1,000 Illegal Aliens Enrolled at Fresno State: opening support services center for illegal alien students

There are 1,000 honest, decent and qualified California and American students NOT allowed to enroll in Cal State Fresno. Their parents have paid taxes so qualified students can attend and receive a great education.   Instead those that break the law get the seats—and now tax dollars will be spent to provide special services to the law breakers.

“Lamas said the new Dream Outreach Center is expected to facilitate a sense of belonging for students and accomplish a higher rate of student success at the university. Center services will include financial aid guidance, professional development opportunities and referrals for student-support services.

The program will also raise awareness about the college experience of undocumented students within the campus community.

There are NO undocumented students—NONE. They did not leave their paperwork at home—they have NO paperwork, they are here illegally. Period. Why are we making those who violate our laws more comfortable and “encourage” more law breakers to steal college seats from honest kids? No one is stopping them from getting an higher education—they can get it LEGALLY in their home country. Why are we paying for it? Angry yet?

Immigration Obama

Fresno State opening support services center for undocumented students

Written by Business Journal staff , 7/31/15

Fresno State is opening a Dream Outreach Center to address the unique needs and challenges faced by undocumented students who pursue a college education.

The new program is designed to help make a Fresno State education more accessible for some Valley students.

“These students are confronted with major hurdles as they attempt to navigate the enrollment and financial aid processes to gain access to higher education,” said Dr. Frank Lamas, vice president for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management. “In addition, guidance and support is needed with resolving challenges as they persist through the university.”

Lamas said the new Dream Outreach Center is expected to facilitate a sense of belonging for students and accomplish a higher rate of student success at the university. Center services will include financial aid guidance, professional development opportunities and referrals for student-support services.

The program will also raise awareness about the college experience of undocumented students within the campus community.

The Dream Outreach Center is being developed in several phases, with the first phase focusing on reassigning staff and reorganizing office space to establish the center.  The university is currently utilizing existing resources. Lamas said there is no set funding allocation yet, but the in-kind value is approximately $170,000.

Services for undocumented students will be housed in two locations; one for incoming students, in Room 100 of the University Outreach Services office, and the other for those currently enrolled, in the Student Success Services office in the Joyal Administrative Building. Both center sites are expected to be open by the beginning of the fall semester next month.

According to the release, more than 1,000 undocumented and migrant students are currently enrolled at the university.

California Firm PROFITS From Planned Parenthood Selling of Body Parts—Tries to Hide Evidence

If you violate the law, or act in an unethical or immoral way, you go to court to get judges to hides your violations. Planned Parenthood has been performing abortions and selling the baby parts. At some of the abortions, the babies are born alive, then killed, for the baby parts. A court has ruled that the El Dorado County firm StemExpress, should be protected from public scrutiny and not allow their neighbors to know the horrors being performed in the name of “research” in the community.

“The battle began July 14 when the Center for Medical Progress released videos of a Planned Parenthood executive talking about the sale of aborted fetuses for research. Some of the videos, which went viral, mention StemExpress.

Realizing that the May 22 meeting in El Dorado Hills had been a sting operation by activist David Daleiden, the Placerville company sought the restraining order on the grounds that the group violated California’s anti-wiretapping law. The center has threatened to release hundreds of hours of undercover footage.

On Tuesday, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Joanne O’Donnell banned release of any video from the May 22 meeting. She also set an August 19 hearing to discuss a StemExpress request for a preliminary injunction until the matters are sorted out in court — and authorized expedited fact-finding on the issue.

The cat is out of the bag—StemEpress buys baby parts from Planned Parenthood. They are so embarrassed to be caught that they are suing to keep their secret. Doesn’t matter—everybody knows what the firm does and the work of the staffers. The public has the right to know, you can not keep this secret.

Planned Parenthood Abortion Pro Choice

StemExpress wins court order in video flap with anti-abortion group

Kathy Robertson, Sacramento Business Journal, 7/30/15

A Placerville company that provides stem cells to researchers has won a court order against activists who targeted it in a national furor over abortion.

StemExpress won a temporary restraining order on Tuesday that prevents a group called Center for Medical Progress from releasing undercover videos the company says activists took of its employees. StemExpress alleges the video was illegally recorded during a meeting at Bistro 33 in El Dorado Hills on May 22.

This sets up a possible First Amendment battle between the company and activists who say they have uncovered an improper arrangement in which StemExpress pays Planned Parenthood for tissue from aborted fetuses.

Planned Parenthood says it only charges to cover costs. StemExpress says it provides a critical service by collecting tissue to isolate stem cells for life-saving research.

The battle began July 14 when the Center for Medical Progress released videos of a Planned Parenthood executive talking about the sale of aborted fetuses for research. Some of the videos, which went viral, mention StemExpress.

Realizing that the May 22 meeting in El Dorado Hills had been a sting operation by activist David Daleiden, the Placerville company sought the restraining order on the grounds that the group violated California’s anti-wiretapping law. The center has threatened to release hundreds of hours of undercover footage.

On Tuesday, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Joanne O’Donnell banned release of any video from the May 22 meeting. She also set an August 19 hearing to discuss a StemExpress request for a preliminary injunction until the matters are sorted out in court — and authorized expedited fact-finding on the issue.

“StemExpress is grateful that its rights have been vindicated in a court of law and will continue to pursue all available legal remedied against Center for Medical Progress and Daleiden based on their illegal conduct,” Stem Express founder and CEO Cate Dyer said in a statement.

The company also asked for a temporary restraining order to prohibit the center from releasing or posting any documents on its website that mention StemExpress, including three already posted. The judge denied that request.

In a statement on it website Wednesday, the Center for Medical Progress said it “follows all applicable laws in the course of our investigative journalism work and will contest all attempts from Planned Parenthood and their allies to silence our First Amendment rights.”

(Don’t Test—Don’t Tell) Government Ends Testing Instead of Fixing Minority Schools

How do you hide the failure of government schools? You end testing, inflate grades and tell parents and the community is all well—as Common Core teaches two plus two can equal five if you understand the process (tell that to an engineer). By stopping the testing process, we allow the bigotry of colleges (termed diversity) to decide who gets in. This allows for quota systems and affirmative action.

