Fleischman: 8 Reasons for the GOP to Reject Jerry Brown’s Health Care Tax

This is getting silly. A few years ago, it was Republicans in the Assembly and Senate that gave the Democrats the needed votes to extend billions in vehicle taxes—now we have parts of this money going to freeloading bike riders, horse riders and folks that walk on special trails—instead of fixing our roads or lowering taxes.

Now Obama is telling us to raise taxes in order to ”qualify” to get $1.1 billion of our money back—Democrats never shy about raising taxes, need $1.1 billion—so they want to raise taxes by $1.7 billion. Sadly, some Republicans are planning to support this, “IF” the Democrats agree to use $270 million of the health care taxes for transportation! In other words, the GOP sees this as a general tax increase, NOT a health care issue—though the State has plenty of money to cover the extorted $1.1 billion without raising taxes and making health care costs MORE for all Californians.

“3) Tax dollars should be used responsibility, whether they reside in the state or federal treasury. The federal government is offering money to California if it passes this tax, which would continue to fund the expansion of Obamacare in California. That’s against the original intent of the Framers of the Constitution, and bad policy.”

Thanks to Jon Fleischman for reminding GOP’ers in the legislature and the grassroots what we stand for. It is a sad day when we have to remind Republicans what the Party stands for and the promises we made to the voters. Should this pass with GOP votes, it will be difficult for any Republican to claim they oppose bigger government, bad programs and tax increases. Is this why Cruz, Trump and Carson are doing to well? They received a total of 72% of the votes in the Nevada caucus. Republicans are angry at their elected officials that refuse to stand up for GOP values and principles.

Taxes

8 Reasons for the GOP to Reject Jerry Brown’s Health Care Tax

by Jon Fleischman, Breitbart CA, 2/29/16

In early January, Governor Jerry Brown called on legislators to approve a revamped multi-billion dollar tax on healthcare organizations (the “MCO” tax). Surprisingly, some Republican legislators are considering casting a vote in support of this healthcare tax. It is very likely that the vote on the Governor’s proposal will take place today in Sacramento.

Here are eight reasons why GOP legislators should vote against the tax increase:

1) With record-sized mega-budgets, California’s government is not suffering from a revenue problem. The reality is that there are more than enough tax revenues currently to fund programs for developmentally disabled persons — but once again the majority party is using that important issue as political football (as with transportation infrastructure funding), choosing not to fund something unless Republicans prostrate themselves.

2) This managed care organization tax is the poster child of a tax that should end. Its current iteration was authored for three years in 2013 on a party line vote. Not one Republican legislator voted for it. If there were more Republicans it wouldn’t have passed at the time. It stands to reason that with Republicans picking up seats in the 2014 election it should go.

3) Tax dollars should be used responsibility, whether they reside in the state or federal treasury. The federal government is offering money to California if it passes this tax, which would continue to fund the expansion of Obamacare in California. That’s against the original intent of the Framers of the Constitution, and bad policy.

4) The process is rushed and the consequences unknown. As State Senator John Moorlach (R-Costa Meas) says:

Unfortunately, we have not been provided with the details on how the bill will impact the for-profit health care providers. One problem is that their tax information is proprietary and unavailable. The other problem is that no one can predict what their premium taxes and taxable income will be for the next two years. Consequently, no one knows if the bill is good for consumers, the for-profits or the State of California’s net tax revenues. I know it is nice to assume that it will all work out. But, this is a very complex arrangement that deserves a less rushed analysis.

5) There is nothing more credible than an insurance company executive “promising” insurers won’t use the new tax as an excuse to raise rates. (Apparently, such assurances have been given.)

6) There is something particularly unseemly about a deal that involves the approval of a lift of pork barrel spending in order to secure the votes of particular members – ranging from fire mitigation funding of over $100 million for some rural counties, to big bucks for a medical school at U.C. Merced.  There are also millions for the Labor Institutes at U.C. Berkeley and U.C.L.A., and a cool million for the Wildlife Health Center at U.C. Davis. And the list goes on…

7)  As President Reagan was famous for saying, “When you are explaining, you are losing.” — Regardless of whether you choose to think of this as a tax increase or not (it has been portrayed as a mere replacement for a tax that already exists and is expiring), that is exactly how it is and how it will be portrayed. Will you have twenty minutes with a white-board with each of your constituents to explain your vote when the rates go up?

8)  This is as simple as it gets. The current multi-billion dollar MCO tax will expire in just a few months. There’s only a new health care tax if you vote for one.

Government Pretends Some Illegal Aliens are NOT Gang Members—to Give Them Freebies

Under the law, if you are an illegal alien gang member, you are to be deported. No need to worry, Obama has given over 250,000 CONVICTED criminal illegal aliens amnesty. So being a mere gang member is no big deal—maybe he will set up his daughters with a date for a naughty boy. The local police, the one’s that deal with criminals know the gang members, not the paper pushing apologists for illegal aliens in Washington.

“Suddenly, however, youth who have never been convicted of a crime, but may have joined the gang and left, or associated with gang members in their neighborhood, are at risk of being deported because of their DACA application.

The DACA application form from United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) specifically asks each applicant whether he or she is “now” or “ever” has been a member of a gang.

What has not been clear to immigrant rights advocates and immigration attorneys working with youth applying for DACA is the criteria federal officials from USCIS use to determine who is a gang member.”

How can these illegal aliens ever have respect for the laws of the United States if they break them and the President protects the law breaking? Why not join a gang—the President says it is OK. California is enough criminals and unsafe streets—Barack Obama has made it worse and more dangerous—thank you Barack—a man with armed bodyguards for the rest of his life.

Christmas_Island_Immigration_Detention_Centre_(5424306236)

Troubled Pasts Force Hard Choices for Some Undocumented Immigrants

Yvette Cabrera for Voice of OC, 2/29/16

Youth Engagement Coordinator Ignacio Rios Jr. of Santa Ana Boys and Men of Color embraces Adrian, who breaks down in tears after his high school graduation at Santa Ana Stadium last June.

There was a nervous tension among the teenagers as they each stood to give their graduation speech and anxiously surveyed the small gathering of parents and educators in the library of Santa Ana’s Valley High School.

Then Adrian stepped forward to share his story. He was apprehensive too, but when he launched into his speech there was a certainty in his posture and a conviction in his voice.

The journey to arrive at that spot on a crisp, winter morning last February had taken years and been filled with danger. He could have easily ended up another statistic: killed in a gang fight or locked up for life.

Instead, Adrian, an undocumented immigrant, was preparing to apply for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which allows immigrants who arrived as children to the United States and meet certain requirements to request a temporary two-year reprieve from deportation as well as the authorization to work.

(Since he is an undocumented immigrant, the Voice of OC is using the pseudonym of Adrian, for the young man, and Elisa for his mother to allow the family to publicly share their story without risk of being deported.)

He had high hopes for the future. But just as Adrian was ready to move on to the next stage in his life, his recent past would come to haunt him.

In the audience that day last February, Elisa sat beaming with tears sliding down her face as she listened to her son. She knew how close Adrian, who had recently turned 18, had come to veering off the path and straight into danger as a young man growing up in Santa Ana neighborhoods beset by poverty and violence.

Yet there he stood with a message of atonement 10 weeks after completing Joven Noble, a Santa Ana Boys and Men of Color rite of passage program that teaches at-risk youth responsibility, respect and decision-making skills.

“I was a troubled young man, hanging around with the wrong people, beating the streets, doing things I wasn’t supposed to even though I had a mother that helped me a lot,” Adrian confessed to the group.

He explained how he had misbehaved, yelling at his mom, disrespecting her, and doing “things a man doesn’t do to his mom.”

(Click here to read a detailed account of Adrian’s experience in the Joven Nobel program)

Then a childhood friend invited him to attend a Joven Noble meeting. And while at first Adrian felt out of place, he soon discovered that the process of opening up during group sessions strengthened him and helped him examine why his life had gone off course.

“I was living in cycles of violence my whole life. Till we talked about those cycles of love I started changing my mind, my way of thinking and I turned those cycles of violence into cycles of love,” Adrian told the group that day.

