What can $75,560 get you in California? A prison cell
|| SF Gate
“SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The cost of imprisoning each of California’s 130,000 inmates is expected to reach a record $75,560 in the next year, enough to cover the annual cost of attending Harvard University and still have plenty left over for pizza and beer.
The price for each inmate has doubled since 2005, even as court orders related to overcrowding have reduced the population by about one-quarter. Salaries and benefits for prison guards and medical providers drove much of the increase.
The result is a per-inmate cost that is the nation’s highest and $2,000 above tuition, fees, room and board, and other expenses to attend Harvard.
Gov. Jerry Brown’s spending plan for the fiscal year that starts July 1 includes a record $11.4 billion for the corrections department while also predicting that there will be 11,500 fewer inmates in four years because voters in November approved earlier releases for many inmates.
Since 2015, California’s per-inmate costs have surged nearly $10,000, or about 13 percent. New York is a distant second in overall costs at about $69,000.
Critics say with fewer inmates, the costs should be falling.
“Now that we’re incarcerating less, we haven’t ramped the system back down,” said Chris Hoene, executive director of the left-leaning California Budget & Policy Center.
For example, the corrections department has one employee for every two inmates, compared with one employee for roughly every four inmates in 1994.
California was sued for overcrowding, and to comply with a federal court-imposed population cap, the Brown administration now keeps most lower-level offenders in county jails instead of state prisons. Additionally, voters in 2014 reduced penalties for drug and property crimes and last fall approved the earlier releases.
Republican state Sen. Jim Nielsen said reformers falsely promised a “prison dividend” from savings related to the changes. Instead, there’s now an uptick in many crimes and he’s worried it will lead to an influx of new inmates that will cost more to house.
Joan Petersilia, co-director of the Stanford Criminal Justice Center, said it was “highly predictable” that per-inmate costs would increase even as the population decreased.
“We released all the low-risk, kind of low-need and we kept in the high-risk, high-need,” she said.
California is not alone. The Vera Institute of Justice, a Washington, D.C.-based reform group, said California is one of 10 states that reduced its inmate population only to see prison spending rise.
California Department of Finance spokesman H.D. Palmer said the state faces unique pressures, including federal oversight of prison health care that has driven up costs and remote prisons that are more expensive to operate.
Real savings won’t come unless the inmate population drops so low that the state can start closing prisons, said Drew Soderborg, a criminal justice analyst with the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office.
But the federal population cap makes it difficult to do that without exceeding crowding limits in individual prisons.”
State utility regulators will again consider releasing San Onofre emails
|| U-T San Diego
“The day after then-Sen. Barbara Boxer called on the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate Southern California Edison’s handling of the San Onofre nuclear plant, utility executive Michael Hoover sent an urgent email to another company official.
“We have a small window of opportunity to work with parties to implement a shutdown in exchange for getting our money back,” Hoover wrote to senior vice president Les Starck May 29, 2013. “That window will close soon and we will lose a very good opportunity.”
The next week, Edison International CEO Ted Craver placed a call to Gov. Jerry Brown — then with President Barack Obama in the Palm Springs area — to inform the governor that the company decided to close the broken power plant for good.
Craver later emailed his board of directors, alerting them to the decision and recounting his conversation with Brown.
The whirlwind of private communications and regulatory decisions surrounding the 2012 closure of the San Onofre plant became clearer after emails and other documents were released under a multitude of requests under the California Public Records Act.
Yet the California Public Utilities Commission continues to withhold specific emails between regulators and the Governor’s Office that could shed more light on why utility ratepayers are being charged billions of dollars for failure of the power plant north of Oceanside.
The commission on Thursday will consider whether to release more than 60 San Onofre-related emails exchanged between commission President Michael Picker and the Governor’s Office. The staff’s recommendation is that the board not release the emails to San Diego consumer attorney Michael Aguirre.
