Reality cheque

Feb 10, 2014

As the state prepares to hire some 350 new employees for its Fresno call center beginning in March, the Fresno Bee reports, officials with California's health care exchange are forcasting budget deficits.  


Michael R. Blood reporting for the Associated Press: "Agency documents show Covered California plans to put aside $184 million of the more than $1 billion in federal grant money it has received to date as a hedge against anticipated budget shortfalls."


"The records show the exchange will need $78 million in reserves to plug a budget hole after July 2015, when expenses will outrun income, and another $34 million to cover a deficit the following year."


A guy not buckling for cash: a SoCal superintendent accrued over half a million dollars last year, mostly in job benefits. 


Rob Kuznia writes in The Daily Breeze: "The superintendent of the Centinela Valley high school district negotiated a contract so loaded with out-of-the-ordinary perks that he managed to amass more than $663,000 in total compensation last year."


"Documents obtained by the Daily Breeze from the Los Angeles County Office of Education show that although Jose Fernandez had a base pay of $271,000 in the 2013 calendar year, his other benefits amounted to nearly $400,000."


Lawmakers want to help out the counties that helped put them in office


Jim Miller reports in the Sac Bee: "Following a 2013 that featured 13 special elections, two state senators – both of whom were elected in special ballots last year – have introduced measures to reimburse counties’ election costs."


For this year's legislative races, campaigns are flooding with cash


Peter Jensen writes in the Napa Valley Register: "The election to replace Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada, who represents Napa County in Sacramento, is shaping up to become a high-spending contest."


"The four candidates running to succeed the Davis Democrat have raised more than $1 million for the June primary. This tops California’s 79 other Assembly districts, according to campaign finance reports collected by the California secretary of state."


State Sen. Ted Lieu took home the gold this weekend. No, we're not talking Olympics--we're talking about the California Democratic Party endorsement.  


Jean Merl for the L.A. Times: "In an early test of candidate strength in the race for a Westside/South Bay congressional seat, state Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) won decisive support from local Democratic activists Sunday."


"Lieu took 73% of the vote at a pre-endorsement conference, giving him strong odds of winning the California Democratic Party's backing at its convention next month. Lieu is vying in an already crowded field to replace Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Beverly Hills), who recently announced his retirement."


San Diego's mayoral race is getting close as the candidates' day of reckoning approaches. 


Craig Gustafson in UT-San Diego: "Democratic City Councilman David Alvarez has closed the gap after trailing Republican Councilman Kevin Faulconer for much of the San Diego mayor’s race, putting the contenders in a statistical dead heat ahead of Tuesday’s election, according to a new U-T San Diego/10News Poll." 


"Faulconer still holds a slight lead with 47 percent compared to Alvarez’s 46 percent among likely voters with 7 percent of voters still undecided. The poll's margin of error is 4 percent which means the race is essentially a toss-up at this point."


President Obama has also thrown his weight into the contentious SoCal race. 


Jeff McDonald and Edward Sifuentes reported Saturday for UT-San Diego: President Barack Obama weighed in on the San Diego mayoral race Saturday, endorsing Democrat and first-term City Councilman David Alvarez over his Republican rival, Councilman Kevin Faulconer, three days before Election Day."


The president is also showing the Central Valley some love this Valentine's Day. 


John Ellis reports for the Fresno Bee: "A White House official said further details about the president's trip to the central San Joaquin Valley will be made public in the coming days."


"The trip will mark Obama's first visit to the Fresno area. The only other time he visited the region was in October 2012 when he traveled to the United Farm Workers headquarters at Keene in Kern County to dedicate the Cesar E. Chavez National Monument."


A southland region water district is flushed with reserves.   


Mike Gardner reports in UT-San Diego: "Thus far, no formal requests for water have been made and Metropolitan’s board is not expected to tackle the issue publicly for a couple of months. Until then, pressure will mount on Metropolitan if the drought’s grip fails to weaken in these closing weeks of winter."


"Meanwhile, Metropolitan’s board on Tuesday is expected to affirm its earlier pledge to Gov. Jerry Brown to launch an aggressive, but voluntary, conservation program to save 20 percent and commit an extra $20 million to water-saving programs."


We know who the state's water chuggers and rationers are.


Paul Rogers and Nicholas St. Fleur in the Mercury News: "The historic drought is making average residents think twice every time they turn on the tap, despite the weekend rain. But there is nothing average about the way Californians consume water: A little-known state database that measures water use in every community shows huge -- sometimes shocking -- differences between California's water sippers and guzzlers."

"In steamy Sacramento, where half of the homes still don't have water meters, residents use 279 gallons a day per capita -- almost triple the 98 gallons that residents of foggy San Francisco use. Palm Springs, land of big desert lawns and verdant golf courses, gulps down a staggering 736 gallons a day per person, five times as much as residents of San Jose and Los Angeles."
Finally, don't forget to get your "Dumb Starbucks" fix before the attorneys get involved. 
Frank Stoitze reporting for KPCC: "As dozens continue to line up outside a “Dumb Starbucks” serving free coffee in Los Feliz on Sunday, questions remain about the establishment’s legality."
"Megan Adams, a Starbucks spokeswoman, confirmed: “It’s obviously not a Starbucks.” She said the corporation was "looking into it," but declined to say if it would pursue legal action."
"And city leaders did not seem too concerned. The official word from Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti's office, as relayed by his spokesman Yusef Robb: "We are remaining 'dumb' on the subject."


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