Local News RoundUp
The Local News RoundUp is the League's daily news clipping service of articles related to California cities and local government.
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August 29, 2014
Campos Suspends Effort to Extend Social Media Privacy to Government Workers (San Jose Mercury)
After success passing a law that bars private employers from demanding social media passwords from employees and job applicants, San Jose Assemblywoman Nora Campos has suspended efforts to extend those protections to government workers.
The powerful Assembly Speaker pro tempore ran into a fusillade from critics including the state's police chiefs, district attorneys and the League of California Cities. They argued her Assembly Bill 25 would hurt government employers' ability to properly screen applicants for law enforcement and other sensitive jobs and promotions.
CITY LAWS & REGULATIONS
San Diego Councilwoman Proposing a Taxi Permit Free-For-All (KPBS)
Councilwoman Marti Emerald and City Attorney Jan Goldsmith made a bold proposal Thursday: in essence, let the free market take the lead on solving the San Diego taxi industry's labor and Uber problems.
The pair announced a plan to remove an existing cap on the number of cabs serving residents and visitors to San Diego. The cap has held the number of taxicab permits, often called medallions, at 993.
PENSIONS / LABOR RELATIONS
Endorsement: Leyne Milstein is Clearly the Best Choice for CalPERS Board (Sacramento Bee)
It’s an election that only a select group will decide, but its outcome is crucial to taxpayers across California – as a key decision last week on pensions demonstrates.
In the race for the local public agency seat on the California Public Employees’ Retirement System board, the best choice is crystal clear. Leyne Milstein, the city of Sacramento’s finance director since 2008, is well suited for the post, which represents and is chosen by about 247,500 CalPERS members who work for cities, counties and special districts.
The Looming Bipartisan Backlash Against Unionized Government (Fox & Hounds)
Whenever discussing politically viable policy proposals to improve the quality of life in California, the imperative is to come up with ideas that strongly appeal to moderate centrists, since that is how most Californians would describe themselves. And there are two compelling issues that offer that appeal: making California’s system of K-12 education the best in the world, and restoring financial sustainability to California’s state and local governments.
Unions Escalate Fight with Garcetti over Employee Relations Board (Los Angeles Times)
Eight Los Angeles public employee unions have taken their fight with Mayor Eric Garcetti into a new arena by seeking to curtail his power to select who can serve on a panel that decides the city's biggest labor disputes.
Unions representing police officers, firefighters and most other city employees have filed a legal challenge demanding the removal of two people named by the mayor to the city's Employee Relations Board. In a filing with the panel, those groups said Garcetti improperly ended a long-standing practice of letting city unions screen candidates for the five-member board, which is little known but wields tremendous influence on employee issues.
Watsonville City Council Rejects Accountability Measures in Union Deal (Union Watch)
The Watsonville City Council voted 6-1 to require construction contractors to sign a Project Labor Agreement with unions in the Monterey/Santa Cruz Counties Building and Construction Trades Council for city projects with a cost exceeding $600,000. The (unsigned) Project Labor Agreement was provided to the city council at the meeting.
The city council also voted 7-0 for a vague adjunct “Memorandum of Understanding” with the Monterey/Santa Cruz Counties Building and Construction Trades Council about promoting “pre-apprenticeship” training.
California City Looks to Quit CalPERS (Reuters)
Officials in Villa Park are considering pulling the tiny California city from Calpers, saying the monthly costs of the state's giant public pension system are crippling the municipal budget.
But Villa Park fears that pulling out of its contract with the California Public Employees' Retirement System could be prohibitively expensive because of a termination fee that could exceed the city's annual budget.
Scapegoating on Pensions Doesn’t Fix California’s Retirement-Security Crisis: Guest Commentary (Whittier Daily News)
Ventura County citizens scored a victory earlier this month when a Superior Court Judge affirmed that any changes to the county pension plan must be made through the collective bargaining process — not at the ballot box. Actuarial analyses showed that closing the existing retirement plans and forcing new employees into risky 401(k) style plans would increase immediate costs to taxpayers, while forcing new employees to put their retirement security at risk in the hands of Wall Street.
The ruling reaffirms what public employees have been saying for years — there are existing mechanisms in place to make changes to public retirement funds. The place to do it as at the bargaining table, not by demagoguing public employees in a political campaign.
Editorial: Villa Park Deserves Pension Freedom (Orange County Register)
As CalPERS looks to raise rates nearly 50 percent in the next few years, many cities fear that the price of contributing into the system that represents over a million state, school and local government workers is getting too pricey for smaller municipalities to sustain.
But, as cities like Villa Park are quickly discovering, the cost of leaving the $300 billion fund is nearly as pricey.
El Centro Officials Denounce SB 7 Tentative Ruling (Imperial Valley Press)
A tentative ruling upholding a law that prohibits California’s charter cities from receiving state funds if they don’t pay prevailing wages on locally funded construction projects is a direct challenge on local control, according to El Centro officials.
