Unions OPENLY Steal From Children’s Education—Government Schools Promote the Theft

I bet you thought that if a “teacher” or Administrator is paid by your school district they actually work for the district and your children. That is not true. Many districts are hiring “teachers” that are really union activists, organizers and goons—pay them to do union work, full time, while you are forced to pay more for bonds and taxes so your child can receive a mediocre government education—and in LA, a totally failed education.

“Called “release time,” or “official time” at the federal level, it’s a practice that allows public employees to conduct union business during working hours without loss of pay. These activities include negotiating contracts, lobbying, processing grievances, and attending union meetings and conferences.

According to Trey Kovacs, a policy analyst at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, this racket has cost the federal government about $1 billion since 1998. Between 2008 and 2011, the fraud has increased from 2.9 million hours at a cost of $121 million to 3.4 million hours at a cost of $155 million.

Teachers are extorted to pay bribes to work and school districts allow unions to steal from the children. When will the parents stand up for great education and their children against the thieves?

budget

Release Time on the Taxpayer’s Dime

By Larry Sand, Union Watch, 6/30/15

All over the country, American workers are subsidizing unions with tax dollars.

In St. Charles, IL, a teacher is paid $141,105 not to teach. In Philadelphia, “ghost employees” who don’t do work for the state collect benefits from the state. In Kalamazoo, MI a former teacher is collecting a government pension of $85,903 a year even though he didn’t teach his last 14 years, but instead worked as a union employee.

Called “release time,” or “official time” at the federal level, it’s a practice that allows public employees to conduct union business during working hours without loss of pay. These activities include negotiating contracts, lobbying, processing grievances, and attending union meetings and conferences.

According to Trey Kovacs, a policy analyst at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, this racket has cost the federal government about $1 billion since 1998. Between 2008 and 2011, the fraud has increased from 2.9 million hours at a cost of $121 million to 3.4 million hours at a cost of $155 million.

School boards, which frequently consist of members bought and paid for by the teachers unions, are particularly guilty of this crime against the taxpayer. In CA, where the California Teachers Association wields great power, the situation is particularly egregious. Typically this scam is written into collective bargaining contracts and comes in different flavors. Sometimes the school district will pay for the cost of a sub if the teacher/union employee needs to do work for the union. In Los Angeles, page 6 of the teacher contract states that the United Teachers of Los Angeles “may request the release of designated employees from their regular duties with no loss of pay for the purpose of attending to UTLA matters, with the expense of the substitute or replacement to be borne by UTLA.”

Sounds fair, right? But it’s not.

The substitute invariably makes a lot less than the teacher/union employee and the taxpayer is sucking up the difference in pay. The teacher is also racking up pension time, (which is taxpayer-subsidized), while doing union work. And of course the students lose out by having frequent subs, who often are nothing more than placeholders.

In other districts, the union gets a completely free pass. Page 15 of Orange County’s Fountain Valley School District contract reads, “The Association (union) President or designee may utilize one (1) day per week for Association business. The District shall bear the cost of the substitutes.” So a classroom teacher of 15 years, who doubles as union president, makes an $89,731 yearly salary, or $485 a day. The taxpayer is also paying $100 a day for a sub which brings the total to $585 for one day of union business per week. Repeated over the 38 week teaching year, the taxpayer is on the hook for $22,230. And that amount does not include the thousands of dollars the employer (ultimately the taxpayer) has to pay for contributions to the teacher/union leader’s retirement fund, health benefits, unemployment insurance and workers compensation.

With over a thousand school districts in the state doing business like Los Angeles and Fountain Valley, we are talking about serious larceny.

Not everyone has rolled over and accepted this criminal arrangement. Jim Gibson, a former Marine Corps Captain who had sat on the Vista Unified School District board for 13 years, was outraged at the fraudulent set-up and decided to act. He initiated a lawsuit against the Vista Teachers Association in 2011, using a section of the California education code to make his case:

The governing board of a school district shall grant to any employee, upon request, a leave of absence without loss of compensation for the purpose of enabling the employee to serve as an elected officer of any local school district public employee organization, or any statewide or national public employee organization with which the local organization is affiliated.

… Following the school district’s payment of the employee for the leave of absence, the school district shall be reimbursed by the employee organization of which the employee is an elected officer for all compensation paid the employee on account of the leave. Reimbursement by the employee organization shall be made within 10 days after its receipt of the school district’s certification of payment of compensation to the employee. (Emphasis added.)

Gibson and the school district won the case.  All monies paid to do union business were ordered to be repaid by the union to the district. This ruling should have had ramifications statewide, but clearly it hasn’t. And things won’t change until enough citizens rise up and put an end to it.

What can be done?

One way to stop the criminal practice of taxpayer-supported “release time” would be to open collective bargaining negotiations to the public. That kind of sunlight would go a long way toward disinfecting wounds inflicted by unions and compliant school board members.

More than anything, citizens need to get involved. Examine the part of your local teacher union contract that is headed Organizational Security, Association Rights or (Name of local union) Rights. Ask your local school board president how the district deals with this policy. Go to school board meetings and ask questions about the contract wording and ask for verification that that district actually lives up to the contract. Talk to your friends, family, neighbors and your kid’s teacher. Talk to the media if necessary.

If we the people don’t care enough to stop it, union orchestrated taxpayer theft will go on unabated.

Larry Sand, a former classroom teacher, is the president of the non-profit California Teachers Empowerment Network – a non-partisan, non-political group dedicated to providing teachers and the general public with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues.

 

Feds spend $357,750 to Convince Pot Smokers to Exercise (NO JOKE)

As my good friend Jon Fleishman loves to say, “you can’t make these things up.” I had no idea that pot smokers, folks trying to mellow out and fry their brains were in need of exercise, so much so the Obama Administration has a program promoting exercise for those with the munchies. Could it be that pot smokers get a case of the munchies, eating lots of food with sugar, trans fats and other things the special interests do not want you to eat.

