Marijuana backers back away from California, for now

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A national coalition that led the push for legalizing recreational marijuana in Colorado and Washington has decided to hold off on a similar ballot measure in California this year. Instead, the coalition will wait until 2016 to try to qualify its initiative. Two other groups are gathering signatures in an effort to get legalization measures on this ballot this year. But neither of those groups has the track record or financial wherewithal of the national coalition, which includes the Drug Policy Alliance – funded by billionaire George Soros. The coalition’s proposal would allow people 21 and over to purchase up to an ounce of marijuana for recreational use, and would impose a 25 percent tax on pot sales.

policeshootThe L.A. Police Commission will take up the thorny issue of officer-involved shootings today: the oversight board is considering a major shift in the way officers are judged when they pull the trigger. Under current policy, investigations focus on the narrow question of whether the officer faced a deadly threat at the moment he or she fired their weapon. The policy change would require investigators to look at an officer’s actions in the moments leading up to a shooting. Critics of the current policy say officers themselves sometimes escalate situations to the point where deadly force is necessary.

Some city council members are pushing to raise the minimum wage for employees at large hotels in Los Angeles to $15.37 an hour – almost twice as much as the current state minimum wage of $8 an hour. City Councilmembers Nury Martinez, Curren Price and Mike Bonin will introduce a motion today for the pay hike. Backers say nearly half of L.A. hotel workers earn a wage that puts them below the poverty line. Hotel owners, on the other hand, say it’s not fair for labor leaders and city officials to single out one industry.

As tuition costs go up, a record number of California college students are applying for financial aid. The Sacramento Bee reports that over the last six school years, the number of California residents filing the federal aid applications has jumped almost 74 percent. The percentage of Cal State and U.C. freshmen receiving financial aid increased from 57 to 72 percent.

BBALLThere’s no bigger “get” for graduation commencement speaker than the president of the United States. And U.C. Irvine has its eyes set on President Obama. The school has produced a video inviting Obama that appeals to his love of hoops. It features Mamadou Ndiaye, at 7′ 5” the tallest collegiate basketball player in the nation. A U.C. Irvine faculty member will travel to Washington to hand-deliver the video. But the competition is stiff; the president gets hundreds of invitations to speak at college campuses each year.