As the scandal surrounding Democratic fiscal agent Kinde Durkee intensifies and reporters cast an ever-wider net to dig into her operations, an apparent anomaly emerges: Despite the major sums of money she was accustomed to handling, her personal lifestyle was modest and unpretentious.
From the LAT's John Hoeffel, Patrick McGreevy and Jean Merl: "The 1950-vintage house she owns with her husband on a tidy street in Long Beach's Bixby Knolls is distinguished by its neglect. The lawn is sparse and browning, the house is a weathered yellow, the paint on the door is alligatored, the lock is rusty, and the doorbell button is missing. The squat brick office they bought for Durkee & Associates in an industrial area of Burbank has an unfinished particleboard back wall and sits between a body shop and a used-boat emporium."
"Before being arrested last month for allegedly filing false reports to cloak an embezzlement scheme, Durkee drove an 11-year-old Dodge pickup to work. Recently, the heavyset, tousle-haired 58-year-old clambered into a 13-year-old Chevy Blazer to escape from a television crew — but was trapped on camera while the engine strained to catch. The other car in her driveway that day was a 16-year-old Audi."
The sea bass, a popular fish for California's summer anglers, is dwindling dramatically off the coast, down 90 percent in fact since 1980.
From Tony Barboza in the LA Times: "As reliably as masses of sea bass gather off the Southern California coast each summer, boatloads of anglers arrive to reel them in."
"But their bountiful catches are an illusion, scientists say."
The populations of kelp bass and barred sand bass, two of the most popular — and easy to catch — saltwater fishes in Southern California, have plummeted 90% since 1980, according to a study led by a researcher at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego."
California may represent the epitome of a car-happy culture, but drivers in the Golden State have reached a new level: They lead the nation in using less gasoline.
From Ronald D. White in the LAT: "In the first six months of this year, Californians used nearly 7.3 billion gallons of gasoline, down 1.7% from the same period last year and off 3.5% from the first half of 2002."
"In California, the freeways are so crowded that it's probably not a noticeable difference, but it's real and it's important," said Michael Sivak, a research professor at the University of Michigan's Transportation Research Institute."
"What's more, the state has been lowering consumption even as it's been adding drivers. The nation's most populous state had 23.8 million licensed drivers at the beginning of this year. That's 1.8 million, or 8.3%, more people behind the wheel since 2002."
As governments grapple with the soaring costs of public pensions, the model for teachers may offer a template for other parts of public employment. Teachers' pensions are handled differently.
From CalPensions' Ed Mendel: "Teachers and non-teaching school employees in California are in unions that do not bargain pensions. Instead, their pensions are in big statewide pools that have some of the lowest costs for employers and some of the lowest pension formulas for retirees."
"Bargaining for pensions is used extensively only in California and a few other states. One of the first pension reform proposals to include ending bargaining came last month in Rhode Island, where bankrupt Central Falls is drawing national attention."
Gov. Brown signed legislation over the weekend that would bar local governments from banning male circumcision, an issue that arose following a ballot proposal in San Francisco. The LAT's Anthony York has the story.
"The bill, by Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Silver Lake), was drafted in response to a proposed San Francisco ballot measure that would have prohibited any foreskin cutting that was not deemed medically necessary in that city. That proposed ordinance was struck from the ballot by a Superior Court judge in June, amid protests from doctors and religious groups. A similar measure was proposed in Santa Monica but was later pulled back by proponents."
Gatto said his measure, signed Sunday, would "protect parental rights and liberties."