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L.A. County plans court to help child prostitutes
Los Angeles County authorities are planning a specialized court to handle the growing number of young people in foster care who street predators have lured or bullied into prostitution. The court would be designed to significantly increase the time and attention judges, lawyers, social workers and specially trained advocates spend helping minors, mainly teens, who have been detained for taking money in exchange for sex. County child welfare authorities already are training law enforcement officers to call the child abuse hotline instead of booking minors on criminal charges. This approach sends the youth into the foster care system rather than the delinquency system, where they would be defined as perpetrators rather than victims. The proposed court would build on that approach. [Article]
by GARRETT THEROLF, Los Angeles Times. 2015-02-27
 
L.A. drama critics pan pay hike plan for actors in small theaters
The Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle has roundly panned a plan to require a minimum wage of $9 an hour for actors who perform in dozens of small theaters in Los Angeles, saying it isn’t just a mess, but a menace. “The inevitable result will be a drastic reduction in the amount and quality of local theater,” the 21-member theater critics’ organization wrote in a news release Thursday, adding that the proposed minimum, scant as it may seem, “could be the virtual demise of Los Angeles as a leading incubator of plays and theater of innovation and diversity…. The cultural loss would be incalculable.” [Article]
by MIKE BOEHM, Los Angeles Times. 2015-02-27
 
Special exemptions for the high-speed rail project
Gov. Jerry Brown has twisted himself into a series of contradictions, opposing state environmental rules that he previously supported, and selectively deferring to the federal government – all in the name of keeping the state high-speed rail project crawling along. Since 2007 the California High-Speed Rail Authority has promised that the high-speed train project would comply with the California Environmental Quality Act, which is often labeled as the state’s landmark environmental regulation. It requires state and local agencies to “identify the significant environmental impacts of their actions and to avoid or mitigate those impacts.” [Article]
by BARUCH FEIGENBAUM / OPINION, Orange County Register. 2015-02-27
 
Venezia: It looks like a sparring match between Moorlach and Wagner
Things are heating up in the March 17 special election for the 37th state Senate District. Vying for this seat are former Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach, Assemblyman Don Wagner (R-Irvine), a district representative for U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) named Naz Namazi, and write-in candidate Louise Stewardson, a nurse. I read in my absentee ballot the statements of Moorlach and Wagner. Namazi didn't have one. [Article]
by BARBARA VENEZIA, Daily Pilot. 2015-02-27
 
San Diego County-Tijuana Kids Send ‘Unite For The Sea’ Message
Nearly 1,500 students from San Diego County and Tijuana came together on Thursday to share one message: "Unite Por El Mar," which translates to "Unite for the Sea." The children stood to form the words at Border Field State Park and Playas de Tijuana near the U.S-Mexico border after picking up trash on the beaches. Students from seven South County elementary schools participated in the event: Emory and Howard Pence in San Diego; Parkview, Leonardo de Vinci Charter and Halecrest in Chula Vista; Bayside in Imperial Beach; and Silver Strand in Coronado. [Article]
by STAFF REPORT, KPBS Radio News / San Diego. 2015-02-27
 
County governments criticize renewable energy plan
An embattled plan to promote renewable energy development across the desert has hit a new roadblock: county governments. Five of the seven counties covered by the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan — including Riverside, Imperial and San Bernardino — expressed serious concerns with the 10K-page document before a public comment deadline last week. County governments are key players in many land-use decisions, and their opposition could undermine major aspects of the plan, which is central to California's efforts to limit climate change. [Article]
by SAMMY ROTH, Desert Sun. 2015-02-27
 
SanBAG responds to public comments on Redlands Passenger Rail Project
San Bernardino Associated Governments, the county’s transportation authority and lead agency on the Redlands Passenger Rail Project, received nearly 70 letters with 431 individual comments during the 54-day public comment period in August and September for the draft Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report (EIS/EIR). SanBAG has responded to the comments in the final EIS/EIR, which was posted on its website Feb. 20. Comments were from residents, business owners, and city, state and federal government agencies. [Article]
by SANDRA EMERSON, San Bernardino County Sun. 2015-02-27
 
