Los Angeles Unified School District: Segregated

In the 1970’s the Left disrupted education in Los Angeles, at the time one of the great systems in the country.  They demanded that tens of thousands of students go on buses for up to two hours a day to get to a school so they can sit next to someone of another color—nothing about education, just the demeaning statement that blacks can not learn unless they sat next to a white person.  But, if that theory is correct, that explains why LAUSD only had a real graduation rate of 54% in June (another 20% were given unearned credits, at a cost of $15 million, so they can receive a worthless diploma).

If the Left of the 1970’s was right, than the fact that LAUSD has only 9% white students explains why black and Hispanic students are not learning—not enough white’s to sit next to.  See, all you have to do to be a Leftist is be a bigot and not proclaim the abilities of people because of their race.

“Parent and anthropologist Courtney Everts Mykytyn surprised some charter and traditional LA Unified educators at her lectures last weekend when showing that schools in Los Angeles and across the country are more segregated than at any other time in the nation’s history.

Mykytyn noted that Latino and African-American students in LA Unified are more segregated than even before the Civil Rights Movement and the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision that helped integrate schools. She was approved by Superintendent Michelle King’s office to give two lectures last Saturday at the Promising Practices forum, and hers was among the most-attended of the day, becoming robust discussions among dozens of educators.”

Segregation, once again, is a Democrat policy.  San Fran has only 13% white students.  Democrats formed the KKK, passed every segregation law.  More Republicans than Democrats voted for the 1964 and 1965 Civil Rights bills.  Under Obama black use of Food Stamps has doubled.  Black teenage unemployment has gone up from 29% to 40%.  Racism?  Yup, the policies and results of the Democrat Party, including those of the first wife of a Black President (Hillary) and the black  President Obama, are as racist as those of George Wallace—and Orval Faubus, an Arkansas Governor, before Bill.

 

 

 

 

 

Forum panel discusses how segregation in LA Unified schools is worse than ever

by Mike Szymanski, Los Angeles School Report,  7/28/16

Parent and anthropologist Courtney Everts Mykytyn surprised some charter and traditional LA Unified educators at her lectures last weekend when showing that schools in Los Angeles and across the country are more segregated than at any other time in the nation’s history.

Mykytyn noted that Latino and African-American students in LA Unified are more segregated than even before the Civil Rights Movement and the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision that helped integrate schools. She was approved by Superintendent Michelle King’s office to give two lectures last Saturday at the Promising Practices forum, and hers was among the most-attended of the day, becoming robust discussions among dozens of educators.

“This is really a hopeful time to be having this conversation,” Mykytyn said. “LA Unified is in a good position to be a leader in dealing with the challenges of integration.”

Among the findings that Mykytyn shared during her seminar was that, when offered choices of various schools, parents will self-segregate into schools of their same racial and socio-economic demographics. And statistics show that white and higher-income students who attend lower-performing integrated schools don’t suffer in their test scores and actually benefit from the experience.

“Children are more likely to go to school with kids just like them than at any other time in our nation’s history,” Mykytyn said. “There is a particular kind of segregation by socio-economic class that has long-lasting negative effects for all children.”

Mykytyn and her husband became active in their children’s education at their local school in Highland Park, and with other parents helped create a dual-language immersion program at Aldama Elementary School.

“I was adamant that I didn’t want to drive my kids all over the city to go to school; I wanted my kids to walk to school and play with neighborhood friends,” Mykytyn explained. “I really, really hate driving and knew that committing to driving to the charter school 10 miles away meant not only driving to and from school every day but also to and from kids’ friends’ houses 20 minutes in the opposite direction. Life is chaotic enough; why go to school in a different ZIP code?”

Now her son, 13, is in eighth grade and her daughter, 11, is in sixth grade, and both speak Spanish. They are now going to the Franklin Dual Language Academy. They are hoping to build a dual language program through high school at Franklin High.

“Middle-class families talk about these issues and really care about diversity,” Mykytyn said. “But too often, it’s simply about racial, ethnic diversity. That’s vitally important, of course. But if everybody is dropping off kids in their Prius, what is the diversity even if it is a different skin color? We need to think broader than that.”

Issues of the lack of socio-economic diversity came up with attendees at Saturday’s lectures including California’s National Distinguished Principal Marcia S. Reed of 186th Street Elementary School in Gardena, and Deb Smith, principal of Daniel Pearl Magnet High School in Van Nuys, and Parker Hudnut, CEO of Inner City Education Foundation (ICEF) Public Schools.

“We all have issues like this, it’s something that the parents at our schools are very concerned about,” Hudnut said.

Mykytyn said LA Unified should consider integration issues when assessing the performance of schools, not just test scores. She said she knows the state and district are looking at broader assessments to gauge a school’s success.

“Research shows there is a lot of value in attending diverse schools,” Mykytyn said.

Discussions in Mykytyn’s sessions were robust and they challenged some people’s assumptions and beliefs. “I was grateful for the responses,” she said. “I think this conversation about integration will continue with LAUSD.”

Mykytyn said she has heard many stories similar to her own where parents are told that their children should go to different schools where they would better fit into the population. Forced busing and white flight added to problems that only exacerbate segregation, she added.

“The key is changing what we’re comfortable with, and that is complicated and can be really difficult,” she said. “There’s so much hope for really doing good integration work, not just by social justice shaming.”

