Up in the air

Jun 8, 2012

Three days after Election Day, a number of contests remain unresolved and the tobacco tax -- trailing by 52,000 votes with hundreds of thousands of votes waiting to be tallied -- still is too close to call.


From the LAT's Jean Merl: "As county elections officials work through the thousands of remaining ballots, candidates in three congressional races and more than  a dozen Assembly contests are waiting to see whether they will be on the ballot for the Nov. 6  general election..."


"Among the contests too close to call  is the 13-candidate race in the inland 8th Congressional District, which includes the San Bernardino County mountains and deserts and Inyo and Mono counties. There, four candidates were bunched near the top: Republican Assemblyman Paul Cook of Yucca Valley, who was in first place; Lake Arrowhead home-builder and anti-illegal-immigration activist Gregg Imus, also a Republican; Barstow Democrat Jackie Conaway; and Phil Liberatore, a Republican tax consultant based in Whittier."


"In San Diego County’s 52nd Congressional District, Democrats Lori Saldana, a former assemblywoman, and former San Diego City Councilman Scott Peters are battling for the second spot on the ballot. Peters finished 645 votes ahead of Saldana on election night. The eventual winner will face Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-Carlsbad) in November. The outcomes also are uncertain in several Los Angeles-area Assembly contests."


For the latest tobacco tax tally, go here.


The election isn't the only thing unresolved: State budget negotiations are starting to heat up as deadlines loom and the public doesn't have a whole lot of confidence in the Legislature's competence.


From the Bee's David Siders: "Nearly two-thirds of registered voters – 65 percent – have little faith in lawmakers to satisfactorily resolve California's $15.7 billionbudget deficit, and their confidence in Gov. Jerry Brown is declining, too, according to a Field Poll released today."


"The Democratic governor's job performance rating slipped to 43 percent, down two points from February, according to the poll. Forty-three percent of voters have little confidence inBrown's handling of the budget, up from a 32 percent negative outlook last fall."


San Diego may be in for a long, hot summer: The aging San Onofre nuclear power plant, which supplies a significant amount of electricity to San Diego, will be shut down for repairs at least through August.


From Rebecca Smith in the Wall Street Journal: "The San Onofre nuclear plant will remain shut down at least through August, Southern California Edison said, putting a big crimp in electricity supplies in the San Diego area this summer."


"The plant's two reactors remain idled while inspection teams investigate the reasons for premature aging of vital plant equipment. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has sent extra inspectors to the plant but they haven't released their findings."


Meanwhile, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is launching public meetings into the woes at San Onofre, which has been idled for months.


From the LAT's Abby Sewell: "The federal agency sent in a special inspection team in March to assess the issues with unusual wear on tubes in the plant's newly replaced steam generators."


"The NRC meeting will take place June 18 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the San Juan Capistrano Community Center."


"Agency spokesman Victor Dricks said NRC staffers will present preliminary findings on the extent and cause of the tube wear. The first portion of the meeting will be a technical presentation geared toward plant operator Southern California Edison, followed by a response from the utility. In the second half of the meeting, NRC staff will take questions from the public."


The insurer AIG, a global behemoth, is gloing to pay the state millions of dollars to settle allegations that the company and its affiliates under-reported the amount of business they did to state regulators.


From the LAT's Marc Lifsher: "American International Group Inc., a giant insurance company, will pay $15.6 million in penalties to California to settle allegations that its affiliated companies underreported how much business they did to state regulators."

"The payment to California's treasury, announced Thursday, is part of a $146.5-million national settlement that AIG reached with a number of state insurance commissioners that became effective on May 29, the Department of Insurance said."


"The settlement stems from allegations that for decades AIG undervalued the amount of total workers' compensation insurance premiums reported to state regulators. The total is important because it is used to calculate insurance taxes and fees that companies contribute to various special regulatory and consumer protection funds."


And now from our "War and Remembrance" file comes the tale of the letters of Steve Flaherty -- which were delivered 43 years after the young soldier was killed in Vietnam.


"When Army Sgt. Steve Flaherty of Columbia was killed in 1969 during a battle in South Vietnam’s A Shau Valley, U.S. soldiers could not recover his body immediately. That allowed the North Vietnamese time to take his unsent letters – filled with his descriptions of the horror and fear of combat."


“If Dad calls, tell him I got too close to being dead but I’m O.K. I was real lucky. I’ll write again soon,” read one message that never reached his mother."


"Now, 43 years after Flaherty was buried, his letters are coming home..."


“When I read them, I started sobbing,” Flaherty’s aunt, Martha Gibbons of Irmo, S.C., said. “It almost put me on battlefield with him.” 


"Memories of the Vietnam War are fading for many Americans, and the war is the stuff of textbooks for others. But it is brought vividly alive in Sgt. Flaherty’s letters."


Like it was yesterday....



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