Cronyism: Banks made billions on secret Federal Reserve loans

From SF Chronicle:

The Federal Reserve and the big banks fought for more than two years to keep details of the largest bailout in U.S. history a secret. Now, the rest of the world can see what it was missing.

The Fed didn’t tell anyone which banks were in trouble so deep they required emergency loans of a combined $1.2 trillion on Dec. 5, 2008, their single neediest day.

Bankers didn’t mention that they took tens of billions of dollars at the same time they were assuring investors their firms were healthy. And no one calculated until now that banks reaped an estimated $13 billion of income by taking advantage of the Fed’s below-market interest rates, Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its January issue.

(Read Full Article)

Cash-strapped cities want workers to contribute more to pensions

From LA Times:

It’s business as usual at Santa Ana City Hall as residents trickle up to the counter to pay business fees, pick up a dog license or, in a newer wing next door, apply for a free solar permit.

But on the top floor of the eight-story concrete fortress, city officials in Orange County’s most labor-friendly city are doing the once unthinkable: demanding big benefit concessions from their employee unions.

Getting a handle on pension costs in the county’s largest city is a must, officials here say. Santa Ana is facing a $30-million deficit, has only $300,000 in reserves and is jettisoning jobs by the dozens to keep its head above water. Last year, the city paid out about $11.3 million for employee pension costs.

(Read Full Article)

Brown fumbles federal funds for K-12 schools

From Sac Bee:

At a time when California has cut funding for K-12 education – and is about to cut more – the state just left $49 million in federal education dollars on the table.

This failure appears to fall squarely on Gov. Jerry Brown.

California was among nine finalists that came close but didn’t win federal competitive Race to the Top Phase 2 funds in 2010. Then came a new opportunity.

There would be a Phase 3, where the nine near-miss states could get a share of $200 million – with California getting $49 million. No competition this time.

(Read Full Article)

LAPD chief: Occupy L.A. camp shrinking, but arrests inevitable

From LA Times:

Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said Monday that his department’s Occupy L.A. eviction order had reduced the numbers of protesters camped on the City Hall lawn but acknowledged that the LAPD would have to make more arrests to completely clear the area.

Beck told The Times that there were about 150 fewer tents at City Hall Park on Monday than there had been over the weekend. That people were packing up and leaving was a sign to Beck that the city’s strategy for dealing with — and bringing an end to — the Occupy camp was working.

Beck was under no illusions, however, that all of the hundreds of protesters who ignored the city’s midnight deadline and remained encamped Monday morning would eventually leave voluntarily. It is inevitable, he and other police officials have concluded, that police will have to remove some number of protesters by arresting them. Beck remained tight-lipped about when he would give the order to move on the camp, saying only that it would be done at a time of his choosing.

Actress Rosanna Arquette at Occupy Los Angeles, courtesy cheeselave, Flickr

(Read Full Article)

Bay Area lawmakers among the wealthiest in U.S.

From Inside Bay Area Buzz:

Rep. Nancy Pelosi: $101 million. Rep. Jerry McNerney: $9,000. Priceless.

About 47 percent of Congress, or 250 current members of Congress, are millionaires, according to a new study by the Center for Responsive Politics of lawmakers’ personal financial disclosure forms from 2010.

The Bay Area beats the national figure, where eight of its 13 regionally based federal lawmakers top the $1 million mark in assets and liabilities.

No. 8 nationally out of 530 members and the wealthiest of the Bay Area legislators, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, reported an average net worth of $101 million.

"Angry Nancy Pelosi" by Edalisse Hirst, courtesy elalisse, Flickr

(Read Full Article)

Occupy group intends to return to Oakland plaza

From SF Chronicle:

Occupy Oakland activists said today that they intend to move back into Frank Ogawa Plaza on Tuesday to re-establish a central location for their protest against economic inequality.

Moving back into the plaza will “create a model for a new wave of Occupation protest throughout the United States,” the Occupy Oakland Vigil Committee said in a statement.

The group said it planned to occupy the plaza outside City Hall 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Occupy Oakland street scene, photo courtesy Heart of Oak, Flickr.

