Guv Brown: Use $287Million of Water Bond for Delta Smelt to Have Water—NO DAMS

Jerry Brown cried in 2014 that we needed a water bond, to build water storage facilities. Of the $7.5 billion, $750 million has been allocated so far but not a dime for dams. He lied to us. Now it is much worse. Farms are closing down, food prices are going up. The State is looking like the name of the governor, brown. It is very depressing. It just got worse.

“In the midst of a grueling four-year drought in agriculture, state officials say some $287.5 million in borrowed cash is available to purchase water for smelt and salmon runs and other wildlife.

The funds come from California’s $7.5 billion Proposition 1 Water Bond, approved by the voters last year.”

Why does Jerry Brown so dislike Californians? He openly lied about the water bond…now in the midst of a water shortage HE caused, he wants to use close to $300 million to give water to fish, not people. This may be the sickest policy ever.

delta smelt

CA may use Prop. 1 water bond to buy enviro water during drought

by Wayne Lusvardi, Calwatchdog, 4/30/15

In the midst of a grueling four-year drought in agriculture, state officials say some $287.5 million in borrowed cash is available to purchase water for smelt and salmon runs and other wildlife.

The funds come from California’s $7.5 billion Proposition 1 Water Bond, approved by the voters last year.

Although it is unlikely that all of the $287.5 million will be used for water purchases to benefit the environment, the Wildlife Conservation Board and the Department of Fish and Wildlife still have yet to determine what they will do with their respective $200 million and $87.5 million bond funding allocations.

The last time California tried a pilot program of purchases of environmental water, it didn’t work out so well.

Interest adds up

Starting in 2000, state and federal water agencies purchased farm water for fish and wildlife using bond funds under a now-defunct state-federal program called CALFED. The Environmental Water Account project was aimed at improving water supply reliability and protecting the Delta ecosystem.

The project followed a major allocation by Congress in 1991: a one-time allotment of 800,000 acre-feet for salmon runs plus another 400,000 acre-feet annually for wildlife refuges without payment for the water. (See page 15). An acre-foot of water – enough to cover one acre of land to a depth of one foot – can supply two to four urban households per year, depending on whether it is a normal or drought year. That same amount can support about one-third an acre of cropland per year.

The use of general obligation bonds to buy water for the environment is controversial because actual financing costs would typically be double the principal amount once interest is included.

Calwatchdog.com spoke with Wes Strickland, a water rights attorney in California and Austin, Texas, about the results of the EWA project. Strickland said EWA was a lose-lose-lose-lose deal for every group involved:

  • For environmentalists it did not allocate enough water to alleviate ecosystem stress.
  • For farmers it drove up spot market water prices because of reduced supply.
  • Southern California cities were thwarted from buying water to bank for dry years.
  • State and federal water agencies didn’t accomplish their environmental goals even as the state ran up its budget deficit and exhausted water reserves going into a 2007-2010 court-ordered limit on water pumping.

From this failed experiment, Strickland said California should have learned to make small, incremental water purchases during rainy years to support the environment during years of drought.

$193.4 million

The state and federal taxpayer bill came to $193.4 million for the EWA project, which lasted from 2000 to 2007. More than 2 million acre-feet of water were purchased for environmental uses. (See table below.) According to the California Department of Water Resources:

Under the program, the government came to dominate the spot market for water.

On average, water purchases under the program made up 43 percent of all spot-market purchases of water each year. By the final year of the program, the government’s purchases comprised 87 percent of all water bought on the spot market.

The average price of water purchased over the seven years was $96 per acre-foot, without bond interest, compared with the current going price of $700 per acre-foot for water transfers from farmers.

At the lower price, the $287.5 million under Prop. 1 would be enough to purchase about 3 million acre-feet of water. As the table below shows, in 2007 California bought 477,000 acre-feet of water for fish runs, and that was deemed insufficient to help migrating fish get to the ocean.

Will there be any water to buy?

Because Lake Oroville has been drawn down below 50 percent of its storage capacity, water cannot be sold by the farmers along the Feather River, which flows into the lake.

The EWA project ended just before the Natural Resources Defense Council filed suit to protect the Delta smelt, prompting court-ordered limits on the amount of water drawn from the fish’s habitat.

Environmental Water Account Purchases, 2001 to 2007

2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 Total &Average
Water Available EWA (acre-feet) 367,000 349,000 348,000 121,000 288,000 70,000 477,000 2,020,000
Spot Market Trades-All Sources

(acre-feet)

1,000,000 600,000 750,000 650,000 650,000 500,000 550,000 4,700,000
Percent EWA 36.7% 58.1% 46.4% 18.6% 44.3% 14.0% 86.7% 42.98%
Total EWA (millions) $60.10 $28.30 $30.50 $19.00 $17.90 $0 $37.50 $193.40
State (millions) $50.10 $16.80 $30.50 $19.00 $17.90 $0 $33.80 $168.10
Fund Source General Fund Prop. 204 Prop. 50 Prop. 50 Prop. 50 Prop. 50
Federal (millions) $10.00 $11.50 $0 $0 $0 $0 $3.80 $25.30
Sources:
California Department of Water Resources, email April 22, 2015California Water Market by the Numbers 2012 (p. 19)

 

In San Fran the “F” Word is FREEDOM—Private Property Rights Have been Ended

In San Fran when you say the “F” word, it is not a four letter word. To the radicals in this intolerant city, the “F” word is FREEDOM. They do not believe in private property (except their own—yours is up for grabs). If I owned a single family home or a condo in San Fran, I need the permission of government if I want to rent it for a day, week or month and under what terms. Now there is a proposed ballot measure that, in part, allow my neighbors to sue me for using my property as I want.

“It would require Airbnb and other hosting platforms to check and make sure that all the rentals they list in San Francisco are in fact legal and registered, and would fine the companies for listing unregistered properties. That’s a big deal since registration for the current system has been going very, very slowly and there are thousands of places available on Airbnb today that aren’t registered with the city.

The initiative would also provide notification to neighbors when a unit is registered for short-term rentals – and give neighbors the opportunity to take action against an illegal STR if the city fails to do so.”

