Archives for August 2011

Bill violates U.S. & State right to free speech: passes Assembly 65-12.

SB 488 is a bill by State Senator Lou Correa (D – Orange County), that imposes further regulations on election mailings, namely slate mail. While I am personally involved in producing some slates, I had nothing to do with prompting the lawyer who wrote the impartial analysis of the bill for the State Assembly, which opens with: “This measure could be interpreted to violate the U.S. Constitution and the California Constitution’s right to free speech.” With that, the California Assembly yesterday overwhelmingly passed the bill by a 65-12 vote, thus giving great satisfaction to the public employee union promoting this unconstitutional bill. The Legislators decided that they would rather pass an unconstitutional law than get a public employee union to campaign against them. I wonder if they ever considerated that the free speech lobby was also watching their votes? The Correa bill, if it passes the State Senate and if the Governor signs it, will be successfully challenged in Federal Court, at great legal expense to the California general fund, as so many other sinister anti-First Amendment bills have fallen. What a waste of money, and integrity.

Here is a link to the bill

Rick Perry addressing the California Republican Convention in 2007

Dream Act is Wrong for Undocumented Immigrant Students and Taxpayers

Governor Brown has supposedly pledged to sign AB 131 (the Dream Act).  It would grant qualified undocumented immigrants access to public funding normally reserved for legal residents to pursue a college education in California.

Dream Act proponents maintain that enacting it would contribute to the overall betterment of our society at relatively little cost to taxpayers.  However, the Dream Act would put into operation a costly policy that, as things now stand, would ultimately not benefit the very students who it is intended to help or the taxpayers who are funding it.

The Dream Act is wrong headed because it is a well known but, in this case, ignored fact that an undocumented immigrant student who obtains a college degree is nevertheless unable to work anywhere in this country legally.  Thus, after devoting time and effort obtaining an expensive (and taxpayer subsidized) education, such a student faces a future of (illegal) underemployment – if not of unemployment.

A Dream Act participant can realize his or her economic potential only if he or she possesses both an education and an opportunity to maximize its value, i.e., legally work.  To achieve that end, we cannot rely on singular efforts like the Dream Act.  Instead, the solution lays in comprehensive immigration reform which results in a permanent legalized presence in the U.S. for these students.  Moreover, the solution need not lead to automatic citizenship or expulsion.

It is high time we recognize that each affected undocumented immigrant student has very likely lived in the U.S. for most of his or her life.  To that student, this is home, now and forever.

The Dream Act might feel good to some, but, contrary to its name, it will only instill false hopes of gainful employment and plant the seeds of disillusionment.


(John Cruz is an attorney and practices law in Orange County, He served as the Appointments Secretary for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger from 2007 – 2010.)

Voters Fed up with Teachers Unions, poll shows

Apparently voters are becoming more and more fed up with the power of teachers unions and the way the adversely impact education and classroom outcomes for students. And a new Gallup poll confirms the increasingly negative view held about teachers unions.

As reported in the Education Radar newsletter:

According the Gallup survey, 71 percent of respondents said they have trust and confidence in the country’s teachers, while 47 percent said they believe the teachers unions have hurt education. A mere 26 percent believed unions have improved education.

“The general public is seeing the union as a … very hyper-political organization and they are realizing that they are often the biggest impediment to reform,” said Alexandra Schroeck, spokeswoman for the Association of American Educators, the nation’s largest non-union teacher organization. “The American public is waking up, and it’s interesting to see.”

The negative perception of teachers unions likely is fueled by recent debates on collective bargaining in Wisconsin, Indiana and other states, where the radical political positions of the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association have bubbled to the surface.

Los Angeles teachers union obstructing reform for LA schools

Larry Sands, writing forCity Journal California, outlined how the faltering LA Unified School District will have a hard time getting reforms enacted because of opposition from the powerful teachers union:

A major study on teacher quality makes clear just how sclerotic the Los Angeles Unified School District has become—but while the diagnosis and prescriptions are clear, the prognosis is far from certain. The National Council on Teacher Quality’s 58-page report, “Teacher Quality Roadmap: Improving Policies and Practices in LAUSD,” was commissioned by the United Way and several civil rights groups and paid for by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. While the report focuses on Los Angeles, many of its findings are applicable to other school districts around California, where collective bargaining agreements have hamstrung administrators and state laws supersede local policies.

Such studies are vital because they spotlight problems and prescribe a course of action, but they’re only half the battle. The other half, of course, requires implementing needed reforms. New LAUSD superintendent John Deasy welcomed the report, but he knows as well as anyone that the most effective reforms would require fundamentally revising the district’s collective bargaining agreement with the United Teachers of Los Angeles—something that the union and its bought-and-paid-for board of education are simply unwilling to do.

