Special delivery

Mar 14, 2012

It's a little hard to mail in ballots at election time if Post Offices are closing, which is the dilemma facing voters and election officials. In California, some 14 postal processing centers are expected to get whacked to save money. California's elections officer, Debra Bowen, has urged postal officials to hold off, at least until after the election.


The AP's Hannah Dreier tells the tale: "Election officials are concerned that longer delivery times will disenfranchise tens of thousands of absentee voters after the U.S. Postal Service begins closing post offices and mail distribution centers this summer."


"During a joint legislative hearing Tuesday, lawmakers, county registrars and Secretary of State Debra Bowen discussed the possibility of changing California election law so ballots must be merely postmarked by Election Day. Currently, they must be in the hands of election workers by the time polls close to be counted."


"Bowen acknowledged the change could mean the end of same-night election results, with nearly half the California electorate voting absentee."


CalPERS has decided to reclaculate its investment forecast as less optmistic than before, a move that increases the amount of money the state will contribute to the pension fund. 


From the LAT's Marc Lifsher: "The change, if ratified by the full board at its meeting today, would force the state to contribute an additional $303 million a year to CalPERS, with $167 million coming from the general fund."


"With the extra money, the total contribution from the general fund to CalPERS would come to nearly $3.7 billion, starting with the new fiscal year in July. Schools and local governments would pay more, too, although the contributions from local agencies wouldn't go up until 2013."


"CalPERS' staff wanted to cut the forecast by a half-point, to 7.25 percent. That would have cost the general fund $425 million a year – and might have been political dynamite with the deficit at $9.2 billion and Gov. Jerry Brown pushing to overhaul the pension system."


Enter Cathie Wright, again:  Victoria Catherine Wright, the daughter of Cathie Wright who served 20 years in the Legislature representing white, conservative Simi Valley, is running for a Congressional seat. Victoria will be taking on an incumbent in the Republican primary -- which means her work is cut out for her.


From the Ventura County Star's Timm Herdt: "Last week, Wright decided to follow in her mother's footsteps, filing to become a candidate in the 25th Congressional District. Using her middle name, she will be on the ballot as "Cathie Wright" — the same name longtime Simi Valley voters remember from the 1980s and 1990s."


"She will be taking on a fellow Republican, incumbent Howard "Buck" McKeon of Santa Clarita, an elected official who hasn't followed the Wright family wisdom about not paying relatives from campaign funds."


Alameda County Supervisor Nadia Lockyer, wife of state Treasurer Bill Lockyer, has missed 43 percent of the board's regular meetings since taking office in January 2011. The supervisor, who is in drug rehabilitation, last attended a meeting in November.


From the Chronicle's Carolyn Jones: "Lockyer entered a rehabilitation center for chemical dependency in mid-February and last attended a regular supervisors meeting Nov. 1, according to the county clerk."


"Since then, she has missed seven meetings, including one Tuesday that included a significant issue in her district: a $2 million vote to bail out St. Rose Hospital in Hayward."


"Supervisor Scott Haggarty said he had to call off a business trip to attend Tuesday's meeting; otherwise the hospital bailout would not have had enough votes to pass."


San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, emerging from a domestic violence case, now has a new worry -- six-digit legal bills. The Chronicle's Matier & Ross have the story.


"Mirkarimi, whose $199,000-a-year sheriff's salary is the only income for himself and his family, is paying for his own defense team - plus the cost of criminal, family law and immigration lawyers for his wife, Eliana Lopez."


"Mirkarimi said Tuesday that the spiraling legal costs, coupled with the intense media coverage and the emotional toll the case was taking on his family, were a "considerable factor" in his decision to plead guilty to a single charge of misdemeanor false imprisonment."


"In exchange, prosecutors dropped a charge of domestic violence battery and two other misdemeanors in connection with a New Year's Eve incident in which Mirkarimi allegedly inflicted a bruise on his wife's right arm."


Santa Monica College, faced with class cuts and increasing student demand, is putting into place two-tier pricing system, in which students pay more for high-demand courses. Reportedly, it is the first such system in the country.


From Carla Rivera in the LAT: "Under the plan, approved by the governing board and believed to be the first of its kind in the nation, the two-year college would create a nonprofit foundation to offer such in-demand classes as English and math at a cost of about $200 per unit. Currently, fees are $36 per unit, set by the Legislature for California community college students. That fee will rise to $46 this summer."


"The classes would be offered as soon as the upcoming summer and winter sessions; and, if successful, the program could expand to the entire academic year. The mechanics of the program are still being worked out, but generally the higher-cost classes would become available after state-funded classes fill up. The winter session may offer only the higher-cost classes, officials said."


And from our "Body Beautiful" file comes word that wearing a loin cloth in San Diego can cause problems. Especially during a parade in Balboa Park.  


"Will Walters, 30, says he was just expressing his fashion-sense during the San Diego LGBT Pride festival in July. A San Diego police officer made the arrest."


"He insists that his leather outfit, featuring a loincloth getup over thong underwear, completely covered his genitals. He also claims he was mistreated in jail."


The case was never prosecuted, and the city rejected the claim last month, according to Walters' attorney Chris Morris. Now, Walters will sue the federal court, saying the arrest "violated his rights under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment," according to Courthouse News Service. The suit has been filed in the Southern District Federal Court in San Diego."


Must be the climate ...



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