The state is going after Orange County in a lawsuit for $73 million, contending that the tax money was grabbed illegally last year as the strapped county sought to meet its debts. There's a Keystone Kops quality to the O.C.'s financial dealings, and the Voice of OC's Norberto Santana takes a look.
"Back when the county financed its billion-dollar bankruptcy in 1995, state officials allowed them to send a portion of their vehicle license fees directly to bond holders. But in 2007 when the county refinanced that debt, the intercept – and its legislative authorization – was detached. Despite warnings that the legislative authorization needed to be quickly reestablished, county legislative leaders went silent. The VLF intercept, as its known, was never addressed in any subsequent county legislative platform. And the county’s lobbyist, Platinum Advisors, also didn’t address the issue.
"Last year, Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget staff found the gaff and took back the money spurring an intense reaction from county leaders. State Assemblyman Jose Solorio sponsored last minute legislation but it failed to make it through both houses of the Legislature."
California is showing a mixed bag on climate change, but there is good news, as it relates to water development: The state has done a good job preparing for the impacts of greenhouse gases. So sayeth the Natural Resources Defense Council.
From Jeremy Miller in KQED's Climate Watch: "In spite of California’s high susceptibility to shifts in climate, the NRDC found California to be one of the most proactive states in the country at factoring climate change into water planning and policy. According to Ben Chou, a NRDC water policy analyst, California earned high marks for its aggressive efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions and for its development of a statewide climate preparedness plan."
“The best-performing states [in the study] have taken a comprehensive approach and are trying to address each one of these challenges,” said Steve Fleischli, an NRDC attorney. “Some of the worst-performing states have measures to address water conservation. They just don’t put it in the context of a changing climate.”
"But just because a state has written climate change into its water planning doesn’t mean it is necessarily prepared for disturbances that can result from, say, a serious flood or drought. “States like California might have very comprehensive plans but the rubber meets the road with implementation,” Fleischli said."
Speaking of O.C., Chris Norby's stay in a Fullerton motel a few years ago -- he said it was to study the homeless -- didn't violate the state's ethics laws, the state's political watchdog says.
From the Register's Brian Joseph: "The state Fair Political Practices Commission ruled in Assemblyman Chris Norby‘s favor Thursday, declaring that his well-publicized stay at a cut-rate motel in Fullerton was indeed for homeless study and not due to marital troubles."
"Administrative Law Judge Ralph B. Dash came to that conclusion following a December hearing in Los Angeles. The commission’s Enforcement Division, however, had urged the five-member panel to reject Dash’s decision and rule that Norby has used campaign funds for personal use."
"In August 2007, when Norby was a county supervisor, he directed his campaign to reimburse him $340 for the cost of staying at the Fullerton Inn. At the time, Norby was having marital problems with his third wife, Marsha. (They divorced later in 2007; Norby married his current wife, Martha, in 2009.)"
The high-rollers in the Silicon Valley are happy with a new law signed by President Obama -- a law crafted by Republicans, by the way -- that loosens securities regulations and makes it easier for dot.com companies to raise money from the public.
From the Chronicle's Carolyn Lochhead: "Too easy, warned the president's chief of securities law enforcement, several leading academics, the chief investment officer of the giant California Public Employees' Retirement System, and others who said that the legislation will expose investors to infomercial and Internet swindlers."
"Critics said the new law, dubbed the "Jump-start Our Business Startups" or JOBS Act, could reduce financial transparency and applies so broadly that billion-dollar companies, and potentially much larger corporations, could face less-restrictive disclosure and auditing rules."
"But the law is a big hit in Silicon Valley, where initial public offerings and venture capital have grown scarce during the recession. Many companies believe the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley securities law overhaul, passed in the aftermath of accounting scandals at bankrupt Enron and WorldCom, have made going public too costly for any but the largest companies."
And from our voluminous "Deutschland" file comes the tale of the three male university students who are offering free sex to young women to help them ease their tensions and get better grades. What could possibly go wrong?
"I never expected we would get such a big response," says Christopher. The trio have also received inquiries from students in other German college towns, including Tübingen and Ulm, with interest in opening up their own franchises of Bib:Love."
"Brothel comparisons aside, the Bib:World project is not as wild as one might think. Unusual sexual practices are not catered for, admits Christopher. Bib:Love is confined to that which students like to do on a typical Friday night: meet someone in a bar, spend a night with the student from next door -- foreplay and breakfast the next morning included if desired. Bib:Love is essentially the typical one-night stand, albeit a much better-marketed one."
They may be on to something....