Just who was the victim here?
The image is as unforgettable as it is disturbing: A helmeted police officer spraying a stream of caustic pepper spray into the eyes of student demonstrators protesting tuition increases at UC Davis. It wasn't suprising that the students sued and received settlements from the University of California. But this is surprising: A larger amount is being paid to John Pike, the former UC police lieutenant who sprayed the students.
UC officials acknowledged last week that Pike will be paid $38,000 to settle a worker's comp claim for damage to his "psyche" from the incident and the outpouring of public disgust that followed. Each of the 21 students received $30,000. Something seems backwards here.
Saving water in case of a drought
It rained early and often last fall, but it got dry, very dry in the winter and spring, causing serious concerns about the water supply for Sonoma and Mendocino counties. Sonoma County Water Agency officials urged residents to conserve water this summer, and it looks as if people listened. A Water Agency report issued last week said Lake Sonoma is at 77 percent of its water supply capacity. The figures were 35 percent and 29 percent respectively for Lake Mendocino and Lake Pillsbury, the region's other major reservoirs. Those levels are adequate to avoid a reduction in Russian River stream flows — for now. What's really needed, however, is normal rainfall this winter.
Feeding at the public trough
The Bell corruption scandal reached its final phase on Wednesday with the trial of Assistant City Manager Angela Spaccia. The issue before L.A. jurors is whether Spaccia was the ringleader behind a scam to bolster the pay and pensions of top city officials or she was just doing the bidding of City Manager Robert Rizzo. From our view, it doesn't matter. They all deserve lock-'em-up-and-throw-away-the-key treatment.
As jurors learned, before Spaccia arrived in 2002, Rizzo was earning about $200,000 a year. Within eight years, he was earning $1.18 million while Spaccia was taking home $564,000 — in a town the size of Rohnert Park. The evidence against Spaccia includes an email exchange with an incoming police chief who notes, "I am looking forward to seeing you and taking all of Bell's money?!" She responds, "We will all get fat together ... (Rizzo) has an expression he likes to use on occasion. Pigs get Fat ... Hogs get slaughtered!"
Such swine certainly deserve one more thumbs down.
Shining a light on 'dark money'
More money, less transparency. That sums up the state of campaign finance in the post-Citizens United era. With the U.S. Supreme Court considering a case that could erase yet another limit on big donors, it's a welcome relief to see California's political watchdog agency cracking down on anonymous money in state campaigns. The Fair Political Practices Commission levied an unprecedented $1 million in fines against two out-of-state groups that tried to launder about $15 million in contributions for an anti-union initiative and against a tax measure in November's election. "It's important for people to know about campaigns, and who is financing them," said FPPC chairwoman Ann Ravel, who will soon join the Federal Election Commission.