Archives for February 2014

Brown Expanding Plan for High-Speed Rail

From The Sacramento Bee:

Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday defended his plan to use carbon-reduction funds for years ahead to prop up California’s high-speed rail project, saying uncertainty about the project’s long-term financing is “one of the greatest questions of the critics” and that fees paid by carbon producers are an appropriate source of funds.

“I think that cap-and-trade is very appropriate because high-speed rail reduces greenhouse gases,” the Democratic governor told reporters in an elections office in Oakland, where he came to file for re-election.

Photo courtesy of ohad*, flickr

Photo courtesy of ohad*, flickr

Even Hillary Clinton is Against the Individual Mandate

From The Daily Caller:

As First Lady, Hillary Clinton bashed the individual mandate, back when it was a Republican idea for healthcare reform, according to newly released archives from the Clinton administration.

In a speech before Senate and House Democratic leaders and committee chairs in September 1993, when Hillary Clinton and the White House were trying to push through a healthcare overhaul, Clinton said proposing the individual mandate would “[send] shock waves through the currently insured population.”

(Read Full Article)


Labor’s Campaign Spending a Waste of Millions

From U-T San Diego:

In no other profession could the leadership of an organization survive throwing away $20 million with nothing to show for it except catastrophic defeats.

Yet this is exactly what local and statewide union bosses have managed to accomplish since 2006 in San Diego, culminating in the embarrassing defeat of David Alvarez two weeks ago in the race for San Diego mayor.

Despite dumping more than $4.2 million into the race and outspending Kevin Faulconer by $1 million, the union candidate lost by more than 5 percent in a city where only 28 percent of voters are Republicans.

(Read Full Article)


Tax Reform Plan Would Repeal Green Energy Handouts

From The Daily Caller:

The latest draft legislation from Michigan Republican Rep. Dave Camp would repeal various green energy tax handouts, as well as tax breaks for the oil and gas industry.

Camp’s nearly 1000-page draft bill would end a number of green energy subsidies, including tax credits for wind, biodiesel, electric cars and energy efficient homes and appliances. The House Ways and Means chairman’s move was welcomed by free-marketeers, but hotly contested by green energy producers.

(Read Full Article)

blackout energy green obama

CA Drought Relief Package Heads to Governor’s Desk

From The Sacramento Bee:

In a concerted effort to aid California’s drought-stricken communities, the Legislature on Thursday sped a $687 million relief package to Gov. Jerry Brown.

One week after Brown and legislative leaders unveiled the emergency legislation, both houses of the Legislature approved the bill with little resistance. The Assembly passed the bill 65-0, and the Senate sent it to Brown’s desk with only three dissenting votes.



Renewable Energy is in Decline

From The Daily Caller:

The global energy outlook has changed radically in just six years. President Obama was elected in 2008 by voters who believed we were running out of oil and gas, that climate change needed to be halted, and that renewables were the energy source of the near future. But an unexpected transformation of energy markets and politics may instead make 2014 the year of peak renewables.

In December of 2007, former Vice President Al Gore shared the Nobel Peace Prize for work on man-made climate change, leading an international crusade to halt global warming. In June, 2008 after securing a majority of primary delegates, candidate Barack Obama stated, “this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.” Climate activists looked to the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Conference as the next major step to control greenhouse gas emissions.

(Read Full Article)

wind energy turbine

More Evidence Top Democrats Want Bullet Train Gone

The California establishment fights dirty when it comes to direct challenges to its priorities and the people it wants to protect the most.

The CTA blocking efforts to make it easier to remove classroom sexual predators and instead passing legislation that gave such predators new protections is one example. Another is the state Public Employment Relations Board making insane arguments, such as asserting the provisions of a 1971 state law mandating teacher performance be part of job evaluations should be subject to collective bargaining now — and in every school district! Another is the Legislature passing a bill that would have led to even more shakedown lawsuits in response to corrupt trial lawyer scams targeting minority small businesses.

This ruthless extremism is on particular display with direct democracy. The Attorney General’s Office under Bill Lockyer, Jerry Brown and now Kamala Harris has a horrible record of crafting ballot language for initiatives and constitutional amendments — language obviously meant to push voters one way or the other when it comes to signing petitions or voting, whether it be for union power plays or on social issues like gay marriage.

