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Audit finds millions in overtime pay at L.A. transportation department
Last year, the average employee who paints stripes on roads and installs street signs for the Los Angeles Department of Transportation made $48,100 in overtime, almost six times what most other city workers received. Four supervisors claimed $70,000 in OT, and one manager drew $155,319, effectively tripling his salary. Those and other findings were in a transportation department audit issued Tuesday by City Controller Ron Galperin. It revealed in particular that workers in the paint and sign division collected what Galperin characterized as "staggering" amounts of overtime, costing the city $3.3 million in a single year and raising concerns that some of the extra pay might have been claimed improperly. According to the audit, almost half the 67 employees in the paint and sign division claimed more than 1,000 hours of overtime in 2013-14. Seven claimed 2,000 hours, which would be an average of 38 extra hours of work per week. [Article]
by SOUMYA KARLAMANGLA AND DAN WEIKEL, Los Angeles Times. 2015-05-27
 
A new way to exploit the California drought: immigrant bashing
Last year, a study of water rights by scholars at UC Davis and Merced warned that the long-term decline in California's water supply portended a new era of "social conflict." Anti-immigrant activists seem to have taken that as a challenge. They're meeting it with flying colors. To hear the people at Californians for Population Stabilization talk, the drought is all about California population growth--specifically, immigrants. "Over a 10-year period, 100% of California population growth is attributable to immigrants and children of immigrants," Jo Wideman, the Santa Barbara group's executive director, told me. As my colleague Kate Linthicum reported over the weekend, CAPS hopes to exploit the drought to push its anti-immigration platform, which includes "ending the right to citizenship for every child born on U.S. soil and opposing state efforts to give immigrants in the country illegally access to Medicaid." No knowledgeable person denies that growth--dating to the 1930s--has strained the state's water supply, or that the strain has been exacerbated by the current drought. Pointing the finger at immigrants, however, is an entirely different matter. It's cynical, dishonest and factually incorrect. [Article]
by MICHAEL HILTZIK, Los Angeles Times. 2015-05-27
 
Earthquake: Magnitude 3.0 quake strikes near The Geysers, Calif.
A shallow magnitude 3.0 earthquake was reported Wednesday morning one mile from The Geysers in Northern California's Mayacmas Mountains, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The temblor occurred at 8:54 a.m. Pacific time at a depth of 1.2 miles. According to the USGS, the epicenter was 13 miles from Clearlake, Calif., 14 miles from Healdsburg, 17 miles from Windsor and 69 miles from Sacramento. [Article]
by STAFF REPORT, Los Angeles Times. 2015-05-27
 
Ruptured oil pipeline in Santa Barbara to be removed
Authorities will begin removing the pipeline that burst in Santa Barbara County and leaked thousands of gallons of oil into the ocean. [Article]
by STAFF REPORT, Los Angeles Times. 2015-05-27
 
L.A. County supervisors delay vote on water cuts after complaints
Los Angeles County supervisors agreed Tuesday to postpone a vote on proposed water use restrictions for customers served by the county waterworks districts after residents expressed alarm at the reductions and questioned the method used to calculate target levels. Under the county's proposed plan, water customers in Marina del Rey, Kagel Canyon, Val Verde and Acton would have to reduce their use 25%. Customers in the Antelope Valley would have to reduce their use 32% and those in Malibu and Topanga would be required to cut back 36% or pay significantly higher rates for any excess. The restrictions would impact about 250,000 people throughout the system, the majority of them in the Antelope Valley and Malibu. Users who do not reduce their water consumption would pay substantial penalties. The water use target for most residential users would be calculated based on the average usage for the area in 2013. Rates will double for water use above the target and triple if use exceeds 115% of the target. [Article]
by ABBY SEWELL, Los Angeles Times. 2015-05-27
 
Analysis Once aided by courts, can Latino politicians survive Supreme Court act?
The U.S. Supreme Court’s unexpected decision to take up a Texas voting case poses perhaps the most acute threat in a generation to Latino political strength in California. But how much of the threat actually materializes is decidedly less known. In a situation rife with questions, one of the most ironic is this: Have Latino politicians, whose success was helped along by supportive court actions decades ago, become so ubiquitous that they can succeed regardless of new court decisions that might otherwise lessen their strength? The Texas case was brought by plaintiffs who want only citizens to be counted in the crafting of voting districts; currently, all residents are counted, which boosts the number of districts in places like Southern California. Were the plaintiffs to succeed, many urban districts would not retain enough viable constituents to exist on their own. The court’s decision, which covers state and local elections but could be expanded to include congressional districts, will not be announced until early next year. Under the worst-case scenario for Latinos who hold huge sway over politics in California, a court decision siding with the plaintiffs could force multiple Latino districts to collapse together, or to be merged with areas dominated by other types of voters. In theory, that could force titanic clashes between existing Latino players -- or between Latinos and other minority groups -- with some of them falling aside. [Article]
by CATHLEEN DECKER, Los Angeles Times. 2015-05-27
 
