Represent! | Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Whistleblower at facility for mentally ill prisoners claims he was blacklisted

Atascadero State Hospital, shown above in this 1999 photo, cares for more than 600 mentally ill patients.
Reed Saxon/AP

A psychiatrist who testified about dangerously low staffing at a facility that treats mentally ill inmates says he’s been blacklisted from working in California prisons.

Dr. Joel Badeaux, a former staff psychiatrist at the Salinas Valley Psychiatrist Program, told U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton that he’d co-signed a letter to the head of the SVPP warning that caseloads of up to 60 patients were too heavy.

“We didn’t feel we could safely take care of that many patients with the number of psychiatrists we had,” Badeaux explained.

Karlton ordered an investigation of SVPP following the testimony from Badeaux and others last month about problems at the unit, which is on the grounds of the state prison there.

Badeaux said he was blacklisted because of his testimony. In a July 17 letter to the judge, Badeaux wrote that “negative information may have been improperly placed into my state employee file which could negatively affect my ability to gain employment anywhere for the rest of my career as a psychiatrist.”


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Nury Martinez makes appearance at City Hall, supporters take victory lap

Former Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education member Nury Martinez defeated former Assemblywoman Cindy Montañez in Tuesday's special election to fill the Sixth District Los Angeles City Council seat.
clcv/Flickr Creative Commons

L.A. City Council President Herb Wesson runs the show at City Hall — from presentations to deals to votes — and even when things don’t go his way, he tries to make up for it in conspicuous fashion.

That was the scene Friday at the Los Angeles City Council meeting where Sixth District Councilwoman-elect Nury Martinez made an appearance. Earlier this week, Wesson congratulated Martinez’s high-profile supporters and today he gave them the floor to make speeches about themselves and Martinez.

Actually, he did so after publicly calling himself “an idiot” for endorsing Martinez's opponent, Cindy Montañez, and telling Martinez — the only female on the 15-member council — that she will be in charge of Women’s Day at City Hall.

The first supporter to take the floor was U.S. Rep. Tony Cardenas, who represented the Sixth District in the San Fernando Valley until he joined Congress  in January. 


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Central Basin Water District sues vendor as it reviews all finances

The Central Basin Municipal Water District, which serves 24 cities in Southeast L.A. County, is reviewing all of its vendor contracts, spending and investments in the wake of a federal investigation and $482,000 deficit.
Damian Dovarganes/AP

Officials with the Central Basin Municipal Water District are reviewing records from all their vendors in the wake of alleged overbilling from one long-time contractor, the agency’s general manager said Friday.

The financial review is occurring at the same time the general manager and finance director are combing through discretionary spending and revamping the water district’s investment portfolio.

Late last month, the water district's board approved a 2013-14 budget that projects $11 million in expenses and an estimated deficit of $482,000.

The Central Basin Municipal Water District is a water wholesaler that serves two million people in 24 cities in southeast Los Angeles County. It was subpoenaed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office last month as part of an ongoing investigation into State Senator Ron Calderon. His brother, Tom Calderon, was a consultant for the district for 10 years, during which time he received almost $1 million in contracts. Federal officials have also sought to question Tom Calderon.  


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Maven's Morning Coffee: costly sick days for DWP, voting rights in Palmdale, proposal to eliminate sidewalk fees

The Department of Water and Power has paid out more than $35 million in three years for employees' extra sick days.

Good morning, readers. Welcome to the Maven's Morning Coffee -- a listing of the important headlines, news conferences, votes and announcements you need to know to fuel up and tackle your day.

The Maven's Morning Coffee is also available as a daily email. Click here to subscribe.

Today is Friday, July 26, and here is what's happening in Southern California politics:


The Department of Water and Power has paid out more than $35 million since 2010 in extra sick days for employees, according to the Los Angeles Times. In fact, DWP employees can take off an unlimited number of sick days. "You'd expect a work ethic in a group like that. Of course, there are always people who abuse," said Fred Pickel, the ratepayer advocate.

The Times also reports that the union that represents DWP workers is looking for a contract that would forgo raises until 2016 and then give employees a 4 percent raise. "It's not good enough. Period. Mayor (Eric) Garcetti was elected with a clear mandate to bring real reform to the DWP, and that includes pensions, healthcare and salaries," according to a mayoral spokesman.


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Court finds Palmdale's at-large elections violate Voting Rights Act

The mayor of Palmdale says the city will appeal a court ruling that found at-large elections are keeping African-American and Latino residents from having fair representation.
City of Palmdale

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge has found the city of Palmdale's at-large elections have led to racial polarization. 

According to the court opinion issued Thursday, the city of Palmdale violated the California Voting Rights Act by continuing to hold at-large elections that disenfranchised African-American and Latino residents. More than half of Palmdale's population is Latino, yet of the city's five council members, just one is Latino. And the city has never had an African-American representative, even though blacks makes up 15 percent of Palmdale's population.

"Nobody likes to give up power. Nobody likes to share power. That's just a human condition," said R. Rex Parris, one of the attorneys who brought the case against Palmdale. He grew up in Palmdale and is now the mayor of nearby Lancaster.

"When you have diverse [cities] such as Lancaster and Palmdale, to bar minority representation in any fashion can only lead to more and more strife and more and more bad decisions," Parris said. 

But Palmdale Mayor Jim Ledford disagrees. He said Palmdale is an integrated city, and believes the appointed city commissions represent its diversity. Ledford believes the wave of lawsuits challenging cities with at-large elections is motivated by one thing: money.

"I think you look at the 20-year history, you see very little strife or conflict," Ledford said. "But now I believe — and this applies to all cities in California — we are under siege by these trial lawyers because this is a payday. This isn't about voting rights, this is about green. It's not about black, white or brown. It's about green."


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