The report, published in June, urges major changes to the union contract and to state law. Teacher evaluations should be overhauled, along with tenure rules and work schedules. Rules should be changed that assign teachers to particular schools based on seniority considerations. Compensation should reward performance, not just advanced degrees and years of experience. Another prescription would incorporate standardized test scores into teacher evaluations—a reform already in effect in Washington, D.C., Florida, Maryland, and Colorado. And the report recommends delaying tenure or permanent status until a teacher has been in a classroom for four years, instead of the two years the current contract stipulates.

Unlike most other teacher contracts, L.A. Unified’s arrangement with UTLA specifies that though full-time employees must work a full eight-hour day, those eight hours needn’t necessarily be in the classroom with kids, or even at school. According to the contract: “The varying nature of professional duties does not lend itself to a total maximum daily work time of definite or uniform length.” The report concludes that the contract lends itself to abuse and that teachers should be at their worksites for a full eight hours.

The report also advises giving principals considerably more power to hire teachers of their choosing and making it easier for administrators to get rid of incompetents. At the moment, what the report calls “perverse incentives” compel principals to overlook poorly performing teachers, which, over time, makes it even more difficult to get rid of them. “For example,” the report notes, “the online evaluation system includes a pop-up warning telling principals who have selected ‘needs improvement’ for three or more of the 27 indicators to contact Staff Relations and present documentation to reinforce the ratings.” In short, if a principal thinks a teacher needs to improve, he’ll need to receive approval from the district’s human resources bureaucracy before he can act. Who needs that kind of aggravation?

The report is particularly tough on seniority. California is one of only 12 states in which the most recent hires get pink slips first—regardless of teacher quality—when layoffs become necessary. The report proposes that a teacher’s performance should be one of the considerations used to make such decisions.

(Click here for the rest of his piece.)

Recall Jerry Brown

California Republicans need to get off defense and start playing offense. They need to throw the long bomb.

They need to imitate the Oakland Raiders of the 1970s under quarterback Ken “The Snake” Stabler, cornerback Skip “Dr. Death” Thomas, wide receiver Fred Biletnikoff, offensive tackle Art Shell and Coach John Madden. Not the pathetic Raiders of the recent years of principal owner Al Davis’ meddling senescence.

The Classic Raiders were junkyard dogs who took chances and won. As linebacker Phil “Foo” Villapiano said, “When you play for the Raiders you play to win and you play tough.”

The first “long bomb” Republicans should throw is to start a recall of Gov. Jerry Brown. Now.

That would set him reeling on the defensive. Remember how Gov. Gray Davis, once the recall began against him in 2003, started stammering like Ralph Kramden (Jackie Gleason) when he got nervous on the old “Honeymooners” TV show, “Hamamamamamahamama”? Davis’ administration shut down. What fun.

The whole 2003 recall was fun. It turned out badly when Gov. Arnold “Adulterinator” Schwarzenegger won the simultaneous replacement election and, after two so-so years, panicked like a wimp after he lost his 2005 reform election. Then the Austrian Oaf turned his governorship over to wife Maria and we got Kennedy Government for the next five years.

But so what? Arnold’s gone. His main celebrity project now is Divorce Court. He can’t ruin another recall.

It doesn’t even matter if Brown could be unseated. Just challenging him would take the air out of his governorship for four months or more. He would have to take a break from his tax-increase obsession

A recall costs about $2 million to circulate the petitions. That’s not chump change, especially in the depths of the Obama Depression. But there are enough Republican moneybags around to raise the cash.

Moreover, for wealthy Republicans considering a run for statewide office or U.S. Congress, ponying up some serious cash for a Recall Jerry Brown effort should be the opening ante of their campaigns. Put up or shut up, boys.

There are a lot of ways a Recall Jerry Brown campaign would be fun. For one thing, it would scramble the plans of Brown’s potential successors. Remember how Democratic candidates, such as then-Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi – now a U.S. Congressman – first started campaigning in the replacement election, then were told to quit or face reprisals? Garamendi, a fan of Cuba’s socialized medicine system, obeyed.

In the end, the only serious Democrat to stay in the repelacement election was Lt. Gov. Cruze Bustamante, campaigning on the hilarious theme, “No on Recall, Yes on Bustamante.” A couple of years later, Cruisin’ Cruz campaigned for insurance commissioner on a platform of his diet program. Perhaps, in a new recall, he could come out of his lucrative retirement as a lobbyist to run again on his slimming scheme.

And remember the entertaining candidates, 135 of them? Gary Coleman, alas, no longer is with us. Arianna Huffington probably would run again. New campaign theme: “This time, dummies, elect the right immigrant.”

