The feds aren't saying why they raided Sen. Ron Calderon's office, but it appears that part of the FBI probe involves legislation he authored on behalf of a California water district that has been controversial for years.
From the AP's Don Thompson and Tami Andollah: "The FBI investigation of state Sen.Ron Calderon involves legislation he introduced for a Los Angeles-area water district that uses his brother as a consultant, according to two people questioned by federal agents."
"The FBI hasn't disclosed any details on the investigation of the Democrat whose Sacramento offices were raided late Tuesday. However, two people told The Associated Press on Wednesday they were questioned by the FBI about the legislation and Calderon's brother Tom's connections with the Central Basin Municipal Water District."
"Michael Franchek, former vice president of EcoGreen Services, said agents interviewed him twice and wanted to know about a contract his water conservation consulting company unsuccessfully sought from the city of Maywood. The contract went to a firm for which Tom Calderon served as president."
An increasing budget dispute involving the counties and the state over Medi-Cal, the state-run health care program for the poor, is developing in the Capitol
From Capitol Weekly's Alex Matthews and John Howard: "A major budget battle has erupted between the Brown administration and California’s counties over health-care spending, with the governor hoping to divert some $2.5 billion from the counties over the next three years."
"At issue is money – initially, $300 million -- that the counties use to provide care for the indigent. But Brown in his 2013-14 draft budget wants to hang on to that money, saying the indigent will be covered by Medi-Cal as the new federal health care reforms kick in at the beginning of next year. The counties gained the funds in 1991 in order to provide services that they say are more than simply coverage for medically indigent people. They say there are “some serious problems with (Brown’s) assumption” and that they will lose serious money if Brown’s plan is approved."
“Along with core education, this is the big money issue of the year,” said Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access, an advocacy group that seeks the expansion of quality care to low- and moderate-income Californians. “That $300 million is just the down payment. It’s $900 million the second year and $1.3 billion the third.”
Perhaps a million California workers, those who earn the minimum wage, would see their pay increases pegged to the cost of living, under new legislation awaiting action in the Senate.
From Capitol Weekly's Samantha Gallegos: "Under a bill awaiting action in the Senate, the minimum wage, currently $8 per hour, would be raised by 25 cents per hour next year, then continue to increase pay step-by-step to $9.25 per hour by 2016."
"The bill, AB 10 by Assemblymember Luis Alejo, D-Salinas, earlier passed the Assembly in a 45-to-25 vote, mainly along party lines. The Assembly is controlled by Democrats."
"By 2017, the state’s minimum wage would be adjusted annually to the rate of inflation, pegging it to the cost of living according to the California Consumer Price Index. The last time California boosted its minimum wage was in 2008, when the hourly pay rate increased by 50 cents to $8.00."
California is clogged with cars and people, and the numbers of both are going up. Despite that, smog is on the decrease.
From the LAT's Julie Cart: "Despite a three-fold increase in people and cars in the last 50 years, California’s strict vehicle emissions standards have managed to significantly clear the state’s air, according to new research."
"The study also found that Southern California’s air chemistry has changed for the better. The amount of organic nitrates in the atmosphere — which cause smog’s eye-stinging irritation — has drastically fallen off, according to federal researchers."
"Ozone and other pollutants have been monitored in the state since the 1960s. Since then the population in Southern California has tripled, as has the number of cars on the road. Nevertheless, tailpipe emissions have decreased."
And speaking of air, when one thinks of air quality, one typically thinks of the outdoors, but how about the inside of school classrooms?
From the Bee's Cynthia Craft: "But when it comes to public schools, a majority of California elementary classrooms monitored for a new indoor air study failed to meet minimum state health standards for ventilating classrooms."
"In the largest study of its kind, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory researchers tracked the outdoor ventilation rate in 162 classrooms."
"The results, published in the journal Indoor Air, surprised researchers when they saw just how many schools fall short of what the state requires in all buildings."
Finally, from our "Long Live the King" file comes word that a tree in England looks Elvis and the locals are all shook up.
"In his classic song, "All Shook Up," Elvis Presley sang about itching like a man on a fuzzy tree."
"Now, Elvis is really branching out. His kingly image has been spotted in an elm tree, according to the Scotsman."
"At least that's the claim of Brit John Rowley, who was driving in Herefordshire, England, and saw the tree that he thought looked remarkably like Presley in his young pre-Army stint, not his puffy Las Vegas incarnation of the 1970s."
“I was just driving along one day and it stuck out like a sore thumb," Rowley told SWNS. “I’m not much of an Elvis fan, but I just noticed that unique quiff straight away and said, ‘That tree looks like Elvis.'"
We think it looks like Abe Lincoln....