Laura's theme

Oct 25, 2011

Rep. Laura Richardson, long dogged by personal financial issues that include a home foreclosure and late payments on other properties, may soon face a full-blown ethics investigation in the House. The issue for the Long Beach Democrat is whether members of her staff engaged in political activity while on government time.


From John Bresnahan at Politico: "Ethics Committee staffers have been digging into the claims against Richardson since last year as part of a “preliminary inquiry” by the panel, and they have been interviewing current and former Richardson aides. The investigators are looking into allegations that Richardson and some of her most senior staffers pressured other aides to work on her reelection campaign or be fired, according to these sources and news reports. Staffers on the congressional payroll are banned from working on political campaigns during official time, and no House resources can be used for campaign-related activities, according to House rules and federal statute.{"


"If the Ethics Committee were to create an special investigative subcommittee to oversee the Richardson case, it would dramatically raise the legal and political stakes for the three-term California Democrat."


"Richardson’s campaign committee is already hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, including more than $125,000 owed to three law firms, and she faces a potential three-way Democratic primary fight against Rep. Janice Hahn and California Assemblyman Isadore Hall in a newly redrawn congressional district."


As the San  Francisco mayoral election approaches, the charges and countercharges are getting hot and heavy. The D.A. has opened his second investigation into the campaign activities of incumbent Mayor Ed Lee's backers, this time because a rival alleged widespread voter fraud. The Chronicle's Heather Knight has the story.


"The mounting allegations came as some of Lee's competitors ramped up their calls for investigations into the alleged misconduct and for state and federal oversight of the voting."


"Lee said he welcomed an investigation. He continued insisting that the dubious activity had no direct ties to his campaign and is being orchestrated by others beyond his control. Gascón's latest investigation involves questionable voting incidents by an independent expenditure committee supporting Lee."


"My campaign has been clean. I've been demanding 100 percent compliance," Lee said Monday as reporters peppered him with questions about the alleged misconduct at a press conference called to spotlight Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom's endorsement of him in the race."


The bill is coming due for California, which has borrowed $11 billion over the years to prop up its strapped unemployment insurance fund. The state is sending money to the federal government in repayment at a time when the state is trying desperately to fill a budget hole. The words "perfect storm" come to mind. 


From the LA Times' Marc Lifsher: "The state recently sent $303.6 million to Washington, the first of what could be many years of interest payments required to service its debt to Uncle Sam. It will have to pony up at least a half-billion dollars in 2012 and even more in coming years. The state, which already is struggling to close a massive budget deficit, probably will be forced to make even deeper cuts to schools, law enforcement and other basic services."

"In the meantime, California employers in January will be hit with a mandatory surcharge of about $25 per employee to begin paying down the principal on the federal loan."

"California operates one of the nation's most expensive unemployment insurance systems. But the taxes needed to fund it, 100% of which are paid by employers, aren't sufficient to support the system."

"Although jobless benefits are about the same as the national average, costs have exploded because so many Californians have lost their jobs and been unable to find new ones quickly. California's September unemployment rate of 11.9% is the second highest in the nation, behind only Nevada at 13.4%. About 2 million Californians are unemployed; a third of them have been out of work for a year or more."


A report by state Senate investigators says the California Housing Finance Agency hurt the credit of homeowners by foreclosing on them, even though they were current on their loans. Jim Miller in the Press Enterprise has the story.


"Twenty-one properties have been foreclosed on for renting, with 49 other borrowers who rented out their homes delinquent, according to the report. Another 186 are renting out their agency-financed homes without permission."


"Each foreclosure costs the state agency an average of $38,000 in uninsured losses, according to the report. The foreclosures also go down on the homeowner’s credit report."


"In a statement later Monday, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg called on the housing agency to change a policy that is “hurting its own clients while putting unnecessary strain on its own reserves.”


And now from our "Foot in Mouth" file comes proof, yet again, that comedian Jay Leno's timing is less than perfect.


"Moments before two Love Ride participants were killed Sunday in a freeway traffic collision, the event’s grand marshal, “The Tonight Show” host Jay Leno, told a crowd of bikers that he wanted to see “somebody go down.”

“Every year, [the organizer] says ‘Drive safe,’” Leno told the crowd in kicking off the 28th annual Love Ride in Glendale. “I’m gonna say, ‘Don’t drive safe.’ I wanna see somebody go down. So it’ll be fun. I want it to be in front or behind me and see a whole row of bikes go down. Get drunk, fall off the road. We’ve all become too damn polite…we haven’t had one incident.”

"About an hour later, Romarino Zeri, 51, of Los Angeles and Julie Cameron, 38, of Venice were killed when their motorcycle collided with a big rig on the Golden State (5) Freeway in Pacoima, officials said."

"The big rig’s rear tires ran over the pair, whom paramedics pronounced dead at the scene, California Highway Patrol Officer José Barrios said."




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