Driverless vehicles and the future of L.A. transportation

As reported by the Los Angeles Times:

Gabe Klein knows a few things about commuting. At 44, he is an author, futurist, government consultant and former head of the Chicago and Washington, D.C., transportation departments. He grew up in his family’s bicycle business, eventually became a vice president of Zipcar, the car sharing company, and is now with Fontinalis Partners, a venture capital firm co-founded by William C. Ford Jr., the great-grandson of Henry Ford and executive chairman of Ford Motor Co. Fontinalis focuses on technology and transportation-related start-ups.

Over the years, Klein has become an advocate of alternative modes of transportation, which, he says, are now entering the mainstream. Among other things, he set up bike-share operations in Chicago and the nation’s capital. At Zipcar, he built one of the largest car-sharing systems in the country in Washington. Klein’s ideas about urban transportation are contained in his new book “Start-up City,” published by Island Press.

Last week at a presentation and panel discussion for students at UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs, The Times talked to Klein about one set of wheels he prefers — the self-driving car — and how it might be used to improve mobility in Los Angeles and other cities …

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Despite California’s budget surplus, unions eye tax hikes

As reported by the Los Angeles Times:

Here is one thing for California to be thankful for: The state treasury is overflowing with tax money.

Long gone are the dark years of multibillion-dollar deficits — $42 billion in 2008 — and sharp cuts in state services, especially healthcare for the poor and education.

Credit the recovering national economy. Gov. Jerry Brown also gets a high-five for holding big spenders in check. But the governor’s 2012 voter-approved, soak-the-rich tax hike was a crucial budget healer.

The nonpartisan legislative analyst’s office reported last week that the state’s tax take for the current fiscal year is expected to exceed earlier estimates by $3.6 billion. And by the end of the next fiscal year, the state is on track to have …

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Brown marches California climate agenda to Paris

As reported by the San Francisco Chronicle:

When Gov. Jerry Brown lands in Paris next week for international talks on climate, he’ll be preaching the need for action — and not to solve a hypothetical or future problem but something immediate.

The governor has increasingly tied California’s run-ins with nature, by way of drought, wildfire and rising seas, to human-caused warming. And he shares global concerns that havoc will ensue worldwide if the issue is put off any longer.

“I get that the majority in Congress, leaders in the House and Senate, half the governors, want to say, ‘No, there’s nothing going on.’ But that doesn’t change the science,” Brown said in an interview with The Chronicle this week. “If a building is burning down, you don’t sit there and get frustrated, you get a fire hose and put it out.”

Brown is scheduled to join leaders from more than 120 nations at …

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California bill would require double pay on Thanksgiving

As reported by the Sacramento Bee:

As Californians start brining birds and mashing potatoes, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, is again hoping to dish out meatier wages for Thanksgiving workers.

She plans to amend and revive stalled legislation guaranteeing double Thanksgiving pay so it would only apply to workers at large retail businesses that have more than 500 employees in California.

Earlier this year the Assembly rejected a version that would have covered more workers. Gonzalez said she hoped the amended version would fare better by focusing on big retailers.

California State University faculty protest, threaten to strike

As reported by the The Sun:

Faculty from throughout the state protested Tuesday at the Cal State University chancellor’s office in Long Beach, threatening to strike after locking horns with administrators over pay.

The California Faculty Association voted in October to authorize a strike should an agreement not be reached. The union is demanding a 5 percent salary increase for 2015-16, while management for the 23-campus system has offered a 2 percent pay raise — the same increase authorized for all other CSU employee groups.

Tuesday’s protest was timed to coincide with the Board of Trustees meeting in Long Beach. …

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McCarthy: Use high-speed rail funds to quench California’s drought

As reported by the Sacramento Bee:

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a persistent critic of California’s high-speed rail program, said that the funds for the project should be diverted to quench the state’s severe drought.

The California Republican made the proposal Wednesday after the Los Angeles Times reported that the system’s contractor pegged the cost of building the initial segment at 31 percent above the original estimate, but the California High Speed Rail Authority did not use that figure in its 2014 business plan.

The authority took issue with the newspaper’s report, saying that some costs in the $68 billion project have actually come down as bids have gone out.

That didn’t stop McCarthy from pitching a proposal that isn’t likely to happen.

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Meg Whitman: Carly Fiorina needs more than CEO experience

As reported by CNN Money:

Hewlitt-Packard CEO Meg Whitman — who is taking over HP Enterprise in the company’s split — said Carly Fiorina’s experience working in corporate America doesn’t by itself make her the most qualified Republican presidential candidate.

“While I think business strengths are important, I also think having worked in government is an important part of the criteria,” Whitman said in an interview with CNN’s Poppy Harlow. “I think it’s very difficult for your first role in politics to be President of the United States and so I think having experience in either the Senate or as the governor of a state is really important.”

Fiorina, a former HP CEO, has cited her business experience as one of her biggest strengths in her run for president. …

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California test scores in the cellar

As reported by the San Jose Mercury News:

California students continue to perform near the bottom of states in reading and math, 2015 test results released Wednesday show. And even when taking into account factors like the predominance of English learners and poor children, a new analysis indicates that the state would still end up in the academic cellar.

What’s sometimes called the Nation’s Report Card, a sampling of fourth- and eighth-graders in reading and math, painted a dismal picture of a state that insists it is prioritizing K-12 education, on which it is spending $53 billion this fiscal year. Average fourth-grade math scores place California among the worst, just one point on a zero-to-500 scale above New Mexico, Alabama and Washington, D.C. Eighth-graders performed a bit better, nearly the same as students in nine states, and above those in five states and the nation’s capital.

Just 27 to 29 percent of California students were rated proficient in the two subjects. …

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Cal State faculty begins strike vote

As reported by the Press-Enterprise:

California State University faculty members began voting Monday, Oct. 19, on whether to authorize their union to call a strike.

The faculty association, which represents about 25,000 professors, lecturers, librarians, counselors and coaches, and the CSU — the nation’s largest university system with 460,000 students — have been negotiating since May.

If the strike action is authorized, a walkout could take place as soon as January, union officials said.

CSU officials and the faculty organization have already declared …

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Brown Linked Climate Change to CA’s Wildfires. Scientists Disagree.

As reported by the Los Angeles Times:

The ash of the Rocky fire was still hot when Gov. Jerry Brown strode to a bank of television cameras beside a blackened ridge and, flanked by firefighters, delivered a battle cry against climate change.

The wilderness fire was “a real wake-up call” to reduce the carbon pollution “that is in many respects driving all of this,” he said.

“The fires are changing…. The way this fire performed, it’s not the way it usually has been. Going in lots of directions, moving fast, even without hot winds.”

“It’s a new normal,” he said in August. “California is burning.” …

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