Rolling the dice

Feb 20, 2012

Gov. Brown's plans to reorganize state government include folding the Gambling Control Commission into the state Department of Justice -- a proposal that he tersely alluded to in his 2012-13 state budget proposal.


From the Press-Enterprise's Jim Miller: " Brown’s January budget plan includes a proposal to consolidate parts of the California Gambling Control Commission, which is autonomous, with the state Department of Justice, which is overseen by Attorney General Kamala Harris."


Little is known about what the governor has in mind beyond a two-sentence description in last month’s budget that criticized a “bifurcated system of gambling control” and describes a goal of “consolidating support, investigatory, and compliance functions” within the Justice Department. The proposal, unlike other parts of the January package, has not been fleshed out in bill form.

“We’re not really sure what the plan is. We saw the paragraph in the budget and we’ve made inquiries,” said gambling commission Chairwoman Stephanie Shimazu. “The commission would still exist, but to what extent, we don’t know.”


The man characterized as the former boyfriend of Nadia Lockyer, wife of state Treasurer Bill Lockyer, has a lengthy record of drug arrests going back 15 years. The man is alleged to have assaulted Nadia Lockyer at an Alameda motel on Feb. 3, where she went following a dispute with her husband.


From the Chronicle's Matier and Ross: "The 35-year-old San Jose resident is the focus of the investigation into the possible battering of Lockyer, wife of state Treasurer Bill Lockyer, at the Homewood Suites on Cedar Boulevard early Feb. 3, according to Newark police. We're withholding his name because he has not been arrested."


"Nadia Lockyer said last week that she has since checked in to a program for treatment of chemical dependency, chronic pain from an old car accident and "injuries from the assault." But sources say that Nadia Lockyer met her alleged assailant in a drug rehab program that she was in back in 2010, the same year she was elected to the board."

Gasoline prices are pushing past the $4 mark in California and are likely to climb even higher as spring approaches. It's not clear excactly why the prices are rising -- we're using less gasoline than at any time since 2003, and usually lower demand means lower prices. But not now, as a combination of supply, refinery maintenance and other issues cloud the picture.

From the Mercury News' Gary Richards: "Some oil analysts predict $4.50 a gallon or more by Memorial Day on the West Coast and major cities across the United States such as Chicago, New York and Atlanta. Prices in that range could be a major issue in the presidential campaign, especially if they slow the nation's economic recovery. For motorists, it's painful now."


"I am really hurting on fuel, as we have V-8 pickups and I am looking for a Prius," said Larry Nunes, of Gustine, whose gas bill for his commute to San Jose is about $700 a month and may soon increase by $50 or more. "I am always scrambling around for fuel stations."


Unsafe levels of lead are still being found in California's youths despite efforts over the past 20 years to fight the problem. Meanwhile, programs targeting lead are being starved for funding. The LAT's Ann Gorman tells the tale.


"Now the number of cases could climb dramatically based on emerging research of the harm associated with low levels of the metal in children's systems. At the same time, government programs to combat lead poisoning are being slashed."

"Much of the effort that has been put into educating the public, and particularly the communities that are the most vulnerable … will fade because there won't be enough prevention," said Hilary Godwin, a professor at UCLA's School of Public Health who has studied lead poisoning."


As the wrangle over the proposed bullet train continues, transportation officials in the state's two big population centers -- Los Angeles County and the San Francisco Bay area -- say the rail systems in their areas should get a big chunk of funding to in order to be upgraded quickly.


From Dan Weikel and Ralph Vartabedian in the LA Times: "Until recently, the project was expected to draw down only about one-third of its $9-billion bond fund in coming years to help pay for a 130-mile rail segment in the Central Valley. The new proposals call for spending an additional $4 billion upfront on improvements that could speed up existing passenger service in two of the state’s biggest metropolitan areas and prepare for the eventual arrival of bullet trains."


"Proponents say the strategy would ensure near-term benefits from the state’s high-speed rail outlays even if development of the full system stalls."


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