|Abe & George|
Ex-Pasadena employee accused of embezzling $6.4 million has bail reduced (Pasadena Star News - link): A former Pasadena employee accused of embezzling $6.4 million from the city’s public works department asked for mercy Friday from a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge considering his case.
After a brief hearing, Judge Sergio C. Tapia II reduced bail for Danny Ray Wooten, 51, of Montclair from $1.75 million to $650,000. Tapia also lifted a hold on the bail that would have kept Wooten in jail.
“I would like to think that he will be somewhere preaching Sunday morning,” said Christopher Darden, an attorney for Wooten, after the hearing.
Wooten, a former pastor of New Covenant Church in Pomona, was stripped of his church duties shortly after he was arrested Dec. 30.
In assuring the court that the pastor would not leave the country, Darden said Wooten first learned of the allegations almost a year ago when rumors of an investigation “floated about.”
Investigators contacted Wooten in June, and yet, “Danny Wooten didn’t run,” Darden said.
In a separate interview Darden, a prosecutor in the 1994 O.J. Simpson double murder trial, called the case “unique” and “interesting” because of the accusations against a man who he described as “a good guy” and a “man of faith.”
“They’re accusing him of taking and then utilizing the money really for good,” Darden said. “I’m sure people in Pasadena are upset about all of this, as I guess any taxpayer should be, but before people try and burn him at the stake (consider that) this is a man who’s lead an exemplary life and is deserving of our consideration.”
(Mod: Great. We now have an actual O.J. Simpson connection. For the record I have always said that Pasadena City Hall would do very little beyond covering its cumulative large posterior over Embezzlegate. I think events have now borne me out. Beck is still City Manager, and those running the Tornek and Robinson campaigns for Mayor have successfully buried the City Council incompetency/responsibility issue as well. What an ungodly mess of a city government.)
Frozen raccoon at Temple City market may have come from Florida, officials say (Pasadena Star News - link): After receiving a complaint about the sale of whole raccoons at Metro Supermarket at 4819 Temple City Blvd., the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and the state Department of Fish and Wildlife launched an investigation this week to determine whether raccoon meat sold by grocery stores in the county is safe to eat.
Raccoon meat is considered “game animal” under the California Health and Safety Code and can be sold as food if it comes from an approved source.
Janice Mackey, a spokeswoman for the state department, said they’ve traced the animals at the Temple City market to a wholesaler, who they believe got the raccoons from Florida. Mackey declined to give any more details about the distributor, saying the investigation was ongoing.
Officials have not said how many markets are involved in the investigation. At least two Asian markets in the San Gabriel Valley, including Metro Supermarket, have been instructed to stop selling raccoon meat.
(Mod: Poor Rocky. Somebody call Paul McCartney.)
Assemblymember Mike Gatto Accused Of Blocking Statewide Condom In Porn Bill (Huffington Post - link): An AIDS activist group is targeting a San Fernando Valley assemblyman, claiming he is blocking efforts to pass a bill that would require the use of condoms in all porn productions statewide.
The lawmaker, Assemblyman Mike Gatto, however, says the bill in question isn't even before the Assembly at the moment.
AIDS Healthcare Foundation, a group that supports AB 640, called Gatto "a pornographer's best friend," and said the Assemblyman is standing in the way of the bill's passage.
"What this comes down to is one man who is preventing this from coming to the vote," said AHF president Michael Weinstein "He's serving the interests of the pornographers."
As a result, AHF says it plans to make robo-calls to 100,000 residents in the Democrat's San Fernando Valley district this weekend.
(Mod: As we have already reported, Assemblyman Gatto is actively supporting Sierra Madre resident Larry Torres for our PUSD Board of Education seat.)
Foreign cash, red flags: The case for making US realtors report suspicious activity (Quartz - link): A wave of billions of dollars in foreign money, some of it fleeing tax authorities, unfriendly political regimes and anti-corruption investigations at home, has flowed into US real estate in recent years, leaving the country dotted with high-end homes owned by often-absentee landlords.
Over a dozen foreign nationals who own multimillion-dollar condos in Manhattan’s Time Warner building have been the subject of government investigations overseas, the New York Times reports. New York magazine dubbed the city’s real estate “the new Swiss bank account” last year, after an ICIJ investigation found “corrupt politicians, tax dodgers and money launderers around the globe” were buying properties. In Miami, Russian and Chinese buyers are fueling another boom in luxury condo construction, just six years after the industry’s historic crash there.
