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Prop. 47 also reduces some juvenile offenses, state court rules
Alejandro was 15 when he tried to steal three bottles of vodka and a bag of potato chips from his neighborhood pharmacy. Arrested immediately, he admitted his crime in juvenile court and was sentenced to up to three years in juvenile custody for an offense labeled a commercial burglary, a felony. It took a change in state law, a nimble public defender and an agreeable judge to get Alejandro released early from juvenile hall and back to his family. Now, after a major court decision last week, Alejandro's case may establish a precedent assuring juveniles throughout California the same reduced sentences and other treatment provided to adults under Proposition 47 passed by voters in 2014. The measure, supported by the American Civil Liberties Union, National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People and the California Teachers Assn. but opposed by many prosecutors and police, is an attempt to reduce prison overcrowding and to stress rehabilitation rather than punishment for nonviolent crimes such as petty theft and drug possession. [Article]
by TONY PERRY, Los Angeles Times. 2015-07-27
 
Facing regulatory roadblocks, Uber ramps up its lobbying in California
Uber now spends more on lobbyists in California than Wal-Mart, Bank of America or Wells Fargo. And for good reason: The 6-year-old ride-hailing company needs powerful friends as it faces two serious regulatory challenges in the state — a move to reclassify its drivers as employees, not independent contractors, and a demand to turn over to state officials data on every Uber ride. Those are only the latest public fights threatening to slow the firm's lightning-quick international expansion. But the home-state problems pose a key test of Uber's increasingly well-oiled political machine, whose spending on Sacramento lobbyists puts it in the top 3% of companies and organizations. The stakes for Uber are high. Having to treat drivers like employees would pose huge costs and headaches for a company that says it only manages a smartphone app — and could dramatically affect the start-up's estimated $40-billion valuation. Turning over troves of ride data could lead to even bigger headaches, opening the door to intense regulatory scrutiny of issues such as worker hours, traffic violations, accommodations for the disabled and service in impoverished neighborhoods. [Article]
by CHRIS KIRKHAM AND TRACEY LIEN, Los Angeles Times. 2015-07-27
 
LAX could see more than 100 million travelers a year by 2040
New aviation forecasts predict that Los Angeles International Airport, already straining under a record number of passengers, could have more than 100 million travelers annually by 2040, far more than the ceiling set by a 2006 court settlement that will soon expire. According to projections released last week, the Southern California Assn. of Governments estimates that between 78.9 million and 100.7 million passengers a year will eventually pass through the nation's second-busiest commercial airport. LAX, the leading international gateway on the West Coast, had 70.7 million passengers last year. Overall, the regional planning agency predicts that a dozen commercial airports within its six-county jurisdiction will handle between 136 million and 138 million travelers annually by 2040. The forecast represents at least a 55% increase in air travelers since 2013, but the estimate is significantly less than the prediction of 170 million annual passengers by 2030 that the association made more than a decade ago. Researchers said the downward revisions stemmed from slowing population growth and events since 9/11 such as sharp increases in fuel costs and the worst economic recession since World War II. [Article]
by DAN WEIKEL, Los Angeles Times. 2015-07-27
 
Why union leaders want L.A. to give them a minimum wage loophole
One of the most divisive issues that Los Angeles City Council members expect to confront when they return this week from a summer recess will be a proposal by labor leaders to exempt unionized workers from the city's new minimum wage. The push for the loophole, which began in the final days before the law's passage, caused a backlash rarely seen in this pro-union city and upended perceptions of labor's role in the fight to raise pay for the working poor. Union activists were among the most stalwart backers of L.A.'s ordinance raising the wage to $15 by 2020, and argued against special consideration for nonprofits and small businesses. Rusty Hicks, head of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, said the union waiver would be a routine protection against challenges to the ordinance under federal labor law. "This is about staying consistent with previous provisions and crafting something that will withstand legal scrutiny and delay," Hicks said in May. In California, he added, "we've seen every city that has passed a minimum wage include this kind of a provision." [Article]
by PETER JAMISON, Los Angeles Times. 2015-07-27
 
A global movement toward much higher minimum wages is dangerous
WHEN prices rise, demand falls. Exceptions to the most basic rule of markets are curiosities—the kind of thing an economist might bore you with at a dinner party. Set carefully, minimum wages can provide such an example. But policymakers must not assume this is a cast-iron law. Big rises in minimum wages are a gamble with people’s futures. Modest minimum wages do not seem to sap demand for labour. Truckloads of studies, from both America and Europe, show that at low levels—below 50% of median full-time income, with a lower rate for young people—minimum wages do not destroy many jobs. When Britain set a new minimum wage in 1998 doom-mongers forecast that jobs would vanish. Employment proved resilient. Minimum wages help offset firms’ bargaining power over employees reluctant to risk moving elsewhere. They may even boost productivity and reduce staff turnover by making workers value their jobs. [Article]
by EDITORIAL, Public CEO. 2015-07-27
 