Op-ed: Making your voices heard, from San Bernardino County to our nation’s Capitol
As San Bernardino County’s new representative in Congress, there are a number of issues I look forward to addressing on behalf of Inland Empire families. From fighting for good-paying jobs to improving the quality of education, I am committed to doing right by my constituents. Since taking office five weeks ago, I’ve had the opportunity to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle – from co-sponsoring legislation that lowers the tax burden of local small businesses, to supporting a pilot program to help our veterans find work. [Article]
by PETE AGUILAR / OPINION, San Bernardino County Sun. 2015-02-27
 
EDITORIAL: Riverside County budget challenges
Earlier this month, the mid-year budget report for Riverside County was released and approved by the Board of Supervisors. Much in the report was already known: there was a gap between what various departments wanted and what the county was able to provide. For the Sheriff’s Department, Fire Department and the District Attorney’s office, the report indicated a deficit of more than 50 mln, most of which could be attributed to labor costs. The major takeaway from the budget report and presentation on Feb. 10, however, is what is expected in the years ahead. “We have big decisions to make that could involve substantial money, and we don’t have ongoing revenue to support them,” said county finance officer Ed Corser. [Article]
by EDITORIAL, Riverside Press-Enterprise. 2015-02-27
 
Alon delays work on oil-by-rail terminal planned for Rosedale Highway refinery
The owner of the idled refinery on Rosedale Highway told an industry gathering this week the company will start operating a rail terminal at the plant in 2016, not 2015 as previously announced, a legal-news service has reported. The report by legal news service Law360 offered no explanation for the delay other than saying the Dallas-based refiner, Alon USA Energy Inc., affirmed it was engaged in "commercial discussions" regarding the project. An Alon spokesman would not confirm the schedule revision, and he declined Thursday to comment on the report. As recently as November the company said the 50 mln to 70 mln terminal could open later this year. The project, along with a refinery upgrade that could allow the 200-worker plant to restart, is the target of a lawsuit environmental activists filed in October claiming the Kern County Board of Supervisors erred in approving the project a month earlier. That suit is pending. [Article]
by JOHN COX, Bakersfield Californian. 2015-02-27
 
Hundreds of illicit oil wastewater pits found in Kern County
Water officials in Kern County discovered that oil producers have been dumping chemical-laden wastewater into hundreds of unlined pits that are operating without proper permits. Inspections completed this week by the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board revealed the existence of more than 300 previously unidentified waste sites. The water board’s review found that more than one-third of the region’s active disposal pits are operating without permission. The pits raise new water quality concerns in a region where agricultural fields sit side by side with oil fields and where California’s ongoing drought has made protecting groundwater supplies paramount. [Article]
by JULIE CART, Los Angeles Times. 2015-02-27
 
Who's behind the chemical-laden water pits in Kern County?
One thing is clear for officials who discovered hundreds of illicit oil wastewater pits in Kern County: They have years of work ahead of them to determine who put the chemical-laden water there and how to remediate any potential environmental damage. The Central Valley Water Quality Control Board expects Friday to complete its inspections of hundreds of unlined pits filled with wastewater forced out of the ground during oil operations, including fracking. They are getting a fix on just how many are operating without permits and who is operating them, water officials said. Inspections so far have revealed the existence of more than 300 previously unidentified waste sites. The water board’s review has also found that more than one-third of the region’s active disposal pits are operating without permission. The discoveries raise new questions about water quality in the region, which is home to more than 80% of the state's oil production. [Article]
by JULIE CART, Los Angeles Times. 2015-02-27
 
Technology helping solve cold cases
THOUSAND PALMS, Calif. - Detectives across the country are dedicating time to cold cases and getting results. Advances in forensic technology is extracting DNA from evidence never thought possible, DNA detectives believe will put more killers behind bars. Since the late 1980's, police used DNA to solve crimes, but how it could be used was extremely limited. "We couldn't process a specific item of evidence because it hadn't been invented yet," said Indio Detective Jeremy Hellawell. But, that's changed. "We have the ability today, to collect and get a profile of a DNA sample merely by breathing on something back then it would take a sample the size of a quarter and use up that sample," said Hellawell. [Article]
by MEGAN TERLECKY, KESQ.com Palm Springs - Riverside Cty. 2015-02-27
 