Now you understand why people like San Fran Nan and Dianne Feinstein come from this city—and they are the moderates!

San Francisco, CA, USA

Airbnb initiative filed, setting the scene for high-stakes November battle

By Tim Redmond, 48 Hills, 4/30/15 http://www.48hills.org/2015/04/29/airbnb-initiative-filed-setting-the-scene-for-high-stakes-november-battle/#more-5382

Sponsors of an initiative to more tightly restrict short-term rentals are filing their measure this week, setting up a major battle on the November ballot.

The impacts could go beyond Airbnb – it’s likely this will be a big issue in the District 3 supervisorial race and will offer a stark contrast between the two major contenders.

The measure comes as Mayor Ed Lee is trying to head off major reforms with his own modest legislation, and several supervisors are going further.

The initiative would take several major steps to ensure that short-term rentals aren’t abused and are not taking valuable rental housing stock off the market.

It would require Airbnb and other hosting platforms to check and make sure that all the rentals they list in San Francisco are in fact legal and registered, and would fine the companies for listing unregistered properties. That’s a big deal since registration for the current system has been going very, very slowly and there are thousands of places available on Airbnb today that aren’t registered with the city.

Airbnb is bitterly opposed to that kind of regulation.

It would limit all short-term rentals to 75 days a year.

The initiative would also provide notification to neighbors when a unit is registered for short-term rentals – and give neighbors the opportunity to take action against an illegal STR if the city fails to do so.

In essence, it would address the problem that City Planning Department staff have repeatedly expressed: The current rules are utterly unenforceable, since there’s no way a limited staff (Planning has only 12 enforcement officers) can properly police more than 5,000 listings unless the host platforms give the city the data it needs.

The tech-based companies that are making large sums of money off short-term rentals ought to be able to comply pretty easily: All they need is to make sure that anyone who posts a rental has a city registration number, and since they are already collecting that data, they can easily turn it over to the city.

Airbnb will fight the initiative, and probably put up a ton of money against it. But there’s a remarkable coalition behind it, including tenant groups like the Housing Rights Committee, landlord groups like the SF Apartment Association, affordable housing and neighborhood groups, and the hotel workers union, Local 2.

So there will be resources on both sides.

“It’s pretty clear from watching the legislative process last year and the recent Planning Commission hearings that the only way the city will get the tools to enforce regulations on short-term rentals is if the voters approve them,” Dale Carlson, who is one of the sponsors of the measure, told me.

“The Planning staff agree that they can’t enforce the existing laws, but they get no support from the mayor or even their own commission.”

Ron Conway, who is one of the most powerful political players in the city, is a big investor in Airbnb, and has the ear of the mayor. Conway and his pals just raised $25,000 for Sup. Julie Christensen, who has to face the voters this fall. Aaron Peskin, her opponent in D3, was part of the coalition that worked to draft the Airbnb initiative, and tonight he told me he was “of course” supporting it – “unless the Board adopts enforceable legislation to make the initiative unnecessary.”

So the incumbent’s ties to Big Tech money and to Airbnb, and Peskin’s support for tighter regulations, will be among the issues that define that critical November race.

(I have emailed Christensen for comment, but I haven’t heard back.)

 

Oyster Farmer: ‘We Are Terrified’ Of The Gov’t”–So are We ALL

It is not just an oyster farmer that is terrified of government. How about Clive Bundy? Anybody remember Ruby Ridge or the government massacre of women and children in Waco? Every April 15th the economic stability of Americans is endangered. Thanks to the anti-farm policies’ of Obama and Guv Brown our Central Valley farmers are shutting down, planting less or giving up. AB 109 and Prop. 47 have made all Californians and visitors significantly less safe. We are all terrified of government for its actions and lack of actions.

“Drakes Bay Oyster Company operated in Point Reyes for decades until National Park Service officials used falsified data to force Kevin Lunny’s family-run oyster farm to shut down. The experience has left its mark on Lunny: “We Are Terrified,” he told lawmakers during a hearing Thursday.

“Let me be clear, we did not fail as a business,” Lunny said in his prepared testimony. “This was not bad luck. Rather, the Park Service engaged in a taxpayer-funded enterprise of corruption to run our small business out of Point Reyes.”

When thinking of government, remember the famous line from the 1986 horror movie, “The Fly”, “Be afraid, be very afraid.”

President Obama Delivers Statement On Death Of Nelson Mandela

Oyster Farmer: ‘We Are Terrified’ Of The Gov’t

Michael Bastasch, Daily Caller, 4/29/15 

The National Park Service used falsified data to shut down an 80-year-old oyster company in Point Reyes, Calif, its owner claims.

Drakes Bay Oyster Company operated in Point Reyes for decades until National Park Service officials used falsified data to force Kevin Lunny’s family-run oyster farm to shut down. The experience has left its mark on Lunny: “We Are Terrified,” he told lawmakers during a hearing Thursday.

“Let me be clear, we did not fail as a business,” Lunny said in his prepared testimony. “This was not bad luck. Rather, the Park Service engaged in a taxpayer-funded enterprise of corruption to run our small business out of Point Reyes.”

Lunny made this statement in response to a question by Republican Rep. Raul Labrador asking whether or not Lunny felt like there could be consequences from his testimony against the National Parks Service.

Even Democratic California Rep. Jared Huffman admitted that in the rush to get rid of industry from Point Reyes, government officials and environmentalists “overstated” evidence that Lunny’s farm was harming the environment.

“No one has apologized,” Lunny said.

Drakes Bay Oyster Company is located in Northern California’s Point Reyes National Seashore, where it has been for decades. Point Reyes isn’t your typical national park because it was created to preserve the historic coastline where people have been settled since the Gold Rush. It was never intended to be a major tourist attraction like Yellowstone.

For decades the Park Service had a good relationship with the oyster company, but that all changed in the mid-2000s. All of the sudden, NPS officials started blaming the company for an 80 percent decline in the local harbor seal population. Officials also blamed Lunny’s farm for upsetting the ecological balance of Drakes Estero.

