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Kamala Harris

California AG Takes Lead In Cybersecurity

by: Consumer Watchdog

Thu Feb 27, 2014 at 16:51:53 PM PST

Kamala HarrisData breaches at major retailers Target and Neiman Marcus during last year's holiday shopping season affected more than 100 million people and focused new attention on the need to protect person information stored online.

While it's clear that tough data breach legislation must be enacted, California Attorney General Kamala Harris is taking action to improve cybersecurity in the state before new laws are passed.  Today she released recommendations to California businesses to help protect against and respond to the increasing threat of malware, data breaches and other cyber risks.

In addition Harris is leading an investigation by state attorneys general into the Target and Neiman Marcus breaches, Don Thompson of The Associated Press reported:

Harris' office also disclosed that California is leading a multistate investigation into the massive holiday season consumer data theft at discount retailer Target Corp. and luxury retailer Neiman Marcus, breaches that left tens of millions of customers at risk. More than 7 million Californians were affected by the Target breach alone, Special Assistant Attorney General for Law and Technology Jeff Rabkin said.

The U.S. Justice Department is taking the lead in trying to identify the culprits, who are suspected to be based overseas, while the multistate investigation focuses on whether the retailers share blame because they lacked the necessary precautions to prevent the thefts. The state investigation also will explore whether Target and Neiman Marcus acted properly as soon as they learned of the problem, Rabkin said in a telephone interview.

The guide, Cybersecurity in the Golden State, offers suggestions focused on small to mid-sized businesses, which are particularly vulnerable to cybercrime and often lack the resources to hire cybersecurity personnel. In 2012, 50 percent of all cyber attacks were aimed at businesses with fewer than 2,500 employees and 31 percent were aimed at those with less than 250 employees, Harris said.

Key recommendations for small business owners include:

  • Assume you are a target and develop an incident response plan now.
  • Review the data your business stores and shares with third parties including backup storage and cloud computing. Once you know what data you have and where it is, get rid of what is not necessary.
  • Encrypt the data you need to keep. Strong encryption technology is now commonly available for free, and it is easy to use.
  • Follow safe online practices such as regularly updating firewall and antivirus software on all devices, using strong passwords, avoiding downloading software from unknown sources and practicing safe online banking by only using a secure browser connection.

In 2003 California was the first state to pass a data breach notification.  In 2012 the law was amended to require any breach that involved more than 500 Californians be reported to the attorney general.

>The 170 breaches reported to the attorney general's office in 2013 represent a 30 percent increase over the 131 identified the year before,  according to figures provided to The Associated Press. Among entities reporting breaches in 2012 were American Express Travel Related Services Co., Kaiser Permanente and several state government agencies, including the departments of Public Health and Social Services.

Given the current data breach laws Harris is taking meaningful action.  But, what's ultimately needed is a law that would make her best practice recommendations legal mandates.  We need a California Financial Information Privacy Act that would:

  • Change breach notification standards to be immediate.
  • Set limits on the time data can be retained. And limits on what information can be collected and retained.
  • Write minimum-security standards into the law so that they are no longer voluntary.
  • Most importantly: create a private right of action. Put a price tag on retailers' mistreatment of our private financial information.
John Simpson
Until there is a real price to pay, Target, Neiman Marcus and other retailers will continue to make us targets.

Posted by John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog's Privacy Project Director.
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Reducing Truancy Makes Us Safer

by: Kamala Harris

Tue Oct 01, 2013 at 10:51:23 AM PDT

Everyday, schools in California and across the nation are unable to educate far too many of our students for one simple reason: our youngest students aren't in class. Some estimates say that approximately one million California elementary school students were truant during the 2012-13 school year.(1)

This week, my office released a major report summarizing the risks truancy poses, and presents several recommendations for what we can do to address these issues. Click here to read the report.

Truancy makes a profound difference in the safety of our communities. When our students drop out or fail to attend school, we spend additional billions in incarceration and lose productivity and tax revenues. One prominent study showed that for some chronically truant students, just one additional school day missed could reduce their chance of graduating by up to 7%.(2) Children who lack that educational foundation are more likely to end up at risk of becoming involved in crime, both as victims and as offenders.

