State Assemblyman Rocky Chávez (R-Oceanside) has thrown his hat in the ring for the 2016 senate race. Chávez is the second major candidate to declare for the office, joining state Attorney General Kamala Harris in the quest to succeed retiring Senator Barbara Boxer. From Michael Finnegan at the Los Angeles Times.
“Chávez faces long odds in a state that leans strongly Democratic. In the absence of other serious contenders, Harris has been steadily rounding up support since January. On Thursday, she scored the prized endorsement of California Professional Firefighters.
“Chávez, who served 28 years in the Marines, took aim at Harris in his announcement, suggesting she was ill-equipped to handle such threats as the Islamic State terrorist group in the Middle East.
"’If things get worse overseas,’ he said, ‘who would Californians want representing them in the Senate? A lawyer from San Francisco or a Marine colonel who knows how lives can be protected and understands the importance of keeping America and her allies safe and secure.’"
It almost seems like we could run the same story, just changing the department names around: another state technology system is over budget and failing to meet expectations. Today’s troubled roll out comes courtesy of the University of California and its UCPath payroll system.
Alexei Koseff at the Sacramento Bee: “[It] has fallen at least two years behind schedule, its cost has ballooned to $220 million and counting, and the financial benefits of the overhaul are now unclear. The university is forging ahead, with no end date in sight.
“Even in a state with a long history of bungled computer projects, UC’s troubles are significant.
“’You have a project that is out of control, poorly planned and lacks basic governance,’ said Michael Krigsman, an IT industry analyst. ‘In other words, who is minding the store while this is going on?’”
Asm. Matthew Harper (R-Huntington Beach) has introduced a bill banning the installation of new red light cameras. The proposed legislation would also require safety studies for existing cameras. From Anthony Clark Carpio at the Daily Pilot:
“Harper said the devices have increased the number of rear-end accidents as drivers make sudden stops to avoid a possible violation.
"’It was actually a hindrance to the traffic,’ he said. ‘Whenever you have those fender-benders and those collisions, traffic has to stop to be able to accommodate those accidents, and it hurts the ability of people to get where they're trying to go, rather than helps.… We're trying to make traffic safer, flow better and trying to address the needs of Californians in terms of transportation.’"
Lawmakers in the state Senate and Assembly have introduced matching bills to increase Medi-Cal reimbursement payments to doctors. The proposed legislation would reverse cuts made during tight budget years and, in some cases, triple the current reimbursement rate for current doctor visits. Pauline Bartolone has the story at Capital Public Radio.
“California lawmakers say they don't just want to reverse the 10 percent reimbursement cuts to doctors under Medi-Cal. Two identical bills, SB243 and AB366, would make some Medi-Cal payments equal to compensation under the federal Medicare program….
“Democratic State Senator Ed Hernandez is carrying one of the bills. He says if the rates were higher, more doctors may see more Medi-Cal patients.
"’There are supposedly enough providers that take Medi-Cal, but there are not enough providers that take [patients] in the areas with the greatest needs. So we need to do whatever we can to make sure we increase the number of providers and I think that can be done by increasing the rates,’ he says.”
Asm. Adrin Nazarian (D-Sherman Oaks) has reintroduced an earlier proposal to require drivers for ride-sharing services undergo drug tests and criminal background checks similar to those required of taxi drivers. A similar bill died last year. Jeremy White has the story at the Sacramento Bee:
“Assembly Bill 24 requires amateur drivers to submit to drug and alcohol testing, undergo criminal background checks overseen by the California Department of Justice and enroll in a Department of Motor Vehicles program alerting employers after DUI arrests.
“’I feel it’s imperative for us to have a basic, level playing field when it comes to public safety,’ Nazarian said.”
It’s Friday, the day we name the person who had the worst week in California politics. This week didn’t see any high-profile flameouts or FBI raids on capitol offices, but one state agency has been getting the ‘death by a thousand cuts’ treatment.
Officials at Cal Fire are used to ‘good’ news coverage: firefighters battling blazes in remote California forests and dutifully defending homes against encroaching storms of fire. What they have gotten of late are headlines with phrases like “prostitution scandal” “sex tape” and “murder investigation.”
This week, Jon Ortiz at The Bee reported on the contents of a Cal Fire investigation, detailing rampant, sometimes criminal, misbehavior.
“A Cal Fire assistant chief is accused of hooking up with prostitutes on his state cellphone and then taking a state vehicle to meet them, according to new records released to The Sacramento Bee.
“Another firefighter was fired after claims of making graphic, unwanted sexual advances toward a woman at a bar and lying about it, according to the documents. A third employee is alleged to have condoned drinking on the job, the documents say.
“Those events and others detailed in appeals released late Monday add new chapters to a tale of claimed boozing and sexual misbehavior among employees at the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection’s Ione academy.”
The revelations were rooted in investigations stemming from earlier scandals which were also dredged back into view. And then, Ortiz followed the original story with a look at binge-drinking culture among firefighters.
All of which is a roundabout way of saying, “Congratulations, Cal Fire Director Ken Pimlott, you are our Golden State Blues Singer of the Week.”