But all of these accusations against Drakes Bay Oyster Company turned out to be completely false. The National Parks Service lacked any scientific data to back up its claims that the company was killing seals and hurting the local environment. In fact, studies done by the U.S. Geological Survey and the California State Health Department showed the Parks Service was completely wrong.

NPS, however, didn’t stop there and kept making false claims against the oyster company.

“The Park Service misrepresented that study,” Lunny said. “They instead attempted to demonstrate harm by substituting data from a sixty-year-old study conducted at the Sea of Japan and attributing it to our farm.”

“For example, in assessing the noise impact of our small outboard motor boats, the Park Service, rather than measuring our boats on our soundscape [as required], instead used the measurements from a seventy-horsepower, 700cc Kawasaki jet ski in New Jersey,” Lunny added.

Lunny appealed to higher ups at the National Park Service for help in the matter and to correct the record on false statements made by the agency, but he got no help from the government.

“The local Park Service staff were not willing to correct the false claims, so we went to the Regional Director,” Lunny said. “No help there. Then we went to the Park Service Director, and finally the Secretary of Interior. No one, at any level, was willing to admit that false science was being used against us, or to at least correct the record and stop the false accusations.”

The Interior Department’s own inspector general even found misconduct by agency officials and that they misrepresented facts. But even so, the inspector general was powerless to stop Parks Service officials from attacking Lunny’s business.

Eventually, Drakes Bay Oyster Farm closed its doors because of the litigation and regulatory actions taken by the federal government.

“What the Park Service did to our family was unconscionable,” Lunny said. “This polluted legacy of false science has tainted our dealings with state and federal agencies, and has resulted in unnecessary regulatory and legal action against our family and our farm.”

BART Faces Big Investment Shortfall, State Auditor Says–$10 Billion

On any given day the tens of billions of dollars forced from taxpayers to pay for BART can be wasted because a union official had a bad night with their spouse or significant other. It does not take much for a union to call a day long strike inconveniencing hundreds of thousands and disrupting business. The real purpose of these efforts by the unions is simple—they need to periodically show who controls BART.

Now this out of control agency controlled by radical unions, is begging for close to $10 billion more to expand and upgrade the system—giving unions and special interests more money, power and control, while making the citizens poorer. Instead, take the $10 billion, double deck the freeways and tell the unions to take a hike.

“BART has already managed to secure funds for some of its big projects — nailing down commitments for $2 billion for its 775 new rail cars, for instance. Those funds will come from a variety of sources: federal transportation funding dispensed by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, bridge tolls, California high-speed rail bond proceeds (BART qualifies, because it’s expected to tie into any future bullet-train network the state builds), and money from the state’s cap-and-trade program, set up to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.”

Now the people in Mobile, Alabama are forced to finance union strikes.

Photo courtesy of skew-t, flickr

Photo courtesy of skew-t, flickr

BART Faces Big Investment Shortfall, State Auditor Says

A BART train near the system’s Rockridge station in Oakland. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

By Dan Brekke, KQED, 4/29/15

BART needs money, and lots of it, to maintain and modernize the system amid an onslaught of new riders.

That’s the less-than-shocking conclusion of a report by California’s state auditor on the financial state of the transit agency as it hunts for funding for major capital projects, including: the purchase of 775 new train cars to replace rolling stock that goes back to the Nixon era; expanding its vehicle-maintenance facility; and replacing its central train control system.

More specifically, the audit, released Tuesday (and embedded below) shows that BART will face continuous challenges in paying for about $9.6 billion in capital projects, including approximately:

  • $2.5 billion for its new car acquisitions
  • $1 billion for a new train control system
  • $450 million for a new maintenance facility in Hayward
  • $5.5 billion for station upgrades, earthquake retrofits and other projects

BART says it has only a vague idea, so far, where it will get the money for about half of that $9.6 billion total in capital improvements.

How might BART pay for these projects? Or more to the point, who will pay?

BART has already managed to secure funds for some of its big projects — nailing down commitments for $2 billion for its 775 new rail cars, for instance. Those funds will come from a variety of sources: federal transportation funding dispensed by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, bridge tolls, California high-speed rail bond proceeds (BART qualifies, because it’s expected to tie into any future bullet-train network the state builds), and money from the state’s cap-and-trade program, set up to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.

But even with all those funds promised — promised, not delivered — BART would still have to find about $500 million to pay for the new rail cars. It faces similar challenges lining up money for its maintenance facility and for replacing its train control system, the latter being a project that would allow more trains to run on the system simultaneously.

So back to the “who will pay?” question. The answer is: most of us in the Bay Area, in some way or other.

“After all, people who ride BART are part owners,” BART spokesman Jim Allison told KQED’s Peter Jon Shuler on Tuesday. “So we’re going to continue to seek help from the public.”

What kind of help?

The agency’s board has already adopted a schedule for future fare increases (you’ll pay 3.9 percent more starting Jan. 1, 2016, with the next rise tentatively set for 2018).

Beyond that, BART’s been talking about going to the ballot to try to secure new funding. Allison says that could happen in 2016 or 2018, though exactly what the agency would ask for — for instance, a bond issue that would be paid for by an increase in property taxes or a sales-tax increase in the counties BART serves — hasn’t been decided.

Jeff Hobson, deputy director of transit advocacy group Transform, says that to make a credible argument to voters, BART needs to demonstrate the urgency of its needs and to show that it’s been spending money wisely. Transform has been a consistent critic of BART — for instance, questioning what it has described as the slow progress of upgrading its rolling stock and train control system.

One step BART could take in planning for the future, Hobson says, is to consider less expensive alternatives for future expansions.

“BART needs to think of itself as a transit system instead of as a silver train,” Hobson says. He points to the agency’s plans to extend its rail service from its current Dublin-Pleasanton station to Livermore. A sales tax measure passed last year by Alameda County voters will raise hundreds of millions of dollars for that project, but Hobson says the agency should consider less costly alternatives — such as an express bus service that could serve both the Interstate 580 and I-680 corridors.

But while BART continues to face criticism for granting significant wage increases to union workers after two strikes in 2013, Hobson says the auditor’s report may help the agency’s cause.

