January 15, 2009 Archives
During his annual State of the State address, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger suggested that the state suspend lawmakers’ pay until they work out a budget he can accept.
His press secretary, Aaron McLear, told KPCC’s Patt Morrison that since other state employees and functions are facing cutbacks and furloughs, the legislature shouldn’t get paid either.
Aaron McLear: “His point is simple: If we’re unable to get the job done for the people, to deliver a budget which is due on June 15th every year, then the leaders of this state should have some consequences, right? I mean, it’s the people who are suffering, the people who are getting their taxes increased and their programs cut. Well, the folks who are making that happen ought a have some consequences, and that’s the point he made today.”
During a brief speech delivered without the usual ceremonial flourish, the governor compared a prospective $42 billion deficit with a rock upon the state’s chest that must be removed. Legislative leaders have said they’re making progress toward adopting a budget that’ll meet with the governor’s approval.
Governor Schwarzenegger’s suggestion that lawmakers go without pay until they work out a budget is prompting mixed responses in Sacramento. Democratic Assembly Speaker Karen Bass has said she doesn’t think that’ll be necessary because legislative leaders are close to a compromise.
Republican State Senator Tony Strickland told KPCC’s “Patt Morrison” that something needs to spur lawmakers to get the job done.
Senator Tony Strickland: “You know, we didn’t need to be here, but that’s old news. We’re leaders, and I think great leaders rise through the difficult times, when you look at our history of our state and our nation. So the governor is right, this does need to be the year of political courage. And there’s not a Democrat problem or a Republican problem; it’s a California problem. People would like for us to fix these problems, and we need move forward recognizing that no one’s going to everything that they want.”
The projected $42 billion budget deficit was the only subject of the governor’s abbreviated State of the State address.
This year’s State of the State address was one of the shortest anyone can remember; a scant dozen minutes in which Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger outlined California’s lingering budget problems. His press secretary, Aaron McLear, spoke with KPCC’s “Patt Morrison.”
Aaron McLear: “We’re in difficult times right now, and I don’t think it’s appropriate for us to be talking about all these bold visions and all these bold proposals that he had. And as you know, this is a guy with just boundless ambition, so for him to temper that in a State of State speech is difficult. But we have a $42 billion deficit, and really it doesn’t make any sense for leaders of the state to do anything until we get our fiscal house in order.”
In his speech, the governor suggested that state lawmakers take a pay cut until they can work out a budget he’s willing to sign. Legislative leaders contend the move won’t be necessary, because they’re making progress toward that goal.
All 155 passengers and crew are safe after a US Air flight from New York’s LaGuardia Airport made an emergency landing in the Hudson River, just minutes into its trip to Charlotte, North Carolina.
The incident unfolded in full view of William Duckworth, who lives near the river in New Jersey. He described what he’d seen to KPCC’s “Patt Morrison.”
William Duckworth: “The plane seemed to be under a certain kind of control, though, because as he crashed, it looked like a landing at an airport. The nose was up and the tail was down, so it went into the water tail first. And, as it went into the water, it spun around about 90 degrees, so that it was now pointing towards New York City.”
The Airbus A-380 floated in the river as ferries, tugboats, and helicopters arrived to rescue the people on board. Investigators are looking into what caused the forced landing of US Air Flight 1549.
- January 15, 2009 6:47 PM
- Categories: Transportation
Leaders in the state Senate and the Assembly say Governor Schwarzenegger’s brief State of the State address hit the right tone. Usually the speeches are about the governor’s policy goals. Assembly Republican Leader Mike Villines says that, given the current circumstances, it was good that Schwarzenegger honed in on the budget.
Assemblyman Mike Villines: “I think he’s totally right. I think this is a historic time; there’s really no other thing for us to focus on, for any of us, Republican, Democrat, Independent, Green, whatever you are. And it’s gotta be done so we can turn around and say, ‘What can we do?’ optimistically.”
Senate Democratic Leader Darrell Steinberg says he agreed with the Governor’s statements about current, meaningful budget negotiations.
Senator Darrell Steinberg: “The governor, I think, sought to reassure Californians and we want to reassure Californians that we’re going to solve this problem, and the fact of the matter is we’re downstairs every day making significant progress…”
Legislative leaders largely agree that the tone of budget meetings with the governor is improving. Democrats have said there could be a budget deal by the end of the month. They’re working to solve a $40 billion plus budget deficit before the state runs out of cash.
Federal immigration authorities have charged two men with smuggling in connection with an alleged drop house in Lancaster. KPCC’s Cheryl Devall says agents rescued two Central Americans from the house earlier this week.
Cheryl Devall: Late last week, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement fielded a tip that something strange was going on at a house on Martha Court in Lancaster. Agents heard that smugglers were detaining and abusing a man in the hope they’d collect $5,000 for bringing him to the United States.