““This study will develop and initially test an intervention [personalized feedback on MJ use + a smartphone app to promote exercise/physical activity (PA) as a positive alternative to MJ use], designed to help young adults who regularly use MJ to reduce their MJ intake,” it added.

How modern!!! Using a computer app to get druggies to take a walk, jump up and down and to lift weights. Anybody think this is anything more than some academics ripping off the public?

Cannabis marijuana weed pot

$357,750: NIH Funds Research for App to Promote Exercise for Marijuana Users

By Melanie Hunter, Washington Free Beacon, 6/30/15

(CNSNews.com) – Could an app motivate marijuana users to exercise? The National Institutes of Health is giving $357,750 in taxpayer dollars through its National Institute on Drug Abuse to State University of New York at Buffalo to find out.

“Currently, marijuana (MJ) is the most popular illicit drug, but there are few effective interventions to help young adults (age 18 to 25 years) to reduce their MJ intake and avoid negative consequences, including dependence,” the grant noted.

“This study will develop and initially test an intervention [personalized feedback on MJ use + a smartphone app to promote exercise/physical activity (PA) as a positive alternative to MJ use], designed to help young adults who regularly use MJ to reduce their MJ intake,” it added.

The project titled, “Use of Exercise to Reduce Young Adult Marijuana Use There Is an App for That,” began on July 1, 2013 and ends on June 30, 2015. The budget start date is listed as July 1, 2014 and also ends on June 30, 2015.

Researchers propose “a Stage 1 efficacy study to develop and initially test an innovative intervention” to reduce marijuana use among young adults who regularly use the drug more than three times a week.

“The intervention includes elements from the Marijuana Check-Up (MCU), a MI-based brief intervention that has shown promise for reducing marijuana use,” the grant noted.

According to Lorraine Collins, project leader for the grant, MI stands for motivational interviewing, “which is a therapeutic approach to promoting behavior change.”

“It also incorporates findings from our ongoing research, which suggest that exercise/physical activity (PA) has potential as a positive alternative” to marijuana use, the grant stated.

“Our research also has shown that short (i.e., 10 minute) bouts of moderate or intense exercise reduce craving/urges to use MJ. Exercise interventions have successfully reduced use of licit substances, such as tobacco and alcohol, but have not been adequately tested for MJ use.”

The project will develop an intervention that consists of “four, 60-minute, in-person sessions composed of MCU contest (e.g., personalized feedback, MI) as well as smartphone application (app) that promotes exercise/physical activity (EA) as an alternative to MJ use.”

According to Collins, researchers are still “in the process of running the study and collecting data,” so the results will not be known for some. However, she noted that “the app includes exercise programs from which the marijuana users can choose, based on their preferences and situation.”

 

 

 

Dixon Tax “Haters” Really Taxpayers Friends

The officials of Dixon have called those that want votes on tax increases and the sale of bonds, by all voters, as “haters runamok” The California Political News and Views did that story Tuesday. After being published by was contacted by my longtime friend, Dave Scholl—who is the leader of the Solano Taxpayers Association—the folks that believe in honest government.

“After over a year of efforts by Dixon citizens to place the more than nearly doubled sewer rates on a ballot for a vote by the people, the Dixon City Council finally, but reluctantly, acquiesced and unanimously voted to call a Special Election to be held either September 22 or 29 this year. The actual date depends on the ability of the Solano County Registrar’s office to handle the election.”

Thanks to real citizens, refusing to accept corrupt and mismanagement by government, an election will be held. Congratulations to Dave and the Solano Taxpayers.

taxes

 

Dixon Tax “Haters” Really Taxpayers Friends

Dave Scholl, Solano Taxpayers Association, 6/30/15

After over a year of efforts by Dixon citizens to place the more than nearly doubled sewer rates on a ballot for a vote by the people, the Dixon City Council finally, but reluctantly, acquiesced and unanimously voted to call a Special Election to be held either September 22 or 29 this year. The actual date depends on the ability of the Solano County Registrar’s office to handle the election.

The issue was the subject of four items on last Tuesday’s Council Agenda. (June 23, 2015) Three of the items passed unanimously, the fourth passed on a four to one vote, with only Councilman Ted Hickman voting “No.”

First up was to accept a report from the City Attorney, Doug White, on the sufficiency of the petition. White claimed there were discrepancies, but a court would likely declare those to be inconsequently and order the election to be held. White recommended the Council agree to call the Special Election. Among White’s claims were that the Petitions did not have the reference to a Special Election in the right location – but could not cite any statute or ruling agreeing with him.

He also argued the petitions were misleading because they stated there were alternative methods of processing waste water that were more efficient and less costly than the Activated Sludge system the City is pursuing. (See the Musings column on page 7 of this issue for detailed rebuttal to White’s contention.)

After accepting the report, the Council then voted to call for the Special Election, followed by another vote to set the date based on a presentation by City Clerk Suellen Johnson, who is the official Elections Official for the City. Johnson noted the Council could vote to simply adopt the Initiative as written, or call a Special Election on a Tuesday within no less than 88 days and no more than 105 days from the date of that council meeting. The council opted to set the election on September 22 – with September 29 as the alternative if necessary to meet the needs of the County Registrar of Voters.

The fourth vote was on directing the City Attorney to take legal action to prevent a vote of the public by having the initiative declared unconstitutional. Despite the California Constitution having specific provisions guaranteeing the public the right to challenge sewer and water rates by initiative and referendum, White claimed statutes and orders from a state agency superseded that part of the constitution.

White also said he is working on an agreement with the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association – which is representing the Solano Taxpayers Association in the matter – to combine this initiative with the case on the previous initiative for an expedited hearing before the Special Election can be held. Mayor Batchelor, Councilmembers Bird, Castenon, and Pederson voted aye. Ted Hickman was the lone “No” vote.

