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'The cheapest buzz you can get on skid row': Officials try to stop homeless from smoking spice after dozens sickened
When paramedics arrived at downtown’s skid row last Friday in response to a 911 call, they found dozens of people who looked as if they’d overdosed. Many were on the ground, passed out.  Ambulances and police cars flooded the area. Firefighters closed roads and set up a temporary command station at 5th and San Pedro streets to triage patients. The sickest people were lifted onto gurneys. “I’m walking down the street — it looks like a war zone,” said Georgia Berkovich, who works at the Midnight Mission, a block from the intersection. Thirty-eight people were transported to the hospital, many suspected of ingesting the synthetic drug “spice.” On Monday, it happened again. [Article]
by SOUMYA KARLAMANGLA, Los Angeles Times. 2016-08-26
At Cal State, student homelessness has been hidden until now
Racing from her last class of the day at Cal State Long Beach, Shellv Candler had about an hour to get to Wilmington. Her mother was trying to save her a bed at the Doors of Hope Women’s Shelter, but curfew was 6:45 sharp.  The college student’s commute by bus and train was stressful. But she and her mother had been through worse. The foreclosure of the family home. Evictions. Relatives who could give them shelter for only so long. Some nights, with nowhere to go, they’d ridden the bus until daylight. Once they’d slept in a hospital morgue. Six classes from graduating, Candler persevered. “There were times I thought about dropping out,” she said. “But going to school was my escape — to be able to take all that anger, frustration, sadness, disappointment, to take all of that and put it into something as proactive as my education…. This is my chance to be able to do something with my life.” [Article]
by ROSANNA XIA, Los Angeles Times. 2016-08-26
Destruction from Italy quake a grave warning for California's old brick buildings
Surveying the devastation of centuries-old villages pummeled by a major earthquake in central Italy this week, it’s easy for Californians to think that the more modern buildings here would better survive the shaking. But seismic experts and structural engineers say there remain many buildings across California that could not withstand the type of magnitude 6.2 temblor that on Wednesday hit Amatrice and other rural villages in the Apennine Mountains that form Italy’s spine. The structural flaw in those ancient stone homes is not so different from unreinforced brick buildings built in California before 1933, they say. That year, the Long Beach earthquake flattened many structures and left 120 people dead. The Long Beach quake was similar in several ways to this week’s temblor in Italy. It was more powerful, estimated at magnitude 6.4, and like this week’s temblor was shallow, meaning the shaking was particularly strong at ground level.  Crews find living among the dead as search goes on for survivors of Italy quake that killed 250 [Article]
by RONG-GONG LIN II, Los Angeles Times. 2016-08-26
‘Sacramento, When It Comes to Transportation Funding You Ought To Be Ashamed!’
ALPERN AT LARGE--No need to mince words here:  if the state did its job on transportation funding, then Metro wouldn't have to keep raising its county sales tax every few years.   Sacramento, when it comes to stealing and misappropriating transportation funding, you stink ... and you ought to be ashamed.  And now there's a bill (SB1379) to have Sacramento play a direct role in choosing the Metro Board?!  There's a darned good reason why the Metro Board had to take over the last portions of the 405 widening project through the Sepulveda Pass:  Sacramento was broke and spending money on other things ... did you know we spend as much or more on former state workers as current state workers?   [Article]
by KEN ALPERN / OPINION, 2016-08-26
California Bill to Increase Support for Pregnant Foster Youth Reaches Governor's Desk
Whether to increase financial support for prenatal care and other needs of pregnant foster youth is in California Governor Jerry Brown’s hands, now that Assembly Bill (AB) 1838 has passed in both the Senate and Assembly. Authored by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), AB 1838 would authorize infant supplement payments to begin with a pregnant youth’s third trimester; under current law, payments don’t begin until the child is born. Earlier this year, Ting was successful in pushing through a budget trailer bill that increases the amount of the infant supplement from $411 to $900 per month. The supplement, which took effect July 1, is given to the parenting youth’s caregiver, if she is in a group home, foster home or living with a relative, or to the youth directly if she’s in an independent living program. [Article]
by CHRISTIE RENICK, Chronicle of Social Change. 2016-08-26
As homeless encampments swell, Orange County to close 7 miles of road along Santa Ana River
The county is padlocking access to roughly seven miles of paved road along the east side of the Santa Ana River from Anaheim to Santa Ana, closing entrances to bicyclists, pedestrians and homeless people living in tent encampments. The reason: An uptick in complaints and safety concerns about the homeless who have settled along the targeted stretch of the river south from Katella Avenue to Hesperian Street, said Shannon Widor, spokesman for Orange County Public Works. [Article]
