Federal lawsuit filed against California congressional maps

From the Sac Bee:

Critics of California’s new congressional districts are taking their case against the political maps to federal court.

Former GOP Rep. George Radanovich and four other plaintiffs announced today that they will file a lawsuit in federal district court arguing that the lines drawn by the California Citizens Redistricting Commission violate the Federal Voting Rights Act and the 14th Amendment.

The lawsuit, which will likely be filed later this week in Southern California, will argue that California’s 14-member commission violated the law by intentionally not creating majority African-American and Latino congressional districts in Los Angeles County when it drafted the state’s 53 congressional districts, according to a release.

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Santa Ana’s Budget Crisis May Put Fire Department on the Chopping Block

From Voice of OC:

Santa Ana officials are now openly acknowledging that deep cuts to public safety are needed to close a budget deficit that could rise as high as $30 million in the next fiscal year.

And in its comprehensive report issued in September, Management Partners Inc., the city’s contract budget analyst, specifically cited the need to reform the Santa Ana Fire Department’s staffing policies. The report went so far as to say that some fire stations could be temporarily closed at night when call volume goes down.

“Management Partners believes that consideration should be given to eliminating the current fixed staffing model,” the report says.

Firefighters union leaders have been less conciliatory than their counterparts in the police department about reopening labor contracts to pare down the deficit.

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Massive Turnover in 2012 CA Assembly

From Fox & Hounds:

The biggest story of Campaign 2012 will be the impact redistricting will have on Assembly races.

When the November 2012 election is behind us and the newly elected members of the state Assembly are sworn in the following month, the new Freshman class will be huge and could conceivably be as large as 42 members – more than half of the 80-member body.

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Occupy Protesters Disapprove of Obama, Survey Finds

From the NY Times:

Zuccotti Park in New York’s financial district is decked out with posters and signs for the wide array of political viewpoints of the Occupy Wall Street protesters. The six-week-old movement has several Web sites to promote various perspectives. But just who are these protesters? What is their political ideology? Do they have jobs?

Costas Panagopoulos, a professor of political science at Fordham University, recently conducted a survey of the Occupy Wall Street protesters in New York.

Dr. Panagopoulos described the protesters as “disgruntled Democrats.” Sixty percent of those surveyed said they voted for Barack Obama in 2008, and about three-quarters now disapprove of Mr. Obama’s performance as president. A quarter said they were Democrats, but 39 percent said they did not identify with any political party. Eleven percent identified as Socialists, another 11 percent said they were members of the Green Party, 2 percent were Republicans and 12 percent say they identified as something else.

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Unions: ‘No Armageddon looming for our pension fund’

From the OC Register:

Gov. Jerry Brown‘s plan for reshaping California’s out-of-whack pension system would raise the retirement age from 55 to 67, require employees to kick in more of their own money,  add a hybrid, risk-sharing plan for new hires, and do more to revamp what many have concluded is an unsustainable system.

The plan is not being greeted warmly by workers, who don’t agree that the problem is as bad as the governor and others make it out to be.

“Let me be clear about one thing: There is no Armageddon looming for our pension fund and no reason to question the long-term sustainability of CalPERS,” said a written statement from Allan Clark, president of the California School Employees Association. ”Despite a ruthless campaign by out-of-state billionaires to generate sensational headlines based on faulty assumptions, CalPERS is not bankrupting the state.”

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GOP Senator wants CA voters to reconsider high-speed rail

From the Sac Bee:

GOP Sen. Doug LaMalfa wants to send California’s high-speed rail project back to the ballot in light of revised cost estimates.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority today released a revised business plan projecting that the total cost of the proposed bullet train could be $98.5 billion over 20 years, far exceeding previous estimates.

LaMalfa, a vocal critic of the project, blasted the authority’s earlier cost projections and pledges for federal and private dollars for the project, saying authority members and supporters “have known all along that these targets would not be met.”

The Richvale Republican said he plans to introduce legislation that would ask California voters to reconsider the $9 billion in bonds approved for the project in 2008.

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CA Should Apply for EU Membership: taxes and regulation in line with Europe

From the WSJ:

It may be time for California to formally apply for membership in the European Union. Its taxing, borrowing and regulatory policies are already more in line with the southern tier of Euroland than with other U.S. states, and the Golden State has taken another lurch in the Euro-direction by becoming the first jurisdiction in the nation to adopt a full-scale cap-and-trade tax to combat global warming. The new taxes and regulations will require a nearly 30% reduction in carbon emissions from power plants, manufacturers, cars and trucks by 2020.

This green tax was signed into law in 2006 by then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger when the state’s economy was flying high. California was going to be the green role model for other states. Now no one believes that fantasy. Ten states in the Northeast entered a regional cap and trade compact to limit greenhouse gases in 2008, but that market is now dying if not dormant and states (recently New Jersey) are dropping out.

In 2006 it also seemed plausible that the federal government would establish national carbon caps. But in 2010 the Democratic Senate killed cap and trade, and there is no chance anytime soon this tax will be implemented in Washington.

So California will go it alone on cap and trade, and the economic fallout won’t be pretty. Nearly every independent analysis agrees that water, electricity, construction and gas prices inside the state will rise. The only debate is about how much.

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Obama ‘bundlers’ have ties to lobbying

From the SJ Mercury:

Despite a pledge not to take money from lobbyists, President Barack Obama has relied on prominent supporters who are active in the lobbying industry to raise millions of dollars for his re-election bid.

At least 15 of Obama’s “bundlers” — supporters who contribute their own money to his campaign and solicit it from others — are involved in lobbying for Washington consulting shops or private companies. They have raised more than $5 million so far for the campaign.

Because the bundlers are not registered as lobbyists with the Senate, the Obama campaign has managed to avoid running afoul of its self-imposed ban on taking money from lobbyists.

A Fat Cat.

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State placed children in homes with sex offenders

From the OC Register:

California can — and must — do a better job of protecting the abused and neglected children who come into its care, concludes an alarming new report from the state auditor.

In its review of the state’s child welfare services system, it found more than 1,000 addresses in the Department of Justice’s Sex and Arson Registry matched the addresses of licensed homes in the child welfare services system.

The auditor alerted Social Services to this troubling bit of information in July, and officials found dozens of children living in homes where registered sex offenders lived or were present. Officials have removed children and ordered sex offenders out of homes.

Legal action has begun against eight licensees, and 36“immediate exclusion orders” — barring sex offenders and the like from licensed facilities — were issued, said auditorElaine M. Howle in the report.

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Massive California farm-to-city water deal snared in litigation

From the LA Times:

The 2003 agreement between the rural Imperial Valley and heavily urbanized San Diego County was billed as a win-win. But a case of sellers’ remorse has set in, with the Salton Sea’s fate a key issue.

A 2003 water pact between the Imperial Valley and San Diego County was supposed to be good for both parties, and for California.

But the agreement — billed as the largest sale of water from farms to cities in the nation — is snared in litigation and the outcome is uncertain. No sooner had the pact been signed than it came under attack by environmentalists, farmers and the Imperial County Board of Supervisors.

One major point of contention is that the Salton Sea could become saltier and shrink if farmers reduce agricultural runoff into the sea because water is being sold to San Diego County. If the sea recedes further and becomes more saline, it could lead to massive fish die-offs, endanger migratory fowl and result in toxic dust storms.

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