I have long focused on combating truancy because I see a direct connection between public education and public safety. To really make the changes we need, all adults, - districts, law enforcement, schools, parents, communities - are accountable to find solutions. Only by working together can we find the solutions that our students need.

Click here to read my op-ed with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in the Los Angeles Times, highlighting some of the ways that we can work together to fight truancy.(3)

Together, we can provide brighter futures for our children and safer communities for all Californians.

Kamala D. Harris is the Attorney General of California. If you know anybody that would like to sign up for our email list, please tell them to click here to sign up to get updates and future volunteer opportunities: tinyurl.com/KDHSignup

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Google Ending Privacy Breach Consumer Watchdog Targeted in FTC Complaint

by: Consumer Watchdog

Wed Apr 24, 2013 at 09:39:17 AM PDT

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AG Kamala Harris Takes on Prop 8 Supporters on CNN

by: Brian Leubitz

Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 08:44:33 AM PDT

Makes argument for marriage as a "fundamental right"

by Brian Leubitz

Attorney General Kamala Harris (disclosure: I worked on her 2010 campaign) has always been a stalwart defender of marriage equality, and has appeared in many forums on the issue. Her appearance on CNN's morning show with Candy Crowley was much the same. You can view that segment to the right.

The Prop 8 case can go a number of ways. The Court can strike down Prop 8 for California alone, along the same lines as the 9th Circuit. They could strike down bans on same-sex marriage more generally. Or they could reject the case on "standing" grounds, which would mean that the Prop 8 proponents did not have the right to appeal the decision. That would mean that Judge Walker's decision at the district court level would stand. What that would mean for same-sex marriage bans more generally would be up for interpretation.

And of course, the Court could simply decide that marriage equality is not a matter of equal protection. But, as our Attorney General argued so forcefully here, the Court has called marriage a fundamental right nearly 20 times in its history. And to uphold Prop 8 would mean that Equal Protection simply does not apply to one class of citizens.

Now, there is much more to the case than that. I'd recommend the Equality on Trial team, as they've already got some good stuff online, and will be following the case from DC all this week as we get the oral argument.

Over the flip, you'll find the other CNN segment with AG Harris, where they discussed gun control and immigration.

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AG Harris Takes on S&P

by: Brian Leubitz

Tue Feb 05, 2013 at 10:56:15 AM PST

Big California pension funds lost billions

by Brian Leubitz

A few days ago, I wrote about S&P upgrading California's credit rating. As I mentioned then, the arbitrariness of the ratings is troubling. Somehow California bonds are a worse investment than a series of subprime mortgage bonds circa 2007. Yes, those bonds were getting AAA ratings, while California is begging for a single A.

Turns out, that those sketchy AAA ratings hurt the state in another way: our pension funds lost big on investments made based on the notion that they were AAA rated. AG Kamala Harris, after working with the federal government on their lawsuit, announced that the state would be suing S&P as well.

Attorney General Kamala Harris today sued S&P, saying its "intentionally corrupted" ratings process cost CalPERS and CalSTRS a combined $1.36 billion.

Harris' lawsuit in San Francisco Superior Court said the two pension funds relied on the "AAA" ratings assigned to securities by S&P.(SacBee

Ultimately, this is just one small portion of the larger discussion of what role the credit ratings agencies will play in our future. During the height of the financial bubble, their power and relationships both strayed into questionable realms. Dodd-Frank made some changes, but one suspects that such a field will never really be done evolving.

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

AG Harris Takes on S&P

by: Brian Leubitz

Tue Feb 05, 2013 at 10:56:14 AM PST

Big California pension firms lost billions

by Brian Leubitz

A few days ago, I wrote about S&P upgrading California's credit rating. As I mentioned then, the arbitrariness of the ratings is troubling. Somehow California bonds are a worse investment than a series of subprime mortgage bonds circa 2007. Yes, those bonds were getting AAA ratings, while California is begging for a single A.

Turns out, that those sketchy AAA ratings hurt the state in another way: our pension funds lost big on investments made based on the notion that they were AAA rated. AG Kamala Harris, after working with the federal government on their lawsuit, announced that the state would be suing S&P as well.

Attorney General Kamala Harris today sued S&P, saying its "intentionally corrupted" ratings process cost CalPERS and CalSTRS a combined $1.36 billion.

