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POSTED April 17, 2012 7:52 p.m.

ANALYST: CALIF. HIGH-SPEED RAIL PLAN STILL VAGUE: SACRAMENTO  (AP) — The state Legislative Analyst's Office said Tuesday that the latest plan to build a $68.4 billion high-speed rail system linking Northern and Southern California still relies on highly speculative financing, and it urged the state Legislature to reject funding until more details are ironed out.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority "has not provided sufficient detail and justification to the Legislature regarding its plan to build a high-speed rail system," the LAO said. "Important details regarding the very recent, significant changes in the scope and delivery of the project have not been sorted out."

The latest business plan, released earlier this month, trimmed the cost from an estimated $98 billion last year, but leaves it well above the $45 billion estimate given to voters in 2008 when they approved selling nearly $10 billion in bonds. The 520-mile San Francisco-to-Burbank system would be completed in 2028, relying on existing connector rail lines.

The report notes that the new plan still relies on at least $42 billion in federal funding. So far, California has been promised $3.3 billion in federal funds to start construction in the Central Valley, but the project also needs financing from the voter-approved bonds.

The LAO recommended that lawmakers reject Gov. Jerry Brown's request to start selling $2.6 billion in bonds to start construction until the rail authority gives more details about the latest plan, but it suggested lawmakers continue funding for the rail authority so the project could be pursued later.

CALIF. BILL TO PUNISH STUDENT-TEACHER DATING DIES : SACRAMENTO  (AP) — California lawmakers on Tuesday rejected a bill that would have made it a felony for teachers to date their students.

The legislation was prompted by the high-profile case of a 41-year-old Modesto teacher who left his wife and three children to move in with an 18 year-old student.

The Assembly Committee on Public Safety voted 3-0 against AB1861. Its two Republican members were absent, and one Democrat abstained from voting.

Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen, R-Modesto, who sponsored the bill, accused committee members of siding with predators.

"The committee today stood up for predators and union bosses instead of students," Olsen said in a phone interview. "We will continue to work hard to make sure that California passes this bill or something similar."

Olsen's bill would have made it a felony for a high school teacher to have a relationship with their student, regardless of the student's age. It also would have stripped offending teachers of their pensions and retiree health care benefits. In California, the age of consent is 18.

The bill was prompted by the relationship of teacher Christopher Hooker and student Jordan Powers. The two appeared on a number of national talk shows earlier this year and maintained they didn't have a sexual relationship until she turned 18.

EMAIL FROM WIFE'S ACCOUNT SHADOWS CALIF. TREASURER : SACRAMENTO  (AP) — California state treasurer Bill Lockyer is used to the public spotlight. Just not like this.

After a political career spanning four decades, Lockyer is drawing attention not for his job but for his marital troubles, his wife's substance abuse and her claim that she was roughed up by an ex-boyfriend at a motel room.

And with each new development, the story has taken ever stranger turns.

An email last week that appeared to be sent from Nadia Lockyer, herself a promising San Francisco Bay area politician, went to a newspaper, accusing her husband, a former state attorney general, of supplying her with drugs — a charge he denies.

"I simply can't bear this any longer. Goodbye to everyone," the note read. The newspaper, fearing for her safety, called police.

Nadia Lockyer, 40, didn't harm herself. Federal and state authorities will not say if they're investigating the drug allegation, but the state attorney general's office took over the probe of the incident involving her ex-boyfriend.

Despite it all, the 70-year-old Lockyer has "remained focused on doing the job he was elected to do," said his spokesman, Tom Dresslar.

POLICE ARREST WOMAN AFTER BODY FOUND : SAN DIEGO (AP) — Authorities arrested a woman Tuesday for investigation of murder after finding a body in their search for the missing wife of a U.S. Marine.

The body has not yet been identified as 22-year-old Brittany Killgore, who has been missing since Friday night, San Diego County sheriff's Capt. Duncan Frasier said.

Police provided no details on a possible motive or any evidence that led to the arrest.

Police arrested 27-year-old Jessica Lynn Lopez at a motel in San Diego. She was under guard at University of California, San Diego Medical Center with unspecified injuries.

SAN RAFAEL CONSIDERS TOUGHER SMOKING ORDINANCE: SAN RAFAEL (AP) — San Rafael is considering strengthening its smoking ordinance.

The City Council instructed staffers on Monday to beef up smoking restrictions at multi-unit housing complexes and in outdoor areas.

According to the Marin Independent Journal, city employees had recommended that smoking be banned in 75 percent of apartments in buildings with 16 units or more.

They had also called for smoking to be banned in all outdoor dining areas, at bus stops and on ATM machine lines.

But some council members said they would support even tougher rules for multi-unit housing.

POLICE ARREST GUARD, RECOVER TOM PETTY GUITARS: CULVER CITY  (AP) — It was a heartbreaker for Tom Petty and the band when someone stole five of their precious guitars from a soundstage, but it was music to their ears when police in Southern California announced Tuesday that the instruments had been recovered and a security guard was under arrest.

Police identified the arrested man as Daryl Emmette Washington, 51, of Los Angeles, a private security guard at The Culver Studios lot.

Police Chief Don Pedersen said the break in the case came when the suspect pawned one of the guitars at a Hollywood pawn shop for $250.

FINANCIER ACCUSED IN PONZI SCHEME SURRENDERS IN SF: SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A fugitive financier charged with bilking investors out of more than $129 million has turned himself in to federal authorities in San Francisco.

William Wise and Jacquline Hoegel of American Canyon are accused of running a Ponzi scheme in which victims believed they would get high returns on phony certificates of deposits issued by his bank.

The Raleigh News & Observer reports that Wise faces as many as 100 years in prison based on a 17-count indictment filed in February.

Richard Ropert, a Texas lawyer who acted as receiver in Wise's civil case, told the newspaper that the financier surrendered in California.

 

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