The audit finds that BART has done a credible job of projecting its future fiscal needs and that its projections for coming years are at least plausible.

“They need to be able to say, ‘We’ve been using our money responsibly.’ That’s always the most important thing when approaching the voters,” Hobson says. “And they have to say, ‘Look at the needs we have.’”

And the needs, in more human terms than budget figures convey, include a system that will be more and more crowded in coming decades. BART’s ridership has increased about 25 percent in the last five years, to more than 400,000 trips on the average weekday. BART has projected that figure could increase to more than 800,000 by 2040.

 

California Loses 300 More Jobs and a Major Small Business Firm

There will be 300 people from the South Bay area of Los Angeles forced to move to Texas or look for another job. The good news is that they will get better housing, for half the price in Texas. Plus, they will receive a 10% pay raise, by not paying income tax to California—Texas allows its citizens to keep the money instead.

“The 103-year-old Farmer Bros. Co. is brewing up a corporate move from California to a new 500,000 square-foot office and distribution center in the Denton County city of Northlake, which has approved some incentives to lure Farmers Bros.

Farmer Bros. joins Toyota Motor Corp., which is moving its North American headquarters from Torrance to Plano. The company said it would close its facilities in Torrance.”

Tuesday night I gave a speech at the Toyota Automotive Museum in Torrance—Toyota has a massive campus. It will be sad to see Toyota also moving to Texas soon—a vibrant State with a great economy.

Farmer Bros. coffee leaving Torrance

Lance Murray, Dallas Business Journal, 4/29/15

Farmers Bros. Co. is moving its headquarters from Torrance to North Texas.

Another corporation is leaving Torrance to plant its corporate flag in North Texas.

The 103-year-old Farmer Bros. Co. is brewing up a corporate move from California to a new 500,000 square-foot office and distribution center in the Denton County city of Northlake, which has approved some incentives to lure Farmers Bros.

Farmer Bros. joins Toyota Motor Corp., which is moving its North American headquarters from Torrance to Plano. The company said it would close its facilities in Torrance.

The coffee company’s new headquarters will be in a new $40 million facility near Texas Motor Speedway on Interstate 35W.

According to media reports, 300 people will work at the new Farmer Bros. facility.

Farmer Bros. Co. (NASDAQ: FARM) is a manufacturer, wholesaler and distributor of a variety of coffee, tea and food items to food service businesses and retailers in the U.S. It generated more than $500 million in revenue in 2014 and has 1,800 employees nationwide.

It is a direct distributor to restaurants, casinos, hotels, hospitals and other foodservice providers, the company said on its website.

 

Judge Denies Injunction On Open Taxi Market In San Diego–Freedom Restored

A Judge in San Diego has used the bench to legalize freedom and the Constitution. This is a rare occurrence. He decided that if you want to be a taxicab driver and owner, it is your right. The decision means the monopoly of 993 taxi drivers is over. Thanks to the innovation of Uber and Lyft, the highly price permit to drive a taxi has almost no value. Freedom in this industry has returned.

Maybe the same can be done for other professions and industries. Seriously, why does the State of California license barbers—I know a good one from a terrible one—even if the State of California gives them a license.

“Existing permit holders had called for an injunction following the city’s decision to lift a decades-old cap on permits. That cap held the number cabs on San Diego roadways at 993 and largely prevented new cab companies from gaining a foothold in the industry.

San Diego Superior Court Judge Ronald Prager denied the injunction late Tuesday making way for the Metropolitan Transit System to continue processing the 1,516 permit requests taxi drivers began filing in March.”

Freedom!

Indiana Religious Freedom

Judge Denies Injunction On Open Taxi Market In San Diego

By Megan Burks, KPBS, 4/29/15

A judge has ruled the city of San Diego and a regional transit agency can move forward with plans to issue new taxi permits.

Existing permit holders had called for an injunction following the city’s decision to lift a decades-old cap on permits. That cap held the number cabs on San Diego roadways at 993 and largely prevented new cab companies from gaining a foothold in the industry.

San Diego Superior Court Judge Ronald Prager denied the injunction late Tuesday making way for the Metropolitan Transit System to continue processing the 1,516 permit requests taxi drivers began filing in March.

“I am very relieved that I can go forward with my permit application and start my own taxi business for myself and my family,” Abebe Antallo, a driver and organizer with United Taxi Workers of San Diego, said in a press release.

At the center of the permit holders’ legal challenge, which must move through the courts despite the injunction ruling, is a claim that the city should have conducted an environmental review before deciding to open the taxi market. In hearings leading up to the decision, several permit holders warned lifting the cap could multiply the number of smog-producing taxis idling in taxi queues.

RELATED: San Diego Cabbies Brace For An Open Taxi Market

In his ruling, Prager called the environmental challenge “speculative and unsupported.”

“The judge himself actually said in the hearing the petitioners were able to offer no authority whatsoever saying that a taxi project has ever been held to be subject to CEQA,” said Keith Diggs, an Institute for Justice attorney representing two drivers who want permits.

CEQA is the California Environmental Quality Act. Diggs said the California Public Utilities Commission has already ruled CEQA doesn’t apply to policies allowing similar for-hire vehicles – Uber and Lyft – on the road.

And soon-to-be permit holders like Abdikadir Abdisalan have to buy low-emission cabs under the new regulations.

“Owning my own taxi (would give) me the freedom to spend time with my family and be off the roads,” said Abdisalan, who’s leased a cab for nine years. “I’m on the road a lot of times driving about 70 hours a week.”

A representative for the permit holders in the case could not immediately be reached for comment.

Changes came to the industry after San Diego State and Center on Policy Initiatives study found drivers who leased cabs from permit holders had to work long hours to cover high leases and netted less than minimum wage. Permit holders have said they believe the study was flawed and the figures exaggerated.

“A lot of hard work and research was conducted to achieve this policy reform and we are very encouraged about Judge Prager’s decision to allow drivers to continue applying for permits,” said Sarah Saez, program director for United Taxi Workers. The group led reform efforts on behalf of drivers.

Judge Prager’s ruling also allows two drivers to present arguments as interveners as the case moves forward. Otherwise, only permit holders and a deputy city attorney would have appeared before a judge.