Harris' lawsuit in San Francisco Superior Court said the two pension funds relied on the "AAA" ratings assigned to securities by S&P.(SacBee

Ultimately, this is just one small portion of the larger discussion of what role the credit ratings agencies will play in our future. During the height of the financial bubble, their power and relationships both strayed into questionable realms. Dodd-Frank made some changes, but one suspects that such a field will never really be done evolving.

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Senators Add Fire to Scandal Over Phony California Fuel Crisis

by: Consumer Watchdog

Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 15:51:53 PM PST

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You Really Can't Trust Mercury

by: Consumer Watchdog

Sat Aug 11, 2012 at 11:10:34 AM PDT

The Mercury Insurance initiative's lawsuit to stop the Attorney General and us opponents from telling the truth about Proposition 33 - how it will raise auto insurance rates - got tossed out of Sacramento Superior Court last Thursday. The Mercury campaign asked the court to rewrite the Official Ballot Pamphlet, which is sent to every voter's home, so it would contain only Mercury's false claim that everyone will get "discounts" if Proposition 33 passes.  After an hour-long argument, the judge said no.

But the ink was hardly dry on Thursday's court order when Mercury told yet another lie - this time about what we said in court.

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AG's Homeowner's Bill of Rights Moves Towards Passage

by: Brian Leubitz

Mon Jul 02, 2012 at 13:32:01 PM PDT

Measures would protect Californians from some of the most egregious tactics of lending servicers.

by Brian Leubitz

Since Kamala Harris pushed for additional concessions in the mortgage fraud settlement, she's been pushing in the Legislature as well. The "Homeowner's Bill of Rights" would enshrine many of the substantive provisions of that settlement into California law.

The legislation would require large lenders to provide a single point of contact for homeowners who want to discuss loan modifications. It would prohibit lenders from foreclosing while the lenders consider homeowners' request for alternatives to foreclosure. And it would let California homeowners sue lenders to stop foreclosures or seek monetary damages if the lender violates state law.

The protections would benefit all California homeowners, not just those whose mortgages are with the five banks that signed the national settlement in February. And many of the restrictions would become permanent, while those in the nationwide agreement will end after five years.

Attorney General Kamala Harris said the compromise legislation negotiated with lawmakers "is going to bring transparency and fairness to California homeowners in a way they've never had before."(HuffPo)

This legislation most assuredly doesn't go far enough. There have been compromises all along the way, but this is legislation that will benefit many, many Californians. It would be a big step forward.

The Courage Campaign is following the latest action on their twitter account. KQED's Forum aired a show on the legislation this morning, that is embedded above or available here.

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Kamala Harris: What is really too big to fail

by: Brian Leubitz

Sun Feb 12, 2012 at 12:35:43 PM PST

From Saturday's General Session:

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Kamala Harris Rejects 50-State Settlement From Banks

by: Brian Leubitz

Wed Jan 25, 2012 at 17:11:18 PM PST

Attorney General says deal is inadequate

by Brian Leubitz

Kamala Harris, whom I had the great privilege of helping to get elected, has been a leader on mortgage fraud since her SF DA days.  She's continued that as California AG, and now she's showing just how important the closest California statewide election really was.  The CA DoJ recently announced that the proposed nationwide settlement for the systemic mortgage fraud by the big banks was inadequate for Californians:

"We've reviewed the details of the latest settlement proposal from the banks, and we believe it is inadequate for California," Shum Preston, a spokesman for Harris, said in a statement. "Our state has been clear about what any multistate settlement must contain: transparency, relief going to the most distressed homeowners and meaningful enforcement that ensures accountability.  At this point, this deal does not suffice for California."

While California isn't totally alone on this settlement, NY AG Eric Schneiderman has also shared some misgivings about signing on to anything that wouldn't allow him to fully pursue his investigations of the widespread fraud in the mortgage system during the bubble. For just some of the background on this story, see the 60 Minutes story embedded. The extent of the fraud has never really been uncovered.  

The President, the banks, and many state AGs are looking to bring this to a close. However, AG Harris has declared that punishing those that committed the fraud and getting the best deal for Californians is her priority rather than simply getting a quick deal.