Santa Ana Boys and Men of Color Project Director Abraham Medina and Youth Engagement Coordinator Ignacio Rios Jr. praise Adrian’s progress during a Joven Nobel graduation ceremony.

Joven Nobel is run by the group Santa Ana Boys and Men of Color, which is part of a larger statewide organization and launched locally in 2012 to keep youth in school, out of the juvenile justice system, and out of the hands of immigration authorities.

Adrian and Elisa credit the program with setting him on a path that led to his graduation from high school last June and his enrollment in Santa Ana College in the fall. But more than anything else, he wanted a job so he could help Elisa, who has had to support the family on her own since 2013 when Adrian’s father was convicted on an assault charge. He is now serving a seven-year sentence in state prison.

Getting a steady job, however, has always been impossible for Adrian, who like his older brother, crossed the border into the United States as a young boy with Elisa and without legal authorization. Hope came in 2012 when the Obama administration launched the DACA program, which is aimed at helping undocumented youth like Adrian, who came from Mexico at the age of 3.

The fate of this program, which doesn’t grant legal status, hangs in the balance alongside a similar program that President Obama created in November 2014 via executive action called the Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) program, which grants a temporary reprieve from deportation for immigrant parents of U.S. citizens and legal residents.

In January, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it would consider a legal challenge filed by the state of Texas against DAPA and an expanded version of DACA, which Obama also introduced in the fall of 2014. One of the issues the court will examine is whether Obama exceeded his executive authority by creating programs that grant deferred action.

For many youth in Adrian’s shoes, DACA was a breakthrough, and it has helped to bring young students and adults on the path to college and beyond out of the shadows. But for Adrian, and others like him who have grown up in neighborhoods with gangs there was a catch.

When President Obama announced his plans to expand DACA and create DAPA he made one thing clear: Immigration authorities would continue to zero in on threats to the nation’s security.

In Obama’s words, his priorities were “Felons, not families. Criminals, not children. Gang members, not a mom who’s working hard to provide for her kids.”

Gang members have long been a priority for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), but those who land in the crosshairs of federal authorities typically do so after being arrested or convicted of a crime.

Suddenly, however, youth who have never been convicted of a crime, but may have joined the gang and left, or associated with gang members in their neighborhood, are at risk of being deported because of their DACA application.

The DACA application form from United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) specifically asks each applicant whether he or she is “now” or “ever” has been a member of a gang.

What has not been clear to immigrant rights advocates and immigration attorneys working with youth applying for DACA is the criteria federal officials from USCIS use to determine who is a gang member.

“There’s no criteria in part because when it comes to DACA this is the first time that there’s ever been a specific question or criteria of gang association that is asked on an application,” said Caitlin W. Sanderson, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California in Orange County who specializes in police practices, gang injunctions and immigrants rights.

It’s a question tied to a growing concern among advocates and attorneys about the use of gang databases by local law enforcement agencies to track individuals known to be or suspected of being gang members, associates or affiliates, and which critics say lack transparency and accountability.

These databases are also used, according to immigration attorneys, by federal agencies such as ICE to deport alleged gang members, and they fear this information may also be used by the USCIS to turn down DACA applicants and refer them to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

It’s a concern that arose in the immigrant community as well, according to Abraham Medina, who leads Santa Ana Boys and Men of Color. Potential applicants either haven’t applied or fear applying because of school related incidents that were gang related and resulted in police contacts.

“It really does complicate the process for individuals who have had contact with police officers even if it’s something minor that’s school-related, and that’s unfortunate because we are communities that are at risk of being in contact with police,” said Medina.

An Important Choice

Last fall, as Adrian moved toward completing his DACA application, he sat down with Sean Garcia-Leys, a law student with the Immigrant Rights Clinic at the University of California, Irvine School of Law. The two discussed the risk of ICE making Adrian a deportation priority and placing him in removal proceedings if there was any record in any database of his gang involvement.

“My first recommendation is to not apply for DACA blindly. Whether or not you want to do it, you have to weigh the risks to your family,” explained Garcia-Leys, who has researched procedures for how individuals are placed on local, state and federal gang databases.

Sitting in the office of Boys and Men of Color, Adrian told Garcia-Leys that he had been stopped and questioned numerous times by police officers in his Santa Ana neighborhood, often as he walked down the street. Adrian’s fear was that somehow he had landed on a gang database via these stops.

“I’m going to have to think about it now,” Adrian told Garcia-Leys. “I have a little brother and sister and I don’t want to leave them alone…I’m like their second dad. It would be devastating to them.”

Adrian said he has never been arrested or convicted of any crime. But at the end of his sophomore year, when his father was jailed and it seemed like his world was falling apart, he joined a gang.

“My dad was everything to me. When I lost him I didn’t know what to do. I looked to my right and that gang was there,” said Adrian.

He said didn’t last long in the gang – slightly more than a year – and then realized he had made a mistake and was jumped out (physically beaten) by the gang and allowed to leave the gang.

There were many things that he did that he’s not proud of, he said. He would stay out late past midnight without heeding the consequences or the risks he was taking by being out on the streets.

“I had anger. I wouldn’t take pills or anything but I would clear it out with drugs and alcohol,” said Adrian.

It was his participation in Boys and Men of Color that not only inspired him to change course, but to share his story with younger students.

“I decided that it was a fresh beginning for me,” he said. “And weeks later [after joining Boys and Men of Color] I got out of gang.”

Would that involvement disqualify him from deferred action, or worse, result in his deportation? Those are the questions that weighed on Adrian as he debated whether to apply for DACA at all.

Last summer, the DACA program marked its third anniversary, but attorneys and advocates say they are still unclear as to what gang criteria would disqualify an individual applying for DACA.

Within the immigration court system and specifically deportation proceedings, the criteria used to label an individual a gang member is murky, said Sanderson of the ACLU.

“Just in the context of removal proceedings and the way in which ICE enforces immigration law, that label of gang member is really, really toxic, and there’s no criteria that I can see, that I know of, that they base their labeling on,” said Sanderson, who specialized in immigrant and refugee rights for seven years prior to working for the ACLU, including as program director for the Esperanza Immigrant Rights Project in Los Angeles.

So when the federal government asked DACA applicants to state whether they are “now” or have “ever been a member of a gang,” Sanderson warned her clients, who otherwise had strong applications, that the real risk was not that they would be denied DACA, but that they would be referred to ICE and then be deported.

This is an issue particularly for young men and women who grow up in neighborhoods with gang activity and who are stopped on a regular basis by police who suspect them of associating with a gang or by police attempting to gather as much information as possible, said Sanderson.

“Once that gets recorded somewhere, it’s unclear what happens to that information, and it’s been unclear if that’s sufficient for immigration [authorities] to find that somebody has had a history of gang association, which would make you ineligible for DACA…,” said Sanderson,

The ambiguity of the DACA application question left attorneys asking the federal government how gang membership is defined. Does it require a criminal conviction as a gang member, or a conviction involving increased sentences via gang enhancements, or self-admission of gang involvement?

The answer was not clear when DACA first launched in 2012 and numerous immigrant rights organizations asked then-USCIS director Alejandro Mayorkas what evidence would be used to verify gang membership. Sanderson said the organizations were not given clear guidance about what gang membership meant, and were told it was a “discretionary issue.”

In a written response to Voice of OC, USCIS stated that the factors making deferred action inappropriate would “include, but not be limited to, threats to public safety or national security” and indicators of such threats “include, but are not limited to, gang membership, participation in criminal activities, or participation in activities that threaten the United States.”

What Constitutes Gang Membership?

What Sanderson and other attorneys do know is how ICE uses police department data on alleged gang members in immigration cases involving removals and prosecutorial discretion, a tool that gives the government authority to decide to what degree to enforce the law against an individual.

“Within the context of a removal proceeding ICE will use the flimsiest of information from local police departments to label them [an individual] as a gang member,” said Sanderson, pointing out that there is no criteria in immigration law for what it means to be a gang member.

How individuals are classified as gang members has far reaching effects in both criminal and civil law, and as experts such as Sanderson have found, similar consequences in immigration cases.

The criteria for gang membership determines whether police can serve individuals with a legal notice for gang participation known as a STEP notice under the California Street Terrorism Enforcement and Prevention Act.