Cities Are Exploring Innovative, Bike-Friendly Traffic Light Tech

Los Angeles just signed an agreement to spend $1.4 billion to fix potholes—money it does not have, nor every will have—the agreement is a fraud—and everybody understands that. The State of California has a $340 billion debt, about one trillion in unfunded pension liabilities—trying to spend $200 billion for a choo-choo train and another $68 billion in the Delta to divert the water. Yet, gas tax money meant for roads are being diverted to build bike lanes, horse and walking trails.

Now we find that government is looking to make the traffic lights “bike-friendly”. Instead of the same conditions for cars, motorcycles and pedal powered bikes, government is looking to spend money to make traffic lights smart enough to know when bikes are on the road—and give them the right away.

A quarter of a million dollars for 24 bike sensitive traffic lights—how many potholes could be filled by that money?

“Then there’s Austin, which outfitted about 24 traffic lights with special sensors that communicate with a smartphone app. The signals detect riders who have downloaded and are running the app, which launched in beta last week.

Currently, the Texas pilot program is available only to a select group of city workers. The $250,000 trial will run until next year, at which time city planners will evaluate its effect, says Jim Dale, assistant director of traffic management at the Austin Transportation Department.”

backstreet

Cities Are Exploring Innovative, Bike-Friendly Traffic Light Tech

Austin, Denver, and London are investigating devices that can detect cyclists to address the growing number of riders on the road

By: Stephen Krcmar, Outside, 6/25/15

Many traffic lights don’t recognize cyclists. They rely on inductive loops—basically giant metal detectors—buried underground that are set to detect multiton hunks of metal and trigger the signals from red to green.

While some cities are adjusting the settings of inductive loops so the units detect cyclists, a growing number of cities around the world are testing entirely new tech to ensure cyclists always trigger stoplights.

Take London, where a new pilot program slated to launch in the near future will utilize radar and thermal cameras to sense cyclists at an intersection. Once green, lights will accommodate cyclists, extending the duration of the green if cyclists are still riding through the intersection.

Then there’s Austin, which outfitted about 24 traffic lights with special sensors that communicate with a smartphone app. The signals detect riders who have downloaded and are running the app, which launched in beta last week.

Currently, the Texas pilot program is available only to a select group of city workers. The $250,000 trial will run until next year, at which time city planners will evaluate its effect, says Jim Dale, assistant director of traffic management at the Austin Transportation Department.

“With this app, we’re not looking for it to replace loops in the roadway. We’re seeing it as another tool to address the needs of detecting cyclists at intersections and to make it safer for them,” says Dale.

In Denver, seven intersections have either infrared or thermal cameras mounted on traffic lights to detect riders. A green bike symbol painted on the roadway indicates which intersections have the tech. The pilot will run through October, at which time the city will determine which camera is more effective and decide how to proceed.

The Mile-High City is also installing 19 miles of bike lanes and seven miles of sharrows, delivering two more protected bike lanes to downtown Denver, opening a new pedestrian and bike bridge, creating the city’s first neighborhood bikeway, implementing a new bike parking program, updating Denver’s bike map, and launching BikeLife Cities Denver magazine.

These programs will address a steady increase of cycling in the city as well as increase the efficiency of multimodal transport (using more than one form of transit during your trip), according to Crissy Fanganello, director of transportation for Denver Public Works.

“We’re growing so quickly, and there is some frustration about traffic and congestion. What is challenging for folks is the way we’ve improved our transportation system in the past is not the way we’ll be able to improve our transportation in the future, because it’s a finite system in terms of the footprint,” she says.

 

Undocumented Immigrants Help Keep Medicare Solvent, According to New Study

Please hold your nose when you read this article. It is being claimed that illegal aliens are putting BILLIONS of dollars into Medicare every year. We all know that many do not pay any taxes. We also know that under the law, it is ILLEGAL for them to work in this nation. So why should we believe that number.

Most importantly, if they know how much money illegal aliens pay into Medicare—then they know who the illegal aliens are—why isn’t ICE detaining and deporting them? No the number sound great—but as made up as the honesty of the Clintons.

“Researchers from Harvard Medical School, the Institute for Community Health and City University of New York’s School of Public Health at Hunter College found that in one year alone — 2011 — undocumented immigrants generated an average surplus of $316 apiece for Medicare. Other Americans generated an average deficit of $106 apiece. Undocumented immigrants contributed $3.5 billion more than they received in care in 2011, according to the study.”

This report is as accurate as the Bernie Madoff financial reports. How did these folks get a degree?

ICE-Immigration-Agents

Undocumented Immigrants Help Keep Medicare Solvent, According to New Study

by George Lauer, California Healthline, 6/29/15

Undocumented immigrants pay billions more into Medicare every year than they use in health benefits, and in fact they subsidize care for other Americans, according to researchers.

study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine contends that undocumented immigrants generated surplus Medicare contributions of $35.1 billion from 2000 to 2011, extending Medicare’s estimated life span by one full year. The study appeared earlier this month as an “online first” article in the Journal of General Internal Medicine and will appear in a forthcoming print edition of the journal.

Researchers from Harvard Medical School, the Institute for Community Health and City University of New York’s School of Public Health at Hunter College found that in one year alone — 2011 — undocumented immigrants generated an average surplus of $316 apiece for Medicare. Other Americans generated an average deficit of $106 apiece. Undocumented immigrants contributed $3.5 billion more than they received in care in 2011, according to the study.

Researchers concluded that restricting immigration would be bad for Medicare’s financial health. They estimated that contributions from undocumented immigrants during the first decade of the century prolonged Medicare’s trust fund solvency by one year. The trust fund is predicted to be insolvent in 15 years.

