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Communities going into power business to cut cost, carbon footprint
Sonoma County, which enticed Americans to forsake factory-made food for artisan wines and farmers market produce, now wants consumers to reconsider another everyday commodity. New on the menu: locally curated energy. The county is at the forefront among eco-minded communities plunging into the power business nationwide. Impatient with the pace at which states and the federal government are confronting climate change, communities from the coast of Massachusetts, Cincinnati, Chicago and Boulder, Colo., have begun taking steps to elbow aside big electricity companies and find green power themselves. Sonoma County now offers tens of thousands of ratepayers energy that is significantly greener — and slightly cheaper — than that sold by the region's utility, Pacific Gas & Electric Co. Customers who want 100% local renewable power can pay extra and get every kilowatt they use from a geothermal plant in the region's hills. "This follows on the heels of the whole local food movement," said Chris Mann, chief executive of Guayaki, a maker of yerba mate teas. The company's headquarters — complete with indoor skate park — is in the bohemian town of Sebastopol, which has designated itself nuclear free. Guayaki opted to go 100% geothermal. "It is part of re-localization," Mann said. "We are taking back power." Supporters hope the new energy model will help drive the local economy as it strikes a blow against climate change. [Article]
by EVAN HALPER, Los Angeles Times. 2014-09-02
 
Garcetti calls for 13.25 minimum wage by 2017
Mayor Eric Garcetti on Monday launched an ambitious campaign to impose a 13.25-an-hour minimum wage requirement for all workers in Los Angeles by 2017, calling it the "largest anti-poverty program in the city's history." The most far-reaching initiative of the 14-month-old Garcetti administration would increase incomes for an estimated 567K workers by an average of 3,200, or 21%, a year, according to an analysis commissioned by the mayor's office and conducted by researchers from UC Berkeley. [Article]
by JAMES RAINEY, JEAN MERL, Los Angeles Times. 2014-09-02
 
California Legislature fails to reach a deal on Tesla battery factory
SACRAMENTO — Looks as if California's effort to attract an electric car maker's battery factory has run out of juice, at least for now. State lawmakers left town without seeing, let alone debating, a much-anticipated incentive bill that was supposed to entice Tesla Motors Inc. in Palo Alto to build a 5 bln battery factory in the Golden State. The failure to reach an accord — at least on the part of Gov. Jerry Brown's top aides — wasn't for lack of trying. The governor's Office of Business and Economic Development has been conferring for months with Tesla brass, including Chief Executive Elon Musk. The parties even came up with draft legislation, which quickly became controversial. The 35-page proposal called for waiving large portions of the landmark California Environmental Quality Act to speed construction to meet Tesla's timetable for getting its so-called gigabattery factory running by 2017. The draft also hinted at tax breaks that reportedly could run as high as 500 mln Environmentalists and some lawmakers grumbled that the CEQA waivers were too extreme. [Article]
by MARC LIFSHER, Los Angeles Times. 2014-09-02
 
Mayor Eric Garcetti announces minimum wage proposal for Los Angeles (updated)
Following in the footsteps of cities like Seattle and San Francisco, Mayor Eric Garcetti made a Labor Day pitch for an increase, over the next three years, in the Los Angeles minimum wage to more than 13 per hour. The mayor made the announcement in a South L.A. park at what's billed as a "rally to address poverty in Los Angeles." His proposal would increase the city's minimum wage to 13.25 an hour by 2017 and then tie the wage to the Consumer Price Index for urban wage earners. [Article]
by ALICE WALTON, KPCC Southern CA Public Radio. 2014-09-02
 
Los Angeles County Supervisor Antonovich criticizes recent efforts to ban plastic bags
Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich wrote a letter to Governor Jerry Brown on Friday criticizing recent efforts to ban plastic bags in California. “The $0.10 per bag fee will force lower income residents in impoverished communities around the state to pay for paper bags, with little indication of how the money will be spent-- or if it will just help line the pockets of major grocery stores,” Antonovich wrote in the letter. He also stated the legislation would do little to reduce the environmental impact of bags, instead serving "special interests" at grocery stores. [Article]
by MELISSA LAMPERT, KHTS Radio News (LA). 2014-09-02
 
