Only 11 trillion

Dec 17, 2014

SFGate has the numbers, and the numbers ain’t good: California needs 11 trillion gallons of water to recover from the current drought. Staff writer Kurtis Alexander has the story – some great accompanying photos, too.)


“The findings, released by a panel of federal scientists Tuesday, reinforce the current thinking that it may be years before the state’s water situation normalizes, while offering a precise deficit figure based on aerial measurements of mountain snowpack and underground water basins.”


And, more news to give you heartburn: health care costs for retired state employees are projected to exceed $70 billion, but the state has set aside… $0.  John Myers paints the picture for KQED:


“A new report issued on Tuesday, the latest in a series of analyses from the state controller’s office in the past few years, concludes that California is on the hook for $71.8 billion worth of retiree health care benefits — and that’s just what those future benefits would cost in today’s dollars.


“’The price tag associated with providing health care to retired state workers has quietly grown to rival or even eclipse the funding gap associated with public pensions,’ said state Controller John Chiang in a written statement.”


A new email has surfaced, suggesting improper contact between a PUC commissioner and a contact at PG&E.  The email adds fire to the scandal surrounding the overly-friendly relationship between the Public Utilities Commission and the companies it regulates.  Marc Lifsher has the story at the Los Angeles Times.


“In a Jan. 14 electronic memo to two company executives, then-Vice President Brian Cherry summarized his communications with [Public Utilities Commissioner Mike] Florio concerning which commissioner and administrative law judge would handle a natural gas rate-setting case.


“According to Cherry, Florio said he was too busy to be the presiding commissioner but promised to "mentor" fellow Commissioner Carla J. Peterman in coming up with a proposed decision. What's more, Cherry wrote, Florio ‘even volunteered to do an alternate [decision] if we didn't like Carla's decision.’"


Longtime public servant Jeannie Oropeza has been named to head HR for the California Senate.  Oropeza will replace Dina Hidalgo who resigned earlier this year in the wake of a scandal that began when her son, Gerardo Lopez, a sergeant-at-arms for the senate, tested positive for cocaine after killing a man in an off-duty shooting.


The University of California blew its own deadline to provide a report to the legislature detailing its expenses.  The report was originally due on October 1, but UC received a six week extension – which expired December 11.  Samantha Gallegos has the story at Capitol Weekly.


Finance Department spokesman H.D. Palmer said the Brown administration “hopes and expects” to receive the report this week. The Department of Finance (DoF) writes the administration’s budget proposals.


“UC spokesperson Dianne Klein didn’t say whether the report would be completed this week, but said the university is ‘in close contact with DoF and we’re all on the same page …  we’re doing it as quickly as we can, and of course accuracy is key here.’”


The California Environmental Quality Act is often cited by business leaders as one of the laws that makes California unfriendly to business.  Lisa Halverstadt looks at the landmark law and examines that claim for the Voice of San Diego.


The California Environmental Quality Act, signed by then-Gov. Ronald Reagan in 1970, cuts at the two elements most crucial to business owners’ plans: when a project will be ready to go and how much it’ll cost.


“Those uncertainties trickle down to other businesses in the form of higher rents and capital expenses, and according to some experts, are a major contributor to the lack of affordable housing in the state…


“Local officials weigh in on whether area project will significantly impact its surroundings and what could be done to address those impacts.


“But deciding whether a developer has complied with CEQA is highly subjective. Californians, not state officials, enforce the law. Anyone can sue over a project they don’t think is following it – which means anyone could potentially use the law to gain leverage over an opponent.”


Meanwhile, the Yurok Tribe is using the law limiting California’s carbon emissions to its economic advantage, selling carbon credits it earns from its unharvested forestsTony Barboza has the story at the Los Angeles Times.


“Instead of preparing to sell lumber, as it has in the past, the state's largest Indian tribe is taking stock of its firs, redwoods and tanoaks to make money in California's cap-and-trade program.


“By managing its forest near Redwood National Park for carbon storage instead of timber harvest, the tribe is generating credits to sell to oil companies and other businesses that must reduce greenhouse gas emissions as part of the state's effort to slow climate change.”


And, as President Barack Obama prepares to end the five decade embargo on Cuba (!) we thought it would be a good time to look at 10 Things You Might Not Know About the Cuban Missile Crisis.  The best one? Number 10:


“President Kennedy, satisfied with Soviet assurances that all nuclear weapons had been removed, lifted the Cuban blockade on November 20, 1962. Recently unearthed Soviet documents have revealed, however, that while Khrushchev dismantled the medium- and intermediate-range missiles known to the Kennedy administration, he left approximately 100 tactical nuclear weapons—of which the Americans were unaware for decades—for possible use in repelling invading forces.”