ACLU Tolerance for Criminals Harms Oakland Children

The children of Oakland are being raised in a war zone—no different than the kids in the Middle East—except the terrorists are home grown and protected by the ACLU, Guv Brown, Kamela Harris and the Democrat Party. Thanks to AB 109 releasing close to 60,000 criminals from prison back onto our streets, the decent folks of Oakland need to protect themselves, since the city fired close to one third the police force. Add Prop. 47 that protects drug dealers, this is a city where walking on the streets means if you can not protect yourself, you are a sitting duck like in an Arcade.

“From 2002 to 2014 — the time it has taken for a kid in Oakland to go from kindergarten to senior year in high school — 111 children under 18 have been shot and killed in the city, according to the city’s Police Department. The department also reports that 1,280 children were wounded by gunfire from 2004 through 2014.

Those statistics don’t capture the number of students who have seen others in their lives — siblings, parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins — shot, stabbed or beaten. McClung estimates that half the district’s 37,000 or so students will need some form of mental health services. That’s more than double the estimated national rate.

City government, along with our Guv and AG, are making the children of Oakland emotional wrecks—this is children abuse. Put the criminals away and save the children.

PoliceRiot

Violence Causes Ripple Effects for Thousands of Oakland Students

By Zaidee Stavely, KQED, 4/29/15

Oakland’s first homicide victim of 2014 was a boy named Lee Weathersby III. He was shot on New Year’s Eve and died early the next morning. Police say it appears he was not the intended target of the shooting.

Lee would have turned 14 that year. His death hit his middle school, Alliance Academy, hard.

Two months later, on his birthday, 400 fellow students gathered in a circle on the school blacktop with his family and sang “Happy Birthday,” Stevie Wonder-style, to remember him.

Then the middle-schoolers marched around the school and lined up on 98th Avenue. They held up their index fingers and thumbs to make an L, for “Lee” and “love.” They shouted “L’s up!” Then they pointed their fingers down, shouting, “Guns down!”

Diamond Allen, an eighth-grader at the time, helped organize the event. He and Lee had been friends since the first day of sixth grade.

“It used to be Lee, myself, Demond, Romelo and Keishun, always hanging out with each other after school, going to each other’s houses, going to play basketball, going to Sunnyside Park, just to hang out and have laughs, going to his house to play video games,” Diamond says. “We were like brothers.”

When there is a crisis like this one — when a student is killed or wounded, or a shooting happens near a campus, or children sidestep dead bodies on the way to school — often a school district grief counseling team arrives. The week after Lee’s death, almost 200 kids had to get therapy. Diamond was one of them.

“It was hard focusing in class, just knowing that Lee was not sitting by me, Lee was not there, it was an empty seat,” says Diamond. “I was hurt inside, I was angry, I was sad. So many mixed emotions going on. Just, like, confused, like, why it happened?”

It’s well documented that experiencing ongoing violence can make it harder for kids to succeed in school. One study on adverse childhood experiences showed that traumatic incidents in childhood can have long-lasting effects on health and development.

The coordinator of behavioral health at the Oakland Unified School District is Barbara McClung. She says the effects of violence on kids like Diamond spill into the classroom and make it hard for kids to learn.”Difficulty concentrating, hypervigilance, feeling hopeless or helpless, being fearful or afraid. … All those things require a lot of skill at self-regulation in order to sort of suppress that and focus on academic content. And for so many of our students, that is really impossible,” says McClung.

Diamond got his first “C” grade after Lee died.

From 2002 to 2014 — the time it has taken for a kid in Oakland to go from kindergarten to senior year in high school — 111 children under 18 have been shot and killed in the city, according to the city’s Police Department. The department also reports that 1,280 children were wounded by gunfire from 2004 through 2014.

Those statistics don’t capture the number of students who have seen others in their lives — siblings, parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins — shot, stabbed or beaten. McClung estimates that half the district’s 37,000 or so students will need some form of mental health services. That’s more than double the estimated national rate.

Because violence is concentrated in certain Oakland neighborhoods, certain schools have more kids traumatized by violence.

“When we convene kids at school sites and we sit in circle together and we ask, ‘Besides this event, have you ever lost anyone due to violence?’ three-quarters of the kids, no matter what grade they’re in — you know, elementary school kids, middle, high school — raise their hand. And then they share out how they’ve lost their father, they’ve lost their uncle, they’ve lost their brother, they’ve lost their cousin, they’ve lost their sister,” says McClung.

“The sad truth is that the violence of having someone murdered wasn’t a new experience,” says Ashlee George, restorative justice coordinator at Alliance Academy. “A lot of students, and adults, we’ve all gone through it. So when it happens, you almost get numb.”

Teachers and counselors have the heartbreaking job of trying to heal the unseen wounds of children who are affected by violence against loved ones and to teach them, despite it all.

Marisa Morales teaches third grade at Community United Elementary School, in one of the neighborhoods with the highest incidence of gunfire in the city. She says you can see the effects in her 8-year-old students.

“Sometimes the tears want to come out, and they feel like … they don’t even know why,” Morales says. “So that will lead to one of my students, just completely unprovoked, just punching another girl in the face. It leads to students trying to read, but not being able to focus on the words, so they just sit there and they stare at a book, and they’re trying so hard, but they can’t.”

Oakland has tried to put more mental health professionals in schools that need them the most. These are not the school counselors, nor are they the school psychologists, who tend to focus more on special-ed assessments. These therapists are there specifically for kids’ mental health issues. Jasmine Gonzalez leads the team at Diamond’s middle school.

“They’re already coping — they’re so resilient — they’re able to come here to school, though they might not always be able to get through class,” says Gonzalez. “I really try to focus on their strengths and then find other ways that they can cope: journaling, taking deep breaths, different coping skills, that they might already be using, but highlighting those things and giving them new skills.”

‘Sometimes the tears want to come out …
they don’t even know why.’
Marisa Morales, Third-grade teacher

There is some progress in terms of responding to students’ problems. McClung says that in 2000, only a handful of schools in Oakland had a mental health professional on-site. Beginning last year, she says all schools have at least one, though not all are full time. The improvement is due to the district’s partnership with Alameda County’s Health Services Agency, under Alex Briscoe.

