"Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the four top legislative leaders met Tuesday, but made no apparent headway on a compromise to reduce the ranks of the 6.5 million Californians without health care insurance
," writes Aurelio Rojas in the Bee.
"Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez
, D-Los Angeles, described the one-hour meeting as productive but acknowledged Republican lawmakers remain adamantly opposed to any plan that would raise fees.
"'They're unequivocally against a fee whether it's beneficial to hospitals or not
,' Núñez said after emerging from the meeting in the governor's office with Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata
, D-Oakland, and the two Republican leaders, state Sen. Dick Ackerman
and Assemblyman Mike Villines
"Schwarzenegger has proposed charging hospitals 4 percent of revenue and doctors 2 percent to help pay for his plan. He also would require employers to spend at least 4 percent of their payroll on health care and require all Californians to obtain minimum coverage.
"Any plan would have to be approved before the Legislature adjourns Sept. 14. The governor could call a special session, but Perata maintains that would be pointless because of residual acrimony from the 52-day state budget stalemate that ended last week.
Meanwhile, a "record 6.8 million Californians, nearly 1 in 5 of the state's residents, went without health insurance at some time during 2006
, according to figures released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau," report Tom Chorneau and Christopher Heredia in the Chron.
"Nationally, a record 47 million Americans, including 8.7 million children, lacked health coverage, the report said.
"The survey comes as elected officials in cities, at the state Capitol and in Washington grapple with the growing problems of uninsured residents and the rising cost of care."
Dan Walters is not optimistic that the effort to reform the system will be successful
. "With so many billions of dollars at stake, the myriad 'stakeholders' have muscled up to protect their interests. It is, in brief, very uncertain whether it's possible for Schwarzenegger and lawmakers to fashion something that could make it through the political minefield and the inevitable judicial and perhaps ballot challenges that would follow -- and not become the debacle that energy deregulation became after being drafted in the declining days of the 1996 session and enacted with little thought to its potential risks.
"That uncertainty is mirrored in the new Field Poll, which found that just 36 percent of voters believe that the politicians are likely to succeed on health care."
"A top California corrections official told a legislative hearing Tuesday that the prison system will fill its critical staff shortages within 18 months, but that prediction was met with derision by the president of the state correctional officers' union," reports Andy Furillo in the Bee.
, the chief lobbyist for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, said an aggressive recruiting program that will include outsourcing some of its background investigations will help fill the 3,200 vacancies in a rank-and-file force slotted for 31,000 jobs.
"'I think we've done a lot in the area of recruitment and hiring,' Hayhoe said. 'Do we have more work to do? Absolutely. I'd be wrong to say there isn't a lot more very, very hard work to do. But we are very dedicated to seeing this done.'
"Other witnesses at the informational hearing conducted by the Assembly Public Safety Committee did not share Hayhoe's optimism.
"Prison medical czar Robert Sillen
, in fact, said the backlog of potential recruits who still haven't undergone background checks is getting bigger. Democratic and Republican members of the panel said the state needs to settle its contract with the California Correctional Peace Officers Association as a precursor to hiring the people it needs. And California Correctional Peace Officers Association President Mike Jimenez
worried that the prison agency is dropping its standards to knock down its 10.3 percent vacancy rate.
"Jimenez, for one, scoffed at Hayhoe's prediction of filling the staffing holes.
"'Pigs are more apt to fly in the next 18 months
,' he said."
"Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger cut $30 million for dealing with the effects of Indian gaming when he signed the state budget
Friday, a move intended to help shave $700 million in deficit spending but which has upset some local officials," writes the U-T's Onell Soto.
"Fewer than half of the nearly 60 tribes with casinos contribute to the source of that money, the Indian Gaming Special Distribution Fund.
"About half the money in the fund has been spent in Riverside County. About 10 percent was spent in San Diego County, home to more Indian casinos than any other in the country.
"The fund came under fire from state auditors earlier this year. They said many of the programs and purchases it paid for have little to do with Indian gaming.
"The cuts do not mean the tribes can stop contributing to the fund, or that the money can be spent elsewhere, but the governor can count it as money the state does not spend this fiscal year."
"Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa
and his former adversaries from the Los Angeles Unified School District are expected to announce a partnership today
that will provide the mayor with a scaled-back version of the authority he has sought over city schools," write Duke Helfand and David Zahniser in the Times.
"Villaraigosa and his senior education aides will play a major role in overseeing two of the city's lowest-achieving high schools and the middle and elementary schools that feed them under an agreement with the Board of Education and schools Supt. David L. Brewer
"'I think you'll see a change in the culture of our schools almost immediately,' the mayor said Tuesday of the partnership that would begin to exert its influence over schools in the fall of 2008.
"But Villaraigosa must first win over skeptical teachers and community organizers.
"The president of the Los Angeles teachers union said he wanted two-thirds of the teachers at any school under consideration to agree before joining the mayor's partnership -- a higher threshold than the simple majority required to convert to a charter school, which operates free from many rules."
"Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder Conny McCormack announced Tuesday that she would retire at the end of the year
, saying she was tired of battling state officials over the future of electronic voting machines," Hector Becerra reports
"McCormack, who has served 12 years as the top election official in the largest election jurisdiction in the country, said that Secretary of State Debra Bowen's move this month to pull the plug on the machines used in L.A. County and most of the state clinched her decision.
"'I don't want to preside over the dismantling of voter services that have been successful and accurate,' McCormack said. 'I suppose I do take that personally.'"
Now if this ain't symbolism, we don't know what is: Wonder Bread will no longer be available in San Diego
, reports the U-T's Jennifer Davies. "The iconic brand that helped define the eating habits of the baby-boom generation will no longer be available on shelves in San Diego County.
"Interstate Bakeries Corp., the maker of Wonder Bread and other baked goods, said yesterday it will stop making and selling bread products in Southern California, closing its bakeries in San Diego, Pomona, Glendale and Los Angeles. Other brands that will disappear in the region include Home Pride Bread, Baker's Inn and Roman Meal.
And from our Burning Man bureau, The climax of the annual Burning Man bacchanalia in a Nevada desert was scheduled for Saturday, when the 40,000-plus attendees were to gather around the 40-foot-high man-statue and watch him burn.
"Instead, the effigy went up in flames four days prematurely early Tuesday, and a San Francisco resident faces felony arson and destruction-of-property charges in connection with the crime of burning Burning Man too early
Police have a suspect in custody, and from the looks of things,
he's not all that upset.
"Someone went to a great extent to interfere with everyone else's burn. I think, frankly, an attention whore has made a plea for attention," said a Burning Man volunteer who goes by the name Ranger Sasquatch