Today’s News: Baca is ‘Sheriff of the Year’; Untracked parolees; Telecommuting debate

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Baca honor. L.A. Sheriff Lee Baca has been named Sheriff of the Year by a national law enforcement group. It’s a prestigious award – but a puzzling one given that Baca’s department has been mired in a series of high-profile scandals in recent years. The National Sheriff’s Association calls Baca “exemplary” and “the most progressive sheriff in the nation.” But Baca’s critics point out that his department is being investigated by the Justice Department over abuse by deputies inside jails. Baca has also been accused of granting favors to relatives, friends and donors. L.A. Times

Missing parolees. State prison officials say the number of paroled sex offenders who have disabled their GPS tracking devices is probably higher than previously stated. The disclosure follows a report by the L.A. Times that found such cases rising sharply since the fall of 2011. That’s when the state reduced penalties for parole violators and shifted responsibility for them to counties. Arrest warrants posted by the state indicate that more than 430 paroled sex offenders are unaccounted for. L.A. Times

Bell trial. A juror in the corruption trial of six former Bell officials asked to be removed from the case – saying it was clear to her the other jurors didn’t care to listen to what she had to say. The juror reportedly sent a note to Judge Kathleen Kennedy complaining that other jurors were giving her “the evil eye.” Citing the importance of the case, Judge Kennedy asked the juror to continue. She’s expected to be on the panel when deliberations resume this morning. KTLA

Sequester impact. Almost half of the 850,000 Californians who collect unemployment could see a reduction in their benefits under sequestration, the automatic federal spending cuts that are due to kick in this Friday. The head of the state’s Employment Development Department says the long-term unemployed would take the biggest hit – a 10 percent reduction in benefits. Sequestration would also force cuts to state programs that help people look for work. Overall, California stand to lose about $10 billion in federal funding this year. KABC, L.A. Times

Back to the office. Telecommuting may be the wave of the future, but not at one of Silicon Valley’s biggest tech firms. Yahoo CEI Marissa Mayer has directed telecommuting employees to return to the office. A memo from the struggling company’s human resources chief has sparked a debate in the nation’s tech capital about the benefits of working from home. Yahoo says it wants employees to collaborate. Many see the order as a signal that Yahoo isn’t pleased with the performance and productivity of its telecommuting employees. San Jose Mercury News