by THERESA WALKER, Orange County Register. 2016-08-26
State audit finds $75,000 reimbursement for employee's drive time
SAN FRANCISCO – A California state district engineer approved $3.9 million in payments to the firm that employed the worker’s spouse and the state public health department improperly reimbursed an official $75,000 for driving to work, according to an audit released Thursday. The findings are the result of whistleblower tips investigated within the first six months of the year. The report details seven substantiated investigations from several state agencies, and identifies $400,000 in undisclosed gifts and wasted money due to improper travel expenses and mismanagement. [Article]
by JANIE HAR / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, Orange County Register. 2016-08-26
Orange County judge rules that Coastal Commission cannot prevent repairs to sea wall at mobile home park
An Orange County judge has ruled that the California Coastal Commission cannot prevent the repair and maintenance of a sea wall that protects mobile homes in San Clemente. If allowed to stand, the decision could affect hundreds of oceanfront property owners and a commission policy that limits the use of sea walls and other shoreline protection that researchers say can increase beach erosion far from where the walls are built, keep people from getting to the ocean and make California’s shoreline uglier. Superior Court Judge Theodore R. Howard ruled Monday that the Coastal Commission overstepped its authority when it denied the Wills family the right to repair, maintain or replace a sea wall in front of a new mobile home they wanted to install at the Capistrano Shores Mobile Home Park. [Article]
by DAN WEIKEL, Los Angeles Times. 2016-08-26
Charity that had money problems gets new CEO
The San Diego charity found to have mishandled public funds earlier this year has named a new chief executive. James Callaghan took over this month as chief executive officer at Mental Health Systems, a behavioral-health and substance-abuse nonprofit that collects and spends tens of millions of dollars a year in government contracts. Callaghan, a real estate and development professional who was serving on the Mental Health Systems governing board as a volunteer, takes over from Kimberly Bond, who left the agency after county investigators cited the charity for practices such as billing taxpayers for expenses that had not been incurred. [Article]
by JEFF MCDONALD, San Diego Union-Tribune. 2016-08-26
How San Diego County law enforcement is eroding trust
It’s clear we are in a new era in America for law enforcement. Public trust has been eroded by a flood of cellphone and surveillance videos in recent years showing officers behaving violently and sometimes lethally with questionable cause. Theirs is one of the toughest jobs, and many Americans still reflexively support just about all police conduct. But some Americans are more wary than ever before. The obvious way for authorities to respond is to be far more open and transparent, and to adopt new norms of conduct to foster trust among increasingly skeptical community members. That isn’t happening as much as it should in San Diego County. [Article]
by EDITORIAL, San Diego Union-Tribune. 2016-08-26
Keep air quality under local control: Don Kendrick
It is my privilege to serve as mayor of La Verne, an honor that has deepened my commitment to helping our residents and businesses each day. La Verne is a “full service” city, which means that we provide a full scope of police, fire, water and sewer services through our own city departments. I and my colleagues on the City Council are responsible for overseeing the management of the city. Our performance is evaluated by the people we represent during local elections. The principle of locally elected officials setting policies for local government and then being held accountable is very important, not only for a city government but also for regional regulatory agencies like the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD). [Article]
by DON KENDRICK / OPINION, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin. 2016-08-26
Kern County warns of dangerous algae | KBAK
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — Two areas of Isabella Lake are now posted with warnings about toxic algae, and experts say each shows a different level of possible risk. Several spots in the Kern River are also posted with algae warnings. Kern County health officials say algae has been spotted in our area before, but this is the first time warnings have been issued. [Article]
by STAFF REPORT, Bakersfield Now. 2016-08-26
Supervisors discuss county budget
In adopting the 2016-17 Kern County budget supervisors did so with their eyes to the future. The future was squarely in focus for current chairman of the board Mick Gleason and last year’s chairman David Couch. “The budget sucks-not fun-this is real pain.” Gleason said Thursday after the vote. “We can all take satisfaction we have done the best we can for the taxpayers.” “We all knew a year and a half ago where we were headed. Some departments embraced the future (obvious cuts) and had time to prepare and did it well,” Couch said. “Public safety had a tough time with it. A lot of gnashing of teeth. But early on we said everybody was going to take the 5 percent cut. Every department was going to be held to the same standard,” Couch said. [Article]