After selling the Huffington Post to America Online for $315 million, she sits on a lot more dough than when she was just blowing her alimony from her ex-hubby, GOP ex-Rep. Michael Huffington.

This is a family publication. So decorum prevents me from mentioning the names of some of the indecent candidates who ran. But they did add to the recall’s circus atmosphere.

In a Brown Recall, we could see run:

* Meg Whitman. Hey, it’s been almost a year since she blew $183,000,000.00 on her previous losing campaign. Maybe she’s defrosted a little.

* Steve Poizner, who lost to Meg in the 2010 GOP primary. He’s had another year to move from his tax-increase past.

* Rep. Tom McClintock, who would have won in the 2003 recall if silly Republicans hadn’t backed Kennedy Klone Arnold.

* “Unable” Abel Maldonado, the former Light Gov. who was appointed to that pointless post by Arnold. It was a reward for Maldonado, as a state senator, selling out the taxpayers on Arnold’s record, $13 billion 2009 Kennedy Klone tax increase.

* Carly Simon – excuse me, that’s how I always think of her – Carly Fiorina, who lost last year’s U.S. Senate race to Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Pyongyang).

* B-1 “Bob” Dornan, the former U.S. congressman and victim of logorrhea. He’s always amusing, even though he needs an “off” button we can push.

But Democrats also might run against a septuaginarian governor who, even in 2010, ran a campaign too far. In addition to the above-mentioned Cruzinator, these Donkey Party hopefuls might include:

* Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, currently in a duel with Brown over who can come up with the more pointless “jobs creation” program, when their own high-tax, sky-high regulation policies are to blame for Joblessfornia.

* Attorney General Kamala Harris, the California Vyshinsky. She’s so Left she makes Brown look like Reagan.

* Los Angeles Mayor Tony Villar (a/k/a Antonio Villaraigosa), who just took a pot shot at Brown by calling for gutting Proposition 13 and jacking up property taxes on businesses. Having cast the City of Angeles into the Inferno, he seeks to melt down the Golden State.

So, Elephants, what are you waiting for?

Recall Jerry Brown.


(John Seiler is managing editor of

Connie Conway, an unsung hero

California Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway has done a fantastic job of holding her caucus together this session on key votes on taxes and spending.  In particular, she deserves great credit for warding off the relentless pressure of special interests and public employee unions to urge and split-off individual Republican legislators to cave in to higher taxes, more giveaway programs and unchecked spending, all of which contribute to higher unemployment and more sour economic times in our Golden State.  In the recent budget battles, Conway’s strength as Leader and her Republican colleagues helped avoid a $58 billion tax increase being pushed by the special interests.  For that alone, Conway and her fellow Assembly Republicans all deserve a “Golden Star” for a job well-done.

Assemblymember Conway represents the 34th Assembly District, which takes in many parts of California’s Central Valley and High Desert areas.  Prior to serving in the Assembly, Conway served as a Tulare County Supervisor from 2000 until 2008. Conway currently serves on the State Board of Directors for California Women Lead, a women’s nonprofit, nonpartisan organization.  She is a practical, common sense, committed conservative.

Unfortunately, being the Assembly Republican Leader at times like these must be very much like trying to “herd cats.”  Our friend over at FlashReport, Jon Fleischman, has done a great job of helping to keep the public spotlight on Republican members that the liberals target to pick off on key votes for tax and spending bills.  That “shining light” helps Conway to keep her caucus actually voting “Republican.”  Nevertheless, there are hundreds and hundreds of bills that must be reviewed in the various committees of the State Senate and Assembly during the Legislative process, and it is in these many dark rooms where back-bone is especially required of Republicans to defend our constitution.  It is also in these committee rooms where a bill can be made, or broken, by principled review and action.  Yet sometimes even those Republican legislators who profess themselves to be the most conservative, will “leave the reservation” to try to gain “brownie points” for re-election from a public employee union or liberal think-tank by casting a stray vote in favor of an unconstitutional regulation or new spending program.  These sad situations are occurring right now as the Legislature finishes its summer business, and they happen when the odd-ball Republican legislator thinks no one is watching, or that there will be no consequence for what they think might be an over-looked committee vote.

The best legislator is the principled one, liberal or conservative, that votes his or her true conviction and that doesn’t play games with the legislative process for what they think is election gain.  Conway certainly has many of these types of members in her caucus.  Publications like ours and others are doing the watching and we can chose to highlight those odd-ball members who betray their party’s principles behind closed doors. But we are so glad that Connie Conway is not one of those types; and because of that California is all the better with her as the Republican Leader.

