Testing, testing

Mar 29, 2013

Not a good day for Caltrans: A scathing report by the state auditor notes that some Caltrans workers falsified data, put in for huge amounts of false overtime and committed sundry other on-the-job acts. 


From the Mercury News' Lisa Vorderbrueggen: "Several Caltrans workers falsified test data on transportation projects, claimed hundreds of hours of overtime they didn't work and engaged in an "inexcusable neglect of duty," California State Auditor Elaine Howle concluded in a probe released Thursday."


"Much of Howle's findings have already been disclosed through media accounts, legislative hearings and Caltrans' own reports."


"But the audit compiles the transgressions of a handful of Caltrans workers whose misdeeds cast doubt on the structural integrity of every project they touched, including the new Bay and Benicia bridges."


Everybody's looking at the skimpy Sierra snowpack this year, including Gov. Brown, who sees it as a good reason to support his plan to build tunnels in the Delta.


From the LAT's Anthony York: "“The security of California’s water supply is threatened,” said Natural Resources Secretary John Laird in an email statement, citing the “urgent need to continue work on the Bay Delta Conservation Plan.”


"The snowpack in the Sierra Mountains, the source of the bulk of California’s water supply, is about half of what it should be, according to snow surveying crews."


"Brown’s $23.7 billion water plan, first introduced publicly last year, includes the construction of two new massive tunnels that would divert as much as 67,500 gallons of water per second around the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta in Northern California and bring that water to the southern half of the state."


The feds, taking the lead from California, are poised to announce requirements for cleaner gasoline.


From the LAT's Neela Banerjee: "The Obama administration is expected to propose new rules Friday that would slash the amount of sulfur in gasoline, one of the most significant steps the administration can take this term toward cutting air pollution, said people with knowledge of the announcement."


"The new rules would bring the rest of the country's sulfur standards in line with California's gasoline program."


"The oil industry and members of Congress from oil states have criticized the standards as onerous with few health benefits in return. Environmentalists have countered that the rules would improve public health considerably."


The album-layer style of the distinctive Capitol Records building in Hollywood would be dwarfed if a New York developer prevails in his goal to put skyscrapers in tinsel town.


From Bloomberg's John Gittelsohn: "A proposal for Los Angeles towers as tall as 55 stories near the iconic Capitol Records building, where stars from Frank Sinatra to Taylor Swift recorded hits, is pitting a New York developer against defenders of old Hollywood."


"Philip Aarons, co-founder of New York-based Millennium Partners, is proposing a $664 million, two-skyscraper complex with as many as 492 apartments and condominiums, 200 hotel rooms, a health club, offices and retail space near the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street, where John Lennon and Audrey Hepburn have stars on the Walk of Fame. The taller of the two towers would be almost twice the height of Hollywood’s next biggest building, and dwarf the 13-story Capitol Records property next to the site."


"This project is right for Hollywood because it’s a city of fantasy and spectacle,” Aarons said in an interview at his 10th-floor office, which has views of the Hollywood sign and Capitol Records building, a 1956 tower resembling a stack of vinyl records. “Its history comes from thinking big.”


Contrary to the conventional wisdom, some conservatives are open to legalizing undocumented immigrants as part of a broader immigration policy.


From the LAT's Paul West: "Conservative Republicans are open to an overhaul of the nation’s immigration system, including creating a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, according to a new report on voter attitudes in two states with early presidential contests."


"According to a Republican research group, recent discussions with Republican voters in Iowa and South Carolina indicated that conservatives are inclined to support the party’s involvement in fixing immigration and may well reward potential presidential candidates, like Florida Sen.Marco Rubio, who have taken a prominent role in that effort."


“It’s clear that Senator Rubio’s presence in this debate creates a significant amount of goodwill among the Republican base,” concludes a memo from Ed Gillespie, a former national Republican chairman, and pollster John McLaughlin, whose firm conducted the focus-group sessions. “As one Des Moines woman said when commenting on a potential pathway to citizenship, “I’d like to see what Marco Rubio comes up with.  I trust him.’”




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