Those red-light cameras so despised by drivers and so beloved by cash-hungry local governments generate a lot more money than one would think. At $480 a pop, one camera alone in Oakland nailed motorists to the tune of $3 million worth of tickets a year. But one person has had enough: Retiree Roger Jones is on a crusade to get rid of them.
From Kevin Fagan in the Chronicle: "Anyone in California snapped violating a red light pays a fine of $480, and according to the traffic-watch site TheNewspaper.com, no other jurisdiction anywhere has a tab that high. The second-highest fine in the United States is $250, and it is usually more like $100... "Is there a limit to how much 'gotcha government' we have to put up with?" asked Jones, 62, a retired distribution manager who began crusading against red-light cameras after he got a ticket from one in 2009. "Just because you can do it doesn't mean you should."
"His newly formed organization, the Red Light Camera Protest Group, picketed at Mowry Avenue and Fremont Boulevard in Fremont on Saturday, waving signs to approving honks from several motorists. It was their first protest, and the two dozen who participated plan more in the coming months - all calling for the elimination of red-light cameras and a reduction in the fine."
California congressional seats are likely to experience their biggest political turnover in 20 years as the combination of new political districts and the new primary selection system takes hold. The Santa Cruz Sentinel's Jessica Philipps has the story.
"Six California representatives with a combined 133 years of seniority have already announced their retirement. Another nine incumbents are regarded as vulnerable."
"The changes mean California's congressional delegation, the nation's largest, is likely to experience the biggest turnover in at least two decades...With such a large number of competitive seats, California will play a critical role in determining whether Republicans retain their majority in the House."
Speaking of changes, California's proposed bullet-train, denounced by critics -- especially Republicans -- for its financing and scope, may be getting a recalibration.
From the LA Times' George Skelton: "Gov. Jerry Brown, the bullet train's most enthusiastic supporter, hinted at the changes in an interview with KABC-TV in Los Angeles on Jan. 29. Calling the nearly $100-billion tag "silly," he insisted: "That's way off…. It's going to be a lot cheaper." We'll be anxiously awaiting the governor's new figure. It could be unveiled along with the project's redesign in a few weeks.
"So far, only about $13 billion in financing has been identified: roughly $9.5 billion in state bond authorization and $3.3 billion in federal grants."
California is back at the negotiating table over a multi-state settlement with the nation's largest mortgage servicers stemming from practices that occurred during the economic meltdown. The LAT's Alejandro Lazo has the story.
"For months, Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris has not been involved in direct talks with the banks, walking out on negotiations last year. As recently as two weeks ago she called the potential $25-billion settlement inadequate for California. Winning the Golden State's support of a settlement would strengthen it considerably, given the shear size of the state's mortgage market."
“For the past 13 months we have been working for a resolution that brings real relief to the hardest-hit homeowners, is transparent about who benefits, and will ensure accountability,” Harris said in a statement Sunday night. “We are closer now than we’ve been before but we’re not there yet.”
Los Angeles developer Rick Caruso is leaving the Republican Party and becoming a decline-to-state as he ponders a run for mayor in city that is overwhelmingly Democratic and has elected only one GOP mayor -- Richard Riordan -- in the past four decades.
From the LA Daily News' Rick Orlov: "Caruso is under no pressure to make an immediate announcement for mayor since he would finance his own campaign. Other candidates have to announce their decisions earlier because of fundraising and reporting deadlines."
"Caruso also has one other major effort on his mind these days: buying the Dodgers. He has partnered with the team's former general manager, Joe Torre, to form a group that is considered among the leading bidders to purchase the team from Frank McCourt."
And finally, from the "Great Quotes in the Flicks" file comes the American Film Institute's ranking of the greatest 100 quotes in a century of films. Our own favorite is from Casablanca -- "Louie, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship" -- but you take your pick. And the No. 1 quote? Well, frankly we don't give a damn, but read on ....