Silicon Valley Can No Longer Save California — Or the US

From New Geography:

Even before Steve Jobs crashed the scene in late 1970s, California’s technology industry had already outpaced the entire world, creating the greatest collection of information companies anywhere. It was in this fertile suburban soil that Apple — and so many other innovative companies — took root.

Now this soil is showing signs of exhaustion, with Jobs’ death symbolizing the end of the state’s high-tech heroic age.

“Steve’s passing really makes you think how much the Valley has changed,” says Leslie Parks, former head of economic development for the city of San Jose, Silicon Valley’s largest city. “The Apple II was produced here and depended on what was unique here. In those days, we were the technology food chain from conception to product. Now we only dominate the top of the chain.”

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Wall Street is Occupied with Worries Too

From the LA Times:
As anti-Wall Street protests crop up around the nation, many of the bankers and traders at the center of the storm are focused on a more immediate concern: keeping their jobs.

The financial industry shed 8,000 jobs in September, and 10,000 more are expected to be cut by the end of 2012. JPMorgan Chase posted a 13% drop in revenue this week, and next week mighty Goldman Sachs Group is widely expected to say it lost money for the first time since the financial crisis.

The woes the industry is facing now are in contrast to the success it experienced after the financial crisis — a success that helped stir up the current protests.

The anxiety rippling through banks and trading floors has generated some unexpected Wall Street sympathy for the protesters. Elliott Roman, a trader who works near the demonstrations, said that on his way home, in his suit and tie, he had a friendly exchange with a protester who asked him to join the movement.

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Feinstein Estimates Embezzlement Loss at $4.7M

From the Sac Bee:

Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s re-election campaign estimated on Friday that she is missing nearly $4.7 million because of unauthorized disbursements by her former campaign treasurer, Kinde Durkee.

The campaign filed its first report with the Federal Election Commission since Durkee’s arrest last month, providing the first official glimpse of the potential financial toll on candidates who employed the longtime Democratic campaign treasurer.

Feinstein’s campaign reported that it has nearly $6 million in the bank, but that’s mostly due to a $5 million loan Feinstein injected into the account after the embezzlement case broke. The campaign believed it had nearly $5.2 million in an account with First California Bank going into July, but that account is now showing only $662,100.

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Energy Secretary Steven Chu to be Grilled on Solyndra Loan

From the SF Chronicle:

Republicans and Democrats agreed Friday to call Energy Secretary Steven Chu to testify on the $528 million federal loan guarantee to bankrupt Fremont solar energy company Solyndra, even as one California Republican worried aloud that the UC Berkeley physicist and Nobel laureate may be headed for a fall.

Testifying at a hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s oversight panel, two Treasury officials, one a 28-year veteran, said they had never seen the government put private investors ahead of taxpayers in the kind of loan restructuring the Energy Department gave to Solyndra last spring.

The Energy Department softened the terms of the loan and let private investors, who were ponying up an additional $75 million, move in front of taxpayers for repayment in the event of a default.

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Redistricting Referendum Timeline Tight… or Impossible?

From KQED News:

California’s top elections official belives there won’t be enough time for a court-appointed panel — if one is chosen — to redraw the state’s political maps for the 2012 elections.

That’s the gist of a legal filing by Secretary of State Debra Bowen in the California Supreme Court fight over the maps drawn by the state’s Citizens Redistricting Commission. And it highlights not only a simmering debate over how to interpret the language of 2010’s Proposition 20, but the long and bitter history of redistricting fights in California.

There are two redistricting lawsuits pending before the California Supreme Court: one against the new state Senate map and one against the new congressional map. Referendum measures have also been filed against the two sets of maps, although reports suggest that only the effort to nix the Senate maps has any real chance of making the 2012 ballot.

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Threat to State Workers’ Pension Perk Causes Rush at CalPERS

From the Sac Bee:

California government employees, fearing that lawmakers may soon shut down a controversial program that boosts their retirement payouts, have flooded the state’s largest pension system with inquiries and requests to purchase the benefit.

More than 12,000 members of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System asked for price estimates to buy additional retirement service credit – sometimes called “airtime” – during the fiscal year that ended June 30. That was up 23 percent from 2009-10.

The trend continued this year, with roughly 1,000 workers making airtime cost requests in July and again in August, according to Cal-PERS.

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“Generic” Republican Continues to Lead Obama in 2012 Vote

From Gallup:

U.S. registered voters, by 46% to 38%, continue to say they are more likely to vote for the Republican presidential candidate than for Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election. The generic Republican led by the same eight-percentage-point margin in September, and also held a lead in July. The August update, conducted just after an agreement to raise the federal debt limit, had Obama with a slight edge.

The current results are based on a Gallup poll conducted Oct. 6-9. The eight-point lead for the Republican candidate persists, 50% to 42%, when taking into account the leanings of undecided voters.

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Hundreds Rally in Occupy O.C. Protest

From the OC Register:

More than 600 people rallied and marched Saturday to protest corporate influence in this city considered by some as the financial hub of Orange County, in a demonstration of solidarity with the grassroots Occupy Wall Street movement that began in New York and appears to be spreading intrernationally.

People of all ages and from many walks of life joined in a mile-long trek starting and ending on the lush lawn at Irvine City Hall, with a stop at Corporate Park Plaza at Jamboree Road and Barranca Parkway.

Anya Swanson, the wife of a Camp Pendleton Marine who has completed a tour in Iraq, wore flip flops and carried her 3-year-old daughter Sydney on her shoulder.

The San Clemente woman said she joined the Occupy Orange County protest to push to get money out of politics.

“I have no voice in this country,” said Swanson, balancing the 30-pound toddler on her shoulder as she walked along Jamboree with some motorists honking their support for the marchers.

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California Dems Intensify Pressure on Obama to Tackle Foreclosures

From the Hill:

An exasperated group of California Democrats is intensifying its attack on President Obama’s handling of the ongoing foreclosure crisis.

The lawmakers — who maintain the president has unilateral powers to help struggling homeowners — say he’s chosen instead to prioritize the well-being of the financial industry. And they aren’t mincing words.

“The challenges that we are facing are exacerbated by an administration that has simply not gotten it right over, and over, and over,” Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D-Calif.) told reporters Thursday in the Capitol. “The administration has simply not done a darn thing to help my constituents.”

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Gov. Brown Defends School Tests He Once Sought to Overhaul

From the Sac Bee:

Gov. Jerry Brown said this afternoon that the school testing program he proposed overhauling in last year’s gubernatorial campaign is a “good system” he is not inclined to dramatically revise.

The Academic Performance Index system, the Democratic governor said, is “a good one, and now what we have to do is use it.”

Brown’s remarks, at Milken Institute’s State of the State Conference at The Beverly Hilton, came after a rift between Brown and Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg on education policy surfaced Saturday, when Brown vetoed legislation in which the Sacramento Democrat sought to change how the state measures school performance, expanding measurements to include such factors as career readiness and graduation and promotion rates.

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