Dicey dough

Feb 17, 2012

California's beleaguered state budget can't depend on the uncertain revenue from the state's cap-and-trade program to help balance the books -- as Gov. Brown wants. Cap-and-trade is the marketplace process by which emitters of greenhouse gases can buy, sell or trade special credits at auction that allow them to stay in operation while they gradually cut back on emissions. It all sounds complicated -- and it is -- but the bottom line is that relying on the fees from the transactions may prove risky.


From the LAT's Nicholas Riccardi: "Business groups have argued that the revenues from the auctions -- which could reach as high as $3 billion this year -- should go back to businesses whose costs will be increased by the cap-and-trade program. Environmentalists have other proposals. Brown wants another $500 million to go toward renewable-energy projects."


"The Legislative Analyst's Office notes that the state won't know how much cash the auctions generate until the budget process is almost complete. It cautioned against giving the governor a blank check on how to spend it."


"In view of the array of information the Legislature will need to make effective decisions regarding the allocation of the auction revenues, we believe the Legislature should take its time regarding the appropriation of these funds," the report said.


Speaking of climate change, the Heartland Institute, a group backed by tobacco interests and industry that attacks the notion of global warming, has had the tables turned. Confidential documents describing its priorities and fund-raising issues made it onto the Internet and Heartland is demanding that the media not cover the disputed documentation. This is the same group that exulted at the emails disclosed three years ago of climate-change scientists. What goes around comes around.


From the LAT's Beela Banerjee: "...As a matter of common decency and journalistic ethics, we ask everyone in the climate change debate to sit back and think about what just happened.”

That’s not quite how Heartland saw things in November 2009, when someone hacked the correspondence of some of the world’s leading climate scientists working with the University of East Anglia in Britain and released thousands of emails, with the intention of suggesting that researchers had massaged data to show that the planet was warming."


“The release of these documents creates an opportunity for reporters, academics, politicians, and others who relied on the IPCC to form their opinions about global warming to stop and reconsider their position,” wrote Joseph Bast, Heartland’s president. “The experts they trusted and quoted in the past have been caught red-handed plotting to conceal data, hide temperature trends that contradict their predictions, and keep critics from appearing in peer-reviewed journals. This is new and real evidence that they should examine and then comment on publicly.”


Putting youthful felony offenders into the adult court system doesn't appear to be working as a crime-fighting tool, and if juvenile detention facilities are closed to save the state money as proposed, the problem likely will get worse, according to a new report.


From Capitol Weekly's John Howard: "In fact, fully two-thirds of California youths who are transferred to adult courts “are not receiving state prison sentences but instead are receiving lighter sentences in county jails, where they have access to fewer services than youths who remain in the juvenile justice system,” wrote Daniel Macallair of the Center on Juvenile and Criminal justice, which conducted the 2003-10 study. A copy of the report can be seen here."


"The process of filing charges against in adult rather than juvenile courts – known as “direct filing” – may result in yet more youthful incarcerations in the counties because the state has proposed eliminating juvenile detention facilities because of the strapped state budget, according to the report. “Of particular importance to current discussions about the closure of the state’s three remaining youth correctional institutions, there is no relationship between county use of state youth correctional facilities and adult court transfer," he said."


"In 2000, voters approved Proposition 21, which was aimed at youth- and gang-related felonies, and increased penalties for a host of crimes, including gang-linked homicides, home invasion robberies, drive-by shootings and threatening witnesses. Until voters approved the measure by nearly a 2-1 margin, prosecutors needed permission from juvenile courts to pursue charges against youths in adult court. A year after voters approved Proposition 21, an appeals court struck down a provision requiring 14-to-17-year-olds to be tried as adults."


Farmer-friendly House Republicans from California's Central Valley are pushing legislation that would provide more water to farmers in the state's mid-section while tapping water from northern sources and stripping river restoration efforts. It is a classic California water fight, and the Chronicle's Carolyn Lochhead tells the tale.


"Among other things, the legislation would halt restoration of the San Joaquin River, leaving as much as 40 miles of the river dry, restore irrigation contracts and override fish and wildlife protections in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta."


"Plain and simple, it's a water raid on the delta," said Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove (Sacramento County), who waged trench warfare in the committee by offering more than 20 amendments. All were defeated, but Garamendi said he was "laying down a track of information that will be useful later."

Meanwhile, the UC Davis faculty is going to hold a non-binding vote of confidence on Chancellor Linda Katehi for her handling of last fall's pepper-spraying incident during the campus Occupy protest, and other issues.


From the Bee's Hudson Sangree: "By the time voting closes today, more than 2,600 faculty members at UC Davis will have had an opportunity to weigh in on whether they have confidence in Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi or whether that confidence is gone after November's pepper-spraying of Occupy UC Davis protesters."


"Though nonbinding, the vote on competing motions before the Academic Senate is a rare judgment by faculty on a chancellor's ability to lead and could influence decisions on Katehi'sfuture by University of California leaders."