CPUC cuts funding to protect power plants from attacks

Nov 24, 2015

California Public Utility Commission regulators pulled $5 million in funding designed to prevent terror attacks at power plants after the legislature cut the agency’s funding by the same amount.  Jaxon Van Derbeken, San Francisco Chronicle:


“A new state law mandating that utilities take steps to protect power plants from terrorist attacks is being held hostage in a fight between the California Public Utilities Commission and legislators over the agency’s $5 million legal tab in corruption investigations.


“The Legislature slashed $5 million from the utilities commission’s budget this year, angry that regulators had hired outside lawyers as federal and state investigators probed allegations of official influence-peddling and improper deal-making with Pacific Gas and Electric Co. and other utilities.


“Lawmakers didn’t specify where the commission had to make budget cuts, however — and last week, the agency took the money in part from efforts to implement antiterrorist legislation.”


Research indicates that the working poor are getting poorer, driving many to public assistance. Pauline Bartolone looks at the nature of low wage work, part of a series from CALmatters:


“[A] growing economic problem in California: low wage workers are getting poorer, and there are more of them.


“There were about 354,800 Californians working full-time and year-round in 2013 living under the federal poverty limit, according to the nonprofit California Budget and Policy Center. That’s 3.1 percent of California’s full-time workforce, double the rate it was 35 years ago.


“’A low-wage worker today earns less than a similar worker would a generation ago,’ said Luke Reidenbach, policy analyst with the center, which researches how state policy affects low- and middle-income Californians. ‘Even as the economy grows, that’s not resulting in an increase of their hourly wages, and so over time the value of their wages has eroded.’”


Several Democratic legislators got a “Dear John” letter from a major political donor unhappy with their vote to support a Republican bill that set up roadbocks for Syrian refugees.  Sarah Wire, Los Angeles Times:


“Philanthropist and retired television executive Blake Byrne sent an email to several Democrats Monday, including California Reps. Julia Brownley (West Lake Village), John Garamendi (Walnut Grove) and Scott Peters (San Diego), saying he is “greatly disappointed” they voted with Republicans and that he will no longer donate in any way to their campaigns…


“’What a disappointment you are to me and all the others who fight for equal rights for our fellow Americans,’ he wrote.”


A recent election in San Mateo County in which all voters received a mail-in ballot with prepaid return postage has delivered stunning results, boosting general turnout, especially among younger voters and minorities.  Aaron Kinney, San Jose Mercury News:


“For the Nov. 3 election, a mix of local initiatives and city council and school board races, San Mateo County mailed ballots to all 357,191 of its registered voters, who then had several options. They could mail the document back to the county, turn it in before or during the election at a drop-off kiosk, or vote in person at a centralized voting center. They could also cast early ballots in person at one of two locations.


“Voters responded to the convenience and flexibility. Turnout was 29.5 percent, up 4.1 percentage points from the last consolidated local election in 2013. And while the county has yet to release a demographic breakdown of participation, Sacramento-based elections guru Paul Mitchell crunched the numbers last week and came up with some startling results.


“Turnout among voters ages 18 to 24 increased in all eight cities that had competitive council races, up 79 percent in San Mateo, for instance, and more than 160 percent in Brisbane. The results were similar for Asian and Latino voters.”


And finally, we bring you a story from Brussels, currently under lockdown as police scour the city for international terror suspects.  Citizens respond… with cats:


“As the hunt for terrorism suspects intensified in Brussels, the authorities requested that Belgians refrain from posting messages on Sunday that might expose or interfere with police operations.


“The people of Twitter decided to respond with what will now be known as an internationally recognized symbol of solidarity: cat photos….


“[Within] the hour, magical Internet memes were deployed to cut the tension.


“The cats appeared with machine guns, french fries and beer to comfort the citizens of Brussels, who need it: They were told to stay away from subways, schools and shopping centers as officials maintained the highest possible terror alert level, and no end to the lockdown is in sight.”