“Many high schoolers hoping to attend George Washington University in Washington, D.C., one of the top private universities in the country, breathed a sigh of relief this week.

GWU announced it will no longer require applicants to take the SAT or ACT.

The move comes after the school formed a task force to study the pros and cons of going “test-optional.” GWU attracts lots of high-achieving students who do well on both exams, but the task force concluded that the school’s reliance on these tests was excluding some high-achieving students who simply don’t test well.

The shock is there are 800 colleges and universities already using the tests as “optional”. This is how out higher learning institutions get dumbed down. Any angry?

classroom

Is This The Beginning Of The End For The SAT And ACT?

Claudio Sanchez, LA School Report, 7/29/15  

Many high schoolers hoping to attend George Washington University in Washington, D.C., one of the top private universities in the country, breathed a sigh of relief this week.

GWU announced it will no longer require applicants to take the SAT or ACT.

The move comes after the school formed a task force to study the pros and cons of going “test-optional.” GWU attracts lots of high-achieving students who do well on both exams, but the task force concluded that the school’s reliance on these tests was excluding some high-achieving students who simply don’t test well.

Of particular concern were low-income, minority students who don’t even bother to apply because their scores are too low.

GWU will still require pre-med and home-schooled students, as well as athletes, to submit test scores, but, like many of the more than 800 other four-year colleges and universities that were already test-optional, it hopes its admissions criteria will now capture a more diverse pool of students.

David Hawkins, head of research at the National Association for College Admission Counseling, or NACAC, says the move to test-optional is significant because of GWU’s national reputation as a top, selective institution.

NACAC’s own research has found that some schools are considered “selective” because of their lofty SAT or ACT average scores. But it’s not at all clear whether performance on those tests is a reliable predictor of future academic success.

In response to the news, the nonprofit College Board defended the importance of its SAT: “Overwhelming evidence shows that SAT scores and high school GPA in combination are the best predictors of college success. Evidence also shows that test-optional policies do not increase socio-economic and racial diversity on college campuses — which is what these policies claim to achieve.”

The ACT, now more widely used than the SAT, has also argued that an A student at one high school is not necessarily comparable to an A student at another, more academically demanding school. In other words, tests like the SAT and ACT can help institutions guard against grade inflation.

Paul Weeks, a senior vice president with ACT, says GWU’s decision sounds like a marketing ploy.

“I can’t understand why a school would consider admitting a student without a test score but not admit a student with a (low) test score,” Weeks says.

The Long Debate

Last year, NPR was given exclusive access to a study that found that a student’s high school academic record, regardless of what school she attended, is a far better predictor of college success than the SAT or ACT.

This first-ever study was conducted by William Hiss, the former dean of admissions at Bates College in Maine. Bates has been test-optional since 1984. Hiss studied 33 test-optional schools — big and small, private and public — then compared “non-submitters” to students who had submitted SAT scores.

He found virtually no difference in college grades or graduation rates. Students who did not submit their scores did just as well as those who did.

“By any statistical methodology the differences [between submitters and non-submitters] are completely trivial,” Hiss told NPR’s Eric Westervelt.

The study supported what test-optional institutions have maintained for years. The most reliable predictors of college success are a high school student’s GPA and the rigor of the courses taken.

Critics of the SAT and ACT have long argued that these tests are nothing more than sorting tools that help institutions deal with large numbers of applicants.

That’s why George Washington University’s decision to make the SAT and ACT optional is important. With 25,000 students, it is now one of the largest, most influential institutions in the country to declare itself “test-optional.”

Until now, most test-optional schools have been small and therefore more adept at spending the time, money and energy to closely examine every applicant’s high school record, background and accomplishments in and out of school — what GWU officials call more “holistic” criteria.

Is this the beginning of the end for the SAT and ACT? Probably not.

Filtering tens of thousands of applicants without the help of these powerhouse tests is a daunting and expensive task for larger schools. And most of the nation’s best, most-selective institutions still rely on them.

But, with GWU adding its high-profile name to the list of testing naysayers, other big schools will no doubt give the idea a second thought.

Rental Apocalypse: US homeownership collapses to 48 year low while rental rates continue to climb.

Another symbol of this is the lowest rate of home ownership in 48 years. People do not grow equity or save money by renting, it is money flushed down the toilet. This makes future generations poorer and more dependent on government—which is the goal of Obama. We have let this happen.

“The most important line here is the “not for the foreseeable future” jumping 10 percent from 2013 to 2015.  Isn’t the rising stock market and housing prices being up good for everyone?  Apparently not when incomes are not keeping up.  And we put ourselves in a low rate predicament.  The entire market is now conditioned to low rates.  Even a minor hint of rates going up sends the market into a reality show meltdown with all the subsequent scripted drama that it entails.  People are simply seeing home ownership as a more unlikely option.  Millions of Millennials are living with mom and dad because they can’t afford to rent, let alone buy.

Because of this crushing blow to the middle class, the home ownership rate has hit a 48 year low:”

We did this to ourselves.

urban-housing-sprawl-366c0

Rental Apocalypse: US homeownership collapses to 48 year low while rental rates continue to climb.

Dr. Housing Bubble,   7/31/15

The latest Census figures show a very dismal situation for the housing market.  The US homeownership rate has plunged to a 48 year low and the pipeline for future buyers is simply not materializing.  We’ve noted that in places like California the big push in prices has come in the form of big investors, foreign money, and the ever present flipper brigade.  Yet this trend is not only a coastal phenomenon.  Contrary to stucco box sarcophagus loving boomers, the US does not revolve around Southern California.  Big shock, I know.  Large metro areas around the nation are following a similar path.  The next generation of home buyers are priced out and many are viewing homeownership as a lofty if not impossible goal.  Rents continue to rise and thanks to the big buy by large investors over the past few years, inventory has been siphoned off the market and regular families have been left in the lurch.  We are quickly becoming a nation of renters.

