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Diverting mentally ill from jail is right course: Guest commentary
A sprawling metropolis of nearly 10 million people, Los Angeles County has the unenviable distinction of being home to the largest jail system in the United States, housing an inmate population of approximately 19K on any given day. As is the case across the U.S. — where the penal population now stands at 2.2 mln — overcrowding in Los Angeles County jails continues to be a significant and chronic challenge, as is the delivery of social and rehabilitative services to inmates needing help. Exacerbating the problem is the fact that a significant number of Los Angeles County jail inmates suffer from mental illness. [Article]
by SUZANNE L. WENZEL / COMMENTARY, Los Angeles Daily News. 2014-09-29
 
Governor's bill signing spree: Roundup of new California laws
Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a package of bills to help foster children in California. Among the bills Brown announced signing Monday is AB1658. It's designed to protect foster youth from identity theft by requiring county child welfare agencies to request credit reports for children 16 years and older. The bill is by Democratic Assemblyman Reginald Jones-Sawyer ofLos Angeles. [Article]
by STAFF REPORT, KPCC Southern CA Public Radio. 2014-09-29
 
King Fire: Crews make more progress with rain and high humidity
Additional rain and high humidity allowed crews to make even more progress toward taming a massive wildfire in Northern California, officials said Sunday. The rain showers and isolated thunderstorms aided firefighters battling the King Fire, which showed no new growth, U.S. Forest Service spokesman Michael Williams said. The 2-week-old blaze has burned nearly 152 square miles of a heavily forested region east of Sacramento. It was 89 percent contained, compared with about 84 percent on Saturday, officials said. More than 4,800 firefighters, less than 1K from Saturday — and far less than its peak of 8K — remain on the scene to reinforce containment lines as fire suppression and repair teams assess the damage, state fire spokesman Capt. Tom Piranio said. [Article]
by STAFF REPORT, KPCC Southern CA Public Radio. 2014-09-29
 
California harvest much smaller than normal across crops
It’s harvest time in much of California, and the signs of drought are almost as abundant as the fruits and nuts and vegetables. One commodity after another is feeling the impact of the state’s epic water shortage. The great Sacramento Valley rice crop, served in sushi restaurants nationwide and exported to Asia, will be smaller than usual. Fewer grapes will be available to produce California’s world-class wines, and the citrus groves of the San Joaquin Valley are producing fewer oranges. There is less hay and corn for the state’s dairy cows, and the pistachio harvest is expected to shrink. [Article]
by DALE KASLER, Sacramento Bee. 2014-09-29
 
County supervisors' mixed feelings on ethics report lead to confusion
There was some fancy dancing at the Board of Supervisors meeting Sept. 16 when it came to consideration of the grand jury’s call for better ethics oversight in county government. Supervisors approved a response to the grand jury that basically said, “Thanks, but we don’t think that’s necessary.” The twist is that while supervisors voted unanimously to submit the response, two said they disagreed with key components of that response. The grand jury report was a followup to a grand jury report last year detailing a history of county government ethics breaches that was both long and recent. This year’s report contained four recommendations, the first of which was to ask voters whether to establish a county ethics watchdog commission. [Article]
by MARTIN WISCKOL, Orange County Register. 2014-09-29
 
County looks at state grant to keep released criminals from returning to prison
Here’s a rundown of important public policy discussions set for this week in Orange County: Orange County might soon scale up its involvement in a statewide effort to lower the chances that convicted criminals will commit more crimes after being released from jail or prison. County officials are looking at participating in a state grant program aimed at “community recidivism and crime reduction services” for people released from prison, jail or juvenile hall, under probation or otherwise at risk of committing crimes. [Article]
by STAFF REPORT, Voice of OC. 2014-09-29
 
King fire held in place overnight as mop-up continues
A rainy weekend has helped tame the King fire, which remained steady overnight at 97,099 acres burned since the blaze broke out more than two weeks ago. “The plan today is to mop up where appropriate,” said U.S. Forest Service spokesman Michael Williams. “The rain really did help. It seemed that it rained off and on for the past several days.” The big blaze that wiped out 12 homes and burned 68 other structures is 89 percent contained. Crews will work hard on Monday to make sure the lines around the fire are secure. Williams said the rain elevates the humidity and puts a damper on burn conditions. Humid conditions are expected to remain high Monday. The fire broke out Sept. 13 near Pollock Pines, El Dorado County, and spread into neighboring Placer County. [Article]
by BILL LINDELHOF, Sacramento Bee. 2014-09-29
 