She added, “There is so much potential with what is going on at LAUSD. I’m not sad as much as excited and impatient.”

 

Morning Report: SD Unified Trades Charter School for Apartments

How much do the unions and the San Diego Unified School District dislike quality education?  They closed a charter school, sold the property and a housing project is going up in its place.  No this is not a joke, except on the parents and students that thought the District was about quality education, not punishing students because they want a great education.

“In doing so, VOSD’s Mario Koran explains, the district is replacing the existing charter school site with apartments and depleting a pot of money that’s specially allocated for charter schools to construct ones.

For the district, it’s a business decision. By leasing the property to a private developer, it stands to make $400,000 annually for the next 66 years. The district has four other properties where it would like to make similar deals. And it’s not tapping into its general budget to help Innovations build its new school – it’s coming out of a $350 million share of bond money that’s specially allocated for charter schools.

Let me if I understand this.  The District is closing a charter school, then using a bond measure (which DOUBLES the cost of construction—principal and interest has to be paid) to rebuild the school they closed.  Are the that dumb in San Diego or that hateful?

urban-housing-sprawl-366c0

Morning Report: SD Unified Trades Charter for Apartments

By Maya Srikrishnan, Voice of San Diego,  7/30/16

The San Diego Unified school board approved $20 million in bond money this week so Innovations Academy, a charter school in Scripps Ranch can build a new school.

In doing so, VOSD’s Mario Koran explains, the district is replacing the existing charter school site with apartments and depleting a pot of money that’s specially allocated for charter schools to construct ones.

For the district, it’s a business decision. By leasing the property to a private developer, it stands to make $400,000 annually for the next 66 years. The district has four other properties where it would like to make similar deals. And it’s not tapping into its general budget to help Innovations build its new school – it’s coming out of a $350 million share of bond money that’s specially allocated for charter schools.

But for some Scripps Ranch residents uncomfortable with the new housing, the decision doesn’t make sense. Why would the district push out a rent-paying charter school just to spend $20 million to build a new building for it?

 

Hyperloop: Brains in L.A.—Jobs In Nevada

If you want to think of an idea, take a few people, pay they well and create a new concept—like a hyperloop instead of a high speed train and finance it privately without tax dollars being risked.  Then to build this, so you can make a profit—build it in another State, like Nevada where there is no income or corporate tax and the workers are not forced to pay bribes in order to work.  Any wonder job growth in California is in the taco shell filling business, not the building business.

“Los Angeles-based next generation transportation company Hyperloop One announced that it opened the world’s first Hyperloop manufacturing facility in North Las Vegas today.

The company will use Hyperloop One Metalworks to build and test parts of the prototype DevLoop that it’s building, it said in a press release.

“The ability to have a world-class machine shop in-house give us an advantage to build rapidly and develop the Hyperloop in real-time,” said Josh Giegel, a co-founder and president of engineering.”

The same firm, one of Elon Musks operations also is building a massive battery factory—near Reno, in Nevada—for the same reasons—plus in California it could not be build due to AB 32 and environmental regulations.  Want to think of a good idea—California.  Want to create and build, Nevada.  What is wrong with Sacramento?

Hyperloop

Hyperloop One Builds World’s First Hyperloop Manufacturing Plant

By Caroline Anderson, Los Angeles Business Journal,  7/27/16

Los Angeles-based next generation transportation company Hyperloop One announced that it opened the world’s first Hyperloop manufacturing facility in North Las Vegas today.

The company will use Hyperloop One Metalworks to build and test parts of the prototype DevLoop that it’s building, it said in a press release.

“The ability to have a world-class machine shop in-house give us an advantage to build rapidly and develop the Hyperloop in real-time,” said Josh Giegel, a co-founder and president of engineering.

Hyperloop One is one of several companies trying to bring Elon Musk’s vision of a transportation system run by propulsion to life.

The company became involved in a court battle against four former employees earlier this month, including co-founder Brogan BamBrogan, who accused the company of mismanagement and a violation of their rights as employees. Lawyers for Hyperloop One filed a counter suit.

 

California Faces Power Shortages as Heat, Outages Cut Supply

A couple of weeks ago the west side of Simi Valley had six energy outages in less than a days.  They lasted between ten minutes and four hours. This is going on all over California.  Last week the utilities sent out notices they were beginning to implement “SmartFlex”—the process where they determine the grid is stressed and will turn off your electricity to create like we had under Gov. Gray Davis—government created BrownOuts.  They are Brownouts because Jerry Brown has cut back coal, nuclear and oil drilling in the State, plus the highest energy taxes in the nation.  We do have a shortage of energy—cause by government policy, not nature.

“The manager of the state’s power system called on generators to suspend maintenance through Friday night, while also asking consumers to conserve energy. More than 3,700 megawatts of power generation capacity was offline Wednesday, up 19 percent from a day earlier, according to the California Independent System Operator.

The threat of shortages adds to the mounting challenges that California’s power market is facing this summer. The state has warned that Southern California may see blackouts on as many as 14 days after a massive natural gas leak at a Sempra Energy complex limited supplies to electricity generators. PG&E Corp. has also had to close some storage wells, and a historic drought has plagued the western U.S. in recent years, curbing hydropower resources.

