FBI raids California capital for criminal activity

on Wednesday, June 05, 2013

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI, agents searched a California state senator and the Legislature's Latino caucus offices during a seven-hour ordeal on the fifth floor of the capital building Tuesday.  
   Although no reason was disclosed, agents acted under sealed warrants emerging from the California State Capital (pictured Tuesday night) at approximately 10 p.m. with six boxes and what may be a computer hard drive.
   The warrants were served at about 3 p.m., according to Laura Eimiller, a spokeswoman for the FBI in Los Angeles, who said the agents’ presence was to investigate "allegations of criminal activity."
Senate Chief Sergeant-at-Arms Tony Beard told The Associated Press, AP, that Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello from Los Angeles County was served with the warrant and not present at the time. 
   Calderon’s spokesman, Rocky Rushing referred inquiries to Los Angeles attorney Mark Geragos.
"I have a sense that they're on a witch hunt," Geragos said in a telephone interview with Huffington Post writers. "My client refused to read their script and so this is what resulted....My client has done absolutely nothing wrong."
   Geragos insisted that the Justice Department is targeting Calderon as "a bait and switch" to silence congressional Republicans' regarding emails and telephone records with national news media personnel.  
   Calderon terminated his legal defense fund in 2009, the same year the Fair Political Practices Commission, closed an investigation into Calderon's three Assembly campaign committees without sanctions. The commission opened an investigation on allegations that Calderon used campaign money for personal purposes while seeking re-election in 2003 and 2004, according to agency records.
    A letter to Calderon said the agency found nothing on its face to show the expenses were made for "anything other than a political, legislative or governmental purpose." 
   The lawmaker is part of a Southern California political powerhouse. His two brothers served in the state Legislature and his nephew, Ian Calderon, was elected to the Assembly in 2012.
He is a member of the Assembly Moderate Caucus, and brokered an agreement that led to new state laws governing foreclosures beyond the national mortgage settlement with the nation's five largest banks. Although he balked at proposals by Attorney General Kamala Harris that he thought would do too much harm to the lending industry. He made a key vote in a conference committee that led to the compromise legislation becoming law.
   He promoted Hollywood tax credits and regulatory reform, among legislative initiatives of his business-oriented interests. Calderon is carrying a bill that would require education officials to create lesson plans regarding violence in American culture and response to mass shootings.
   Calderon also drew mention by AP for upgrading a state vehicle before personal purchase. He ordered two vogue wheel center caps at $80 for his Cadillac, among other maintenance that cost taxpayers more than $500. Rushing, Calderon's spokesman, said that the spending was all for necessary or scheduled maintenance.

Sierra Club exalts members, and fights accountability, sustainability warfronts

on Monday, May 06, 2013

Sacramento Calif. - In keeping with Sierra Club California’s environmental justice principles efforts to renew the state parks and recreation department along with other actionable fights were highlighted as members were awarded during the Mother Lode Chapter Annual Award Banquet at the Lions Gate Hotel Saturday.
    Seven club groups were awarded individual efforts and seven awards were given by chapters. The Luis and LaVerne Ireland Conservationists of the Year distinction was awarded to Ron Grassi  and Laurel Ames of the Tahoe Area Sierra Club Group. Ames lead efforts to reduce the impact of development on more than 1 million acres of land in Tahoe, Calif. Ames has advocated for Lake Tahoe preservation since 1958. Her activism has led to two lawsuits filed by the Sierra Club and Friends of the West Shore against the bi-state Tahoe Regional Planning Agency. The agency transferred its legal duty of protection in decision making authority to local authorities.
    “We testified for 15 months. We did a detailed effort. They did not want to hear anything. They adopted this terrible plan and we decided to sue,” Ames said. “Tahoe is a national treasure. The people that live there think it is theirs and want to make money.”     
   The lawsuit was filed in federal district court in February against the update to environmental protection standards in Lake Tahoe since 1987.                                                         
   Another possible prosecution lies with the state parks and recreation department. In the wake of investigations that found $54 million in funds not reported that officials estimate cost taxpayers more than $271,000, outraged state lawmakers, and threatened closure of 70 parks - a leadership rotation brings Aaron Robertson, chief deputy director and Maj. Gen. Anthony Jackson, director (pictured above). Robertson, a new staff member at the time, identified the error as investigations began, and within 48 hours the error was disclosed.
    “It was Aaron Robertson who broke the story, not the Sacramento Bee,” said Jackson.
    According to Robertson he was notified of the situation by staff members, in which he communicated the funding issue through chain of command. Jackson and Robertson are serving in their capacities for several months.
     “I will do what is right every time. I want to earn the trust of the people in the department, the state and senate. Senators will not sustain parks until we reach out to the poorest areas,” he said as assemblymember Roger Dickenson, chairmen of California Banking and Finance, seventh District, held an ear to the ground. “The discretionary money is zero – I can’t even buy toilet paper for the parks.”

  Jackson has several goals in the State Parks Strategic Action Plan including restoring public trust and accountability and building the foundation for a sustainable future. The plan also aims to fully implement Assembly Bill 1478 by securing donor and operating agreements, and explore long term partnerships.
   The Milton Marks “Little Hoover” Commission on California State Government Organization and Economy outlined six recommendations in a March evaluation report titled Beyond Crisis: Recapturing Excellence in California’s State Park System. Recommendations include codifying a vision into state law and transitioning from a centralized state control to a more enterprise-based operating model.
   According to the report, “In 2014, California will either celebrate the 150th anniversary of its state park tradition by revitalizing its department of parks and recreation or bemoan its failure to set a new course. ” 

   On the national warfront, Jackson warned that an entire generation has grown-up with a war over the natural resource of oil, and wars over other natural resources such as water will follow.    –  skinner.thea@gmail.com

Artists take the Toby Keith stage

on Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Dnver J, performs Tuesday in Folsom, Calif.
(Folsom, Calif.) Artists come into our paths and the fire of their presence is felt.  This was the experience Tuesday evening at Toby Keith’s - I Love This Bar & Grill week five of eight Open Mic Competitions. Several eclectic performances graced the 105.1 KNCI stage including Denver J. Saunders, a.k.a. Dnver J, whom perked this native Coloradan’s ears.  
“I really enjoyed the camaraderie we all seemed to share jamming along with whatever instrument,” Saunders said.
Saunders riffs fused with lyrical universal truths emanate positive vibes galore.  Such vibes ring through in his original song  - The Wolf that Cried Wolf, which he dedicates to all the victims of fear. The song is reminiscent of the Franklin D. Roosevelt phrase, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”  
Similarly, Zack Rome, open mic co-host, weighs in with “I am thankful for the friends who have supported me this last year and the amazing musicians I have had the pleasure of sharing a stage with.”
With two albums Saunders, along with other artists perform   Tuesdays 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.