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Occupy Sacramento marches on Jerry Brown's home

by: Dan Bacher

Mon Nov 21, 2011 at 08:48:08 AM PST

Occupy Sacramento and members of SEIU and other unions marched on Governor Jerry Brown's loft home Saturday to call for an end to the epidemic of violence by law enforcement agencies against the Occupy movement, as exemplified in the shocking video of police brutally pepper spraying peaceful UC Davis students at a protest.

The video of the November 18 protest (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6AdDLhPwpp4&utm_source=General&utm_campaign=f6cc05a348-Daily_Update_11_20_2011&utm_medium=email) has gone viral throughout the world.

After marching from the park, protesters gathered on the other side of 16th street from the Governor's loft, yelling, "We are the 99 percent," "The people united, will never be divided," "When do we want? Justice! - When do we want it? Now!"

Not surprisingly, Brown was not there to hear the pleas of the protesters. A media advisory that I received from the Governor's office on Saturday stated, "The Governor has left the state."

"Governor Brown, we challenge you to take up the fight with Occupy," said Kevin Carter of Occupy Sacramento. "We occupy for the First Amendment, free speech, peaceful assembly and the redress of grievances against the government. As the Governor, you should lead this fight."

"We are sick and tired of UC Davis students being maced and sprayed," said Carter. "We are sick and tired of UC Berkeley students engaged in nonviolent protest being pulverized and having batons shoved into their ribs by police. What gives the police the right to use this type of police brutality?"

Carter concluded, "We the people won't stand for this injustice. We ask you and the State Attorney General to take the lead to stop these police officers from abusing protesters while peacefully assembling."

In a similar vein, one of the protesters passionately read a letter from Nathan Brown, Assistant Professor in the Department of English Program in Critical Theory at the University of California at Davis, calling for Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehito to resign.

"Without any provocation whatsoever, other than the bodies of these students sitting where they were on the ground, with their arms linked, police pepper-sprayed students. Students remained on the ground, now writhing in pain, with their arms linked," Brown said

"Police used batons to try to push the students apart," Brown emphasized. "Those they could separate, they arrested, kneeling on their bodies and pushing their heads into the ground. Those they could not separate, they pepper-sprayed directly in the face, holding these students as they did so. When students covered their eyes with their clothing, police forced open their mouths and pepper-sprayed down their throats. Several of these students were hospitalized. Others are seriously injured. One of them, forty-five minutes after being pepper-sprayed down his throat, was still coughing up blood."

"This is what happened. You are responsible for it," stated Brown.

To send a letter asking Katehi to resign, go to: http://www.change.org/petition... For more information, go to: http://www.facebook.com/pages/...

After rallying in front of Brown's loft, the Occupy Sacramento and union activists marched back to Cesar Chavez Park for a community lunch, teach-ins and the daily General Assembly.

Before the march, Occupy Sacramento co-hosted a jobs creation/putting America Back-To-Work Rally with SEIU at Cesar Chavez Park. A diverse group of teachers, nurses, public employees, laborers, students and the faith community called for job creation at time when California and the U.S. are in the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression.

Sacramento Police, like the UC Davis police and other law enforcement agencies throughout the nation, have waged a campaign against the Occupy movement in what appears to be a coordinated strategy of repression in conjunction with Department of Homeland Security and other federal law enforcement agencies. The City of Sacramento has arrested 84 people at the park since October 6.

Misdemeanor charges were dismissed on Wednesday, November 16 by the City of Sacramento against nine Occupy Sacramento defendants arrested at Cesar Chavez Park over the last month. They were scheduled for full jury trials December 13, according to Cres Vellucci of Occupy Sacramento.

The City dismissed another 7 charges Friday. Another nine, including anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan, will have charges tossed early this coming week. "In all, charges are expected to be dismissed or not filed against 40 individuals, the City has indicated to lawyers for Occupy Sacramento defendants," said Vellucci.

The City Attorney's Office confirmed the dismissal of charges in a statement released on November 16, although it vowed to continue prosecuting "defendants charged with multiple violations."

"On November 16, 2011, the City Attorney's Office, in the interest of justice, commenced dismissing a limited number of cases that arose out of violations of Sacramento City Code section 12.72.090 (remaining at the park after park hours) at the Cesar Chavez Park," according to the statement. "Each of the dismissed defendants was arrested and booked at the Sacramento County Jail where defendants spent up to one day in a jail cell."

