Index
Saturday
Sep212013

SACRAMENTO: Fair Political Practices Commission, approval, new discloure regulations for paid political bloggers: "FPPC approves new rules for political bloggers"....

* Sacramento Bee:  "FPPC approves new rules for political bloggers" - From the Bee:

Bloggers and others who are paid to post political messages online are subject to new disclosure rules under regulations the Fair Political Practices Commission approved Thursday. Campaign committees will now have to report who they pay to post "favorable or unfavorable" content on blogs, social media or online videos on their campaign finance statements, and report the name of the website where the content appears.

"The purpose overall is to let the public know that they can go compare what the campaign is paying for to what is showing up online," said FPPC attorney Heather Rowan. "I think that's going to help people see through a lot of these names and/or alert them that there's maybe something they should look at, or take with a grain of salt," she said.

Another FPPC lawyer, Zackery Morazzini, said the new reports would help the public discern between genuine opinions and campaign material. "What the commission's concern is, is people thinking they're reading a neutral posting when in fact it's the furthest thing from it -- the individual is getting paid to sway a voter one way or another," Morazzini said.

Democratic campaign consultant Steven Maviglio, who writes for the California Majority Report blog and has been working with the FPPC on the regulations for more than a year, said he was unhappy with the final product.................

Saturday
Sep212013

POLITICS (San Diego): Former Mayor Bob Filner, raises given to seven city staff members prior to his resignation: "Filner gave raises to seven employees in final weeks"....

* Los Angeles Times:  "Filner gave raises to seven employees in final weeks" - From the LAT:

SAN DIEGO -- In his final weeks as mayor, Bob Filner quietly gave generous raises to seven of his staff members. The raises took effect as staff members were being interviewed by the city attorney's office about the sexual harassment allegations that ultimately drove Filner to resign.

Three of the raises were trimmed by acting Mayor Todd Gloria, who took over when Filner's resignation became effective Aug. 30. Raises for the three lowest-paid employees were left to stand. A seventh staff member who received a raise is no longer employed by the city.

If the raises, first revealed Tuesday by KGTV Channel 10, had been allowed to remain for a year, they would have cost taxpayers a total of $86,000 a year................

Saturday
Sep212013

LOCAL GOVERNMENT (Antelope Valley): Proposed power plant on the border between Lancaster and Palmdale, dispute between the two cities: "A tale of two cities: Palmdale and Lancaster"....

* Capitol Weekly:  "A tale of two cities: Palmdale and Lancaster" - From Capitol Weekly:

Nestled deep in the smoggy Antelope Valley north of Los Angeles are two peaceful California towns — Lancaster and Palmdale. But between those two quiet communities, a raucous fight is raging about a power plant on their border. Palmdale wants to build it. Lancaster wants to stop it.

Lancaster officials say the Antelope Valley’s gusting winds will carry the plant’s 546 tons of pollution -- and the problems that will come with it – straight to Lancaster. Palmdale Mayor Jim Ledford says Lancaster’s claims are unsubstantiated. He notes that the project was moving forward and received approval from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and California Energy Commission contingent on the provision of Emission Reduction Credits as part of the program to fight greenhouse gases.

So why would Lancaster officials suddenly start to fight the project?  “It’s what they do,” Ledford says. “Maybe [Lancaster Vice Mayor Marvin Crist] put it on his bucket list as something he’d like to do. ‘I think I’d like to kill a power plant.’ It’s just immature.”

Meanwhile, Vice Mayor Crist, who also serves as chair of the Antelope Valley Air Quality Management District, sees it as a matter of life and death for his citizens. He believes they will bear the brunt of the impact of pollution in a zone already known for its smoggy air.

And Lancaster is accustomed to breathing others’ pollution: The Antelope Valley does not create a large amount of industrial pollutants itself, but its proximity to Los Angeles has exposed it to levels of smog that have made the area among the most heavily polluted zones in the country.  “We’re ranked last in respiratory diseases, asthma, the whole gamut of respiratory diseases,” Crist said. “When all of our kids have asthma and you add to that, it’s kind of like putting too much chlorine in a pool. Chlorine’s good in a pool, but too much chlorine’s bad.”

