When it rains

March 7, 2011 1:24:55 PM PST
A day of downpours, and now in some parts of our area it's simply a mess. Often a flooded mess. Cars and drivers stranded. Homes under water. Some dramatic rescues today. We're out and about in it tonight at 11, as the hardest-hit areas figure out how long it will take to clean up.

Meanwhile, the sun was so brilliant today, unless your home was flooded, you wouldn't know the rains of Sunday that brought catastrophe also brought out the first signs of spring. The tips of Crocus plants are popping up, as are the first chutes of Tulips. And if you look carefully at the trees, the first inklings of buds are showing up. Gray still to be sure. But holding the promise of color, and spring.

How long will this sunshine last? And have we seen the last winter storm of the season? Mid-March snow storms are hardly unheard of in these here parts. Meteorologist Lee Goldberg has his AccuWeather forecast.

Also at 11, we're following a couple of stories that involve taxpayer money. The first is in New Jersey, where Gov. Chris Christie, who has been on a budget-cutting tear, continues his campaign: Layoff notices were sent to 100 more workers at the state's Casino Control Commission. That means that out of 261 Commission workers, 258 have been laid off.

The workers are supposed to be regulating Atlantic City casinos, but it's not the state that's saving money, it's the casinos. That's became the 11 gaming palaces pay for workers salaries. Laying them off will save the casinos - not taxpayers - millions of dollars.

So congratulations to the casinos. As for the taxpayers - one could wonder what happens to those who go to the casinos. Are the casinos now self-policing?

Some of the fired workers have gotten jobs at the state Division of Gaming Enforcement - a branch of the Attorney General's office. But de-regulation is in full bloom in the Garden State, even if the taxpayers weren't paying for it.

Speaking of taxpayers paying - quite a little scandal in a county in Memphis, Tennessee. One official in Shelby County has been giving workers extra paid days off, in exchange for their donations to the United Way. It's a wonderfully charitable thought, except that taxpayers are getting the shaft.

The system works like this: For a $50 donation, a worker gets one day off. Three days off costs $150. A full week is $250.

So far, workers have donated $23,456 to the United Way.

The downside for taxpayers is that it cost them $63,000 in salaries.


Also at 11, we'll have the latest in the Bush Administration's - ooops, I mean the Obama Administration's keep-Guantanamo-open campaign. The President who vowed to shut down Guantanamo Bay is now apparently bent on keeping it open. Today the White House issued an executive order to resume military commissions for detainees.

And our David Novarro takes a look at organ transplants, and comes up with a disturbing discovery: If you're waiting for, say, a liver transplant, you'll wait longer in New York than anywhere else in the country. So what to do about it? It's a fascinating story.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Rob Powers with the night's sports. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11.


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