CalSTRS, the huge public pension fund that represents California's teachers and their families, has sued Wal-Mart following a New York Times investigation that detailed years of bribery and corruption in Mexico by the giant retailer. CalSTRS, it turns out, owns a big chunk of Wal-Mart stock.
From the Bee's Dale Kasler: "The California State Teachers' Retirement System said the alleged corruption has exposed the company to investigations, regulatory actions and lawsuits."
"CalSTRS owns 5.3 million shares of Wal-Mart, worth about $313.5 million. The Wal-Mart holdings represent about 0.41 percent of the pension fund's global stock holdings, said CalSTRS spokesman Michael Sicilia."
For those of you who missed David Barstow's original story, check it out here. And for those who bet on Pulitzer Prize entries, save your money: This one will win hands down.
L.A. Councilman Richard Alarcon, a former state lawmaker, and his wife breathed a sigh of relief after a judge dismissed allegations of voter fraud and perjury, but he it looks like they were premature: Prosecutors have refiled the same charges.
From the LAT's Catherine Saillant: "The new charges make the same allegations as a case thrown out by Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy on Thursday morning, accusing the Alarcons of lying about living in a house in Panorama City so that the councilman could run for his 7th District office."
"It was not immediately clear when the Alarcons would be arraigned."
"Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley's action came just hours after Kennedy's ruling. The judge threw out a July 2010 indictment of the couple on 24 felony charges after finding the prosecution failed to properly instruct grand jurors of their duty to consider exonerating defense evidence. Cooley disputed her legal reasoning, saying the judge ignored legal precedents when she dismissed the grand jury indictment."
Rep. Pete Stark, the 80-year-old congressman who has been making headlines recently for mouthing untruths, once seemed to have an easy reelection race. But that may no longer be true.
From the Oakland Tribune's Josh Richman: "Just in the past few weeks, he's publicly and falsely accused a challenger of taking bribes, a felony. And he falsely accused a San Francisco Chronicle columnist of contributing to that challenger's campaign, which in journalism would be an ethical breach and perhaps a firing offense. He has since apologized for both incidents."
"Stark is being challenged this year by fellow Democrat Eric Swalwell, a Dublin city councilman and Alameda County prosecutor, and by Hayward businessman Chris Pareja, a conservative independent. Another Democrat, Ro Khanna, has raised a ton of money but is supporting Stark with an eye toward succeeding him when he retires. But the congressman might have more to overcome than his challengers."
"Stark is running against Stark," said James Morehead, 45, a decline-to-state voter from Dublin. "He's made this particular race interesting by putting a big spotlight on himself."
Starks' irrational screeds means its time for him to go.
From CalBuzz's Jerry Roberts and Phil Trounstine: "All right-thinking people agree that Debra Saunders, the Chronicle’s
tokenhouse conservative columnist, is woefully misguided on a vast number of political and policy issues. One thing she is not, however, is lacking in integrity."
"So when U.S. Rep. Pete Stark this week falsely and recklessly accused her – in front of her boss — of violating the most basic standards of ethical journalism, it closed the case once and for all of just what a doddering old fool he’s become."
"The 20-term East Bay congressman is now an utter embarrassment to himself and his constituents, and if he has a shred of dignity left, he should immediately withdraw from his re-election race, before his self-imposed humiliation gets even worse."
Gov. Brown says he's got enough signatures to place his tax-boost plan on the November and -- here's a surprise -- the GOP immediately put together a road show to fight the proposal.
From the LAT's Chris Megerian: "Del Beccaro is launching an old-fashioned whistle-stop tour by riding the train around the state to push Republican policies. His first stops are Martinez and Bakersfield."
"He was joined at the news conference by GOP lawmakers including Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar) and Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway (R-Tulare). They criticized legislative Democrats for not pushing Gov. Jerry Brown's pension proposals, which Republicans have endorsed."
"Assemblyman Jim Silva (R-Huntington Beach) also expressed concerns about spending on welfare, saying, "The people that work should live better than the people who don't work." He said that there are "Cadillac welfare programs in California."
The tale of California's high-speed rail project got a boost this week when a development firm offered to spend $1 billion or more if bullet-train officials put a maintenance yard on the developers' property in Madera.
From the Fresno Bee's Tim Sheehan: "Skeptics remain even as the authority pushes forward on building as soon as this year. But Thursday, a new booster stepped forward -- Madera real-estate developer Ed McIntyre, who said that he and partners are ready to spend $1 billion developing a maintenance yard and more if the authority puts it on their property in Madera."
McIntyre told the board before its vote that his group believes high-speed rail pencils out as a money-maker. In his group's case, he said, they're certain they can secure financing and recoup their investment through a lease-buy deal with the authority."
"Thursday's votes at the authority's board meeting in Fresno locks in the route choice -- a hybrid line that follows portions of two different rail lines through the San Joaquin Valley -- and clears the way for the authority to award construction contracts after bids are received later this year."
The Legislature's nonpartisan fiscal adviser says the the planned overhaul of the state's accounting systems should go forward, even though the estimated price tag has risen to $1.6 billion.
From California Watch's Corey G. Johnson: Called the Financial Information System for California, or FI$Cal, the project seeks to build a single statewide system for all of the state’s accounting, budget and cash management programs, many of which are scattered across multiple, aging computer systems."
"Since planning began in 2007, cost estimates for the new system have increased from $1.3 billion to $1.6 billion – prompting some to question whether the state can afford the improvements.
"But in a report released this week, the nonpartisan analyst's office concluded the benefits of a state-of-the-art statewide system outweigh the concerns over its price tag..."
"The analyst's support comes as state legislators consider the fate of the computer initiative."
And from our "Adolf and Eva" file comes word that Hitler took cocaine regularly to soothe his sinuses, passed a lot of gas and didn't sleep in the same bed as Eva Braun. This is probably too much information.
"Adolf Hitler was apparently a coke head, doped up on 28 medications while suffering from “uncontrollable flatulence.”
"It’s a whole other side to the Nazi dictator, whose condition was revealed in medical documents now up for grabs online from Alexander Historical Auctions of Stamford, Conn. Bidding for the papers, which include X-ray copies of Hitler’s skull and sketches of the inside of his nose, ends Tuesday and Wednesday."
"The U.S. military commissioned the medical reports provided by Hitler’s personal doctors, said Bill Panagopulos, president of Alexander Autographs."