High-Speed Rail Board Votes to Seek $2.7 Billion of State Bond Money

From Voice of OC:

The California High-Speed Rail Authority board voted unanimously Thursday to seek the Legislature’s permission to use $2.7 billion in state bond money to help start construction of the planned $98.5-billion train system.

The 6-0 vote came after more than two hours of public testimony in Sacramento from dozens of critics of the troubled plan, which would connect Anaheim and San Francisco with 220-mph bullet trains. The board voted without discussion.

The Rail Authority needs the state funds to qualify for $3.3 billion in federal stimulus money that can’t be spent unless most of it is matched. The plan is to start construction in mid-to-late 2012 in the Central Valley.

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California Forward proposes new government overhaul plan

From the Sac Bee:

A leading California think tank on Thursday rolled out its latest ballot proposal to tackle the Golden State’s fiscal and governance woes.

The list of fixes endorsed by California Forward includes shifting to a two-year budget and curbing last-minute legislative amendments by requiring that all bills are made available to the public at least three days before final passage.

The political arm of the foundation-funded nonpartisan group filed paperwork Thursday to place its full proposal on the 2012 ballot through a constitutional amendment.

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Gov. Jerry Brown fires state’s top oil regulators

From the LA Times:

Gov. Jerry Brown has fired the state’s top two oil and gas production regulators.

On Thursday, Derek Chernow, acting director of the California Department of Conservation, and Elena Miller, head of the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources, received pink slips from the administration.

Richard Stapler, a spokesman for the California Natural Resources Agency, confirmed the removals but declined to provide additional details, saying only that both officials “served at the pleasure of the governor.” Replacing Chernow is Clifford Rechtschaffen, a senior adviser to the governor on energy, environmental and agricultural issues and a former special assistant attorney general under Brown.

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Pension reform group’s initiatives may spur Legislature

From the SJ Mercury:

A pair of pension reform initiatives filed Wednesday could shake up the Capitol landscape and jolt reluctant Democrats and labor leaders into acting on Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to overhaul pensions.

Initially lukewarm if not hostile to Brown’s plan, Democrats and public employee unions got a glimpse of the alternative — measures that would require a lot more sacrifices from government workers than Brown’s week-old proposal.

Led by two former officials in Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s administration, Californians for Pension Reform said it filed the two proposals with the attorney general’s office but will decide in January which measure to circulate. The group will need 1.3 million signatures to qualify a measure for the November 2012 ballot, and officials said they’re prepared to raise the approximately $3 million needed.

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Issa Investigates to Save Small Businesses

From Human Events:

A leading congressional Republican is investigating whether the National Park Service (NPS) committed “scientific misconduct” in its effort to shut down a century-old oyster farm over claims that it threatens the local seal population.  Rep. Darrell Issa (R.-Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, is demanding that the Interior Department turn over certain documents to his panel to determine whether faulty information will close the Drakes Bay Oyster Company (DBOC), which operates in California’s Point Reyes National Seashore.

“It has come to my attention that scientific misconduct by National Park Service personnel may be jeopardizing the right of a small business to operate in Marin County, California,” Issa said in an Oct. 20 letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

“Allegations that NPS knowingly relied on flawed science to support that conclusion as part of an effort to remove DBOC have come from a wide range of stakeholders and disinterested parties,” Issa said.

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Solyndra execs feasted while taxpayers got roasted

From Hot Air:

Taxpayers lost $535 million in subsidies to Solyndra, a firm whose main investor was a bundler for Barack Obama and one that Department of Energy auditors warned would fail.  Did Solyndra executives share in the pain?  Not exactly, as the San Jose Mercury News andGreenTechSolar discovered while perusing the bankruptcy documents.

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Judge Napolitano: Look at What the Government Has Done with Your Money

From Townhall:

The federal government has lost another 72 million of your tax dollars. Here we go again.

The feds have gambled with your money again, and they’ve lost it again; this time with a company called Beacon Power. You’ve probably never heard of this company. Candidly, before the announcement of its bankruptcy filing this week, neither had I. Just as you probably had never heard of Solyndra before its bankruptcy, neither had I. But your government has heard of both.

Solyndra and Beacon received loans the government guaranteed — $535 million and $72 million respectively. In each case, your tax dollars were spent when these companies borrowed money they couldn’t return. In each case, federal bureaucrats used your money to pay back loans investors gave to these failing companies because the bureaucrats want to wean us off of oil and onto so-called green energy, and because the government was friends with the investors. In each case, the investment the federal government made in these firms was risky and was lost.

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In GOP Field, Only Cain’s Image Better Than Earlier This Year

From Gallup:

Herman Cain is the only candidate whose Positive Intensity Score has increased in comparison to Gallup’s initial measurement earlier this year. In fact, each of the eight candidates Gallup tracks began with scores in the double digits, but now only three remain in that range.

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Jerry Brown closes website for some public records

From the Sac Bee:

Gov. Jerry Brown has shut down the government transparency website created by his predecessor, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, as a repository for financial disclosure statements and other records.

A note on the website, www.transparency.ca.gov, says information once available on the site can be found on other state websites and furnishes the links. But open government advocates objected to the website’s closure, claiming citizens will find it more difficult to track spending.

Many of the documents contained on the website – including information about state contracts, audits and salaries – can be found on other sites. But the transparency site, which was created in 2009 and shut down Tuesday, also included travel expense claims submitted by senior agency officials and employees of the Governor’s Office.

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House committee subpoenas White House for more Solyndra documents

From the LA Times:

The Republican-controlled House Energy and Commerce Committee voted to issue a broad subpoena demanding more documents from the White House as part of the committee’s ongoing investigation into a government loan guarantee to the failed solar equipment maker Solyndra.

In a vote along party lines, the committee’s subcommittee on oversight approved a draft subpoena that calls for all “internal communications” among top White House staff during the period in 2009 when Solyndra sought a $535-million loan guarantee from the government through its financial troubles in 2010 and, ultimately, during its move toward bankruptcy protection two months ago.

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