Civil trials in San Francisco could be a thing of the past after 25 of 63 courtrooms are shut down and 40 percent of the staff has been laid off. Los Angeles judges say their courts will be next. It's not just budget cuts signed by Governor Brown. Many judges accuse the statewide Administrative Office of taking what money is left for grandiose projects instead of using it to keep courtrooms open to service the public. We hear about what one LA judge calls a "civil war." Also, the LA Coliseum under scrutiny, and how cocaine makes its way from South America to be distributed nationwide from Los Angeles. On our rebroadcast of today's To the Point, are both parties to blame for the deadlock on Capitol Hill?
FROM THIS EPISODE
The LA Times has reported that the former events manger of the LA Coliseum and Sports Arena collected almost $2 million from contractors while both venues were operating in the red. Members of the Coliseum Commission said they were shocked and angry to learn that finance director Ronald Lederkramer got a 17 percent, $25,000 raise, which has now been rescinded. The Commission has asked Los Angeles City Controller Wendy Gruel (who's also a candidate for Mayor) to conduct an audit.
Judges in Los Angeles County are warning that budget cuts are likely to force courtrooms to close and limit access to justice. At the same time, one judge says there's a "civil war" over excessive spending by the statewide Administrative Office. In San Francisco, the axe has already fallen. We hear from Bob Egelko, who reports on the justice system for the San Francisco Chronicle, and from Judge Tia Fisher, who sits in the Pomona courthouse and is director of the 400-member Alliance of California Judges, organized to deal with the financial crisis.
The Los Angeles Times is running a series on the infamous Sinaloa drug cartel, an institution ruled by fear, superstition and money. Reporter Richard Marosi is detailing how a nonstop river of cocaine runs from Colombia to Mexico to Los Angeles and then on to the rest of the country. The series is based on wiretaps made by the Drug Enforcement Administration.
E-mail and phone lines are jammed on Capitol Hill, and there's a nasty Twitter campaign against all of Washington. But despite the impending deadline, Democrats and Republicans are still far apart on the debt ceiling. House Republicans and Senate Democrats are each working on plans unacceptable to the other, and President Obama is still talking about compromising on a Big Deal, including new revenue. He says the "hard deadline" is next Tuesday, August 2 when the government will run out of borrowing authority. But it's now reported that there will still be enough money to pay the bills until August 10. One of our gests calls it "The Politics of Calamity."