Rental Apocalypse is here to stay

Gallup recently published an interesting survey looking at the expectations of non-homeowners.  This is really important because this will drive future home building and buying for years to come.  I’m surprised at the speed in which financial amnesia floods California.  The booms and busts are like bong hits.  One day people are on a good high and the next, the market is imploding.  Yet somehow, even recent history like 2007 through 2009 is viewed as some kind anomaly.  The 1,000,000+ California households that lost their homes to foreclosure are left to lick their wounds and are ignored by the press.  We rather hide that funky part of family history in the attic.  We are all about winning even if it means leveraging every penny you have to be owned by your home.  Apparently this memo is spreading across the country as seen by non-homeowner expectations:

The most important line here is the “not for the foreseeable future” jumping 10 percent from 2013 to 2015.  Isn’t the rising stock market and housing prices being up good for everyone?  Apparently not when incomes are not keeping up.  And we put ourselves in a low rate predicament.  The entire market is now conditioned to low rates.  Even a minor hint of rates going up sends the market into a reality show meltdown with all the subsequent scripted drama that it entails.  People are simply seeing homeownership as a more unlikely option.  Millions of Millennials are living with mom and dad because they can’t afford to rent, let alone buy.

Because of this crushing blow to the middle class, the homeownership rate has hit a 48 year low:

Why this matters is that most Americans are horrible savers.  A home is basically a forced savings account.  And most Americans that have any sort of wealth have it locked up in housing equity.  So with fewer Americans owning, this just means fewer Americans are going to build wealth.  And it is going to be harder to build that wealth because rents are soaring upwards:

Rents have gone up more than 100 percent over the last 20 years.  The general CPI has gone up 56 percent over this period.  In some areas, rents have gone up by double-digits in the last year alone.  Why the big disconnect?  First, the CPI looks at the owners’ equivalent of rent that continues to miss any surge in home prices.  It also fails to look at wages and is missing out on big items like student debt that is marginally represented in the basket although for many Millennials, is the biggest expense.

In the end we have a net increase of 10,000,000 renter households over the last decade while the number of homeowners has gone flat.  That is a big shift and it appears to be continuing.  With real estate prices now back near peak levels, many people are simply opting not to own.

Here in California, the change is even more dramatic.  You have renters living in sardine like atmospheres with multiple roommates.  Even tech workers are shacking up with each other in places like San Francisco.  The options are simple: buy and over leverage to the max to get a crap shack (if you can), rent, rent with roommates, live with mom and dad, or move out of the state.  All the trends are pointing toward this rental apocalypse continuing.

A rural town (Acton) hates the coming of high-speed trains

The choo-choo train to nowhere, for nobody, at a cost of $200 billion is going to tear up dozens of communities in the State. Even though it will not be built, it has caused the value of homes and businesses in it proposed route to go down.   The elderly are fearful and as time goes by the communities will lose population due to the uncertainty of the future and value of property.

“Within Los Angeles County, you can’t get closer to cowboy country than Acton. It’s up in the foothills. A town of 10,000, Acton has two groceries and an equal number of stores that sell feed for horses.

“If they’re coming to Acton, they’re willing to forgo a Wal-Mart and a shopping mall,” said Pam Wolter, who has been a real estate agent here for 25 years. “They’re coming here for the peace and quiet and for the rural lifestyle.”

All the homes in Acton have big lots — at least one acre. Wolter says the average price for a three-bedroom, two-bath house is about $500,000.

She says the proposed routes for the high-speed train scare away prospective buyers and make current residents think about selling.

If this goes on much longer the future of Acton, in northern LA county is dead. Our confused Guv Brown is killing off Acton, has made portions of Fresno slum areas and destroyed the hopes and dreams of good people. Very sad, angry yet?

high speed rail train

A rural town hates the coming of high-speed trains

The route proposed for California’s high-speed rail line would send trains through rural Acton at more than 200 miles an hour. Ray and Elizabeth Billet fear the rail line could pollute the water supply for their peach and pear farm and lower their property value.

by Jeff Tyler, Marketplace, 7/29/15

California’s high-speed rail project will pump billions of dollars into the state. While cities like Palmdale welcome the bullet train and its economic benefits, some neighboring towns hate the planned rail project. Consider the small town of Acton.

Within Los Angeles County, you can’t get closer to cowboy country than Acton. It’s up in the foothills. A town of 10,000, Acton has two groceries and an equal number of stores that sell feed for horses.

“If they’re coming to Acton, they’re willing to forgo a Wal-Mart and a shopping mall,” said Pam Wolter, who has been a real estate agent here for 25 years. “They’re coming here for the peace and quiet and for the rural lifestyle.”

All the homes in Acton have big lots — at least one acre. Wolter says the average price for a three-bedroom, two-bath house is about $500,000.

She says the proposed routes for the high-speed train scare away prospective buyers and make current residents think about selling.

“There [are] a lot of changes that are going to happen to Acton,” she says. “And people are already getting concerned. If they’re close to retirement age, and thinking they should move on now, while they can. So we see, as the real estate industry, a serious decline in property value.”

Wolter drives me out to visit the actress Tippi Hedren. She’s most famous for starring in Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds.” Now she runs the Shambala Preserve — a sanctuary for rescued big cats, like Zeus, the 500-pound lion.

“Zeus was living in Texas,” Hedren says. “The son was graduating. And the parents said, ‘We’ll either get you a Lexus or a lion. One of the two.’ And he said, ‘I’ll take the lion.'”

When Zeus grew too big for the Texas family, he moved here.

Hedren says one of the proposed routes for the high-speed rail would cross her property. “If it came through here, we couldn’t be here because of the noise level,” she says. “The Shambala preserve would not be able to exist here.”

I asked if it wasn’t fair to ask people along the planned train route to make a sacrifice for the sake of the environment, since the project would likely reduce the number of people driving in cars. But Hedren doesn’t think consumers will really switch.

“Californians are not train riders,” she says. “We’re really not. When we go to San Francisco, we fly.”

Hedren thinks the bullet train is obsolete before it’s even been built.