Republican Candidates Should Push for Real Education Reform

In light of his presidential candidacy, several commentators have cast wary glances at Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s record on crony capitalism and its implications for how he and other Republican candidates will approach education policy. Jay Greene commented on Wall Street Journal article outlining the crony capitalism charge: “The real problem is the hubris of thinking that a handful of government leaders can identify the ‘right’ businesses to which capital should be allocated. … In short, crony capitalism is an example of the errors of central planning.”

The predilection for central planning has been a hallmark of both Democratic and Republican policy for many decades. The hated No Child Left Behind law serves as a prime example; yet in all the controversy now surrounding the president and his education secretary’s decision to waive the law for some states (Montana received the first last week), neither the complaining states nor congressional Republicans planning to reauthorize NCLB under a slightly less centrist strategy seem to have noticed this fatal flaw in federal education policy. NCLB rests on the premise that the federal government should centrally plan education policy.

One would think this a prime target for Republican presidential candidates, a wide-open opportunity to distance themselves from the president’s command-and-control style and to talk about how the failure to propagate an educated citizenry means we’ll never have a chance to “grow our way out” of our economic hole. But we’ve heard only the faintest peep on the subject.

Writer RiShawn Biddle notes Perry’s weak record on K-12 education reform and speculates on why Republican candidates seem to avoid the topic: Although it serves as both a symbol and instrument of federal overreach, NCLB’s accountability provisions have helped governors overcome special interests and expand school choice by exposing the public schools’ poor performance.

Biddle suggests Republican candidates should offer a less sweeping, more “centrist” vision for improving the nation’s schools, based at the federal level and using the same formula of sticks and carrots as in NCLB.

I have a better idea. The Republican candidates should consider that education, like health care, is one of the dominant sectors in the United States today and one of the few actually expanding parts of the U.S. economy. If the forces of government expansion in these areas continue unchecked, they will ultimately drown the nation in statism.

The solution is not a different federal role in central planning. It’s for the federal government to get out of central planning altogether. The Republican candidate who perceives this truth will have a real alternative to offer the nation and its voters.

(Joy Pullmann ( is an education research fellow and managing editor of School Reform News at The Heartland Institute.)


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CA Ballot Prop Limits Union and Corporate Interests

There is a new ballot initiative being circulated for signatures, to place an important question before the voters of California at the June 2012 election.  Designed to prevent special interests from buying favors from our elected officials, the “Stop Special Money Interest Now” initiative would do four things:

1.       Ban corporations and labor unions from making direct contributions to candidates;

2.      Prohibit government contractors from contributing money to government officials who award them contracts;

3.      Prohibits corporations and labor unions from collecting political funds using the inherently coercive method of paycheck deductions; and

4.      Requires that employee contributions to the political funds of either corporations or labor unions be voluntary, via annual written consents.

This common-sense initiative is sorely needed if we are to get California back on the right track, because right now special interests own our government, bought and paid for.  In the 2010 election cycle, for example, $715 million was contributed to state-level campaigns and candidates, 79% of which came from groups outside the candidate’s district.  The top 15 special interest organizations have spent nearly $1 billion on political activities over the past decade.  In return for all this political cash, nearly 40% of all bills introduced in the legislature are sponsored by special interest organizations, and these bills are more than twice as likely to pass as those sponsored by the elected officials themselves.  If you think that $1 billion has been spent to advance the public good, you are naively mistaken.  Whether through sweetheart “no-bid” government contracts for multi-national corporations, or excessive pensions for public employee unions that those of us in the private sector cannot begin to fathom, the legislature has been generous in lining the pockets of their special interest benefactors.  They have nearly bankrupt the state in the process, squeezing out the legitimate needs of our communities, whether it be roads, or schools, or public safety.

Some have argued that the initiative amounts to an unconstitutional restriction on First Amendment speech rights.  Not so.  The Supreme Court has already upheld bans on direct contributions to candidates by corporations and labor unions because of the particularly corrupting effect such contributions can have on our political system.  The Court’s recent decision in Citizens United did not involve direct contribution bans; rather, it struck down limits on independent expenditures, and the Initiative leaves both corporations and unions free to make independent expenditures on their own.  It also leaves individuals free to make direct contributions to candidates themselves, whichever candidates they (rather than their corporate or union bosses) decide to support.

The Stop Special Interest Money Now initiative is designed to prevent the corrupting flow of money directly to elected officials, while leaving open the avenues for campaign speech by everyone—citizens, corporations, and unions alike—that the Constitution rightly requires.  This simple, fair initiative removes the current abuses in our campaign finance system that have made elected officials more beholden to their special interest paymasters than to the rights and concerns of ordinary voters.  It is time to return our government to the people of California rather than the special interests.  You can read more about the initiative at its website,  I hope you will agree to join me in supporting this important effort.


(John C. Eastman is a Constitutional Law Professor and former candidate for Attorney General)