A fight over whey is under way, with California's dairy farmers pitted against cheese processors.
From the LAT's Marc Lifsher: "It's not Grade A, homogenized, pasteurized milk that's at issue in the state Capitol. Rather, agriculture lobbyists are focused on the price of whey, a milk byproduct probably best known to consumers who've read the Mother Goose nursery rhyme about little Miss Muffet eating her "curds and whey."
"Once thrown away as waste, whey has become a valuable commodity, left over from processing cheese and then used in hundreds of foods, including baby formula and protein powder. Whey has become a profit center for cheese makers that invest in processing equipment."
"Financially distressed dairy owners want a bigger share of the whey windfall. They're asking lawmakers to overhaul the California Department of Food and Agriculture's complex milk-pricing formula. The pricing scheme is the subject of a department administrative hearing set for Monday. California is the only state with its own pricing plan.
The public may want to curb pension costs, but they have to be careful how they do it: A court ruled that an attempt in Pacific Grove was unconstitutional.
From Calpensions' Ed Mendel: "One of the first local ballot measures aimed at cutting public pension costs, a cap on Pacific Grove payments to CalPERS approved by voters three years ago, was ruled unconstitutional by a Monterey County superior court judge last week."
"Judge Thomas Wills ruled Friday that Measure R violated the contract clause of the state constitution, reaffirming the view that pensions promised on the date of hire are a “vested right” that can’t be cut without providing a new benefit of equal value."
"In a tough week for the measure‘s backers, the Pacific Grove city council voted 5-to-0 Wednesday to seek a court ruling on the legality of a follow-up measure to roll back police pensions, rather than put the plan on the ballot as the council did with Measure R."
The non-partisan Legislative Analyst, who advises the Legislature on all things budgetary, gave Gov. Brown some suggestions on how to spend some $1 billion in tax revenue approved by voters. Brown is standing pat.
From the Kimberly Beltran in the Cabinet Report: "Three months ago the typically reserved nonpartisan Legislative Analyst used especially robust language in calling into question a plan from Gov. Jerry Brown to use new corporate tax revenue to improve energy efficiency at K-12 schools and community colleges."
"Last week, the governor released his revised May budget and the only change Brown made to his vision for how the state should distribute Proposition 39 proceeds was to propose giving small districts a minimum grant award rather than allocating money based on each district’s average daily attendance."
"As a result, Brown faces something of a confrontation with the influential LAO as well as a gaggle of legislative leaders who have bills pending that would enact different regulations for how the $1 billion-a-year new revenues should be used."
The LA mayoral campaign is sputtering to a close, with voters heading to the polls this week in what may be low-turnout finish.
From the LAT's James Rainey and Seema Mehta: "A two-year campaign that has drawn record spending will see either the first woman or the first Jew elected as Los Angeles mayor. But despite those milestones, candidates Wendy Greuel and Eric Garcetti sped around the city Sunday trying to avoid another distinction: drawing the lowest turnout for an open mayoral seat in modern history."
"The two candidates reached out to voters in churches, at a pizza parlor and in a bowling alley on a long day of campaigning — their last extended opportunity to connect directly to voters before Tuesday's election. Both focused particularly on African American voters, who polls show have tended to favor Greuel, the city controller, though many remained undecided."
"In a race in which she has had the financial advantage because of massive expenditures by organized labor, Greuel has been fighting to make up the 4 percentage points she trailed Garcetti by when the two emerged from a March primary to become the finalists for mayor. Greuel still lagged 7 percentage points behind City Councilman Garcetti, 48% to 41%, according to a USC Price/Los Angeles Times poll released Saturday night."
As the state's fire season gets under way, it's a good idea to remember just who is out on the front lines -- state prison inmates.
From The Sun's Beatriz E. Valenzuela and Andrew Edwards: "The men had all the right gear, but their uniforms were not the bright yellow many associate with firefighters. Instead theirs were bright orange, a sign all the men on the crew were state inmates working on the frontline of the wildfire."
"We have a lot of the inmate hand crews up there on that fire," said Venture County fire Capt. Dan Horton at the Springs Fire command post. "They have the training, the fortitude and the strength to do this job. And they do a great job. "
"Cal Fire and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation operate 42 adult and two Division of Juvenile Justice conservation camps that house more than 4,000 inmates, according to corrections officials."
And finally from our bulging "Dumb Crooks" file comes the tale of two young guys in Fresno who accidentally dialed 911 with their cell phone -- as they were doing crimes.
"The call, which went to 911, started like any other call to the police dispatcher, with the operator asking, "What is your emergency?" But when no one answered, the operator didn't hang up, instead staying on the line and listening to the pair, who police identified as Nathan Teklemariam and Carson Rinehart, both 20, as they talked about wanting to do drugs. It wasn't long before the conversation turned to breaking into a car."
"Get the bolt and give me the hammer just in case," one of the two voices on the phone said. Shortly after that statement, the dispatcher heard a window shatter and the people on the phone started yelling that they found prescription drugs."
"As the two were driving away, police were already in the area searching for the men based on clues that the 911 dispatcher was feeding to them."
Just another night in Fresno ...