November 24, 2013 |
Gov. Jerry Brown has released draft regulations to govern fracking in California that very closely follow the lines of a bill passed this year by the Legislature. The problem is that the bill itself, though better than nothing, is not strong enough to ensure the safety of the state's air, water and ground stability in the face of this controversial and not-yet-fully-understood practice. Neither the bill nor the draft regulations make it clear whether the state will require environmental impact reports for individual fracking projects under the California Environmental Quality Act. The author of the bill, Sen. Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills)
January 8, 2014 |
In one of the many news reports about Liz Cheney's decision to end her bid for the U.S. Senate, Gov. Matt Mead was quoted as saying, "Name recognition and dynasties - that just doesn't fly in Wyoming. " He was trying to explain why the 47-year-old former State Department official, who also happens to be the daughter of Dick Cheney (a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Wyoming for six terms before becoming vice president), didn't catch fire with local voters. Mead's implication was that Wyoming voters think for themselves and aren't swayed by such trivial concerns as family lineage.
December 27, 2011
It took about eight weeks, but the new seven-member commission charged with investigating Los Angeles County's troubled jails is now up and running. Early in the new year, we hope, it will begin in earnest to study just what's gone right and what's gone wrong during Sheriff Lee Baca's tenure as steward of the jails. Clearly there is a problem. The FBI is investigating multiple allegations of misconduct by sheriff's deputies. The Times has reported on numerous cases of abuse and violence by deputies, including a rookie who resigned after he was allegedly told by his supervisor to beat a mentally ill inmate.
May 14, 2011
The trustees overseeing Social Security and Medicare delivered a bleak report Friday on the programs' long-term prospects. They projected that rising costs will render the Medicare trust fund for hospital care insolvent in 2024, five years sooner than expected. And with the sluggish economy reducing payroll tax revenue, they said, the Social Security trust fund will be exhausted in 2036, one year earlier than predicted. The day of reckoning won't come for either program for more than a decade, which some advocates say is why Congress shouldn't do anything about them now. Yet no solution will be possible until Republicans and Democrats start having an honest debate about the options.
May 15, 2011
It's getting crowded out there. According to an updated report from the United Nations, the planet's population is not following the expected curve: topping out at about 9 billion mid-century and then leveling off. Instead, the demographic trends point to continued growth, bringing the worldwide population to 10.1 billion by the end of the century - nearly a 50% increase for a planet now inhabited by just under 7 billion. The highest rates of growth will be concentrated in poverty-stricken countries with low education levels, especially those in Africa, where the population is expected to more than triple to 3.5 billion.
April 4, 2012
When the city of Los Angeles held off three years ago on banning single-use, carry-out plastic bags, it missed a chance to be at the forefront of environmentally responsible lawmaking in California. By the time it inexplicably delayed a vote again in December, close to 20 cities as well as Los Angeles County had prohibited stores from providing the bags. And since then, the bags have been banned in more than two dozen additional municipalities in the state. More important, in the last three years tens of millions of plastic carry-out bags - possibly hundreds of millions - have been distributed in Los Angeles.
January 26, 2014 |
Paralyzed by ideological divisions, Congress has done little to promote economic growth or reduce unemployment since Republicans took over the House in 2011. One exception has been the approval of free-trade deals with South Korea, Colombia and Panama that lower barriers in those countries to U.S. exports and services. Any further trade deals face a huge hurdle, however: The law setting the ground rules for negotiating and approving such agreements expired in 2007. A bipartisan proposal to update the law is pending in both chambers, and lawmakers should make it a top priority to put a version on President Obama's desk.
March 13, 2014 |
It might be sound reasoning, but a Supreme Court decision this week on an arcane legal-easement argument will likely have broad and regrettable consequences, particularly in the West, for the national movement to convert old railroad beds into bicycle paths. The case, Brandt vs. U.S., is rooted in the General Railroad Right of Way Law of 1875, through which Congress established a uniform approach to granting easements on government land so railroad companies could extend tracks through the heart of the still-developing country.
October 23, 2013 |
Angelenos have more options for getting around town than ever before, thanks to the arrival of services such as Uber, Lyft and Sidecar, whose drivers can be summoned with a smartphone app. But to some members of the City Council, that's a bad thing because the services aren't regulated the same way taxi companies are - by them, in other words. The city doesn't need to throw its bureaucracy at these services, however; the state Public Utilities Commission has adopted rules that address the public's safety concerns without forcing the upstarts to abandon innovative business models.