The Roundup

Apr 24, 2012

In stir

California voters, already poised to decide so many major issues this year at the ballot box, just got another one -- the death penalty. Death Row at San Quentin Prison is the largest and most expensive in the nation -- 725 inmates, with a total price tag of $184 million annually. An initiative to abolish the death penalty and make life-without-parole the toughest sentence prosecutors can seek has qualified for the ballot. The last time there was an execution was in 2006.


From the AP's Paul Elias: "The measure is dubbed the "Savings, Accountability, and Full Enforcement for California Act," also known as the SAFE California Act. It's the fifth measure to qualify for the November ballot, the California secretary of state announced Monday. Supporters collected more than the 504,760 valid signatures needed to place the measure on the ballot."

"Our system is broken, expensive and it always will carry the grave risk of a mistake," said Jeanne Woodford, the former warden of San Quentin who is now an anti-death penalty advocate and an official supporter of the measure."


"The measure will also require most inmates sentenced to life without parole to find jobs within prisons. Most death row inmates do not hold prison jobs for security reasons."

From the AP's Don Thompson: "California prison officials released a wide-ranging reorganization plan Monday that calls for halting a $4 billion prison-construction program and bringing back all inmates held out of state."

"The master plan outlines the department's recommendations for ending years of federal court oversight, overcrowding, poor inmate medical and mental health treatment, and soaring budgets."


"It came at a time when the nation's largest state prison system is being transformed by ongoing state budget deficits, federal court orders and a realignment ordered by the governor that shifts its focus to the most violent and dangerous offenders."


Federal securities regulators have filed a lawsuit against the former CEO of CalPERS, the nation's largest public pension fund, and a former member of the CalPERS board. The suit, filed in Nevada where the two live, alleges the two used spurious documents to help land millions of dollars in fees.


From the LAT's Marc Lifsher: "The Securities and Exchange Commission filed the lawsuit Monday against the former CEO, Federico Buenrostro Jr., and the former CalPERS board member, Alfred J.R. Villalobos, alleging that they fabricated documents provided to Apollo Global Management in New York."


"The documents were the basis used by Villalobos and his companies, ARVCO Capital Research and ARVCO Financial Venturues of Zephyr Cove, Nev., to bill Apollo for placement fees.

Villalobos was paid the fees for helping Apollo win multibillion-dollar contracts to invest money on behalf of the California Public Employees' Retirement System."


"The alleged phony documents were patched together to comply with requests from Apollo lawyers that Villalobos provide them with proof that the fees had been approved by CalPERS investment staff."


The San Onofre nuclear plant north of San Diego is putting together a plan to get back in operation and coujld be partially cranked up within a few months. The OC Register's Pat Brennan tells the tale.


"The operators of the idled San Onofre nuclear plant could restart at least one of its troubled reactor units “in the next few months,” the plant’s chief nuclear officer said Monday."


"And while the precise cause of premature wear seen in steam generator tubes in both units is not yet known, it appears to be related to vibrations induced by the heat exchange process inside the steam generators, said Southern California Edison Chief Nuclear Officer Pete Dietrich."


"Edison must determine the cause or causes of premature wear in both reactor units before either can be started, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has said, although an extended heat wave could bring power shortages during summer if the plant remains offline."


The soap opera that is San Francisco politics continues in the fight over suspended sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, who was tossed out by Mayor Ed Lee after pleading in a domestic violence case. The problem is, what happens next?


From the Chronicle's John Cote: "San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said Monday the city is in "uncharted territory" as he tries to remove suspended Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi from office on official misconduct charges."


"A three-hour hearing Monday before the city's Ethics Commission, the first in an administrative process that could strip the sheriff of his job, only underscored that point, ending with more questions than answers."


"Still to be resolved is everything from the standard of proof to be used, whether a commission vote on recommending removal needs to be unanimous, and even whether City Attorney Dennis Herrera's office, representing the mayor, has the authority to investigate the case."


And from our "Keep Our Streets Clean" file comes the tale of the New York trash truck driver who snoozed off at the wheel. Just another day in the Big Apple.


"An out-of-control garbage truck turned a row of parked cars into scrap metal on the Lower East Side yesterday morning after its driver fell asleep and plowed the vehicle into them, cops said."


“It looked like a monster truck in a demolition derby!” said witness George Oliveraz, 50, of the trash hauler as it careened into the cars on Delancey Street, leaving crumpled bumpers, cracked headlights and shattered mirrors and windshields strewn in its wake."


"It hit car after car after car, until it couldn’t go anymore. When it stopped, its wheel was resting on somebody’s hood,’’ said Oliveraz, a cabby who was idling his taxi near the scene at the time."

Time for the recycler....

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