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“I can understand their concerns,” said Bret Banks, operations manager at the Antelope Valley Air Quality Management District. “Here’s the difficulty that our agency runs into, there are limits and thresholds that are put out in state and federal law, and if an applicant meets those thresholds then our agency is required to issue a permit.” In any case, the emission reduction credits are the final hurdle that Lancaster officials hope Palmdale officials will fail to clear on the path to beginning the plant’s construction.

The recent $28 million sale of the site to a private entity, the Summit Power Group, and the plant’s progress towards obtaining those emission reduction credits have created a sense of urgency among those in Lancaster who seek to halt the project. The dispute between the two cities has devolved into a high-stakes ‘he said, she said’ debate over exactly who the plant will hurt and who it will help......................

Saturday
Sep212013

POLITICS/ENVIRONMENT: Exide Technologies, excessive lead emissions, Vernon battery recycler ordered to cut production: "Exide ordered to cut production after lead emissions exceed standards".... 

* Los Angeles Times:  "Exide ordered to cut production after lead emissions exceed standards" - "The battery recycler's latest infraction status stuns activists and officials, who have been calling for the Vernon plant's closure." - From the LAT:

Air quality regulators have ordered the embattled Vernon battery recycler Exide Technologies to cut production after an air monitor revealed lead emissions had exceeded health standards over a 30-day period. The excessive lead emissions occurred even as elected officials and community members across southeast Los Angeles have been calling for the plant's closure amid an outcry over high arsenic emissions.

   ****

The announcement Wednesday of Exide's latest infraction stunned local activists and officials. "Here's my reaction: Oh my God," said Msgr. John Moretta of Resurrection Catholic Church in Boyle Heights, where parishioners have expressed health concerns about the plant for years and have called for its permanent shutdown. "After all the guarantees the community was given, now this?" Moretta said. "It's just one thing after another. Maybe this is a sign that the community is correct and it's time to close it."

   ****

Air district officials said Exide at first disputed that the high lead readings resulted from their operations, attributing them to a nearby factory. But eventually Exide agreed to cut production by 15%.

   ****

Some critics of the plant said they believe that cutting production will not be sufficient. "Exide has been exceeding lead emissions standards for over a decade. They've exceeded arsenic standards as well, and now it's lead again," said Bill Gallegos, the executive director of Communities for a Better Environment, an environmental justice group.

Community concern about Exide has been mounting since spring, when The Times reported that the air district had found that elevated arsenic emissions from the plant had increased the cancer risk for more than 110,000 people....................

***ALSO, Related:

* Los Angeles Times:  "Exide, already under scrutiny for emissions, leaks excessive lead"

Saturday
Sep212013

POLITICS/TRANSPORTATION: California high-speed rail project, latest construction delay: "California high-speed rail groundbreaking pushed back another few months"....

* San Jose Mercury News:  "California high-speed rail groundbreaking pushed back another few months" - From the MN:

All year, the state billed the summer of 2013 as the season when California's biggest-ever public works project -- a $69 billion high-speed rail line -- would finally leave the station with a groundbreaking that has been decades in the making. But with autumn arriving this weekend and no bulldozers in sight, rail officials for the first time have acknowledged it will be another "few months" before construction, which has already been delayed a year, begins.

The state still needs to buy more land and equipment, finish designs and hire workers, while a pair of lawsuits set to be decided in the coming months could even force more delays.

A date still hasn't been set for the formal ceremony marking the first shovel in the ground -- the moment when the project should finally seem more real for many dubious Californians, as billions of tax dollars begin flowing and steel starts going up.

Bullet train officials maintain they're meeting their schedule. . . . . . . . .

   ****

Still, critics say Californians won't see hammer-wielding workers in the field unless the state wins two civil cases -- one to be heard next week, the other in November. "The future of this plan is in doubt," said former longtime project Chairman Quentin Kopp, a former state legislator and judge who now opposes the bullet train. "I don't know how (the state) could even mention starting construction with pending litigation. It's irresponsible."

[CHSRA CEO Jeff] Morales says the state is still on pace to meet a September 2017 deadline to spend $3 billion in federal grants, the first pot of money that would be used....................