Tuesday, June 30, 2015

California Public Employee Pensions Among Investors Harmed by Private Equity Firm's Breach of Fiduciary Duty

by Darwin BondGraham
Tue, Jun 30, 2015 at 3:22 PM

Henry Kravis, co-founder of the KKR private equity firm. - WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM
  • World Economic Forum
  • Henry Kravis, co-founder of the KKR private equity firm.
The private equity firm KKR was hit yesterday by the Securities and Exchange Commission with a $10 million fine, and was ordered to disgorge profits of $18.6 million for allegedly harming investors in its buyout funds by forcing them to shoulder expensive fees. Among the “limited partner” investors who lost money to KKR were multiple California public employee pensions funds, including the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) and the California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS).

The SEC accused KKR of breaching its fiduciary duty to its limited partners by charging these investors “broken deal expenses” while allowing the firm's executives, who were also co-investors in the fund’s buyout deals, to not pay these same fees. The fees are incurred when a buyout deal falls apart.

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Tuesday Must Reads: Judge Orders Oakland Council to Reopen Gallery; Vaccination Bill Heads to Governor Brown

by Robert Gammon
Tue, Jun 30, 2015 at 9:56 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

Lynette Gibson McElhaney.
  • Lynette Gibson McElhaney.
1. An Alameda County Superior Court judge ordered the Oakland City Council to reopen the council chamber’s upstairs gallery to the public, following complaints that the council was illegally restricting access to council meetings inside City Hall, the Trib$ reports. Council President Lynette Gibson McElhaney had ordered the gallery closed two months ago after activists who were upset about the proposed sale of public land to a luxury condo developer shut down a council meeting. Gibson McElhaney had claimed that the upstairs gallery, which seats about one hundred people, created a safety problem, but the city failed to provide any evidence of that assertion.

2. A bill that would require all California schoolchildren to be vaccinated — unless they obtain a medical waiver — passed both houses of the legislature and was sent to Governor Jerry Brown for his approval, the Mercury News$ reports. Brown has not said whether he will sign or veto SB 277, which had faced fierce opposition from the anti-vaxx movement.

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Monday, June 29, 2015

Monday Must Reads: Supreme Court Ruling Greenlights Lethal Injections; High Court Also Blocks Regulations of Coal Plants

by Robert Gammon
Mon, Jun 29, 2015 at 10:02 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The US Supreme Court voted 5-4 to okay the use of a controversial drug that played a part in three botched executions last year, The New York Times$ reports. The high court’s conservative majority rejected arguments made by inmates and civil libertarians who contended that the sedative midazolam is ineffective and makes lethal injections cruel and unusual. The Supreme Court’s ruling will greenlight executions across the United States and is expected to jumpstart them in California, the AP reports (via the Trib$).

coal_fired_power_plant.jpg
2. The Supreme Court conservative majority also prevailed in 5-4 decision that blocked the Obama administration’s attempts to curb mercury and other toxic emissions from coal power plants, The New York Times$ reports. The high court ruled that the US Environmental Protection Agency should have conducted a financial cost-benefit analysis of its power plant regulations. Fossil fuel companies contended that it would have cost $9.6 billion to comply with the EPA’s rules.

3. The Supreme Court also upheld Arizona’s independent redistricting law, with Justice Anthony Kennedy, a moderate conservative, joining the liberal wing of the court, The New York Times$ reports. Republicans had sued to overturn voter-approved independent redistricting, contending that it illegally infringed on the power of legislatures. The high court’s decision also likely upholds California’s independent redistricting commission, which also was approved by voters, the Bay Area News Group$ reports.

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Friday, June 26, 2015

Oakland's New Recycling Program Offers Expanded Composting, Bulky Pickup Services

by Sam Levin
Fri, Jun 26, 2015 at 12:16 PM

click image CITY OF OAKLAND
  • City of Oakland
After a long and contentious fight over Oakland's lucrative garbage contracts, the city is rolling out new services on July 1 — and for some residents, the program will bring new opportunities to recycle and compost. Under the new contract, Waste Management, the Texas-based corporation that sued the city last year after it initially lost the contracts, will be the exclusive provider of trash and composting services for Oakland residents and businesses while California Waste Solutions, an Oakland-based company, will be the sole provider of recycling services for all residents. Civicorps, a local nonprofit that provide youth job training programs, will also help provide composting services for businesses as part of the contract agreement. (Commercial recycling remains outside of the city's franchise). 

The most notable change under the new system is that composting services will now be available in all residences — including apartment buildings and condos over five units. Previously, only single-family homes automatically received "green bins" from Waste Management for food scraps and yard trimmings while owners of buildings with five or more units had to request and pay extra for composting. As a result, many Oakland renters have had no accessible way to compost, which means significant amounts of the East Bay's food scraps and green waste have gone to the landfill. 

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Bay Area Celebrates Historic Marriage Equality Ruling

by Sam Levin
Fri, Jun 26, 2015 at 11:48 AM

click image CITY OF OAKLAND
  • City of Oakland
Just in time for pride festivities in the Bay Area this weekend, the Supreme Court ruled today that same-sex couples have a right to marry across the country, prompting local celebrations in Oakland and beyond. The historic decision comes exactly two years after the Supreme Court dismissed an appeal over marriage equality in California, clearing the way for the state to resume marrying LGBT couples here and ending the prolonged dispute over Proposition 8. Now, those rights have expanded to couples in all fifty states — through a landmark ruling that, unsurprisingly, has earned the praise of local elected officials and LGBT advocates throughout the bay.