On Tuesday night, the agents freed a Salvadoran and an Ecuadoran from the house, after hearing cries for help from inside. The story the men told was pretty harsh. One of the hostages said the smugglers assaulted him with stun guns and deprived him of food for almost two weeks. He added that other people held at the house shared food with him.
Agents have placed the rescued men in protective custody, and they’re continuing to investigate the incident. The alleged captors, from Mexico and Guatemala, could face up to 10 years in federal prison if a jury convicts them on charges they illegally harbored foreign nationals.
- January 15, 2009 6:37 PM
- Categories: Criminal Justice
It was a potential disaster with a remarkable ending. All 155 passengers and crew aboard a US Air flight from New York City to Charlotte are safe after the jet dropped into the Hudson River. William Duckworth saw the Airbus A-320 go down from his home.
William Duckworth: “Oh, it was so unreal, it was like watching a movie. And when it was all taking place, we were inside and so there was absolutely no sound at all, but we immediately went outside and tried to see what was happening.”
Duckworth spoke with KPCC’s “Patt Morrison” from his home in West New York, New Jersey. Tugboats and ferries rushed to the scene and collected people waiting on the aircraft wings, emergency slides, and in rafts. The cause of the crash is under investigation.
- January 15, 2009 6:32 PM
- Categories: Transportation
Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are cool to Governor Schwarzenegger’s suggestion that they forfeit pay if they don’t pass a budget on time. He presented the idea in his State of the State address today.
Democratic Assembly Speaker Karen Bass says she could have done without that part of his speech.
Assemblywoman Karen Bass: “His suggestion about us forfeiting pay – I kind of joked and said maybe he would be willing to share his royalties. But I don’t believe it’s going to come to that, so I don’t believe it will be necessary.”
Senate Republican Leader Dave Cogdill says cutting pay as punishment won’t necessarily produce a better budget.
Senator Dave Cogdill: “To just get out a budget on time doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. I think we were sent here to do our best to make sure the budgets we approve are the right budgets for the state of California as we see it…”
Democratic and Republican leaders have been meeting with the governor every day this week on budget negotiations. They need to remedy a $40 billion plus shortfall.
Authorities arrested San Bernardino county assessor Bill Postmus this morning on drug charges. Postmus has been at the center of an ongoing fraud and corruption investigation. KPCC’s Steven Cuevas has more on the arrest.
Steven Cuevas: Investigators discovered the drugs during a search of the Postmus home in Rancho Cucamonga. The 37-year-old assessor was arrested and booked on drug possession charges. Susan Mickey is with the San Bernardino County district attorney.
Susan Mickey: I cannot tell you what they were looking for, but I can tell you that during the service of the search warrant illegal drug paraphernalia was found.
Cuevas: And actual drugs, methamphetamine?
Cuevas: Investigators seized a computer hard drive and other items from the assessor’s office in San Bernardino. They also served search warrants at locations in two counties.
Mickey: There were six locations: Highland, San Bernardino, Apple Valley, Victorville, Rancho Cucamonga, and Rancho Santa Margarita.
Cuevas: Bill Postmus has been under investigation since a grand jury last year said he misused his office for political activity. Last week, Postmus acknowledged a prior battle with drugs - but said he was clean and sober. Postmus is scheduled for arraignment next week.
Before she joined the law faculty at USC, Heidi Rummel worked in the U.S. Justice Department with Attorney General-designate Eric Holder. Rummel told KPCC’s “AirTalk” that she trusts Holder’s integrity.
Heidi Rummel: “The thing he said to us when he swore us all in was, ‘No matter what, do the right thing, and if you’re put into a position where you can’t do the right thing, come see me, you know, as the head of the whole office.’
“And he meant it, and I saw him do that in certain cases. And I think that’s more of the kind of person he is, and I think that’s a very important quality, and something we need, in someone who’s going to change the direction, hopefully, of the Justice Department.”
Rummel heads USC Law School’s Post-Conviction Justice Project. Eric Holder - a former Justice Department official in the Clinton administration – faced the Senate Judiciary Committee during his confirmation hearing today.
The Southland economy’s set to get a small construction boost. Los Angeles Community College administrators are green lighting $400 million in bond-funded contracts. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has more.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: These contracts account for about one-tenth of the 3-and-a-half billion dollars in bonds voters approved in November to improve L.A. community colleges.
The contracts will go toward construction of an $80 million health center at West L.A. College, new classrooms, labs, and parking lots at Mission College in Sylmar, and a $28 million parking structure at Harbor College in Wilmington.
Economists and labor leaders praised the L.A. Community College administration’s swift action to approve construction and design projects. College administrators say these contracts will create more than 6,000 new jobs in the next few years.
In the last several years voters within L.A. Community College boundaries have approved almost $6 billion in bonds to build and improve facilities.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today delivered one of the shortest “State of the State” addresses in California history. In a message that lasted about 15 minutes, the governor told lawmakers at the state capitol that he was skipping the usual litany of accomplishments and goals.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger: “It doesn’t make any sense for me to talk here today and stand in front of you and talk about education or infrastructure, or water or health care reform and all those things when we have this huge budget deficit. I’ll talk about my vision for all those things and much more as soon as we get the budget done.”