(Read Full Article)

Judge rules state cannot take $1 billion from Prop. 10 “childhood development” tobacco tax commissions

From Sac Bee:

A Fresno judge ruled last week that California’s attempt to take $1 billion from First 5 Commissions was illegal. (First 5 was created by the Rob Reiner-backed Proposition 10 tobacco tax narrowly passed by California voters in 1998 to fund early childhood programs.  Some counties have concluded the program is a failure. -CPR editors.)

Gov. Jerry Brown and state lawmakers initially relied on the money in March to help balance a then-$26 billion shortfall. Two months later, state leaders backed away from the budget solution because First 5 Commissions filed suit to block it. But Brown continued to defend the move in court.

Fresno Superior Court judge Debra J. Kazanjian determined in her ruling that the First 5 take was illegal because it required voter approval under the initial 1998 ballot measure, Proposition 10.

(Read Full Article)

"Scream and shout" child courtesy mdanys, Flickr

America the Difficult

From WSJ:

Debating taxation is all the rage these days, and not a moment too soon. A report released this month exposes some unpleasant truths about America’s uncompetitive system for taxing businesses.

The Paying Taxes 2012 study, produced by the World Bank, International Finance Corp. and PricewaterhouseCoopers, ranks countries based on the ease or difficulty of paying business taxes. The Maldives came in first, followed by Qatar and Hong Kong. America clocks in at 69 out of 183 countries, down one spot from last year and 23 places shy of its finish in 2009.

This survey offers a more detailed analysis of tax policy than does the World Bank’s annual Doing Business survey, to which it’s a complement. It measures compliance costs such as hours spent filling out forms in addition to tax rates to weigh the full tax burden on companies.

(Read Full Article)

Herman Cain denies new affair allegations

From Christian Science Monitor:

Mr. Cain appeared with Wolf Blitzer on CNN to preempt the accusations of a 13-year extramarital affair and dismiss them as false – even before the woman spoke on an Atlanta Fox affiliate. He was unequivocal in his denials when asked directly whether he had had sex or an affair with the woman, but he admitted that he knew her.

“It is someone that I know who is an acquaintance that I thought was a friend,” he told Mr. Blitzer.

The interview with the woman, Ginger White, aired shortly afterward. Ms. White, an Atlanta businesswoman, is a single mother who says she met Cain in the late 1990s when he was president of theNational Restaurant Association.

(Read Full Article)

From Human Events:

Herman Cain, in an appearance on CNN’s “The Situation Room,” denied reports that a woman had an affair with him for thirteen years. Cain went ahead of the story, by pre-empting the pre-taped interview with the accuser on an Atlanta television station.

“I just wanted to give you a heads up,” Cain told Wolf Blitzer. “I don’t have anything to hide.”

That woman, Ginger White, told Atlanta’s FOX affiliate in an interview over the weekend that she had been in an affair with Cain for over a decade. 

“It was pretty simple,” White told the television station in an interview. “It wasn’t complicated. I was aware that he was married. And I was also aware I was involved in a very inappropriate situation, relationship.”

(Read Full Article)

From Daily Caller:

A woman identified as Ginger White went public Monday with allegations that she had an affair with GOP presidential contender Herman Cain.

“I’m not proud,” White told Atlanta station WAGA-TV. “I didn’t want to come out with this. I did not.”

She had no qualms with admitting the affair was inappropriate.

“It was pretty simple,” White said. “It wasn’t complicated and I was aware that he was married. And I was also aware I was involved in a very inappropriate situation, relationship.”

White said the relationship was an escape from everyday life.

“He made it very intriguing,” White said. “It was fun. It was something that took me away from my sort of hum-drum life at the time and it was exciting.”

(Read Full Article)

Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi has been on Neiman Marcus’ radar

From SJ Mercury:

Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi was already on Neiman Marcus’ radar when she was arrested outside its Union Square store last month for allegedly shoplifting $2,450 worth of merchandise, including a pair of leather pants.

According to sources close to the case, a week before the Neiman bust, a store saleswoman noticed that a dress was missing after a woman matching Hayashi’s description tried it on.

The saleswoman did not know who Hayashi was, but when the Castro Valley Democrat showed up Oct. 25, the clerk alerted store security and they began tracking her with surveillance cameras.

Mary Hayashi San Francisco Police Department Mugshot

(Read Full Article)