A renegade group of judges chafing at the centralized authority of the Judicial Council -- the administrative arm of the courts -- won a significant victory in the Assembly when legislation to give the locals power over their budgets was approved. The action was the culmination of years of infighting. Next stop is the Senate.
From Patrick McGreevy in the Los Angeles Times: "The measure by Assemblyman Charles Calderon (D-Whittier) would give local trial courts power to decide how to spend their share of funding to pay for court operations. Calderon said his measure is needed because some courtrooms have had to close in the face of budget cuts imposed by the Judicial Council at the same time that the panel diverted more than $70 million to a problem-plagued computer modernization program that has gone over budget."
"That $70 million would have been enough to keep the courts open, but the courts shut down," Calderon said during a long floor debate before the Assembly voted 41 to 23 to approve the bill."
The $11.14 billion water bond on the November ballot has been targeted for a downsizing for months, as a weak economy and tax-raising measures aimed at the same ballot are raising fears about voters' desire to approve new revenue. At a water conference, state Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg said cuts in the proposal were likely.
From Kimberly Ayers at KQED's Climate Watch: "Steinberg conceded that most think the bond is “too large,” and critics say it’s overladen with pork. “I can accept that but one person’s pork is another person’s regional water solution,” Steinberg told the gathering. “We’re not going to be able to sell an $11 billion bond to voters during a very precarious period of economic recovery.” The alternative numbers he gently lobbed were in the range of seven-to-ten billion dollars."
"A nationwide poll commissioned by water technology firm Xylem, Inc., showed — as of 18 months ago — water users were up for spending 11% more a month to upgrade their water systems."
The board of supervisors in the state's largest state violated California's open-meeting law when they met privately with Gov. Brown to discuss inmate transfers under his realignment proposal, according to the district attorney's office.
From the LAT's Jason Song: "Attorneys for the Board of Supervisors had claimed the secret meeting was necessary because the state's so-called "realignment" plan constituted a potential threat to public services. But in a letter dated Jan. 24, Jennifer Lentz Snyder, assistant head deputy district attorney, said the meeting should have been held in open because the information discussed did not pose a specific enough public threat."
"The closed session was simply not permissible under the law," wrote Lentz Snyder. The district attorney's office did not recommend any punishment, saying similar meetings in the future seemed unlikely."
The California Teachers Association, a powerful political player with deep-pockets for campaign spending, is officially backing Gov. Brown's plan to raise taxes on the wealthy and establish a temporary statewide sales tax, which together would bring in about $7 billion annually. The Bee's Jim Sanders tells the tale.
"The Democratic governor now has support from the state's two most powerful public employee unions, the CTA and the Service Employees International Union State Council. The SEIU has not made its support public, but CTA President Dean E. Vogel told his members on Saturday that the "SEIU State Council has already taken a support position," according to a text of his speech."
Without a new kidney, a man will die. But he is a father and an illegal immigrant, and a dispute has arisen over whether he should revceive the life-saving care.
From Hannah Dreier in the Mercury News: "The Oakland man has a willing donor and private insurance to pay for the transplant. But he faces what may be an insurmountable hurdle in the race to save his life: He is an illegal immigrant. Administrators at UC San Francisco Medical Center are refusing to transplant a kidney from Navarro's wife, saying there is no guarantee he will receive adequate follow-up care, given his uncertain status."
State Sen. Alex Padilla says the governor's office should take control of the secretary of state's campaign finance database because of multiple problems with the system that tracks political donations and lobbying payments.
From the LAT's Nicolas Riccardi: "Padilla pointed out that the Cal-Access database -- based on creaky, decade-old code that predated Facebook -- crashed in late November, also taking down the state's voter registration database, CalVoter."
"That prevented local election officials from registering new voters or verifying signatures on petitions to place questions on the 2012 ballot."
And from our "Loving Couples" file comes the tale of the New York music mogul who left a big piece of his fortune to his doorman and his chauffeur. Zip for the wife, however.
"Meltzer, 67, the colorful former head of the New York-based Wind-Up Records and a celebrity high-stakes poker player, died on Halloween, about a year after he and his wife, Diana, divorced after at least 13 years together and no kids."
"The split denied his ex at least a guaranteed 33 percent of his estate. Not that she was mourning the loss of the money — or the man ..."
"If he wants to give it to the bums, he can give it to the bums. He could f--k a nun. I couldn’t give a s--t. He can give his money to whoever he wants. We’re divorced. The man is dead.”