The item is posted on the commission’s consent agenda, where matters considered routine and not worthy of public debate are voted on in bulk. According to the draft resolution, the emails are not subject to disclosure because they are privileged communications.
“Aguirre claims the withheld records should be disclosed because the ‘public is highly interested in knowing the role the Governor’s office played in connection with San Onofre’,” it states.
”The plain language of Govt. Code section 6254(l), however, shows that the exemption to disclosure of documents exchanged with the Governor’s Office is an absolute exemption; it does not include a balancing test. Therefore, the public’s alleged interests in the disclosure of these records are not relevant.”
Commission spokeswoman Terrie Prosper said there is no legal requirement for commissioners to discuss every item on the agenda.
“The reasoning behind a commission decision or order is in the text of the order or decision itself,” she wrote in an email. “A vote of the consent agenda is a formal action.”
The agenda item Thursday follows a lawsuit Aguirre filed in 2015, arguing that the commission was improperly withholding the emails.
A San Francisco Superior Court judge was sympathetic to Aguirre’s case.
“There’s something about this that just doesn’t sound right, about stonewalling public information like this,” Judge Ernest Goldsmith told commission lawyers. “That’s the optics of where we are: There’s something the PUC doesn’t want out there.”
Before he could review the emails in chambers to decide whether they should be released, an appeals court sent the dispute back to the commission.
The appeals court agreed with the the utilities commission that the commission itself — not a judge — is the right place to go to contest a records request rejection by the commission.
A denial by the commission on Thursday could then be appealed to the state appeals court.
Aguirre and law partner Maria Severson complained that the commission excluded from the public file their petition outlining the events surrounding the closure — including emails like the one Hoover sent his colleague in 2013, when the company was deciding whether to repair or abandon the nuclear plant.
“The only document the PUC has before them is a proposed resolution and a summary of our argument,” Severson said. “That is disingenuous.”
Prosper said that the petition is available to commissioners, even if it’s not publicly posted with the commission agenda.
The San Diego lawyers said the emails between Picker and the Governor’s Office could explain how ratepayers ended up being charged $3.3 billion of the $4.7 billion in premature closure costs.
“They fought us at the Court of Appeal and now they fail to publicly disclose the damning evidence that commands release of the records,” Severson said. “By placing the matter on consent agenda without a hearing, they are again shutting out the public.”
Liza Tucker of Consumer Watchdog, an advocacy group based in Santa Monica, said utility regulators have no business withholding records related to the plant closure and its settlement costs.
“That is an excuse to make sure the public never gets to the bottom of what really went down in the settlement over San Onofre,” she said. “It doesn’t answer the question about whether government officials helped Southern California Edison evade responsibility for one of the biggest financial and environmental disasters in the state.”
‘FAKE NEWS BAN’ California Attacks the First Amendment
“A bill was introduced back on February 17 by the California State Assembly, which attempts to ban “fake news” – a difficult term to define. Wednesday, March 29, saw the bill filed to the Assembly’s Committee on Privacy and Consumer Affairs.
The bill, which would ultimately amend the California Political Cyberfraud Abatement Act, would make it illegal to spread so-called “false or deceptive” information.
The following is a portion of the proposed amendment as it stands:
It is unlawful for a person to knowingly and willingly make, publish or circulate on an Internet Web site, or cause to be made, published, or circulated in any writing posted on an Internet Web site, a false or deceptive statement designed to influence the vote on either of the following:
(a) Any issue submitted to voters at an election.
(b) Any candidate for election to public office.
As previously stated, the term “fake news” is hard to define and given this, the text that makes up the amendment is equally ambiguous and does not in explicit language define what “false or deceptive” information, or statements, are, which would allow for subjective interpretations of the law to be used to discredit or devalue narratives that are counter intuitive to the individual/entity attempting to use the law for some sort of claim.
Another major problem that will undoubtedly arise is the prospect of an individual using social media who wishes to explore political ideologies that could be in stark contrast, or contradiction to, the people who are carrying out the law.