"After evaluating the facts of each case and criminal history of each defendant, the City Attorney's office has determined that the arrest and jail time that each dismissed defendant served achieved the People of the State of California's demand for substantial justice. The City Attorney's Office will continue to prosecute those defendants charged with multiple violations of Sacramento City Code section 12.72.090 that occurred at Cesar Chavez Park," the statement concluded.

"This is a vindication not just for the individuals, but for our Constitution and freedom of assembly and speech," said Karen Bernal, after her charges were dismissed Wednesday. Bernal is the chair of the California Democratic Party Progressive Caucus.

For more information about Occupy Sacramento, contact: Cres Vellucci, 916-996-9170, http://www.occupysac.org.  

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AG Kamala Harris Subpoenas BofA

by: Brian Leubitz

Thu Oct 20, 2011 at 09:46:28 AM PDT

In another setback for troubled bank, Attorneys look into possibly false claims

by Brian Leubitz

It's not easy being Bank of America these days.  Oh sure, you get to have the pride of advertising on Hulu and well, everywhere, but are there people out there that don't hate you?  You have those Occupy Wall Street folks, the people who hate you over the ridiculously greedy $5 debit card charge, and, oh right, their sketchy dealings in the foreclosure crisis.

Add a different (but related) worry onto the pile:

Investigators with the state attorney general's office have subpoenaed Bank of America Corp. in connection with the sale and marketing of troubled mortgage-backed securities to California investors, according to a person familiar with the probe.

The state is trying to determine whether the bank and its Countrywide Financial subsidiary sold investments backed by risky mortgages to institutional and private investors in California under false pretenses...

Harris has created a mortgage fraud strike force with a mandate of looking into all aspects of mortgage fraud, including securitization. Many of these investments plunged in value as the housing market collapsed. Under California's False Claims Act, which makes it a crime to defraud the state, damages of up to three times the amount of the claim can be awarded if the victim was an institutional investor, such as one of the state's pension funds.(LA Times)

It is possible this is part of the 3-dimensional chess being played with the foreclosure mess, but if the AG's office can prove that BofA made the false claims, we are talking about a lot of money for a bank that already has capitilization issues.

But don't worry Brian Moynihan is still doing a-ok!

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Is Amazon's Referendum Constitutional?

by: Brian Leubitz

Fri Jul 15, 2011 at 12:00:00 PM PDT

Amazon wants to overturn rules requiring they collect sales taxes, but is it possible through referendum?

by Brian Leubitz

The following provision of the California Constitution will get much scrutiny over the next few weeks (and months) as Amazon seeks to overturn the requirement that they collect sales taxes:

SEC. 9.  (a) The referendum is the power of the electors to approve
or reject statutes or parts of statutes except urgency statutes,
statutes calling elections, and statutes providing for tax levies or
appropriations for usual current expenses of the State.

That's from Article II of the California Constitution.  While a quick reading would indicate that Amazon could not, in fact, put the tax statute to a referendum, quick readings don't always win the day.  And while Amazon's attorney, Steve Merksamer, spouts off about how the right to referendum is "sacrosanct," it isn't quite that simple either.

The measure is now in the capable hands of Attorney General Kamala Harris, who will determine whether it can proceed to the signature gathering phase.  If she determines that it is not a valid referendum, then Amazon will likely sue.  If she finds it is valid, well, expect a suit in the opposite direction, after all these are some high stakes:

Whichever way she rules, the losing side could end up suing.

"I'm sure there will be litigation on this," said Assembly Majority Leader Charles Calderon, D-Whittier.

Calderon, Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner and several area retailers crowded into Swanberg's on J, a small midtown clothier that specializes in Hawaiian shirts, to blast Amazon's sales tax stance. By not collecting the tax, Amazon is harming brick-and-mortar retailers, they said.

"It's a fairly big issue," said Swanberg's owner Lauren Lundsten, wearing shorts and a Hawaiian shirt.(SacBee)

The automatic 9% discount that Amazon gets is made any more fair through all of their machinations.  They've blocked other avenues to charge sales tax on their products, so what choice is left?

We should hear sometime soon from the AG's office, and then shortly thereafter in the courts.  But this is not a battle that should have to be fought for the sake of an unfair advantage for an out-of-state corporation.

