By Steven Mikulan
The Frying Pan
The skirmish of words in El Segundo over its city manager’s proposal to raise local taxes on that city’s largest business, Chevron Oil, has suddenly become a full-fledged legal war, with the official making explosive accusations against both El Segundo’s government and Chevron. The story, which Donald Cohen has been following for Frying Pan News, began with Doug Willmore’s efforts to bring the giant refinery’s taxes in line with the taxes paid by other California oil companies. Willmore was subsequently fired on February 9 by El Segundo’s city council.
By Donald Cohen
The Frying Pan
El Segundo city manager Doug Willmore didn’t know who he was messing with.
In January, 2012 the L.A. Times reported that El Segundo, home to a huge Chevron refinery, was considering raising the oil giant’s taxes to help meet the demands of a growing town. Refineries around the state pay far higher taxes to their local governments than Chevron does – which is why Willmore figured the proposal made sense.
By Joel A. Harrison, PhD, MPH
“If we had free market competition, SDG&E would have to absorb the costs of the fire. Quite simply, if they raised their rates, consumers would switch to other providers.”
Sempra-owned utility San Diego Gas & Electric wants “San Diego-area utility customers to pay for nearly all of an estimated $463 million in cost not covered by insurance from the catastrophic 2007 wildfires that were triggered in large part by its power lines,” the San Diego Union-Tribune reported. “At stake is who ultimately pays for the fire’s destruction — ratepayers or shareholders.” SDG&E wants the ratepayers to cover 95 to 100 percent of excess wildfire and related litigation costs.
A week after Attorney General Kamala Harris announced an $18 billion settlement for California’s foreclosure victims, homeowners and housing rights advocates declared the need to temporarily halt all foreclosure related activity.
During a foreclosure roundtable discussion held on Friday at the Mission Economic Development Agency, Alan Fisher, Executive Director of the California Reinvestment Coalition, said that advocate “groups are asking for a pause in foreclosures so people don’t lose their homes [while the settlement is being implemented.]”
By Sam Gold
National Organization of Injured Workers
Governor Brown has spoken and has vetoed some important bills that relate to Workers Compensation. Let’s see what he simply wouldn’t sign into law.
AB584 would force doctors who make Utilization review determinations to be licensed in California. Proponents of the bill believe that out-of-state utilization review physicians are making inappropriate decisions at least in part because there is no regulatory structure to hold them accountable to anyone. The bill is intended to ensure that there is a regulatory oversight body – the California Medical Board – that can discipline a utilization review physician in the event the physician violates practice standards which in many cases deals with making false and misleading statements to deny an injured worker the benefits due him under state law.
By Dick Meister
The birth date of Cesar Chavez, the late farm workers' leader, will be celebrated next month, and rightly so. But it's well past time we also celebrated the life of probably the most important of the other leaders who played a major role in winning union rights for farm workers and otherwise helping them combat serious exploitation.
That's Larry Itliong. He died 35 years ago this month at age 63. Itliong got involved in the farm workers' struggle very early in life, not long after he arrived as a 15-year-old immigrant from the Philippine Islands. He was among some 31,000 Filipino men who came to California in the late 1920s.
By Monty Schmitt
Natural Resources Defense Council
Reaching a great milestone: #salmon will be re-introduced in the San Joaquin River for the first time since the 1940s.
Last year marked the fifth year of the San Joaquin River Restoration Program and the two year anniversary of renewed river flows - the first since the 1940s when the operation of Friant Dam dried up the river and ended the historic salmon runs. Thanks to years of hard work on the part of state and federal agencies, farmers, conservation groups, water districts and other stakeholders, the San Joaquin River once again flows all the way to the sea.
By Alan Kandel
Fine particle and ozone pollution, despite tremendous strides made in terms of filtering such pollutants from Southern California air, is still very pronounced, so much so that recent research revealed, “Southern Californians are among those at highest risk of death due to air pollution, according to recent U.S. Environmental Protection Agency research published in the journal Risk Analysis,” reported Bernice Yeung of California Watch.
“Among the most populated areas of the country, Los Angeles had the highest estimated rate of deaths attributable to air pollution, at nearly 10 percent; San Jose had the lowest at 3.5 percent, according to Yeung.
Part 1 of this two-part series examines steps made to clean up fine particle pollution at California seaports, particularly those in the South Coast Air Basin.
By Ron Briggs
Board of Supervisors in El Dorado County
In 1977, my dad, former state Sen. John Briggs, my brother-in-law and I got together to discuss California's death penalty. We agreed it was ineffective and decided a ballot initiative was needed to expand the number of murder categories eligible for capital punishment. We felt such changes would give prosecutors better tools for meting out just punishments, and that a broadened statute would serve as a warning to all California evildoers that the state would deliver swift and final justice.
We thought we were creating a national model for capital punishment.
By Peter Schrag
California Attorney General Kamala Harris deserves at least some of the self-congratulation she heaped on herself when the big national mortgage foreclosure deal was announced last week.
Despite the cheering, by itself this settlement, with the nation’s five big private mortgage service companies, is not likely to make much difference to the overall California economy or to most of the 2.2 million families directly hit by the mortgage crisis of the past five years.
“It’s a drop in the bucket,” said Christopher Thornberg, the respected analyst who heads Beacon Economics. In terms of its impact on the state’s economy, “It’s not going to cure anything.”
But if it pushes Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac, the nation’s huge public- private home lenders, into agreeing to similar terms it really could make a difference. Fanny and Freddy, which hold 60 percent of all mortgages, have so far refused to budge.