KPCC's home for all things Patt Morrison.

Sacramento Limbo -- How Low Can They Go?

How much more can the governor and the legislature lop out of the budget, and where? Both the governor, in his speech to the Legislature, and Speaker Karen Bass, talking to me today, said they get buttonholed by people begging them to save their state funding. One 24-year-old woman, who’s had AIDS since she was six, testified that the proposed cuts coming down the pike mean she won’t get her meds — and she’ll die. A man testified that he wouldn’t receive dialysis any more, and he too would die. Republican state Sen. George Runner, for his part, told me that Californians will not tolerate a wave of early parolees across the state. Not only are there no good choices any more — looks like there are just about no choices, period.

More cheerily, we spent a good part of the second hour with three big-name producers: Bruce Cohen, Marshall Herskovitz and Gale Anne Hurd. As the weekend’s big sold-out conference on producing approaches, we got a free in-studio seminar on what producers do and what the the job, and Hollywood, will look like in the the face of the Internet, a dwindling market — or so some think — for smart, character-driven drama, and an overweening appetite for films that get created entirely to give someone an excuse to use special effects. One caller wanted to know why movies are so darned long — Gale Anne Hurd’s answer was that not many movies have long running times: they may just feel like it if you’re sitting in the audience.


Summer classes? No sweat -- because there's [almost] no school

Doesn’t anybody ever do summer like the Beach Boys any more?

”We’ll all be gone for the summer/We’re on safari to stay/Tell the teacher we’re surfin’/Surfin’ USA.”

They may have no choice this summer; the LAUSD is offering summer classes to perhaps a third of the 225,000 students who enrolled last year — budget cutbacks mean that pretty much only high school students trying to complete graduation requirements and some special ed students get summer school.

A lot of parents and a few students phoned in about the mess this puts them in for electives and other special programs, as well as the simple question of what to do when the kids are at home and the parents are at work. One work-at-home mother says she’s encouraging her son to explore the neighborhood this summer, to play, bike, read — a notion that freaks out other parents who were already astonished that she encouraged her boy to walk the five blocks home from the bus stop.


Bugs and Hugs and H2O No-Nos

Under the “What’s with kids these days?” heading, here’s a ”new” trend among teenagers that of course the rest of us are just picking up on now: indiscriminate hugging!

The hallway embrace, the before-class and after-school hug — it’s common on campuses these days, but there’s always more to it than that. A USC sociologist helped us to parse the behavior in the social hierarchy of huggers vs. huggees, and why a generation that has a million virtual ”friends” they’ve never met is so invested in the physical embrace. We got some terrific calls from students too — please, keep calling in so we can hear* from *you and not always just *about *you!

The new water regs take place in LA on Monday, and the DWP chief, David Nahai, took your questions about the new rules that he hopes will cut back water use by 15% — either by the carrots of persuasion or the stick of enforcement. Don’t hose off your driveways and sidewalks, don’t run your sprinklers on any days but Mondays and Thursdays, after 5 p.m. and before 9 a.m. — and put in drought-tolerant plants. We use more than half of our water — that’s drinking-quality water, every drop of it — outdoors!


California's budget bleeds out -- now what?

So, how do you like Plan B?

With last week’s budget ballot props going down in flames, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has let us know how he’ll have to make up the $5.5 billion difference.

For starters, cut CalWORKS — state welfare/workfare — completely. That saves a billion three, but it would also mean the state no longer gets a check for more than twice that amount in matching-plus funds from the feds.

But wait, as they say on the infomercials — there’s more! Cut insurance to a million poor kids, end Cal grants to incoming college freshmen, cut virtually all the money for salaries for park rangers and park maintenance people.

Even the $6 million for the state’s poison control hotline would be cut. But as the hotline’s director and our other guests argued, short-term savings would mean long-term costs, big ones. Stop answering the phones on the poison hotline, and a $6 million savings could turn into a $70 million cost, as people crowd emergency rooms and call paramedics about spider bites and bathtub cleansers. Make college unaffordable to good high school students and you create an unqualified employment pool. it goes on and on.


R U fed up w txtng 2?

What did that doctor call it — text-opathy? The student-teen-20-something texting craze may seem like the usual adolescent obsession with gab, from the telephone to email, but the New York Times story we talked about pointed out the differences: distraction, poor grades, short attention span, sleeplessness, and sore thumbs.

Did you hear Reina Hardesty and her father? She’s the Orange County 13-year-old who sent and received something close to 24,000 text messages in a month. That’s no typo. Her parents have now put limits on her, and she says that frankly, she doesn’t mind. And that’s what we heard from other callers, including a recent high school grad: it’s a bit of a relief not to have to respond to that constant Pavlovian ”pinging.”

Some of you faulted the parents for not establishing limits, and some of you, like Harvey, blogged the sentiment that phone companies have families wrapped around their marketing finger. Angelia’s the mother of two, who blogged that her kids use cell phones for emergencies only. ”They simply don’t have time to send or receive 10,000, 5,000, or even 10 messages a month. They are too busy living real lives.”