Mental health treatment in high demand
A surge of demand appears to be straining the county’s supply of mental health services. Several local community clinics are reporting that mental health visits are up more than 50 percent this year and some local hospitals say an influx of new Medi-Cal patients is exacerbating an ongoing shortage of long-term psychiatric beds. Growing demand, experts say, is sometimes resulting in longer wait times for patients, both for primary-care services and for long-term treatment of those with severe mental illness. [Article]
by PAUL SISSON, San Diego Union-Tribune. 2014-09-29
 
Why Some Companies Land in San Diego
It’s expensive to live and do business in San Diego, a reality that keeps many businesses out of California. But for some companies that center on technology or niche services, a few key perks outweigh the factors that deter many companies from landing here – like California’s high cost of living or higher tax environment. They’re launching and expanding in San Diego. Here are some of the top reasons these companies were motivated to start here or to develop a San Diego presence. [Article]
by LISA HALVERSTADT, Voice of San Diego. 2014-09-29
 
Catching up
While counties throughout the state face growing retiree health care costs, San Bernardino and Riverside counties have been far more responsible than many in dealing with other postemployment benefit expenditures. In addition to pension benefits, counties and cities throughout the state have felt compelled, for one reason or another, to offer their retiring employees other post-employment benefits, ranging from health insurance subsidies to full coverage for retired public employees and their spouses. [Article]
by EDITORIAL, Victorville Daily Press. 2014-09-29
 
County poised to freeze Ridgecrest-area ag development over water
County supervisors will consider freezing all agricultural development in the Indian Wells Valley around Ridgecrest while the extent of the desert basin's water crisis is explored. The moratorium on growth, which supervisors will discuss Tuesday, would be temporary. But it's critical to assessing the water situation and crafting a plan to match supply and demand, said Kern County Planning Director Lorelei Oviatt. "We're working as fast as we can to find a solution to land use issues" there, she said. "In the meantime we have agricultural producers who are expanding their operations and talking about bringing in livestock." [Article]
by JAMES BURGER, Bakersfield Californian. 2014-09-29
 
Devaluation of wind farms to hit government coffers
A sudden and dramatic drop in the value of Kern County's massive wind energy farms will strip millions of dollars out of government coffers this fiscal year. The Kern County Assessor-Recorder's office has warned county officials that they expect to drop wind energy property value by 777 mln less than three months into the fiscal year. County budget officials estimate that will strip 1.8mln from the county's main operational fund and 900K from taxes used to run the Kern County Fire Department. Other governments -- cities and schools and special districts -- could also lose revenue. Assistant Assessor Tony Ansolabehere said that when the Assessor's office delivered the annual property value report to county budget builders, appraisers had not calculated the values for wind farms. They warned budget officials they were using the old values, he said, and that numbers could change. [Article]
by JAMES BURGER, Bakersfield Californian. 2014-09-29
 
DA may apply for grant to fight human trafficking
During a special meeting Tuesday night in Dinuba, the Tulare County Board of Supervisors is expected to authorize the county District Attorney's Office to apply for a grant to help human trafficking victims and to raise awareness of the crime. Part of the 86,322 California Governor's Office of Emergency Services grant would be used to hire a full-time employee, who isn't a lawyer, said Assistant District Attorney Dan Underwood. "It would be a victim-witness worker," who would devote part of his or her time to making the public more aware of human trafficking, he said. [Article]
by DAVID CASTELLON, Visalia Times-Delta. 2014-09-29
 