Bucking the trend, Irvine may repeal its living wage law
A week after Los Angeles became the largest city in the nation to adopt a major minimum-wage increase, suburban Irvine in neighboring Orange County is considering going in the opposite direction. Irvine council members tonight will consider repealing its living wage ordinance, which was celebrated by some as a progressive step when it was adopted in 2007. The Irvine law requires that certain city contractors match payment for their employees to the lowest rate that the city sets for its own workers, $10.82 an hour. That rate is established by resolution and intended to be “an hourly wage that is sufficient to live with dignity and to achieve economic self-sufficiency,” the ordinance states. The minimum wage in California is currently $9 an hour. In Los Angeles, council members voted to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020. Irvine’s rules apply to companies whose contracts with the city are valued at $100,000 or more a year. The companies must also pay the established wage to all employees who conduct a majority of their work in Orange County, according to the city staff report. [Article]
by EMILY FOXHALL, Los Angeles Times. 2015-05-27
 
Southland water district OKs $350 million more for lawn-replacement rebates
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California on Tuesday voted to increase funding for its turf-removal program, as more and more residents and businesses swap water-guzzling lawns for more drought-tolerant landscaping. The MWD will boost its turf-replacement budget by $350 million for one year, but will also change certain terms and conditions of the extremely popular program. The district voted to cap the total reimbursement for residential customers at $6,000, paying $2 per square foot of lawn removed. Previously there was no square footage limit. Although commercial properties made up a small portion of total applications, they have accounted for a majority of the rebates. Because of this, the MWD voted to reduce commercial rebates to $1 per square foot up to a maximum reimbursement of $25,000. [Article]
by TAYLOR GOLDENSTEIN AND MONTE MORIN, Los Angeles Times. 2015-05-27
 
Antelope Valley residents get temporary reprieve from water reduction targets, fines
Antelope Valley homeowners who say they have already drastically reduced water use but would face stiff fines protested before the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday and got at least a one-week reprieve. Under the state’s mandatory emergency water conservation measures, the Los Angeles County Waterworks District that covers Lancaster and areas of Palmdale is required to cut back water use by 32 percent. To accomplish that, the district last week notified users that they must reduce consumption by up to 80 percent or be fined double for what is used beyond 115 percent of their allotment. After about a dozen homeowners testified and urged the board to reject the reduction target and surcharge, the board postponed a vote on approving the plan. [Article]
by SARAH FAVOT, Los Angeles Daily News. 2015-05-27
 
Work-scheduling bill a poor example of collaboration: Guest commentary
The popular “Schoolhouse Rock” lyrics to the 1970s sketch titled “I’m Just a Bill” were the basis for many to learn the foundation of our political process. To refresh your memory, the segment depicts the collaboration, discussion and debate that occurs before a bill is signed into law. Perhaps it’s time to revisit the premise of the “Schoolhouse Rock” segment with the introduction of legislation in the California Legislature known as Assembly Bill 357, which is authored by Assemblyman David Chiu of San Francisco. Essentially, AB 357 imposes a rigid scheduling mandate on California retailers, grocery stores, restaurants, health clubs and franchisees with 500 or more employees by penalizing the employer for making changes to the work schedule with less than two weeks notice of a schedule shift. The bill was based on an ordinance that was recently passed in San Francisco by the Board of Supervisors, which has not gone into effect and has been has been delayed from January 2015 until July 2015 so that stakeholders and regulators can piece together a plan of how to make it work. [Article]
by RUBEN GUERRA / COMMENTARY, Los Angeles Daily News. 2015-05-27
 
Affordable-housing project unanimously approved
The city will partially fund a six-unit affordable-housing project to be built by Habitat for Humanity, making it the ninth such development in Glendale. The Housing Authority voted unanimously last week to contribute $1.4 million to construct the home-ownership project, roughly half of the $2.8-million total cost for the condominiums. They will be built on adjacent parcels at 634 and 700 E. Lomita Ave. Each unit will be 1,300 square feet and have three bedrooms and 1.5 bathrooms, according to a city staff report. Each home will also have a two-car garage. [Article]
by ARIN MIKAILIAN, Los Angeles Times. 2015-05-27
 
Water-saving 'cash for grass' program gets a $350 million boost
Rebates for turf removal and other water-saving efforts got a $350 million boost from Metropolitan Water District leaders Tuesday. The funding increase, on top of $100 million already budgeted, takes the total two-year incentive program to $450 million through the fiscal year ending in 2016. That will provide enough money to cover outstanding pre-approvals and some new applications, which are coming in at a rate of 2,500 to 3,000 per week – worth $10 million – just for turf removal, said Jeffrey Kightlinger, Metropolitan’s general manager. At that rate, the money won’t last until the end of the year even with the additional funding, according to a MWD staff report. [Article]
by JANET ZIMMERMAN, Orange County Register. 2015-05-27
 
