In today's news we see:
California drivers could be offered a new -- and often cheaper -- kind of car insurance next year under a voluntary pay-as-you-drive plan proposed Wednesday by Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner. His plan would base annual rates partly on the exact number of miles driven and would allow people to pay less if they drive less. Poizner issued proposed regulations spelling out the plan, and the state's insurers Wednesday were enthusiastic about the idea but wanted to see more details. Two out of three households in the state could save an average of $276 per vehicle, and lower-income people, who generally use their cars less than the middle class or the wealthy, might save even more, said a July study by the Brookings Institution in Washington. However, some high-mileage drivers might see their rates increase by opting for pay as you drive, the Brookings report said.
Martin Sheen, the politically liberal actor who has advocated a tough-love approach to drug addiction, is teaming up with California law-and-order groups to lead the charge against an initiative that would increase funding for rehabilitation programs. The No on Proposition 5 Campaign announced Wednesday that Sheen would serve as its co-chairman and as the most prominent figure in the battle against the November ballot measure. The opponents said the initiative is too soft on addicts because it would expand the pool of offenders who could be diverted from serving jail or prison time by undergoing treatment. Sheen, in publicly describing his battles with alcoholism and efforts to help his son, actor Charlie Sheen, to stop abusing drugs, has said the threat of jail time by a judge is needed to force addicts to commit to recovery. "Fighting drug addiction is very close to my heart," Sheen, who was not available for an interview, said in a statement released by the campaign. "I believe in rehabilitation and not incarceration. But successful rehabilitation needs accountability and so often demands direct intervention in the life of someone who is addicted to drugs." Charlie Sheen, who overdosed on drugs in 1998, once described walking into an intervention by family members to get him into rehabilitation. And Martin Sheen has said that long ago, he landed in jail several times for being drunk and disorderly.
The California Department of Corrections is preparing new guidelines for gay marriages in prisons in response to the court ruling that legalized gay marriage in California.
Under the new rules, gay inmates will have the same marriage rights as straight ones: They'll be able to marry non-inmates, but will be barred from marrying other inmates. With straight inmates, this rule has rarely had an immediate impact, given that male and female prisoners are housed in different facilities. However, Corrections is maintaining the policy in single-sex institutions in order to prevent intimidation and harassment, according to department press secretary Seth Unger. Otherwise, Unger said, prisoners found out to have money or other assets might find themselves coerced into marriages with more powerful inmates, who then might try to lay claim to half of their net worth.
Officials at the Manchester Financial Group have argued for weeks that a boycott by gay rights and union groups hasn't hurt business at its two San Diego hotels, the Manchester Grand Hyatt and The Grand Del Mar.
But a top company official, in an e-mail obtained by The San Diego Union-Tribune, painted a different picture, saying the boycott could have dire consequences for hotel owner Doug Manchester that could cost him millions of dollars in lost business.
In a July 29 e-mail to Manchester, Paul Wilkins, chief financial officer for the group, said he believed “this boycott effort will cost you millions of dollars of lost revenue and possibly tens of millions of dollars in lost value for both the Manchester Grand Hyatt and The Grand Del Mar.”
Wilkins, who did not return several phone calls seeking comment, also warned about the dangers of alienating the gay community, which he called a “large and very affluent market segment.”
Further, he said The Grand Del Mar “is still struggling financially” 10 months after opening and the “absolute last thing The Grand needs right now is a boycott.”
Gay rights and labor unions called the boycott in July to protest Manchester's donation of $125,000 to Proposition 8, which would amend the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage.
Manchester's money, along with contributions by several other prominent San Diego residents, helped provide the funding to put the initiative on the November ballot.
The measure would overturn a California Supreme Court decision in May that paved the way for California to follow Massachusetts as the second state in the nation to allow same-sex marriages.
Since the boycott began, several groups, including the county retirement board and the Association of American Law Schools, canceled events at the Manchester Hyatt, one of the largest hotels on the West Coast.
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