Background and Study Methodology

Undocumented immigrants are not eligible to participate in government health programs, including Medicare and the Affordable Care Act, but they do contribute by paying taxes. Payroll taxes are the major revenue source for Medicare’s trust fund, used primarily to pay hospital bills. Using an Individual Tax Identification Number or an unauthorized Social Security number, most undocumented immigrants — the estimate in California is 90% — pay payroll taxes.

Researchers examined Medicare trust fund contributions and expenditures from 2000 through 2011, comparing data from the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey to calculate tax contributions. They used the HHS Medical Expenditure Panel Survey to determine medical expenses paid by Medicare.

“For years I have seen my unauthorized immigrant patients be blamed for driving up health care costs,” lead author Leah Zallman, a faculty member at Harvard Medical School and researcher at the Institute for Community Health said in a prepared statement. “Yet few acknowledge their contributions. Our study demonstrates that in one large sector of the U.S. health care economy, unauthorized immigrants actually subsidize the care of other Americans.”

CMS officials declined to comment on the research, citing a standing policy against commenting on “outside studies.”

Implications for Medi-Cal

Although the research dealt exclusively with Medicare — the federal health coverage program for seniors and those with disabilities — the findings have implications for Medicaid — the state-federal partnership providing health care for those with low incomes — according to California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones (D).

“While these are two different programs with different funding sources, I think there’s no question that this study lends support to the efforts to extend Medi-Cal coverage to undocumented immigrants. I think many of the same points in this research — that undocumented immigrants contribute tax money to support government programs — applies to Medicaid and California’s Medicaid program, Medi-Cal,” Jones said.

Zallman said the study’s underlying message — that undocumented immigrants’ contributions should be recognized and appreciated — applies to Medicaid, as well.

“I think our study should cause us to re-examine our assumptions about the impacts of unauthorized immigrants in other sectors such as Medicaid,” Zallman said.

Daniel Zingale, senior vice president at the California Endowment, said the Medicare research showed similar results to the Endowment’s own efforts to secure health coverage for undocumented Californians.

“These findings mirror what we found in California — that undocumented people contribute far more than they take out,” Zingale said.

As part of its Health4All campaign, the California Endowment did similar research in California and found undocumented Californians paid $3.2 billion in state and local taxes in 2012.

The Endowment’s statistics are included in a You Tube video, California’s Hidden Truth.

Research May Affect Immigration Reform

Jones and Zingale predicted the Medicare research would help advance immigration reform efforts.

“I believe this may be the first study to analyze the impact of unauthorized immigrants on the national Medicare program,” Jones said. “The information is well researched and well documented and clearly shows they have had a very positive impact.”

Jones said the study goes one step further and predicts that immigrants will continue to bolster Medicare’s trust fund under President Obama’s immigration reforms.

“This study also analyzes the potential impact of the president’s efforts if the courts allow him to move forward with immigration reform to enable some portion of the unauthorized population to stabilize their status and move forward on a path to citizenship. The net contributions persist even if there’s a path to citizenship,” Jones said.

Zingale said Medicare’s national status will help broaden the immigration arguments his organization has been making in California.

“This is another installment in a mounting number of facts that show how undocumented people are good for the health of our country,” Zingale said. “Because Medicare is a big deal, it will advance that progress toward a greater understanding.”

Zingale and Jones both pointed to California’s budget agreement last week that includes health coverage for undocumented children.

“Clearing the way for children of unauthorized immigrants to join Medi-Cal is a good first step,” Jones said.

“We’re calling that the first ever health for all kids budget,” Zingale said. “That shows you how far we’ve come. That budget received Republican votes. Indeed, we are in a very different place than we were just a few years ago. Remember Proposition 187?”

In 1994, California voters approved Prop. 187, a controversial ballot measure denying public services — including health care and education — to undocumented immigrants. Courts declared much of the initiative unconstitutional and last year, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed legislation repealing unenforceable provisions of the proposition.

Ties to National Physicians Group

Physicians for a National Health Program, a national advocacy organization, is helping spread the word about the Medicare research.

Although the group “had no role in conducting, financing or otherwise supporting the research, it decided to help publicize the study and its findings because they are consistent with PNHP’s mission statement,” Zallman said.

The organization’s mission statement, in part, says:

“PNHP believes that access to high-quality health care is a right of all people and should be provided equitably as a public service rather than bought and sold as a commodity.”

Two of the Medicare study authors — Steffie Woolhandler and David Himmelstein, both professors of public health at City University of New York and lecturers in medicine at Harvard Medical School, are co-founders of PNHP.

Half of Residents of East Porterville WITHOUT Water—Many Illegal Aliens

East Porterville has no water and half of the residents appear to be in this country illegally. Should the State of California spend money and bring water to those that should not be here in the first place. They do have a choice, they could go home and not take American jobs, welfare, free health care and education, from honest Americans.

“Before the drought, residents there were struggling with poverty and immigration issues. Now about half of its 7,000 residents no longer have running water. To find out more about how the community is coping, we called up Pastor Roman Hernandez. Since last year, when wells starting going dry, his Iglesia Emmanuel Church has been a place where residents go for help.”

It would be the compassionate thing to do for these folks to take them home, instead of living without water, on welfare and in poverty. What do you think?

360_dom_water_shortage_1228

Residents Grow More Desperate Without Water In California Town

NPR, 6/29/15

A town in California’s Central Valley is at the center of the state’s drought. Renee Montagne talks to Pastor Roman Hernandez about the thousands of residents who don’t have water in East Porterville.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

The extreme drought here in California and across much of the West can be difficult to comprehend. The geography is vast, and the repercussions of living with dwindling water supplies can overwhelm. So let’s zero in on one hard-hit small town, East Porterville. It lies in the agricultural hub of California’s Central Valley, a few hours north of Los Angeles.

Before the drought, residents there were struggling with poverty and immigration issues. Now about half of its 7,000 residents no longer have running water. To find out more about how the community is coping, we called up Pastor Roman Hernandez. Since last year, when wells starting going dry, his Iglesia Emmanuel Church has been a place where residents go for help. Good morning.

