Cougar flap

Feb 29, 2012

The head of the state's Fish and Game Commission, Dan Richards, says there is no way he'll resign, despite the mounting criticism surrounding his hunting of mountain lions in Idaho, where bagging the big cats is legal. In California, it's a different story: You don't hunt mountain lions.


From the Mercury News' Paul Rogers: "While I respect our Fish and Game rules and regulations, my 100 percent legal activity outside of California, or anyone else's for that matter, is none of your business," Dan Richards wrote in a letter to state lawmakers calling for his ouster."


"Richards also wrote that "contrary to so many erroneous reports," he didn't use a high-powered rifle (or) "dine on Mountain Lion for dinner" that night. In recent days, 40 Democratic Assembly members and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom have sent letters asking Richards to resign. They've accused him of thumbing his nose at California voters who have banned mountain lion hunting twice at the ballot box, in 1990 and 1996."


The notion of gay marriage is an idea that Californians support, although it has been rejected at the polls. The latest Field Poll shows it receiving a significant increase in backing.


From the Field Poll: "The latest Field Poll finds voter approval of same-sex marriage to be at the highest level ever recorded during thirty-five years of polling on the issue in California. Currently 59% of this state’s registered voters favor allowing same-sex couples to marry and have regular marriage laws apply to them, while 34% disapprove. Another 7% do not express an opinion."

"This division of sentiment is nearly a complete reversal of the findings from the first time The Field Poll began measuring Californians’ attitudes toward same-sex marriage in 1977. At that time, 59%, disapproved and 28% were in favor."


"Very large or sizeable majorities of sub-groups of the state’s electorate now supports allowing same-sex marriage. These include voters in each of the four major regions of the state, Democrats, non-partisans, middle-of-the-road and liberal voters, young and middle age groups, men and women, white non-Hispanics, married as well as single voters, Catholics, voters affiliated with non-Christian religions, and those with no religious preference."


Stephen Chikhani, who is at the center of the sex and subsance-abuse scandal involving Nadia Lockyer,  was in court for a recent arrest on methamphetamine charges, and he told reporters that there's a "bigger story than sex tapes" in the case. That was a reference to a videotape allegedly showing Lockyer and Chikhani having sex -- a tape that was sent to her husband, state Treasurer Bill Lockyer, in what may have been a blackmail ploy. Bill Lockyer says Chikhani stalked his wife; Chikhani denies it.


So what's the "bigger story?" Nobody knows, but it's starting to get complicated. 


From the Chronicle's Matier and Ross: "Chikhani, 35, a construction worker who lives in San Jose and has a long record of drug arrests, broke his public silence about his relationship to (Nadia) Lockyer on Tuesday -- blurting out to reporters after a court appearance in San Jose that "there's a way bigger story than the sex tapes" that we're told star him and the 40-year-old county supervisor."


"What Chikhani meant, according to his lawyer, was that there was more to his relationship with Lockyer than is being portrayed in the media ...Chikhani met Lockyer in 2010, when they were both in rehab - he for meth and she for alcohol. The two had an off-and-on affair that became public after she called police to the Homewood Suites in Newark early Feb. 3 to report that he had assaulted her."


An interesting sketch of California's economic issues emerged from the LAO's look at the governor's budget proposal. Apart from the numbers crunching, the Legislative Analyst found that despite the painful recession corporate earnings were booming and fixed business investments up strongly, while at the same time unemployment remained high and the housing market a mess.


From John Howard in Capitol Weekly: "A critical type of business fixed investment – investment in software and computer systems – expanded by 10.3 percent last year. “These investments are especially important to California’s economy, which relies heavily on the professional and technology services sectors for high-wage employment growth,” the LAO noted."


"Meanwhile, the outlook and track record for employment and housing are not so rosy. At the end of the year, the jobless rate in California was 10.9 percent, about some 2.5 percent higher than the national average. Some 2 million workers were unemployed in the state."


"The median single-family home sale price, calculated in 2011 dollars, was about $300,000 at the end of last year, about half of level of 2006, and just a third more than the median price was 37 years ago."


"One impact of the recession is to delay so-called “household formation,” in which young people move out of their parents’ home to get housing or when people who share housing move into their own units. The delay has depressed the housing market still further. Those who do move out or find separate housing are inclined to rent apartments – house purchasing is a move that requires credit, steady income and employment, all of which are more difficult to maintain in a recession – and that leads to multi-unit construction."

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