Patt Morrison for May 4, 2010

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It’s only Tuesday and the week is already setting up what’s sure to be a big budget fight. Governor Schwarzenegger yesterday pulled support for offshore drilling in Tranquillon Ridge, a project on which he and environmentalists had previously reached agreement with Houston-based Plains Exploration and Production Co. (PXP) to allow drilling in state waters in exchange for shutting down four existing drill sites in Federal waters off the California coast. Now—and the irony is not lost on us—the environmentalists who cut the deal are none too happy about the governor’s reversal. The immediate $140 million expected from the project was supposed to go to keeping state parks open, and in addition to losing that nest egg, tax revenue is weighing in about $3 billion below what state officials projected. Did they forget to account for the many jobs lost this year?
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What’s small and round and one of the history’s most revolutionary inventions? The birth control pill has been both praised as the paramount moment in the feminist movement and assailed as a free pass that has actually hurt women’s rights. Did the pill allow women to put off pregnancy, get further in their careers and get married on their own terms or did it help to promote promiscuity, failed marriages and STD’s? The birth control pill turns 50 years old this month, and feminist founder Gloria Steinem assesses its impact. We’d like to know what The Pill means to you.
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City Controller Wendy Greuel chases the money

Los Angeles can’t find nearly a million dollars worth of equipment it bought. It didn’t all just walk away – did it? While L.A.’s government was busy losing valuable equipment the city is also facing a cash crunch that comes to a head this week when the DWP commission decides if it will transfer $73 million to the city coffers. City controller Wendy Greuel’s on the case, and by the way, she has some ideas on how to fix the budget.
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Faisal Shahzad was a naturalized American citizen, college-educated engineer who lived and worked a seemingly normal life in suburban Connecticut. He is also the new face of American terrorism, arrested last night on an airplane about to take off for Dubai for his role in planting a failed car bomb in the middle of Times Square. Much remains unknown about Shahzad and his plot, but so far he has admitted to driving the explosives-laden Pathfinder into New York City and to receiving bomb training in Pakistan when he traveled there for several months last year. Is this the blueprint for future terror suspects here in the U.S.—well educated, foreign born but legally in the country or perhaps even American citizens? Can the next Faisal Shahzad be stopped before he strikes again?
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The season of budget despair is almost upon us in California—as the fiscal year end looms on June 30th and California yet again faces a multi-billion dollar budget deficit, the latest cheery news is that the state’s revenue projections are way down. Tax collections for April were abysmal, roughly $3 billion behind what the state expected, which promises to make an already agonizing budget process even more difficult. So once again California’s legislature and voters are left with tough decisions on what programs to cut and what taxes to raise, and there’s another consideration: the state’s spending gap on prisons vs. education is growing wildly, with some $52,000 spent per inmate for one year of incarceration vs. $7,400 spent per student for one year of K-12 public schooling. Should California be spending that much more on prisoners than on its young students?
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