“We took a lemon, the increasing concentration of poverty in public education, which is the harsh truth, and we turned it into lemonade,” says Briscoe.

Alameda County took Medi-Cal money and redirected it to put therapists on-site in the public schools. That’s pretty unusual. Other counties have visited Briscoe to figure out the formula for their own students. Briscoe says in six years, the county doubled the number of children from low-income families it’s helping with mental health care.

“They stay in school longer, they do better in school, they go to emergency room less. They self-report better self-regulation and capacity,” says Briscoe. “[It’s] healthy development of children. We know what healthy development is, we know how to support it. It happens in rich communities every day.”

The problem is there are long waitlists for therapists in Oakland public schools.

Lee Weathersby’s school, Alliance Academy, shares a campus with another middle school. In the 2013-14 school year, there were three therapists there, for about 700 students. Clinical case manager Jasmine Gonzalez says each of them saw about 10 to 15 students on a weekly basis, in addition to family outreach and crisis calls. After the first week of grief counseling after Lee died, his friend Diamond Allen never started regular therapy at school. He relied on talks with the school’s restorative justice coordinator and his parents.

Diamond’s father and mother, Jesus and Nicole Rodriguez, have known their own share of violence and trauma. They’re doing their best to make life better for their own kids and other kids in Oakland. Not long before Lee’s death, Diamond’s parents had already decided to move to a different neighborhood. They found one with fewer homicides, one they hope will be safer for his little brothers and sisters. They sent Diamond away to a boarding school for high school, Eastside College Preparatory Academy in East Palo Alto. The school is focused on getting first-generation students into college.

But Diamond’s old friends still live over near 98th Avenue. One of them was recently robbed at gunpoint. Diamond’s parents still feel connected to those kids. So does Diamond. The family is trying hard to stay in touch with them all.

Diamond Allen, pictured in his dorm room at his new school, Eastside College Preparatory Academy. (Jeremy Raff/KQED)

After Lee’s death, Diamond’s parents raised money to buy a van to be able to pick all of Diamond’s friends up and take them to church or to come spend weekends at their house. They have dreams to one day open a restaurant that can double as a community center where young people can feel safe and build relationships with mentors.

“I want them to live,” says Diamond’s dad, Jesus Rodriguez. “I want them to be successful. I want them to reach 18, and further on. I don’t want them to slip through the cracks in society. There’s so many cracks to slip in, it’s almost like they’re walking around on eggshells, just waiting to crack something, you know? I just want them to make it.”

In their kitchen, Diamond’s mom, Nicole Rodriguez, pulls up a video on the family’s computer. It shows Lee and Diamond and a bunch of their friends, girls and boys, playing leapfrog in a park.

“They don’t even look like this anymore,” says Rodriguez. “That’s Lee with the red shirt.”

In the video, the kids are laughing and clapping. Diamond turns away from the screen. He puts his head down on the kitchen table.

Later, in his bedroom, he reaches into the closet and pulls out a white T-shirt, covered with scribbles, the kind middle-schoolers give to their friends to write on at the end of the year.

“He wrote, ‘Lee Weathersby. Diamond, I will miss you, brother,’” he reads.

The pain is still there. Diamond’s just learning to live with it.

 

Ring: Pension Reformers are not “The Enemy” of Public Safety

Does it help the police to have peace of mind if they know their pensions are unsustainable and that no matter how much they work, in the future what they thought they were going to get when retired is a pipedream? The police and firefighters deserve better—even if their unions, which they are to pay bribes if they want to work, decide it is OK to lose pensions for the current good feelings about a pension system that is collapsing.

“This is a huge failure of logic. Foster is suggesting that the Wall Street crowd is to blame for the unfunded liabilities of pensions, but ignoring the fact that these unfunded liabilities are caused by (1) accepting the impossible promises made by Wall Street investment firms during the stock market bubbles and using that to justify financially unsustainable (and retroactive) benefit formula enhancements, and (2) basing the entire funding analysis for pension systems on rates of return that can only be achieved by relying on stock market bubbles – i.e., doomed to crash.”

It is too bad we are making promises to our First Responders that can not be kept because the unions want it like that. Sadly, they are paying bribes to organizations that are killing their retirement.

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Pension Reformers are not “The Enemy” of Public Safety

By Ed Ring, Union Watch, 4/28/15

“You will find that powerful financial and investment institutions are the ones promoting the attacks on your pensions. Firms like Berkshire-Hathaway and the Koch brothers are backing political candidates and causes all over the country in the hopes of making this issue relevant and in the mainstream media. Why? Because if they can crack your pension and turn it into a 401(k), they will make billions. Your pension is the golden egg that they are dying to get their hands upon. By the way, it was those same financial geniuses that brought about the Great Recession in the first place. After nearly collapsing the entire financial system of western civilization, they successfully managed to deflect the blame off of themselves and onto government employee pay/benefits.”
– Jim Foster, Vice President, Long Beach Police Officers Association, posted on PubSec Alliance website

These comments form the conclusion to a piece published by Foster entitled “What does “unfunded liability” mean?,” published on PubSecAlliance.com, an online “community of law enforcement associations and unions.” If you review the “supporters” page, you can see that the website’s “founding members,” “affiliated organizations,” and “other groups whose membership is pending” are all law enforcement unions.

In Foster’s discussion of what constitutes an unfunded pension liability, he compares the liability to a mortgage, correctly pointing out that like a mortgage, an unfunded pension liability can be paid down over many years. But Foster fails to take into account the fact that a mortgage can be negotiated at a fixed rate of interest, whereas a pension liability will grow whenever the rates earned by the pension system’s investments fall short of expectations. When the average taxpayer signs a 30 year fixed mortgage, they don’t expect to suddenly find out their payments have doubled, or tripled, or gone up by an order of magnitude. But that’s exactly what’s happened with pensions.