When eyeing other liquid, high-ticket assets in the US, like bonds or public shares, foreign purchasers come under a lot more scrutiny from regulators and market makers, but investing in the property market allows them to be nearly anonymous.
(Mod: Interesting concept. Real estate agents as launderers for foreign money smugglers. As the slogan says, "No One Has More Experience Or Expertise To Help You Than An Agent Who Is A Realtor.")
Why Tesla's battery for your home should terrify utilities - Elon Musk's electricity empire could mean a new type of power grid (The Verge - link): Earlier this week, during a disappointing Tesla earnings call, Elon Musk mentioned in passing that he’d be producing a stationary battery for powering the home in the next few months. It sounded like a throwaway side project from someone who’s never seen a side project he doesn’t like. But it’s a very smart move, and one that’s more central to Musk’s ambitions than it might seem.
To understand why, it helps to look not at Tesla, but at SolarCity, a company chaired by Musk and run by his cousin Lyndon Rive. SolarCity installs panels on people’s roofs, leases them for less than they’d be paying in energy bills, and sells surplus energy back to the local utility. It’s proven a tremendously successful model. Founded in 2006, the company now has 168,000 customers and controls 39 percent of the rapidly expanding residential solar market.
Fueled by financing systems like SolarCity’s, government subsidies, and a rapid drop in the price of photovoltaics, solar has been growing fast. But with that growth, some of solar’s downsides are coming to the fore. Obviously, the sun isn’t always shining when you need power, and sometimes the sun is shining when you don’t need power. The former is a problem for the user, who needs to draw on the grid when it’s cloudy or dark; the latter is a problem for the grid, which needs to find a place for that excess energy to go. When there’s a lot of solar in the system, it can get hard to keep the grid balanced.
That’s part of the reason that California, with one of the most aggressive renewable energy mandates in the country, recently declared the most aggressive energy storage mandate as well, with a goal of 1.3 gigawatts of storage by 2020. As other states adopt intermittent renewables like solar and wind, they’ll need to install energy storage too, providing a ready and waiting market for Tesla’s batteries.
(Mod: Fascinating. The time is almost here when you will be able to dump Southern California Edison and live completely off their grid, 24 hours a day. Get an electric car and you'll have free electricity and transportation.)
CA bill would require bike helmets for all - Bicycle advocate says move would be counter productive (UTSanDiego.com - link): California would become the first state in the nation to require all adults wear a helmet while bicycling, under a bill introduced this week.
It appears the all-ages helmet bill could be in for a short ride, though, as even bicycle advocates say it’s the wrong approach to bike safety.
“We don’t support mandating helmet use because the name of the game (to promote bike safety) is increasing bicycling. And this type of legislation has been shown to do just the opposite,” said Andy Hanshaw, executive director of the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition.
“We encourage helmet use but we’re not in favor of mandates,” Hanshaw added.
The California Bicycle Coalition opposes a helmet mandate for similar reasons, it told the Sacramento Bee. Sen. Carol Liu, D-La Cañada Flintridge, introduced the bill on Wednesday. She said public safety is at the heart of her legislation.
“Any responsible bicycle rider should wear a helmet,” Liu said in a press release. “This law will help protect more people and make sure all riders benefit from the head protection that a helmet provides.”
(Mod: Lookie Liu, wouldn't you know it. Too bad Sacramento doesn't want to do things such as help create jobs, or reduce some of the highest state tax burdens in the U.S. Instead it wants to be your mommy. Most of us already have one.)
Sex offenders often targets as California prisons see high rate of homicides (Pasadena Star News - link): Shortly after 2 a.m. on April 6, 2010, a guard at Salinas Valley State Prison noticed Alan Ager’s cellmate trying to stuff something under a mattress. It was Ager, blood trickling from his mouth and a cloth noose tied around his neck.
The convicted child molester died 10 days later without regaining consciousness, his death earning his cellmate a second life sentence.
California state prison inmates are killed at a rate that is double the national average and sex offenders like Ager account for a disproportionate number of victims, according to an Associated Press analysis of corrections records.
Male sex offenders made up about 15 percent of the prison population, but accounted for nearly 30 percent of homicide victims, the AP found in cataloging all 78 killings corrections officials reported since 2007, when they started releasing slain inmates’ identities and crimes.
The deaths — 23 out of 78 — come despite the state’s creation more than a decade ago of special housing units designed to protect the most vulnerable inmates, including sex offenders, often marked men behind bars because of the nature of their crimes.