June 10, 2013 |
The killing last month of 8-year-old Gabriel Fernandez of Palmdale led Democratic Assemblyman Mike Gatto of Los Angeles to demand a state audit of L.A. County's Department of Children and Family Services. On its face, the demand appears to make some sense. An outside investigator such as State Auditor Elaine M. Howle might be able to provide some valuable insight into why an agency like DCFS didn't remove Gabriel from a situation that, in retrospect, looks only too clearly to have been cruel and abusive.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
June 9, 2013 |
A UC Berkeley senior who majors in social welfare and has been active in student government and Mideast issues is expected to become the next University of California student regent, joining the board that sets policies for the 10-campus system. A special regents committee has nominated Sadia Saifuddin, 21, of Stockton to be the student regent in 2014-15. Confirmation by the full Board of Regents is expected next month. For the next year, Saifuddin would be a regent-designate, able to participate in all discussions but without voting rights until her one-year term as a fully empowered student representative begins in July 2014, officials said.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
June 8, 2013 |
I'm tired of hearing "culture change" held out as a fix for idiocy. That's the standard excuse when institutions fail: A dysfunctional culture is to blame when students don't learn or jail inmates are beaten. And it's the explanation being offered up in the latest example of tragic incompetence by the Los Angeles County foster care system: the death of 8-year-old Gabriel Hernandez, who police say was tortured and killed by his mother and her boyfriend. The child was on social workers' radar for months.
June 6, 2013
Re "Healthcare bill targets big firms," June 1 I take great exception to the notion that a large retailer whose employees are on Medicaid "puts a burden on taxpayers. " Offering a job to an adult should not impose a societal burden on the employer to care for the adult. By proposing to penalize employers for employing people without providing health insurance, legislators are likely to incentivize employers not to hire as many people. What would this accomplish? If a burden is placed on the taxpayers, it is placed by the Legislature.
June 4, 2013 |
There is nothing more outrageous than the death of a child at the hands of an abusive parent who was under the watch of child welfare workers who, in the end, didn't step in and stop the abuse. Such appears to be the case with the death of 8-year-old Gabriel Fernandez. All the elements are there for a high-pitched emotional public response: Politicians. Government bureaucrats. Bad parents. And an innocent child, now dead. But if the public and the county supervisors leave their setting on outrage, experience shows that the result is too often a cycle of invective, firings, discipline and policy changes that may satisfy a hunger for action, but only of the wheel-spinning sort.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
May 28, 2013 |
SACRAMENTO - Now that Gov. Jerry Brown has rolled out his revised budget proposal, both houses of the Legislature are outlining their own ideas for how the state's money should be spent in the next year. The Senate wants more funding for mental health programs, dental care for poor adults and career training for high school students. The Assembly wants to increase welfare grants, expand child-care programs and reduce university costs. Neither wish list matches Brown's $96.4-billion budget proposal, which is almost $2 billion smaller and relies on a more pessimistic view of California's economy.
May 17, 2013
Re "501(c)(4)s are the real IRS scandal," Column, May 15 Michael Hiltzik is right. The IRS should put every tax-exempt 501(c)(4) organization under a microscope. Vague tax rules, the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision and the absurd cost of political campaigns create a perfect storm of opportunity for would-be kingmakers. Being partisan myself, when I saw that key words being used to flag suspect organizations included "tea party" and "patriot," I thought, "Well, yes, and the problem is?"
May 16, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - In spring 2010, agents in the Cincinnati office of the Internal Revenue Service, which handles applications for tax-exempt status, faced a surge of filings by new advocacy groups, with little guidance on how to treat them. Their decision to deal with the problem by singling out tea party and other conservative groups for extra scrutiny has now triggered a criminal inquiry, congressional investigations, the departure of two top IRS officials and the naming of a new acting commissioner Thursday.
May 14, 2013 |
It's strange how "scandal" gets defined these days in Washington. At the moment, everyone is screaming about the "scandal" of the Internal Revenue Service scrutinizing conservative nonprofits before granting them tax-exempt status. Here are the genuine scandals in this affair: Political organizations are being allowed to masquerade as charities to avoid taxes and keep their donors secret, and the IRS has allowed them to do this for years. The bottom line first: The IRS hasn't done nearly enough over the years to rein in the subversion of the tax law by political groups claiming a tax exemption that is not legally permitted for campaign activity.
April 16, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court was asked Tuesday to decide who should raise a 3 1/2-year-old girl who was given up by her single mother: the South Carolina couple who adopted her at birth or her biological father, who invoked his rights as a Cherokee Indian to claim his child. The justices spent part of the morning as family court judges, and they did not envy those who must decide such emotionally trying disputes every day. "Domestic relations pose the hardest problems for judges," said Justice Anthony M. Kennedy.