Down the road, Ray and Elizabeth Billet grow peaches and pears. Her grandfather homesteaded here back in 1891. Sometimes they rent the property to movie producers.

“I had another one yesterday who wanted to film in August, and I says, ‘Nothin’ doin’,” Elizabeth says. “Because we’ll be picking peaches.”

One of the proposed routes for the high-speed rail would cut across the Billets’ property. Ray says they had planned to develop some of their land, which is zoned for small houses on 5-acre lots.

“That’s gone,” he says. “Nobody’s going to want to live next to a damn railroad that’s going 220 miles an hour.”

And because almost everyone relies on wells, Ray says construction of the high-speed rail will ruin the town’s drinking water.

Elizabeth says the project doesn’t make economic sense for the state. “They don’t have the funding for it.”

After hearing so many complaints about the cost of the project, I turned to Jeff Morales, CEO of the California High-Speed Rail Authority. He expects the final funding will come from the private sector through a partnership with the state, and that the price tag could be less than the projected $68 billion.

“The bid prices are coming in considerably below our estimates,” he says. “I’m confident that we’re actually going to be able to drive down the cost of delivering this program.”

Morales said the state’s population is growing, and it needs more infrastructure.

“When you do a comparison, the cost of building more roads and more airports is about two to three times what the cost of high-speed rail will be,” he says.

That argument doesn’t carry a lot of weight around Acton.

The state won’t make a final decision about the route for high-speed rail for at least a year. So, residents still have time to persuade officials to move the train’s tracks somewhere else.

 

Will Sacramento Create “Bank” for Marijuana Industry?

The Federal government still considers marijuana an illegal drug. Notices have been sent to banks reminding them they can not have accounts owned by people violating the Federal law. So, how do legal marijuana dispensaries bank their funds, pay bills, etc.

There is a discussion in the Board of Equalization that they would open a depository for the California marijuana industry. Are they willing to violate Federal law? Is this the role of government to open banks for industries the Feds or anybody doesn’t like? Will they do the say for other victims of Operation Chokepoint, like gun shops?

“So Fiona Ma, who represents much of Northern California for the State Board of Equalization, has suggested a state-run depository that would give pot growers and sellers a method for depositing cash, writing checks and transferring funds.

“We want to collect the taxes and audit these people efficiently,” said Ma. A state run bank would ensure that people “aren’t just keeping (money) in their homes, and they aren’t bringing it to a BOE office either.”

If you were a marijuana firm would you trust government with your money? Doubt it.

Cannabis marijuana weed pot

​Tax board member suggests a state-run bank for marijuana industry

Allen Young, Sacramento Business Journal, 7/31/15

A member of the state tax board is on a mission to establish a banking system for California’s medical marijuana industry so growers and retailers can begin paying taxes.

Banks won’t serve the industry today because all forms of cannabis are illegal under federal law. The federal Drug Enforcement Administration regularly warns banks against providing services to the industry.

So Fiona Ma, who represents much of Northern California for the State Board of Equalization, has suggested a state-run depository that would give pot growers and sellers a method for depositing cash, writing checks and transferring funds.

“We want to collect the taxes and audit these people efficiently,” said Ma. A state run bank would ensure that people “aren’t just keeping (money) in their homes, and they aren’t bringing it to a BOE office either.”

Marijuana operators occasionally bring large quantities of cash to BOE offices, said Ma. This makes the state office and its employees vulnerable to crime.

To brainstorm ideas for banking, Ma is hosting a meeting today at the BOE headquarters in Sacramento that will bring together state government officials, bankers and the Federal Reserve. Representatives will discuss banking efforts underway in Colorado and Washington state, where recreational marijuana is legal.

Earlier this month, BOE chairman Jerome Horton announced that he would sponsor legislation to create an amnesty program to help marijuana operators begin paying taxes. The tax board’s recent efforts around sanctioning the marijuana business come in advance of an anticipated 2016 ballot initiative that could legalize recreational marijuana in California.

That ballot measure could be written in a way that advances the regulatory structure established over the coming months by the state of California. The concern among state and local governments is that if California continues to punt on the issue — as Congress has done— then a poorly-written voter-initiative could create problems in all areas of regulation and law enforcement. Changing a ballot measure after it becomes law is difficult because the reforms would need to return to voters for ratification.

California voters approved medical marijuana in 1996, but growers and pot dispensaries have struggled since then to find banking. Some find banks and credit unions willing to serve them until the federal government shuts them down. Other pot businesses launder money through shell organizations, while others operate largely in cash, said Ma. She said she has studied the business practices of the marijuana industry over the course of the year.

“Everyone is trying to do whatever it takes to keep things moving. It’s a competitive market, and the legitimate ones paying the taxes are complaining because these other guys aren’t,” Ma said.

San Fran: NO Waste in City After 2020—Another Government Joke Made Into Law

You can end crime very simply. All government has to do is outlaw it. We can stop illegal aliens by making it illegal. Want prosperity—make it the law. The sophomores running San Fran have once again proves that government has no common sense—they are jokesters, making the jokes law.

By “law” there will be no waste in San Fran in4.5 years, 2020. Just like that. Oh, Los Angeles is “much” smarter—they wait till 2025 to end the disaster of waste! Looking forward to seeing how any of this is enforceable.

“It will take more than handing out 600 reusable coffee mugs labeled #SFThingToDo, but the Department of the Environment says San Francisco will meet the target of sending no more garbage to the landfill after 2020 – and it could mean socking customers with rate hikes.

Under a new landfill deal with Recology, The City commits to annually reducing tonnage of garbage trucked to the landfill. Last year’s 373,940 tons is supposed to decline to just 53,420 tons in 2020 followed by zero tons in subsequent years.”

The more silly laws passed, the less respect and trust people have for government. Worse, it gives credibility to those that say laws do not have to be followed—think Planned Parenthood, illegal aliens, Hillary Clinton and Lois Lerner—why should we obey laws if they don’t?