A place to put the sludge
For nearly a year, sludge has been piling up at the city of Tulare’s Water Pollution Control Facilities. That sludge is comprised of human waste — including fecal matter, toilet paper and vomit — along with manufacturing waste from the larger industries in Tulare. Once that sewage is processed, treated and substantially dried, what’s left, the sludge, which looks like black dirt that has been mechanically scooped into large piles in several of the treatment plant’s sludge-drying beds waiting to be loaded into trucks. [Article]
by DAVID CASTELLON, Visalia Times-Delta. 2015-02-27
 
Plan resurrected for new Kings County city
The planning process has once again been set in motion for Quay Valley, an eco-friendly city proposed to rise on undeveloped scrubland along Interstate 5 in southwestern Kings County. Grow Holdings LLC filed a revised plan earlier this month with the Kings County Community Development Agency to resurrect the idea, first pitched in 2007. The renewed application breathes new life to a futuristic concept that had fallen on hard times. The 2008 financial crisis and subsequent recession dried up investment capital and put the cash-strapped Quay Valley project on life support. [Article]
by SETH NIDEVER, Kings County Sentinel. 2015-02-27
 
Rail contractors test bridge piling near San Joaquin River
Engineers for California’s high-speed rail project spent part of Tuesday using explosives to batter a reinforced concrete piling near the San Joaquin River — part of ongoing testing in preparation of construction of the bullet-train line in the Fresno-Madera area. The piling, buried deep in the ground with a small portion extending above the surface, was intended to test the design of structures that will form the foundation for a bridge and elevated tracks that will eventually span the river. Engineers set up a massive steel cylinder next to the exposed piling, packed it with pounds of explosives, and detonated the charge to ram a heavy piston into the structure. A video of the test provided by the California High-Speed Rail Authority shows that while the pillar didn’t move, the force of the blast drove the heavy steel cylinder back several yards. [Article]
by TIM SHEEHAN, Fresno Bee. 2015-02-27
 
Drone's-eye view of massive Coast Range solar farm
In this video by MidAmerican Renewables, get an interesting view of the construction activity happening at one of the largest solar projects under construction in the world. The 550-megawatt Topaz Solar Farms has more than 8 million modules and covers 4,700 acres in southeastern San Luis Obispo County. It provides enough electricity equivalent to powering more than 180K average California households. (MidAmerican Renewables) [Article]
by STAFF REPORT, Fresno Bee. 2015-02-27
 
Gravel mine gets OK from Fresno County Planning Commission
A 619-acre gravel mining project on the Kings River, east of Sanger, was approved Thursday by the Fresno County Planning Commission. By a 5-1 vote, planning commissioners backed the Running Luck Ranch mining project near Riverbend and Goodfellow avenues. It includes 351 acres of farmland reclamation to replace an equal portion of land that will be taken out of agricultural production, said John Buada, who represents the group. The project is proposed in phases over a 75-year period. The other 268 acres will revert to agriculture as those phases are completed. As a response to concerns about noise, Buada said, landowners raised the height of a berm and added more noise suppression equipment. [Article]
by STAFF REPORT, Fresno Bee. 2015-02-27
 
No irrigation water again this year for Valley
Farmers again will get no federal river water for more than 2 mln acres of cropland in the San Joaquin Valley, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced Friday. Though the announcement was no surprise, it sent ripples of anxiety through the farming industry on both the east and west sides of the Valley, which rely on water from the federal Central Valley Project. Don Peracchi, board president of the Westlands Water District’s board, mostly in west Fresno County, said: “The federal government’s Central Valley Project is broken. Some of the most vital elements of the state’s economy are being allowed to wither and die.” The bureau, which operates the massive Central Valley Project, blamed depleted reservoirs, drought and a snowpack that is a fifth of its average size. Officials said they would update the forecast if stormy weather produces more water. [Article]
by MARK GROSSI, Fresno Bee. 2015-02-27
 
Merced County retirement board discusses new funding policy
Merced County’s retirement board on Thursday discussed a new funding policy in an effort to increase financial stability and pay off the county retirement system’s debt. One possibility is setting a minimum contribution rate – the percent the county pays into employee pensions – for a set period of time. The county is paying 47.64 percent toward its employees’ plans, but that rate will increase to 49.93 percent in the next fiscal year. The minimum contribution rate under consideration is 50 percent, officials said. That means the county could be required to pay higher rates during bad economic years, but would not pay below the minimum percent. [Article]
by RAMONA GIWARGIS, Merced Sun-Star. 2015-02-27
 
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