Mar 11, 2013

The foes of the California Environmental Quality Act includes developers, municipalities, land owners, the governor and assorted lawmakers in both parties.  Their common refrain? That CEQA needs to be "modernized."


From the LAT's George Skelton: "Hill wants to return CEQA to what it originally was: a check on environmental degradation. It gradually veered out of control as various interests learned to use the landmark law for their own non-environmental agendas."


"It became, too often, a tool of business rivals trying to block competition, NIMBYs ("not in my back yard") attempting to thwart local projects and unions strong-arming developers for labor concessions."


"Meanwhile, project delays dragged on for years, money was wasted on consultants and lawyers, and California burnished its reputation as a lousy place to do business."


The governor's plan for putting more money into public education leaves one group out in the cold -- foster children.


From EdSource's Maya Cooper: "Governor Jerry Brown’s new funding formula for education threatens to leave more than 40,000 school-age foster children in California without the essential support they need to succeed in school."

"The governor’s proposed budget eliminates 47 of 62 “categorical” education programs, including California’s Foster Youth Services program. Local Foster Youth Services programs operate primarily through county offices of education to better coordinate with the other county agencies serving foster children. These programs work with current and former foster youth as well as school, juvenile detention, child welfare, probation department and community services agency staff to help foster youth succeed in school. Services include tutoring and mentoring, educational advocacy, data sharing, coordination, transition planning and much more."


"Under the governor’s current budget proposal, school districts and county offices of education will be funded through a “Local Control Funding Formula” that will provide a base amount per pupil and a supplemental amount for students who are English learners, low-income or in foster care. The proposal is intended to give local education agencies increased control over how to spend their funds while holding them accountable, in theory, for the academic progress of these educationally underserved groups."


Speaking of being left out in the cold, that may be what happens to Sacramento with the Kings, an NBA team that appears to be getting ready to head north from Sacramento, where it's been for nearly three decades.


From the AP's Antonio Gonazlez: "NBA commissioner David Stern said Friday night the counteroffer to keep the Sacramento Kings from moving to Seattle needs to be increased financially before the league's owners would even consider the bid."


"Speaking to reporters before the Golden State Warriors hosted the Houston Rockets, Stern said the Sacramento group's offer has some "very strong financial people behind it but it is not quite there in terms of a comparison to the Seattle bid." He added that "unless it increases, it doesn't get to the state of consideration."


"The league has scheduled a meeting April 3 in New York to avoid rushing debate on the issue. Representatives from Sacramento and Seattle will have a chance to present their case at that meeting, Stern said."


With all the talk about public-pension reform, the question arises: Will the changes that have been made eventually result in sustainable pensions over time?


From Calpensions' Ed Mendel: "A nationwide study, including CalPERS and CalSTRS, projects that huge pension fund losses during the financial crisis will be offset over three decades by a wave of recently enacted cost-cutting reforms — but only if several things happen."

"Pension fund earnings forecasts must hit their target. Critics say the forecasts, 7.5 percent a year for the two California funds, are overly optimistic and conceal massive debt."


"Government employers must make their actuarially required contribution to the pension fund each year. CalPERS has the power to demand full payment. CalSTRS contributions, frozen by legislation, are $4.5 billion a year short of the required amount."


The latest version of "House of Cards," a Netflix proferring, may be a pale version of the original BBC production with Ian Richardson, but that doesn't stop politicos from getting obsessed with the series.


From the Chronicle's Carla Marinucci and Wyatt Buchanan: "There are the old standbys of sex, money and power in politics. But lately there's a new addiction in the halls of power: a video series - fictional, of course - that stars power-hungry politicians, unethical journalists and a wily political insider who always seems to get what he wants."


"Netflix's "House of Cards," which stars Kevin Spacey as fictional Democratic House Majority Whip Francis "Frank" Underwood and Robin Wright as his wife, Claire, has managed to get Democrats and Republicans in Sacramento and Washington to sequester themselves - just to watch the series."


"Spacey's Machiavellian character "has his hands on every secret in politics - and is willing to betray them all to become president," according to the series' creators."