The bill is fundamentally flawed.
A memo attempts to clarify certain aspects of the bill:
This bill will fuel a chaotic free-for-all of mudslinging with candidates and others being accused of crimes at the slightest hint of hyperbole, exaggeration, poetic license, or common error. While those accusations may not ultimately hold up, politically motivated prosecutions—or the threat of such—may harm democracy more than if the issue had just been left alone . . .
At this point in time, it is clear that this bill endangers free speech, it also can be used as a tool by the left to silence opposition in the state of California. The left has been actively attempting to undermine conservative or contradictory thought for far too long and now their efforts are moving toward totalitarian policy measures.”
| Let me get this straight, in a state where identity fraud is rampant, the state is considering adopting a law called ‘Cyber fraud abatement Act’ which does nothing about identity cyber fraud? /CJ
Obama spying looks even worse than Trump claimed
“WASHINGTON – The spying by the Obama administration on then-presidential candidate Donald Trump reportedly was even worse than what he has alleged.
And it had nothing to do with Russia but everything to do with politics.
Sources in the intelligence community claim the potentially illegal revealing of names, or unmasking, of people in the Trump camp who were under surveillance was done purely “for political purposes” to “hurt and embarrass (candidate) Trump and his team.”
The bombshell revelations come from rank and file members of the intelligence community who are fighting back against a stonewall by the leaders at the nation’s spy agencies, according to Fox News.
Reporter Adam Housley said the sources are “not Trump” people but are “frustrated with the politics that is taking place in these (intelligence) agencies.”
And what they have revealed is amazing. Here is what they told Fox:
1) Surveillance targeting the Trump team during the Obama administration began months ago, even before the president had become the GOP nominee in July.
2) The spying on the Trump team had nothing to do with the collection of foreign intelligence or an investigation into Russia election interference.
3) The spying was done purely “for political purposes” that “have nothing to do with national security and everything to do with hurting and embarrassing Trump and his team.”
4) The person who did the unmasking was someone “very well known, very high up, very senior in the intelligence world, and is not in the FBI.”
5) Congressional investigators know the name of at least one person who was unmasking names.
6) The initial surveillance on the Trump team led to “a number of names” being unmasked.
7) House Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., has known about the unmasking since January.
8) Two sources in the intelligence community told Nunes who did the unmasking and told him at least one of the names of someone in the Trump team who was unmasked. The sources also gave Nunes the serial numbers of the classified reports that documented the unmasking.
9) It took Nunes a number of weeks to figure out how to see those intelligence reports because the intelligence agencies were stonewalling him, and not allowing the chairman or other people to see them.
10) There were only two places Nunes could have seen the information: where the sources work, which would have blown their cover; and the Eisenhower Executive Office building on the White House grounds, which houses the National Security Council and has computers linked to the secure system containing the reports he sought.
11) Nunes got access to that system on March 21 with the help of two Trump administration officials.
The Wall Street Journal’s Kimberly Strassel reported that the documents Nunes saw confirming the Obama administration spied on the Trump team for months “aren’t easily obtainable, since they aren’t the ‘finished’ intelligence products that Congress gets to see.”
She said there were “dozens of documents with information about Trump officials.”
Strassel also reported there was a stonewall against the Intelligence committee chairman because, “for weeks Mr. Nunes has been demanding intelligence agencies turn over said documents—with no luck, so far.”
She also learned that, along with former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, one other Trump official was unmasked.”
“You need the coercive power of government to say “do this” – Jerry Brown
CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR JERRY BROWN: Tom, you used the phrase “policy, good policy.” But I want to unpack that term a little bit. Inside the policy, you need a law, you need a rule, you need the coercive power of government to say “do this.”
Now, you have to be wise and don’t say something stupid, or try to order something stupid. But the fact is, the regulations supported by the laws drive innovation.”