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What if Senator Feinstein Retired? (Fantasy Draft)

by: fnpople

Wed Jun 22, 2011 at 08:30:19 AM PDT

(Cross-posted on DailyKos)

As many of you already know, a recent Field Poll survey was released showing Senator Dianne Feinstein slipping in her approval rating. 43% of California voters surveyed approve of Sen. Feinstein, while 39% disapprove-- the highest disapproval rating she's had since first being elected to office in 1992. While these numbers don't necessarily spell trouble for California's senior senator, they do indicate that people are starting to think of a changing of the guards in the Golden State. It most certainly has crossed her mind as well.

There are always politicians and prominent Californians waiting in the wings for political jockeying. With Feinstein reaching 80 years of age soon, more and more elected officials are prepping their resumes and spending extra time coddling donors in preparation for the inevitable.

So it begs the speculative question, who would be ready and able to run a statewide campaign for the United States Senate in the event of Senator Dianne Feinstein's retirement? Who would make a great Senator? Who should make for a great race? Who would be an abysmal choice? In this "fantasy draft" diary, I've narrowed it down to the 13 most probable potential candidates who are at least thinking about a potential run from the Democratic side. All the apparent pros and cons will be listed, and your suggestions/comments are always welcome. And by all means, if you know of any Republicans that would seem likely, include those as well!

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California Joins Friend of the Court Brief in Support of Health Care Reform

by: Brian Leubitz

Fri Jan 21, 2011 at 13:42:45 PM PST

Just another reason to be glad we got that Democratic sweep:

Days after House Republicans voted to repeal last year's health care reforms, California Attorney General Kamala Harris kept a campaign pledge Friday by joining with other state attorneys general to file a brief in the Affordable Care Act's defense.

Harris and the Democratic attorneys general of Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Maryland, New York, Oregon and Vermont planned to file their friend-of-the-court brief with the Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in the case brought by Thomas More Law Center. The lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of the law's mandate that most people maintain a minimum level of health insurance coverage or else pay a tax penalty.

Harris -- a Democrat who defeated Republican rival Steve Cooley by less than 1 percent of the vote in last November's election -- said during a conference call Friday with Oregon Attorney General John Kroger and Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller that the spirit and intent of the Constitution and its Commerce Clause indicate such a mandate is a crucial and permissible exercise of Congress' power. (San Jose Mercury News)

During the campaign (on which I worked), Kamala Harris strongly and repeatedly voiced her support for health care reform. And, hey, look at that, she's following up on what she said.

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Time to Repeal the Death Penalty

by: Julia Rosen

Tue Jan 11, 2011 at 14:29:10 PM PST

Today, Governor Brown announced that he would be taking 48,000 cell phones away from state employees, in order to reduce costs. Chron:

"In the face of a multi-billion dollar budget deficit, a cell phone may not seem like a big expense. But spending $20 million, and perhaps far more than that, on cell phones can't be justified," he said.

You know what would save even more money?  Repealing the death penalty.

That's exactly what the Illinois legislature did today.  And what did they cite as the reason, beyond just innocent people being sentenced to death?  The cost of killing people for their crimes. ABC News:

"Illinois has spent over $100 million in 10 years and hasn't put anyone to death," said a sponsor of the Illinois bill, State Rep. Karen Yarbrough, a Democrat. "It's time to put this barbaric practice to rest."

As states struggle to cope with major budget shortfalls and even the prospect of bankruptcy, they're confronting the fact that sentencing someone to death is extremely expensive.

In California, for example, a 2008 report showed that the $137 million annual cost of maintaining the criminal justice system would drop to just $11.5 million annually if the death sentence were abolished.

$125.5 million dollars is a whole heck of a lot more than $20 million from taking away cell phones from state workers and likely reducing their effectiveness.

What I want to know is how many kids will go without health care because the state wants to keep killing people?

Talk about fiscal irresponsibility...

Discuss :: (10 Comments)

SF Police Chief George Gascón named District Attorney

by: Brian Leubitz

Mon Jan 10, 2011 at 09:31:40 AM PST

As we wait to see what sort of pain the Governor's budget will bring, San Francisco made some news again yesterday.  Rather than appointing one of the political types that have been bandied about, Mayor/LG Newsom, always one for a bit of the dramatic, went for the unexpected by selecting SF Police Chief George Gascón.

