A year in the making: Compensating the wrongfully convicted

Courtesy David Gross/NCIP

Dear friends, family, and colleagues,

After more than a year of hard work, the story that began as my master’s thesis and turned into an investigative project for California Watch has finally been published. It ran on the front pages of the San Francisco Chronicle and the Bakersfield Californian, and is also available on the California Watch website. If you have a few minutes, please check out my article and the accompanying video:
Here are the links to the versions that appeared in the Chronicle and the Californian:

California Watch: Cockfighting rings widespread in Calif.

Cockfighting, the ancient blood sport in which armed roosters fight to the death while onlookers bet on the outcome, is widespread throughout California, according to an animal advocacy organization.

California Watch previously reported that cockfighting is on the rise here, one of the few states where those caught participating in the activity are not charged with a felony . . .


Cockfighting rings widespread in Calif., data shows | California Watch.

California Watch: Big money for some redevelopment officials

As the state’s redevelopment agencies face being shut down under Gov. Jerry Brown’s recent budget proposal, the six-figure salaries some agency employees take home could come under increased scrutiny.

The state’s 400 redevelopment agencies are under intense public pressure to prove that they should continue to receive roughly $5 billion per year in property taxes to address blight. Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed eliminating the agencies to help close California’s $25 billion budget gap . . . Some redevelopment officials earn big money | California Watch.

California Watch: Cockfighting gaining popularity

Courtesy heypatrick/Flickr

Cockfighting is on the rise in California, one of the few states where first-time offenders are not charged with a felony for participating in the blood sport, according to the Humane Society of the United States.

Legislators say that making cockfighting a felony isn’t possible when the state already has a problem with overcrowded prisons.

Cockfighting statistics are difficult to compile, but animal rights advocates at theHumane Society have noted a significant increase in the number of cockfighting incidents reported by local law enforcement officials  . . . (more)

California Watch: Brown targets 4,000-plus state employee cars

When Gov. Jerry Brown announced last month that he would eliminate half of the state’s official car fleet, he wasn’t just referring to the autos used by the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

Data from a June 2010 Department of General Services survey indicates that more than 60 state agencies have a total of 4,500 permits to store taxpayer-funded cars at the residence of an employee. This number does not include vehicles that are stored somewhere other than a residence, or vehicles that have an exemption because they are necessary for health and safety operations . . . (more)