L.A. confidential

Apr 17, 2012

It almost sounds like something out of a James Ellroy tale, but a chaplain's testimony about inmates at the Los Angeles Central Jail being abused by officers sparked images of an era that many hoped was long over.


From Christina Villacorte in the LA Daily News: "He said the inmate got into a verbal altercation with deputies, who pummeled him even after he stopped resisting."


"The third incident, which occurred in 2009, prompted the chaplain to leave Men's Central Jail in fear. Juarez-Ramirez said he saw several deputies beating an inmate inside a cell. He said three deputies were punching and kicking an inmate who was not fighting back."


"During the attack, he said, the deputies repeatedly yelled, "Stop fighting! Stop resisting!" even after the inmate had fallen on the floor, blood pooling around his head."


Civil rights attorney Molly Munger, who is distancing herself from Gov. Brown and going her own way to get voter approval on new taxes to raise money for schools, has launched a new TV spot that whacks Brown's rival plan.


From the Bee's Kevin Yamamura: "With upbeat music and a young girl as narrator, the 30-second "Our Children, Our Future" ad attacks Brown's plan without ever referencing it. Munger's initiative would hike income taxes on all but the poorest residents along a sliding scale to raise $10 billion annually."


"Of efforts to fix schools, the ad says, "We've waited years for the politicians to do it. Now, we can do it ourselves. Our Children, Our Future sends every K-12 dollar straight to our schools, not to Sacramento."


Speaking of targeting the rival, the GOP's top hatchet man, House Oversight Commitee Chair Darrell Issa, has got the California bullet train in his political crosshairs. Issa, whose checkered past has made himself the target of investigations over the years, now is turning the tables. California Watch's Lance Williams has the story.


"In a letter last week, Issa, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, told the California High-Speed Rail Authority to preserve two years worth of documents, records and e-mails concerning its “use of federal funds” on the controversial $68 billion bullet train project."


"Issa said his committee wants the documents for a probe that will focus on alleged misspending of federal funds, as well as on “allegations concerning conflicts of interest and possible mismanagement; and how these factors might impact taxpayers.”


"Issa wrote the letter to authority Chairman Dan Richard, whom Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown named recently to retool the bullet train project. Under Richard, the state has shaved $30 billion off the project’s price tag, but critics say its financial projections still are hopelessly optimistic."


Home birthing is on the rise in California, an increase driven in part, perhaps, by the economy.  HealthyCal's Hannah Guzik tell's the tale.


"Although the percentage of women giving birth at home is still small, home births in the state increased by 37 percent between 2004 and 2009, from 0.38 percent of all births to 0.52 percent, according to a January report released by the National Center for Health Statistics and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."


"Nationwide, the percentage of births that occurred at home jumped 29 percent during the same time period, from 0.56 percent to 0.72 percent. There were 29,650 babies born at home in the U.S in 2009."


“I think part of it is the economy driving people to have home births,” said Sue Turner, a licensed midwife in Ventura. “Maybe they’ve lost their job and don’t have health insurance, and so they’re wanting the cheaper way to go. Also, I think many people want fewer medical interventions. There’s more awareness that giving birth can be a natural experience.”


CalPERS' new half-billion-dollar computer system doesn't seem to be doing much good: The delays at customer windows are even greater than before the new system was put into place.


From the Bee's Jon Ortiz: "The new hardware and software installed by New York-based tech firm Accenture aimed to consolidate 49 old data systems into one when it launched last September, two years late at nearly twice its original $279 million budget. The California Public Employees' Retirement System committed another $6.8 million in December, bringing the total cost to $514 million. The money has come from CalPERS assets, currently valued at $234 billion."


The Bay Area, especially San Francisco, has never been particularly kind to renters who pay some of the highest tabs in the country. But now the high rent districts are mushrooming in San Jose and the Silicon Valley because of the new IPO boom.


From the Mercury News' Pete Carey: "A surge of tech hiring and the aftereffects of the housing crash are filling up apartments in Silicon Valley and pushing renters toward the East Bay, where rents also are rising and vacancies dropping, according to a new housing report..."


"The company expects vacancies in Silicon Valley this year to drop below 3 percent, a level not seen since the dot-com boom. Rents will hit $1,522 per month, a more than 7 percent increase from 2011. For San Francisco and the Peninsula, the company forecasts a 7.2 percent increase to $1,947 a month."


"The tight Silicon Valley rental market is expected to push more apartment hunters to the East Bay, where rents could rise to $1,361 a month, an increase of 3.8 percent this year, on the heels of a nearly 3 percent increase last year, the company said. East Bay vacancies are expected to drop to about 3.2 percent this year. Marcus & Millichap's forecast is for the entire apartment market for 20 units and above."


Meanwhile, the leader of the Senate wants new legislation to bolster the way the state tracks schools' performance. 


From Tom Chorneau at the SI&A Cabinet Report: "Senate leader Darrell Steinberg is set this week to revive his effort to overhaul the state’s school accountability system with new legislation that will deemphasize the role standardized testing plays in judging success."


"SB 1458, scheduled to be heard Wednesday by the state Senate Education Committee, also would authorize the state superintendent and the California State Board of Education to develop a new program for evaluating school quality – a proposal of specific interest to Gov. Jerry Brown."


"The bill comes forward just a few months after Brown issued a stinging veto of a prior accountability bill authored by Steinberg, D-Sacramento, and sponsored by state schools chief Tom Torlakson. Consideration of the new bill also comes just ahead of a much-anticipated meeting of the state board next month, which figures to include a discussion about the next steps in school accountability."


And from our "Belly Up to the Bar" file comes the Michigan tale of the traffic cops' crackdown on "super drunks" -- those who imbibe huge amounts of booze and still manage to drive. 


"These aren't people who just had a glass or two of wine at dinner or a party — these are people with alarmingly high blood-alcohol counts, some in the high 0.20s and even into the 0.30s, out drunk in the middle of the day," said Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper, whose office has prosecuted 700 people under the "Super Drunk" law."


"Some of them apparently have a high tolerance for alcohol to even remain conscious," Cooper said. "But it doesn't take away from them being seriously intoxicated and posing a threat to themselves and everyone else on the road."


"Officials say people with levels of 0.20 or into .30 are in danger of blacking out and could require hospitalization. The situation is considered so dangerous that the policy at some police agencies, such as the Oakland County Sheriff's Office, requires a hospital emergency room clearance of anyone arrested who has a blood-alcohol count of 0.30 or higher. Veteran lawmen note longtime abusers can somehow function — at reduced ability — well into the 0.30s."


Somehow, we can hear that Mungo Jerry tune....

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