Now, Gascón has been pretty popular in SF since he arrived about a year and a half ago, but his name was never really mentioned in connection with the DA gig.  There are a number of reasons for that.  While he did graduate from Western State University College of the Law, he has never really practiced law. Instead, he's been a full-time cop, moving up the ladder in the LAPD (and serving as the Chief of Mesa,AZ).

Now, while he may not have the trial experience of a Kamala Harris, it is clear that the DA of a county like SF rarely actually litigates cases anymore.  Rather, the job is more strategic, and that is what Harris excelled in.  And so it is no surprise that he chose to praise that ability of his predecessor:

At his swearing-in ceremony a few hours later, Gascón said he planned to continue many of Harris' programs.

There will be one distinct change, however. Unlike Harris, Gascón said he had no objection to seeking the death penalty in cases that warrant it.(SF Chronicle)

Of course, in a city like San Francisco, the death penalty is neither popular nor particularly easy to get.  Kamala Harris just didn't have a whole lot of opportunities to attempt to get the death penalty even had she wanted to, and Gascón is going to learn a bit about those feelings as he enters his new found career in San Francisco politics.

Speaking of those political issues, no word on whether this presents any changed circumstances for other announced candidates.  Current DA Administrator Paul Henderson and Boalt Hall criminal justice expert David Onek have already announced their candidacies. Former prosecutor Jim Hammer is also rumored to be interested.  

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Inauguration Day

by: Brian Leubitz

Mon Jan 03, 2011 at 07:33:27 AM PST

I'm heading up to Sacramento today to see the inauguration of Attorney General Kamala Harris. Working on the campaign for well over a year, it is the culmination of a lot of hard work. Truthfully, at some level, it hasn't really sunk in, so this will be a somewhat dramatic experience.  However, I know she will do an absolutely amazing job for the State of California.

But, you know, there are other things going on today as well.  The changing of the guard from the worst governor ever back to the more competent Jerry Brown will be a huge positive for the state, and perhaps we can start to recover from the shock doctrining of our Schwarzenegger years.  

The rest of the Democratic slate, save Gavin Newsom, will also be inaugurated today. So, that means Tom Torlakson, Bill Lockyer, John Chiang, Dave Jones, Debra Bowen and the above mentioned Kamala Harris will also be inaugurated. And with Dave Jones joining John Chiang, we get our second Carl Sandburg High School (Orland Park, IL) alum in statewide office.  What are the odds?

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Gavin to Take His Time in San Francisco

by: Brian Leubitz

Sat Jan 01, 2011 at 18:53:06 PM PST

I'll admit, San Francisco is a pretty hard city to leave.  On several occasions, I've made the decision to stay in town.  Yet, then again, I didn't run for statewide office, while Gavin Newsom did.  However, while all of the other statewide officers are being sworn in on Monday, he is going to wait until he's good and ready:

Mayor Gavin Newsom left Tuesday morning with wife Jennifer and daughter Montana to Los Cabos, Mexico, and will return from vacation Saturday. But he won't spend the weekend packing up for Sacramento - looks like he'll be here well beyond his lieutenant governor's Monday start date.

"He's going to leave at some point," assured Newsom's spokesman, Tony Winnicker. "He will assume the office of lieutenant governor in January."

Of course, there's the big reason that he wants the new Board of Supervisors, to be sworn in Jan. 8, to pick his replacement. But there are also a lot of loose ends to tie up - and Newsom, busy burnishing his legacy, wants full credit. {SF Gate)

Of course, some of those loose ends are in fact something of a big deal.  However, I leave up to your judgment on whether it is a good idea or not to just cool your heels, and let the state linger.  To me, it seems a bit bizarre. After all, he fought for the past couple of years to get out of SF for Sacramento, but now he can't seem to quit us.

As an aside, but the CW has the Mayor's race down to Board President David Chiu and SFPUC General Manager Ed Harrington at this point. I'm not entirely convinced that this delay really changes the calculus all that much, but there will likely be some machinations that could end up suprising the entire political community in San Francisco.  Perhaps, Mayor Newsom has some play left up his sleeve worthy of the Triple Play.

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