PASTOR ROMAN HERNANDEZ: Good morning, and thank you for having me.

MONTAGNE: You know, all of us here in California are affected by the drought, but East Porterville would seem to be everyone’s worst nightmare when it comes to something like you turn on the tap and nothing comes out. Tell us some of the stories you’ve been hearing.

HERNANDEZ: I’ll give you an example. A gentleman that I run into, he was getting water from the duck pond at the park to take home, you know, for his family. And when I told him, you know, how infected that water might have been, he goes, no, I’m boiling it. Stuff like that is going on in this area and this community.

MONTAGNE: It shows how desperate people can get.

HERNANDEZ: And it is a desperate situation. You know, I’m here at the church seven days a week, and you get to see the desperation, you know, in people’s faces, even little children. I recall this little child that probably was like five or six. His family came in one day, and I opened the door of the water container, and he just screamed, you know, as loud as he could. He has water. I guess he never seen that much water, you know, in one place, but stories like that happen every day in this area.

MONTAGNE: Why has East Porterville been hit so hard? I mean, I gather it has to do with the fact that people have depended so much on wells.

HERNANDEZ: Yeah. Once you go out of city limits, most of these families live off their wells, you know? We get families here that, first, you know, they say my well is pumping out air. It’s water, air, water, air. But then, all of a sudden, you know, I open the faucet, people say, and there was no water, you know, all of a sudden. So, you know, they come here for drinking water and the showers and whatever else we have available for them.

MONTAGNE: You just mentioned showers, and you’re talking, I think, about the portable showers that have been brought in as part of assistance that’s come to the community. Have people lined up for those showers?

HERNANDEZ: You know what? I wish I could say yes, but no, they haven’t. There’s a lot of people, you know, needing to use those services, but they’re not.

MONTAGNE: Why are people not lining up for them?

HERNANDEZ: One reason I think is that we have a lot of illegal families in this area, and these families are very unsecure, you know? They are very afraid to show up. And somebody asked me right at the beginning if this was like a trap, you know, to catch illegal aliens in the area, and I’ve been telling people, you know, for the longest time, no, just come out. Use the showers. Help yourselves.

MONTAGNE: And I understand there are still a few green lawns to be seen, in that – in the neighboring town, a golf course. People who are a bit more affluent – they’re still getting water, growing flowers. Is there a resentment among the people in your parish?

HERNANDEZ: You know what? Personally, yes. And I will tell you yes also from the families that are being affected by the drought. I sit here in the parking lot of the church and the golf course is just across the street. You see those sprinklers running sometimes all day long. Honestly, it hurts to see all that water, you know, I don’t want to say being wasted, but in comparison, to people that need the water to flush their toilets, to wash their dishes or to shower. It hurts, you know?

MONTAGNE: Well, thank you very much for taking the time to talk with us.

HERNANDEZ: Thank you for having me.

MONTAGNE: That’s Pastor Roman Hernandez speaking to us from his church, Iglesia Emmanuel Church in East Porterville, Calif.

 

California Farmers “Small Farms”—Less Water, Less product, Less Sales

The drought is making do silly things in the name of “saving” water. Instead of saving water, they are going into debt and wasting water on crops that are nearly worthless. People do not want to buy small fruits, tasteless fruit, just because our very confused Guv Brown refuses to create a water plan.

“To conserve, Masumoto gave his peach trees between 20 and 30 percent less water, yielding a fruit Mas calls “very small” but “great tasting”—the Gold Dust Peach. Now, the fruit isn’t selling. Even at Berkeley Bowl, a popular supermarket in food-progressive Berkeley, shoppers just aren’t reaching for the smaller peach.”

Watch as the California farm industry downsizes (500,000 acres going fallow this year, last year was 300,00), produces fruits and vegetables, at very high costs that are not presentable—making sure Mexico and Latin Americans farmers take over the American food supply industry. Do you want o eat a very small peach—because the farmer can not get enough water to grow real fruits and vegetables.

Corn Field

How Buying Smaller Fruit Could Save California’s Drought-Stricken Family Farms

 

By Steve Holt, Civil Eats, KQED 6/29/15

Second-generation organic peach grower David “Mas” Masumoto describes the difference between a farming disaster and a crisis this way: A disaster is when he harvests nothing, while a crisis is when he’s not making any money. Four years into California’s worst drought in history, and like many West Coast farmers, he’s in crisis mode.

To conserve, Masumoto gave his peach trees between 20 and 30 percent less water, yielding a fruit Mas calls “very small” but “great tasting”—the Gold Dust Peach. Now, the fruit isn’t selling. Even at Berkeley Bowl, a popular supermarket in food-progressive Berkeley, shoppers just aren’t reaching for the smaller peach.

“What’s worse: composting the peaches back into the soil or knowing they are sitting in a store and no one wants to buy them?” laments his daughter, Nikiko Masumoto, 29. “This is happening right now. It’s heartbreaking.”

This is especially bad news for the 60-acre, 47-year-old family farm, because the Masumotos see the smaller fruit as the product of a long-term philosophical shift rather than just a short-term way to ride out the drought.

Masumoto Family Farm sits on the Kings River watershed and has historically drawn its irrigation water from two sources: “ditch water” that originates as snowmelt from the Sierra Nevada mountain range upstream, and water pumped from the ground. Despite relying on the Kings River for a “significant amount” of the water they use to irrigate, the Masumotos have had no ditch water for the last two years.

In addition to the challenges presented by decreased water availability and mandatory restrictions, the last few winters have been historically warm. Peach and other stone fruit trees require “chill hours”—exposure to sub-45 degree temperatures—for maximum health and a larger yield. The past two winters have been the warmest on record for California, leaving some varieties of the typically resilient peach at 10 percent of their typical size.

Informed by researchers from Stanford University who say climate change will likely result in even more drought and warmer winters, the Masumotos are adapting.

