Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) on Friday sought to allay concerns that a local aviation firm might be the target of Al Qaeda.
Schiff said the FBI confirmed that Pasadena’s AeroVironment Inc., which makes the unmanned drone planes used by the U.S. military, appeared on a hit list posted on a jihadist website. The names of company executives were also listed on the site.
There is no evidence of a specific plan of attack, Schiff said, adding that federal authorities are working to ensure the safety of local aviation and military contracting firms.
“There has been a proliferation of threats on jihadist websites over the last several years, and especially since the killing of Osama bin Laden, as Al Qaeda has been trying to reaffirm its credibility after being marginalized by the Arab Spring,” Schiff said in a statement. “Many thousands of these kind of threats have proved no more than idle rants over the years.
Nonetheless, many Southern California companies produce advanced technologies and products that play an important role in maintaining our national security, and we need to take every threat seriously.”
Legislators’ budget losses are released
State taxpayers saved about $48,600 a day while lawmakers were kicked off the payroll for failure to pass a budget by June 15, according to state Controller John Chiang.
Rank-and-file members, including Assemblymen Mike Gatto (D-Silver Lake) and Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge), each lost about $4,830 between June 15, when Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed the Legislature’s original budget, and June 28, when lawmakers passed the budget the governor eventually signed.
Chiang was acting under Proposition 25, which voters approved in 2010. The measure reduced the number of legislative votes needed to pass a state budget from a two-thirds to simple majority, which is what allowed Democratic lawmakers to approve a budget this year without any Republican support.
The measure also included a provision docking lawmakers’ pay for every day beyond the constitutional deadline of June 15 that a budget was not approved.
Gatto was among the lawmakers, including several Republicans, who questioned whether it is proper for Chiang or anyone in the executive branch to wield the power of the checkbook to influence the legislative process.
A spokesman for Chiang’s office dismissed those concerns.
“The controller has a legal responsibility to make sure that every check he cuts from the state treasury has the necessary appropriation,” spokesman Jacob Roper said. ”In this case, there wasn’t an appropriation.”
Democrats turn to the initiative process
Democratic lawmakers are looking to the initiative process in 2012 as a way to raise revenue they couldn’t in the 2011-12 budget process as Republican lawmakers stood firm in refusing to extend temporary hikes in sales, vehicle and income taxes imposed in 2009.
The tax increases, including a 1% hike in sales tax, expired Friday, the first day of the 2011-12 budget year.
State Sen. Carol Liu (La Cañada Flintridge) is concerned about significant cuts to higher education and social services programs in the new state budget, according to her legislative director, Robert Oakes.
Liu wants to see that funding restored, but doubts the Legislature will pass any tax measures in the near future, Oakes said. While passing a budget requires only a majority vote, approving a new tax requires a two-thirds supermajority. That leaves the initiative process as the only hope for lawmakers like Liu.
“We’re hoping to see something on the ballot next year for revenue and stability for higher education and human services,” Oakes said. “If it happens, it is going to have to come through the initiative process. It won’t happen here.”
Antonovich fights to maintain fire services
Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich is asking the U.S. Forest Service to reconsider a policy shift to reduce the use of chemical fire retardants in battling forest fires.
Responding to concerns about the environmental effects of the chemicals, the Forest Service stated in a recent draft environmental report that it would curb use of the retardants near waterways.
On Tuesday, Antonovich, a Republican whose district includes Glendale, Burbank and nearby foothill communities, sponsored a motion to send the Forest Service a letter urging the agency to reconsider. The move was supported unanimously by members of the board.
“Limiting aerial retardant drops could allow a fire to grow larger and out of control — as we saw during the Station fire,” Antonovich said in a statement. “To protect life and property, we need to utilize all firefighting weapons to control fires — not less.”
Glendale man named Veteran of the Year
Glendale resident Khoa Nguyen has been honored as Veteran of the Year for the 43rd Assembly District by Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Silver Lake).
Last year, Nguyen, who served in the U.S. Marines for five years, started a nonprofit called Global Mindset Group, which offers low-income youth reading and recreation programs, including tennis lessons at Emerald Isle Park in Glendale.
Nguyen was inspired to launch the group after serving on a humanitarian mission in Djibouti, Africa, where he worked with impoverished families.
In a statement, Gatto said Nguyen “is an inspiration to our veterans that have served in the military and have the opportunity to use the tools they’ve acquired in military service to selflessly give back to their community.”
For more information on Global Mindset Group, visit www.globalmindsetgroup.org.