Yes, close to 20% of our resources CLOSED—any wonder we have BrownOuts?  When you see Guv Brown, tell him thank you—remember to bring a flashlight so you can see him.

Photo courtesy of lydiashiningbrightly, flickr

Photo courtesy of lydiashiningbrightly, flickr

California Faces Power Shortages as Heat, Outages Cut Supply

Jonathan Crawford, Bloomberg,  7/27/16   

State report warned of potential blackouts this summer

  • Power system operator asks households to conserve energy

California is facing electricity shortages as abnormally high temperatures and plant outages challenge a region already grappling with limited natural gas supplies and a drought. Power prices surged on Wednesday to the highest level in almost two years.

The manager of the state’s power system called on generators to suspend maintenance through Friday night, while also asking consumers to conserve energy. More than 3,700 megawatts of power generation capacity was offline Wednesday, up 19 percent from a day earlier, according to the California Independent System Operator.

The threat of shortages adds to the mounting challenges that California’s power market is facing this summer. The state has warned that Southern California may see blackouts on as many as 14 days after a massive natural gas leak at a Sempra Energy complex limited supplies to electricity generators. PG&E Corp. has also had to close some storage wells, and a historic drought has plagued the western U.S. in recent years, curbing hydropower resources.

“Generation resources may be inadequate,” the California Independent System Operator said in its notice restricting maintenance on Thursday.

On-peak, day-ahead power at a Southern California hub surged 29 percent to average $62.44 a megawatt-hour Wednesday on the Intercontinental Exchange, the highest level since September 2014.

Gas Leaks

The capacity from a unit at the Redondo Beach power plant in Southern California was curtailed as of Wednesday afternoon by almost 500 megawatts, and capacity from the Big Creek hydropower complex was down by about 380 megawatts, according to a California Independent System Operator report.

Temperatures in Los Angeles were forecast to reach as high as 89 degrees Fahrenheit (32 Celsius), 5 more than average, on Wednesday, according to AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania.

“Prices across the region are expected to be elevated,” Chris DaCosta, a Boston-based power market analyst for Genscape Inc. who tracks real-time data in the California ISO, said by e-mail Wednesday. “We’re in the mid $50s for our base case but there is a ton of upside on that number.”

 

Tim Kaine’s Church Just Proved Donald Trump’s Point About Religious Freedom

The religious bigotry of Tim Kaine has hit him over the head.  At his own Catholic church it became controversial when the Church congratulated him for receiving the nomination for Vice President of the United States.  The Church did not take a stand on his election or defeat, any issues or to demean anyone.  They just wanted to congratulate a long time parishioner, someone who had prayed with them for years, for his success.  Glad Kaine got an opportunity to see first hand the bigotry of his own political Party.

“Of all the churches to make the case for the stupidity of this draconian restriction, who would have expected the first one after Trump’s speech to be Tim Kaine’s Roman Catholic Church in Virginia!

That’s exactly what happened, inadvertently. Journalist Betsy Klein covers the 2016 race for CNN. She co-wrote a story about Kaine’s visit to St. Elizabeth Catholic Church in Richmond.

She noted that the church tweeted out its congratulations at 9:40 PM on July 22, writing, “Congratulations to our member Tim Kaine on the Vice President selection. We are all very proud!!!” The tweet included a link to a Facebook post. However, not only was that tweet deleted sometime after it went up, the entire Twitter account was taken down.

What a great example of the stupidity and danger of this IRS rule. Kaine’s own home parish can’t even congratulate him without violating it.”

Policies have consequences—Kaine found out his own Party distrusts religion so much, they can not be happy for a parishioner without causing controversy, trouble and a possible IRS investigation. No worries, Obama will make sure the political Director of the IRS knows not to prosecute.

Constitution

Tim Kaine’s Church Just Proved Donald Trump’s Point About Religious Freedom

By Mollie Hemingway, The Federalist,  7/30/16

During his acceptance speech on Thursday night, Donald Trump’s only mention of religious liberty was to condemn the portion of the tax code that prevents churches from advocating for political candidates. Except the way he put it was a bit different:

An amendment, pushed by Lyndon Johnson many years ago, threatens religious institutions with a loss of their tax-exempt status if they openly advocate their political views.

Technically they’re not prohibited from advocating political views, just endorsements of candidates.

Here’s the full explanation from the IRS:

Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity. Violating this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes.

Certain activities or expenditures may not be prohibited depending on the facts and circumstances. For example, certain voter education activities (including presenting public forums and publishing voter education guides) conducted in a non-partisan manner do not constitute prohibited political campaign activity. In addition, other activities intended to encourage people to participate in the electoral process, such as voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives, would not be prohibited political campaign activity if conducted in a non-partisan manner.

On the other hand, voter education or registration activities with evidence of bias that (a) would favor one candidate over another; (b) oppose a candidate in some manner; or (c) have the effect of favoring a candidate or group of candidates, will constitute prohibited participation or intervention.

Thankfully the regulation is unenforced. But its presence on the books has a huge and unconstitutional chilling effect on free speech by religious groups.

Of all the churches to make the case for the stupidity of this draconian restriction, who would have expected the first one after Trump’s speech to be Tim Kaine’s Roman Catholic Church in Virginia!

That’s exactly what happened, inadvertently. Journalist Betsy Klein covers the 2016 race for CNN. She co-wrote a story about Kaine’s visit to St. Elizabeth Catholic Church in Richmond.