Viewpoints: Urgent action needed to save Sierra forests
As firefighters continue their valiant efforts battling the King fire – the latest large fire in the Sierra Nevada – an important new report makes a compelling and sobering case for bold and urgent action. “The State of the Sierra Nevada’s Forests,” issued by the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, details the dire conditions of many of the region’s forests that are putting them at grave risk of large, damaging fires, such as the King fire and last year’s Rim fire. It further points out that the trend of increasing temperatures and drought conditions is literally “adding fuel to the fire.” Fires in California’s primary watershed – more than 60 percent of the state’s developed water supply originates here – deliver a wide range of severe adverse impacts. These range from dramatic decreases in air quality to setting the stage for massive erosion dirtying our water and decreasing the storage capacity of our reservoirs. [Article]
by MIKE CHRISMAN / OPINION, Merced Sun-Star. 2014-09-29
 
According to officials, Stockton-area students well immunized
With 184 reported cases, San Joaquin County is fully engulfed in the whooping cough epidemic declared by the California Department of Public Health. The number is more than double the 84 cases reported during the 2010 epidemic of the disease that is particularly dangerous to newborns. The report doesn’t break down the ages of local victims of the pertussis outbreak that is caused by a highly contagious bacteria, but chances are good they’re not school aged. According to local school officials, Stockton-area students are well immunized. [Article]
by LORI GILBERT, Stockton Record. 2014-09-29
 
CSAC: Women Underrepresented in Government Leadership
September 26, 2014- by Jean Jordan - The Leadership California Institute recently released its inaugural report, “Women 2014: An Examination of the Status of Women in California State and Local Government.” What they found is that women are still largely underrepresented in city, county and state government. Jean-JordanToday in California, women make up 50.3 percent of the population and 46 percent of the labor force, but comprise only 25 percent of all county boards of supervisors. Forty percent of California’s counties have only one female supervisor and 13 California counties are governed by all-male boards. “Women 2014” also takes a look at the ethnic diversity of female county officials and found that only 6 percent are Latinas, 3 percent are Asian /Pacific Islanders, and 0 percent are African American. [Article]
by JEAN JORDAN / OPINION, Sierra Sun Times (Mariposa). 2014-09-29
 
Twin tunnels: Is diversion project DOA?
Good luck getting California’s diverse special interest groups to agree on anything. But if South San Joaquin Irrigation District General Manager Jeff Shields is right, a unique consortium of farmers, environmentalists, sportsmen and private property crusaders might have something to celebrate together. While Shields was standing before the San Joaquin County Local Agency Formation Commission last week to discuss the merits of an independent study the district commissioned addressing the viability of taking over PG&E’s existing power distribution system to lower rates 15 percent across the board in Manteca, Ripon, and Lathrop. Shields’ expertise in water - and the major projects that have thrust it into the collective conscious - wad quickly brought into the fold. [Article]
by JASON CAMPBELL, Manteca Bulletin. 2014-09-29
 
Jail’s Inmate Welfare Fund Gets Rich
A recent report on the financial well-being of the County Jail’s Inmate Welfare Fund showed that income (1.2 mln) outpaced costs ($891,507) for the 2013-2014 fiscal year, which the Sheriff’s Office attributed to ongoing staffing vacancies and bumped up commissary sales. The department can use the money for the benefit of the inmates but also for related facilities and personnel costs. Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Kelly Hoover said the excess money will be saved and put toward development of future programs. [Article]
by LYZ HOFFMAN, Santa Barbara Independent. 2014-09-29
 
Templeton election focuses on water, sewage, fire department
As the Templeton Community Services District tackles how to grow over the next four years, four candidates running for two seats on its board of directors say they’re keeping the community’s fire department, sewage treatment costs and water supply in mind. The district has decisions to make on the future of its sewer services, which will likely cost mlns of dollars in improvements to infrastructure. Discussions continue on whether Templeton should disconnect from the Paso Robles sewage treatment system, where residents currently send half of their wastewater. Bringing that flow back to the Templeton treatment plant would require upgrading facilities, but continuing to send sewage to Paso Robles means the district must help pay for upgrades now being done to that city’s sewer plant. [Article]
by TONYA STRICKLAND, San Luis Obispo Tribune. 2014-09-29
 
Santa Barbara Co. Water Agency studying local water supply options
The Santa Barbara County Water Agency is studying local water supply options available now and in the future because of the drought, and the public can learn more Monday night. The water agency and RMC Water and Environment will host two public meetings to explain the project and get public ideas and feedback. [Article]
by STAFF REPORT, KSBY Channel 6 - SLO Santa Barb County. 2014-09-29
 
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