Juvenile criminal defense attorneys forced to agree to Taser's terms of service to see the state's evidence

California criminal defense attorney Rick Horowitz had a juvenile client, he was shocked when the prosecutor in the case told him that to see the evidence against his client, he'd have to log in to evidence.com, run by Taser International (now rebranded as Axon). Read the rest

California's charter schools: hundreds of millions of tax dollars for wasteful, redundant, low-quality education

In Spending Blind: The Failure of Policy Planning in California Charter School Funding, Gordon Lafer -- a University of Oregon prof who also works for Oakland's The Public Interest -- finds "hundreds of millions of dollars ... spent each year without any meaningful strategy... on schools built in neighborhoods that have no need for additional classroom space, and which offer no improvement over the quality of education already available in nearby public schools. In the worst cases, public facilities funding has gone to schools that were found to have discriminatory enrollment policies and others that have engaged in unethical or corrupt practices." Read the rest

Meet the self-taught coder exposing California politics to the sunlight

Watch this inspiring summary of Rob Pyers' journey from laid-off grocery bagger to major player in following the money in California politics. Read the rest

Companies that help build Trump's wall could lose pension fund investments and California state contracts

It's not just Mexican cement giant Cemex that's refusing to bid on the Great Wall of Trump; many of the firms in the super-concentrated large-scale construction sector are signalling their unwillingness to participate in the wall's construction. Read the rest

Orange County's Seal Beach jail offers posh, $100/day accommodations to rich crooks

If you're convicted of a crime in Orange County, you can shell out thousands of dollars to be housed in Seal Beach's fancy "pay to stay" jail, which made $365,000 in the last fiscal year by aggressively marketing its "work release, flat screen TVs, computer/media room, clean facility, new beds" to deep-pocketed criminals, who pay $100 a night to stay there rather than one of Orange County's notoriously violent, dirty jails. Read the rest

America divided into states with the population of California

Speculative redivisions of the USA into equal-population states tend to discard the existing ones entirely in favor of the average. I thought it would be interesting to instead keep the most populous state, California, then combine other states to meet it in size. Since they're always complaining. Read the rest

Update: The Future of HOME

Here's a brief audio update on the immediate future of HOME: Stories From L.A. The TL;DR version is, I'm slowing down the production schedule to make the project more sustainable over the long term. Give a listen for a little more background on the hows and whys of it all. The show returns this spring for Season 5, and in the meantime, the archive is a great way to load up your podcatcher. (Oh, also: I'm looking for a social media/publicity ninja; if that's you, drop me a line.)

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If you're already a subscriber, many thanks. And if you have a minute to leave the show a short review at the iTunes Store it'd be much appreciated.  Read the rest

'Suddenly the water came' — 14,000 people evacuated in San Jose, CA

Last night, Coyote Creek in San Jose, California dramatically overspilled its banks. A mandatory evacuation displaced 14,000 residents, many of whom required decontamination because the water was likely toxic.

Read the rest

California has a storm of "biblical proportions" every 200 years

The incessant rain in California for the last several weeks is just a taste of what's to come in the formerly drought-plagued state, says Rachel Becker in The Verge.

Snip:

The most recent was a series of storms that lasted for a near-biblical 43 days between 1861 and 1862, creating a vast lake where California’s Central Valley had been. Floodwaters drowned thousands of people, hundreds of thousands of cattle, and forced the state’s government to move from Sacramento to San Francisco.

More than 150 years have passed since California’s last, great flood — and a team of researchers with the US Geological Survey have predicted what kind of damage a similar flood would cause today. Their simulation, called the ARkStorm, anticipates that a stretch of the Central Valley 300 miles long by 20 miles wide would be underwater. Cities up and down the coast of California would flood. Winds would howl 60 to 125 miles per hour, and landslides would make roads impassable.

Image: Christopher Michel / Bay Area Storms 2017 Read the rest

Retired California State Senator is using AI to transcribe local government hearings for search and alerts

Sam Blakeslee, a retired Republican California state senator, worked with Cal Poly students to create Digital Democracy, a service that aggregates videos of the interminable, innumerable -- and vital -- local government hearings and meetings and then use machine-learning systems to generate automated transcripts so that activists, journalists and citizens could search and analyze them. Read the rest

California gets ready to punch back

Threats from the Trump administration to withhold federal funds from sanctuary cities have caused California to start looking for methods to not pay taxes to the Federal government.

