State Controller John Chiang, who has been relatively
silent lately on the state's budget imbroglio, has
switched gears: He announced audits of redevelopment agencies up and
down the state, targeting entities that are the subject of Gov. Brown's
From the LA Times' Catherine Saillant and Jessica Garrison: "The state will dispatch auditors to towns and cities
across California to scour the books of 18 redevelopment agencies to see how officials have been
spending the billions of taxpayer dollars they take
in each year to improve blight, state Controller John
Chiang announced Monday."
"The financial probe comes amid a deepening fight over
the future of California's 400 redevelopment agencies, which control about $5 billion in property taxes a year."
More on redevelopment in the Chronicle, the Orange County Register, the Press-Enterprise and the Bee.
Chiang also disputed Treasurer Bill Lockyer's earlier
statement that IOUs may be issued by April, if California can't resolve its budget mess. Kevin
Yamamura in the Bee has the story.
"But the Department
of Finance and Controller John Chiang have never mentioned such an early
threat of IOUs, and their projections show the state
will have enough cash to
last through June even without a budget."
"Chiang said Monday it is too early to tell
whether or when the state would need to issue IOUs. "We try to avoid the issuance of IOUs at all
costs," Chiang said. "It's an admission that the
state can't pay its bills."
Meanwhile, speaking of probes, an investigation is under way into a group that lobbies
on issues affecting California's municipal bond market. Tom Petruno of the Los Angeles Times has the story.
"The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority sent a letter last week to firms that
are members of CPSA, asking for details on payments
they make to the
30-year-old group and how those payments are allocated toward
contributions that the group doles out."
"The six-page letter, which asks for all data since Jan.
1, 2006, “was a surprise to us,” said James Cervantes, a managing director at
bond underwriter Stone & Youngberg in San Francisco and CPSA’s current
chairman. “Their requests are very broad.” On its website, CPSA
lists about three dozen members, including major brokerages
such as & Co., regional bond
underwriters such as De La Rosa & Co. and law firms including Orrick, Herrington &
In the midst of the states' 'budget problems, there have been discussions nationally
about letting the states declare bankruptcy -- something that's not allowed under federal law. The idea is being pushed by Republicans who want to
abrogate public-employee union contracts, says the Bee's Dan Walters.
"Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a potential 2012 Republican candidate
for president, is the most outspoken advocate of allowing
states to declare
bankruptcy, and some GOP congressmen are reportedly
drafting such legislation."
"Why? Officially, they portray it as an alternative
federal bailout of California and other distressed states. But it's
evident that they see bankruptcy as a way of undermining
public employee unions by allowing states to abrogate union contracts and perhaps vested pension rights. On Monday, those unions struck back through the Washington-based
Economic Policy Institute, a
left-of-center think tank closely aligned with organized labor."
The city of Los Angeles, like the state, also faces
budget shortages. One solution: Shut down services one day a week. The LA Daily News' Rick Orlov has the story.
"The Los Angeles City Council moved closer Monday to
possibility of shutting down most city services for
one day a week to deal with
the ongoing budget shortfall.
The city is facing a deficit of at least $40 million in
its $7 billion budget from now through the end of the fiscal
year in June..."
"The problem we have this year is $40 million and
anything we don't deal with will add to next year's
Bernard Parks said. "Anything we do to find permanent
savings this year
helps us when it comes to next year."
And now, let's look into our "Heavy Metal" file to learn about former wrestling king and Minnesota
Gov. Jesse Ventura, who has a titanium hip and keeps
setting off the metal detectors at airports. Jesse
is not pleased; he's gone to federal court.
"According to the lawsuit, Ventura received a hip replacement
in 2008, and since then, his titanium implant has set off
metal detectors at airport security checkpoints. The
lawsuit said that prior to last November officials
had used a non-invasive hand-held wand to scan his body as a secondary security
"But when Ventura set off the metal detector in November,
he was instead subjected to a body pat-down and was not given the option of a scan with a
hand-held wand or an exemption for being a frequent traveler,
the lawsuit said."
"The lawsuit said the pat-down "exposed him to humiliation and degradation through
unwanted touching, gripping and rubbing of the intimate
areas of his body."
And so it goes...