These notices along with field interview cards are used by district attorneys as evidence of gang participation in criminal cases. They are also used in civil hearings to prove gang membership for a gang injunction, a civil restraining order that restricts illegal and otherwise legal, everyday activities of a gang’s members in what prosecutors describe as a “safety zone,” for example, associating with gang members in public spaces within that safety zone.

In California, the information in the statewide gang database, known as CALGANG, is used by police as a source and investigatory tool to track youth and adults alleged to be gang members.

The state requires that in order for a law enforcement officer to enter an individual into the database, at least two of 10 criteria must be met. Those include a gang membership admission or if an individual is arrested with known gang members for offenses that are “consistent with gang activity.”

Other criteria include wearing “gang dress” or having gang tattoos, as well as frequenting gang areas, which has raised red flags among civil rights and defense attorneys who say this criteria is subjective and can lead to misclassification and racial profiling of youth of color based on how they look and where they live.

The number of individuals on CALGANG has dropped in recent years. In 2012 there were slightly more than 200,000 people statewide, according to the Youth Justice Coalition in Los Angeles, which published a 2012 report “Tracked and Trapped,” analyzing the demographics of the database.

Today there are 140,000 individuals on CALGANG, but what has remained constant is the disproportionate number of people of color on the database, particularly Latinos who represent 65 percent, and African Americans who represent 20.7 percent of those on the list, according to CALGANG data provided to the Voice of OC by CALGANG via a public records request.

Santa Ana Police Department Commander Eric Paulson describes CALGANG as a tool that directs officers towards documented sources that police must then analyze and determine whether there is enough evidence to confirm whether someone is an active gang member.

“We cannot and do not rely on CALGANG to say [you belong] to ABC gang. What it does is it sends us to the documentation,” said Paulson, who manages the Crimes Against Persons Division, which includes the department’s gang unit.

In order to place an individual on CALGANG, the department examines field interview cards, which are generated during routine stops by officers in the field who come in contact with an alleged gang member and document criteria that fits the state guidelines for CALGANG. A department administrator then evaluates that information to make sure there is probable cause and sufficient criteria to place the individual on the database, said Paulson.

“There are several layers of scrutiny that go on in the process because we want to get it right; we do. And sometimes we fail. We’re human, but there are several layers of protection to protect the rights of everybody,” said Paulson.

But Josh Green, a staff attorney and legal coordinator with the Urban Peace Institute in Los Angeles, said not only is the criteria for gang behavior and membership overly broad, the criteria is often indistinguishable from the markers of neighborhoods and communities impacted by gang activity.

“When the standards are so incredibly low and they map on pretty closely to what it is just to be a person who grows up in a low-income, violence-impacted neighborhood, then we begin to have some challenges because we start to lump people into these categories,” said Green, whose organization works to reduce and prevent community violence.

In one case, Green’s client was added to the database after being detained for being out past curfew as his friends walked him to the bus station on his way home. Police found no weapons, no drugs, no gang tattoos and made no arrests, Green said.

After researching CALGANG, Garcia-Leys from the UC Irvine School of Law was likewise critical of the criteria, as well as the fact that officers must use their own judgment to determine if the criteria fits.

“It’s the idea that having really vague criteria with an extremely low threshold is not doing the job of ensuring that there’s any sort of equity or accuracy in the way that this is reported from department to department and officer to officer,” said Garcia-Leys.

Green said law enforcement has long contended that there are no consequences to being placed on the database because it’s an investigative tool and it’s confidential to law enforcement agencies. But he points out that the database has severe consequences for undocumented immigrant youth in removal proceedings when the government claims the individual is an active gang member based on information from the database.

“ICE doesn’t have field interview cards on this individual, so where that information comes from and what it’s based on, that is potentially problematic,” said Green.

Individuals in deportation proceedings whom Garcia-Leys has helped in immigration court bond hearings have dealt with precisely that issue when faced with a Department of Homeland Security attorney who has a criminal history file that states the individual is a gang member.

“There’s no information on where they found that out, why they believe that, when they considered them to be a gang member. It just says they are a gang member,” Garcia-Leys said.

And once an individual is labeled a gang member or associate, it’s not only difficult to shed the marker, the person is more likely to be criminalized and marginalized rather than receive support services, Green said.

“When that happens my concern is that is a huge obstacle to actually building healthy community and police relationships, and that’s a consequence to providing law enforcement with the kind of tool that encourages suppression,” Green said.

The database is just one tool in an arsenal that has grown exponentially in the last three decades to allow police and prosecutors to scrutinize gang members more closely and prosecute them with harsher sentences, even for low-level crimes, Green said.

The challenge for youth applying for DACA is that an individual can land on the CALGANG database even though they they’ve never been arrested, Green said. That is the case with one of his clients, a 15-year-old who received a legal notice last year that he had been added to the database.

If a minor like his client wanted to apply for deferred action, Green’s concern is that an ICE search of CALGANG would show evidence of field interview cards and then allow federal immigration authorities to make a determination that his client is a gang member based on subjective criteria provided by police officers, not evidence that has been tested in court.

“This is the kind of thing that not only could get your DACA denied, but could get you flagged for high priority deportation,” said Green.

Part of the challenge is the lack of transparency with the database for those outside of law enforcement. Attorneys and advocates report that some of their clients didn’t know they were on the database and don’t know how to challenge the evidence so that they can be removed.

Because of this, advocates across the state have pushed to create legislation to change the CALGANG notification rules, and since 2014 all California minors and their parents must be notified when a law enforcement agency places the minor on the gang database. Adults, however, are not notified, something which the advocates are hoping to change.

Questions of Due Process

The implications of being on the database can extend beyond the streets and into the courts. The Youth Justice Coalition, in its 2012 assessment of the database, concluded that CALGANG affects prosecutions and sentencing as well.

“The database is routinely used to determine who is prosecuted in court for “gang related activity” and consequently, given a gang enhancement (additional time at sentencing),” wrote sociologist Ana Muñiz in a 2013 essay titled “What’s Wrong with California’s Gang Databases and Gang Injunctions,” as part of the coalition’s database project.

In her writings, Muñiz describes law enforcement’s process for determining gang membership as a “heavily flawed, racist, and assumption-packed process,” as well as “lacking in rigor” “vague and inconsistent, at best.”

This issue came to the fore in the city of Orange, where District Attorney Tony Rackauckas sought a gang injunction against the Orange Varrio Cypress gang and was subsequently sued by the ACLU of Southern California for failing to provide adequate due process to some of the individuals named in the injunction.

The Vasquez v. Rackauckas case illustrates what civil rights attorneys have described as the “unfettered discretion” that police officers are given in identifying gangs as well as active gang members.

At the state trial, attorneys for the ACLU discovered that in hundreds of declarations by Orange police officers, many officers based their conclusions of gang affiliation on weak evidence.

Even self-admission, one of the most objective forms of proving gang affiliation, was shown to be tenuous when the ACLU attorneys discovered that youth would tell officers they were from Orange Varrio Cypress, the neighborhood, but police would document the statement as an admission of gang affiliation because the gang name is identical to the name of the neighborhood.

Ultimately, what results from the use of tools such as gang databases and gang injunctions is that law enforcement agencies target groups and people instead of criminal acts, and before a criminal act occurs, Muñiz said during a Loyola Law School symposium last spring.

“Of course the people under this framework that are targeted are overwhelmingly black and Latino and poor,” said Muñiz.

These polices, in turn, increase the likelihood that undocumented youth in neighborhoods with gang injunctions or where police use gang databases or suppressive tactics will come into contact with law enforcement, said Medina of Santa Ana Boys and Men of Color.

“Undocumented youth are not only at a higher risk of coming into contact with police but also at higher risk of being over-criminalized, which makes them a higher risk of being in the CALGANG database,” Medina said.

One example he pointed out is students who get in a physical fight with fellow students, and then school authorities or campus police mislabel the incident as a gang fight. Some students have told Medina they were in a verbal argument with another student and were labeled as gang members even though neither student was part of a gang.

“We are seeing these incidents happen not only due to school police but city police,” said Medina.