“The last year or two made us very aware of how we have to change some of our practices, and really this question of sustainability—the way we were farming, believing that water was an unlimited resource, and how incorrect that was,” Mas says.

Many growers facing such a shortage invest money in high-tech equipment or dig even deeper wells—a practice that is causing the entire state of California to sink. Most farmers adjust their irrigation levels accordingly, says Dr. Ken Shackel, a professor in plant/water relations at UC Davis. But no one knows for sure just how much water will be necessary in the coming years.

“Is it going to be worth continuing to grow peaches if I have to spend $10,000 or $50,000 to buy a pump or make my well deeper?” he asks.

Instead of using technology to draw more water from a diminished supply to maintain the size of their peaches, the Masumotos are embracing the smaller fruit. In fact, after tasting the sweetness and juiciness of his smaller Gold Dusts, Mas actually wondered whether he’d been overwatering his peaches for years.

“We had these peaches that were small, but had this wonderful, concentrated taste,” he adds. “It made us think—maybe this is the natural state of most fruit. Why are we chasing the bigger fruit? Because of the market.”

In the end, the future of Masumoto Family Farm may be determined by whether consumers will rally around a smaller, but just-as-tasty peach—a result that is very much in question at this point.

“A lifetime of conditioning says we’re going to reach for the most perfect looking produce and leave the uglier, smaller, less perfect produce behind,” says Ron Clark, whose new business Imperfect Produce will promote and sell “ugly” produce directly to consumers at 30 percent less than market prices.

“It’s the American consumer who bears the choice and has the power to enforce changes in the system,” he adds.

Inspired by the ugly fruit campaigns, the Masumotos are using slogans like “small is delicious, too” and hope to see the hashtag #SmallFruitRevolution go viral. They’re reaching out to their customers on social media and starting a candid conversation about their challenges and opportunities. Response within their circle of supporters have been overwhelmingly positive: A recent Facebook post urging them to “eat small fruit” was the farm’s most popular post ever, eliciting dozens of comments and shares.

If their grassroots campaign doesn’t work? Nikiko says she’d consider ditching peaches altogether for drought resistant crops like olives or figs—but only if all else fails.

“It would be hard to imagine,” says Nikiko, who just celebrated her fourth year working full-time on the family farm. “I literally have peach tattoos on my body. It would be a real loss.”

 

Do Illegal Aliens in Coachella Valley Make Affordable Housing Unattainable?

Here is another “crisis” for the people of California to worry about, then spend lots of money to hire bureaucrats and give money to special interests. We now have an affordable housing crisis for illegal aliens in the Coachella Valley. I do have a quick, and cheap solution:

Give them bus tickets to their native country and home towns.

Money that should go to honest Americans, housing for the elderly and homes for single mothers with children are place in the back, with illegal aliens getting special treatment. Why do we concern ourselves more about law breakers than honest people?

“”There are some apartments, but it’s hard to get them,” Margarita Avila, a mother of five whose husband works in landscaping, said in Spanish. “Sometimes, because people don’t have documentation, they don’t qualify. And if you do, it’s still expensive.”

Over the years, while the working poor in urban parts of Southern California crowded into garage apartments, medium rise apartment buildings, and motel rooms, the rural working poor have increasingly turned to trailer parks like Shady Lane, on the outskirts of Thermal, where Avila found a home.”

The bottom line is that the illegal aliens are taking housing, services and jobs from honest Americans—why don’t the American poor speak up to protect themselves and their families?

Desert ground, texture

Think California’s housing crisis is tough in LA? Try Coachella.

Rina Palta, KPCC, 6/30/15 

The empty desert stretches out in every direction from Thermal, Calif. Yet the sparse valley has an affordable housing crisis on par with that of Los Angeles, 135 miles away.

“There are some apartments, but it’s hard to get them,” Margarita Avila, a mother of five whose husband works in landscaping, said in Spanish. “Sometimes, because people don’t have documentation, they don’t qualify. And if you do, it’s still expensive.”

Over the years, while the working poor in urban parts of Southern California crowded into garage apartments, medium rise apartment buildings, and motel rooms, the rural working poor have increasingly turned to trailer parks like Shady Lane, on the outskirts of Thermal, where Avila found a home.

On a recent 115-degree afternoon, she hunkered down inside the trailer with three of her kids, trying to escape the heat and smoke from a nearby wildfire. The AC unit was on, but low.

“Because when we have a lot of appliances on when it’s hot out, a fuse will blow,” she said.

The conditions at the park are difficult, even on a good day. It lacks adequate electrical systems and waters systems. But 56 families continue to live here – and even sued the park’s ownership when they tried to close it down.

“The problem in Coachella is there really is no other place to live,” said Bob Soloman, head of UC-Irvine Law School’s Community and Economic Development Clinic. “Really, the housing shortage is abysmal. It’s worst than anything I’ve seen.”

Soloman came to California from New Haven, Conn. which has old, rotting public housing and not enough of it. Still, he was stunned when he heard about the conditions out in the desert.

“Mobile home parks are springing up,” he says. “But they’re springing up in fairly haphazard ways, they’re not well maintained. They’re often un-permitted.”

Joel Beltran, who lives in the park with his wife and four kids, said he doesn’t drink the water, which comes from a nearby well. He points to his dog’s bowls, sitting in a shaded patch outside his trailer, as the reason why.

“Look at the dogs’ water,” he said. “Green.”

He cleans the bowls daily, and even though the water comes out looking fine, it develops a green, algae-like film as it sits.

Inside, parts of the ceiling are cracking.  Beltran points out the bathroom, which floods when the septic tank fills up.

“All of this gets filled with pure poop,” he said, pointing down the hallway.

“I would want to make more money to give my kids a proper house,” he said. “But this is the situation we’re all in.”