She noted that the church tweeted out its congratulations at 9:40 PM on July 22, writing, “Congratulations to our member Tim Kaine on the Vice President selection. We are all very proud!!!” The tweet included a link to a Facebook post. However, not only was that tweet deleted sometime after it went up, the entire Twitter account was taken down.

What a great example of the stupidity and danger of this IRS rule. Kaine’s own home parish can’t even congratulate him without violating it.

Another point about the rule. Saying that churches don’t need to endorse candidates, or saying that you personally don’t feel the need to endorse candidates, in no way justifies telling other people what they can and can’t do according to their conscience.

As a confessional Lutheran, I happen to personally agree with Nicholas G. Hahn III of the Detroit News that the pulpit is not for politicking. But religious freedom doesn’t mean only permitting things that you agree with. If other religious traditions see no conflict between politics and the pulpit, that’s their business.

Don Byrd of the Baptist Joint Committee [that used to be] For Religious Liberty wrote:

[F]ar from being a threat to religious liberty, the ban serves to protect houses of worship from needless and harmful entanglement with political operations. It safeguards the integrity of our tax exemption and political finance systems. In short, it is good for both church and state. It also is simply a matter of fairness: other 501(c)(3) tax exempt organizations may not endorse political candidates without risking that status. Why should churches be treated any differently?

Why should religious institutions have religious freedom that non-religious institutions don’t have? I don’t know, why don’t you consult the First Amendment in the Bill of Rights to the U.S. Constitution.

It’s not about whether you personally think it’s a “needless and harmful entanglement” for a congregation to say “attaboy” to its member running for high office but whether you have the right to tell a completely different religious group how they get to practice their religion. You don’t. And punishing people with taxation for having a different doctrinal approach than you do is not how religious freedom works.

Pulpit freedom may not be the biggest religious liberty threat facing believers in the United States, but it’s not insignificant. This is something on which Tim Kaine and Donald Trump can and should agree.

Encinitas: State Tries to Take Over Zoning/Permit Process From City Hall

The State of California is trying to force the San Diego County city of Encinitas to build affordable housing, using State standards for traffic, density, etc.  People move to communities for three reasons, the schools, the atmosphere and the quality of life.  These folks are being told by Guv Brown that they need to live in Manhattan—and since they don’t he will bring Manhattan to them.

“What to do when the state wants your city to shoulder its share of the region’s housing need, but your city likes its suburban development the way it is?

Encinitas came up with an answer, and increasingly cities are following its lead. Cities across the state are pushing for  “slow-growth” measures that place additional restrictions on new development. Encinitas’ Proposition A, for example, requires that any zoning amendments get approved by the voters.

So politicians 400 miles away, authoritarians, are telling the people of Encinitas what type of town they are allowed to have.  The voters will vote, the courts will overturn and more people will leave the Totalitarians State of California and move to a Free State, like Texas.

Jerry Brown state of the state

Encinitas, the Slow-Growth Bellwether

By By Ruarri Serpa,: Voice of San Diego, 7/29/16

More headaches for the Coastal Rail Trail, San Marcos releases drafts of potential new districts, men continue to define women by their shoes and more in our weekly roundup of North County news.

What to do when the state wants your city to shoulder its share of the region’s housing need, but your city likes its suburban development the way it is?

Encinitas came up with an answer, and increasingly cities are following its lead. Cities across the state are pushing for  “slow-growth” measures that place additional restrictions on new development. Encinitas’ Proposition A, for example, requires that any zoning amendments get approved by the voters.

Maya Srikrishnan writes about the other cities pushing similar measures, including Del Mar, where proponents of the slow-growth “Voter Approval of Certain Development Projects Initiative” qualified forthe November ballot.

An analysis performed by the city says if approved, it would trigger a popular vote for large projects, projects requiring zoning changes, or projects requiring any exceptions to rules meant to limit the size of projects.

The report concluded such a measure would violate state law (Page 66 of the PDF). Encinitas, the local inspiration for these measures, is facing a struggle to comply with state law when voters have the final say.

Eric Garcetti: Silliness Mayor in America

Eric Garcetti made a joke of his heritage during the Democrat convention.  Yes, reminding them he is Mexican, Italian and Jewish was accurate and in context, funny.  When Garcetti decided to try to have ALL the lights in the City of Los Angeles turn off for one hour on Friday night from 9-10pm, was NOT a funny joke.

“Mayor Eric Garcetti kicked off the campaign calling for energy
conservation, with the region expected to face a natural gas supply shortage
brought on by a months-long gas leak at Southern California Gas Co.’s Aliso
Canyon storage facility.

City Hall, the Urban Lights art exhibit at the Los Angeles County Museum
of Art, the LAX Pylons, Central Library, Bank of America Tower, Ritz-Carlton
Los Angeles and other locales will shut off the lights from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m.”

Yes, we had a natural gas leak—but he forgets to mention all the nuclear plants are being shut down, the cheap, clean coal has been banned.  We will not have blackouts due to the leak, we will have the BrownOuts due to government policy ending alternative energy sources to replace the leaked gas.  Government policies turned off the lights, not a leak.

eric garcetti

LA’s major landmarks will go dark for one hour tonight to encourage Angelenos to save energy this summer

LA West Media,  7/29/16

The lights will go out at major landmarks and buildings throughout Los Angeles for one hour tonight, as part of a promotional stunt aimed at urging Angelenos to conserve energy this summer.