Orange County D.A. official required to share more financial information
With pressures growing for Chief of Staff Susan Schroeder to more fully disclose potential conflicts of interest, the District Attorney’s Office has agreed it will now require her to file financial interest statements dating back to at least 2010. After a formal complaint was filed by government watchdog Shirley Grindle, District Attorney Tony Rackauckas’ office announced in April it would require Schroeder to file the statements beginning this year. County Counsel Nicholas Chrisos then prepared a report to the Board of Supervisors stating that Schroeder was legally required to file retroactively to 2010 – when Schroeder was promoted from public affairs counsel to the newly created post of chief of staff – and that the board should officially issue that mandate. [Article]
by MARTIN WISCKOL, Orange County Register. 2015-05-27
 
Suicide report: Here's why Orange County kids are killing themselves
Every year, more than 700 Orange County teens wind up in hospitals after intentionally injuring themselves, according to a first-of-its kind study on the risk factors for teen suicide. Of those who actually kill themselves – a total of 65 between 2009 and 2013, according to the report “Risk Factors for Teen Self-Injury and Suicide in Orange County” – key factors include being diagnosed with a mental illness or showing symptoms of mental illness. [Article]
by DEEPA BHARATH, Orange County Register. 2015-05-27
 
With outlets come cache of questions
The anticipated mid-October opening of an outlet mall in San Clemente figures to bring new shopping opportunities and dining choices, plus a dramatic uptick in tax revenues for the city. With these will come a dramatic increase in visitors to town and an increase in traffic that local officials admit is hard to forecast. San Clemente’s elected leaders are wrestling with the possibility that the city may need more Sheriff’s Department coverage it can’t afford. Even with a new revenue stream, there can be a six-month lag time to receive sales tax receipts, officials said. [Article]
by FRED SWEGLES, Orange County Register. 2015-05-27
 
Rental properties: Beach cities balancing potential revenue with parties, loud music, disrespect
The girls from Vegas had margaritas flowing by 3 p.m. Friday, raising glasses on the balcony of their temporary beachfront home in Newport Beach, overlooking a view of the glistening ocean just steps away. And what do the dozen women plan for their all-girls getaway? “Have fun, bond and relax, and have priceless memories,” said Linda Gonzalez. Just down the sand, a group of guys visiting from Seattle kicked off its bachelor party getaway with a game of soccer, just steps from where 15 or so would cram into their Newport Beach rental for the next few days. “This is exactly what I wanted – just kick it with my friends for the weekend,” said the soon-to-be married Dan Shafer. [Article]
by LAYLAN CONNELLY, Orange County Register. 2015-05-27
 
Court Rules North County Transit District Must Release Records
A state appellate court has concluded that the summary of an assessment of senior managers at the North County Transit District should be released for public review. The decision issued Monday by three justices of the 4th District Court of Appeal was a loss for NCTD, which had argued the entire assessment of 13 top managers was a confidential personnel document. inewsource sued the district in March 2014, contending the full report should be released because the public’s interest in it outweighed privacy issues. [Article]
by JOE YERARDI, KPBS Radio News / San Diego. 2015-05-27
 
Longtime residents will bear water conservation burden
Long-range drought forecasts get bleaker, while long-range economic and demographic forecasts get giddier. Something’s gotta give, San Diego. Both forecasts aren’t likely to be right. The reality is that the people who really run the city and county — real estate developers — take the sunny and greedy view. This means that San Diego must undergo a massive sociocultural change before it is capable of tackling the massive water problems that probably lie ahead. [Article]
by DON BAUDER, San Diego Reader. 2015-05-27
 
Assembly slush fund is indefensible
An Associated Press investigation has found that speakers of the California Assembly have used their chamber’s operating budget like a slush fund for years. From 2008 to 2014, Speakers Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles, John Perez, D-Los Angeles, and Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, gave away $115 million to various programs. Nearly all the grants have gone to causes that nearly everyone would consider worthy. Atkins, for example, steered money to senior nutrition programs and the Museum of Tolerance. This isn’t akin to what county supervisors did a decade ago with their slush funds, when some openly used the money to buy favor with community groups. Nevertheless, individual lawmakers should not have accounts from which they can unilaterally hand out millions in public funds. At the least, there should be an open process in which grants are applied for and subject to review. [Article]
by EDITORIAL, San Diego Union-Tribune. 2015-05-27
 
County housing market remains solid
The pace of annual home price appreciation held steady in San Diego in March, the S&P Case Shiller Index showed Tuesday. In March, resale single family home prices rose about 4.8 percent over the year, about a tenth of a percent faster than they did in February. Over the last seven months, the pace has hovered between 4.6 and 5 percent. While that's a far cry from the investor-led 20-percent plus annual appreciation in the summer of 2013, Beacon economist Jordan Levine said he considers the pace strong relative to historical norms. [Article]
by JONATHAN HORN, San Diego Union-Tribune. 2015-05-27
 
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