Two California agencies in charge of high-tech projects failed to provide proper oversight for billions of dollars in contracts awarded without competitive bidding, according to a state audit released Tuesday.
State law requires the Department of General Services and the California Department of Technology (CDT) to use the competitive bidding process whenever possible “to ensure fair competition and eliminate favoritism, fraud, and corruption,” State Auditor Elaine Howle wrote in a letter to Gov. Jerry Brown.
The investigation examined a sample of those contracts and found nine noncompetitive requests valued at almost $1 billion that "agencies likely could have avoided had they engaged in sufficient planning,” Howle wrote.
For months, billionaire Democratic donor and environmental activist Tom Steyer has been acting like a candidate running for governor – hobnobbing with Democratic loyalists, putting out a position paper on income inequality and continuing his aggressive efforts to combat climate change.
Steyer says he’s still considering jumping into the race. But he may have another target on his radar.
Steyer has starting mounting his own challenge to President Trump, going so far as to call for impeachment and use his nonprofit, NextGen Climate, to encourage citizens to lobby their congressional representatives for it.
Mercury Public Affairs has agreed to pay $4,000 in fines to California's ethics watchdog agency for violating the $10 gift limit on lobbying firms when it provided dinners worth $200 to former state Sen. Ronald Calderon and his wife.
In October, Calderon was sentenced to 42 months in federal prison after he pleaded guilty in a public corruption case unrelated to the Mercury dinner.
The fines proposed against Mercury by the enforcement staff of the state Fair Political Practices Commission stem from violating the $10 gift limit and failing to report that Calderon’s wife also received a dinner, according to the investigative report.
Several months ago, President Trump signed into law a repeal of sweeping privacy regulations limiting what broadband providers can do with customer data. Now, an Assembly Democrat is trying to resuscitate those rules for Californians.
Assemblyman Ed Chau (D-Monterey Park) unveiled a measure on Monday that would largely enshrine the sputtered federal regulations into California state law. The bill would require Internet service providers, such as Verizon, Comcast and AT&T, to get permission from customers before using, selling or permitting access to data about their browsing history.
Such restrictions were crafted by the Federal Communications Commission under the Obama administration. But the FCC under Trump sought to roll back those rules before they went into effect. Congress approved the repeal in March, and the president signed it.
Gov. Jerry Brown, state legislators and other state elected officials were granted 3% pay raises Monday by a state panel that noted that it is slightly less than the salary increase that was recently given to rank-and-file state workers.
Anthony Barkett, one member of the state Citizens Compensation Commission, said the increase was reasonable given his concern about the state’s unfunded liabilities for pensions and the potential for “catastrophic” budget effects if Obamacare is repealed.
“I’m for a moderate increase again,” Barkett told the panel, adding, "Our legislators need to address these bigger problems.”
How badly do Democrats want to oust Rep. Steve Knight?
Rep. Karen Bass, a Westside Democrat, is already paying for buses and vans to ferry volunteers over the Sepulveda Pass into Santa Clarita, Simi Valley and the Antelope Valley to reinforce local Democrats as they start up voter registration drives. Organizers say they have registered 80 voters over three trips so far.
California may offer Democrats a lopsided advantage as a whole, but this patch of the state — where the suburban sprawl of Los Angeles comes to an end and the Mojave Desert begins — is still a bastion for the Republican Party.
The volunteers are in no short supply. Many are political neophytes newly invigorated by opposition to President Trump and itching for something to do.
“In L.A., you kind of feel like you are in this helpless political bubble,” Zoe Ward, a 32-year-old student in UCLA’s film directing master’s program, said after scouring Palmdale for new voters on a recent Saturday. “Coming out here, it feels like my minutes and hours go further.”