So guess what happened Tuesday? The Secretary of State’s Office released the official title and summary for a proposed anti-bullet train ballot measure prepared by the AG’s office, and it seems downright reasonable and fair:

“HIGH-SPEED RAIL. FUTURE BOND SALES. NEW TRANSPORTATION TECHNOLOGIES. INITIATIVE STATUTE. Prevents sale of high-speed rail bonds previously approved by voters for construction of a high-speed rail system, except to fund any segment already under construction. Permits construction of first segment of the high-speed rail system to proceed, if Legislature consents, to allow comparison with other transportation technologies that deliver speeds exceeding 250 miles per hour or energy efficiencies exceeding 120 miles per gallon or equivalent. Authorizes state to acquire/dedicate right-of-way and contract with private developers to construct and operate new transportation technology pilot projects for comparison with high-speed rail. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: Impact to state debt-service savings ranging from zero to about $650 million annually from not using state bond funds to construct high-speed rail, depending on how this measure is interpreted and the resulting reduction in bond funds spent. Potential state costs in the hundreds of millions of dollars to the extent that the state is not reimbursed by private developers for right-of-way acquisition for the development of transportation pilot projects. Potential reduction in state and local tax revenues of tens of millions of dollars annually for a few years, resulting from a loss of federal matching funds.”

Dems ready to bail on bullet train without admitting as much

Kamala-Harris-handsSo what’s going on here? Why is Kamala Harris playing fair?

I think it’s more evidence for my theory that Dem leaders from Gov. Jerry Brown down privately agree with Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and want the bullet train gone before it becomes Big Dig West — but they want to do so without blood on their hands or without admitting they championed a fiasco. Instead, they can lamely blame “declinists” and mean people who opposed the bullet train from the start.

How are they going to pull this off? Through intentionally inept lawyering. As I wrote last fall for this site:

“In California Attorney General Kamala Harris … office’s ‘remedies’ brief in October responding to Sacramento Superior Court Judge Michael Kenny’s Aug. 16 ruling that the bullet train had an illegal business plan and inadequate environmental reviews, there was no challenge to Kenny’s findings. There was just the assertion that work on the project could continue using federal funds. …

“It seems awfully problematic for the state to concede its plans break the law yet still want to proceed with a $68 billion project. But that appears to be what has happened.”

Touting ludicrous legal theories with knowledge they’re ludicrous

Here’s more from CWD in January on the the second round of legal responses from the state to anti-rail authority rulings:

“For five months after Judge Kenny’s ruling, the Brown administration didn’t question its legal reasoning one bit. Now the administration accuses the judge of ‘erecting obstacles found nowhere in the voter-approved bond act’ of 2008 that provided $9.95 billion in bond seed money for the project. Huh? How can the governor and attorney general make this argument now when they didn’t before?

“Maybe because they know how ludicrous it will look to sober observers, and they like that it looks ludicrous.

“Look at the bigger picture. Two plus two equals four, people.

“By asking the California Supreme Court to weigh in quickly, and by using an obviously flawed legal argument in doing so, Jerry is angling for a prompt resolution to the bullet-train saga — before more money is spent and before eminent domain is used to seize perfectly sound homes, farms and businesses in the Central Valley.”

Now there’s more evidence for this thesis. If Kamala Harris really wanted the bullet train, her MO would have been to write another slanted ballot summary and title.

She didn’t.

Sherlock Holmes would know what to think of this. It’s the dog that didn’t bark.

(Chris Reed contributes to CalWatchdog. Originally posted on CalWatchdog.)

The California Drought of 2014

On Feb. 11, 25 days after Gov. Jerry Brown declared an official drought, California Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer introduced a drought-relief bill. Senate Bill 216, ” The California Emergency Drought Relief Act of 2014,” was introduced concurrently with President Barack Obama’s visit to the Central Valley to survey the devastation from a foreseeable — but unplanned for — severe drought.Obama-drought-white-house-photo

Four members of California’s congressional delegation — Rep. George Martinez, D-Martinez; Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena; Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto; and Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton — called Feinstein’s and Boxer’s bill a “huge improvement from the disingenuous” GOP bill released three weeks earlier by Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Tulare. Nunes’ bill is House Resolution 3964, “The Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley Emergency Water Delivery Act.”