800px-SF_From_Marin_Highlands3

SF’s landfill contract includes consumer fees to reach ‘zero waste’ after 2020

By Joshua Sabatini, SF Examiner, 7/30/15

It will take more than handing out 600 reusable coffee mugs labeled #SFThingToDo, but the Department of the Environment says San Francisco will meet the target of sending no more garbage to the landfill after 2020 – and it could mean socking customers with rate hikes.

Under a new landfill deal with Recology, The City commits to annually reducing tonnage of garbage trucked to the landfill. Last year’s 373,940 tons is supposed to decline to just 53,420 tons in 2020 followed by zero tons in subsequent years.

In 2002 city officials adopted a zero waste by 2020 policy, meaning no more refuse would go into the landfill or incinerators. Other Californian cities have followed suit, most recently San Diego adopted a zero waste goal by 2040 and last year Los Angeles a similar policy for 2025.

The City says they have achieved an 80 percent diversion rate. “We believe achieving zero waste is possible,” said Department of Environment spokesman Guillermo Rodriguez. “Over half of what still goes in the landfill bins can be recycled in the blue bin or composted in the green bin.” If the refuse is properly sorted “San Francisco’s diversion rate can increase from 80 percent to 90 percent.”

Still, to get to zero will admittedly take a lot of work. The contract sets annual landfill tonnage reduction targets. If those targets aren’t met, fees of up to $15 per ton could be assessed and passed on to customers if approved by the Rate Fairness Board. Those fees would fund city programs to reduce waste.

David Pilpel, a rate payer advocate, expressed concerns about the fees. “Although there is a rate-setting process on paper they are kind of straight-jacketing the whole thing,” Pilpel said, suggesting the rate board would feel obligated to approve the contractual fees.
He also said it was unfair for all customers to pay increased rates. “Why should I pay to sort out your trash?” he said, suggesting instead targeting offenders.

With a growing population and a thriving economy, achieving zero waste may seem unreachable. The contract’s baseline year is 2014, when there was 373,940 tons of waste sent to the current landfill. The 2015 target is 320,520 tons.

But projections show the diversion will come up short this year. As of June this year, 190,461 tons have gone to the landfill and “current estimates for final year-end target are closer to 2014,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez downplayed the contract’s zero waste fee provision. “We don’t think we will need to seek [fee] authorization,” Rodriguez said, adding the provision was included so that “should things change the city had options to try to get back on course to zero waste.”
He noted, “When numbers get back below the target the fee would cease.”

There is no shortage of controversy around the Recology landfill contract signed July 22 by head of the Department of the Environment Debbie Raphael. The deal takes away the landfill business from competing refuse company Waste Management, which operates the Altamont landfill, where the city’s trash has long ended up. The company has filed a lawsuit over the bidding process.

There is an appeal calling for environmental review since the trash will be hauled by trucks 40 miles farther away round-trip to Recology’s Solano County landfill. That’s expected to be voted on in the fall by the Board of Supervisors.

The board didn’t have to vote on the agreement after terms were altered last minute to make the contract a nine year agreement with a six year option, not a straight 15-year term. Contracts of 10 years or longer require board approval.

Getting to zero waste has included new laws and outreach, like a July event in Justin Herman Plaza where free mugs were handed out with free coffee to promote the effort. In 2009, The City adopted a law mandating residences and businesses recycle utilizing three different bins – green for composting like food scraps, blue for recyclables like bottles, black for landfill – or face fines.

One of the department’s newest initiatives is the recycling of textiles like old clothes and shoes with more than 100 drop off locations around The City.

There are nearly 50,000 tons of waste going to the landfill that falls into “other materials” category, including 19,873 tons of textiles and apparel, according to department documents. Other items include 1,188 tons of appliances, 506 mattresses, 3,138 tons of furniture and 8,040 tons of carpet or upholstery.

Other efforts will be required including advocating for state legislation to increase requirements for recyclable materials in products and take-back programs, like The City’s recently adopted mandate for drug manufactures to take back unwanted drugs, Rodriguez said.

 

Los Angeles to Start Car Sharing Business—Just for the Poor

Los Angeles has a transit system that needs tens of millions each year in subsidies to keep the doors open. It signed a court ordered agreement to spend over one billion dollars to fix potholes—but signed it knowing they do not have the money to pay for it. Thanks to the policies promoted by the Democrats owning the city, crime has spiked and not enough cops on the streets.

Yet, this failed city has decided to go into the car sharing business—buying electric vehicles and allowing the poor to use them! This is Uber without the competent management or profit motive, wait till you see the cost of this problem—another reason LA is quickly becoming a Third World City.

“That means low-income families, who tend to live in parts of cities more vulnerable to pollution, can’t always access the tremendous advances in clean transportation technology. L.A. wants to level the playing field with a new pilot program to subsidize EV car-sharing. The city just won a $1.6 million grant from the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to put 100 car-share vehicles, at least 80 of which are electric, into the low-income neighborhoods ringing downtown L.A. The city still needs to figure out who will operate the service, but it hopes to get the new cars rolling by early next year.”

Uber, not government.

Photo courtesy of channone, flickr

Photo courtesy of channone, flickr

L.A.’s Bold Plan to Bring Car-Share to the Poor

A new electric vehicle pilot would provide access and savings to those who need it most.

Julian Spector, City Lab, 7/30/15

For all their social benefits, electric vehicles have so far remained the province of the rich. Snazzy Teslas start at $70,000, BMW’s i3 will set you back $43,000, and even the relatively cheap Ford Focus Electric and Nissan Leaf cost around $30,000. That’s nowhere near economy car prices, and given how new the fleet is, it will take a few years to build up a used EV market.

That means low-income families, who tend to live in parts of cities more vulnerable to pollution, can’t always access the tremendous advances in clean transportation technology. L.A. wants to level the playing field with a new pilot program to subsidize EV car-sharing. The city just won a $1.6 million grant from the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to put 100 car-share vehicles, at least 80 of which are electric, into the low-income neighborhoods ringing downtown L.A. The city still needs to figure out who will operate the service, but it hopes to get the new cars rolling by early next year.

