Weed and dough

Jul 31, 2015


"Follow the money" is a worthy dictumn, especially when it comes to marijuana. A ranking state tax official has offered a way to do just that.


From Allen Young in the Sacramento Business Journal: "Banks won't serve the industry today because all forms of cannabis are illegal under federal law. The federal Drug Enforcement Administration regularly warns banks against providing services to the industry."


"So Fiona Ma, who represents much of Northern California for the State Board of Equalization, has suggested a state-run depository that would give pot growers and sellers a method for depositing cash, writing checks and transferring funds."


"We want to collect the taxes and audit these people efficiently,” said Ma. A state run bank would ensure that people “aren’t just keeping (money) in their homes, and they aren’t bringing it to a BOE office either."


Amid a miserable, interminable drought and the heat of summer, Californians managed to cut their water usage by more than 27 percent during June compared with the same month in 2013. Not bad.


From Capitol Weekly's John Howard: "The cut in usage amounted to more than 182,000 acre-feet of water, or about 59.4 billion gallons by urban water suppliers. An acre-foot — enough to meet the annual needs of a family of four —  is the amount of water required to cover one acre at a depth of one foot, or nearly 326,000 gallons."


"State water officials said the June reduction meant California was on track to hit its target of cutting back by 1.2 million acre-feet through next April.  The June cutbacks amount to about 15 percent of the target reduction. Some 265 water agencies and supplier serving about 27.2 million people “met or exceeded their conservation standard,” the state noted. “Almost 40 percent of all urban water suppliers reduced their water use by 30 percent or more.”


"California residents, “knew they had to keep conserving,” Felicia Marcus, chair of the State Water Resources Control Board, said in a written statement. “That’s the right attitude as we head into August and September heat — in the drought of the century with no certain end date.”


Not everybody did their part, however: There were scores of water suppliers that didn't meet their goals.

From  KQED's Lauren Sommer, Matthew Green and Johanna Varner: :"About a third of water districts, 140 in all, fell short, mostly in Southern California...."


"State officials will be meeting with the worst-performing providers to review their drought conservation plans. The board can issue fines of up to $500 a day for districts that fail to comply and ultimately, can levy more stringent fees of up to $10,000 a day if districts flagrantly ignore the rules."


"Saving water also means selling less water to customers, so many water districts are now grappling with revenue shortfalls. Water districts generally have inflexible costs, like paying for their water supply or infrastructure."


Meanwhile, the Bay Area was in for a weekend of pain with the planned shutdown of BART for crtical maintenance..


The Chronicle's Michael Cabanatuan tells the tale: "The shutdown underscores the wear and tear of an aging system that is more popular than ever, and raises questions about whether agency leaders could have done anything to avoid taking the tube offline for a full weekend. But mostly, it’s a serious headache for riders."


"BART will open for business on Saturday and Sunday, but the stretch of track reaching from downtown Oakland to the Embarcadero Station — including the Transbay Tube and West Oakland station — will be closed. The shutdown will be repeated over the three-day Labor Day weekend."


"To keep the Bay Area connected, BART will run continuous bus service between downtown Oakland and downtown San Francisco, and ferry service is also being increased. But BART officials warn that delays could add an hour or more to journeys, and traffic across the Bay Bridge, always clogged on weekends, is sure to be a mess."

 The Chowchilla kidnapping case drew intense national and international attention nearly 40 years ago. On Thursday, Gov. Brown weighed in.


From the AP: "Gov. Jerry Brown had until midnight Thursday to decide whether to approve parole for 63-year-old James Schoenfeld or send the case back to the board that recommended his release. The governor chose not to act, which allowed the parole board's decision to stand."


"Schoenfeld, his brother, Richard, and a friend, Fred Woods - all from wealthy families in the San Francisco Bay Area - were convicted in 1976. The men spent 18 months devising the plot and planned to ask for a $5 million ransom for the children, who ranged in age from 5 to 14."


"The hostages were taken from Chowchilla to a quarry near Livermore and kept inside the ventilated trailer stocked with mattresses, food and water."


Finally, who had the worst week in Sacramento? This time, the  #WorstWeekinCA tag seems to fit Rep. Mike Honda, a Silicon Valley Democrat who is running for reelection under an ethics cloud. He's popular, won eight elections and has survived tough fights, but this time around the political battle is particularly intense.


Here's some background on the issue, here and here.


"Rep. Mike Honda, who has survived eight election campaigns, is facing his toughest political battle yet — a House ethics investigation that includes allegations he maintained a list of top donors called the “1,000 Cranes” who were fast-tracked for VIP treatment on matters like visas and constituent service." -- SF Chronicle.


"For the last several months, the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) has been reviewing alleged improper coordination between Honda’s campaign and his official House staff. Whether this review leads to a broader investigation or discipline against the congressman is uncertain, due to the secretive nature and malleable timelines in which the OCE carries out its business. While the OCE does not comment on pending matters, Honda’s office acknowledged on Tuesday that a review has been taking place."


“The congressman and his staff continue to cooperate fully with the OCE’s review of the matter,” said Lauren Smith, a spokesperson in Honda’s office. “Out of respect for the process, we cannot confirm specifics or discuss any details at this time.”  -- San Jose Inside






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