Today’s News: Mahony hid abuse cases; High-speed rail safety; Martian milestone

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Church secrets. Former Los Angeles Archbishop Roger Mahony and a top adviser sought to conceal molestation of children by Catholic priests from law enforcement, according to internal Church records released by the L.A. Times. The revelations relate to memos written more than two decades ago by Mahony and Monsignor Thomas Curry, then the L.A. Archdiocese’s advisor on sex abuse cases. In the notes, Curry offers Mahony strategies to stop police from investigating three priests who had admitted abusing young boys. Among other things, that included preventing priests from seeing therapists who might report the abuse. Mahony retired in 2011. He released a statement yesterday saying that he’s sorry for what happened and that he prays for the victims of sexual abuse daily. L.A. Times

Rail dispute. The union representing state engineers says the inspection process for the first phase of the state’s high-speed rail project is flawed and could compromise safety. Under state guidelines, the contractor selected to design and build the first phase would hire inspectors responsible for checking the work. The Professional Engineers in California Government says that could lead to conflicts of interest. The union says the project would be safer if its members or other independent inspectors were hired to oversee construction. High-Speed Rail Authority Chief Executive Jeff Morales says the suggestion that the agency would compromise safety is “insulting and flat-out wrong.” The state just finished taking bids for the first segment of the rail line, an estimated $1.8 billion stretch of track between Madera and Fresno. The $68 billion line is being designed to eventually link Southern and Northern California with trains travelling 220 miles an hour. AP

Martian birthday. NASA’s “other” Mars Rover is celebrating a milestone this week. Opportunity will begin its 10th year of interplanetary exploration Thursday. Opportunity parachuted onto the surface of Mars on January 24th, 2004, six weeks after its twin, Spirit, landed on the other side of the planet. Spirit went silent in 2010 and NASA officials say Opportunity is showing its age: it has creaky robotic arm and a bum wheel, which forces it to drive backwards. But it’s still conducting experiments. Currently, Opportunity is exploring a clay-rich hill on the edge of a crater. The older rover has been overshadowed by Curiosity, a high-tech cousin that landed on Mars five months ago. AP

Pension gains.
The state’s massive public employee retirement fund is just about back to where it was at the start of the recession. Bloomberg reports that CalPERS is worth $253 billion, about 97 percent of the pre-recession high set in 2007. The global financial crisis wiped out about a third of that wealth. CalPERS had a healthy return of 13 percent on investments last year. That’s the good news. The bad news is CalPERS remains $87 billion short of being able to meet its long-term commitments. Bloomberg

Unrepresented. From Santa Monica and West Hollywood to Studio City and Palm Springs, large chunks of Southern California are without representation in the state Senate. In other areas, the L.A. Times reports, residents are represented by two state senators. What’s going on? The uneven representation stems from the state’s once-in-a-decade redistricting process. When political boundaries were redrawn in 2011, some new districts overlapped old ones. Voters in only half of California’s 40 senate districts went to the polls in November, leaving the state with a mix of old and new districts. The situation won’t sort itself out until the 2014 election. L.A. Times