AirTalk for May 13, 2009

The Roots of the Financial Crisis

Although the roots of our current global economic crisis began years ago, the effects continue to take its toll on Americans today. But how did we get into this mess? There is no neatly wrapped answer for such a complicated question, but one author helps us take a stab at understanding it. In Fools Gold, author Gillian Tett explains how the best, brightest and noblest minds of J.P. Morgan fought to extricate themselves from the pervasive greed of other financial institutions that ultimately led to both the misuse and abuse of the system they helped create. Larry talks with Tett about her new book.

Torture Photos Blocked

President Barack Obama is fighting the release of dozens of new photos showing U.S. personnel abusing prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan, says a White House official. Larry Mantle asks KPCC listeners their take on this latest development in the ongoing interrogation controversy.

Props 1D and 1E

Proposition 1D would authorize a fund-shift of $268 million in annual tobacco tax revenue currently earmarked for "First Five" early childhood development programs to pay for other state government health and human services programs that serve children, including Medicaid, foster care, child care subsidies, and preschool programs. Money for these programs currently comes from the state general fund. Proposition 1E is basically the same strategy, but it would authorize a shift of $230 million annually in income tax surcharge revenue currently earmarked for mental health programs under the terms of California Proposition 63, approved in 2004, also known as the Mental Health Services Act. Both are attempts to make up for the huge projected deficit in the state budget by diverting earmarked funds into the general fund. Larry gets the details on both.

Mayor Villaraigosa Announces a "Fiscal Emergency"

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has asked City Council members to declare a fiscal emergency, explaining the at the city could run out of cash as early as November. He also announced that he is implementing a furlough plan that will require most city workers to take 26 unpaid days of leave in the next fiscal year. In addition, the Mayor said that he would move ahead with plans to lay off 1,000 employees beginning July 1st - this would be in addition to the 1,600 layoffs authorized by the Los Angeles City Council earlier this month. Police and firefighters would be exempt from the furloughs and layoffs.
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