Mayor Eric Garcetti kicked off the campaign calling for energy
conservation, with the region expected to face a natural gas supply shortage
brought on by a months-long gas leak at Southern California Gas Co.’s Aliso
Canyon storage facility.

City Hall, the Urban Lights art exhibit at the Los Angeles County Museum
of Art, the LAX Pylons, Central Library, Bank of America Tower, Ritz-Carlton
Los Angeles and other locales will shut off the lights from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Garcetti asked residents and businesses to do the same.

Garcetti said steps will be taken at city facilities to reduce energy
usage by 5 percent. Meanwhile, city officials are recommending that residents
and businesses join the effort by:

— unplugging devices once they have been fully charged;

— setting air conditioners to 78 degrees Fahrenheit;

— replacing traditional light bulbs with LEDS;

— washing clothes in cold water;

— switching off lights in rooms that are not being used; and

— upgrading to appliances designated as Energy Star, or efficient, and
trade in old fridges through the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s
refrigerator recycling program.

A public outreach campaign and new incentives will also be rolled out,
according to Garcetti, with more information about the programs at
http://www.SaveEnergyLA.org and in Spanish at http://www.AhorraEnergiaLA.org .

 

Dare to be Stupid: Vote for Clinton

On Saturday Hillary Clinton had the gall to campaign in Youngstown, Ohio.  This is the region that lost 140,000 jobs thanks to NAFTA moving manufacturing jobs overseas.  She said she would bring the jobs back.  Does she think the folks are that stupid to believe someone that supported NAFTA, supported TPP, then opposed TPP and thanks to Virginia Guv McCauliffe, we know she is lying about her opposition to TPP.

Now we find that the American car industry is in trouble.  It was announced on Friday that Fiat Chrysler were only going to make Ram trucks and SUV’s in the United States, all other car manufacturing is moving to Mexico.  The buying of cars is down.  Ford lost 10% of stock value after it reported on the state of the company and car industry.

“Now, the auto sector, which has propped up GDP growth for years, is slowing down. For the first six months, total car and light truck sales, at a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of 17.5 million vehicles, are lagging behind last year by 100,000 units. Over the first half, fleet sales to rent-a-car companies and big fleet buyers were up industry wide. But retail sales fell 2%.

On Thursday, it was Ford that waved a red flag. Global sales were up 6% in the second quarter. But they’re struggling in the US, where it paid out 28% more in incentives to move the iron. So cost of sales and other expenses rose 8%, and net profit fell 9%.

Clinton must hope that after the 1.2% GDP growth in the second quarter does not mean the economy collapses before the November election.  How bad is it?  ObamaCare, by law, must report on the increases premiums—we already know that in Tennessee and Texas they will go up by 60%–in the Sacramento area it will go up only 24%.  How stupid are the voters?  We will see on November 8.  Will they vote for those that brought down the American economy?

hillary-clinton-biopics-cancelled-ftr

The Massive Prop Barely Holding up the US Economy Cracks

by Wolf Richter, Wolf Street,  7/29/16

“The so-called car recession”: Ford, AutoNation wave red flags

It was the second warning in two days: auto sales – last year one of the few booming sectors in the US economy – are exiting the freeway and turning south on a road full of potholes. And that would come at the worst possible time.

The debt-fueled growth of this economy is already fizzling. On Friday, first quarter GDP growth was revised down to 0.8% on an annualized basis. “Annualized” means that if this awful pace continues, growth for the year will be 0.8%! Second quarter growth was a meager 1.2% annualized. For the first half, annualized growth amounts to 0.9%, the worst in four years.

Business investment in equipment and structures, residential investment, and government investment all declined. Trade added a smidgen. But the inventory draw-down we’ve warned about for over a year, given how business inventories have bloated to crisis levels, has arrived with a vengeance, slashing 1.2% from GDP growth.

What kept GDP growth from falling into a hole was a big bout of consumption (up 2.8%), led by debt-fueled consumer spending.

Now, the auto sector, which has propped up GDP growth for years, is slowing down. For the first six months, total car and light truck sales, at a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of 17.5 million vehicles, are lagging behind last year by 100,000 units. Over the first half, fleet sales to rent-a-car companies and big fleet buyers were up industry wide. But retail sales fell 2%.

On Thursday, it was Ford that waved a red flag. Global sales were up 6% in the second quarter. But they’re struggling in the US, where it paid out 28% more in incentives to move the iron. So cost of sales and other expenses rose 8%, and net profit fell 9%.

It added some nuggets:

[T]he competitive environment has increased as growth has slowed and the retail industry demand has weakened. This has resulted in higher industry incentives, with a retail industry sales rate that has declined in three out of the last four months.

T]he plateauing of industry volume and the so-called car recession are having an effect on incentive levels overall that goes beyond what we had expected.

This is combined with an overall industry level in the United States that we now believe will be lower than we had planned, driven by lower retail sales. As a result, we now expect to see lower industry volume in the second half of 2016 compared with 2015.

Since Wednesday morning, Ford shares have crashed nearly 10%.

On Friday it was AutoNation, the largest auto retailer in the US with “373 franchises and 263 stores in 16 states, representing 35 manufacturer brands,” as it said during the earnings call. Ford might get tripped up by a company-specific problem, but AutoNation is a gauge for the entire industry.