Apart from ignoring this crucial difference between mortgages and unfunded pension liabilities, Foster’s piece makes no mention of the other reason unfunded pension liabilities have grown to alarming levels, the retroactive enhancements to the pension benefit formula – enhancements gifted to public employees and imposed on taxpayers starting in 1999. These enhancements were made at precisely the same time as the market was delivering unsustainable gains engineered by, as Foster puts it, the “same financial geniuses that brought about the Great Recession in the first place,” and “nearly collapsing the entire financial system of western civilization.”

This is a huge failure of logic. Foster is suggesting that the Wall Street crowd is to blame for the unfunded liabilities of pensions, but ignoring the fact that these unfunded liabilities are caused by (1) accepting the impossible promises made by Wall Street investment firms during the stock market bubbles and using that to justify financially unsustainable (and retroactive) benefit formula enhancements, and (2) basing the entire funding analysis for pension systems on rates of return that can only be achieved by relying on stock market bubbles – i.e., doomed to crash.

You can’t blame “Wall Street” for the financial challenges facing pension funds, yet demand benefits based on financial assumptions that only those you taint as Wall Street charlatans are willing to promote.

Foster ignores the fact that the stock market bubbles (2000, 2008, and 2014) were inflated then reflated by lowering interest rates and accumulating debt to stimulate the economy. But interest rates cannot go any lower. When the market corrects, and pension funds start demanding even larger annual payments to fund pensions and OPEB that now average over $100,000 per year for California’s full-career public safety retirees, Foster and his ilk are going to have a lot of explaining to do.

There is a deeper, more ominous context to Foster’s remarks, however, which is the power that government unions, especially public safety unions, wield over politicians and over public perception. The navigation bar of the website that published his essay, PubSecAlliance, is but a mild reminder of the power police organizations now have over the political process. Items such as “Intel Report,” “Pay Wars,” “Tactics,” “Tales of Triumph,” and “The Enemy” are examples of resources on this website.

When reviewing PubSecAlliance’s reports on “enemies,” notwithstanding the frightening reality of police organizations keeping lists of political enemies, were any of the people and organizations listed selected despite the fact that they were staunch supporters of law enforcement? Because pension reformers and government union reformers are not “enemies” of law enforcement, or government employees, or government programs in general. There is no connection.

Here are a few points for Jim Foster to consider, along with his leadership colleagues at the Long Beach Police Officers Association, and police union members everywhere.

TEN POINTS FOR MEMBERS OF PUBLIC SAFETY UNIONS TO CONSIDER

(1)  Not all pension reformers want to abolish the defined benefit. Restoring the more sustainable pension benefit formulas in use prior to 1999, and adopting conservative rate-of-return assumptions would make the defined benefit financially sustainable and fair to taxpayers.

(2)  Over the long term, the real, inflation-adjusted return on investments cannot be realistically expected to exceed the rate of national and global economic growth. You are being sold a 7.0% (or more) annual rate of return because it is an excuse to keep your normal contribution artificially low, and mislead politicians into thinking pension systems are financially sound.

(3)  As noted, you can’t blame “Wall Street” for the financial challenges facing pension funds, yet demand benefits based on financial assumptions that only those you taint as Wall Street charlatans are willing to promote.

(4)  If public safety employers didn’t have to pay 50% or more of payroll into the pension funds – normal and unfunded contributions combined – there would be money to hire more public safety employees, improving their own safety and better protecting the public.

(5)  Public safety personnel are eyewitnesses every day to the destructive effects of failed social welfare programs that destroy families, ineffective public schools with unaccountable unionized teachers, and a flawed immigration policy that prioritizes the admission of millions of unskilled immigrants over those with valuable skills. They ought to stick their necks out on these political issues, instead of invariably fighting exclusively to increase their pay and benefits.

(6)  The solution to the financial challenges facing all workers, public and private, is to lower the cost of living through competitive development of land, energy, water and transportation assets. Just two examples: rolling back CEQA hindrances to build a desalination plant in Huntington Beach, or construct indirect potable water reuse assets in San Jose. Where are the police and firefighters on these critical issues? Creating inexpensive abundance through competition and development helps all workers, instead of just the anointed unionized government elite.

(7)  If pension funds were calibrated to accept 5.0% annual returns, instead of 7.0% or more, they could be invested in revenue producing infrastructure such as dams, desalination plants, sewage distillation and reuse, bridges, and port expansion, to name a few – all of which have the potential yield 5.0% per year to investors, but usually not 7.0%.

(8)  Government unions are partners with Wall Street and other crony capitalist interests. The idea that they are opposed to each other is one of the biggest frauds in American history. Government unions control local politicians, who award contracts, regulate and inspect businesses, float bond issues, and preserve financially unsustainable pension benefits. This is a gold mine to financial special interests, and to large corporate interests who know that the small businesses lack the resources to comply with excessive regulations or afford lobbyists.

(9)  Government unions elect their bosses, they wield the coercive power of the state, they favor expanded government and expanded compensation for government employees which is an intrinsic conflict of interest, and they protect incompetent (or worse) government employees. They should be abolished. Voluntary associations without collective bargaining rights would still have plenty of political influence.

(10)  Expectations of security have risen, the value of life has risen, the complexity of law enforcement challenges has risen, and the premium law enforcement officers should receive as a result has also risen. But unaffordable pensions, along with the consequent excessive payments of overtime, have priced public safety compensation well beyond what qualified people are willing to accept. Saying this does not make us your “The Enemy.”

*   *   *

Ed Ring is the executive director of the California Policy Center.

 

Governor calls for aggressive pollution reduction order–kill jobs and economy quicker

Our very confused Guv Brown has done all he could to assure low wages, few jobs and an economic climate the Texas Chamber of Commerce can support. By not stopping water flowing into the ocean, by not waiving environmental laws so desalinization plants can be built and not using bond money (as promised) to build water storage facilities. He is killing jobs and lowering the quality of life and the standard of living for Californians.

That is not enough for him. Now he wants to dramatically raise the cost of doing business in the State by instituting new pollution standards, based on junk science so special interests can make money selling Al Gore foolishness to the public and businesses—no science, just a way for radicals to get rich.

