CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
January 16, 2012 |
Californians are heading into an intense, critical debate over the level of public service they're willing to pay for. So it's time to puncture some myths. Everyone's entitled to his own opinion, as the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan used to say, but not his own facts. Voters owe it to themselves to separate myth from fact as they begin pondering Gov. Jerry Brown's planned November ballot initiative to temporarily raise about $7 billion annually from higher income taxes on the rich and sales taxes on everyone.
October 30, 2011 |
John Pérez and I have been talking about the government and politics of California for 13 years. Some aspects of that conversation have changed: In our early conversations, he was the executive director of the United Food and Commercial Workers States' Council; now, he's the Speaker of the Assembly. Our first discussion was over bagels at a Silver Lake coffee shop. Last week, it was in the back room of the Pacific Dining Car, which Pérez says he appreciates for the privacy. A 28-year-old outsider when we met in 1998, he's now in his 40s, and he's at the center of what he once observed from a distance.
September 5, 2011 |
This has been a hard couple years — on top of a hard era — for organized labor. The percentage of American workers who belong to a union has continued its long slide, dropping from 12.3% in 2009 to 11.9% in 2010. Those numbers are even starker if viewed through a longer lens: In 1983, more than 1 in 5 American workers was a member of a union; today it's barely half that. Moreover, while those numbers testify to the eroding faith many Americans have in organized labor to represent their interests — as well as the cunning tactics of employers to thwart organizing — they do not capture this year's singular, highly ideological rage.
August 28, 2011 |
On the edge of the Nebraska sand hills is Lake McConaughy, a 22-mile-long reservoir that in summer becomes a magnet for Winnebagos, fishermen and kite sailors. But officials here in Keith County, population 8,370, imagined this scene: an Al Qaeda sleeper cell hitching explosives onto a ski boat and plowing into the dam at the head of the lake. The federal Department of Homeland Security gave the county $42,000 to buy state-of-the-art dive gear, including full-face masks, underwater lights and radios, and a Zodiac boat with side-scan sonar capable of mapping wide areas of the lake floor.
June 22, 2011 |
The new president of Arizona's state Senate, Russell Pearce, had only 21 days to enjoy that position before opponents began circulating petitions in January to recall the freshly reelected conservative. That's more time than Jim Suttle had. The night the Democrat was elected mayor of Omaha in 2009, backers of his rivals began to talk online about trying to remove him from office. Suttle barely survived a recall election in January. Once a political rarity, recall elections are surging in local and state governments.
May 11, 2011 |
Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed many solutions for California's political and economic crises. Yet there's one rock the governor could lift higher to find big savings: the duplication of state offices. Many could be consolidated and in some cases eliminated. Brown made a good start in January when he eliminated the secretary of education post, which was, as one pundit said last year, "about as useful as a third nostril. " But unfortunately, California still has a few more extraneous "nostrils.
April 19, 2011 |
It may seem hard to imagine now, but there was a time when the California Legislature was a showcase among state political bodies. Through much of the 1970s and into the 1980s, the committee hearing rooms and the floors of the Assembly and state Senate were alive with stimulating deliberation on the issues. California legislation became the model for laws in other states, and California legislators became such experts in policy areas that they were sought-after for consultation across the nation.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
February 19, 2011 |
The leadership structure of the agency charged with building California's 800-mile high-speed rail system would be completely overhauled under legislation introduced Friday by a state senator. Sen. Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach) wants to recast the make-up of the board at the quasi-independent California High-Speed Rail Authority and move the operation directly under the business branch of state government. Lowenthal, a former chairman of the Senate's Transportation Committee, has criticized what he sees as a lack of accountability at the agency, which has been the subject of several critical audits in recent years.
December 16, 2010 |
DirecTV Inc. has settled misleading-advertising complaints, agreeing to pay state governments $13.25 million and reimburse customers who claimed the company did not adequately explain price policies. The settlement ended complaints brought by 50 state attorneys general that the satellite television giant, based in El Segundo, lured customers to sign up for service by offering deals without fully explaining the costs of the contract. For example, DirecTV offered a promotional rate of $29.99 a month when the regular charges for service were $53.99 or $63.99 a month.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 11, 2010 |
A San Francisco judge refused Friday to halt the controversial sale of two dozen government buildings, clearing the way for what the Schwarzenegger administration describes as a much-needed infusion of revenue to shore up the ailing state budget. Superior Court Judge Charlotte Woolard ruled that the two men who opposed the sell-off ? which they described as a waste of taxpayer money ? have no standing to sue the state to stop the transaction. Outside Woolard's courtroom, a spokesman for the Department of General Services, which is conducting the $2.3-billion sale, said the state is "very satisfied with the judge's ruling" and would work to close escrow as planned on Wednesday.