A key provision in the Feinstein-Boxer drought relief bill is that it “provides operational flexibility to increase water supplies and primes federal agencies to make the best use of any additional rain,” said Feinstein. By flexibility, Feinstein was referring to a provision in her bill requiring federal water agencies to keep open the Delta Cross Channel Gates to prevent saltwater intrusion into the Sacramento Delta. The Cross Channel was built in 1951 near the city of Walnut Grove to allow the transfer of fresh water into the Delta. If enough fresh water was not released into the Delta during the drought, then California’s drinking water supplies would be reduced even further by failure to repel salt water.

Channel ‘flexibility’ already led to its opening

Cross-Channel-Gates-Area-w-FlowState Water Resources Director Mark Cowin explained in a video on Jan. 31 that the gates on the Delta Cross Channel are normally closed at this time of year to keep salmon from entering the Delta. So one of the reasons that California’s Central Valley hasn’t been getting enough water routed through the Delta is closing upstream gates to protect salmon. But this year salmon have to be compromised to protect drinking water supplies.

The pending Delta Cross Channel gate opening will comprise a release of 300,000 acre-feet of water. That is about as much water as Castaic Lake north of Los Angeles holds.

However, Cowin announced the opening of the Delta Cross Channel back on Jan. 31 in a videotaped announcement. In other words, the key “operational flexibility” promised in Feinstein and Boxer’s drought relief bill was already underway without the bill having to be approved by Congress and the president. Feinstein and Boxer should be given credit for not dallying to open the Delta Cross Channel gates, given the severity of the drought. But it is “disingenuous” to claim their bill would need to be passed to authorize such flexibility.

One of the key differences in the Feinstein-Boxer drought bill and Nunes’ is that Nunes’ bill provides for two new water storage reservoirs to be built. Conversely, the Feinstein-Boxer bill doesn’t promise any new water but mere “flexibility” in managing water. The Nunes’ bill provides for new water while the Feinstein-Boxer bill does not. According to Cowin, what California needs is storage in advance of a drought more than flexibility after its onset.

Learning from history in preparing for drought

In his Jan. 31 video announcement, Cowin explained that California learned the hard way not to delay in taking aggressive action as early as possible to lessen the long-term negative effects of a drought. Cowin said that in the second year of the 1976-1977 severe drought California set aside 1 million acre feet of water (enough for 6 million to 12 million people) that reduced the impacts of the drought. But in 1976, the drought impacts were severe because no additional water was set-aside for a major drought ahead of time.

REU CALIFORNIA/DROUGHT.jpgStated differently, California failed to store enough water going into the second year of this drought (2013) to prepare for a third consecutive dry year. In 2012, about 800,000 acre-feet of water were allowed to flow to the ocean through the San Joaquin River to protect fish flows. And in 2013, 453,000 acre-feet of water were released from Trinity Lake, north of the Delta, to protect fish flows for Indian Tribes and sports fishermen.

There is no “flexibility” of storing environmental water for the next year to plan for a drought. Court rulings and agency mandates require annual release of water for wildlife refuges. Since 1990, 58 percent of Central Valley agricultural water has been diverted to wildlife refuges. In other words, environmental diversions of water made it impossible to put aside enough water to plan for a drought in advance, as Cowin said is required.

Water storage facilities never built

Another contributing factor to the current drought is the failure to build out replacement water storage facilities for farmers after their water was diverted to wildlife refuges. The San Joaquin River Restoration Act of 2009 collected $102 million from farmers in higher water rates for replacement water storage facilities that were never built. Congress allocated $88 million for planning activities to restore fish flows in the river. The “planning” funds were not spent on pre-drought planning but on studies and transporting fish by tanker trucks across a 60-mile dry gap in the San Joaquin River. Now there isn’t enough water for farmers or fish.

(Wayne Lusvardi is a contributor to CalWatchdog. Originally posted on CalWatchdog.)

Obamacare Oscars


Gov. Jerry Brown to Run for Reelection

From The Sacramento Bee:

Gov. Jerry Brown announced Thursday that he has taken out the papers to run for re-election.

In his typically understated fashion, the 75-year-old governor posted the announcement and a photo to his Twitter account.

(Read Full Article)

Photo courtesy of Freedom to Marry, flickr

Photo courtesy of Freedom to Marry, flickr