Santa Ana Unified School District Chief of Police Hector Rodriguez said the district does not maintain a gang database nor gang files on students, but his officers do track gang related activity reports on campuses so that the district is aware of any gang dynamics or potential for violence.

“That’s something that I want the officers to know – what the dynamics are at the different schools for the protection of the kids,” said Rodriguez. “…We’re aware of it for situational awareness, but if you’re talking about official records that will be passed along to somebody else we don’t do that.”

Medina has discussed the issue with Rodriguez, who explained that the district doesn’t share student information with CALGANG. But it’s still unclear what criteria the school district uses to determine whether a student is a gang member, Medina said.

Those questions led his organization to conclude that it needed to campaign so that CALGANG includes clearer criteria of how a gang member is defined, said Medina, whose organization is part of a statewide coalition that pushed for a state audit of the database that’s currently underway.

Medina’s hope is that the audit of the database by the state auditor can shed light on these issues. Ultimately Medina believes that a more transparent process will shatter what he describes as the “myth” that the database contains only hardcore gang members as well as law enforcement’s assertion that inclusion on the database doesn’t harm individuals because the information is confidential.

“We continue to do this work, but it’s unfortunate that as we advocate real students like [Adrian] are forgoing opportunities that can change their lives,” said Medina.

Problems Start in Middle School

The first time Adrian was labeled as a gang member he was in 6th grade and attending a Santa Ana Unified School District middle school, where his older brother, Chris (not his real name), was a student as well.

Throughout his early childhood, Adrian had been well-behaved, calm, and obedient, Elisa said. His grades were average, he played soccer, and didn’t get into trouble.

But in middle school, school records provided by Elisa show that his brother Chris began to act out and was written up for excessive tardiness, disorderly conduct, insubordination, and disrupting school activities throughout the fall of 2008.

The breaking point for the school came in November of that year when Chris was written up for gang-related activity. School records show that during that month other students reported to school authorities that Chris was “bullying, throwing gang signs” and possibly involved in tagging a restroom wall with gang graffiti.

The school’s investigation concluded that is was Adrian and a friend who tagged the wall and administrators secured a voluntary student statement from Adrian where he admitted to tagging.

Ultimately, after a district pupil placement committee meeting to discuss the matter, the district expelled the brothers from the school and transferred the pair to another school within the district. It’s a decision that Elisa said only led to more trouble for Chris.

“Instead of wanting to support our youth, the only solution they came up with was to expel them from school,” said Elisa.

Santa Ana Unified School District Director of School Climate Sonia Llamas could not comment specifically on how Adrian’s conduct was handled by the district because of confidentiality laws regulating school records.

But Llamas outlined how a district-wide shift in school discipline policies over the last five years has altered how student conduct issues are handled. A few examples she cited are the use of alternatives to suspension and expulsion as a means to correct behavior, such as positive behavior interventions and support to change how personnel respond to a student’s behavior.

“Specifically for student discipline it is about trying to find out what the underlying reason is to the student’s behavior,” said Llamas.

District wide, expulsions dropped 81 percent over a six-year period (from 179 in the 2009-10 school year to 34 in 2014-15), while suspensions fell 64 percent over the last four years (from 7,606 in the 2011-2012 school year to 2,736 in 2014-15).

“It’s really a mind set shift that’s occurred across our district,” said Llamas. “We still have a lot of work to do but it’s good work and it’s work to support our students and really get them back on track.”

But in 2008, Santa Ana Unified was still operating under the old paradigm. And Adrian experienced the consequences of policies that had little tolerance for students who got in fights, didn’t show up for class, and racked up a record of bad behavior.

By the end of Adrian’s sophomore year, both he and Chris were expelled from their high school, and their principal explained to Elisa that the school had given them opportunities, but they were headed down the wrong road. Adrian, in particular, was at a crossroads.

“She said she had already given them a lot of chances and they weren’t taking advantage of them, and that the school was going to give those opportunities to other students who truly wanted to go to school,” recalled Elisa.

Chris, who was already 18, dropped out of high school. Without his brother to watch his back, Adrian, then a 10th grader, said he had learned to protect himself, whether someone pulled a knife on him or threw a punch.

This is also when he said he decided to join a gang.

“At the end I started protecting myself and I didn’t need my brother no more. I just found a different family,” said Adrian.

Elisa said that at the time she did not know that Adrian had joined the gang, but at home he was disrespecting her and acting out. He was so far behind with his school credits that the district transferred him to the Lorin Griset Academy, a continuation high school in Santa Ana’s Townsend Street neighborhood.

Elisa was hesitant to send him to Loren Griset because the school is in the middle of several gang territories, and she worried that Adrian would be exposed as he walked home from school everyday.

But then she noticed that Adrian’s grades improved and his behavior changed as well. At Lorin Griset, in late 2014 he joined Santa Ana Boys and Men of Color and began participating in the organization’s 10-week Joven Noble program. He told Elisa that it was a safe space where he could speak openly about his problems, including why he joined the gang.

Not only did Adrian leave the gang, but his attitude at home changed too. He became more affectionate with Elisa, hugging her and telling her that he loved her. Elisa said she came to appreciate how much of a difference both the program and Lorin Griset made in her son’s life.

Adrian’s trajectory is typical among youth who join gangs during their teenage years, but within a few years outgrow the gang and leave, according to gang experts.

Today, he’s 19 and looks back at that period through the lens of a young man who has learned some hard lessons.

“The whole progression of being a gang member, inside of me I was like: That’s cool, that’s what I want to be. But in reality I didn’t see what troubles it had,” said Adrian.

More Questions Than Answers

For most high school graduates, the next step after graduation is often college or work. For Adrian, both would be challenging given his undocumented status. Which is why he had worked throughout the spring last year to get his DACA application together, including his passport and an identification card from the Mexican consulate in Santa Ana.

Yet even as he prepared the application, Adrian moved forward cautiously. He was uncertain that he would submit his paperwork given his gang history. It’s a dilemma faced by other undocumented youth that Medina and Boys and Men of Color are helping.

Since DACA went into effect in 2012, the issue of how gang databases can impact DACA-applying youth has been addressed in community forums and conversations, said Medina.

“When we started to help youth through the process we realized there were dead ends, no answers and more questions being raised as to whether or not it would be safe for a student to apply or not,” said Medina.

His organization has been helping youth apply for DACA since early 2015 and offers scholarships to pay the application fees, in addition to being part of the coalition that sought the state audit of CALGANG.

What remains is the larger question of how the system can keep young people from taking the detour Adrian made while still combatting gang violence.

Green, with the Urban Peace Institute, has seen a greater pushback to CALGANG from the community in recent years, in part, he believes because of the larger discussion that is taking place around police-community relations as well as the school to prison pipeline.

That conversation has led communities to examine zero tolerance discipline policies in schools as well as the police crackdowns on minors for status offenses such as curfew violations, which in turn has led to a dialogue on the tools used by law enforcement such as gang databases and gang injunctions, he said.

“It’s a recognition…that those things were actually having a pretty specific and broad-reaching negative consequences for the individuals but also more globally within the school system and youth system,” Green said.

At the heart of the debate over the use of gang injunctions and databases is how the law defines a gang member, and Green points out that the Vasquez v. Rackauckas decision made it clear that there is a high risk of error when law enforcement tries to determine something as fluid as gang membership without input from the individual.

The court concluded that these individuals have the right to due process to challenge gang membership, said Green.

“That [decision] indicates a hopefulness for those of who believe that there is not adequate due process because it suggests that in a system where there are serious rights restricted, there is a high probability of error … and there needs to be an opportunity for that individual – before their rights are restricted – to correct that error,” said Green.

“I feel the same way about the database,” Green said. “That to me is the crux of the issue. We’re never going to stop law enforcement from investigating things, but the protection needs to be there.”

While Green’s hope is that the state audit of the database will reveal more clearly how CALGANG operates, the coalition is moving forward on other fronts to ensure that those added to the database have protections in place.

The coalition, including the Urban Peace Institute, the Youth Justice Coalition and others, has sponsored a legislative assembly bill that seeks to expand 2013 senate bill 458, a law that requires that law enforcement notify minors and their parents when a minor is placed on CALGANG. The goal, said Green is to expand that right to adults as well as provide those adults with the right to respond and request to be removed.