by JOHN WATKINS, Ridgecrest Daily Independent. 2016-08-26
Merced County's Human Services Agency formally opens new site at Castle Commerce Center
When the county’s Human Services Agency first agreed to lease the old AT&T call center building at Castle Commerce Center, the building had an eerie feeling of abandonment. The bushes were dead and the place was empty, said Scott Pettygrove, HSA director, during an open house Wednesday at the newly renovated building. Now, inspirational quotes and photos of local scenes by local artists decorate the walls, new computers and modern desk chairs fill the space and hundreds of Merced County employees arrive every day, ready to help the thousands of clients who will walk through the doors each month. [Article]
by BRIANNA CALIX, Merced Sun-Star. 2016-08-26
Let’s do our best for Fresno youth
We often speak about caring for our children, about wanting Fresno and our communities to be safe and healthy places for our kids to grow up. This rhetoric reaches its peak annually around Kids Day, when thousands of volunteers, businesses and private organizations join together to support Valley Children’s Hospital. This huge effort is only the tip of what parents, families, teachers, social service workers, police and many others do every day to nurture our children and help them thrive in life. Yet there is another reality that runs counter to our best efforts. Twelve years ago, I wrote a commentary for The Bee decrying how difficult things were for kids in our community. I proposed these solutions: [Article]
by WARREN KESSLER / OPINION, Fresno Bee. 2016-08-26
Governor and Fresno County Sheriff clear the air after voicemail regarding controversial proposition
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The Governor and Fresno County Sheriff come face-to-face after a voicemail he left her last week criticizing a mailer she sent out about a ballot measure he is pushing. The two met last night at a reception and the Sheriff is attending a Cal State sheriff's meeting in Siskiyou County. The voicemail from the Governor said, "I just want you to know that's completely false and that makes that mailer extremely false and I would even say malicious." That voicemail caused a whole lot of chatter, which was cleared up, or at least aired out, when Governor Jerry Brown and Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims met in Northern California at a law enforcement meeting. [Article]
by SONTAYA ROSE, KFSN ABC30 - Fresno County. 2016-08-26
County law enforcement is failing, report claims
Merced County is failing at curbing mass incarceration, upholding police accountability and preventing gun violence, according to a report issued from PICO National Network. The report, done in conjunction with the nonprofit Merced Organizing Project, gave the county and city of Merced failing grades across the board. The report calls for law enforcement leaders to adopt a number of practices locally that have led to improvements in other parts of the state and the country, according to the report’s authors. [Article]
by THADDEUS MILLER, Merced Sun-Star. 2016-08-26
County rolls out new commuter bus with Turlock service
Turlock residents who are used to driving six to 10 hours every day to get to their jobs in the Bay Area and back now have another transportation option — the Stanislaus Regional Transit commuter bus. [Article]
by STAFF REPORT, Turlock Journal. 2016-08-26
This Could Power Merced County Through 21st Century
Looking at the future of Merced County, the UC Merced Development and the Revenue Sharing Agreement between Merced County and its cities, is so important it could power this county through the 21st Century. The financing of the UC development alone warrants national attention because it brings together educational resources and private resources. Together they can address the problem of how higher education can keep pace with the demand of growing student bodies. The problem of Revenue Sharing has been an anchor around the neck of Merced County and the city, dragging it to an economic halt in areas where the need for growth has been most important. Both of these actions deal with jobs, hopefully local jobs which can provide opportunity for residents of Merced County, at all levels, to find work. Keep in mind, we are not all college graduates, and in many cases the construction jobs do not require college degrees. How important are local jobs? Without them, we remain on the treadmill of poverty facing crime, drug and gang problems, which no amount of policing can stop. [Article]
by JOHN DERBY / EDITORIAL, Merced County Times. 2016-08-26
Guest Opinion: Which world do we want to live in?
Our county is at a crossroads. The Butte Fire brought profound changes and we are now faced with some important choices that will determine what kind of community we will live in. There were a couple of public events held in Calaveras County this week that gave us a peek into two of these possible worlds. The first event was billed as “The Great Cannabis Debate, Part Two” and was held in Valley Springs. The second was the Mountain Ranch Day in the Park. [Article]
by TOM LIBERTY / OPINION, Calaveras Enterprise. 2016-08-26
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