President Barack Obama has made 17 visits to California since taking office in 2009. More than half have been strictly for fundraising, and 13 of the 17 have involved at least one fundraising event. Folks like Barbara Streisand and Dreamworks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg paid a minimum of $10,000 to hear Obama make a short speech last night at the home of Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn. Today, he’s holding a roundtable in Beverly Hills to raise money for Democrats. He’s also been feted at a gala for the USC Shoah Foundation. Director Steven Spielberg established the foundation to collect and preserve the testimony of Holocaust survivors. Spielberg presented Obama the group’s highest honor, for what organizers called his global efforts to protect human rights. Host Conan O’Brien took several digs at Obama for the traffic mess visited upon L.A. when he’s here. “There are two things that shut down traffic in this town,” O’Brien said, “a visit from the president and a light drizzle.”
The wife of L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling says she intends to hold on to the team. Shelly Sterling says the lifetime ban given by the NBA to her husband does not apply to her or other family members. Sterling says She’s hired a lawyer to guide her in her ownership quest. The NBA has not responded to Shelly Sterling’s comments. The League has said it wants a fresh start for the Clippers, which the Sterlings have owned for 33 years. There are concerns that advertisers will abandon the team and players will be reluctant to sign if any of the Sterlings retain ownership. The Clippers, by the way, lost the Oklahoma City Thunder 112-101 last night. Their second round playoff series is now tied 1 to 1. Game 3 is tomorrow night at Staples Center.
Three-hundred-and-forty-billion dollars – or about $5,800 for every Californian. That’s the amount of California’s long-time debt, according to a new report from the state’s non-partisan Legislative Analyst. Most of the debt is “unfunded liability.” That includes pension and retiree health care programs, especially the California State Teachers Retirement System, or CalSTRS. The state is also on the hook for bonds borrowed to pay for infrastructure projects and budget-balancing gimmicks used in previous years. The LAO says Gov. Jerry Brown and legislators must make paying down the debt a top priority now that the economy has improved.
A new Metro survey finds that sexual harassment is a significant problem on L.A. trains and buses. Roughly 20 percent of riders – one in five people – say they have felt unsafe in the past month because of unwanted touching, comments or other forms of sexual behavior. Metro officials are vowing to take a close look at the survey results. L.A. sheriff’s deputies have also been boarding buses more frequently in recent weeks. The survey comes a week after an L.A. man pleaded guilty to raping a developmentally disabled woman on a Metro bus.
A push to ban filtered cigarettes in California has been snuffed out . Mark Stone, a lawmaker from Scotts Valley near Santa Cruz, introduced a bill to ban filters in an effort to eliminate cigarette butt waste on the state’s roadways and beaches. Stone says research does not show that filters have health benefits for smokers, so getting rid of them would be a public good. But critics said the proposed butt ban could have health repercussions, as well as implications for fire safety. The bill was voted down 13-2 in committee and will not make it to the Assembly floor.