“This law would expand SB 458 and hopefully build a level of transparency and accountability,” said Green.

In the last year, Adrian said he learned that there were many people willing to step up and give him a second chance, but with every step he took he realized how much he had to lose if he applied to DACA and the federal government deemed him deportable because of his former gang status.

But ultimately, he felt it was a sacrifice worth making. He wanted to come out of the shadows, to work legitimately and one day graduate from college.

Last month he decided he would turn in his DACA application and hope for the best. The likelihood that he was on the database was small, and came with a risk, but the reward would be great in his eyes.

“I know I’m going to get something positive out of it,” said Adrian.

 

Guv Brown Won’t Set Criteria Till 12/15/16 to Use Water Bond $$ for Water Storage Facilities

The really confused Guv Brown was not lying when he said we will not even consider using the over $2 billion from the 2014 water bond till at least 2018. “The California Water Commission (“CWC”) is the state agency that has been charged with overseeing the allocation of the funds. The CWC is currently accepting written public comments through March 14, 2016, and accepting concept papers until March 31, 2016. The CWC must develop regulations to quantify the public benefits of water storage projects by December 15, 2016.

Stakeholders considering projects should participate in the rulemaking process. Submitting concept papers allows proponents to interact with the CWC in order to identify potential eligibility issues or flaws before the extensive two-step application process begins in 2017. Even though the CWC will not make initial funding decisions until 2018, proponents would be well-served to start formulating their projects and identifying the potential types of public benefits offered as soon as possible.”

This is more proof that Guv Brown does not have a water policy, nor wants one. While it will be 2018 before we might spend the water bond money on storage facilities, he did take $287 million of the money last year, for the protection of fish—and took water meant for people and gave it to the fish. Oh, Brown wants ANOTHER water bond for November—more money for the fish?

RB Drought

California Water Bond Funding Will Begin to Flow

Craig Moyer
Chair, Land, Environment and Natural Resources Practice
Manatt, Phelps & Phillips

 

Two years ago, Californians voted to pass Proposition 1, a $7.5 billion general obligation bond, also known as the Water Quality, Supply, and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014. As part of developing a comprehensive water plan for California’s future, Proposition 1 provides $2.7 billion of continuously appropriated funds for the Water Storage Investment Project (“WSIP”) through a competitive grant process.

The California Water Commission (“CWC”) is the state agency that has been charged with overseeing the allocation of the funds. The CWC is currently accepting written public comments through March 14, 2016, and accepting concept papers until March 31, 2016. The CWC must develop regulations to quantify the public benefits of water storage projects by December 15, 2016.

Stakeholders considering projects should participate in the rulemaking process. Submitting concept papers allows proponents to interact with the CWC in order to identify potential eligibility issues or flaws before the extensive two-step application process begins in 2017. Even though the CWC will not make initial funding decisions until 2018, proponents would be well-served to start formulating their projects and identifying the potential types of public benefits offered as soon as possible.

Details on Bond Funding

Though final project guidelines will be approved by December 15, 2016, the California Water Code clearly defines the applicants eligible for WSIP funding: ?
— public agencies;
— nonprofit organizations;
— public utilities;
— federally-recognized Indian tribes;
— state Indian tribes listed on the Native American Heritage Commission’s California Tribal Consultation List;
— mutual water companies; and
— for CALFED surface storage projects, local joint powers authorities, per Water Code section 79759(a)-(c).
See Water Code § 79712.

Projects eligible for WSIP funding are:
— CALFED surface storage projects;
— groundwater storage projects and groundwater contamination prevention or cleanup that provides water storage benefits;
— conjunctive use and reservoir reoperation projects; and
— local or regional surface storage projects that improve the operation of water systems in the state.
See Water Code § 79751

Traditional forms of storage, such as reservoirs, will certainly play a role. But a less visible method of storage – groundwater recharge and storage – is aiming to become more important as Californians seek to develop a more diversified and resilient portfolio of water resources.

As a matter of comparison, according to research published by the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, surface storage from all the major reservoirs in California combined is less than 50 million acre-feet, while the groundwater basins throughout the state provide an estimated capacity of as much as 1.3 billion acre-feet.

Also, the cost of groundwater recharge projects is about one-sixth the cost of creating an equivalent amount of space behind a dam. Of course, these amounts depend on how much water is available, but groundwater storage appears to be a promising option.

Groundwater storage is becoming increasingly relevant with the implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, as the state moves toward managing groundwater use. Groundwater sustainability and storage go hand-in-hand, as groundwater depletion reduces groundwater storage.

Therefore, it only seems natural for groundwater sustainability agencies (GSAs) to seek WSIP funds as part of their groundwater sustainability plans. However, GSAs who seek to do so should note that WSIP funds will be distributed most likely in 2018, whereas sustainability plans even for critically overdrafted basins are not due until 2020.

As such, GSAs looking to receive WSIP funding should act quickly and start formulating their sustainability plans now in order to prepare an application in time for consideration. Although there are many types of water storage projects that could be potentially eligible for funds, a crucial aspect of accessing WSIP funds is demonstrating that the proposed project provides public benefits. Indeed, the law mandates that WSIP funding goes solely towards the public benefits provided by any proposed water storage project.

The Legislature requires applicants to prove that their proposed project provides certain public benefits. The list of recognized public benefits is restricted to:?
— Ecosystem improvements;
— Water quality improvements;
— Flood control benefits;
— Emergency response; and
— Recreational purposes.
See Water Code 79753(a)(1)-(5)

Moreover, at least 50 percent of the total public benefit provided by a water storage project must reside in ecosystem improvements. Ecosystem improvements include changing the timing of water diversions, improvement of flow conditions and temperature, and other benefits that contribute to restoring aquatic ecosystems, native fish, and other wildlife.

Finally, a water storage project may only be funded if it “provides measurable improvements to the Delta ecosystem or to the tributaries to the Delta.” Water Code § 79752. In sum, applicants face a high bar to show that their project appropriately provides sufficient public benefits.

Project applicants must complete all environmental documentation and obtain all permits as a condition of funding, but do not need to have the permits at the time of application. Similarly, a final California Environmental Quality Act document must be completed before any funds will be disbursed for a project, but is not necessary for the application. Initial funding decisions will be made in 2018, but the many and diverse requirements give prospective project applicants a lot to think about.

Ultimately, the WSIP grant process will likely face many complications along the way, especially regarding the quantification of benefits. It will be interesting to see how this plays out as California begins to cobble together a comprehensive regulatory approach towards water resources. In the meantime, prospective applicants ought to take a critical look at their project operations and consider how best to frame their water storage projects to offer public benefits sufficient to qualify for WSIP funding.

Craig Moyer is Chair of the Land, Environment and Natural Resources practice at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, based in the Los Angeles office. His practice focuses on all aspects of environmental and energy law and he regularly advises clients in connection with myriad complex regulatory interactions. Mr. Moyer can be reached at  cmoyer@manatt.com.

Connie Lam is an associate in the Los Angeles office of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips. She can be reached at  clam@manatt.com. She is the co-author of this story.

This column is part of a series of articles by law firm Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP’s Energy, Environment & Natural Resources practice. The first column in the sixth edition of this series discuss the Export of US Crude Oil.

California Continues to Take Private Property WITHOUT Notice

For years the State of California has been seizing “unclaimed” bank accounts and shares of stock. Then they wait till you contact them and ask for it back. Of course, you did not know the State had it, and if you did who to contact, how to contact. In fact, the State takes the money in hopes. no one claims it—so the State can use it for slush funds, payoffs to unions and crony capitalists. Finally, someone is suing for this government approved and allowed theft of private property.

