By Alan Kandel
California high-speed rail decision makers have got this correct. They are pushing ahead with what is being billed as the “blended system” approach to building high-speed rail in California. It also means building the entire 800-mile network in stages or phases.
The state HSR system is on track to start construction by early 2013, that is, of course, provided this summer state legislative approval comes. The segment between Merced and Palmdale is to be completed in ten years’ time meaning service through the Tehachapi Mountains will rail-link the Central Valley and southern California with viable—and faster—passenger rail service, something that hasn’t been available since before 1974, if not longer.
By Peter Schrag
With the $2.1 million she plunked into her school tax initiative campaign last week, Molly Munger is now in for about $6 million and, she says, prepared to spend a lot more.
The conventional political wisdom maintains that Munger, a Los Angeles lawyer and long-time civil rights activist with a deep purse, should get out of the way of Gov. Jerry Brown’s vaguely similar tax proposal – that when voters are confronted with two similar-sounding tax measures on the same ballot they’ll vote against both.
But what if the conventional wisdom is wrong? That’s what Munger believes and she’s prepared to put a lot more of her millions where her mouth is.
Earlier this year, the oil company Plains Exploration and Production (PXP) blasted water and chemicals more than one and half miles into the earth to force oil embedded in a sandstone formation to gush to the surface.
The process – known as hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” – has been debated in many U.S. communities where oil and gas deposits have been identified in recent years. But PXP wasn’t fracking in the much-touted Marcellus Shale on the East Coast, where much of the controversy over fracking has centered. It was fracking two test wells in urban Los Angeles, where 300,000 people live within a three-mile radius.
The drilling was done less than a year after community and environmental groups reached a settlement with PXP, after complaining for years about pollution from the site.
By Dan Aiello
California Progress Report
The Assembly Committee on Public Safety unexpectedly postponed a scheduled hearing on AB 2312, the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Control Act, which had been scheduled for Today, Tuesday, April 10, in room 126 of California's State Capitol. The legislation, authored by Assemblymember Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), would create the first statewide regulatory framework for the medical marijuana industry in California if passed.
By Danny Feingold, The Frying Pan
It’s matzah bargain-hunting season, and guess who has entered the fray? That’s right, Walmart.
The world’s largest retailer may not be known for bar mitzvah catering, but apparently the matzah market was too lucrative to pass up. Visit walmart.com, and in less time than it took God to part the Red Sea, you can load up on all variety of matzah products, from matzah ball soup mix to matzah meal. Those looking to brush up on their Pesach basics can even find Celebrate Passover: With Matzah, Maror and Memories, a handy guide to the holiday published by that noted authority on Jewish customs, National Geographic (imagine the charoset photo spreads).
But before you get out your credit card, you might want to consider whether a matzah splurge at Walmart is really in the spirit of Passover. Here’s some unleavened food for thought:
1) Walmart and Poverty
SACRAMENTO – In this Democratic weekly radio address, Assemblymember Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) discusses this week’s action by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) to adopt an open access policy which will provide greater accountability and give Californians greater information about the work being done by the institute. Skinner, who had discussed with CIRM the possibility of legislation directing such a move, also discusses the important advances that can come from the institute, which was created by California voters in 2004.
Click onto the following link for the English language MP3 file. The running time is 2:50.
Click onto the following link for the Spanish language MP3 file. The running time is 3:40.
By David Dayen
A major battle between progressive activists and a sitting governor in the nation’s largest state is nearing a conclusion today. California Governor Jerry Brown and a coalition of progressives have entered into negotiations to finalize a tax measure for the November 2012 ballot, after both sides offered competing plans.
The story is that Brown offered a measure to raise taxes for the ballot, and tied it to various cutbacks to state services. Fail to pass the ballot measure and the cuts would come down. In the world of California, where it takes a 2/3 vote to raise taxes, this was seen as a last resort in the face of resistance from Republicans. However, Brown’s measure included regressive taxes like sales tax increases, and dipped to hit people making as low as $250,000 a year.
By Robert Cruickshank
The war on women comes to California as Jennifer Kerns, the new communications director for the California Republican Party, unleashed a brutal twitter attack on former Democratic congressional candidate Krystal Ball for defending a woman's right to birth control:
Stripper, or strategist? Democrat strategist on MSNBC raging against Limbaugh, her name is supposedly "Krystal Ball." Speaking of #sluts...
And in case the Tweets get taken down, here's a screenshot (via Lisa McIntire):
Assemblymember Mike Feuer: Homeowner Bill of Rights to Help Protect California Communities Burdened with Home Foreclosures
SACRAMENTO – In this Democratic weekly radio address, Assemblymember Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles) discusses the Homeowner Bill of Rights, a legislative package recently announced by Attorney General Kamala Harris, Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) and Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), which targets the unfair practices performed by banks and lenders that spurred the home foreclosure crisis in California. Feuer, an author of a bill in the package, stresses the importance for those in state government to help tackle the home foreclosure crisis that continues to devastate Californians and hinders the state’s economic recovery. Other authors include Assemblymembers Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), Wilmer Amina Carter (D-Rialto), Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) and Mike Davis (D-Los Angeles).
This week’s English address is 2:21.
Here’s the audio link:
By Anthony Wright
Health Access California
Governor Brown is coming back from Washington, DC, from a series of meetings--with his fellow Governors, our U.S. Senators, our Congressional delegation, various Administration officials, and with President Obama.
With everything going on, I'm legitimately surprised that Governor Brown spent so much time lobbying the federal government to give him more authority to cut Medi-Cal.
In particular, one item he focused on was the federal government's recent rejection of a request to allow the state to impose significant new cost-sharing on millions of low-income Californians. Last year's budget included the provision to impose $5 co-pays for doctor visits and prescription drugs, and $50 for an emergency room visit (and $100 for a night in the hospital), all targeted at families making less than $900/month.