“Gov. Jerry Brown announced new pollution reduction targets on Wednesday that are more aggressive than those of any government in North America, and would match the greenhouse gas goals of the European Union. In an executive order, the governor called to reduce carbon emissions by 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.

Note most Europeans countries, like Greece, Italy and Spain are bankrupt—thanks to their environmental laws killing businesses and jobs.

Photo courtesy of DonkeyHotey, flickr

Photo courtesy of DonkeyHotey, flickr

Governor calls for aggressive pollution reduction order

Allen Young, Sacramento Business Journal, 4/29/15

Gov. Jerry Brown announced new pollution reduction targets on Wednesday that are more aggressive than those of any government in North America, and would match the greenhouse gas goals of the European Union. In an executive order, the governor called to reduce carbon emissions by 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.

Many business groups have rejected a push by Brown and legislative leaders to tackle climate change this year by imposing austere new reductions on petroleum use in automobiles, and increasing use of renewable energy. Groups such as the California Manufacturers & Technology Association have complained that those pending regulations lack clarity. Details were not immediately available on how Brown’s new order could affect private industry.

California is already on track to meet a current benchmark of lowering pollution to 1990 levels by 2020. According to a statement announcing Wednesday’s executive order, the administration’s ultimate goal is to reduce emissions 80 percent under the 1990 threshold by 2050.

“This is in line with the scientifically established levels needed in the U.S. to limit global warming below 2 degrees Celsius — the warming threshold at which scientists say there will likely be major climate disruptions such as super droughts and rising sea levels,” administration officials wrote in a prepared statement.

The move comes in advance of a U.N. climate conference in Paris scheduled in December. According to Brown’s office, the European Union set the same 2030 climate change goal back in October.

The executive order arrives during a simultaneous effort by the governor to force businesses and residents to drastically limit water use. On Tuesday, Brown announced he would seek legislation to enable local water agencies to fine businesses and residents up to $10,000 for egregiously wasting water.

ObamaCare a bust in California as many had to repay subsidies to IRS

The poor and middle class of California have been taken for an economic ride by Barack Obama. He told us ObamaCare will provide better health care at a lower price. For those unable to afford it, their health care will be subsidized—some only paying $1 a month for a card promising full health care.   But many lied about their income to make sure they stole from the taxpayers. But, they got caught and now must repay the money they stole—with no other punishment.

“Many of those consumers who bought into Obamacare live in California. Tom Howell Jr. of The Washington Times broke the news on Monday and stated that most filers who received government subsidies to buy Obamacare plans had to pay money back to the IRS this year, according to an H&R Block analysis that also was released on Monday, which consumers had to on average, repay $729 back to the government. Howell quoted Mark Ciaramitaro, Vice President of H&R Block health care and tax services as saying, “Our figures highlight the importance of estimating income as accurately as possible when applying for premium tax credits and notifying the marketplace with any life changes that impact annual household income or size.”

They stole for nothing—the quality of care is meager. The availability of finding a good doctor very small. In real need, you might travel 50-60 miles or more to get a qualified doctor for your ailment. ObamaCare is one of the biggest frauds in the history of any nation. It was promoted by an ideologue that wanted control over the health of all Americans, not quality care for our citizens. Totalitarianism has a policy face, ObamaCare.

ObamacareSymbol

Obamacare a bust in California as many had to repay subsidies to IRS

Christopher Collins, Examiner.com, 4/28/15

President Obama’s signature healthcare reform, the Affordable Care Act, known as “Obamacare” has caught many off-guard as two-thirds of Obamacare consumers had to repay back the subsidies to the IRS. Many did not heed the warning when President Obama stated that if you like your doctor, you could keep them and ignored the high deductibles.

Many of those consumers who bought into Obamacare live in California. Tom Howell Jr. of The Washington Times broke the news on Monday and stated that most filers who received government subsidies to buy Obamacare plans had to pay money back to the IRS this year, according to an H&R Block analysis that also was released on Monday, which consumers had to on average, repay $729 back to the government. Howell quoted Mark Ciaramitaro, Vice President of H&R Block health care and tax services as saying, “Our figures highlight the importance of estimating income as accurately as possible when applying for premium tax credits and notifying the marketplace with any life changes that impact annual household income or size.”

Meanwhile, Michael Reagan, son of former President Ronald Reagan and chairman of the League of American Voters sent an email on Tuesday explaining that Sharyl Attkisson, of the Daily Signal, has written a two–part series that shows the lies are baked in at Obamacare California, Reagan’s home-state. Reagan stated that Executive Director Peter Lee said everything is going swimmingly, “94 percent of those who renewed their Covered California insurance this year kept their same policies, meaning those plans having the right mix of doctors, the right mix of care options for them, and the right one they wanted to stay with.”

Reagan stated of the failure of Obamacare, “Except they didn’t keep their insurance, and it’s not a success story. The truth is there is that word again, over one–third of Covered California policyholders dropped their insurance altogether. Attkisson contends this is one of the worst retention rates in the nation. And for those poor souls who are still at the mercy of Covered California, the situation doesn’t get any better, 84 percent of the policyholders will be paying increased premiums in 2015.”

Aiden Hill, formerly a big supporter of Obamacare and head of the Covered California call center, says the coverage he gets from his Obamacare policy is less than he had before passage of the law and his premium skyrocketed 71 percent. In his words, “So much for competition. I really believe that we’ve created a monster — and it’s an unaccountable monster.”

“In the beginning Covered California padded coverage figures by counting applications as enrollments. Since customers often had to try, multiple times to complete an enrollment, the numbers soared. Now instead of increasing coverage of the uninsured, the pool of covered is shrinking, “Reagan said. “Earlier this year, Covered California predicted it would increase enrollment by 500,000, yet after you subtract the 35 percent that didn’t renew their policies in 2014, the 7,098 new enrollees this year won’t make a dent in the non-renewals.”

Reagan further said, “The cost for this massive failure of government health insurance currently totals $1.06 billion. And that’s not putting any cost on the wasted time, reduced coverage and increased premiums faced by the public. If Obamacare were a business, it would be bankrupt. But since it’s the government, unless something is done in Washington, it will continue until we’re bankrupt.”