“Lead plaintiff Chris Taylor filed the class action at issue back in 2001, taking aim at California’s Unclaimed Property Law, which provides for the conditional transfer to the state of unclaimed property such as savings accounts or shares of stock.
Taylor accused state controller Betty Yee of violating due-process rights by transferring property to the state without providing the potential owners adequate notice.
During the intervening years, the challenge brought several amendments to the law’s notice procedures. Chief among them, California now notifies potential owners before the state transfers the unclaimed property, not after.”
While the system has changed, is it effective, or folks really notified, can we count on government to protect the property of citizens, while it is using public policy to create more criminal victims, higher taxes to harm families and pass environmental laws that kill jobs? Trust government—the one thing Sanders, Cruz, Trump and Carson voters have in common—the public has no trust and little respect for government.

property tax

 

Justices Hint at Property-Seizure Overhaul

By BARBARA LEONARD, Courthouse News, 2/29/16

         

WASHINGTON (CN) – A challenge to California’s unclaimed-property law may not be ready for primetime, but two Supreme Court justices said Monday another case will fare better.
Lead plaintiff Chris Taylor filed the class action at issue back in 2001, taking aim at California’s Unclaimed Property Law, which provides for the conditional transfer to the state of unclaimed property such as savings accounts or shares of stock.
Taylor accused state controller Betty Yee of violating due-process rights by transferring property to the state without providing the potential owners adequate notice.
During the intervening years, the challenge brought several amendments to the law’s notice procedures. Chief among them, California now notifies potential owners before the state transfers the unclaimed property, not after.
In addition to mailing notice to potential owners at their homes, the state publishes another notice in a generally circulated newspaper deemed most likely to reach the owners.
Those newspaper notices direct potential owners to a searchable website where they can perform a search to determine whether they may own any unclaimed property.
Though Taylor still claimed that the controller could take additional steps to locate the owners prior to transfer, the trial court shot Taylor down and the Ninth Circuit affirmed in 2015.
The U.S. Supreme Court likewise rejected Taylor’s petition for a writ of certiorari Monday, but two justices “the constitutionality of current state escheat laws is a question that may merit review in a future case.
Taylor is out of luck, though, because “the convoluted history of this case makes it a poor vehicle for reviewing the important question it presents,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote in a concurring opinion, joined by Justice Clarence Thomas.
The three-pager notes that the challenge comes at a time when states are shortening “the periods during which property must lie dormant before being labeled abandoned and subject to seizure.”
New York, Michigan, Indiana, New Jersey and Arizona, specifically, shortened their dormancy periods from as long as 15 years to merely 3, Alito noted, citing a 2013 paper by T. Conrad Bower in the Ohio State Law Journal.
Delaware, meanwhile, still relies only on blanket newspaper notices, a notification Alito condemned as “decidedly old-fashioned … [and] unlikely to be effective.”
“This trend -combining shortened escheat periods with minimal notification procedures – raises important due process concerns,” Alito wrote. “As advances in technology make it easier and easier to identify and locate property owners, many states appear to be doing less and less to meet their constitutional obligation to provide adequate notice before escheating private property. Cash-strapped states undoubtedly have a real interest in taking advantage of truly abandoned property to shore up state budgets. But they also have an obligation to return property when its owner can be located. To do that, states must employ notification procedures designed to provide the pre-escheat notice the Constitution requires.”
The Ninth Circuit had called California’s pretransfer procedures sufficient to locate potential owners.
“Appellants’ suggested requirement that the controller utilize additional governmental databases may, of course, lead to more claims being filed, but it exceeds the minimum due process requirements,” the court’s ruling said.

U.S. Supreme Court Agrees to Force Housing Costs in San Jose to Eliminate Middle Class

In San Fran, government adds about $100,000 to the cost of EVERY housing unit built. That means the middle class is being pushed out of the city, due to the high cost of housing. San Jose is in the same boat, adding developer fees as fast as possible. Indeed the Bay Area is going to bean enclave of very rich people—with the most expensive housing in the nation, gridlock on the streets and freeways and bikes creating accidents and road rage—drivers paying gas taxes so freeloaders can cause folks to be late for work or appointments.

“In a victory for affordable housing advocates and the city of San Jose, the court said it would not hear the appeal of a California Supreme Court ruling last year brought by the Building Industry Association.

“For local governments and affordable advocates, this is great news,” said Jacky Morales-Ferrand, San Jose’s director of housing. “It puts to rest any challenges on inclusionary housing based on our ability to use our zoning powers to implement these programs. We’ve been working to prepare ourselves to implement the ordinance, and with this decision we can move forward confidently.”

This is how the rich kick out the middle class-using government policy, taxes and fees. Sweet—the 1% at their meanest—and the Left loves it!

Photo courtesy Envios, flickr

Photo courtesy Envios, flickr

U.S. Supreme Court lets San Jose’s ‘inclusionary’ affordable housing law stand

Nathan Donato-Weinstein, Silicon Valley Business Journal, 2/29/16

San Jose’s mandate that homebuilders either include affordable units in their projects or pay a fee will stand, after the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear a challenge to the law.

In a victory for affordable housing advocates and the city of San Jose, the court said it would not hear the appeal of a California Supreme Court ruling last year brought by the Building Industry Association.

“For local governments and affordable advocates, this is great news,” said Jacky Morales-Ferrand, San Jose’s director of housing. “It puts to rest any challenges on inclusionary housing based on our ability to use our zoning powers to implement these programs. We’ve been working to prepare ourselves to implement the ordinance, and with this decision we can move forward confidently.”

The ordinance has been in limbo since 2010, when it was first approved, after it was challenged in court. After a series of legal twists and turns, the law was upheld in a unanimous decision last year, but BIA, with legal assistance from the Pacific Legal Foundation, sought a review by the U.S. high court.

“The rights of all property owners were dealt a blow today, as San Jose’s punitive treatment of homebuilders was allowed to stand,” said PLF Principal Attorney Brian T. Hodges in a news release.

The outcome was being closely watched throughout the state, because more than 170 municipalities have similar ordinances that could have been threatened if San Jose’s law was threatened. You can read more about the issue here.

San Jose’s ordinance requires developers to set aside 15 percent of for-sale units as “affordable” — defined as being priced in reach of households making up to 110 percent of a neighborhood’s average median income — for projects larger than 20 units. Alternatively, developers can pay an in-lieu fee or build affordable units off-site.

The ordinance affects new, for-sale projects that have not received their approvals as of June 30.

San Jose has recently approved a separate program for rental units, which requires payment of an affordable housing impact fee of $17 per square foot on new rental housing.

Homebuilders opposed to the inclusionary ordinance have said it would chill development activity and end up reducing the supply of new units, which just end up making market-rate units more expensive.

But they based their legal arguments against the law on the contention that the law was not “reasonably related to some negative impact of the projects being built,” PLF Senior Staff Attorney Terry Francois told me last year. Instead, the ordinance imposes “exactions” on developers’ property, bumping up against the “takings” clause in the state or federal constitution.

“We think it’s very unfortunate the California Supreme Court decision will stand, because we think it’s a decision that’s going to pose a lot of problems for property owners in California,” Francois told me on Monday.

However, the PLF said in its news release today that Justice Clarence Thomas‘s concurrence essentially “invited continued legal initiatives to resolve this compelling issue, and PLF accepts that invitation wholeheartedly.”

The issue, Francois said, is something called the “Nollan/Dolan” standard, which sets guidelines for what municipalities can exact from property owners. In California, some courts have said that cities are exempt from restrictions under Nollan/Dolan if the exactions are applied universally by legislation. Property-rights advocates say that gives cities a golden ticket to ask for whatever they want, even if it has nothing to do with mitigating the impacts projects actually cause.

In a short concurrence on the court’s decision not to hear the case, Justice Thomas wrote: “These factors present compelling reasons for resolving this conflict at the earliest practicable opportunity. Yet this case does not present an opportunity to resolve the conflict.”

 

L.A.To Create Tax to Pay for Homeless?

A few years ago, the people of Los Angeles agreed to a one billion dollar tax, to fund new cops. Of course we never got the cops—just more crime and fewer arrests. We have seen across the State tax increases meant to finance roads, going to horse trails. Brown wanted a $7.4 billion water bond—with over $2 billion going to water storage, instead the money, so far, has gone to protect fish—not people. So when I see an effort of a new tax in Los Angeles to help the homeless, I laugh—wondering what academic, corporation or union is going to make out like a bandit? In fact, if they want to help the homeless, government should change policies that CREATE homelessness.

