Drought emergency: The need for a biodiversity policy

Lake Oroville ravaged by drought. (Photo: State Department of Water Resources, 2014)

Analysis: California ecosystems are losing their resilience and their ability to sustain native plants and animals. In the past, even in droughts, there were natural refuges to sustain native species. Today, most of these ecosystems are changing rapidly from human impacts and many have deteriorated to critical condition. Refuges are scarce.

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Daily fantasy sports: skill or luck?

An illustration of an online dashboard for a participant in daily fantasy sports, which is growing in popularity.(Illustration: Tim Foster, Capitol Weekly)

Daily fantasy sports: What started as a seasonal pastime in offices around America has morphed into a daily, multibillion-dollar business, fueled by national TV advertising and the internet. Unlike the traditional office pool, DFS offers same-day cash rewards to winners – a big incentive. And, in California as in most states, it’s not gambling.


CalSTRS, CalPERS okay risk reduction

The headquarters of CalSTRS, the teachers' pension fund, in West Sacramento. (Photo: Coolcaesar)

Calpensions: CalPERS and CalSTRS both adopted plans this month to reduce the risk of major pension investment losses, a small step back for pension systems once required to keep all of their money in stable and predictable bonds.


Forest health includes fighting fire with fire

The Lime Complex fire in Northern California's Trinity Mountains. (Photo: Paul Higley)

Analysis: California forests are threatened by a maelstrom of environmental drivers of change, which have intensified across four years of drought. Horrific recent events should inspire reform of not only wildfire management, but also of our overall forest-health stewardship and governance. We need a new vision for managing our wildlands with policies based on science and acting in the interest of the greatest public good.


Groundwater: The crucial challenge

A California Department of Water Resources geologist measures and records a pumping water level in a production well. (Photo: John Chacon,/DWR, 2013, via California Water Blog)

Analysis: California’s single most urgent water policy priority is preserving our groundwater supply. In normal years, groundwater provides one-third of our state’s urban and agricultural water. In dry years, it provides up to nearly two-thirds.


Putting ‘community’ into community colleges

Students attending class at Glendale Community College. (Photo: Wayne Thom)

The leaders of California’s vast community college system this week unanimously adopted a reform agenda with amazing ease – given how fundamentally hard the decision was to engineer. The Board of Governors decided to endorse comprehensive recommendations to better align career technical education (CTE) programs with the workforce needs of California’s employers. It could be the linchpin in a more strategic statewide effort to reduce poverty and reverse the growing opportunity and income gaps.


CalPERS to Vernon pension abuser: Give back $3.5 million

CalPERS' governing board during a recent meeting. CalPERS backed anti-spiking pension policies in 1993. (Photo: CalPERS board)

First CalPERS announced last year that it was cutting the eye-popping pension of a former city of Vernon official, Bruce Malkenhorst, from $551,688 a year to $115,848. Then yesterday the CalPERS board approved the recovery of a $3.5 million pension overpayment from Malkenhorst, 84, who retired in 2005 from the tiny industrial city south of downtown Los Angeles known for corruption.


Drought: El Niño is not the cavalry

Storm clouds over Mt. Baldy, east of Los Angeles. (Photo: Joel Shawn)

Even if this El Niño brings California an unusually wet winter, continuing to invest in science-based drought-related policy is essential to California’s continued success as a global innovation economy, a leader in environmental and public health, and being a darn nice place to live.


BOE headquarters: Falling plaster, shattered glass, even bats

The headquarters building of the Board of Equalization in Sacramento, 450 N Street. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

To the passer-by, the tower at 450 N Street is a downtown landmark, soaring assertively 24 stories into the Sacramento sky. But for more than a decade, the Board of Equalization’s (BoE) headquarters building has been a nightmare to an assortment of state bureaucrats. Glass panels fall out; water leaks; elevators stop between floors; there are potentially dangerous contaminants; plaster falls off walls; there are lawsuits.

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