Today’s News: Janet Napolitano leaving DC for U.; Review of prison psych care ordered; Fire ring finale?

Written by


Napolitano to U.C. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has resigned her post and is coming to the Golden State to serve as president of the University of California. Napolitano, a former governor of Arizona, will become the first woman to head the 145-year-old university system. The L.A. Times says Napolitano was nominated by a committee of regents after a secretive search process. The current U.C. president, Mark Yudof, is stepping down in August.

The 55-year-old Naploitano is an unusual choice for the top U.C. post given her lack of an academic background. But the Times says regents liked the fact that Napolitano carries a high national profile and led large public agencies. She’s also shown a strong interest in improving education.

The 10-campus U.C. system has 230,000 students and an annual budget of $24 billion.

President Barack Obama issued a statement commending Napolitano for what he called “her outstanding work on behalf of the American people over the last four years.”  L.A. Times

Under siege. A tough week for the state prison system got tougher when a federal judge ordered a comprehensive probe of prison-based mental health facilities. The order comes as prison officials contend with the largest hunger strike by inmates in state history. The judge cited a “denial of basic necessities” for prisoners needing mental health care. That includes everything from access to doctors to clean underwear. He said inmates are subject to long treatment delays at facilities run by the California Department of State Hospitals, which provides health care for the prisons. Meanwhile, a mass hunger strike by state inmates is in its fourth day, adding to the pressure on the prison healthcare system. Prison officials say the number of inmates participating in the protest has dropped by more than half. But 12,000 inmates were still refusing food last night. L.A. Times

Ring of fire. To burn, or not to burn…That’s the question the South Coast Air Quality Management District will be answering today when it considers a proposal to restrict the use of fire rings on Southern California beaches. The plan would keep fire rings at least 700 feet away from homes, or closer if they are spaced at least 100 feet apart. But it would also allow cities to ban all beach fires. The dispute over fire pits has been raging for months, ever since Newport Beach proposed removing rings that homeowners complained were smoking them out. Huntington Beach and other cities say the fire rings are a welcome tourist draw. And the California Coastal Commission says removing them would prevent the public from enjoying a long-standing beach tradition. L.A. Times

Grading Deasy. The L.A. teacher’s union continues to pile on School Superintendent John Deasy. Less than two months after giving Deasy a vote of no confidence, the union made another symbolic gesture yesterday, releasing the results of what it called its first ever “performance evaluation” of a schools chief. Only 26 percent of union members filled out the form. They gave Deasy an F – judging him deficient in categories ranging from teacher discipline to spending priorities. Deasy has butted heads with the union on a number of issues, including the use of student test scores in teacher evaluations, which the union calls unfair. He says he’s reviewing the results of the evaluation. L.A. Daily News

‘Summer slam.’ Move over Carmaggedon, here comes “Summer Slam”. That’s what Caltrans is dubbing a bunch of lane closures on the 60 Freeway near Pomona that start this weekend. The closures will affect lanes in both directions between Nogales Street and Fullerton Road and are expected to impact traffic on San Gabriel Valley streets. The cones go up at 10 tonight and won’t come down until Monday at 5 a.m. Caltrans will oversee similar shutdowns on the 60 every other weekend through the summer. KABC