It reported that second quarter revenue inched up 4% to $5.4 billion. Quarterly net income fell 2.6% to $112 million. Because it repurchased 1 million of its own shares, earnings per share rose 0.8% to a record $1.08. So what were some of the big factors in this 4% sales increase?

Dealership acquisitions (its business model) and price increases.

New vehicle sales in the quarter, including sales from newly acquired stores, edged up a tiny 0.5% to 85,654 vehicles. The average revenue per vehicle retailed rose 3%. So much of the gain in dollar-sales of new vehicles came from getting a higher dollar figure per vehicle.

But same-store new-vehicle unit sales dropped 4.5%; and used vehicle sales fell 1.3%.

The company is trying to “manage” costs, it said during the earnings call (transcript via Seeking Alpha). It cut new-vehicle inventories to get ready for leaner times – by 6,000 vehicles in the quarter, lowering same-store new-unit supply from 76 days to 70 days. The goal is to cut this further.

And then there are the ballooning incentives to prop up sales in a slowing market. AutoNation lashed out at automakers for “irrational behavior in the marketplace,” particularly volume-based incentive programs. During the earnings call, the word “irrational” to describe manufacturers’ incentives and volume expectations was used nine times.

COO William Berman added the words “unreasonable” and “unattainable.”

Despite industry retail sales being down in the second quarter, certain manufacturers – in particular, Ford, Chrysler, and Nissan – set double-digit growth targets that were unattainable. Where we felt these targets were unreasonable, we did not pursue them.

CEO Michael Jackson explained:

So if I look at how the first half of the year has developed, well, from a market point of view, that’s exactly where it is, with retail in the second quarter down, let’s say, 2% at retail. But it took considerably higher incentives for that to happen.

So are consumers maxed out? They’re not reacting appropriately to all these incentives. They should be buying more. But they’re buying less. Is this, as Ford had put it so eloquently, “the so-called car recession?”

Auto loans with super-low interest rates, maturities up to 84 months, and loan-to-value ratios of well over 100% have made everything possible, including higher prices and record sales. This debt-fueled buying binge caused total auto loan balances outstanding to skyrocket:

But at some point, consumers are gasping for air, banks get leery, bank regulators, such as the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, begin to fret over these loans, and subprime auto loans are starting to cause indigestion.

The white-hot auto sector is a large component of retail sales and of manufacturing. It impacts transportation by ship, rail, and truck. It includes services and finance. The auto sector is huge and spreads across the entire economy. When it slows down, it will pull the rug out entirely from under this already languishing economy.

Numerous brick-and-mortar retail chains have already collapsed and gone bankrupt this year. Now Claire Stores is heading that way. As in so many cases, it’s owned by a private equity firm, which is now scheming to get unstuck. Read… Another Retailer Leveraged Buyout Bites the Dust

Democrats in Philly: money corrupts politicians, unless we’re the ones taking it

Hillary, Bill and Chelsea take tens of millions of dollars from terrorist nations, nations that enslave women, behead Christians, bomb little children and rape ten year old girls.  Then as Secretary of State Russia is given American uranium, Iran is assisted and the Department of State is an annex for dictatorships that donate to the Clinton Foundation.  Did I mention that Chelsea’s father in law served time in prison for taking money in a financial scheme—at least Al Gore has stayed out of jail for his scams.

“That’s awfully hard to do for rank-and-file Democrats in Philadelphia. Corporate fingerprints are all over almost every event here, and yet the conventions are also supposed to be periods of peak loyalty — when party members, particularly those who support the presidential nominee, are unwilling to question it.

That sets up the opportunity for some awkward conversations. “I hate it when politicians get money; it has to influence their vote. It’s so insidious,” says Diana Kastenbaum, a Democratic candidate for Congress in upstate New York, in an interview in downtown Philadelphia.

A couple of blocks down the street, the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer is holding a breakfast for the Connecticut Democratic delegation. I ask Kastenbaum if, given her fear of money in politics, she thinks the Pfizer event might make Connecticut’s Democrats go easier on a company that’s already been hit with millions in criminal fines.”

Hypocrites.  Like their bigotry, they think a double standard is great.

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Democrats in Philly: money corrupts politicians, unless we’re the ones taking it

by Jeff Stein, VOX,  7/28/16

 

PHILADELPHIA — One of the first things I see when I get off the Amtrak train in Philadelphia is a massive blue banner welcoming passengers to the Democratic National Convention — with the word “Comcast” covering the lower third.

It’s a sign of what’s to come. Comcast’s logo is all over downtown Philadelphia — buses, signs, informational brochures about various party events. The company hosts fundraisers with DNC delegates and fetes Vice President Joe Biden at an event closed to the press.

In 2012, President Barack Obama banned lobbyists from giving to DNC or paying for convention-related expenses. But this February, the DNC eliminated those rules — opening the floodgates for corporate cash to slosh through Philadelphia.

Coming off a primary in which a senator from Vermont had surprising success talking about the  disproportionate influence millionaires and billionaires have on the political process, the corporate presence is striking. Bernie Sanders lost the primary, of course, but Democrats may not be so sure his ideas have been defeated in the party.

