Index
Thursday
Aug072014

L.A. CITY HALL: Children's Museum of Los Angeles, Discovery Science Center: "Discovery Science Center's L.A. offshoot museum to open in November" ....

***Catching up on an item from a few days back....

* Los Angeles Times:  "Discovery Science Center's L.A. offshoot museum to open in November" - From the LAT:

Turning a lingering and expensive civic embarrassment into a new asset for science education, a never-used, $21.8-million building paid for by the city to give the San Fernando Valley its first major museum finally will open Nov. 13 at Hansen Dam Recreation Center. Dubbed the Discovery Cube Los Angeles, it will operate in tandem with the long-established but newly renamed Discovery Cube Orange County in Santa Ana -- known as the Discovery Science Center since its 1998 opening.

Discovery announced the L.A. museum's opening, which will arrive seven years later and under different auspices than originally planned.

   ****

The Los Angeles City Council tapped the private, nonprofit Discovery Science Center to try to bring the desolate Hansen Dam building to life. L.A. leaders said they hoped that after establishing itself solidly in Santa Ana since 1998, Discovery could repeat its success 50 miles to the north.

City Hall had a similar public-private partnership in mind in 2007, but it fizzled. L.A. held up its end of the bargain by building the San Fernando Valley museum, but the Children’s Museum of Los Angeles collapsed under the effort of trying to raise large sums to equip and operate a venue much bigger and more expensive than the small one it had run in downtown L.A. That left the city on the hook to repay more than $16.2 million in public construction funds if a museum didn’t open by March 2015 ............................

Thursday
Aug072014

SACRAMENTO: California Public Employees' Retirement System, corruption case, new charges: "New charges filed against Villalobos in CalPERS corruption case" ....

* Sacramento Bee:  "New charges filed against Villalobos in CalPERS corruption case" - From the Bee:

Former CalPERS board member Alfred Villalobos was indicted Thursday on bribery and other charges as the federal government broadened its case against the businessman at the center of the biggest scandal in memory at the giant pension fund.

A federal grand jury indicted the Nevada businessman on three felony charges, accusing him of using cash in an effort to steer pension fund business to his Wall Street clients. The new charges came less than a month after former CalPERS Chief Executive Fred Buenrostro admitted taking a series of bribes from Villalobos, including $200,000 in cash during clandestine meetings at the Hyatt hotel across the street from the Capitol.

The two men were indicted more than a year ago on charges of falsifying documents to make sure that Villalobos, a “placement agent” representing investment firms seeking CalPERS’ business, got paid his commissions. In July, Buenrostro pleaded guilty to the broader array of charges, and federal prosecutors said they would move to intensify the charges against Villalobos. Thursday’s indictment fulfills that promise.

Villalobos has pleaded not guilty to the earlier charges. . . . . . . .

The new indictment represents essentially the flip side of the facts contained in Buenrostro’s guilty plea ..........................

***ALSO, later report:

* Los Angeles Times:  "New charges filed against ex-CalPERS official in corruption case"

Thursday
Aug072014

SACRAMENTO: California Department of Toxic Substances Control, audit, "scathing report": "Audit blasts toxics agency for uncollected bills" ....

* Sacramento Bee:  "Audit blasts toxics agency for uncollected bills" - From the Bee:

The state Department of Toxic Substances Control has racked up almost $194 million in cleanup costs since 1987 for which it has either not billed polluters or collected payment, and the department may never recover a portion of that money, the state auditor said Thursday.

In a scathing report, state Auditor Elaine Howle blamed the department that oversees contaminated property cleanups for “inadequate procedures, incomplete documentation, and miscalculation of certain sites in its database.” “These issues are so pervasive that the department has not yet determined the exact amount it may be able to recover,” the audit said.

According to Howle, the Department of Toxic Substances Control as of March had more than 1,600 projects with outstanding costs totaling almost $194 million. Of that amount, nearly $142 million was unbilled and almost $52 million was billed but uncollected. According to the department, the statute of limitations for cost recovery has expired for 76 projects totaling about $13.4 million in outstanding costs, the audit said.

The audit’s release comes after DTSC officials last year acknowledged the billing problem publicly............

Thursday
Aug072014

LOCAL GOVERNMENT (County of Los Angeles): Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, civilian oversight commission, commentary (Opinion L.A.: Robert Greene): "What L.A. supervisors got wrong on sheriff oversight" ....

* Los Angeles Times (Opinion L.A.: Robert Greene):  "What L.A. supervisors got wrong on sheriff oversight" - From the LAT:

In arguing against a civilian commission to oversee the Sheriff’s Department, Richard Drooyan on Tuesday read the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors a key passage from the report on jail violence he helped write in 2012. Such a commission, he said, “is not necessary if the Board of Supervisors continues to put a spotlight on conditions in the jails and establishes a well structured and adequately staffed OIG” — meaning the new Office of Inspector General.

They are the correct words to draw from the findings and recommendations of the Citizens Commission on Jail Violence, but they should direct readers to the opposite conclusion. An oversight commission is not necessary if — and it’s the key “if” — the supervisors continue to focus on the jails and if they establish a well-structured and adequately staffed OIG.

In fact, as to the first “if,” the long, sorry record of the Board of Supervisors’ failed oversight of the Sheriff’s Department shows that its attention is too unfocused over time to properly do the job. That’s the whole point.................................

Thursday
Aug072014

LOCAL GOVERNMENT (Washington, D.C.): Marijuana legalization measure, November general election ballot: "D.C. voters to decide on marijuana use in November" ....  

* Washington Post:  "D.C. voters to decide on marijuana use in November" - From the WP:

D.C. residents will vote in November on whether to legalize marijuana use in the nation’s capital after elections officials decided Wednesday to place the question on the ballot.

The three-member D.C. Board of Elections voted unanimously Wednesday morning to approve the ballot initiative, certifying that activists gathered the tens of thousands of voter signatures necessary to qualify for the Nov. 4 general election ballot. Several of those activists attended Wednesday’s meeting and cheered the vote, which moves the District closer to joining Colorado and Washington as the only places in the nation where marijuana possession and cultivation are fully legal.

“In a democracy, the voice of the people should be heard,” said Malik Burnett, a doctor and leader of the D.C. Cannabis Campaign, an activist group that said it collected more than 57,000 signatures to qualify for the ballot. Board spokeswoman Tamara Robinson said the staff validated 27,688 of those signatures. To qualify for the November ballot, 22,600 signatures were required.

A Washington Post poll taken this year showed 63 percent support for marijuana legalization among District residents. But the legalization effort could be complicated by efforts in Congress to forestall the city’s efforts to liberalize its marijuana laws. A House budget bill passed last month included a provision to block not only a legalization effort but also a decriminalization bill passed by the D.C. Council this year that is in effect......................