MARIJUANA-RELATED ENVIRONMENTAL DAMAGE
A Mexican national has been sentenced to six years in prison for using illegal pesticides and rodenticides in connection with a marijuana growing operation in California’s Sequoia National Forest. The Fresno Bee reports 33-year-old Julio Cesar Villanueva Cornejo pleaded guilty in December to delivering chemicals and supplies to the cultivation site in Lilly Canyon. U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner says oak trees and plants were killed and cut down so that nearly ten thousand marijuana plants could be planted after the ground was prepared with the illegal chemicals. Guns, marijuana seeds and other things associated with pot cultivation were found on the site. Cornejo was also ordered to pay more than $4,000 to the Forest Service for the environmental damage. He is subject to deportation after serving his sentence. (Copyright 2014 The Associated Press)
WATER RESTRICTIONS FOR LAKE MENDOCINO WATER
A water district on the Russian River will require residents, businesses and farmers to cut their dependence on Lake Mendocino water by half beginning next month. The Santa Rosa Press Democrat reports the district voted unanimously last night to adopt the mandatory cutbacks. To the south, the Santa Clara Valley Water District’s board of directors is expected to consider today whether to ask the public for a 20% reduction in water use.
(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press)
LIFERS BEING PAROLED IN RECORD NUMBERS
Record numbers of murderers and other California inmates serving life sentences, with the possibility of parole, are leaving prison. In the last three years, Governor Jerry Brown has authorized the release of nearly 1,400 lifers — more than twice the number of paroles his three predecessors combined have granted since 1991. Some 35,000 inmates are serving life sentences with the possibility of parole. And for decades, California governors and the parole board they appointed were denying parole to nearly every so-called lifer applying for freedom. Crime victims and their advocates say the increased releases are an injustice to their victims. More than 80% of the lifers are in prison for murder. Brown said he is bound by court orders easing stringent parole requirements. (Copyright 2014 The Associated Press)
CARBON PERMIT AUCTION
State officials say California’s latest carbon-permit auction has raised nearly $330 million. The Sacramento Bee reports industrial firms and others bought emissions allowances that can be used this year and in 2017. It was the sixth state-run carbon auction since California’s cap-and-trade market system began in 2012. The program places a limit on emissions from individual polluters. (Copyright 2014 The Associated Press)
TRANSGENDER REFERENDUM FAILS
NEW GLOVE LAW AT BARS/RESTAURANTS
A new California law that prohibits bare-hand contact with ready-to-eat food at bars and restaurants just took effect in January – but it’s already drawing complaints and legislation to repeal the regulation. United States Bartenders Guild Executive Director Aaron Gregory Smith, who owns a restaurant and bar in San Francisco, says the law requiring employees to wear gloves has far too many unintended consequences – to the environment and to small businesses’ bottom lines. SMITH: “How many gloves is that on a daily basis? I can tell you it’s 175 pairs of gloves in my establishment on one average business day, and that adds up quickly,” Smith told reporters at a news conference at a Sacramento bar Monday morning. Last year’s legislation passed without any opposition. Democratic Assemblyman Dr. Richard Pan says the measure included a lot of provisions – and this one wasn’t adequately vetted. So he’s carrying a new bill that would repeal the glove-wearing requirement. Fines for violating the new law will begin in July unless Pan’s urgency legislation passes before then. (Story by Capital Public Radio Network)
FAKE SERVICE DOG COMPLAINTS
Guide dog advocates say there’s a growing problem in California of dog owners dressing their pets up as fake “service dogs” to take them places they wouldn’t otherwise be allowed. State Guide Dogs for the Blind Board President Eric Holm, who relies on his yellow Lab “Ford” to help him live his life, says the state doesn’t have the legal authority – or money from the budget – to combat service dog fraud. HOLM: “When people violate that trust, it violates both health and public safety, it confuses consumers, it confuses vendors and it frankly undermines what we’re trying to accomplish,” Holm told a Senate committee hearing Monday. Holm says service dog harnesses, badges and vests are all available online, so they’re easy for unscrupulous pet owners to obtain. At the hearing, representatives of the guide dog community, advocates for the disabled and business groups asked for legislation to address the problem. (Story by Capital Public Radio Network)
ON THE CALIFORNIA REPORT
State Senate leaders are giving Ron Calderon of Montebello one week, until March 3rd, to either resign or take a leave of absence. After that, Calderon’s colleagues are fixing to vote to suspend him from office. Calderon pleaded not guilty to a couple dozen political corruption charges in Los Angeles yesterday. Reporter: Frank Stoltze.
A number of people are asking why Senator Calderon is being shown the door, while Senator Roderick Wright is not, even though he was convicted last month of eight felonies, including perjury and voter fraud, for claiming to live in Inglewood (his district) while really living elsewhere. Steinberg believes Calderon’s charges are mores serious.
The US Attorney’s Office for Northern California has launched a criminal probe into Rancho Feeding Corporation of Petaluma. At least, so says Congressman Jared Huffman, who represents the area. The USDA is conducting two investigations, but has not gone into detail about its concerns, other than to say meat was processed without the requisite oversight from inspectors.
The festival begins this Thursday, to mark the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Yosemite Grant, the document that set aside Yosemite Valley. Festival Director Steven Bumgardner joins us from Yosemite and says there are more than enough films about the park to fill a five day marathon that runs through the weekend. Reporter: Rachael Myrow.
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