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The project addresses both economic and environmental sustainability. Low-income families spend a higher share of their paychecks on transportation than wealthier families, but have less access to car-sharing services, because they aren’t close enough or the cost of membership is still too high. Poor neighborhoods often suffer worse air pollution, but the economic barriers make it hard to ditch old cars in favor of cleaner electric ones.

The collaborative effort came together with help from the Chicago-based Shared-Use Mobility Center, a nonprofit that wants to make it possible “to live well without owning a car,” in the words of executive director Sharon Feigon. She’s got over a decade of experience setting up and running car-share services in cities around the country. She likens establishing affordable car-share in a disadvantaged neighborhood to opening a grocery store in a food desert: it taps into underserved demand.

“Our experience is doing something like this can work really well,” she says. “Take really good electric cars and make them affordable and accessible to people who don’t have a lot of money for transportation—of course that can work.”

Neighborhoods that need it

L.A. is known as a driving city, but public transit has drastically expanded there in recent years. That same transit expansion has had the unfortunate effect of pushing low-income residents out of the improved areas as property values rise, says community organizer Sandra McNeill. As executive director of T.R.U.S.T South L.A., she works to stabilize housing and transportation for the communities getting displaced by new development. She supports car-sharing as a way to keep down costs of living so low-income residents avoid being displaced.

“If they can then defer purchase of a vehicle or sell off a vehicle, there can be tremendous savings that can help stabilize a family,” McNeill says.

Some of the cars will go into South L.A., where McNeill works. It’s a part of town where almost everybody rents—around 85 percent, she says. A family of four there earns $25,000 a year, half the city’s median income. The car-share program will also focus on Westlake, Pico-Union, Boyle Heights, and Koreatown, areas home to large numbers of new immigrants. Many people in all these neighborhoods work in garments, restaurants, or construction, all areas highly vulnerable to wage theft and sub-minimum wage compensation. Healthy food and park space are limited but rates of asthma and cancer are extremely high.

The EV car-share program will go into low-income neighborhoods around downtown L.A., where almost everyone rents and works low-wage jobs. (City of L.A. Sustainability Team)

Those challenges made the neighborhoods ideal candidates for CARB’s grant funding, composed of revenue from large-scale emitters buying carbon allowances from the state. California Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de León, who represents L.A., authored a bill that designates cap-and-trade funds for neighborhoods disproportionately harmed by climate change and poor environmental quality. In a speech on July 24, de León praised policies that “democratize” climate change progress; “all individuals deserve access to electrical vehicles,” he said.

Community groups like T.R.U.S.T. South L.A. will play a key role in shaping the on-the-ground details of the car-sharing setup, says McNeill, because local knowledge will be vital to the program’s success. Unlike wealthier neighborhoods where car-sharing has already thrived, the new program operator can’t assume everyone in the target area has a bank account, or a cell phone, or an internet connection. That’s quite a departure from the typical car-share system, where users sign up online and locate and book cars on their phones. The program might need to include a call center to help people reserve cars, for instance, but operators there had better speak more languages than English.

“From the company’s point of view, it’s all about utilization: if the cars are used in the right numbers then it works for these companies.”

That grassroots participation also can be attractive to car-share companies because it helps them ease into a new market, says Feigon. “Part of what I think makes it interesting to the operators is that these community groups will be involved, so they’ll have support,” she says. “From the company’s point of view, it’s all about utilization: if the cars are used in the right numbers then it works for these companies.”

California has set ambitious greenhouse gas reduction goals—like putting 1.5 million EVs on the road by 2025—and achieving that requires mass participation, says CARB spokesperson David Clegern. “We need the help of everyone and we don’t want to leave anyone out of the benefits of this program,” he says. “[This pilot] gets the technology out there to an audience that might not ordinarily be exposed to it.”

The L.A. city council still needs to formally accept the grant when it comes back from its summer recess, says L.A. Chief Sustainability Officer Matt Petersen. Then they can put out a call for proposals to decide who will operate the car-share. He hopes to have cars operating by early 2016 if not sooner. The city is also working on installing 1,000 public EV charging stations by 2017, and this pilot will add 110 of them.

EV for all

By tackling several problems at once, this pilot stands to benefit low-income neighborhoods in several different ways. First there is the reduction in car-ownership. A good ratio for car-share utilization is 70 users to one car, says Feigon. That means the pilot’s 100 cars can support 7,000 drivers. That’s 7,000 people who can forget about car leases, gas spikes, insurance payments, and the other myriad expenses that come with car ownership. That’s a good chunk of change going back into households that need it most.

Those cost savings have proven attractive throughout the country. Data from SUMC show the number of car-share vehicles in the U.S. has grown consistently over the last decade (below). Currently L.A. has the 11th-most car-sharing cars; New York, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. lead the pack.

Then there are the environmental benefits. The smoggy, polluted neighborhoods will be able to cut out exhaust for those projected 7,000 drivers. The city estimates this can avoid the purchase of 1,000 gas-powered cars, eliminating 2,150 tons of CO2 emissions annually. If the pilot succeeds, the city will expand the service, increasing the carbon savings.

Most importantly, this strategy recognizes the crucial economic dimensions of environmental justice. Too often, the shiny new green solutions that get written up and promoted cost too much to be accessible to low-income consumers. Middle- and upper-class environmentalists have every right to pay above-market rates for more sustainably farmed kale or designer zero-carbon homes, but if sustainable consumption remains stratified with income, its benefits will be limited.

Green technology prices tend to drop with time, to be sure, but it’s hard to tell just how long that will take. That creates the necessity for positive efforts by municipal governments and their civilian and industry allies to make this technology and its associated cost savings available for those who want it but can’t get it on their own. L.A. has found a powerful model for doing that, one that other cities would do well to explore.

 

Social Security Administration ADMITS Rates to Go Up/Benefits to be Cut by 23% (or more)

It is no longer a “right wing conspiracy” that Social Security is going broke—it is a fact that the bureaucrats admit to being true. They can even tell you when. Though each year that passes, they move UP the date—closer to today. As of now, in eighteen year it is over.