Security program helps L.A. Jewish institutions prepare for the worst
Aug. 10, 1999 was a day like any other at the North Valley Jewish Community Center in Granada Hills until white supremacist Buford Furrow Jr. walked into the lobby mid-morning with a 9 mm semiautomatic pistol and unloaded 70 shots, wounding four children and an office worker. He then drove to Chatsworth and murdered a Filipino American postal worker in a spree he later called “a wakeup call to America to kill Jews.” [Article]
by JORDAN GRAHAM, LA Observed. 2014-09-02
 
Hands-on learning hits new highs
Bell Senior High School sophomore Max Leon carefully twisted a wrench to tighten the shock absorber of a 2003 Toyota Tundra. Then the 16-year-old inspected the truck’s braking system and checked the tires’ pressure, performing all the duties under the eye of his instructor. The tasks were part of a recent lesson in Leon’s automotive class, where actual customers bring in vehicles for repairs. “You can’t really pick up these types of skills in a classroom,” Leon said. “If you want to work in the automotive industry, the best way to start is by learning how to fix cars.” [Article]
by FERMIN LEAL, LA Observed. 2014-09-02
 
Orange County Residents Urged to Prepare for Disaster
Orange County residents were urged to prepare for emergencies and disasters less than a week after Time magazine ranked the county as the second-most dangerous area in the United States when it comes to natural disasters. September kicks off National Emergency Preparedness Month, and the Orange County Sheriff’s Department was calling on residents to be prepared since authorities wouldn’t be able to respond quickly to every emergency call. [Article]
by Vikki Vargas and Andrew Lopez, Orange County Register. 2014-09-02
 
The seeds of conservation
A recent workshop at the Coastkeeper Garden on East Santiago Canyon and Jamboree roads was to be about organic gardening. But when it came time for questions, most of the 45 attendees asked about lawn removal. “Since Gov. (Jerry) Brown declared a drought, people are coming here specifically for that,” said Austin Brown, the garden’s manager. “It sucks it had to take a problem like that to get people to come and learn.” [Article]
by REBECCA KHEEL, Orange County Register. 2014-09-02
 
Union-backed car wash workers fight for more pay, shade
Jose Rolando Cuestas, a 34-year-old Honduran immigrant, worked for 10 years washing cars. “From eight in the morning until seven at night, I was paid 35 a day,” he recalled, fingering a rosary around his neck. It was less than half the legal minimum wage. He was fired for complaining. Today, Cuestas is training to organize other “carwasheros,” as they call themselves, to fight for better pay and benefits. “We must unite,” he said in his native Spanish, “or we will be mistreated.” [Article]
by MARGOT ROOSEVELT, Orange County Register. 2014-09-02
 
Workers may gain paid sick leave
Workers in California who will become eligible for paid sick leave under legislation that Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to sign had an extra reason to celebrate on Labor Day. AB 1522, passed by the state Legislature over the weekend, requires employers to provide both full-time and part-time employees with one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. Titled the “Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014,” the bill could affect more than five million workers but would not become law until July – if the governor puts his name to it. [Article]
by THERESA WALKER, Orange County Register. 2014-09-02
 
Legislature Moves San Diego Lawmakers’ Bills To Governor’s Desk
Before California's legislative session came to a close Saturday, San Diego lawmakers pushed through a few bills last week to Gov. Jerry Brown's desk. They included: [Article]
by TARRYN MENTO, KPBS Radio News / San Diego. 2014-09-02
 
Project that closes stretch of Interstate 805 in Chula Vista begins Tuesday night
CHULA VISTA, Calif. - Interstate 805 will be temporarily closed overnight between East Orange Avenue and Telegraph Canyon Road to accommodate the removal of temporary supports for bridge construction at East Palomar Street between Sept. 2 and Sept. 15. [Article]
by STAFF REPORT, KUSI (San Diego). 2014-09-02
 
