Health data breaches sow confusion, frustration

An illustration depicting a person accessing data on a terminal. (Tim Foster, Capitol Weekly)

ProPublica: As the privacy officer for The Advisory Board Co., Rebecca Fayed knows a thing or two about privacy and what can happen when it’s violated. But when Fayed received a letter telling her that she, like nearly 80 million others, was the victim of a hacking attack on health insurer Anthem Inc., she couldn’t figure out why. Anthem wasn’t her insurance provider.

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News

Delays, uncertainty mark state investigations of group homes

ProPublica reviewed more than 450 complaint investigations undertaken by the agency between 2009 and 2014 from roughly 50 Level 14 group homes, the residential facilities for California’s most acutely disturbed children. More than half the investigations produced “inconclusive” findings, meaning that no determination of facts was reached in cases that involved sexual abuse, physical assaults, drug use or inadequate care at the facilities.

News

Michael Peevey’s tale of turmoil

Michael Peevey at a December meeting of the state Public Utilities Commission. (Photo: Jeff Chiu/Associated Press)

It’s almost impossible these days to see the name Michael Peevey without the word “embattled” attached to it. Peevey stepped down last December after serving two six-year terms on the California Public Utilities Commission, almost all of them as PUC president. He has been subjected to withering public criticism up and down the state for fostering a too-cozy relationship between the PUC and the utility firms he was charged with regulating, most recently Pacific Gas & Electric. “Don’t shoot, I surrender,” Peevey wryly told the commission at its December meeting, a comment that drew laughs.

News

Online gaming: Horse racing’s role heats up

"Bad Boy" (6), under jockey David Flores, wins a claiming race at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia in October 2014. (Photo: Cheryl Ann Quigley, Shutterstock)

Legalizing internet poker in California could be stopped in its tracks this session because of an intense dispute involving the thoroughbred horse racing industry. After years of diminishing attendance, declining revenue, and racetrack closures, the struggling industry sees operating Internet poker websites as a golden opportunity to build upon its already existing online presence.

News

Proposed pension initiative targets local changes

The leaders of two local pension reforms, former San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and former San Diego Councilman Carl DeMaio, are working with a coalition on a statewide initiative to help local governments make cost-cutting pension reforms. During a break at the Reason Foundation’s third annual Pension Summit in Sacramento last week, the two men said they are “on the same page” and working with a coalition on the details of a proposed initiative for the November 2016 state ballot.

Opinions

Time to fix ‘math misplacement’

Elementary school students in a California classroom. ((Photo: Monkey Business Images)

All kids deserve an equal chance to succeed. Unfortunately, many achieving African-American and Latino students in California schools are being unfairly denied advancement to the mathematics courses critical to their educational and career success. Despite earning the grades and assessment test scores that show promise of their ability to benefit from instruction in higher math, too many are not getting into the classes they need and can handle.

News

A move to restore suspended driver’s licenses

California motorists in a traffic jam. (Photo: Shutterstock)

With one in six California drivers – about 4.2 million people — having suspended licenses because they can’t pay court fines, a lawmaker has proposed reducing the suspensions in non-violent cases and setting up an amnesty program to help motorists.

News

The drought — with a grain of salt

A parched lake bed at Lake Oroville, about 60 miles north of Sacramento. (Photo: sddatta, via Shutterstock)

As drought-parched California withers, salt water captures attention – again. Santa Barbara, which built a desalination plan more than 20 years ago and then abruptly shut it down because of costs, is considering upgrading and restarting the project and provide the city of 91,000 with about a fourth of its drinking water. The tentative price tag is $40 million. In Sacramento, the State Water Resources Control Board is poised to adopt new regulations in May governing desalination.

News

CalPERS moves on coal divestment

Capensions: The CalSTRS board told its staff and consultants last week to evaluate the risk of investments in thermal coal companies, jumping ahead of pending legislation that would require CalSTRS and CalPERS to divest thermal coal holdings.

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