“Then, as if on cue, I saw an asterisk with the following message: The law governing benefit amounts may change because, by 2033, the payroll taxes collected will be enough to pay only about 77 percent of scheduled benefits. My full form: I could not believe I was seeing the equivalent of what I was just thinking, but with a new twist, “If I like my Social Security, I can keep 77 percent of it.” With an asterisk, my beloved government was informing me that they will be unable to fulfill their part of a financial arrangement into which, as their statement attested, I had been making mandatory contributions starting in 1971 at age 16.”

They know it will take a 23% cut in promised benefits to keep the doors open. If a private pension firm was in this shape, the Feds would take it over and close it down. At a minimum it would force them to send letters to beneficiaries saying your benefits will be cut. Oh, at the same time, workers will have their pay cut due to higher tax rates for Social Security. Nobody wins, everybody loses—but those responsible for it will no longer be in office (we hope).

Social_security_card

Did You Ever Notice the Asterisk on Your Social Security Statement?

by Myra Adams, National Review blog, 7/30/15

While engaging in the mundane task of gathering financial statements for a “secure retirement” meeting with my husband’s and my adviser, this Baby Boomer stumbled upon documented proof that our nation does not have the guts to confront one of its most serious economic problems. The realization came when I pulled from my files a document statement innocently titled, “Your Social Security Statement.” At first glance, the statement did not appear menacing. I was told I could expect to receive a benefit of “about $2,136 a month” upon reaching age 70 — which certainly seems like good news. But immediately I thought of a parallel of President Obama’s infamous Obamacare promise: “If you like your Social Security, you can keep your Social Security.”

Then, as if on cue, I saw an asterisk with the following message: The law governing benefit amounts may change because, by 2033, the payroll taxes collected will be enough to pay only about 77 percent of scheduled benefits. My full form: I could not believe I was seeing the equivalent of what I was just thinking, but with a new twist, “If I like my Social Security, I can keep 77 percent of it.” With an asterisk, my beloved government was informing me that they will be unable to fulfill their part of a financial arrangement into which, as their statement attested, I had been making mandatory contributions starting in 1971 at age 16.

This impending “benefit rationing,” reducing my future financial “security” by $492 a month, may, in fact, not be the worst of it. Sitting in the back of my Social Security file was an earlier statement dated March 10, 2009. Again, followed by an asterisk was a sentence that read exactly like my 2015 statement except for two major differences (emphasis added): The law governing benefit amounts may change because, by 2041, the payroll taxes collected will be enough to pay only about 78 percent of your scheduled benefits. Clearly, in 2009, the government’s prediction — that Social Security would have to be cut to 78 percent of benefits come 2041 — was overly optimistic.

Now, in 2015, they are projecting 2033, eight years earlier, with one percentage point less of my projected benefits. The projections have steadily worsened over the past few years, helped by a much weaker economy than the federal government expected. Does anyone really expect these numbers to get better? The skepticism I felt when I saw my initial monthly benefit was entirely justified. There are just too many Baby Boomers and too many financial promises with elected leaders too afraid to inflict the necessary pain of real reform. RELATED: Eight Reasons We Shouldn’t Raise the Cap on Social Security Taxes But the pain will be much, much greater when monthly Social Security benefits are rationed. Now is the time for Baby Boomers to force their elected leaders to confront this issue and take action. The planned benefit reduction should be a major talking point for every 2016 presidential candidate, but somehow it is not.

Why? Politicians fear confronting the truth, and they fear Americans can’t handle it. Meanwhile, here is the truth, as stated by the Social Security Administration in its annual Trustees Report from 2014: Social Security is not sustainable over the long term at current benefit and tax rates. In 2010, the program paid more in benefits and expenses than it collected in taxes and other noninterest income, and the 2014 Trustees Report projects this pattern to continue for the next 75 years. The old cliché “demographics is destiny” has never been more applicable.

 

In January 2011, the first 1946-born Baby Boomers began turning age 65, at the rate of 10,000 a day. This gray-haired evolution continues for 19 straight years — until the end of 2029 — when the youngest crop of Baby Boomers, born in 1964, finally turn 65. That adds up to just over 69 million former hipsters who changed America at every stage of their lives (though, of course, some of them have died). Now, many equipped with artificial hips and knees, they’re expecting generous automated deposits from the government at the first of each month. (With many millions of them over time eventually receiving far greater amounts than what they initially contributed.)

Keep in mind that those millions of surviving Baby Boomers do not include all the immigrants, also aging, who came to America in the past decades. The official total is 74.9 million Boomers native and foreign-born. Here is more truth (and pain) from the Social Security Administration: The population of retirees is projected to double in about 50 years. People are also living longer, and the birth rate is low. Baby Boomers can expect to live longer than any previous generation, which compounds the problem, and on the other side of the equation, we have the low national birth rate. Combined, the Social Security actuaries put it this way: Trustees project that the ratio of 2.8 workers paying Social Security taxes to each person collecting benefits in 2013 will fall to 2.1 to 1 in 2032.

Like it or not, the worker shortage is a key reason why our government is importing immigrants (both legal and illegal). Don’t buy it? See this 50th anniversary video commemorating President Johnson’s signing Medicare into law, produced by a group promoting immigration reform — clearly implying more immigration is what’s keeping Social Security and Medicare afloat: The Social Security trustees go on to warn that “if no changes are made to the program,” they project that “assets will be sufficient to allow for full payment of scheduled benefits through 2032” — hence the most recent warning on my Social Security statement. Don’t you just love understated government language explaining what will soon become a Baby Boomer revolt?

My favorite phrase: “If no changes are made to the program.” Let’s face it. Congress is never going to make changes to the program. It won’t happen, or certainly won’t happen any time soon, because (surprise) Baby Boomers themselves are against changing the benefit formulas.

So, barring some positive developments, in 18 years — or less — Washington, D.C., will be filled with aging protesters, many using walkers, wheelchairs, or scooters. They will carry signs reading, “Give me my full benefits” and “It’s my money.” Old men wearing Vietnam veteran caps will be demanding, “100 percent and no less.” By that time, it will be too late.