But a recent piece of legislation introduced by California Assemblyman Ed Chau (D-Monterey Park), “The California Political Cyberfraud Abatement Act or AB 1104 for short, gives the “cow fart” bill a run for its money in terms of its complete idiocy. The bill, filed Wednesday in the Assembly’s Committee on Privacy and Consumer Affairs, would have effectively made it a crime to be wrong on the Internet.
The text of the bill implicated anyone who writes, publishes or even shares news stories that could be false, if those news stories are later found to have had an impact on an election.
As of right now it looks as if the legislation has been pulled after Chau just cancelled a hearing originally scheduled for Monday. Presumably Chau got a little pushback from mainstream media outlets after they realized his bill would effectively ban them, and their fake “Russian hacking” narratives from California.”
Evelyn Farkas Suggests the Russians May Be Behind ‘Fake News’ About Her
“Former Obama official, Evelyn Farkas has come under heavy fire for her March 2nd appearance on MSNBC where she admitted to having a lot of knowledge on the surveillance of Trump and his team. She is now in damage control mode and her nervousness is causing her to make some odd statements.
Evelyn Farkas appeared on MSNBC to defend herself, claiming the recent stories about her knowledge of Trump being wiretapped is fake news and perhaps the Russians are behind it. We are officially in the twilight zone, folks.”
Sworn Trump Enemy John McCain Admits HE handed smear dossier to FBI
– Daily Mail UK
“Sworn Donald Trump enemy John McCain admitted Wednesday that he passed the dossier of claims of a Russian blackmail plot against the president-elect – calling it ‘what any citizen should do’.
McCain – a longstanding anti-Trump Republican who had disassociated himself from the candidate’s campaign weeks before the election – cast himself as an innocent and concerned member of the public as he justified his move.
He claimed he had no idea whether it was accurate or not – but that he believed the FBI should have it because it was ‘sensitive’.
‘I did what any citizen should do. I received sensitive information and handed it to the FBI,’ he told CNN – the network which broke the story that the document existed. It was then published in full by Buzzfeed.
‘That’s why I gave it to the FBI. I don’t know if it is credible or not but the information I thought deserved to be delivered to the FBI, the appropriate agency of government.’
He added: ‘It doesn’t trouble me because I don’t know if it is accurate or not. I have no way of corroborating that.
‘The individual gave me the information. I looked at it. After receiving that information I took it to the FBI.’
He added that he was now aware from media reports that the FBI was apparently already in possession of the information. ‘
The Arizona senator had issued a public statement amid mounting questions of his exact role in the affair – and how a document riddled with errors and unverifiable claims came to be published.
‘Late last year, I received sensitive information that has since been made public,’ he said.
‘Upon examination of the contents, and unable to make a judgment about their accuracy, I delivered the information to the Director of the FBI.
‘That has been the extent of my contact with the FBI or any other government agency regarding this issue.’
But the 2008 Republican loser, who disowned his party’s candidate weeks before the election, may have been far more intimately involved than that.”
California voters just approved more taxes, but the new state budget could still be lean on cash
– LA Times
“In the six years since Gov. Jerry Brown returned to the state Capitol, his relatively parsimonious approach to state budgets has been consistent enough to leave few watchers expecting major surprises.
But recent events in California and the nation suggest the fiscal proposal Brown unveils next week could be his most circumspect to date, even after voters in November approved billions of dollars in additional taxes.
“We have a number of significant fiscal pressures that are looming,” said H.D. Palmer, the governor’s budget spokesman.
Although the details of the new budget plan remain under wraps, the underlying economic data are hidden in plain sight.
On Thursday, the independent Legislative Analyst’s Office reported that preliminary tax collections in December — a key month for quarterly tax payments — were almost $1.2 billion below predictions. The state Department of Finance, which doesn’t release its December analysis until next week, has reported several months of anemic tax collections in comparison to the assumptions built in to the foundation of the California budget that Brown signed into law in June.