Anaheim makes ambitious push to expand tourism beyond Disneyland
Known for 60 years as the home to Disneyland, Anaheim is pushing the idea that there's more for tourists to do — and spend money on — than ride on Space Mountain and snap a selfie with Mickey Mouse. Among the new offerings are a food mall that was converted from an abandoned orange packing house and a brewery built within an old Packard car dealership. Five hotels with more than 1,000 rooms are set to open over the next 12 months, in addition to three hotels with 470 rooms that opened last year. The Anaheim Convention Center recently broke ground on a 200,000-square-foot expansion. A 600-room hotel with a 105,000-square-foot water park is also set to open in adjacent Garden Grove next year. See the most-read stories this hour >> "It's great to see it all happening at once," said Jay Burress, president of the recently renamed Visit Anaheim. The tourism organization changed its name from the Anaheim/Orange County Visitor & Convention Bureau to put the focus on Anaheim. [Article]
by HUGO MARTIN, Los Angeles Times. 2015-07-27
 
The Crime of Living Without A Home in Los Angeles
A year ago he slept in his own apartment, but today Charles Jackson sleeps under a bridge bordering Silver Lake, one of the more fashionable neighborhoods in Los Angeles. A few dozen strangers share the encampment; some become neighbors, while others come and go. Jackson wants to get off the streets, but as many of those who live on the margins have found, it is easier to lose a home than find another. “People say, ‘This is going to be temporary, you know, until I get out from under this rock,’” he told me. A kind-looking brown-eyed man in his mid-50s, Jackson stands in front of the tent he lives in, looking away as we talk, his voice barely louder than a whisper. Beside us, Jackson’s white-and-tan terrier, Ozzie — well-groomed and clearly beloved — pokes his nose out from the front of the tent, panting in the midday sun. “Two years pass by, four, five years pass by; before you know it, you’re ten years homeless in the streets because out here, time is nothing. You get to not know what day it is, what month it is.” Life on the streets, he said, “grows on you.” His well-stocked tent is evidence of this. There’s a full-size mattress, a stool, a big jug of water, pots and pans — the makings of an apartment, underneath a bridge. [Article]
by CHARLES DAVIS, Pro Publica. 2015-07-27
 
Time for sanity in sanctuary city policies: Thomas Elias
There is no need — at least not yet — for total abandonment of the humane aspects of the immigration “sanctuary” laws now on the books in 276 American cities, counties and states. But in the wake of the seemingly random murder of a 32-year-old woman on San Francisco’s touristy Pier 14, not far from the landmark Ferry Building, there is surely a need for new sanity in sanctuary policies. What’s done now ought to reflect the spirit of a letter written just after the murder by Democratic U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who as mayor of San Francisco for most of the 1980s accepted her city’s charitably intended sanctuary law. Its intent is to prevent dividing families via deportations and to allow otherwise law-abiding undocumented immigrants to live without fear. [Article]
by THOMAS ELIAS / OPINION, Los Angeles Daily News. 2015-07-27
 
Experts Testify on Civilian Oversight of Police
Although civilian oversight of police has been around for decades, testimony from a panel of experts on the subject at a hearing last Friday revealed there is a dearth of research on the topic and sharp disagreement over which model is best. The hearing – convened by Orange County supervisors Chairman Todd Spitzer -- comes as supervisors consider an overhaul of sheriff’s department oversight, which is currently handled by the county’s Office of Independent Review. Last month, county supervisors decided to completely de-fund the office after they said it failed to keep them apprised of misconduct in the department. [Article]
by ADAM ELMAHREK, Voice of OC. 2015-07-27
 
Scenes From the Bus
Although Southern California is known for its car culture, a bus is still the primary mode of transportation for many in Orange County, especially low-income residents. Voice of OC intern Mariah Castaneda spent the last few weeks riding Orange County Transportation Authority buses and interacted with several residents for whom riding the bus is a big part of their daily existence. Here are slices from their lives: [Article]
by MARIAH CASTANEDA, Voice of OC. 2015-07-27
 
Health Department launches restaurant app
Orange County’s health agency has released a free smartphone app that will put inspection, closure and violation reports for thousands of the county’s restaurants and markets in the consumer’s palm. The OC Food Inspections app is available for iOS and Android and has been in the works for 18 months, said Denise Fennessy, director of Environmental Health at the Orange County Health Care Agency. Consumers also can get inspection reports via email, she said. [Article]
by DEEPA BHARATH, Orange County Register. 2015-07-27
 