Over three days of speaking with people at the DNC, I heard a lot of talk about how the Democratic leadership truly longs for freedom from their corporate donors and plans to overturn Citizens United at the first opportunity. If that’s true, they sure have a funny way of showing it.

Democrats: Money corrupts politicians, unless we’re the ones taking it

As Vox’s Andrew Prokop argued Wednesday, the Democratic Party leadership’s official position is that its alliance with corporate donors is the best of bad options — that the party is, in principle, in favor of reducing money in politics, but that it has to work within the confines of the existing system to have a chance of beating well-financed Republicans.

This “necessary evil” argument is one you often get from Democrats, but its coherence depends on recognizing the “evil” part — on acknowledging that big money’s web also catches the Democrats who take it.

That’s awfully hard to do for rank-and-file Democrats in Philadelphia. Corporate fingerprints are all over almost every event here, and yet the conventions are also supposed to be periods of peak loyalty — when party members, particularly those who support the presidential nominee, are unwilling to question it.

That sets up the opportunity for some awkward conversations. “I hate it when politicians get money; it has to influence their vote. It’s so insidious,” says Diana Kastenbaum, a Democratic candidate for Congress in upstate New York, in an interview in downtown Philadelphia.

A couple of blocks down the street, the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer is holding a breakfast for the Connecticut Democratic delegation. I ask Kastenbaum if, given her fear of money in politics, she thinks the Pfizer event might make Connecticut’s Democrats go easier on a company that’s already been hit with millions in criminal fines.

“No, I don’t think so,” she says. “I believe Democrats care more for the people in general, and helping them rise up. I think our party’s public servants are stronger.”

The Democratic convention, basically.

A few minutes later, Jeremy Zellner, 38, the Democratic committee chair in New York’s Erie County, tells me he’s “one of the biggest opponents” of the Citizens United Supreme Court case that opened the door to big money. “Until we get a handle on the way we run elections, we all will have a very hard time governing,” he says.

Still, Zellner says he thinks Comcast’s more than $10 million in donations to Democrats won’t change how the party’s lawmakers treat the company. (Comcast also donates heavily to Republicans.) “There’s no influence here,” he says, as he sports a lanyard with the General Motors logo. “When people write checks to help the Democratic Party, it’s because they believe what we stand for. Corporate donors don’t control this party.”

Democrats make their reputations criticizing money in politics while trading on it

Sometimes the contradictions in Philadelphia are even more head-spinning, like when the very same Democrats who sound the alarm over campaign finance reform simultaneously reap big bucks for corporate influence peddling.

Harlem Rep. Charles Rangel, who used his position as Congress member to illicitly receive seven-figure private donations from corporate executives, told me at a ritzy breakfast at the Loews Hotel on Wednesday that “money is the cancer of democracy.”

Citizens United was the heaviest blow I can think about — other than the threat of communism — to our way of life,” Rangel said.

Former Senate Majority Tom Daschle may be an even better example. Daschle has penned editorials lamenting the outsize influence of corporations in politics, and spoke at the Aspen Ideas Festival about how it’s “by far the most corrosive and dangerous single factor undermining the institutions of our democratic republic today.”

And yet Daschle himself became a corporate lobbyist soon after leaving Congress. He now uses his influence on the Hill to educate the Democratic caucus on the wonders of the Aetna health care giant. His firm, the Daschle Group, was hired by Japan to help craft the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.

Still, in an interview at the convention on Tuesday night, Daschle warned me about the danger corporate cash poses to our political system. “I think we really have to reform our campaign finance system,” he said. “I’ve called for a repeal of Citizens United. We have to do it.”

Does that imply that Democrats are being corrupted by the money they’re taking now?

“Well, until it happens, all we can do as a party is little things, incremental things — like transparency in reporting [donations]. But I think we need for a Supreme Court that could change things,” Daschle says. “At some point. We’re not there yet.”

How lobbyists get Democrats to think what they’re doing doesn’t have to do with big money

I don’t mean to single out Daschle: Most Democratic officials I’ve spoken to admitted to going to at least one fundraiser with lobbyists. And they don’t appear particularly aggrieved about doing so.

On Tuesday, I got a tip of a fundraiser at Citizens Bank Park, where the Philadelphia Phillies play. The Center for Public Integrity confirmed it: Lobbyists with Microsoft, AT&T, Monsanto, and Blue Cross Blue Shield were all there to do batting practice and rub shoulders with congressional lawmakers and their staffs.

Corporations have found ways to effectively integrate themselves into the proceedings here in Philadelphia in a way that’s genuinely fun for the attendees. “Basically every lobbyist event I’ve been to has had alcohol or an open bar,” says Libby Watson, a money-in-politics expert at the Sunlight Foundation.

Watson spent the first three days of the Democratic convention crashing private fundraisers. At the National Conference of Mayors, she found every chair filled with promotional material from Xerox and free iPhone chargers with the company’s logo. The next day, she went to a private party held by a lobbying firm on a train. It was hosted by the commuter rail company CSX, which gave out bottles of sunscreen branded with its logo. (Alcohol was served.)

Corporations also get to gab with Democratic officials by hosting charitable fundraisers in their honor for good causes like fighting hunger or improving child literacy, according to Michael Beckel, a reporter with the Center for Public Integrity. “Everyone wants to be honored for a good cause, and then the lobbyists get face time with the politicians,” Beckel says. “It’s a win-win-win.”