“We can’t be serious unless we engage ongoing revenue sources,” Ridley- Thomas said.

Earlier this month, the board signed off on a series of initiatives to address homelessness and the county’s CEO recommended allocating $100 million in one-time funding as part of the 2016-17 budget. The cost in future years was not quantified, at least not publicly.

Los Angeles city officials project that the city’s own initiatives will cost an estimated $1.87 billion over a decade.”

Costly regulations kill employment, minimum wage kills employment—tens of thousands added by government to the cost of a single housing unit in the form of developer fees creates homelessness.   Higher taxes create higher unemployment and fewer jobs—it is government policy that has to be fixed.

800px-Helping_the_homeless

Will you pay a new tax to help LA homeless?

Posted by Hillary Jackson, MyNewsLA, 2/23/16

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to explore options for raising money to combat homelessness, including the possibility of a new tax.

Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Michael Antonovich proposed studying alternatives — including examining the state’s existing Mental Health Services Act that taxes income over $1 million — and polling voters.

“We can’t be serious unless we engage ongoing revenue sources,” Ridley- Thomas said.

Earlier this month, the board signed off on a series of initiatives to address homelessness and the county’s CEO recommended allocating $100 million in one-time funding as part of the 2016-17 budget. The cost in future years was not quantified, at least not publicly.

Los Angeles city officials project that the city’s own initiatives will cost an estimated $1.87 billion over a decade.

Antonovich stressed that the county’s study should investigate ways to pay for the county’s plans “without tax increases.”

Approved in 2004, California’s Mental Health Services Act imposes a 1 percent tax on personal income in excess of $1 million to fund county mental health programs.

The California Department of Health Care Services estimates that the MHSA will generate roughly $1.8 billion for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2016, with about $1.3 billion going to various county health agencies.

Rachel Kassenbrock of the Downtown Women’s Center was among the advocates who praised the county’s plans to combat homelessness.

“Now we must bring (the plan) to life and that takes money,” Kassenbrock said, adding that the $100 million is “only a first step.”

Others objected to the notion of higher taxes.

“We should not be raising taxes at this time,” said frequent board critic and one-time supervisorial candidate Eric Preven, suggesting that the board instead “find savings in the bulky parts of the county,” including the Sheriff’s Department.

The board’s vote was unanimous in support of the study. A report is expected back in 30 days.

Surprise! I Support Democrat Bill—to END Daylight Savings Time

Seldom have I been a supporter of any bill by a Democrat. Never have I been an enthusiastic supporter of a bill by a Democrat. AB 2596 by Assemblyman Chu of San Jose changes all that. This is the bill that stops the government from pretending 6:00am is really 5:00am. Government pretends laws against illegal aliens are enforced. Government pretends that forcing teachers to pay bribes is moral and legal. Government tries to control what we eat, drink, drive, how we get to work, where we live and even the time on the clock.

“The bill has been introduced by California Assemblyman Kansen Chu, D-San Jose, who is following the lead of several other states in trying to pass similar legislation.

In 2015, a dozen states were considering DST legislation, including Oregon, Washington and Alaska.

Currently, only Arizona and Hawaii take a pass on the seasonal time changes twice each year.

Chu believes things should change in California. Health complaints from constituents led him to research the effects of the twice-yearly time jolts.

Time to end the farce—government should forget pretending—it should be honest. As President Reagan said, “government is not the solution, it is the problem”.

city farm land time

Daylight Saving Time Could End In California

By Dave Colby, Patch Staff, 2/28/16   

SACRAMENTO – If passed, a bill introduced in the California State Assembly would make moot the popular internet search phrase: “What day do I turn the clock back?”

That day would no longer exist.

Assembly Bill 2496 would end the practice of daylight saving time in California, undoing a law that voters approved back in 1949 with a special election.

No springing forward, no falling back.

The bill has been introduced by California Assemblyman Kansen Chu, D-San Jose, who is following the lead of several other states in trying to pass similar legislation.

In 2015, a dozen states were considering DST legislation, including Oregon, Washington and Alaska.

Currently, only Arizona and Hawaii take a pass on the seasonal time changes twice each year.

Chu believes things should change in California. Health complaints from constituents led him to research the effects of the twice-yearly time jolts.

“I heard some complaints last year from some of the senior citizens (in my district) and their care providers who say this one-hour difference really impacted their lives,” Chu told the Sacramento Bee.

Chu also cites research, notably a study from Indiana, indicating the so-called energy benefits of daylight saving time may be a misnomer. The Indiana study looked at what – if any – the effect of switching to daylight savings time had for the state from the years 2004-2006.

According to researchers, contrary to the intent of DST, the yearly time changes actually increased the residential electricity demands of customers.

The study estimated a cost of increased electricity bills to Indiana households of $9 million per year, and estimated social costs of increased pollution ranging from $1.7 to $5.5 million per year.

However, an analysis by staff of the California Energy Commission says the study may not yield the same results for California because:

  • The use of residential air conditioning is relatively low in Indiana, and the saturations are low. California has high usage of air conditioning in the summer.
  • Heating use is relatively high in Indiana, while it is relatively low in California.
  • The diurnal variation in Indiana temperature is low while California is very high.
  • Indiana is located in western edge of the same time zone as Maine and Florida, but the sun actually comes up at an earlier time than those other two states.
  • Indiana’s north-south location will affect how long the days are in the summer and might very well lead to different results in different areas.

So, concludes the CEC, “while the analysis is of interest to Indiana, it’s conclusions may not be totally correct for California or the rest of the country.”

Daylight saving time began in California after World War II with the passage of Proposition 12. Proponents noted it would give people an extra hour of daylight, increase industrial production, and improve public health. Advocates also said it would reduce juvenile delinquency.

Those against passage of Prop 12 at time included the motion picture industry, who claimed revenues were reduced 20 – 35 percent by DST; farmers, who claimed ” cows know nothing of ’Daylight Saving’ and give milk by Nature’s laws”; and housewives, who “would be compelled to labor hardest in the hottest hours of the day and to put to bed (their) children while the sun is still shining.”

An End Daylight Saving Time national petition website that allows people the chance to send form letters to Congress has nearly 83,000 mailings as of Saturday morning.

  • “Day Light Savings saves no daylight and it messes with people biological clocks,” says a Santa Clara petitioner. “This results in decreased productivity, missed meetings and accidents attributed to the time shift.”
  • “An archaic, outdated practice that needed to end a long time ago,” adds a woman from Orange.

“California should … be leading this change,” Chu told the Bee. “I cannot believe that anybody would like to do this fall backward, spring forward thing twice a year.”

 

Democrats Insurance Commissioner Wants LOW Cost GOVERNMENT Property Insurance—For Everyone

Under the current law in California, if you live in a fire prone area and unable to get fire insurance, you can apply to participate in the “Fair Plan”to get covered. But, first you must show you have been rejected by private insurance companies. In an effect to end private insurance companies, the Democrat Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones has declared there is no need to prove rejection—just apply to the government backed plan.

“Last week, in response to this perceived affordability coverage, he announced changes to the FAIR Plan that both increase access to the plan as well as expand the scope of its coverage. To accomplish the first objective, Jones’ order maintains that:

…for all geographic areas in California, persons seeking basic property insurance through FAIR Plan need not show that they have unsuccessfully attempted to obtain insurance through the normal market provided by admitted insurers or surplus lines brokers, because the Commissioner finds that this erects an artificial barrier preventing or delaying consumers from obtaining coverage.

At some point the private insurance companies fail, the government ones—since they are government—will run massive deficits (think CalPRS and CalSTRS) will be a failure—forcing taxpayers to fund the deficits, while no longer receiving taxes from the closed companies—a total loss for everybody. Thought you should know that freedom is being encroached not only in big ways, but on the margins.

dollars-in-fire-live-wallpaper-55-3-s-307x512

California regulator looks to open the FAIR Plan’s floodgates

Ian Adams, R Street Institute, 1/26/16

In those periods of respite when the State of California is not rocking and rolling atop its various fault lines, it’s often quite literally on fire. In fact, of the top 10 costliest wildfires in U.S. history, California claims seven and sweeps the top five spots. Last year was no exception. The costs of the Valley and Butte fires have been pegged at roughly $1 billion.