California's long-time status as a "donor state," one that pays more tax than it receives in federal funding, has been a contentious issue. Teapublicans have also long claimed the government has no right to tax people, anyways, and it'd be super fun to see what they have to say about liberals using their rhetoric against them.

Regardless, it should scare the ill-fitting pants off our illegitimately elected President that the most populous state, contributing the most money to his coffers, has state officials looking for ways to not pay taxes, and a public movement to secede. He may be in a place to push his bigoted and hateful policies forward, but California doesn't want to pay for them.

CBS Local:

Officials are looking for money that flows through Sacramento to the federal government that could be used to offset the potential loss of billions of dollars’ worth of federal funds if President Trump makes good on his threat to punish cities and states that don’t cooperate with federal agents’ requests to turn over undocumented immigrants, a senior government source in Sacramento said.

The federal funds pay for a variety of state and local programs from law enforcement to homeless shelters.

“California could very well become an organized non-payer,” said Willie Brown, Jr, a former speaker of the state Assembly in an interview recorded Friday for KPIX 5’s Sunday morning news.

Read the rest

California Governor Jerry Brown's 'State of the State' vows resistance

California governor Jerry Brown gave a rousing State of the State speech yesterday. He vowed to fight for immigrants, health care, and the environment, and repeated his promise: California will not quietly allow Trump to dismantle so much of what we hold dear.

Read the rest

California state employees may no longer use state funds travel to states where LGBTQ discrimination is legal

If you're a California state employee -- including an employee in the UC system -- no longer use California state funds travel to Kansas, Mississippi, North Carolina or Tennessee, or any state "that has passed a law that (1) authorizes discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, or (2) voids or repeals existing state or local protections against such discrimination." It's hard to imagine any major academic conferences being held in those states anymore. Read the rest

Eating at all of LA's grand old restaurants and dives, one at a time

The Remains of LA blog has a mission: to "visit all the cool old places in LA (not all at once)." I met its proprietress today, working at my local Burbank library, and I share her passion for LA's old restaurants, though I lack her devotion! As she notes, "sometimes the food is good, and there are nice people." Read the rest

CA Governor Brown vows to launch "our own damn satellite" if Trump shuts down climate research

Yesterday, California Governor Jerry Brown told an audience of scientists at the American Geophysical Union that the state would launch its own "damn satellite" and continue climate research if the Trump administration shut down federal research. Read the rest

California just launched a "Digital Service" based on the amazing UK Government Digital Service

Since 2011, the UK's Government Digital Service has radically transformed the way Britons interact with their government, streamlining bureaucratic processes, opening up data, and making APIs available for community groups and commercial players -- alas, the GDS has become a political football in Westminster and has hemorrhaged talent, becoming a sad reminder of a once-glorious dream of government delivered humanely, with the public in mind. Read the rest

California's legislative leaders vow to lead the resistance

In both English and Spanish, California Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) and California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount) released the following open letter:

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Today, we woke up feeling like strangers in a foreign land, because yesterday Americans expressed their views on a pluralistic and democratic society that are clearly inconsistent with the values of the people of California.

We have never been more proud to be Californians.

By a margin in the millions, Californians overwhelmingly rejected politics fueled by resentment, bigotry, and misogyny.

The largest state of the union and the strongest driver of our nation’s economy has shown it has its surest conscience as well.

California is – and must always be – a refuge of justice and opportunity for people of all walks, talks, ages and aspirations – regardless of how you look, where you live, what language you speak, or who you love.

California has long set an example for other states to follow. And California will defend its people and our progress. We are not going to allow one election to reverse generations of progress at the height of our historic diversity, scientific advancement, economic output, and sense of global responsibility.

We will be reaching out to federal, state and local officials to evaluate how a Trump Presidency will potentially impact federal funding of ongoing state programs, job-creating investments reliant on foreign trade, and federal enforcement of laws affecting the rights of people living in our state. We will maximize the time during the presidential transition to defend our accomplishments using every tool at our disposal.

Read the rest

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