L.A. County jails may be out of room next month

From the LA Times:

Los Angeles County’s jails could run out of space as early as next month because of an influx of state prisoners, prompting officials to consider releasing potentially thousands of inmates awaiting trial.

The state’s new prison law, which establishes a practice known as realignment, is expected to send as many as 8,000 offenders who would normally go to state prisons into the L.A. County Jail system in the next year.

Currently, defendants awaiting trial account for 70% of the jail population, but Sheriff Lee Baca said that might need to drop to 50%. The department is studying a major expansion of its electronic monitoring and home detention programs to keep track of inmates who are released.

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Cityplace affordable housing project opens

From the Bakersfield Californian:

As the state Supreme Court was hearing oral arguments in a case that will determine the future of such redevelopment efforts, Bakersfield officials were cutting a ribbon at Cityplace, a 70-unit affordable housing project just east of the Mc Murtrey Aquatic Center.

“There was a great need for affordable housing in our community,” said Councilman Rudy Salas Jr. “This is going to fulfill that need.”

Cityplace is a “poster” example of how redevelopment should work, said James Schmid, CEO of Chelsea Investment Corp., the developer. He said it was the biggest transformation of a blighted neighborhood his company has seen, and remarkably, was financed during the most difficult financing period of his career.

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State revenue forecast looks grim

From the SD Tribune:

State Controller John Chiang on Thursday said state revenues were $1.5 billion short of projections for the first four months of the fiscal year, which could mean substantial mid-year cuts to programs if the trend holds.

He said revenues for the month of October fell $810.5 million short of projections in the state budget approved in June. Further, Chiang said state expenditures are over projections by $1.7 billion.

Gov. Jerry Brown and lawmakers in June adopted an $86 billion general fund budget that contains what’s called a “trigger” mechanism inserted to assure investors and financial markets that the state is determined to live within its means. That’s because the spending plan assumes there will be $4 billion in new revenue.

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Brown will ask legislators to OK billions for bullet train

From the LA Times:

Gov. Jerry Brown said Thursday that he will formally request that the Legislature approve billions of dollars to start construction of the California bullet train next year and will work hard to persuade skeptical lawmakers that the project is critical to the state’s future.

In his first extended remarks on the $98.5-billion project since a controversial business plan was unveiled last week, Brown said that the state will have a broad need for the system in the long term and that it represents a significantly cheaper alternative to additional highway and commercial aviation investments.

“As an idea, if you think of California as growing and expanding, then it fits into it,” Brown said at a meeting with The Times’ editorial board. “It is based on an optimistic assessment of where California is going.”

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Quan’s lack of leadership attacked

From the Oakland Tribune:

Faith in Mayor Jean Quan’s leadership and her handling of the Occupy Oakland protests continues to deteriorate as business leaders, the City Council and her own crisis communications adviser all distance themselves from her.

A new poll commissioned by the Oakland Chamber of Commerce found that 73 percent of 1,100 city voters surveyed disapprove of the way she has handled Occupy Oakland.

At least one council member has requested a vote of no confidence in Quan’s leadership, according to Council President Larry Reid.

And to top it off, Nathan Ballard, a respected crisis communication expert hired by Quan in the wake of police Chief Anthony Batts’ departure last month, quit his post as adviser to the mayor.

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GOP group files signatures for vote on California redistricting

From the LA Times:

Republican activists trying to overturn new state Senate districts began filing signed petitions Thursday for a California-wide referendum on the issue.

Referendum proponents, calling themselves Fairness and Accountability in Redistricting (FAIR), have until Sunday to file the minimum 504,000 signatures needed to get the matter on the November 2012 ballot.

FAIR charges that the maps, drawn for the first time by a citizens commission instead of the Legislature, bear “trademarks of gerrymandering” to favor Democrats. The maps include “bizarre shaped districts, numerous unnecessary county and city splits and the division of key communities of interest,” the group said in a statement Thursday.

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Cut public employee pensions, California voters say

From Contra Costa Times:

From San Francisco to Modesto, California voters Tuesday sent a strong message that they want to cut generous public employee pensions, whose soaring costs are devouring funds for cops, libraries and other services.

The results cheered local officials such as San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, who’s seeking a March special election on his own controversial pension reform proposal, as well as advocates for a statewide measure aimed at slashing the costs of public retirement packages.

“It certainly demonstrates solid public support for pension reform,” Reed said Wednesday. “Even in a labor-friendly town like San Francisco, 68 percent said yes.”

Yet voters Tuesday also signaled that there are limits to how far they’re willing to crack down on police, firefighters, teachers, librarians and other public workers. San Francisco voters approved the milder of two pension reform proposals on the ballot, one backed by the mayor and many labor leaders. They rejected a tougher measure by Public Defender Jeff Adachi, author of a similar measure that failed last year.

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Controller John Chiang says California has $1.5 billion cash gap

From the Sac Bee:

California has fallen $1.5 billion behind in revenues through the first four months of the fiscal year, according to state Controller John Chiang, amplifying fears the state will impose deeper budget cuts this winter.

For the month of October, Chiang said California was $810.5 million behind what was expected, or 16.3 percent. Notably, the state missed its personal income tax estimate by $451 million, or 12.9 percent, which the Franchise Tax Board attributed to both lower withholdings and estimated tax payments.

The state also faced spending pressures through the first four months of the year. Chiang reported that California spent $1.7 billion more than budget writers expected.

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Lawmakers don’t need a luau to do their jobs

From the Sac Bee:

If you are a Californian seeking frugal, honest government, we have this conundrum to pose to you:

Would you rather have your state lawmakers here in Sacramento, blowing budget deadlines and spending state funds – your tax money – on meals for themselves?

Or would you rather have them off in Maui, getting dined and wined (and mai tai’ed) by big business and labor interests?

We ask, because this convergence of alternatives presented itself Wednesday. Following a story in the Los Angeles Times on Sunday, state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg announced he was ending the practice of using taxpayer funds to feed senators when they are in session past normal dining hours. The Times had reported that the Senate had spent $111,316 on food for senators this year, including $23,000 worth of meals during the Legislature’s 115-day budget standoff.

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Steven Greenhut: Brown pension plan going nowhere

From Redding.com:

Despite some encouraging details in Gov. Jerry Brown’s recently announced pension-reform proposal, there’s virtually no chance the state will seriously reform — or even seriously attempt to reform — a system creaking under the weight of up to an estimated $500 billion in unfunded liabilities.

The proposal isn’t bad. It doesn’t go far enough to fix the problem even if implemented in its entirety, but it goes further than most pension reform advocates had expected from a Democratic governor who, to date, has governed as an extension of the public-employee unions that elected him to office.

But the plan probably is dead on arrival in the union-dominated Legislature. One might even argue that Brown is being cynical here — offering reasonably tough reform proposals that he knows will go nowhere. Then he can claim that he has tried to fix the problem but could not surmount the insurmountable.

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