Because of the risk of conflagration, Californians pay top-dollar for fire insurance. For some, the risk is so high that insurance is unavailable through traditional channels. In those cases, such residents have the option of joining what’s called the FAIR Plan. Imaginatively named the “Fair Access to Insurance Requirements Plan,” the plan offers an actuarially sound property insurance policies of last resort. Like many products of last resort, the FAIR Plan is intended to be available when the private market is unable to offer coverage.

But California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones is dismayed at what he sees as the private market failing to offer affordable coverage. There is particular irony in Jones’ declaration that private homeowners insurance is too costly, given that he has sweeping authority under California’s Prop 103 system to reject homeowners insurance rates for being excessive – indeed, the law requires him only to accept rates that are actuarially justifiable.

Last week, in response to this perceived affordability coverage, he announced changes to the FAIR Plan that both increase access to the plan as well as expand the scope of its coverage. To accomplish the first objective, Jones’ order maintains that:

…for all geographic areas in California, persons seeking basic property insurance through FAIR Plan need not show that they have unsuccessfully attempted to obtain insurance through the normal market provided by admitted insurers or surplus lines brokers, because the Commissioner finds that this erects an artificial barrier preventing or delaying consumers from obtaining coverage.

This part of the order deals with what’s known as a “declination requirement.” The idea is that, for the FAIR Plan actually to function as a market of last resort, a consumer should have to demonstrate that they have tried and failed to get coverage elsewhere. When the market is truly unable to provide reasonably priced products in a region, products that have already been approved by the commissioner, gathering proof of a refusal to write coverage is no problem.

Removing the declination requirement, particularly while also removing any geographical limits, is not unlike opening a flood gate to release a wall of water. We don’t have to guess about how the removal of such an “artificial barrier” ends — there is precedent on the matter.

Florida, like California, had its own FAIR Plan to provide property insurance in the era of redlining. In 2003, Florida merged its FAIR Plan with another last-resort instrumentality that provided windstorm insurance in coastal regions, creating what is today known as the Citizens Property Insurance Corp.

In 2007, then-Gov. Charlie Crist modified – though he did not eliminate – the declination requirement for Citizens. To qualify, all residents needed to do was to provide a quote showing a premium 15 percent greater than what Citizens was offering. Because Citizens enjoyed state subsidies and was backed by assessments on virtually every property-casualty insurance policy in the state, pretty much everyone became eligible for the program overnight. In fact, the change to the declination requirement was in no small part responsible for making Citizens, for a number of years, the largest property insurer in the nation’s third-largest state. It’s only recently shrunk back to the levels envisioned when it was created.

The fate of Citizens is not unlike the problems that could soon befall California’s FAIR Plan. It undercuts competition in the voluntary market that provides policyholders with an accurate understanding of their risk.

In that sense, there is a further irony in the commissioner’s expansion of access to, and coverage provided by, the FAIR Plan, since he recently asked insurers within the state to begin divesting from thermal coal and other aspects of the carbon economy. Obviously he, like we at R Street, believes that there is an increased risk posed to Californians by climate change. Yet when it comes to actually reflecting the increased risk of fires in rates, he refuses to take the steps necessary to allow consumers to better understand the personal peril that climate change poses to them.

Beware: Sacramento Democrats Working Hard to Endanger Your Family—Safer for Criminals

Great news for criminals in California. The Democrat Party, long favored by the criminal community, is again taking aim (pun intended) at the safety of our families, children and communities. Instead of working to hire more police, provide policies to get criminals off the streets, enhance First Amendment rights to allow families to protect themselves—since arrest are down due to political pressure and lawsuits if a cop of one color arrests a criminal of another color.

““This makes it very easy to change magazines,” says the San Rafael legislator. “Literally in a second (you can) go from one ten-clip magazine to another one, so that shooters can fire more bullets.”

The committee will also take up a measure that would more broadly expand the definition of an assault weapon. Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a similar bill in 2013. Levine says he believes the political climate is different in the wake of mass shootings like the one in San Bernardino. But Claremont McKenna government professor Jack Pitney is not convinced.

This is a joke—when was the last time a criminal decided they would not violate our guns laws—these laws are in place to protect criminals, remember, when seconds count the police are only minutes away, maybe.

handguns

Assembly Poised to Take Up Gun Control Measures

By Katie Orr, KQED, 2/29/16

Guns are once again a hot topic in Sacramento. Tuesday the Assembly Public Safety Committee will consider four bills regulating guns. Among the measures is one by Democrat Marc Levine that would expand the state’s assault weapons ban to include firearms with a button that allows magazines to be easily detached.

“This makes it very easy to change magazines,” says the San Rafael legislator. “Literally in a second (you can) go from one ten-clip magazine to another one, so that shooters can fire more bullets.”

The committee will also take up a measure that would more broadly expand the definition of an assault weapon. Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a similar bill in 2013. Levine says he believes the political climate is different in the wake of mass shootings like the one in San Bernardino. But Claremont McKenna government professor Jack Pitney is not convinced.

“On this issue public opinion tends to be pretty entrenched,” he says. “The people who support stricter regulation of firearms tend to be pretty firm, and the people who oppose stricter regulation of firearms also tend to be pretty firm.”

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom is choosing to bypass the Legislature in his attempt to further gun control. His proposed ballot initiative would require background checks for ammunition purchases and ban possession of large-capacity magazines.

 

Nine Years to Gain Approval for Resort Project in Montecito

In 2007 Caruso Development purchased the dilapidated Miramar Resort on the beach in Montecito, near Santa Barbara. He wanted to build a 186 bed high class facility—now it will be 170 beds. Instead of building it starting 2008 when construction prices were down, now is allowed to build, with higher prices, no financial incentives and in the midst of a water crisis—literally, the community of Montecito has no water to spare.

“The bigger project would’ve brought in $1.7 million in property tax, $1.5 million in sales tax and $450,000 in bed taxes a year. The county currently collects $568,000 a year in property taxes on the site. The downsized Miramar project cleared the Montecito Board of Architectural Review in late January.

Small developers can not work in California, too many fees, regulations and environmental laws either kill projects outright or make them too expensive to build. If built, the project has to have high prices—any wonder California is becoming a gentrified Sate, the whole State. Once built, Oprah Winfrey and Al Gore, local mansion owners, will have a place to bed their excess guests, when the mansions are filled.

Golf course

Caruso’s Miramar hotel revival gets OK to begin construction

By Alex Kacik, Pacific Coast Business Times, 2/26/16

The controversial multimillion-dollar revival of the Miramar Hotel and Resort in Montecito is moving forward after the Montecito Water District allowed developer Rick Caruso to increase the size of the project’s water meters.

The MWD initially denied the newest iteration of the long-debated Miramar project because of the district’s severe water shortage. The issue at hand was the district’s Ordinance 92, which prohibits applications for new water service and increasing the size of existing water meters.

Caruso appealed the ruling and, upon further review, the MWD determined that the request did not conflict with the ordinance because it would not increase the project’s water allocation of 45 acre-feet per year. Caruso will pay for the larger meters so the water system would have the capacity to douse a fire.

Los Angeles-based Caruso Affiliated has teamed up with Hong Kong-based luxury hotel operator Rosewood Hotels and Resorts to revitalize the long defunct beachside property at 1555 S. Jameson Lane. Rosewood has no financial stake in the $185 million project, which Caruso is financing through a construction loan and the company’s own equity.

A 15-year bed tax rebate previously held up the project. The initially-approved-but-later-discarded rebate would’ve kicked up to 70 percent of the development’s bed tax back to Caruso Affiliated.

But since the hospitality development market has improved, the incentive program was no longer needed, Caruso’s team said.

Spread over almost 16 acres of prime real estate, the Miramar project is expected to have 170 rooms, down from a proposed 186.

The bigger project would’ve brought in $1.7 million in property tax, $1.5 million in sales tax and $450,000 in bed taxes a year. The county currently collects $568,000 a year in property taxes on the site. The downsized Miramar project cleared the Montecito Board of Architectural Review in late January.

Caruso Affiliated expects to break ground in April, start construction by summer and open the resort in 2018.