Homeless Management Information System to track use of services in attempt to end homelessness
To help meet their goal of ending homelessness by 2020, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is mandating all counties to buy a Homeless Management Information System. The system is a comprehensive approach that will track the various services individual homeless persons use in order to understand what services each person needs. Funding of 70K for the HMIS and to support the system for two years was approved by the Imperial County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday. [Article]
by KRISTA DALY, Imperial Valley Press. 2014-09-02
 
A Tale of Two Earthquakes
The TV showed scenes of employees mopping up gallons of highly priced 2008 pinot noir. I have friends who would volunteer to assist the wineries in Napa mop up as long as they could bring their own sponges, funnels and bottles. It was front page news across the U.S. The worst earthquake to hit Northern California since 1989. Lots of 3.0 aftershocks, too, so the precious wine bottles continue to rattle. Oops, there goes another vintage year. Napa County breathlessly awaits a federal disaster declaration. [Article]
by RICHARD RYAN / OPINION, Imperial Valley Press. 2014-09-02
 
RIVERSIDE: Poly senior steps up for special-needs students
Kate Weggeland appears to be the typical teen in many ways. The senior at Poly High School in Riverside spends her time away from the books poring over college applications, competing in pole vault on the track team and writing for the campus newspaper. What sets the 17-year-old apart from many of her peers is her drive to advocate for special-needs students. That passion led Weggeland to form a nonprofit group called Uniquely Special, which assists special-needs students academically and socially. [Article]
by MELANIE C. JOHNSON, Riverside Press-Enterprise. 2014-09-02
 
COURTS: Budgets still lean for Inland counties
Budgets for Inland superior courts increased from the previous fiscal year by about 6 mln for each system, allowing for small improvements – but services and most courtrooms shuttered by recession-era budget cuts will remain closed. The proposed budgets are 148.7 mln for Riverside County Superior Court and 106.4 mln for San Bernardino County Superior Court. “This is a do-the-best-with-what-we-gave-you budget, and that is what we intend to do,” Riverside County Superior Court Executive Officer W. Samuel Hamrick Jr. said in a telephone interview. [Article]
by RICHARD K. De ATLEY, Riverside Press-Enterprise. 2014-09-02
 
DROUGHT: For businesses, it's lawns out, conservation in
Water that seeps from irrigated pots of red roses, pink geraniums and acres of other plants at a western Riverside County nursery adds up to more than 100 mln gallons a year. With drought gripping California, the owners of Altman Plants near Lake Mathews jumped at the chance when water providers offered to pick up half the 900K cost of a recycling system at the nursery. Runoff is captured in plastic-lined ditches and reservoirs then pumped to nursery stock grown for Home Depot, Lowe’s and other retailers across the country. [Article]
by JANET ZIMMERMAN, Riverside Press-Enterprise. 2014-09-02
 
Thousands get green energy jobs in California
Green energy advocates got some welcome news last week: More than 2,500 clean energy and clean transportation jobs were announced in California in the second quarter of 2014, including 150 in Riverside County. Those numbers are courtesy of Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2), a consortium of green energy companies and investors. According to E2, Hemet-based solar installer Horizon Solar said in June it would hire 150 new employees, the only such job announcement in Riverside County last quarter. [Article]
by SAMMY ROTH, Desert Sun. 2014-09-02
 
JOSE GASPAR: Immigrant youth can succeed -- so let them
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) -- Would you expect a 19-year-old to be a) in college; b) working full-time; c) partying at every opportunity; d) a homeowner? Thinking back to what I was doing at 19, answer c would likely be the top answer. But Brenda Ruiz is no ordinary 19-year-old. Just two years ago, Ruiz was a student at Arvin High. Today she is entering her third year at Cal State Bakersfield with a major in petroleum engineering while holding down a full-time job as technical director for the local Telemundo newscast. And she is a home owner. At 19! If I skipped the partying part, it's because Ruiz has little time for carousing. How has she accomplished so much when she began life with so little? Ruiz was brought to this country by her parents, Javier and Paula Ruiz, when she was 3 and an undocumented immigrant from Michoacan, Mexico. The family lived in a one-bedroom house in Weedpatch, along with an uncle and his wife. Two years later, they moved up -- into a two-bedroom house. [Article]
by JOSE GASPAR / COLUMNIST, Bakersfield Now. 2014-09-02
 
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