April 16, 2013 |
There's a short piece of Bay Area freeway, Interstate 380, named for Quentin Kopp, which is ironic considering that he's beaten the drum for public transit - specifically bullet trains - for years. But then again, he's always been a contrarian, as a Superior Court judge, a San Francisco supervisor and a state senator. He also headed the California High-Speed Rail Authority. The man nicknamed the "Great Dissenter" is dissenting now over the course of his beloved bullet train, created on paper in 2008 with a bond measure, Proposition 1A. Its prospects have been slowed considerably by lawsuits, the latest from the state itself, a preemptive bring-it-on legal action called High-Speed Rail Authority vs. All Persons Interested.
January 2, 2013 |
What's the difference between a mosquito and a lawyer? One is a blood-sucking parasite. The other is an insect. I'm a lawyer, but I live out of state and haven't practiced law in recent years, so I am at this point an "inactive" member of the California State Bar. That means I don't have clients, which is a good thing, because if I did, chances are I would have to steal from them. At least, that's how I see California's Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts, or IOLTA, program.
August 8, 2012 |
The U.S. Postal Serviceis in trouble, and there's no telling whether it will survive. It's been battered by the Internet and a dragging economy, besieged by commercial competitors and stymied in its efforts to trim a costly web of post offices and delivery routes. On Aug. 1, it defaulted on a $5.5-billion payment to the U.S. Treasury for future retiree health benefits. Some think that it's time to privatize the service, bringing an end to one of our oldest federal institutions. The outlook is grim, though the crisis is not unprecedented.
November 6, 2011 |
Aging members of America's middle class worry about retirement, and for good reason. When the TV talking heads aren't reminding us about plummeting house prices, they're speculating about not whether but by how much politicians will cut Social Security and Medicare benefits. And the financial and economic crises of the last several years have left the country 10% poorer, obliterating $6.1 trillion in wealth, a healthy chunk of which was in retirement savings. The country's financial crisis came at a particularly bad time.
December 27, 2010 |
Article 1 of California's Constitution broadly declares that privacy is among our inalienable rights. But the laws enforcing this right are from another era, and our constitutional protection is being undermined. For example, the law requires the consent of both parties before recording telephone calls and restricts official snooping in our private business. Yet some of California's biggest companies, such as Google and Facebook, violate our privacy daily by tracking us online and collecting massive amounts of private information without our explicit consent.
April 16, 2010 |
Kerry Killinger, the deposed head of Washington Mutual, was in Congress this week protesting that the seizure of the Seattle-based bank on Sept. 25, 2008, was not only premature, it was "unfair." Had WaMu only been placed on the "do not short list" and thus protected from those nasty Wall Street speculators. Had WaMu only been allowed to live a few weeks longer, it could have benefited from the increase in federal deposit insurance (the per-person limit was raised to $250,000 from $100,000)
November 14, 2011 |
Last year, the medical technology firm Numira Biosciences packed its bags and left Irvine for Salt Lake City. When asked about the firm's departure, its chief executive praised Utah's quality of life but also blamed California's business environment for the move. "The tipping point was when someone from the Orange County tax [assessor] wanted to see our facility to tax every piece of equipment I had," Michael Beeuwsaert told the Orange County Register. For years, California could rely on its temperate climate and a talented workforce to attract and keep businesses even as taxes and regulations increased.
February 3, 2012 |
Last fall, Los Angeles took a hard line on school nutrition. In an attempt to mold better eating habits in kids, the Los Angeles Unified School District eliminated flavored milk, chicken nuggets and other longtime childhood favorites. But instead of making kids healthier, the changes sent students fleeing from school cafeterias. There have been reports of a thriving trade in black-market junk food, of pizzas delivered to side doors and of family-sized bags of chips being brought from home.
March 4, 2012 |
If the pill had never been invented, perhaps American politics would be very different today. Sex has consumed the political debate in recent weeks. To many it has been a surprising turn of events, given the near-universal prediction that this year's election would be all about the economy. If the history of the bipartisan sexual counterrevolution were better known, no one would be surprised. Conflicts over gay marriage, transvaginal ultrasounds, Planned Parenthood funding and insurance coverage for birth control are not isolated events.
March 2, 2011 |
Soft drinks were banned in Los Angeles schools in 2004. But if you think that means kids are protected from too much sugar at school, think again. Children are regularly able to select a school breakfast that contains more added sugar than a can of soda. A popular breakfast offering of Frosted Flakes doused in chocolate milk with a side of coffee cake and a carton of orange juice contains 51 grams of added sugar (or 79 grams of total sugar counting those that occur naturally in the milk and the juice)