State senators to receive refresher on ethics
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - State senators are receiving a refresher in ethics as part of the fallout from a series of legal cases involving Democratic lawmakers this year.
Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg canceled committee hearings Wednesday and ordered senators and their top aides to devote the day to ethics training.
He says the purpose of the closed-door sessions is to reflect on existing practices and prevent compromising situations.
The Senate suspended Sens. Ronald Calderon of Montebello and Leland Yee of San Francisco after they were indicted on federal criminal charges involving bribery. Yee also was charged with trying to orchestrate weapons trafficking.
A third Democrat, Sen. Rod Wright of Los Angeles, was convicted earlier this year of voter fraud and perjury for lying about his legal residence.
UC settles with former surgical director for $10M
LOS ANGELES (AP) - The University of California has agreed to pay $10 million to a former surgical chairman who says he was the victim of retaliation after pointing out conflicts of interest at UCLA's medical school.
The Los Angeles Times reports UC regents agreed to the settlement Tuesday, just before closing arguments were to begin in the lawsuit brought by 54-year-old Robert Pedowitz.
Pedowitz was recruited to UCLA in 2009 to run UCLA's orthopedic surgery department.
In 2012 he sued the school, the regents, fellow surgeons and university officials, saying they failed to act on his complaints that doctors were allowed to take payments from device makers and other companies that may have compromised patient care. He said he was later victimized for speaking out.
UCLA and the regents denied any wrongdoing, but said they paid Pedowitz to avoid the "expense and inconvenience" of further litigation.
Sacramento County bans outdoor marijuana crops
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - Sacramento County supervisors have unanimously voted to ban outdoor marijuana crops after hearing from law enforcement officials who said the region has seen an explosion of grow sites.
The Sacramento Bee reports Sheriff Scott Jones told supervisors Tuesday that marijuana plants have increased throughout the county because of a lack of clarity in federal and state laws and inconsistent prosecution.
County aides and law enforcement showed numerous aerial photos of reported grow sites, including open space near a school and sports complex.
The new restrictions would apply to unincorporated Sacramento County and likely take effect in mid-June. The city of Sacramento already bans outdoor cultivation in residential areas, while Elk Grove prohibits all outdoor marijuana growth.
Some advocates for medical marijuana said law enforcement overstated the risks associated with growing pot.
CALIFORNIA DROUGHT-EAST BAY
East Bay to tap Sacramento River water
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) - To cope with drought conditions, the East Bay Municipal Utility District will begin diverting water from the Sacramento River for the first time ever.
The Sacramento Bee reports the district's board of directors voted unanimously Tuesday to begin tapping supplies from the river's Freeport Regional Water Project starting this month.
The district helped build the Freeport project in partnership with Sacramento County at a cost of nearly $1 billion. It has not used the diversion since it was completed in 2010.
The district, which serves 1.3 million people in Alameda and Contra Costa counties, normally gets most of its water from its own reservoir and pipeline system on the Mokelumne River.
To stretch this supply, it called on customers this winter to voluntarily reduce their water consumption by 10 percent.
4-year prison term in Calif. mortgage fraud scheme
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - A 39-year-old Northern California man connected to a wide-ranging mortgage-lending scheme has been sentenced to 4 ½ years in prison.
The Sacramento Bee reports Johnny "Jay" Grivette Jr. was also ordered Tuesday to pay more than $4 million in restitution to a list of lending institutions.
Grivette's Advantage Financial Partners of California was part of Loomis Wealth Solutions, an umbrella firm prosecutors say was a front for a Ponzi scheme that stole $100 million across several states.
When he pleaded guilty in July 2012, Grivette admitted that his company was an integral part of the systemic fraud.
Lawrence Leland "Lee" Loomis is charged in a 50-count grand jury indictment with mail and wire fraud. The newspaper says when Loomis goes to trial, Grivette is likely to be a government witness.
A's reject 10-year Coliseum lease offer
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) - The Oakland A's have rejected a deal to play at its ballpark for the foreseeable future, saying the 10-year lease extension offer doesn't meet all their requirements.
The Oakland Tribune reports the team's rejection came just an hour after the joint board that runs the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum complex announced the extension proposal.
Team spokesman Bob Rose released a statement that the 10-year deal "did not address all of our issues" and asked that future lease negotiations not be played out in public.
Specifics of the lease proposal were not disclosed.
The lease expires after the 2015 season.
The A's have been searching for a new home for five years, complaining that O.co Coliseum is dilapidated and not conducive to baseball.
Bieber trial delayed to July on DUI, other charges
MIAMI (AP) - A South Florida judge has delayed the trial of pop star Justin Bieber on charges of driving under the influence, resisting arrest and driving with an expired license until July.
Miami-Dade County Judge William Altfield on Wednesday granted a motion for a postponement sought by Bieber's lawyers. His attorney Roy Black said more time was needed to examine evidence and make decisions about how to proceed.
The trial was delayed from May 5 to July 7.
The 20-year-old singer was arrested Jan. 23 in Miami Beach after what police described as an illegal street drag race. He wasn't charged with drag racing.
Alcohol breath tests found Bieber's level below the 0.02 limit for underage drivers. Urine tests showed the presence of marijuana and an anti-anxiety drug in his system.
GOOGLE MAPS-TIME TRAVEL
Memory Lane: Traveling through time on Google maps
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (AP) - Google is now offering trips down memory lane on its digital maps.
The new twist on time travel is debuting Wednesday as part of the "Street View" feature in Google's maps, a navigational tool that attracts more than 1 billion visitors each month.
The Street View snapshots will now include an option to see what neighborhoods and landmarks looked like at different periods during the past seven years, as Google Inc. has been dispatching camera-toting cars to take street-level pictures for its maps.
Although the photos only date back to 2007, some of them illustrate dramatic changes, such as the gradual recovery of New Orleans neighborhoods in the years following Hurricane Katrina's devastation. Scrolling over to Washington D.C. offers a look at the restoration of the historic Howard Theatre.
VMAs returning to LA; trying out renovated Forum
INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) -- Live from Inglewood!
After visiting New York last year, the MTV Video Music Awards announced Wednesday that the show is returning to the West Coast this summer to become the first major awards ceremony broadcast from the storied Forum in Inglewood, Calif.
For decades, the "Fabulous Forum," as it was known, hosted some of the world's biggest musical talents, from Bob Dylan to the Rolling Stones. But in recent years, the arena and its working-class neighborhood near the LA airport fell on hard times as newer, hipper venues gained favor.
Then, after a $100 million makeover, the Forum reopened in January as the largest indoor entertainment venue in the country. It has already hosted such acts as the Eagles and Justin Timberlake.
The 2014 VMAs will air Sunday, Aug. 24.
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