Los Angeles Jacks Minimum Wage to $15 Per Hour

As reported by the Orange County Register

The Los Angeles City Council gave its initial approval Tuesday to raise minimum pay in the nation’s second-largest city to $15 an hour over the next five years, joining a nationwide movement to boost living standards for the poorest American workers.

“The minimum wage should not be a poverty wage in Los Angeles,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti, who is expected to sign the ordinance once a final draft is approved by the council.

The measure, strongly opposed by city businesses, would affect more than 700,000 workers, including dishwashers, janitors, gardeners, fast-food cashiers, parking attendants and housekeepers.

Los Angeles Councilman Mitchell Englander, the lone dissenter in the 14-1 vote, predicted the raise would lead to …

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San Bernardino’s bankruptcy plan favors CalPERS

As reported by the L.A. Times:

San Bernardino’s plan to exit bankruptcy has at least one winner, plenty of losers and could have repercussions for other California cities.

The city will pay every penny of the almost $50 million it owes to the California Public Employee Retirement System, known as CalPERS, if a federal judge approves the plan.

But it will only pay one penny for every dollar it owes to some bondholders who helped the city pay its CalPERS bill over the years.

Retirees will lose healthcare benefits that they were promised. …

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Berkeley Soda Tax: First Month’s Take, $116,000

As reported by the Contra Costa Times:

BERKELEY — Several City Council members and other boosters of Berkeley’s first-in-the-nation soda tax giddily reported the first month’s haul — $116,000 — on the steps of the municipal office building on Milvia Street on Monday.

Councilman Laurie Capitelli, a prominent booster of the freshly enacted tax, projected the first year’s proceeds at about $1.2 million.

On Nov. 4, voters approved Measure D, a 1-cent-per-ounce tax on the distribution of most sugar-sweetened beverages, by a better than 3-1 margin, even though, as a general tax with proceeds to go into the general fund, it needed only a simple majority.

The city did not estimate what the tax might bring in, but …

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Loretta Sanchez apologizes for mocking American Indians

As reported by the Sacramento Bee:

U.S. Senate candidate Loretta Sanchez, addressing Democratic activists Sunday, apologized for a gesture mocking American Indians, offering that candidates “who don’t hide behind the handlers” sometimes misstep.

Sanchez, a 10-term congresswoman, said the Native American “war cry,” made while speaking to an American Indian group in Anaheim on Saturday, came amid a “crazy and exciting rush of meetings.” In a video posted on social media, Sanchez holds her hand in front of her mouth and makes a whooping sound. “I said something offensive, and for that I sincerely apologize.”

Sanchez, D-Santa Ana, speaking at the California Democratic Party convention, said her free-flowing approach has long connected with voters.

California tells for-profit chain to stop enrolling veterans

As reported by the Associated Press:

A for-profit college company with 15 campuses in California was ordered by the state Friday to stop enrolling new or returning students who plan to fund their educations with GI Bill benefits.

The order to ITT Educational Services came in a suspension notice issued by a division of the California Department of Veterans Affairs that sanctions training programs to serve veterans.

ITT operates more than 135 schools in 39 states under the names ITT Technical Institute and Daniel Webster College.

The Securities and Exchange Commission filed a fraud complaint against the Indiana-based company this week over an alleged scheme to cover up losses from private student loans that ITT had guaranteed to its investors.

California officials suspended ITT as an …

Long Beach allows taxis to lower fares as they compete with Uber, Lyft

As reported by the L.A. Times:

Long Beach officials are pursuing a new strategy to resolve the growing rift between taxi drivers and ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft, becoming the nation’s first large city to relax restrictions on cabs, rather than increase regulation of their new competitors.

Removing requirements that taxi drivers say have put them at a competitive disadvantage, the City Council voted Tuesday to allow its exclusive cab franchise to rebrand itself, update the appearance of its fleet and offer variable, discounted fares, free rides and other price promotions to lure customers.

In addition to a new name (Yellow Long Beach) and a new Uber-like app (Ride Yellow), Long Beach Yellow Cab will repaint its traditional mustard-colored taxis a more vivid lemon. …

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U.S. Senate race drama could dominate state Dem convention

As reported by the San Francisco Chronicle:

Even before California Democrats gather in Anaheim on Friday for their annual convention, they’ve got plenty to talk about — a political stumble by U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez, who can’t seem to decide whether she’s running for the U.S. Senate or not.

Sanchez political adviser Bill Carrick said Wednesday that the 10-term Democratic House member plans a “significant political announcement” Thursday morning at the Santa Ana train station — not far from the Anaheim Convention Center, where 3,000 state Democrats will attend the party’s largest gathering of the year.

Carrick wouldn’t say what she would announce, but his statement came less than 24 hours after it was reported that Sanchez had sent e-mails Tuesday formally announcing the kickoff of her U.S. Senate campaign.

But when the Orange County congresswoman was asked later about the e-mail, she said she hadn’t yet made up her mind … 

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Despite draft announcement, Sanchez says she’s undecided on Senate

As reported by Politico:

Rep. Loretta Sanchez says she has made no decision about whether to jump into the California Senate race to replace Sen. Barbara Boxer, despite a leaked draft announcement obtained by POLITICO saying she would enter the race Thursday.

In the draft announcement dated Tuesday, Sanchez, a Democrat, said she would officially announce her candidacy at the Santa Ana train station alongside her “husband, family, and friends” at 11 a.m. Thursday.

Several Democratic congressional sources independently confirmed Sanchez’s decision.

But hours after …

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6 things to know as state proposes tougher vaccine rules for children

From OC Register:

Moms who turned out last week to hear vaccine critic Andrew Wakefield speak in Dana Point said the debate over whether to inoculate their children has become so divisive it’s severing friendships.

“The ‘V’ word, man, it’s a hot topic,” said Dotty “Sunshine” Hagmier, founder of local moms group Moms In Charge.

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Innovation or insanity? Californians’ ideas for busting the drought

From LA Times:

Last month, after Gov. Jerry Brown ordered Californians to cut back their water use, a retired engineering professor in Carmel revived a decades-old proposal for easing the drought: icebergs

He wrote to officials urging them to consider towing giant hunks of ice across the ocean to California, a fantastical concept that has never quite gained steam.

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