Beltran said this could be a great place to live–with proper water, power, and maybe a recreation space for the park’s kids.

Soloman, of UC-Irvine, said he wishes there was more government money available to help, but public programs favor apartment buildings. Because of that, he said, parks like Shady Lane rely on individual interventions.

He represented Shady Lane residents in their suit against the park’s ownership. As part of the settlement, Soloman and his law students agreed to find new owners for the park – something they’re trying to do right now – or take it over themselves.

They’re starting and Indiegogo campaign to raise money to hook the park up to the public water and electrical systems.

Soloman said he’s in talks with a nonprofit to take it over. If that falls through, UC-Irvine might have to set up its own non-profit to run the place.

“While I’d love to have the magic wand that provides housing for everyone, I’d be delighted if we could take one mobile home park in Coachella and fix it up and have decent living standard for people who are working a lot harder than I’m working,” Soloman said. “And then move on and do it again.”

 

Finally the TRUTH From Former LA Deputy Mayor: ‘LA Is Not Designed To Work’

It is rare that a public official is confident enough to admit that government is a failure. Rick Cole is the former City Manager of Ventura, a former Deputy Mayor of Los Angeles. He is one of the nation’s leading apologist for government, high taxes and the control of citizens via regulations, zoning and taxes. Yet, he has spoken the truth, finally.

“The City of Los Angeles is a sprawling enterprise with 32,000 employees and an annual budget of $8.6 billion. But according to Rick Cole, the City’s former Deputy Mayor for Budget and Innovation, LA is not designed to work.

The Mayor singed a court settlement, agreed to spend $1.4 billion to fix the potholes in the City. The city does not have the money and never will. He signed a agreement he knows can not be fulfilled. Just another example of “LA not designed to work”

eric garcetti

‘LA Is Not Designed To Work’

Written by Jack Humphreville, City Watch LA, 6/30/15

LA WATCHDOG-The City of Los Angeles is a sprawling enterprise with 32,000 employees and an annual budget of $8.6 billion. But according to Rick Cole, the City’s former Deputy Mayor for Budget and Innovation, LA is not designed to work.

Our City’s operations are relatively simple compared to Los Angeles County and other large cities such as New York and Chicago.  City Hall is not responsible for education, healthcare and hospitals, social services and welfare, and criminal justice and jails, all open ended services that are burdened by rivers of red ink, adverse court decisions, and controversial political and social issues that do not have simple solutions.

City Hall is responsible for every day services such as public safety (police and fire); our streets and sidewalks; our parks and libraries; and trash collection, wastewater, sewers, and stormwater.  It is also responsible for planning, zoning, building and safety, and the enforcement of the related rules and regulations.

But Angelenos are not happy campers.

Our streets are a mess, but there is no well thought out plan to repair and maintain our roadways.  Our sidewalks are subject to a $1.4 billion consent decree, but residential sidewalks are last in line to receive funds.  Recreation and Parks’ programs for our youth and seniors have been eviscerated while its putrid public restrooms are a constant source of ridicule.  And our neighborhoods are under siege by real estate developers and traffic congestion.

The City’s finances are also in shambles.  This year, the budget was balanced by diverting $150 million from the Reserve Fund despite the fact that revenues increased by $150 million more than projected.  The City has long term obligations of over $25 billion for its unfunded pension liabilities, deferred maintenance on its infrastructure, and existing long term debt.  But there is no long term plan to balance the budget, fund our pension plans, and repair our streets and sidewalks.

Underlying the chaos at City Hall is the reality that it is impossible to hold any of our elected officials accountable for the failure of City Hall to balance its books and provide adequate services to its constituents.  According to the well respected and occasionally controversial Cole (photo right), the City charter was designed to prevent corruption and the abuse of power.  But today, this has resulted in an inefficient government because we are unable to hold our individual elected officials accountable for their collective failures.

Unfortunately, our City is dominated by special interests, whether they are the campaign funding union leaders that represent our City’s workers or the generous real estate developers who have complete disregard for our residential neighborhoods.

If Los Angeles wants to be a “world class” city, it cannot continue with the status quo.  It cannot continue to kick the budget can down the road and ignore the Structural Deficit, inefficient operations, our infrastructure, and the underfunded pension plans.  It can no longer afford to thumb its nose at investors and employers if it wants its economy to flourish through the creation of good jobs.  It can no longer allow unfettered development that impinges on our quality of life.

Change and reform that are designed to make our City work are politically risky with the real possibility of failure.  It may also alienate the special interests who finance political campaigns.  But this is the challenge that our leaders must face if they want to win the hearts, minds, and wallets of the voters.

Is Back to Basics Mayor Eric Garcetti willing to be that leader?

 

It’s Official: The Feds Will Collect Psycho-Social Data On Your Child

The Feds are mandating a “test” starting in 2017 for your kids. No it is not what they know about history, science or math. It is private, personal information taken from the kids for a national database—without telling us how it will be used. As we know the data collected by the Fed is totally secure—except for the NSA, the 32 million people that work or worked for the Feds—including the CIA.

“Almost any parent would read this and wonder why his child’s mindsets and personal goals are any of the government’s business. Indeed, there is serious doubt whether NAEP even has the statutory authority to delve into such matters. The federal statute authorizing NAEP requires that the assessment “objectively measure academic achievement, knowledge, and skills” and that the tests “do not evaluate or assess personal or family beliefs and attitudes . . . .” The statute further requires that NAEP “only collect information that is directly related to the appraisal of academic achievement . . . .”

This is the role of government. I urge parents to tell their children to refuse to answer any such questions. I urge the public to demand their school board not allow this invasion of privacy. When will we revolt against a totalitarian government controlling us by forcing our kids to give them information?

Kids

It’s Official: The Feds Will Collect Psycho-Social Data On Your Child

Government of the people and by the people should not plumb and manipulate the people’s psyches and emotions, especially when so many kids can still hardly read and cipher.

