FROM Elizabeth Goldstein
State Parks, 'Hidden Assets' and Public Trust in Government The State Attorney General and the Department of Finance are investigating the discovery of $54 million in so-called "hidden assets" in the State Parks Department. That's more than twice the deficit that led Governor Brown to announce the closing of 70 parks, parks then saved by non-profits and community groups, which raised their own money. A Public Records Act request by the Sacramento Bee turned up unreported funds collected by two of the Parks Department's special funds. Matt Weiser is one of those reporting the story.
Ballot-Box Budgeting on the November Ballot Proposition 21 would establish an $18 surcharge on vehicles when they’re registered every year, commercial vehicles and trailers excepted. The fee would raise $500 million a year to be spent on 278 state parks. The purpose of Prop 22 is to prevent the state from seizing money earmarked for cities, counties and various transportation projects and spending it instead on state services. Prop 21 is an initiative statute which could be changed. Prop 22 is a constitutional amendment, which could only be changed by the voters. Both are examples of what’s called “ballot-box budgeting” because they would limit the discretion of elected officials to spend money as circumstances require.
Budget Cuts Could Shutter Some State Parks Between the legislature and Governor Schwarzenegger's line-item veto , 100 of California's 279 parks are at risk of closing. No list has been released yet, but park officials say to assume that every park is vulnerable . Elizabeth Goldstein is President of the California State Parks Foundation.
Changing the Face of Downtown Los Angeles The Cornfield is a 32-acre strip of open land bounded by North Broadway and North Spring Street in downtown LA between Chinatown and the Los Angeles River. It's across the 101 Freeway from Elysian Park. It never was really a cornfield at all, but when it was a railroad yard, cornstalks sprouted from seeds that spilled from boxcars. After the railroads moved out, there were protests against turning it into an industrial site, and the state parks department bought the property five years ago. It's now an " interim park ," with an amphitheater and four acres of open turf, awaiting the results of an international design competition . Tomorrow, State Parks Director Ruth Coleman will announce which of three landscape architectural competitors will be asked to draw final plans for a new state park.
Janesville and the American Dream Janesville, Wisconsin is the hometown of Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan. But he couldn’t prevent the closing of the General Motors factory after 100 years. On this Memorial Day rebroadcast of To the Point, we hear what’s happened to what once was a model of American middle-class unity.
Who's to blame for the opioid crisis? Some of the lawyers who took on Big Tobacco are now going after Big Pharma. It’s all about the deadly epidemic of opioid use. Are the drug companies to blame? What about the users? Later, on today’s Talking Point: making sense of Britain’s upset election.
Is the threat from Russia missing from the Russia meddling probe? There's much being made about the Trump administration's possible ties with Russia. But the bottom line is Russia's effort to influence American democracy. Do the President and his aides care enough to take action before voters go back to the polls?
Ex-FBI Director Comey tells his side of the story Today, former FBI Director James Comey came close to calling the President who fired him a liar. The White House denied the claim and called it insulting, but Republican Senators did not challenge Comey’s truthfulness. Many questions remain: did the President try to obstruct a federal investigation? Later, we’ll go behind the “velvet rope” for a look at 5-Star health care for the richest Americans.