O.C. Sheriff Sandra Hutchens blasts attorney general investigation of jailhouse informants
SANTA ANA – Sheriff Sandra Hutchens on Friday lambasted an investigation by state authorities into the use of illegal jailhouse informants, questioning why the California Attorney General’s Office has already blamed her employees for the scandal. “I’m not confident with the attorney general investigation,” Hutchens told supervisors during a workshop about how to better oversee Orange County’s criminal justice system. [Article]
by MEGHANN M. CUNIFF, Orange County Register. 2015-07-27
 
Program will wipe records clean for LA-area homeless
LOS ANGELES – Homeless people who’ve been ticketed for panhandling and other minor crimes in the Los Angeles area can have their records wiped clean if they accept help to get back on their feet. The Los Angeles Times says the county-funded program removes citations if the homeless person accepts job training, drug and alcohol treatment or other services and performs community service. Some of the homeless have racked up thousands of dollars in citations for offenses such as sleeping on sidewalks or urinating in public. [Article]
by ASSOCIATED PRESS, Orange County Register. 2015-07-27
 
Covered California says cost of health care coverage increasing
SACRAMENTO –California announced Monday that the cost of individual health plans will increase about 4 percent for the second straight year, saying its strategy to force insurers to compete on price and value is controlling costs for consumers. The average premium will rise 4 percent in 2016, a slight decrease from the 4.2 percent jump in 2015, said Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California. [Article]
by JUDY LIN / Associated Press, Orange County Register. 2015-07-27
 
Census finds that 1-in-5 of O.C.'s self-employed work in real estate
New Census data shows that nearly 1-in-5 Orange County self-employed people worked in two key real estate job categories in 2013. One way the government tracks self-employment is through counting "non-employee" businesses paying federal income taxes -- typically a sole proprietorship -- that may or may not be that person's primary source of income. [Article]
by JONATHAN LANSNER , Orange County Register. 2015-07-27
 
Has O.C. homebuying cooled as summer starts?
Orange County’s homebuyers were busy in the first half of the year – buying 7 percent more homes in the first home vs. the first six months of 2014. But an early reading of summertime activity raises a question or two about the surge’s durability. The latest tally of homebuying patterns by CoreLogic – tracking sales closed in the 22 business days ending July 9 – found 3,404 Orange County residences sold in the period, up only 0.5 percent from a year ago. Sales rose in just 38 of 83 Orange County ZIPs compared to the year-ago period. [Article]
by JONATHAN LANSNER , Orange County Register. 2015-07-27
 
California's fiscal health among nation's worst
At least we’re not last. Californians have become accustomed to seeing our state rank at the very bottom of numerous business climate and tax friendliness surveys in recent years. And, though California is not bringing up the rear in a new Mercatus Center study of the states’ fiscal health, it did not fare much better, placing 44th. In the study, California received mediocre ratings in two categories, ranking 23rd in budget solvency and 27th in service-level solvency, which compares taxes, revenue and spending with personal income. But it really came up short in the other three categories. [Article]
by EDITORIAL, Orange County Register. 2015-07-27
 
Don’t kill budding wine industry with deception
A recent guest commentary in the Sentinel accused San Diego County Planning and Development Services of adding multiple “business killing restrictions” to the Boutique Winery tier of the four-tiered ordinance during the cleanup effort. Nothing is further from the truth — almost all restrictions decried by the author as “new” have always existed in the Boutique Winery Ordinance language, but were being continuously violated by some wineries in the Ramona region. [Article]
by ANDY HARRIS / OPINION, Ramona Sentinel. 2015-07-27
 
San Diego economy still on the verge
Just under a year ago, I reported that San Diego’s economy was poised to gain traction after years stuck in the mud. Overall activity has certainly gained speed since then. Yet, with rising costs for housing and utilities chipping away at stagnant average incomes, many thousands of people are left behind. The big question for the future is when — or whether — they will get a lift, too. Commentary: More Dan McSwain columns about Business Companies are creating jobs in just about every sector in San Diego County, with big gains from health care, leisure and professional services. If you were jobless or part-time and recently got a proper job, this is unvarnished good news. [Article]
by Dan McSwain / COLUMNIST, San Diego Union-Tribune. 2015-07-27
 
Doc loses the fat, gains heart
When he tipped the scales at close to 500 pounds in 2001, Dr. Nick Yphantides knew what to expect when he met people for the first time, especially new patients. He was used to the surprised looks, the blank stares, and yes, the revulsion. With his 62-inch waist and lack of a white lab coat — he couldn’t find one to fit — Yphantides made a tough visual case for healthy living. And though he has shed a lot since then, there’s one encounter that sticks with him. The former executive director of the Escondido Community Health Center walked into an exam room and greeted a young woman who had been waiting. She asked if she could have a minute. Yphantides stepped out and when he came back, she was gone. [Article]
by MICHELE PARENTE, San Diego Union-Tribune. 2015-07-27
 
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