The abrupt resignation of the state parks director Friday and the firing of her second in command because the department sat on a cache of cash even while parks faced closure could bode ill for Gov. Brown's tax initiative on the November ballot.
From the Chronicle's Wyatt Buchanan: "The scandal over a stash of $54 million in California's Department of Parks and Recreation, which led to the resignation of the department's director and firing of a deputy on Friday, will likely create problems for Gov. Jerry Brown's tax measure in November, political observers said."
"The governor used the threat of park closures as part of the narrative of the state's desperate financial crisis even as some critics said it was merely a strategy to inflict unnecessary pain on the public to drum up support for new taxes. Now, the admission by top-level state officials that they were unaware the parks department had tens of millions in extra funds could undermine Brown's pitch to voters that the state needs more of their tax dollars..."
"Worse, others said, is that public cynicism over government's ability to collect and wisely spend tax dollars likely will deepen over the scandal and provide more fodder for Brown's opponents who are working to convince voters to reject Proposition 30, the governor's tax measure."
The pain of the Great Recession lingers, but there are signals of emerging economic strength in California.
From HealthyCal's Dan Weintraub: "First, the latest employment reports showed that California employers added 38,300 jobs in June. Coupled with the 45,900 new jobs in May, California was responsible for 50 percent of the job growth in the entire country over those two months."
"The strongest job gains were in the information and professional, scientific and technical services sectors, which tend to be high wage positions. But even the long dormant Construction industry added jobs, as did wholesale trade."
"The unemployment rate fell to 10.7%, the third highest in the nation, still reflecting the almost total cratering of the construction and finance industries after the collapse of the housing market."
One indication of an improving economy is an uptick in housing values, but it's a mixed blessing: There also is an increase in property taxes.
From the Mercury News' Tracy Seipel: "That conflicted look you're seeing on your neighbors' faces? That's the gaze of 51,485 Santa Clara County property owners caught in a quandary: They're watching their property values finally going up, which is a good thing, and their property taxes surging as well, which doesn't feel so good."
"And for many of those -- 37,120 to be exact -- the look may be puzzlement, even anger. Their property taxes are rising more than 2 percent this year. But isn't it illegal under Proposition 13 for property taxes to go up more than 2 percent? Nope."
"Karen Kreshel's home is worth far less than what she and her husband paid for it in 2007, but over the past two years, the value of their Willow Glen Craftsman-style bungalow has slowly started rising -- to the point where the couple's property tax bill this year is expected to go up 9.4 percent."
California's longest-running political battle, the north-south fight over water, enters a new era this week with the release of the plan to move excess Northern California water around the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta southward to the Valley and Southern California.
From the AP's Gosia Wosniacka: "California Gov. Jerry Brown is set to reignite the state's water wars when he makes the long-awaited announcement next week about plans to build a massive twin tunnel system to carry water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to farmland and cities."
"Already the $23.7 billion proposal is facing heavy criticism. Opponents say the tunnels will suck more water from the already fragile delta, further harming its fisheries, increasing costs for water users and devastating the area's agricultural-based economy by destroying water quality."
"Last week, 11 members of Congress from the area sent a letter to the governor and federal Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, urging them to conduct a statewide analysis before proceeding with the plan. They questioned the thoroughness of a report done for the state that found the project's benefits outweigh the costs."
Meanwhile, a brain surgeon and an associate are under fire at UC Davis.
From Marjie Lundstrom in the Sacramento Bee: "A prominent UC Davis neurosurgeon was banned from performing medical research on humans after he and an underling were accused of experimenting on dying brain cancer patients without university permission, The Bee has learned."
"Dr. J. Paul Muizelaar, who earns more than $800,000 a year as chairman of the department of neurological surgery, was ordered last fall to "immediately cease and desist" from any research involving human subjects, according to documents obtained by The Bee."
"Also banned was the colleague, Dr. Rudolph J. Schrot, an assistant professor and neurosurgeon who has worked under Muizelaar the past 13 years."
And finally from our "We Shall Fight on the Beaches" file comes a photo of Winston Churchill emerging from the surf, probably in 1922. The string of comments are enjoyable, too.
"Take a straightedge and connect the corners of that photograph. Notice where the two lines meet, almost to the pixel."
"I don't know whether it was the original photographer, or the guy who developed the film, or whoever cropped this for BB, but somebody wanted us thinking about Little Winnie all day long. Well, mission accomplished!"