* Do budget cuts lead to better schools? Last year California public schools honcho Jack O'Connell warned that budget cuts would interrupt "the last decade of progress in statewide student test scores." Now the cuts (or some of them) have happened, yet as Pepperdine student Evelyn B. Stacey notes, test scores are going up around the state: "At Los Angeles Unified, all grades increased in English-language arts, with the highest gains coming in fifth grade with 49 percent of students scoring at or above proficient in 2010, up from 43 percent the year before. On the state math exam, 37 percent of Los Angeles eighth graders scored at or above the proficient level, an increase from the 31 percent the year previously."
* Public utility tries to get around state law: In a mini-Prop 23 reenactment, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has persuaded a state assemblyman to rewrite a bill to delay some new regulations on use of ocean water. DWP says it screwed up the math and just now realized that if the regs are enacted, the utility will have to spend $2.3 billion on plant upgrades and raise electric rates by 6 percent.
* Newsom furioso: If you enjoyed yesterday's Abel Maldonado video attack on Gavin Newsom (Honest Abel's opponent in the always nailbiting lieutenant governor race), the beautiful mayor of San Francisco says you oughts ta be ashamed.
* Daily Bell from the L.A. Times: Original reporters Jeff Gottlieb and Ruben Vives return to the story with details of how city council members added $1,574.65 a month to their salaries for sitting in board meetings: "Take the meeting of July 31, 2006. The Planning Commission met from 8 p.m to 8:03 p.m. The Redevelopment Agency followed from 8:03 to 8:04, the Surplus Property Authority from 8:05 to 8:06, the Housing Authority from 8:06 to 8:07 and the Public Finance Authority from 8:07 to 8:08."
* Horsefeathers: Assembly Speaker John Perez (D-Los Angeles) sponsors a bill that would allow exchange betting -- in which gamblers can bet for and against the ponies -- at California racetracks. Is it the equine equivalent of the "complex financial instruments that nearly brought down the economy two years ago"? Will giving customers more freedom cause tracks to cut jobs? Track owners are making these and other claims as they urge lawmakers to vote neigh on what they call the "California Bookie Amendment."