Gov. Brown, the scourge of the locals, now is going after enterprise zones, the system in which businesses get tax breaks for hiring employees in low-income regions. One problem, though, is that it's hard to find out exactly who's getting the tax breaks.
From the LAT's Marc Lifsher: "At issue are enterprise zones, which were established to boost employment in disadvantaged urban neighborhoods and rural areas. California is home to 40 of these special districts, in which about 35,000 companies have qualified for tax credits. Last year they reaped an estimated $700 million in credits — a figure that state tax officials project will grow to $1 billion by 2016."
"Giants FedEx Corp. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. have availed themselves of these incentives, which are worth as much as $37,400 for each hire. So have small businesses, including two Sacramento strip clubs named Gold Club Inc. and Deja Vu Showgirls."
"But the identities of most beneficiaries are a mystery. Because of the confidential nature of state tax laws, it's nearly impossible to find out which companies got credits, how much they were worth and how the companies qualified for them."
Food stamps are intended to help low-income people get the nutrition they need, but many are leery of applying for the stamps because they fear retribution from law enforcement.
From the LA Daily News' Christina Villacorte: "But Brian Tam, CalFresh's management operations chief for the California Department of Social Services, said many fear - wrongly - that applying for the handout would unleash federal immigration agents on their household."
"Many families continue to fear that they will lose their immigration status or have to repay the benefits, or be subject to deportation or ineligibility for U.S. citizenship," Tam said. "This is simply not true."
"U.S. Customs and Immigration Services' L.A. chief of staff, Martha Flores, said undocumented immigrants can and should apply for benefits on behalf of their U.S.-born children without fear of repercussions. "We just want to reiterate: U.S. citizen children are eligible to receive government benefits such as the CalFresh program and other benefits," she said. "That will not have an impact on the future immigration status of their parents."
Apple has taken heat lately for its policies aimed at minimizing its taxes, but in California the huge company plays a critical role in the economy of its home town and the state.
From HealthyCal's Dan Weintraub: "Apple has 16,000 full-time employees in Cupertino, accounting for a remarkable 40 percent of the city’s job base. The company’s payroll in Cupertino has grown by an average of 18 percent per year over the past five years. But even projecting growth at a more conservative 10 percent a year, Apple says it will add another 7,300 local jobs by 2016. That would give the company more than 23,000 workers in Cupertino by the time the new corporate complex is completed."
"Those 16,000 employees in 2012 collectively earned an estimated $2 billion. The company spent another $4.6 billion buying products and services from more than 700 businesses in Cupertino, Santa Clara and Sunnyvale alone."
"It’s no surprise that Apple is the single largest taxpayer to the city of Cupertino, paying an estimated $9.2 million in the current fiscal year, or about 18 percent of the city’s general fund. Apple’s operations last year generated $6.5 million in sales and use taxes for the city, fully 45 percent of Cupertino’s collections – and that’s after accounting for an agreement through which the city rebates to Apple half the sales tax revenue the company generates."
As the economy gathers strength, many are thinking it's time to buy a gun.
From the Bee's Phillip Reese: "Gun sales boomed in Sacramento and across California to record levels last year as horrific mass shootings reignited the gun control debate, new state figures show."
"A growing number of Sacramento-area gun dealers – about 200 and counting – sold a total of 74,000 firearms in 2012, roughly 20,000 more than in the previous year..."
"Statewide, dealers sold almost 150,000 guns in April and May, up about 25 percent from the same months in 2012, Department of Justice figures show. "As long as demand is like this," Lewis said, "I think we are going to be a little bit behind."
The FBI probe into Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, includes subpoenas from federal prosecutors to an LA-area water district with ties to the Calderon family.
From the LAT's Hector Becerra and Richard Winton: "Federal prosecutors have served a subpoena for contracts, emails and other documents from the Central Basin Municipal Water District, which has come under scrutiny amid an FBI probe of state Sen. Ron Calderon."
"Law enforcement sources on Friday confirmed issuing the subpoena, which one district official said included requests for records that include documents related to contracts awarded by the water district, invoices, purchase orders, voicemails and information related to how officials there accepted or rejected bids. The sources spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment publicly."
"It’s unclear whether the subpoena is related to the FBI’s investigation of the senator, but two local city officials and a utility contract told The Times last week that the FBI interviewed them about legislation written by Ron Calderon and about water district consulting contracts held by the lawmaker’s brother Tom."
And finally from our "Justice is Blind" file comes the tale of the man who spent 24 years in prison for a crime and he didn't commit and now is getting hassled by the woman who divorced him when he was behind bars.
"Phillips spent 24 years in prison before DNA tests connected another man to the rapes and prompted the courts to declare Phillips innocent. In 2009, the state awarded him lump sum payments totaling more than $2 million, and a monthly annuity of more than $11,000. In total, his compensation package for the time he spent in prison is worth nearly $6 million, not including health care and education benefits he is also eligible to receive."
"His ex-wife, now Traci Tucker, is arguing that she is entitled to a portion of that money. The two are locked in a legal battle that her lawyers say is the first of its kind in the nation. Tucker sued Phillips, and last year a Dallas County state district judge awarded her about $150,000. “He was a victim of a wrongful justice system, and his family was also,” Tucker said."
"Phillips is appealing the decision, and both sides expect the case to make its way to the Texas Supreme Court, the state’s highest civil court, for a decision on whether former spouses of exonerees are entitled to compensation. It is a question that one legislator who helped write the compensation law said lawmakers had not considered."