The House Ethics Committee has come down hard on Rep. Laura Richardson, saying the Long Beach Democrat forced her official staff to do political campaign work, a violation of House rules.
From the AP's Larry Margasak: "Rep. Laura Richardson, D-Calif., improperly compelled her congressional staff to do campaign work and should be reprimanded and fined for violating standards of conduct, the House Ethics Committee announced Wednesday."
"The committee said she admitted to all seven counts of violations and agreed to the proposed punishment, which awaits House action."
"The committee unanimously adopted the report of its investigative panel, in which investigators detailed the third-term lawmaker's coercion, attempts to alter evidence and efforts to influence the testimony of staff members who would be witnesses."
San Bernardino officially filed for bankruptcy about two weeks before it was expected, an emergency action that was prompted in part by a tangle of legal challenges that have been filed against the hapless town.
From The Sun's Ryan Hagen: "When the City Council voted July 18 to authorize Chapter 9 bankruptcy because of a $45.8 million deficit and severe cash- flow problems, officials said they would work as quickly as possible but expected to file in about 30 days."
"Instead, the city submitted an "emergency filing" in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Riverside on Wednesday that was spurred by an attorney's efforts Tuesday and Wednesday in three lawsuits against the Police Department, said City Attorney James F. Penman."
"The emergency filing - which can be submitted before the city prepares certain documents otherwise required in a bankruptcy filing, such as a budget plan - blocks people from suing the city and other creditors from seizing money or property, which Penman said was a serious risk in these cases."
Speaking of bankruptcy, the tale of one of Stockton's police chiefs may be instructive here.
From Alison Vekshin, James Nash and Rodney Yap in Bloomberg: "Stockton, California, Police Chief Tom Morris was supposed to bring stability to law enforcement when he was appointed to the job four years ago."
"He lasted eight months and left the now-bankrupt city at age 52 with an annual pension that pays more than $204,000 -- the third of four chiefs who stayed in the position for less than three years and retired with an average of 92 percent of their final salaries."
"Stockton, which filed for bankruptcy protection on June 28, is among California cities from the Mexican border to the San Francisco Bay confronting rising pension costs as they contend with growing unemployment and declining property- and sales-tax revenue. The pensions are the consequence of decisions made when stock markets were soaring, technology money flooded the state, and retirement funds were running surpluses."
California's cap-and-trade program -- a system to ratchet down on carbon emissions by selling and trading credits -- may be a hot topic in Sacramento's political world, but the larger public is largely unaware of the issue, according to a PPIC survey.
From Dana Hull in the Mercury News: "California's landmark global-warming bill was a white-hot topic in the 2010 governor's race and remains former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's signature environmental achievement."
"But as the state prepares to unroll the law's cap-and-trade program in November with the first state auctions of emissions permits, a new poll finds that 57 percent of Californians say they have never heard anything about the program."
"The statewide poll by the Public Policy Institute of California further found that 30 percent of respondents said they had heard "a little," while just 12 percent said they had heard "a lot."
A hurdle experienced by every incoming college student -- the college placement test -- is getting a critical look in a new report, which questions the tests' validity and accuracy.
From Susan Frey in EdSource: "The tests used by many community colleges and universities across the nation to determine whether incoming freshmen are ready for college-level courses are often inaccurate and pose roadblocks to student success in college, according to new research summarized in a report released Wednesday."
“With education reformers keenly focused on remedial education, new research using longitudinal data systems questions the efficacy and fairness of the very tests on which the system of remedial education relies,” says author Pamela Burdman in Where to Begin? The evolving role of placement exams for students starting college. The report was supported by Achieving the Dream, a national nonprofit dedicated to helping community college students, its affiliates, and Jobs for the Future, which develops policy solutions aimed at college readiness and career advancement for low-income youth."
"The research shows that high school grades are a better predictor of student success in college than placement test scores, Burdman said. She pointed to a study of students who graduated from Long Beach Unified school district and then attended Long Beach City College. Ninety percent of the students were placed in remedial education and had to take, on average, more than five semesters of remedial coursework. However, the study found that students’ high school grade point averages and their discipline records were much better predictors of college success than the placement tests. If the college had relied on those predictors, the the number of freshmen allowed to take college-level English courses would have risen by 500 percent."
And from our "Backyard Fun" file comes the tale of the New Jersey man who noticed what he thought was a tree branch in his yard, only to discover it was a 16-foot python. And like Indiana Jones, he hates snakes.
"In the span of four days late last month, the Upper Greenwood Lake resident spotted a 16-foot albino python and a 10-foot python in his back yard."
"On July 23, Geist was reading on his backyard deck when he saw what appeared to be a branch that had fallen from a tree. Upon closer examination with a pair of binoculars, he realized the branch was moving. He grabbed his phone and called the police."
“Dispatch told me to stay away, and I’m not a fan of snakes so I wasn’t going to go near the thing,” said Geist, 46."
"Police officers arrived with two snake handlers, who identified the massive snake as a female albino python, valued at about $8,000. The snake, which hadn’t moved but 10 feet in all of a half hour, was probably calm because it had recently eaten, one of the snake handlers told Geist."