What comes to mind is a classic 1965 song by The Who, “My Generation.” If you are of a certain age you know the famous lyrics, “I hope I die before I get old.” Now, since the Baby Boomer generation is already redefining what it means to be “old,” it’s time to rewrite the lyrics: “I hope I die before the government goes broke.” As things are going right now, you won’t, but it will.

San Fran Extorts Luxury Developers: Pitch in for Public Transit–Or Else

The cost of buying a condo or home in San Fran includes the cost of the housing, parks, streets, community “amenities”—lots of cost having little to do with the homes. But government has determined that “developer fee’s” is a great source of slush funds. This is nothing more than extortion—either give us the bribe, ur, developer fee, or you do not get to build.

“A new plan would right that wrong. Several civic agencies have teamed up to develop a “Transportation Sustainability Fee” that officials hope will help offset the impact that new residential development imposes on public transit. If demographic projections hold true, and San Francisco gets the 101,500 or so households it’s expected to add in the next 25 years, the new fees will go a long way toward making sure transit not only survives the new arrivals but serves them well.

BART and other government transportation systems have massive deficits. Union determine if you are allowed to get to work. The system is corrupt and broke. Extortion is the way to save the system.

San Francisco, CA, USA

San Francisco’s Humble Request to Luxury Developers: Pitch in for Public Transit

A new impact fee asks residential towers to pay their fair share.

Eric Jaffe, City Lab,7/31/15

San Francisco hasn’t built nearly as much residential development as it ought to have in recent, well, decades. Lately whatever housing has emerged downtown received an enormous benefit: developers weren’t required to pay a fee for the congestion they added to the city’s public transportation network. So a luxury tower could advertise transit access as a perk, then dump all these new residents onto a bus and rail system that was already overloaded.

A new plan would right that wrong. Several civic agencies have teamed up to develop a “Transportation Sustainability Fee” that officials hope will help offset the impact that new residential development imposes on public transit. If demographic projections hold true, and San Francisco gets the 101,500 or so households it’s expected to add in the next 25 years, the new fees will go a long way toward making sure transit not only survives the new arrivals but serves them well.

“There’s no way we’ll be able to accommodate that kind of inflow of people if we don’t invest in capacity of the transportation system—particularly in transit capacity,” Ed Reiskin, executive director of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, tells CityLab. “The compact form and the transit accessibility are part of what make those areas attractive for people who are building housing and will move here.”

Luxury towers would pay most

In addition to office and commercial development, which already pay an impact fee, the new Transportation Sustainability Fee would apply to market-rate residential housing with more than 20 units (as well as large institutions, such as universities). Affordable housing and subsidized middle-income housing will be exempt—an acknowledgement by officials that affordability remains critical in the coming years. Smaller residential buildings and “most” nonprofits wouldn’t have to pay, either, according to the city.

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Big downtown luxury towers are in line to pitch in the most. In one feasibility study by the city, a 15,000-square foot, 229-unit building would be on the hook for $2 million more a year in fees than it would currently pay. Officials estimate the new fee could bring in roughly $14 million a year; when added to existing fees the city expects to generate $1.2 billion over a 30-year timeline.

Reiskin acknowledges that’s not huge money—especially for a transit system will billions in needs—but says a new rail car here ($3.5 million) or a new 60-foot bus there (under $1 million) can still make a noticeable difference. The new fee would go toward capacity expansion as opposed to basic maintenance. In addition to new Muni vehicles, that could mean street improvements, investments in BART or Caltrain, or more bike lanes around the city.

Alternative modes would benefit

The fee recognizes that the impact of new development must not only be dispersed across the city but across all modes—not just cars and roads, says Jeffrey Tumlin, a principal at transportation consultancy Nelson\Nygaard. In that sense it reflects the spirit of San Francisco’s existing (if imperfect) “transit-first” policy. It also extends the city’s recent progress on eliminating traffic guidelines that favor car-reliance over transit use.

“The new fee is based on the notion that San Francisco is no longer widening streets,” says Tumlin. “So if a new development project is bringing 10 new vehicle trips, we have to make transportation investment to reduce at least 10 existing vehicle trips—through improvements to transit, improvements to biking, improvements to walkability, and so on.”

“It’s potentially an unusual win-win approach that many jurisdictions could learn from.”

The next step for the proposed ordinance is to go to the planning commission and the land use committee of the city’s Board of Supervisors, says Reiskin. He expects that to occur around September. From there it would advance to the full board for approval. If it gets the nod, the fee could go into effect by the end of this year or early next.

So far everyone seems on board with the plan—even developers. Reiskin says the real estate community appreciates that transit is both strained and critical to attracting tenants. “I think there has been a realization that it’s both in their best interest and not unreasonable at levels we’re suggesting that they partner with us to make sure these investments in the transit system can happen, so their buildings can be viable,” he says.

(torbakhopper / Flickr)

Is the fee too low?

Developer acceptance is great for the plan, but it does raise the question of whether the “not unreasonable” fee might, in fact, be a bit too reasonable. The proposed ordinance itself, provided to CityLab, acknowledges that the fee’s revenue will be “significantly below the costs that SFMTA and other transit providers will incur to mitigate the transportation infrastructure and service needs resulting from the Development Projects.”

Pedestrian advocate Nicole Ferrara voiced a related concern to SF Gate:

“Why such a low fee when (residential) development is costing San Francisco more than $30 a square foot?” she wondered. “Why not maximize that fee so that all the new projects, all those new people, can get around the city easily and safely.”

Officials say the fee wasn’t as high as it might theoretically have been—a figure estimated by a so-called “nexus” study—so as not to discourage residential development in a city that desperately needs it. Tumlin says finding an impact fee optimal for both sides is always a challenge. The new fee is certainly better than the existing arrangement, he says, and also represents an “absolutely replicable” model for other U.S. cities struggling to meet their growing transit demand.

“I think it’s a great program,” he says, “and potentially an unusual win-win approach that many jurisdictions could learn from.”