The governor says the biggest obstacle to that is stubbornness by Democrats and Republicans.
Schwarzenegger: “Ours has become a system where rigid ideology has been rewarded, and pragmatic compromise has been punished. And where has this led us? I think that you would agree that in recent years, California’s legislature has been engaged sometimes in civil war.”
State Controller John Chiang commended the governor for recognizing that solving the budget crisis will take “courage and collaboration.” The controller has warned lawmakers repeatedly that the state government could face a cash shortage next month.
- January 15, 2009 1:50 PM
- Categories: Politics/Public Affairs
NEW YORK (AP) — A US Airways plane crashed into the frigid Hudson River on Thursday afternoon after striking a bird that disabled two engines, sending 150 on board scrambling onto rescue boats, authorities say. No deaths or serious injuries were immediately reported.
Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Laura Brown says the US Airways Flight 1549 had just taken off from LaGuardia Airport enroute to Charlotte, N.C., when the crash occurred in the river near 48th Street in midtown Manhattan.
Brown says the plane, an Airbus 320, appears to have hit one or more birds.
A law enforcement official said that authorities are not aware of any deaths and that the passengers do not appear to be seriously injured. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the rescue was still under way.
The plane was submerged in the icy waters up to the windows. Rescue crews had opened the door and were pulling passengers in yellow life vests from the plane. Several boats surrounded the plane, which appeared to be slowly sinking.
Government officials do not believe the crash is related to terrorism.
“There is no information at this time to indicate that this is a security-related incident,” Homeland Security spokeswoman Laura Keehner said. “We continue to closely monitor the situation which at present is focused on search and rescue.”
Witnesses said the plane’s pilot appeared to guide the plane down.
“I see a commercial airliner coming down, looking like it’s landing right in the water,” said Bob Read, who saw it from his office at the television newsmagazine “Inside Edition.”
“This looked like a controlled descent.”
New York City firefighters and the U.S. Coast Guard are responding to the crash.
“I saw what appeared to be a tail fin of a plane sticking out of the water,” said Erica Schietinger, whose office windows at Chelsea Piers look out over the Hudson. “All the boats have sort of circled the area.”
Associated Press Writer Eileen Sullivan in Washington contributed to this report.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
- January 15, 2009 1:42 PM
- Categories: Transportation
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger says California cannot address other policy issues until lawmakers come up with a budget he can sign.
The chief of the California Resources Agency, Mike Chrisman, says that means the state has no money for local environmental initiatives.
Mike Chrisman: “All of our grant programs, recent general obligation bond programs that funnel dollars for local projects, parks projects, wildlife mitigation projects, and others. All those expenditures have been put on hold as a result of the state budget crisis.”
Chrisman says his agency and others will close on the first and third Fridays each month until the governor and legislators agree on a plan to pay for state salaries and programs.
Governor Schwarzenegger compared California’s massive budget deficit to a “rock upon our chest.” He also said the state wouldn’t be able to focus on other important issues until it solves the budget problem.
The governor made the comments this morning during a very short State of the State address. Schwarzenegger told lawmakers that in order to solve the state’s fiscal crisis, they would need to sacrifice.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger: “Of course no one wants to take money from our gang fighting programs, or from MediCal, or from education. Of course not. No one wants to pay more taxes or fees. But each of us has to give up something, because our country in an economic crisis, and our state simply doesn’t have the money.”
He warned lawmakers that the state faces insolvency within weeks if they fail to close the widening deficit. It’s estimated at $40 billion over the next year-and-a-half.
The budget crisis prompted changes from State of the State tradition. This year’s speech was only 12 minutes long, and the governor delivered it at 10 in the morning. He usually makes the address in the evening.
The crowd expected at next Tuesday’s Obama Inauguration could top four million people. Some from the Southland have started heading to Washington, DC already, including KPCC’s Brian Watt.
Brian Watt: It was 27 degrees and snowing when my red-eye flight landed at Washington’s Dulles Airport. At baggage claim, I met the Dickersons, a married couple from Rialto where they work as realtors. Durnee Dickerson said they have a full itinerary to fill the five days until Barack Obama’s Inauguration.
Durnee Dickerson: We’re gonna drive out to a little town called Bucktown, which was Harriet Tubman’s birthplace, and we’re actually gonna do a two-mile hike on the underground railroad.
Watt: But their most important stop before Inauguration Day is at the office of L.A. Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters. Yolanda Clark Dickerson says they’ll pick up tickets to the swearing-in ceremony.
Yolanda Clark Dickerson: I received a letter saying that out of 10,000 people, there were 198, and I was one of the few to get two.
Watt: A journey that starts on the Underground Railroad continues on Pennsylvania Avenue.