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KSBR News Briefs on Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017

Judge likely to strike down ballot title for gas tax repeal

In a tentative ruling a judge has concluded our state attorney general wrote a misleading description of a ballot initiative to repeal the recently approved gas tax increase.

Sacramento County Superior Court judge Timothy Frawley wrote in his tentative opinion Attorney General Xavier Becerra's official ballot description would likely confuse voters because it focuses on the loss of transportation funding rather than the repeal of taxes. He wrote, "The problem with the Attorney General's title and summary is that an ordinary, reasonable elector, who is otherwise unfamiliar with the initiative, wouldn’t be able to discern what the initiative would do."

Frawley will hear arguments tomorrow on the ballot title and summary, which appears on petition forms and the ballot. Judges rarely reverse their decision after issuing a tentative ruling.

Republican Assemblyman Travis Allen, a candidate for governor, is backing the repeal initiative and brought the lawsuit against Becerra's ballot title. The description must be finalized before Allen and his allies can begin collecting signatures in an attempt to put the repeal bill on the November 2018 ballot.

Lawmakers voted in April to boost gas taxes and vehicle fees to raise $5 billion a year for road repairs. Starting Nov. 1, gas taxes will rise by $0.12 per gallon and diesel taxes by $0.20.

 

Governors, John Kerry promote 15-state Climate Alliance

Governors and former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry are championing a 15-state coalition that's tackling environmental issues.

New York's Andrew Cuomo, our state’s Jerry Brown and Washington's Jay Inslee — all Democrats, like Kerry — held a press conference in New York to promote the bipartisan U.S. Climate Alliance .

The politicians say, among other things, that alternative energy is good for the economy.

They took some jabs at Republican President Trump, who has said the United States is pulling out of the Paris climate agreement to combat global warming.

Paris deal supporters, including Kerry, have predicted Trump's withdrawal would cause almost irreparable damage to America's standing abroad and potentially its ability to negotiate diplomatic agreements.

The alliance positions itself as an alternative to accomplish environmental goals.

 

California sues Trump administration to prevent border wall

Our state’s attorney general has sued the Trump administration over its plan to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico, arguing it's overstepping its authority by waiving environmental reviews and other laws.

The suit filed by Democrat Attorney General Xavier Becerra makes arguments similar to those made in a lawsuit brought last week by advocacy groups.

Both lawsuits aim to stop the design, planning and construction on the wall.

The cases are particularly focused on halting the construction of wall prototypes in San Diego and the replacement of barriers there and in Calexico, California.

Asked about the lawsuits, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions says the U.S. government has a responsibility to secure the border.

 

Woman convicted of writing illegal prescriptions

A former Fountain Valley physician assistant has been convicted of federal drug-trafficking charges for allegations that she wrote prescriptions for narcotics without a medical purpose.

The Orange County Register reports a jury had found 32-year-old Kaitlyn Nguyen guilty of illegally distributing oxycodone, methadone and alprazolam in 2012. Prosecutors say four people had died of drug overdoses after receiving prescriptions from Nguyen.

Dr. Victor Siew, who ran the Fountain Valley medical clinic during the crimes, was sentenced last week to nearly six years in prison after pleading guilty to two counts of illegal distribution of a controlled substance.

Prosecutors say the doctor and his assistant issued prescriptions without a medical need in exchange for cash and insurance payments.

 

Dana Point

The Dana Point City Council heard the results of the Community wide survey.

Mayor Debra Lewis says 11-hundred people were interviewed.

The results show 73 percent support a city wide ban on smoking in public places.

She says that breaks down to 61 percent strong support, 12 percent somewhat support and 20 percent oppose the proposed ban.

Lewis says when asked if the city was moving in the right direction, 50 percent of residents polled in the city said it was, but if they were questioned in a neighborhood, the positive response jumps to 60 percent. In both cases, 30 percent said the city was moving in the wrong direction.

Lewis says the poll showed concerns remain on homelessness, group homes and growth.

 

San Juan Capistrano

The San Juan Capistrano City Council has directed a contractor to work on two proposed designs for the Verdugo Street Beautification Project.

Verdugo Street is the one leading to the train depot off of Camino Capistrano and is considered a Gateway to the city.

Mayor Kerry Ferguson says one design includes having marked pedestrian pathways from the train depot, with enhanced landscaping, lighting and upgraded benches.

She says the second design would include all the enhancements in the first design, but Verdugo Street would be what she calls a “zig, zag,” instead of a two lane road.

The contractor is expected to present the designs to Council at the beginning of next year.