Assembly Democrats Want Real Estate Fees, Tax Credits for Affordable Housing

As reported by KQED:

The leader of the state Assembly is unveiling an ambitious affordable housing proposal, one that could pump more than $600 million a year into  development at the local level.

Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) was joined Wednesday afternoon by a wide range of prominent Democrats in Los Angeles, including state Treasurer John Chiang and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, to announce her plan. At its center: A proposal to institute a new transfer fee on real estate transactions, one Atkins’ staff characterizes as small; and expanding legislation proposed by Assemblyman David Chiu (D-San Francisco) to increase the tax credit that real estate developers can claim when they build affordable housing.

“The bottom line is that every Californian deserves a stable, safe place to live,” Atkins said.

Click here to read the full story

Inglewood Approves NFL Stadium Plan, Increases Lead in Race to Bring a Team to L.A.

As reported by the Orange County Register:

INGLEWOOD – The Inglewood City Council on Tuesday night unanimously approved Rams owner Stan Kroenke’s plans to build the world’s most expensive stadium at Hollywood Park.

The council’s approval of the Hollywood Park Land Company’s plans to build a $1.86 billion, 80,000-seat, closed-roof stadium as part of a larger 298-acre redevelopment is the closest the NFL has been to returning to Los Angeles since the Rams and Raiders left Southern California more than 20 years ago.

“It’s the one, best chance for the NFL to come back here,” Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts said after the four-hour council meeting that included the 5-0 vote. …

Click here to read the full article

Judge Rebukes Harris’ Effort to Access Group’s Donor Lists

Written by Steven Greenhut and published in the San Diego Union-Tribune:

California Attorney General Kamala Harris has been in the news lately as the Democratic establishment’s anointed successor to Barbara Boxer, the U.S. senator who has announced her coming retirement. But a recent ruling by a federal court temporarily smacking down one of Harris’ decisions may give her political foes a little ammunition.

In December, this column reported on a federal First Amendment lawsuit filed by the Virginia-based conservative group Americans for Prosperity. The group — co-founded by the billionaire Koch brothers, who are a lightning rod for critics from the political left — argues the AG is trying to squelch free speech by demanding its list of donors.

The IRS requires such tax-exempt charitable groups (the foundation is a 501(c)3, which provides “education” and does some limited lobbying for bills and initiatives) to file an annual report called a Form 990 and a Schedule B, which lists donors who give more than $5,000 a year. The IRS is required to keep the information about donors private.

California also requires groups to register with the attorney general’s office. …

Click here to read the full article

Sex Photos on State Cellphones Surface in Cal Fire Discipline Cases

As reported by the Sacramento Bee:

One Cal Fire captain supposedly received an Internet link from a colleague for a private sex club on his state cellphone. An assistant chief allegedly thought nothing of a supervisor slapping the rear end of a female cadet. Investigators said another captain put hundreds of sexually explicit pictures of his wife on his state cellphone.

And, according to Cal Fire employee discipline records released Friday, there was drinking on the job. Sometimes a lot of it.

Those allegations and others have surfaced in employee disciplinary documents released Friday that portray some of the department’s employees as indulgent frat boys on state time.

The department fired one accused manager …

Click here to read the full article

 

California to Spend $20 Million on Part of ‘Hydrogen Highway’

As reported by the L.A. Times:

It’s been more than a decade since former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger regularly talked about his dream of building a “hydrogen highway” that would speed fleets of non-polluting cars from Mexico to Canada.

The vision never materialized anywhere other than in the governor’s upbeat, eco-friendly speeches.

Now, finally, a modest form of Schwarzenegger’s highway might actually become a reality.

The California Energy Commission reports that it’s spending $20 million to build nearly half of the approximately 100 stations needed to give a driver of a hydrogen car enough range to travel freely through most parts of the Golden State.

Click here to read the full story

‘American Sniper’ May Miss Academy Awards Target

From the Orange County Register:

Clint Eastwood’s “American Sniper” is playing to packed houses and, by early February, earned $281,398,352 in domestic box office alone. But the violation of Hollywood taboos might leave the movie shortchanged on Oscar night.

The blockbuster film has drawn fire from movie stars and filmmakers such as Michael Moore, who charges that snipers are “cowards.” More is going here than meets the eye.

Long before he produced and directed “American Sniper,” Clint Eastwood played detective Harry Callahan in the 1971 “Dirty Harry.” This was the first movie to talk back to liberalism, then preoccupied with the rights of violent criminals. A similar dynamic is going on with “American Sniper.”

The film shows American troops engaging the kinds of people they actually fight these days …

Click here to read the full column

Lloyd Billingsley is author of “Hollywood Party: Stalinist Adventures in the American Movie Industry.”

Bill Seeks to Give DNA Collection Powers Back to Police

As reported by the Sacramento Bee:

Police officers would regain powers to collect DNA that a voter-approved initiative stripped away under legislation announced Thursday by Assemblyman Jim Cooper, D-Elk Grove, with the backing of district attorneys and lawmakers from both parties.

“Forensic DNA is the greatest tool ever given to law enforcement to find the guilty and to exonerate the innocent,” Sacramento District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert said at an event announcing Assembly Bill 390.

In overwhelmingly approving Proposition 47 in November, Californians endorsed more lenient sentences for crimes like theft and drug possession, reducing them from felonies to misdemeanors. That reduced the reach of a program allowing officers to take the genetic information of suspects arrested for felonies. The Department of Justice estimates Proposition 47 has already diminished the rate of DNA collection by 10 to 20 percent. …

 

Gavin Newsom Starts Fundraising for 2018 Gubernatorial Bid

As reported by the Los Angeles Times:

California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday that he has opened a fundraising account to run for governor in 2018.

In an email to supporters, Newsom said “our state is defined by its independent, outspoken spirit.  When Californians see something we truly believe in, we say so and act accordingly – without evasiveness or equivocation.

“So today I’m announcing that I’m creating a committee to run for California governor in 2018.  Because I truly and passionately believe in the future of this great state.”

Newsom has long wanted to be governor …

Click here to read the full story

Bill Aims to Crack Open SoCal Carpool Lanes

carpool-lane

As reported in the San Diego Union-Tribune:

 — State lawmakers again this year will debate whether to crack open some of Southern California’s carpool lanes to all drivers before and after rush hours.

Most of the region’s carpool lanes, including stretches on San Diego County’s Interstates 5 and 805, are restricted 24/7 to vehicles with at least two occupants. Not so in Northern California, where the diamond lanes are open to all outside of commute hours, and have been for decades.

Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Glendale, introduced AB 210 last week that would require Caltrans to open diamond lanes along portions of state Routes 210 and 134 in Los Angeles County to all drivers during non-commute hours. It would be a pilot program, though Gatto has said he would like to see the change made statewide. …

Click here to read the full story

Bill would cap large payouts to school superintendents

As reported by the San Francisco Chronicle:

SACRAMENTO — A California lawmaker wants to limit the generous — sometimes six-figure — payouts that school districts award school superintendents who leave their jobs.

Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Watsonville, said the state needs to reduce the severance pay school districts — and ultimately taxpayers — give superintendents who are terminated or voluntarily leave before their contracts expire. School boards typically negotiate severance deals with superintendents that equal about 12 to 18 months worth of pay. The state already caps such cash settlements at 18 months.

But increasingly, school boards are approving 18 months of severance in superintendent and other high-level administrative contracts. One Bay Area school leader collected a $600,000 payout in 2013. …

Click to read the full story