and unpopular California bullet train.

Trump, as far as I know, has never specifically embraced the $64-billion plan to build a 500-mile high-speed rail line from Los Angeles to San Francisco, currently the nation’s largest public works project. But he has extolled high-speed rail. “China and these other countries, they have super-speed trains,” he told the Guardian last year. “We have nothing. This country has nothing. We are like the third world. But we will get it going and we will do it properly and, as I say, make America great again.” Trump basically repeated that in a March campaign speech: “[The Chinese] have trains that go 300 miles per hour. We have trains that go chug-chug-chug.”

In his nomination acceptance speech last week at the GOP convention, the billionaire developer promised to build “the railways of tomorrow.” Of course, he also pledged to build highways, bridges, tunnels and airports. Additionally, he vowed, “we will completely rebuild our depleted military.” Plus build the wall. And beef up law enforcement. That’s quite a spending spree for someone who simultaneously assures voters they’ll get a large tax cut.

So pardon me for being skeptical about any Trump dollars for the choo-choo. But no one else is even talking about more bullet-train bucks.

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Clinton — endorsed by Brown before the California primary — also supports high-speed rail. But as president, she would have virtually no chance of persuading a Republican-controlled House to spend money on a blue state bullet train. Trump plausibly might. Without more federal funds, the train seems headed for derailment. Maybe it is even with additional Washington largess ..................

Monday
Jul252016

POLITICS (National): 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton, Democratic National Convention, national stage: Editorial, "The Democratic Convention is Hillary Clinton's chance to get voters to trust her" ....  

* Los Angeles Times (editorial):  "The Democratic Convention is Hillary Clinton's chance to get voters to trust her" - From the LAT:

Delegates gathering in Philadelphia on Monday for the Democratic National Convention have a lot to be thankful for. President Obama has seen a rise in his job approval ratings. That’s good news for Hillary Clinton, who served as his secretary of State and is promising in her campaign that she will build on his accomplishments.Sen. Bernie Sanders, the democratic socialist from Vermont who ran a surprisingly strong campaign, has endorsed Clinton. Yes, some of his followers continue to grumble about a “rigged” nomination process, but the vast majority of them tell pollsters they will back Clinton in November.

A platform was drafted relatively amicably that incorporates themes dear to Sanders and his supporters — particularly criticism of trade agreements that “do not support good American jobs” — without straitjacketing Clinton.

Finally, in Donald Trump the Republican Party has nominated a candidate with no experience in government, a volatile temperament and a habit of bashing immigrants and Muslims and belittling women. Trump’s bluster and bigotry can only motivate minority and female voters to turn out for Clinton and her seasoned running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), who was a civil-rights lawyer before becoming a politician.

Yet despite these advantages, Democrats have good reason to be concerned about their prospects in the general election. The party needs to use this convention not only to emphasize the dangers of a Trump presidency — for the entire nation, not just for women, minorities and the poor — but also to address concerns about its own candidate ..................

Monday
Jul252016

LOCAL GOVERNMENT (Orange County): Orange County government, political crimes/corruption?: Report/analysis, "Does O.C. local government need more oversight?" ....

* Orange County Register:  "Does O.C. local government need more oversight?" - From the Register:

A pack of pit bull prosecutors once attacked public corruption in Orange County. They took down scores of politicians – county supervisors who sold their votes, city officials who squeezed money from strawberry farmers, a U.S. congressman who accepted bribes before he hit the big time.

Crusaders Cecil Hicks and Mike Capizzi won convictions, guilty pleas, jail sentences – and a curious combination of renown and resentment that, for Capizzi at least, hardened to scorn. Capizzi’s zealous pursuit of fellow Republican powerbrokers for alleged political crimes as Orange County’s elected district attorney earned him jeers of “traitor” and “political grandstander.” After years of bruising court battles, some cases were ultimately dismissed. The Republican establishment turned its back on him, and Capizzi’s quest for higher office came to a screeching halt.

When Tony Rackauckas campaigned to succeed Capizzi in 1998, he pointedly promised to focus on attacking violent crime rather than generating “political publicity.” Four terms later, Rackauckas has kept his word. But has he kept it too well? And is additional investigative oversight of local agencies in the county needed? ........................

Monday
Jul252016

LOCAL GOVERNMENT (County of Los Angeles): Former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca: Editorial, "The Cautionary Tale of Sheriff Lee Baca" ....

* Downtown News (editorial):  "The Cautionary Tale of Sheriff Lee Baca" - From the DTN:

DTLA - Last week, U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson rejected the plea agreement that prosecutors and attorneys for former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca had orchestrated. A six-month prison sentence in exchange for admitting to one count of lying to federal investigators was too lenient, Anderson decided. Baca now has the option to withdraw his guilty plea.

Some may question Anderson’s decision not for the alleged past law-breaking, but the current circumstances — Baca, who served as sheriff for 16 years, is now 74 and is reportedly in the early stage of Alzheimer’s disease. Prolonged negotiations or lengthy legal maneuvers and a trial could result in a man with diminished mental faculties receiving a significant prison sentence.

The next step will likely come in early August when the two sides return to Anderson’s courtroom, but for now, the process should serve as a cautionary tale to any high-ranking public official, particularly those who are elected. When someone is chosen by the people for a post of great power, he or she must meet the highest level of accountability. The public trust matters, and when one of these individuals breaks the law, it reflects not only on that person, but on all levels of government, and adds to the sense of mistrust that too many people have of municipal bodies and politicians.

Baca’s downfall continues a long line of misdeeds by elected officials at all levels in California (and across the country) . . . . . . . .

Baca’s situation involves sins of both commission and omission . . . . . . . .

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What happens next is anyone’s guess: Baca’s team could try . . . . . . . .

Whatever happens, Baca’s downfall should be a lesson to everyone in government: ...........

Monday
Jul252016

POLITICS (National): 2016 presidential election, new polls, Republican National Convention - Trump bump?: "Donald Trump bounces into the lead"; "The Trump bump: Poll shows Trump up post-convention"; "Convention Bump Lifts Trump Ahead of Clinton in Polls"; also, commentary (Greg Sargent), "This is the single most depressing finding in today's poll's showing Trump ahead" ....

***2016 presidential election, Republican National Convention, new polls, post-convention Trump bump?

* CNN:  "Donald Trump bounces into the lead"

* Sacramento Bee:  "The Trump bump: Poll shows Trump up post-convention"

* Wall Street Journal:  "Convention Bump Lifts Trump Ahead of Clinton in Polls"

***ALSO:

* Washington Post (Greg Sargent):  "This is the single most depressing finding in today's poll's showing Trump ahead"