Senate Bill 7 requires charter cities, like El Centro, to pay prevailing wages not just on state-funded projects but on locally funded public works projects as well.
Judge Issues Split Decision in Suit Challenging Sacramento Arena Contribution (Sacramento Bee)
A group of Sacramentans suing to block the city’s subsidy for the new Kings arena got a split decision from a judge Thursday.
In a tentative ruling, Sacramento Superior Court Judge Timothy Frawley said much of the lawsuit will remain intact. But he said portions of the lawsuit aren’t legally sufficient.
Frawley said the citizens – Isaac Gonzalez, James Cathcart and Julian Camacho – should be allowed to proceed with claims that the city’s arena subsidy is “illegal and wasteful” and the City Council was guilty of an “abuse of discretion” when it approved the deal in May. He also will allow the citizens to pursue their claim challenging the validity of the bonds the city plans to issue to finance its share of the construction project.
EPA Says California’s Delta Water Tunnel Project Could Violate Federal Law (Sacramento Bee)
The pair of giant water diversion tunnels proposed in the Delta could violate the federal Clean Water Act and increase harm to endangered fish species, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which released its formal comment on the project Thursday.
Multiple CA Cities Heed Warning, Abandon Charter Efforts (Tri County Sentry)
With the deadline for placing city charter measures on the November ballot passed, the cities of Grover Beach and Wasco recently abandoned their efforts to place Charter proposals on the November ballot. However, three cities including Arroyo Grande, Costa Mesa and Escondido are among those who will place similar measures before voters in November.
Chartering has come under increased scrutiny in recent years, with high profile corruption scandals landing officials from the Charter Cities of Bell and Vernon in jail and three California Charter Cities having recently declared bankruptcy.
California to Introduce Tough New Measures to Limit Police Drone Use (The Guardian)
Bill AB1327 has passed all stages in the California legislature and now awaits the signature of governor Jerry Brown. Should Brown give it the green light, as expected, it would send a powerful message across America about the limits of drone surveillance from the technology capital of the country.
Under the bill, police departments throughout the state would be required to seek a warrant from a judge in virtually all situations other than in emergencies, such as an oil spillage, fire or hostage-taking. Where surveillance images have been recorded, they would have to be destroyed within one year.
California Energy Commission Advances Construction of Hydrogen Refueling and Electric Vehicle Charging Stations (California Energy Commission)
The California Energy Commission gave final approval today for nearly $50 million in construction projects to advance the consumer market for zero-emission electric vehicles, continuing the state's progress towards a clean transportation future that curbs greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution.
JOBS & ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
Los Angeles Mayor Considers a $13.25 Minimum Wage (Bloomberg)
The Los Angeles Times reports that Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is circulating a proposal to raise the citywide minimum wage to $13.25 by 2017, after which it would be pegged to inflation. The paper reports that the mayor may announce the plan on Labor Day. If the city’s proposal passes, Los Angeles would join California’s other large cities, which have also pursued pay raises on their own.
AIRPORT RULES & REGULATIONS
Palm Desert Opts to Explore Joint Operation of Airport (The Desert Sun)
Palm Desert has become the first valley city to signal its interest in at least exploring the possibility of partnering with other local governments as a way to continue operations at the Bermuda Dunes Airport.
Without committing to play a part in the privately owned airport's future, members of the Palm Desert City Council voted 4-1 on Thursday, with Councilman Bob Spiegel dissenting, to look into what a joint-management agreement could look like.
Burlingame Expands Smoking Restriction in Public Areas; E-Cigarettes Not Included (SF Examiner)
Burlingame recently made more of its public areas smoke-free after the City Council approved an ordinance that expands tobacco-smoking restrictions to certain parks, certain trails and city-maintained parking facilities.
Some of the other newly smoke-free areas under the ordinance are frequented by children, who were potentially being exposed to secondhand smoke, city officials said. City parking lots were added to the restricted areas due to the presence of excessive toxins and cigarette butts in the stormwater runoff, Kane said.
CITY PLANNING & DEVELOPMENT
Major League Soccer Confirms It Will Visit Elk Grove Next Month (Sacramento Bee)
Sacramento’s strong bid for a Major League Soccer franchise could get competition from its own backyard.
After lying low for months, seemingly taking a back seat to Sacramento’s effort, the city of Elk Grove put its quest for an MLS team into high gear this week. The City Council late Wednesday agreed to spend $4.4 million buying a 100-acre stadium site, while city staffers unveiled the tentative outlines of an $88 million stadium finance plan.
Santa Fe Council Votes to Decriminalize Pot (Associated Press)
The cost of getting caught with a little weed in Santa Fe will drop to just $25 max, thanks to a City Council vote Wednesday to decriminalize marijuana.
When the ordinance goes into effect, those caught with an ounce or less of marijuana in arts loving Santa Fe will be hit with a civil fine. Previously, it was a criminal misdemeanor carrying a possible $100 fine and jail time.