California Rep. Laura Richardson may face ethics inquiry

From Politico:

The House Ethics Committee is moving toward a full-scale investigation of Rep. Laura Richardson (D-Calif.), who has been under scrutiny for months over allegations that her staff engaged in banned political activities while on government time, according to several sources close to the matter.

Ethics Committee staffers have been digging into the claims against Richardson since last year as part of a “preliminary inquiry” by the panel, and they have been interviewing current and former Richardson aides. The investigators are looking into allegations that Richardson and some of her most senior staffers pressured other aides to work on her reelection campaign or be fired, according to these sources and news reports. Staffers on the congressional payroll are banned from working on political campaigns during official time, and no House resources can be used for campaign-related activities, according to House rules and federal statute.

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California’s budget battles are now playing out in court

From the Sac Bee:

In any California budget fight, there are winners and losers.

And then there are lawyers.

Interest groups that lose in the Capitol now head straight for the courthouse as a matter of routine, asking judges to block budget actions under state and federal laws.

Gov. Jerry Brown and lawmakers approved an $85.9 billion budget in June. Their plan now faces at least six legal challenges worth more than $4 billion combined.

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Online petition seeks discipline of Fullerton officers

From OC Register:

An online petition has more than 14,000 supporters calling for discipline to be imposed on the four police officers who were present – but not charged criminally – for the confrontation with a mentally ill homeless man who died five days later from injuries.

A Fullerton resident here started the petition in early October.

While two of the six officers were charged with crimes, District Attorney Tony Rauckauckas did not file charges against the other four involved in the July 5 confrontation with Kelly Thomas, the 37-year old homeless man, at the Fullerton Transportation Center.

“The way I see it, they (the other four) were there,” said Paul Orloff, 48, who launched the petition. “If they witness a crime, as police officers, I would still say it is there duty to stop it.”

The petition is on, a website where the public can establish any kind of petition.

Kelly Thomas police beating protesters, Fullerton

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LA Mayor Villaraigosa puts teeth into his stand on pension funds

From the LA Times:

Worried about the prospects of a new round of budget cuts during his last two years in office, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has grown increasingly bold — some say too aggressive — in his attempts to influence panels that guide the city’s huge retirement funds.

Two weeks ago, Villaraigosa warned a seven-member board overseeing pensions for civilian employees that a new round of layoffs would “almost certainly” occur if the panel scales back income projections for its $11-billion portfolio.

The week before, the mayor’s lawyer called on the Fire and Police Pensions board to disregard a legal opinion on potentially costly health benefits owed to retired police officers and firefighters. And in recent months, Villaraigosa has removed two pension appointees who took positions or cast votes that he opposed.

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Bill Seeks To Entice Foreigners To Buy U.S. Homes With Visa Offer

From Sun Valley Online:

The government may turn to foreigners to shore up the weak housing market.

A bill co-authored by Senators Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) aims to use the appeal of U.S. residence visas to entice foreigners to buy American homes, according to The Wall Street Journal.

If passed, the bill would offer a U.S. residence visa to any foreigner who makes a cash investment of at least $500,000 in U.S. residential real estate.

“This is a way to create more demand without costing the federal government a nickel,” Schumer told the WSJ.

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Jail expansion: Counties seek millions from state

From SF Chronicle:

California counties are lining up to secure millions of dollars in state funds to expand jails now that Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan is under way to shift the incarceration of some felons from prisons to jails.

But while many county officials cheer the availability of $600 million in state funds to add more jail beds, opponents of prison expansion say building more incarceration space will discourage prosecutors, police and other public safety officials from seeking alternatives to lockups.

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Crazifornia: Why the Golden State may have just doomed cap and trade

From the Daily Caller:

Mary Nichols, one of the most dangerous women in America, looked out into the packed California Air Resources Board (CARB) hearing room late Thursday after an eight-hour hearing and declared, “We’ve done something important.”

Nichols is the chair of CARB and therefore the person most responsible for implementing the California Global Warming Solutions Act, AB 32, the state’s crusade to save the planet from the scourge of greenhouse gases. A former assistant administrator of EPA under President Clinton, Nichols now controls multiple programs designed to penalize conventional energy sources to the benefit of not-yet-competitive alternative sources. She has already forced the toughest diesel engine standards in the country onto California — standards that will cost the state’s battered trucking industry $12 billion — and Thursday she trumped that by ushering in the biggest playing field-leveler yet, the nation’s first state-run carbon cap-and-trade program.

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California GOP hard-pressed to dispute law that moves initiatives to November ballot

From the SJ Mercury:

When Gov. Jerry Brown recently signed a bill to move all voter-generated initiatives to November ballots, Republicans responded with a fury that suggested their political world had been turned upside down.

Senate GOP leader Bob Dutton, well aware that the fall electorate tends to be larger and more liberal, called it a “blatant power grab” by public employee unions.

Assembly GOP leader Connie Conway claimed it took away “a power reserved to the people.” And prominent Sacramento attorney Tom Hiltachk filed a referendum aimed at overturning SB 202 on the day Brown signed it.

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Has Our “System” Failed, Or Has Our President?

From Town Hall:

“The system has failed.”

Have you heard this comment lately? Does it express how you feel about America?

This one sentence, vague as it is, nonetheless captures a common sentiment about the current condition of the United States.

With the “occupy” protesters disrupting civic life around the country and President Obama publicly bonding with them, we’re seeing that magical phrase – “the system has failed” – being used in increasingly ambiguous ways. So it makes sense that the rest of us should ask a couple of important questions: What “system” are they talking about? And in what sense has that system “failed?”

At times it would appear that the occupiers are decrying our American system of constitutional, elective and representative government. “Our voices aren’t being heard,” many of them will say, implying that they are being trampled-upon by an abusive dictatorial regime.

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Hispanic voters: Stick with Obama or go with GOP?

From the Sac Bee:

A year before the 2012 presidential election, Hispanic voters are facing a choice. They can continue to support President Barack Obama despite being hurt disproportionately by the economic downturn or turn to Republicans at a time when many GOP presidential hopefuls have taken a hard line on immigration.

Obama kicks off a three-day trip to Western states trip with a stop Monday in Las Vegas, where he wants to rally support for his jobs agenda in Congress. Nevada has the nation’s highest unemployment rate, 13.4 percent.

The trip comes as Republican candidates have taken a more strident tone on immigration.

Businessman Herman Cain recently suggested electrifying a fence along the U.S. border with Mexico to kill illegal immigrants; he later called the remark a joke and apologized. Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann has raised the issue of “anchor babies,” or U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants; it’s a term that some people find offensive.

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