Poor children are getting their state subsistence payments cut in order to make up for issues involving their parents -- a practice that the state Senate leader says needs to be fixed immediately.
From the Chronicle's Marisa Lagos: "In November, a public-interest law firm sued the state Department of Social Services in Alameda County Superior Court on behalf of Irene and another CalWORKS recipient, charging that the practice of going after children for welfare money mistakenly overpaid to their parents in years past violates California law."
"They are part of a growing chorus of critics, including state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, who said he will pursue legislation to reverse the practice if the state won't do it on its own."
"It needs to be fixed, and it needs to be fixed right away," said Steinberg, who sent a letter to Gov. Jerry Brown on Dec. 2 asking him to immediately order the department to "cease these egregious and unfair practices."
"Steinberg's involvement may have helped: In a Dec. 12 letter back to the senator on behalf of Brown, the state's secretary of Health and Human Services, Diana Dooley, wrote that she and social services director Will Lightbourne are "committed to ... ending the collections from adult children who should not be liable for the debts of their parents."
California's new booster seat law, which requires youngsters to use the safety seats until they are eight years old or 4-foot-9, has only been in effect since Sunday and it already is drawing mixed reviews.
From the Press-Democrat's Derek Moore: "If a child turns 8 and still has not reached that height, the CHP recommends that they continue to use a booster for safety reasons, although that's not required under the new law."
"Casey Wroblewski of Sonoma said he has “mixed feelings” about the new law. He said he supports the goal of improving safety. But he said it will be a challenge getting his boys, now 3 and 2, to use the seats."
“It depends on what kid you have that day,” he said, referencing a child's ever-changing moods. He also expressed concerns about cost, saying he has six car seats installed in the three vehicles he uses to haul his boys around town."
Switching new hires to cheaper pension plans -- a common element of proposals to overhaul the public pension system -- may actually wind up costing more money. CalPensions' Ed Mendel tells the tale.
"To replace the cash from new hires the old plans would have to switch some investments to yield cash not capital gains, lowering expected earnings. And a lower earnings forecast can increase employer contributions to the old plans and long-term debt."
"The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office review of two versions of an initiative proposed by California Pension Reform, led by Dan Pellissier, said putting new state and local government hires in cheaper retirement plans could trigger major costs."
"The analyst said an initiative giving new hires 401(k)-style investment plans could increase employer costs for two or three decades by “up to several billion dollars more per year (in current dollars) to cover pension costs of current and past employees.”
"Over a similar period, the analyst said an initiative giving new hires a “hybrid” retirement plan combining a smaller pension with a 401(k)-style plan could cost employers “$1 billion more per year (in current dollars).”
Here's a way for a local government to save money, courtesy of Los Angeles: Don't pay such things as unused sick time, wage hikes, overtime pay, etc., even though all had been agreed upon in negotiations between the officials and the unions. Then let the next mayor and council worry about it.
From the LAT's David Zahniser: "Working in sync with the City Council, Villaraigosa has delayed paying for such obligations as police overtime, unused sick time, contractually agreed-upon wage hikes and an early retirement program that gave 2,400 employees full pensions five years ahead of schedule."
"The next mayor, and possibly the one after that, will inherit the tab. And, as a result of another mayoral initiative, there could be less City Hall cash at that point to pay the bills, because Villaraigosa also wants to eliminate a business tax that generates $439 million annually."
"Villaraigosa has portrayed his budget decisions as prudent, preserving crucial services in the midst of a major fiscal crisis. Matt Szabo, Villaraigosa's deputy chief of staff and in-house budget advisor, told The Times that his boss fully intends to "hand to his successors a city in the black."
"But even some of Villaraigosa's allies are questioning whether the public has been misled about the health of the city's finances."
And now from our "Amazing Tales" file comes the story of a woman who was raped when she was a teen-ager, got pregnant and then later gave up the baby girl for adoption, and was reunited with her daughter after 77 years.
"On July 2, the phone rang."
"It was a man from Alabama. He started asking Disbrow, then 94, about her background."
"Worried about identity theft, Disbrow cut him off, and peppered him with questions."
"Then, the man asked if she'd like to speak with Betty Jane."
"Her name was now Ruth Lee. She had been raised by a Norwegian pastor and his wife and had gone on to marry and have six children including the Alabama man, a teacher and astronaut Mark Lee, a veteran of four space flights who has circled the world 517 times. She worked for nearly 20 years at Walmart — and especially enjoyed tending to the garden area."