By Jane Robbins, The Federalist, 6/29/15

Every year, hundreds of thousands of U.S. students take the National Assessment of Educational Progress (the NAEP), the federally authorized test known as the “nation’s report card.” Education Week reported recently that, beginning in 2017, NAEP will ask “background questions” designed to gauge each student’s level of “motivation, mindset, and grit.” It’s not enough for the federal government to keep tabs on whether your child knows the material he’s been taught. Instead, it wants to peer inside his mind and critique his personality to see if he has the “noncognitive skills” government thinks he should.

As described by the Educational Testing Service at a conference of the Association for Psychological Science, two of the categories on the NAEP background survey will be labeled “grit” and “desire for learning.” Questions in these categories will be presented to all test-takers. Specific subject areas may include additional questions about other “noncognitive factors” such as “self-efficacy” and “personal achievement goals.”

Almost any parent would read this and wonder why his child’s mindsets and personal goals are any of the government’s business. Indeed, there is serious doubt whether NAEP even has the statutory authority to delve into such matters. The federal statute authorizing NAEP requires that the assessment “objectively measure academic achievement, knowledge, and skills” and that the tests “do not evaluate or assess personal or family beliefs and attitudes . . . .” The statute further requires that NAEP “only collect information that is directly related to the appraisal of academic achievement . . . .”

Presumably NAEP bureaucrats would argue that the background questions aren’t part of the assessment itself, so don’t violate the prohibition against assessing attitudes. Even so, is the non-cognitive information these questions collect “directly related to the appraisal of academic achievement”? Only in the sense that every aspect of one’s personality might theoretically affect one’s academic performance. If we take that broad a view, there is no limit to what NAEP can ask about.

Do you find yourself getting frustrated when you study? Does poor academic performance make your parents angry with you? Do you have problems at home that might affect your schoolwork? We’re here to help.

Now Schools Are Responsible for Kids’ Feelings

In any event, it’s no surprise that a federal education program is moving beyond assessing academic knowledge and into the realm of attitudes, mindsets, and dispositions. For years now, the federal government has openly advocated teaching and measuring the “appropriate” (that is, government-approved) mindsets for students. The concept is known as “social/emotional learning,” or SEL.

Do we really want the government determining what types of attitudes and mindsets are necessary to be a ‘good citizen and worker’?

Where did this concept come from? The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) cites research arguing that education should focus on non-cognitive development as well as academic knowledge. CASEL, the major player in this arena, has identified five “SEL domains” (self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making skills) and advocates that schools take responsibility for developing these traits in students from preschool through grade 12.

The first objection that leaps to mind is that, for the most part, school personnel are not qualified to plumb the depths of a child’s psyche. As warned by clinical psychologist Gary Thompson, placing this type of responsibility on largely untrained personnel is playing with fire. And since the federal government is actively relaxing the privacy restrictions applicable to student data, the chances of this sensitive information getting into the wrong hands are enormous.

The more fundamental issue, though, is who should be responsible for helping instill these personality traits: schools (i.e., government) or families? Each of these non-cognitive domains is nebulous, and the desirability of a particular outcome will vary from individual to individual. For example, a child’s parents might hold a different view about what types of “social awareness” are appropriate, compared to the government’s desire to sensitize children to “global problems” such as climate change. Or the government might value the “relationship skill” of acquiescing to the consensus of the group, instead of the parents’ preference for developing the backbone to stand up for the right and true in the face of contrary pressure.

In short, the dangers of transferring this type of child development from parents to the government are mind-boggling. Do we really want the government determining what types of attitudes and mindsets are necessary to be a “good citizen and worker”?

Enticing States Into Manipulating Kids’ Psyches

Nevertheless, the U. S. Department of Education (USED) is a huge proponent of SEL to develop the right mix of social and emotional traits in children. It has just kicked off a new competitive grant program to entice states into this minefield. Apparently, public schools have now achieved perfection in teaching academic content and can move on to more esoteric pursuits. As one exasperated parent in Connecticut remarked, “I feel like the school is teaching what I should be teaching (social and emotional traits) and I’m teaching what the school should be teaching (math).”

Apparently, public schools have now achieved perfection in teaching academic content and can move on to more esoteric pursuits.

Of course, if you teach these mindsets, you must measure them. In February 2013, USDOE’s Office of Educational Technology released a draft report called “Promoting Grit, Tenacity, and Perseverance: Critical Factors for Success in the 21st Century,” which seeks to “push the frontiers” of assessing students’ most personal attributes. This report argues non-cognitive traits must be measured and suggests that physiological readings and neuroimaging techniques (brain-scanning) could do the trick. The Grit report even helpfully provides pictures of the devices, such as facial-expression cameras and posture-analysis seats, that can be used on students “to examine frustration, motivation/flow, confidence, boredom, and fatigue.”

To be sure, the report devotes an entire paragraph (in 95 pages) to the appalling invasion of privacy these techniques would entail. But the primary problem it identifies is that these devices can be “impractical for use in school settings.” That is a temporary problem, however—the report lauds the Gates Foundation for funding research that may solve the impracticability dilemma. Think of what wonderful readings of children’s brains we can get once we achieve cost-effectiveness.

Most parents would be horrified to learn what the feds and the progressive education establishment want to do with their children’s most personal data. This white paper lays it out (including the threats posed by “personalized” interactive digital-learning platforms, which is too broad a topic to tackle here).

In the meantime, NAEP will push education in this direction by asking children to report their personalities and mindsets. After collecting and analyzing the NAEP assessment data, what does the federal government intend to do with the results? Will it create a one-size-fits-all set of SEL standards every child must meet? If so, would schools then be required to intervene and “help” children become the people the government wants them to be? It would be only to improve their education. Of course.

Jane Robbins is an attorney and a senior fellow with the American Principles Project in Washington DC. She is a graduate of Clemson University and the Harvard Law School.