"Four years ago, barely three dozen California state workers earned a base salary of more than $200,000
. Today, as the state faces a fiscal crisis, close to 1,000 state workers make that much
," reports the Bee's Phillip Reese.
"Those and other large raises, many the result of lawsuits against the prison health care system
, have cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars. They contrast starkly with the more modest raises of most rank-and-file state employees – and most private workers, according to a Bee analysis of data from the state Controller's Office that can be viewed at www.sacbee.com/statepay.
"'This kind of growth in salaries is coming at a time when the state should be looking at ways to economize
,' said David Kline
, communications director for the California Taxpayers Association, noting the state's projected $8 billion deficit between now and June 2009.
"At the top are investment gurus at the state's retirement funds, prison doctors and administrators. At the bottom are janitors, typists and a variety of assistants."
"California's landmark legislation to fight global warming has been on the books for more than a year, but it still lacks stable, long-term funding to help meet its ambitious goal
to limit greenhouse gas emissions," reports the Chron's Matthew Yi.
"While passing AB32 was a major coup for Schwarzenegger and the Democrats who backed it, figuring out how to meet the measure's goals remains a daunting task.
"Deciding who will pay for administering the new programs and regulations could prove to be especially difficult with the state's softening economy, which has helped push California to a looming $8 billion budget deficit in the next fiscal year.
"Schwarzenegger wants to temporarily pay for AB32 by borrowing from the state's recycling fund, which receives money from fees collected from the sale of beverage cans and bottles. The fund is supposed to be used to repay consumers who recycle those bottles and cans
"Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger received nearly $14,000 in gifts last year
, including wine, cigars, candy, T-shirts, a dog tethering kit and a $325 crystal eagle head from the president of France," reports the AP's Steve Lawrence.
"Missing from the financial disclosure statement the governor released Monday were trips to Canada and Europe that were paid for by a non-profit organization headed by two of California's most influential business leaders.
"Gifts to Schwarzenegger included chocolates from actor Tom Arnold
, cigars from Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff
, a food basket from actors Danny DeVito
and Rhea Perlman
, a clock from actor Clint Eastwood
, a deli sandwich kit from former Los Angeles Mayor Dick Riordan
and a sculpture from real estate investor Sam Zell
, who recently bought the Los Angeles Times and other newspapers."
Deli sandwich kit?
Meanwhile, Ross Johnson
wants to close the non-profit loophole.
"Fair Political Practices Commission chairman Ross Johnson proposed a rule Monday to prevent elected officials from hiding lavish trips financed by companies and nonprofits
by routing the money through their government employers," reports Kevin Yamamura in the Bee.
"Johnson's regulation would require state and local leaders to accept travel gifts directly and claim them annually on their gift statements, enabling the public to see who paid for all their trips.
"Elected officials are allowed to accept unlimited travel gifts if related to a legislative or governmental purpose. Many leaders, including Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, have used public agencies as the recipient without claiming the gifts on their personal disclosure records, making it more difficult to determine the extent of such contributions.
"'We don't want to see these (agencies) used as a means of disguising or concealing gifts,' said Johnson, a former longtime GOP state legislator. 'We want gifts to be treated in such a way that it's clear when a personal benefit is conferred on an elected official or high-ranking official.'"
"State officials said Monday that a plan touted by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to aid troubled homeowners helped more than 17,000 struggling borrowers in December and January
," reports the Bee's Jim Wasserman.
"But it's unclear how significant Schwarzenegger's plan, announced Nov. 20, has been. Throughout last year, many lenders already were attempting to work out deals with troubled borrowers, and in October and November alone more than 19,000 were helped.
"State Department of Corporations Commissioner Preston DuFauchard
said lower interest rates that occurred after the agreement went into effect reduced the number of people with adjustable rate mortgages eligible for easier, streamlined help. He said that has allowed the lenders to concentrate on "harder" borrowers who have already fallen a few months behind on their payments."
"All indications are that Sen. Tom McClintock
, will declare today he is running for the 4th Congressional District seat
being vacated by Rep. John Doolittle," reports Peter Hecht in the Bee.
"McClintock spokesman Stan Devereux confirmed that McClintock, R-Thousand Oaks, will announce his decision on the race in front of the historic Placer County Courthouse in Auburn
"What is less clear is whether former state lawmaker Rico Oller
is poised to get out.
"A top Placer GOP official said Monday that Oller is telling supporters he doesn't want to stay in the race if it means dividing the conservative field in the Republican primary."
Translate that one any way you want.
"Oller announced he would run for the seat soon after Doolittle announced that he would retire at the end of his current term.
"Former Rep. Doug Ose
, who served three terms in the Sacramento-area 3rd District, later entered the race and was endorsed by key regional officials, including all five members of the Placer County Board of Supervisors."
"Vallejo's City Council was poised Monday night to approve a deal with its police and fire unions to keep the cash-strapped city solvent
at least temporarily, officials said," writes Carolyn Jones in the Chron.
"The agreement, which was struck last week hours before the council was to vote on declaring bankruptcy, would give the city about six weeks to come up with a longer-term solution to its financial morass.
"Members of the police and fire unions are voting on the agreement this week.
"The deal immediately slashes police and fire salaries by 6.5 percent and cancels a 1.5 percent raise that union members have been owed since July. It also closes two firehouses and defers half of the $3.5 million buyout packages owed to the 21 police officers and firefighters who have retired since news of the city's dire financial situation first erupted last month.
"The deal would save the city about $6 million, enough for the city to pay its bills through the fiscal year, which ends June 30. The city needs to have a long-term financial plan ready by April 22 to meet its deadlines to approve a balanced budget for the next fiscal year on July 1."
Meanwhile Dan Walters reports that UC students are marching in the street
, and, in other news, it's not a great time for UC to be looking for a new system president
"Record numbers of California teenagers are saying "no thanks, maybe later" to what once was a rite of passage – scoring a driver's license
," writes Tony Bizjak in the Bee.
"Instead of jetting down to the DMV once they turn 16, most teens are content to ride shotgun with their parents a little longer, according to a Bee analysis of statewide license data.
"The movement away from early driving is backed by a generation of self-acknowledged "chauffeur parents" who say they can keep a better eye on their kids by ferrying them from school to study dates and to the mall and movies.
"It's not that teenagers have lost the desire for freedom that comes with that first set of wheels, young drivers said.
"It may instead be a reflection of growing concerns about economics and the risks of early teen driving."
And $3 gas probably has something to do with it.
And from our Where a Kid Can Be A Kid Files
, "A child's birthday party at a Chuck E. Cheese restaurant was cut short after a fight broke out between two mothers
. Police said the mom of the 9-year-old birthday boy apparently became enraged because the other woman's son was "hogging" an arcade game