“With today’s Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage equality our Union is a little more perfect," Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said in a statement sent out this morning. "I am thankful for all of the visionaries and courageous couples who helped get us here. Now Americans in every corner of this nation will know what Oaklanders have for some time – our community is stronger when love wins.”

Oakland is consistently ranked as one of the most LGBT-friendly cities in the country, including having the honor of the highest per capita lesbian population in the country.   

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Friday Must Reads: Supreme Court Extends Gay Marriage Nationwide; Vaccine Bill Passes State Senate

by Robert Gammon
Fri, Jun 26, 2015 at 9:42 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

Anthony Kennedy.
  • Anthony Kennedy.
1. In a landmark decision, the US Supreme Court voted 5-4 to extend gay marriage nationwide, the Chron reports. The historic decision means gay marriage is now legal in all fifty states and the ruling struck down anti-same-sex-marriage laws in thirteen states that still had them on the books. Moderate Justice Anthony Kennedy of California wrote the majority opinion and was joined by the court’s four liberal members, Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan. The four conservative justices, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Chief Justice John Roberts, dissented.

2. A bill that would mandate that children be vaccinated before attending public or private schools — unless they obtain a medical waiver — passed the state Senate in a 46-30 vote, the Mercury News$ reports. The legislation, SB 277, would eliminate the personal belief exemption in California — a waiver that has allowed parents to avoid vaccinating their kids and has led to disease outbreaks. The bill now heads back to the Assembly for approval.

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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Richmond City Council Supports Just Cause Eviction Protections and Rent Control

by Lynda Carson
Thu, Jun 25, 2015 at 1:00 PM

On Tuesday, June 23, the Richmond City Council directed a draft ordinance to be prepared by city staff for presentation to the city council during its July meeting in the effort to establish long over-due just cause eviction protections and rent control in the city.

Gayle McLaughlin.
  • Gayle McLaughlin.
Tuesday evening's council vote was 4-2. Mayor Tom Butt and Councilmember Vinay Pimple voted against the motion and Councilmembers Eduardo Martinez, Jovanka Beckles, Jael Myrick, and Gayle McLaughlin voted in favor of the motion, with Councilmember Nat Bates declining to vote on the measure.

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Court Gives Healthcare District a Financial Lifeline, Thereby Raising Concerns for San Leandro Hospital

by Steven Tavares
Thu, Jun 25, 2015 at 12:45 PM

An Alameda County Superior Court judge has granted a hardship request by the Eden Township Healthcare District to pay the $19.7 million in damages it owes to Sutter Health over the next decade instead of a lump-sum payment that threatened the district’s financial viability. 

Dev Mahadevan.
  • Dev Mahadevan.
In the ruling issued last week, the court sided with the district’s petition to pay the $19.7 million over ten years plus interest based on the one-year Treasury bill rate. Eden Township Healthcare District CEO Dev Mahadevan said the elected board of directors is ready to make its first payment on June 30. Sutter Health could still appeal the hardship decision, but it is unlikely.

After the healthcare district, which covers much of Southern Alameda County, sued in 2009 to block a bid by Sutter Health to gain control of San Leandro Hospital and close its emergency room, a state court ruled in Sutter Health’s favor four years later. Damages from the estimated losses to Sutter Health, incurred at the hospital during the legal fight, were set at $19.7 million. The district, however, maintained that being forced to pay that amount all at once could force the public agency into bankruptcy.

In a side deal, Sutter Health had pledged to donate the $19.7 million to San Leandro Hospital’s new owner, Alameda Health Systems, along with $22 million to operate the hospital’s emergency room. The judge's ruling, thus, raises questions about the hospital's financial viability, since it will not be receiving the $19.7 million right away.

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Thursday Must Reads: Supreme Court Upholds Obamacare; Housing Study Shows Racial Disparities

by Robert Gammon
Thu, Jun 25, 2015 at 10:15 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

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1. The US Supreme Court voted 6-3 to uphold a key provision of Obamacare in a decision that likely means the president’s signature healthcare law is here to stay, the Chron reports. Opponents of the law had attempted to gut it by claiming that 34 states that did not set up their own insurance marketplaces should be stripped of federal subsidies. But the high court, with Chief Justice John Roberts writing the majority opinion, ruled that such a move would send Obamacare into a death spiral in those states, thus unfairly denying health insurance to millions of Americans.

2. A new comprehensive study from Stanford University reveals racial disparities for Blacks and Latinos in housing in what the authors called a “legacy of racism,” the Chron reports. The study found that even when Blacks and Latinos earn the same incomes as whites, they end up living in poorer neighborhoods.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Oakland Shelter Launches Program to Educate Faith Leaders on Domestic Violence

by Sophie Ho
Wed, Jun 24, 2015 at 3:54 PM

Carolyn Russell (second from right). - A SAFE PLACE
  • A Safe Place
  • Carolyn Russell (second from right).
A Safe Place, an Oakland-based shelter, has received a $180,000 grant to help faith-based communities provide support to victims of domestic violence — addressing a problem that executive director Carolyn Russell said is too often overlooked in the Bay Area. The shelter, which was founded in 1976, recently received the grant from Blue Shield, the health care provider, as part of its foundation program that invests in initiatives that provide aid to domestic violence survivors. 

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