Voters, though, may find news of missing state tax revenues a surprise after ratifying two major tax measures on the Nov. 8 ballot. Proposition 55 will extend current tax rates on the most wealthy that otherwise would have expired in 2018. Proposition 56 raised the state’s tobacco tax by an additional $2 per pack of cigarettes.
The political campaign in support of Proposition 55 promised it would prevent cuts to public school funding, which generally is protected by state constitutional funding requirements. Still, sagging revenues could shrink the expected rate of growth in school spending. That could leave education advocates deflated over their efforts to further restore programs that were cut during the recession.
In fact, Medi-Cal’s reliance on federal dollars may be the most worrisome part of the budget year ahead, given its dramatic expansion with dollars provided by the Affordable Care Act. President-elect Donald Trump’s promise to repeal Obamacare could affect the more than 3.8 million Californians who have enrolled in Medi-Cal.
In all, the program’s expansion is budgeted to cost $16.1 billion in the current budget year. All but $819 million of that money comes from the federal government, an enormous risk for the state in the years to come.”
How Sheriff Lee Baca’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis could affect his prison sentence
– LA Daily News
“A day after court documents confirmed that former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, community leaders and law enforcement groups gave opposing views Tuesday about how much time he should serve in prison for his part in a corruption scandal.
Baca’s diagnosis was revealed one month before he is scheduled to appear for sentencing in federal court for lying to federal authorities who were investigating corruption in county jails under his command. Baca faces six months in federal prison.
He pleaded guilty in federal court in February to one count of lying to government investigators probing corruption and civil rights abuses by deputies in the county’s downtown jails and the attempt by the Sheriff’s Department to obstruct that investigation. The former sheriff had repeatedly denied his involvement.
George Hofstetter, president of the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, said he doesn’t believe the diagnosis should change Baca’s sentence. The association represents more than 8,200 deputy sheriffs and district attorney investigators working in Los Angeles County.
“Although his diagnosis is tragic, the simple matter of fact is he committed a crime,” Hofstetter said. “He finally admitted to that. We have several of our members potentially looking at some lengthy prison sentences, compared to the slap on the wrist he got.”
Nine other members of the sheriff’s department have been convicted, receiving sentences that range from 18 to 41 months.
But Los Angeles author and community activist Earl Ofari Hutchinson issued a statement early Tuesday, calling on the court to show “tempered justice” when it comes to Baca’s sentence.”
Accept Syrian refugees but screen carefully Gov. Jerry Brown says
– What?– How do you do that Jerry? No details
– SacBee Nov 16 2015
“Breaking with other governors who have warned that admitting Syrian refugees would undermine American security, Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday advocated preserving “America’s traditional role as a place of asylum” but stressed the need for thorough vetting.”
– Except how do you vet people who possess the most insecure identity currently in the world. See the article below for how simple it is to acquire fake passports that are virtually undectable.
– How do you run a background check on a Syrian ‘refugee’ if we don’t cooperate with the Syrian government on a level that would permit any identification, criminal, terrorist or otherwise?
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif, took a similar stance to Brown on Monday, saying during a television interview that “California will not be one of those states” that turns away refugees.” Great.
– After the Kate Steinle murder in San Fran, Brown can’t seem to ensure the safety of Californians against people in the country illegally, how will he ensure safety by letting in more people we know absolutely nothing about their background, criminal, terrorist or otherwise?
Will they go to California’s Sanctuary Cities to evade the Feds?
Does Jerry Brown let people into his home without verifying identity. If not, why is that good enough for the state of California? Remember once in the country it becomes a huge and expensive undertaking to track down any radical jihadi terrorists among the refugees.
If any crazed jihadi can buy a fake Syrian passport, how in the world will Jerry Brown ensure he is not importing people capable of a attack on the scale of this weekend’s massacre in Paris? And will Jerry Brown take responsibility?
And remember that Gov Moonbeam has made it simple and easy for people in the country illegally to obtain a state driver’s license, that will allow the bearer to board an airplane or buy a gun or anything else.
It doesn’t take a seer to see this could end disastrously.