Jan 21, 2011

Former Gov. Schwarzenegger is gone but not forgotten: The family of the man who was stabbed to death in a knife fight involving the son of former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez has sued the governor for violating the victim's civil rights. Schwarzenegger had partially commuted the younger Nunez's prison sentence.


From Jack Dolan in the Los Angeles Times: "During his last hours in office, Schwarzenegger cut Esteban Nuñez's 16-year sentence for voluntary manslaughter to seven years, without notifying the Santos family. Schwarzenegger noted in his commutation order that Nuñez, although involved in the fight that ended in Santos' death, did not inflict the fatal knife wound."

"Under the Victims' Bill of Rights, which was added to the state Constitution following a 2008 ballot measure, victims have a right to be heard "upon request" in any proceeding involving a "post-conviction release decision."


The University of California approved controversial pay increases on  Thursday, despite the fiscal problems facing the university and the obvious potential for political fallout. The LAT's Larry Gordon has the story.


"As they wrapped up their meeting in San Diego, the regents also awarded controversial, 10% pay raises to three financial managers in the UC president’s office whose salaries after the increases will range from $216,370 to $247,500. Officials defended the one-time raises as a way to save money in the long run…."


"Unions criticized the decisions, calling such raises for executives unseemly at a time when low-wage UC employees face increased costs for pension and retirement health plans and a state budget crisis threatens large scale layoffs across the university."


Jerry Meral, one of California's best known environmentalists who served in the Brown administration more than 30 years ago, is back: He's been appointed by Brown to spearhead Delta issues.


From Paul Rogers in the San Jose Mercury News: "Meral, 66 of Inverness, is a registered Democrat who served as deputy director of the state Department of Water Resources during Brown's administration in the early 1980s. After that, he was executive director of the Planning and Conservation League, one of the state's most influential environmental lobbying groups, until 2003."


"Meral, a legendary kayaker for whom Meral's Pool is named on the Tuolumne River near Yosemite National Park, led efforts in the 1970s, '80s and '90s against the construction of large dams, helping found Friends of the River and the Tuolumne River Trust. He served on the board of the Sierra Fund and Restore Hetch Hetchy."


Just the facts, m'am: As  the rhetoric over taxes intensifies, one should keep an eye on the facts, notes the Bee's Dan Walters. 


"The Tax Foundation calculated Californians' state-local taxes in 2008 at 10.5 percent of personal income. That translated into about $170 billion in revenue and the nation's sixth-highest percentage. New Jersey was highest at 11.8 percent, followed by New York, Connecticut, Maryland and Hawaii…”


“While Proposition 13, enacted in 1978, strictly limits property tax rates, the state's relatively high property values push property tax bills into the upper ranks. In 2009, the Tax Foundation says, California property taxes as a percentage of value on owner-occupied houses were 44th in the country, while the median tax bill of $2,839 was 10th highest, nearly $1,000 above the national average.”


Speaking of money, CalPERS and CalSTRS earned more than 12 percent profit in 2010. The Bee's Dale Kasler tells the tale.


"The California Public Employees' Retirement System said it earned nearly 12.5 percent in 2010. The California State Teachers' Retirement System earned 12.7 percent.

The results mean the two funds have now erased many of their 2008 losses. But officials said they still need additional funds from taxpayers to make the systems whole."


"This is very encouraging news but the historic market declines of the 2008-09 financial crisis showed us that CalSTRS cannot solely invest its way to healthy long-term funding," said Chief Executive Jack Ehnes in a press release. He said CalSTRS will continue talking to the Legislature, Gov. Jerry Brown's office and other parties to increase funding."


And now we turn to our "All You Need is Love" file to learn about the undercover police officers who went under the covers. 


"A police spy married an activist he met while undercover in the environmental protest movement and then went on to have children with her, the Guardian can reveal."


"He is the fourth spy now to have been identified as an undercover police officer engaged in the covert surveillance of eco-activists. Three of those spies are accused of having had sexual relationships with the people they were targeting."


"The details of the activities of the fourth spy, who is still a serving Metropolitan police officer, emerged as the senior police officer managing the crisis in undercover operations insisted that officers were strictly banned from having sexual relationships with their targets."


Bond, James Bond...



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