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Connecting the Dots: Top news stories for Tuesday, March 13, 2012


California's $9.2 billion budget deficit could grow, due to a proposed change to the investment forecast of CalPERS, California’s pension fund. The rate has not been changed since 2003. In 2010, CalPERS return on investment was over 20%, but it was 1.1% in 2011. If CalPERS decides to adjust its investment forecast from 7.75% to 7.25%, the cost of CalPERS could jump up by $425 million come July 1…

Pension costs are not the only things that jump in California. So do frogs, but they are facing a plague of their own. Two researchers from San Francisco State University have discovered that the Pacific chorus frog is plagued by a fungus that is deadly to other frogs, toads and newts. The chorus frog itself seems unaffected by the fungus, but biologists fear one of the worst animal population crashes in history…

State Senator Rob Calderon wants to make drunk driving history with a new bill that would reward civilians for reporting drunk drivers. If a person called in to report a drunk driver who is later found guilty, he or she would receive a $100 reward…

PG&E is receiving the opposite of rewards this week. In addition to paying $70 million to the city of San Bruno in the wake of the 2010 pipeline explosion, two new reports condemn the company’s record keeping. The reports say documents that supposedly map thousands of miles of high-pressure gas lines are in such disarray that it would be extremely difficult to proactively identify and remove substandard piping…

Assemblyman Mike Gatto’s is hoping to decrease violence at sporting events by creating a “Ban List” for violent fans. Soccer leagues in Italy and England have adopted similar strategies, but critics worry that it may send a mixed message to ban violent felons who commit their crimes at sporting arenas while admitting those who commit their crimes elsewhere…

The Lincoln Club, which advocated for the controversial Citizens United Supreme Court case, is now pushing for campaign finance reform to “stop the flow of special-interest money from corporations and unions to Sacramento.” Critics remain skeptical and wonder about the Club’s true intentions, given their historical support for weaker campaign contribution rules.


CrosscurrentsConnecting the Dots