Chump change

Jan 9, 2012

With all the flap over redevelopment, at least one group out there thinks that the courts' decision to abolish the redevelopment agencies hasn't really had much of an impact.


From Jim Steinberg in the San Bernardino Sun: "After running some numbers, that could translate to $100,000, said Liz Seymour, senior director of fiscal services for the Upland Unified School District."


"Putting that in perspective for a school district which has an annual budget of $85 million, one furlough day amounts to a $250,000 savings for the district."


"And in the current school year, the Upland school district is taking nine furlough days to make ends meet."


"But here's the really big question, if the state does eventually send the district this $100,000, what will it take away?"


But the court ruling certainly had an impact on the agencies themselves, who have started the complex task of self-elimination to meet a Feb. 1 deadline. The Press-Enterprise's Jim Miller tells the tale.


"Auditors soon will begin compiling an accounting of the billions of dollars in debts and assets for the state’s more than 400 agencies. As of June 2010, that included $101 billion in total indebtedness — almost a fourth of which is held by agencies in Riverside and San Bernardino counties."


"Last week’s California Supreme Court’s decision upheld the 2011 law dissolving the agencies and voided a measure creating a substitute program. But that was just the start: Shutting down the 60-year-old program is a logistical and financial thicket that could span decades and spark a new round of legal fights."


“No one knew what the wind-down period was going to look like” before the court’s ruling, said La Quinta Councilwoman Terry Henderson. The city’s redevelopment agency is among the most active in the state."


“I’m not sure a whole lot of people know what it looks like now. It’s going to be challenging at best, very difficult at worst,” she said."


Much has been written about the growing irrelevancy of Republicans in California's political power landscape, and here's another example -- the June presidential primary.


From the Bee's David Siders and Torey Van Oot: "While the Republican presidential campaigns fast-forward to New Hampshire on Tuesday and South Carolina on Jan. 21, hardly anyone in California is off the couch. Republicans here know the race may be over before they vote on June 5."


"Sadly, we are irrelevant," said Celeste Greig, president of the conservative California Republican Assembly. "Come June, there will be a nominee. We will not have been at the table."


"Perry, who finished a distant fifth in Iowa, and Mitt Romney, who won, have relatively robust fundraising operations in California, and Newt Gingrich last month announced his selection of a state finance chairman here. Like President Barack Obama, the Republican candidates have raised millions of dollars in this donor-rich state."


"But good luck finding a yard sign."


As state prison inmates get shifted to local custody as part of the state's new realignment system, an unintended consequence is being felt in Los Angeles County -- an influx of mentally ill inmates, who are costly to incarcerate.


From the LAT's Anna Gorman: "In some cases, he said, released inmates have had to be immediately transferred to hospitals or residential centers for psychiatric care."

"A new state law designed to reduce prison crowding and cut costs requires that certain nonviolent convicts serve their time in county lockups rather than state prisons. It also makes counties — rather than the state parole agency — responsible for supervising such inmates after their release."

"The transition, called "realignment" by Gov. Jerry Brown, has raised well-publicized concerns among law enforcement officers across the state, as they try to accommodate more inmates in already crowded local jails. But realignment also presents less-visible challenges for local probation and mental health officials dealing with an influx of patients with drug and alcohol addictions, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression."

"Mental illness and drug addiction are common in California prisons, where more than half of inmates report a recent mental health problem and two-thirds report having a drug abuse problem, according to a Rand Corp. study. Many don't receive the treatment they need while incarcerated and may skip care once released, said the study's author, Lois Davis."


Meanwhile, over at UC, the administration's salary practices are driving protests by students, who believe the university is being run like a private school with executive compensation to match.


From the OC Register's Scott Martindale: "Over the past few months, the University of California has raised undergraduate tuition by 18 percent, awarded raises of as much as 23 percent to a dozen high-ranking administrators and announced a possible 81 percent tuition increase over the next three years."


"Students haven't taken the news well."


"At campus rallies across the state, thousands of students and their faculty supporters have decried the actions, staging raucous rallies and "Occupy"-style sit-ins that in some cases have ended in clashes with law enforcement. They've also descended en masse on UC regents' meetings, disrupting proceedings and even forcing officials to retreat to a private room."


"Behind the angry chanting and acts of civil disobedience is a growing sense that the 10-campus UC system is no longer a public institution accessible to the middle class, but rather a sprawling bureaucracy of hospitals and auxiliary research institutions buffeted by an ever-expanding roster of administrators."


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