X'ing out the ex-parte

May 3, 2016

Lawmakers are looking for a way to prevent ex-parte forms from being abused by development interests amongst the California Coastal Commission. "Ex-parte" means individual, private communications between commissioners and others.


Dan Weikel and Kim Christensen report in LAT: "It's become a familiar sight during the California Coastal Commission's three-day meetings. Members of the powerful panel can be seen huddling with developers or their representatives in hallways, in the back of the hearing room or outside during breaks."


"At other times, commissioners have discussed pending business over dinner, on the telephone, via email, in offices and during site visits of proposed projects."


"The so-called ex-parte communications between individual commissioners and developers, lobbyists, environmentalists and other interested parties have become a major element in the way the commission presides over land use, public access and environment protection along 1,100 miles of coastline."


Gov. Brown seems to have loosened his grip on state spending -- most noticeably with the minimum wage and family leave increases.


LAT's John Meyers writes: "Gov. Jerry Brown has long warned that the state's budget bonanza of recent years, fueled by a windfall of income tax revenues, is destined to sputter out — a mantra that's helped deflect many of his fellow Democrats' spending demands."


"But now, even as April tax revenues missed their mark by $1 billion, there's a perception at the state Capitol of a slight opening in Brown's otherwise airtight argument. And it's one he brought about himself, by embracing the new law boosting California's minimum wage."


"I think it's safe to say that was a surprise," said Chris Hoene, executive director of the California Budget & Policy Center, a nonprofit group that advocates for programs aimed at low-income families. "His recent moves are adding up to some significant progress."


Lawmakers in the Senate just passed a moratorium on the state's Aliso Canyon gas storage facility, extending its closure indefinitely. 


The AP reports in KPCC: "California lawmakers are sending Gov. Jerry Brown legislation to extend the closure of a gas storage facility after it spewed massive amounts of natural gas for nearly four months."


"The Senate approved the measure in a 36-0 vote on Monday."


"SB380 by Democratic Sen. Fran Pavley responds to the leak of climate-changing methane at the Aliso Canyon facility near Los Angeles."


Gov. Brown is trying to pass a law that would identify state contract advocates as lobbyists depending on amount of income made from their lobbying efforts.


The Bee's Jeremy B. White writes: "Communicating with government officials to try to win California state contracts would be considered lobbying under legislation the Assembly sent to Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday despite opposition from the state’s campaign-finance watchdog."


"While state law requires people who seek to influence legislators or state agencies to register as lobbyists, and mandates that their clients disclose how much they spend on lobbying, those rules do not extend to bidding on state contracts."


"Assembly Bill 1200 would change that. If Brown signs the bill, people who communicate with government officials about contracts enough to earn $2,000 or more a month for their efforts would have to register as lobbyists. It would apply only to people working on contracts worth at least $250,000."


Meanwhile, prosecutor's will not review L.A. Sheriff official Tom Angel's case history for racial bias, despite being fired for racially charged text messages and comments.


Daily News' Brenda Gazzar reports: "A day after Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell announced the resignation of his top aide over racist and anti-Muslim emails, prosecutors said they have no intention of reviewing cases the aide was involved in for potential bias."


"Tom Angel, McDonnell’s chief of staff, resigned after the Los Angeles Times obtained emails that he shared mocking Muslims, African-Americans, Latinos and women while working for the Burbank Police Department in 2012 and 2013."


"Among the derogatory emails was a comment saying “apparently ‘Blacks’ and ‘Mexicans’ were NOT the correct answers” to a biology exam question asking for two things commonly found in cells."


The Berkeley City Council just passed a sanction on all states with LGBTQ-unfriendly policies


Jessica Lynn in the Daily Californian writes: "At its regular Tuesday meeting, Berkeley City Council unanimously adopted an item that places sanctions on states — such as North Carolina and Mississippi — deemed to have legislation that discriminates against the LGBTQ community."


"The item discourages the creation of new contracts with companies headquartered in North Carolina or Mississippi and urges the city manager to consider discontinuing existing contracts with companies based in these states."


"Additionally, the item bans city-funded travel to any state that enacts potentially discriminatory laws regarding LGBTQ individuals."


And now from our "On Dancer, On Prancer, on Donner and Blitzen!" file ...


"A motorist in China captured footage of a man using a most unusual form of slow-speed transportation -- a small cart pulled by a tiny dog."


"The video, filmed April 2 in Baoding, Hebei Province, shows the motorist and his passenger both transfixed by the sight of the full-grown man riding in the small cart."


"As the car moves closer to the cart, it becomes clear that the vehicle is being pulled by a single tiny dog."






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