What began as a dispute between two lawmakers over the handling of an office operating budget has developed into a major discussion of how Assembly leaders use office space and perks to keep the rank-and-file in line.
From Michael Mishak in the LA Times: "This month, the Assembly Rules Committee denied multiple requests for the office budgets of all 80 members of the lower house, as well as spending records for legislative committees. Administrators argued that such records were exempt from disclosure under broad provisions that protect "preliminary drafts, notes or legislative memoranda" and "correspondence of and to individual members of the Legislature and their staff."
"At issue in the lawsuit filed Friday in Sacramento County Superior Court is whether even the weak legislative open records law permits that level of secrecy."
Jim Ewert, general counsel for the California Newspaper Publishers Assn., called the committee's rejection a "tortured interpretation" of the law. "I fail to see how [the exemptions] apply to some of the most basic types of information that the public should have — and that is financial information about how government works," he said."
The looming shift of state prison inmates to local jurisdictions to save money may get an unusual reception in Los Angeles County, where officials are considering shifting the prisoners somewhere else. Where will it all end?
From the LA Times' Robert Faturechi: "By year's end, hundreds of criminals who would have done their time in state prisons are expected to go instead to county lockups as part of the governor's plan to thin the population in California's chronically overcrowded prisons."
"Taking some of those inmates and shipping them out again is being considered as a last resort, county officials said. But it's being taken seriously enough that county staff have been seeking outside advice on the idea, and a team of sheriff's officials recently took a trip to the San Joaquin Valley to scope out a potential lockup."
"L.A. County jails have faced hitting capacity before, resorting to early release and other solutions for shedding prisoners; but never before have inmates been housed out of county."
"Asked whether he could think of any other county that has done so, state Sheriffs' Assn. President Mark Pazin said, "No, never and I've been doing this for 30-plus years. We just don't do that."
Whites may now be a minority in California, but most state lawmakers and members of Congress will be elected in districts dominated by whites, under the newly drawn boundaries crafted by an independent commission.
From the Bee's Jim Sanders: "Most of California's legislators and congressional representatives will be elected over the next decade from districts dominated by white voters, the state's new political maps show."
"Districts drawn by the state's first-ever redistricting commission may bolster the clout of other racial groups – particularly Latinos – but probably not end the longtime political dominance by whites."
"Caucasians currently hold nearly two of every three legislative seats, for example, even though California's white population fell to below 50 percent of the state total more than a decade ago."
"The overrepresentation of whites, I think, will continue," said Marqueece Harris-Dawson of the African American Redistricting Collaborative. "Hopefully, that will be a focal point of the redistricting process (in 2021)."
The city of Vallejo, which entered bankruptcy in 2008 in a municipal maneuver watched closely by the nation, has emerged from bankruptcy with higher payments to CalPERS than it had before it formally entered insolvency. There's irony here somewhere.
From Ed Mendel in CalPensions: "And as pension costs soared in a sinking economy in recent years, a few officials in Los Angeles, San Diego and other cities have talked about bankruptcy as a possible solution to unaffordable pensions promised current workers in better times."
"But a Bank of America report reflects a new view: Vallejo’s experience may do more to dissuade than persuade other California cities that bankruptcy is an option for dealing with severe labor and financial problems."
“The city paid roughly $10 million in legal fees and wound up with no changes to it’s labor costs, which was the impetus for filing,” the Bank of America report said as quoted by CNBC."
"The city with 120,000 residents, hit by the closure of the Mare Island Naval Shipyard in 1996 and then the housing boom and bust, has cut its general fund spending from $87 million in fiscal 2007-8, the year of the bankruptcy, to $66 million this year."
California's official battle agains the northern pike remains a sore spot in the town of Portola, where outraged residents blamed the the government for the economy's plunge after the area's main tourist draw -- Lake Davis -- was poisoned to eradicate the fish. But the courts have ruled that the locals can't file a class-action suit against the state.
From Denny Walsh in the Bee: "The state's Herculean effort to wipe the northern pike out of Lake Davis in Plumas County wreaked havoc on the economy in and around Portola, but the city and owners and operators of businesses and property may not proceed in court against the state as a class, an appellate court has ruled."
"The character and interests of the proposed plaintiffs are far too varied to allow them to press a single lawsuit as a class, a three-justice panel of the 3rd District Court of Appeal in Sacramento decided."
"The justices struck down class certification granted by Plumas Superior Court Judge Janet Hilde. Their ruling means the plaintiffs will have to sue the state individually."
And from our "Come Fly With Me" file comes a tale of romance and action in the cockpit at Cathay Pacific. Talk about the mile-high club...
"CATHAY Pacific says it has launched a "full investigation" into photos which appear to show a flight attendant performing oral sex on a pilot aboard an aircraft of the Hong Kong carrier."
"Several pixellated photos of the act have been published in local Chinese-language media, showing the woman in a red outfit resembling Cathay's cabin crew uniform giving oral sex to a man who the reports said was a pilot."
"We are conducting a full investigation into the matter and there are some indications that the female shown in the photos may be a member of our cabin crew," a Cathay spokeswoman said."
Better than flying coach...