Here's a story that has legs -- mountain lion legs. It turns out that Fish and Game Commission head Dan Richards, under fire in California for legally shooting a cougar in Idaho, actually ate his kill. He says the puma meat is tasty, not like chicken, and that it is closer in flavor and texture to pork loin.
From Peter Fimrite and Marisa Lagos in the Chronicle: "The revelation that Richards complied with the backcountry rule that you eat what you shoot didn't do much to quiet calls in the Capitol for his head, but the perfectly legal shooting and consumption of puma meat certainly raised questions about his diet."
"As odd and unappetizing as the dish may sound, it isn't unusual for hunters to consume cougar meat, according to hunting groups."
"Eating them is common. We serve it to our guests," said Joseph Peterson, the manager of the Flying B Ranch in Idaho, where Richards paid $6,800 for an all-inclusive, seven-day hunting expedition that resulted in the notorious photograph of him grinning and hugging the lion carcass."
Now Richards himself is being hunted: The Fair Political Practices Commission filed an ethics complaint against him, saying he violated state law by accepting a $6,800 gift -- the cost of his hunting trip from the Idaho ranch -- and thus exceeded the $420 gift limit imposed on state officials. Richards is a San Bernardino Republican.
From the Mercury News' Paul Rogers: "The complaint, filed with the California Fair Political Practices Commission, accuses Dan Richards, a San Bernardino Republican and big game hunter, of accepting a gift valued at $6,800 from the Flying B Ranch in northern Idaho when the ranch allowed him to shoot a mountain lion on its property in January without paying the full fee charged to other guests who go on guided lion hunts."
"The complaint, filed by Kathy Bowler, the former executive director of the California Democratic Party, cites a state law that limits gifts to elected officials and members of state commissions to no more than $420 a year and requires such gifts to be reported within 30 days."
A physician assistant was awarded $168 million in a sexual harrasment case stemming from her two-year stint at Sacramento's Mercy General Hospital. The amount is believed to be the largest award ever to a single employee. During the trial, there was extensive testimony about abuses at the hospital.
From the LAT's Carol J. Williams: "The jurors in U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller's courtroom heard hospital administrators defend their management practices and attest to unwavering commitment to quality patient care."
"But the litany of abuses detailed by current and former employees apparently swayed the jury to accept Chopourian's allegations that administrators put up with gross misbehavior in the cardiac unit to stroke the surgeons' outsize egos."
"Cardiac surgery brings in the most money for any hospital facility, which is why they are willing to turn a blind eye to illegal and inappropriate behavior," Chopourian said. "We had four very strong witnesses who were frightened to speak out but did so because they felt it was important that someone put a stop to this."
Chad Condit, the son of former Congressman Gary Condit, is poised to run as an independent for a Central Valley seat. His father was forced to leave the House amid a media firestorm prompted by the disappearance of a young female aide, and he declined to discuss his relationship with her under oath. A man later was convicted of killing her.
From Roll Call's Kyle Trygstad: "There had been rumors in the Modesto area that the younger Condit was considering a bid in the redrawn 10th district, where freshman Rep. Jeff Denham (R) is seeking re-election, but his decision came as no less of a surprise."
"Condit ran his father’s last campaign for Congress, when Gary Condit lost in the Democratic primary to now-Rep. Dennis Cardoza in 2002. The defeat came one year after the disappearance of a Congressional staffer with whom Gary Condit admitted having a relationship. Condit had been discounted as a suspect, but it took eight years for police to charge someone else with the murder."
"Chad Condit will have to overcome any remaining scars from the scandal as he runs in a district that includes much of his father’s former territory."
California voters -- again -- will have a chance to vote on the death penalty, which has been a touchstone of California politics for decades. The latest measure asks voters to abolish the death penalty in favor of life imprisonment without parole.
From the Chronicle's Bob Egelko: "Opponents of capital punishment said Thursday they were submitting 800,000 signatures on petitions for an initiative to close the nation's largest Death Row, which has 725 condemned prisoners. The measure needs 504,760 valid signatures to make the ballot."
"California voters are ready to replace the death penalty with life in prison with no chance of parole," declared Jeanne Woodford, who oversaw four executions as warden of San Quentin State Prison. She now heads the anti-capital-punishment group Death Penalty Focus."
"It was an unusually optimistic statement in a state whose residents have consistently supported the death penalty. The most recent Field Poll, in September, showed 68 percent support - although respondents in the same survey, when asked their preferred sentence for murder, backed life without parole over death, 48 to 40 percent."