In the News

Volkswagen's emissions cheating took years to catch

March 09, 2016

Lawmakers: Regulators should have caught Volkswagen's emissions cheating sooner

California lawmakers asked the state’s top air pollution officials Tuesday why it took them years to figure out that Volkswagen was cheating on emissions tests and putting pollution-spewing diesel cars on the road.

Annette Hebert, chief of the Emissions Compliance division at the California Air Resources Board, told legislators during a hearing that the measurement devices used to test the vehicles are fairly new.

But since that technology has been available for about four years, her answer did not satisfy some lawmakers.

“You would have detected it and we could have taken these vehicles off the road, four years or five years or maybe six, by the time we get around to it, off the road earlier," Sen. Richard Roth, D-Riverside, said.

UCR Staffer Appointed to the California Veterans Board

March 07, 2016

Carla J. Thornton, associate director of development for the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, wants to advocate for Inland veterans

Carla J. Thornton had always been involved in community work, but it took being part of a class on community organizing to change her life. The light bulb moment came while she was obtaining her master’s in social work at the University of Southern California. “I realized I could do social work at the macro level and directly impact individuals,” she said.

On Feb. 11, Thornton — who is the associate director of development for the UC Riverside College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences — was appointed to the California Veterans Board, which advocates for veterans affairs by Gov. Jerry Brown.

The position, which requires Senate confirmation, is open solely to veterans.

Joining the board is just an extension of Thornton’s community service. She currently serves in the U.S. Air Force Reserve and was on active duty from 1997 to 2008.

Riverside attorney Jane Carney appointed to trustees

March 04, 2016

Riverside attorney Jane Carney has been appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown to the California State University Board of Trustees.

Carney, 73, said being named to the board was an honor. She applied last year when she learned that board chairman Lou Monville, a Riverside businessman, would be leaving in June.

“When I learned that Lou Monville was terming out and that he was the only person from the Inland Empire to ever serve on that board, clearly something had to happen,” Carney said. “It’s important for the Inland Empire to have a member on the board so they don’t forget we exist.”

Carney was one of four new trustees appointed by Gov. Brown: Jean Picker Firstenberg and Thelma Melendez, both of Los Angeles, and Lateefah Simon of Oakland. Lillian Kimbell, of Woodland Hills, was reappointed to her position. All terms are for eight years and must be confirmed by the State Senate. The Board of Trustees next meets March 7-9 and the new trustees are expected to be in attendance.

EDITORIAL: Balance of disabled rights and reason

January 20, 2016

The Golden State has another chance to rein in lawsuit abuse. On Tuesday, the Assembly’s Judiciary Committee approved Senate Bill 269, a substantive reform meant to encourage small business owners to bring their businesses into compliance with disability accessibility law while protecting those proactive about doing so from frivolous lawsuits.

Introduced by Sen. Richard Roth, D-Riverside, the bill is virtually identical to last year’s Senate Bill 251, which overwhelmingly passed the Legislature before being inexplicably vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown, who objected to the inclusion of tax credits to help offset the cost of making properties more accessible.

California has unfortunately been a hotbed of lawsuit abuse, particularly with respect to the well-intended Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Meant to protect and enhance accessibility for those with disabilities, as implemented in California the law has been turned into a money-maker for serial plaintiffs.

Lawmaker's Bill to Curb Disability Rights Lawsuits Clears Committee

January 20, 2016

Often criticized as “shakedown lawsuits,” disabled people sue a small business whether or not they patronize it.

By BEA KARNES (Patch Staff) January 20, 2016 6:15 pm ET

A Riverside County lawmaker’s bill aimed at deterring disability rights lawsuits against small businesses cleared a legislative hurdle Tuesday.

Sen. Richard Roth, D-Riverside, called Senate Bill 269 a “balanced measure to protect the disabled community and small businesses.”

SB 269 was approved by the Assembly Judiciary Committee in a 9-0 vote and now heads to the Assembly Appropriations Committee for consideration, according to the senator’s office.

State Senate committee chairman plans oversight hearings on California's bullet train

January 20, 2016

The Democratic chairman of the state Senate transportation committee said he plans to hold oversight hearings on the bullet train to examine its management performance, construction schedules and cost estimates.

The hearings, chaired by Sen. James Beall Jr. of San Jose, would provide the first significant legislative oversight of the project in four years, during which it has fallen far behind schedule and concerns have mounted over its costs and other uncertainties.

EDITORIAL: Hemet should welcome scrutiny

January 20, 2016

On Jan. 13, the Joint Legislative Audit Committee, a 14-member panel of the state Assembly and Senate, approved an audit of Hemet’s finances. The decision comes months after the city’s placement on the state auditor’s high-risk local government watch list. While both moves were resisted and challenged by Hemet officials, we believe bringing in a more objective set of eyes to the city’s finances is the right decision and encourage city leaders to welcome such reviews.

At last week’s hearing, State Auditor Elaine Howle laid out the rationale for pursuing an audit. Noting problems like Hemet’s high rate of turnover in city managers, budget deficits in eight of the past nine years and growing pension obligations and retiree health costs, Ms. Howle also raised questions about the city’s fairly optimistic fiscal projections.

Residents place flags to salute law officers, firefighters

January 08, 2016

Small flags honor law officers, firefighters and victims of the Dec. 2 terrorist attack.

When it came time to plan this year’s Flags for the Fallen ceremony, it seemed natural to include tributes to the 14 people killed in the Dec. 2 terrorist attack in San Bernardino.

“Something of that magnitude has never happened in the Inland area,” said Dani Medrano, president of the Eastvale-based Wives of Law Enforcement and Firefighters, which sponsored Friday’s event. “It was horrific.

“We need to support those families,” Medrano said. “And we need to honor the victims who were Inland Empire residents.”

And so it was that, in addition to the 131 American flags honoring law enforcement officers and 86 flags honoring firefighters who died in 2015, 14 flags with small black ribbons and bearing the names of the San Bernardino victims were placed on the front lawn of Eastvale Fire Station 27.

Norco prison will stay open for ‘several years'

January 08, 2016
The Norco prison will remain open for several years so the state can stay below a cap on its inmate population, an official announced Thursday, Jan. 7.

 
Gov. Jerry Brown’s 2016-17 budget proposal temporarily extends operations for the California Rehabilitation Center, which had been earmarked for closure by the end of this year.

 
In addition to the announcement, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Secretary Scott Kernan said there would be a 1.4 percent budget increase next fiscal year for state prisons.

 
Still, days for the prison that opened in 1962 still appear numbered.

CASSIE MacDUFF: Judge shortage to persist with governor's veto

November 01, 2015

California’s penny-pinching governor has stiffed the Inland Empire again.

Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a bill by state Sen. Richard Roth, D-Riverside, to allot $5 million for seven seats on the bench in Riverside and San Bernardino counties , where judicial caseloads are staggeringly high, and five elsewhere in the state.

According to a recent study, Riverside County needs 127 judges, but has only 76; San Bernardino County needs 143 judges, but has only 86. Judge-rich Santa Clara County, meanwhile, needs only 70 but has 89.