Donald Trump’s best issue over Hillary Clinton is appearing free of special interests

For the past several decades, Democrats haven’t had to fear the stink of corporate donations. After all, the business community tended to be more supportive of the Republican Party than of the Democrats. The Chamber of Commerce has routinely endorsed the GOP’s presidential nominee. At worst, it was a wash — corporate donors gave roughly similar amounts to John McCain and Mitt Romney as they did to Barack Obama.

But Donald Trump’s primary run was premised on taking on the special interests in the party, and the business community has recoiled. Democrats have sensed an opportunity, and Hillary Clinton has begun going after some of Jeb Bush’s top donors in a bid to help fund her presidential run.

But this strategy has risks. Democrats aren’t just opening themselves to charges of representing the special interests and corporate donors — arguably, they are already adopting that image.

When voters are asked about why they like each candidate, Hillary Clinton crushes Trump on measures of experience, foreign policy, and preparedness for the job. But there’s one issue on which Trump does consistently beat Clinton: his willingness to take on “special interests.”

Now, Clinton may regard that as ridiculous. But you don’t have to think that the Democratic Party is self-consciously lying to itself to think it’s accumulating debts in Philadelphia it may feel obliged to pay back in Washington.

After the speeches end at the Wells Fargo Arena every night at the convention, thousands of delegates, staffers, and media are herded out toward the street.

There, they can enter the “Uber tent,” where they wait for the ride service to take them back to their hotel. (David Plouffe, President Obama’s former senior aide, is now a top Uber strategist and argues its drivers don’t need a union.)

The air is heavy with humidity, and the delegates are tired — the subways are jam-packed, and the only other way out is past a crush of several hundred angry protesters, waving signs and stomping feet in front of riot police.

But a man with a polo shirt comes out to say that more drivers are already arriving. The line will begin moving quickly.

“Awesome,” says one woman who wears a delegate badge. “Thank God for Uber.”

 

City Sues County: Taxpayers Lose Twice

Attorneys know how to make money.  Just get one city to sue another.  Both cities have deep pockets, you do not have to worry about getting paid.  And if you lose, no problem—government is always suing other government entities.  The only loser in this are the taxpayers.  They finance both sides.  In this case also at stake are 25,000 well paying jobs.  By the time this is settled, the jobs will either be totally gone or greatly reduced—the cost of time and attorney fees might even kill the project.

“San Jose filed a lawsuit Friday against Santa Clara over its $6.5 billion CityPlace project, dramatically escalating a fight that’s been brewing between the neighboring cities for months.

“The project is irreconcilably inconsistent with the City of Santa Clara’s General Plan in material respects that create profound environmental impacts which, unnecessarily, have a regional effect,” attorneys for San Jose wrote in the 16-page complaint, filed in Santa Clara County Superior Court.

San Jose has sharply criticized the Related Companies’ massive mixed-use project for not including enough housing to offset the estimated 25,000 jobs that will be created. City officials say the result will be increased housing demand in San Jose, lowering the city’s already dismal jobs-to-housing ratio and putting increased pressure on overstretched services and infrastructure.”

Why bother?  A project that size can be finished in one third of the time and at two thirds the cost in Texas—where they like jobs.  In California they sue if you try to create jobs.

court gavel

San Jose sues Santa Clara over CityPlace project

Bryce Druzin,  Silicon Valley Business Journal, 7/29/16  

San Jose filed a lawsuit Friday against Santa Clara over its $6.5 billion CityPlace project, dramatically escalating a fight that’s been brewing between the neighboring cities for months.

“The project is irreconcilably inconsistent with the City of Santa Clara’s General Plan in material respects that create profound environmental impacts which, unnecessarily, have a regional effect,” attorneys for San Jose wrote in the 16-page complaint, filed in Santa Clara County Superior Court.

San Jose has sharply criticized the Related Companies’ massive mixed-use project for not including enough housing to offset the estimated 25,000 jobs that will be created. City officials say the result will be increased housing demand in San Jose, lowering the city’s already dismal jobs-to-housing ratio and putting increased pressure on overstretched services and infrastructure.

The move comes the same week that Santa Clara hired expert land-use attorney Tina Thomas, who promptly filed information requests with San Jose for 15 projects in the city, an obvious search for material that could potentially be used in litigation under the California Environmental Quality Act.

The battle between the two cities highlights the competition for regional economic development opportunities and the burdens of housing the workforce that comes with those projects.

For Santa Clara, CityPlace promises to give the city a central gathering place, something it has long lacked. It also will generate a huge financial windfall — officials say that taxes, fees and lease revenue will generate nearly $17 million a year, plus millions more for schools and transportation improvements.

For San Jose, CityPlace represents more competition to the city’s main jobs district, North San Jose.

This isn’t the first time the two cities have tangled in court. Last decade, the city of Santa Clara, Milpitas and Santa Clara County sued San Jose over its North San Jose plan, which allowed 26.7 million square feet of new industrial/R&D development and 32,000 residential units.

San Jose settled, and as part of a 2006 deal agreed to spend tens of millions of dollars in transportation improvements above and beyond what was called for in the North San Jose plan. That is one reason why San Jose’s traffic impact fees are so high for North San Jose, something that has been seen as a barrier to ground-up construction in the district.

San Jose city officials did not immediately return a call and email for comment.