California’s “Secure Choice” program is neither secure nor a choice

retirement_road_signCalifornia’s “Secure Choice” program sounds harmless enough: A voluntary program — at least for now — that would enroll private sector employees who currently don’t have a retirement plan into a state-run retirement savings account.

When the initial program was announced in 2012 with authorizing legislation, taxpayers were skeptical. Now that the program is even closer to fruition, there is greater reason to be concerned. The good news, however, is that the U.S. Congress is now threatening to pull the plug on this foolish endeavor.

The first question is why is this program even needed? While many public employees don’t pay into Social Security (most receive generous public retirement benefits instead) workers in the private sector do receive Social Security. One might complain that Social Security benefits are inadequate but, because the program is backed by the federal government (which has the power to print money) the benefits promised are almost certain to be forthcoming. Not only that, under federal law, there are many programs to assist private-sector workers whose employers don’t offer 401(k) or other employer-based plans. These include individual retirement accounts, both traditional and Roth IRAs. For workers without an employer retirement plan, there are generous limits on how much can be saved tax deferred.

To read the entire column, please click here.

Frank Editorial: California Republican Party: The Incredibly Shrinking Party

CORRECTION:  Below I note there were nine CRP races, none contested.  In fact the Northwest region WAS contested, and the vote was 19-12.  Sorry for the mistake.

 

The 2018 elections are sixteen months from now.  In politics that is a very short time.  Yet, there are no significant Republican candidates for Governor, U.S. Senator, other state wide races—and many legislative races.  In 2016 there were 28 legislative seats and the Senate race, with only one Party on the ballot.  And, 16 legislative races with only one candidate on the ballot.

The programs and policies of the Republican Party of the past four years have not worked.  Even after raising $19 million for the 2015-16 cycle, the GOP lost three  Assembly seats and a Republican State Senate seat—giving the Democrats.  Yes, this is a long term situation.  Maybe it is time for new plans and plays—just raising money has not been the answer.

Photo courtesy of DonkeyHotey, flickr

Frank Editorial:  California Republican Party:  The Incredibly Shrinking Party

Stephen Frank, California Political News and Views, 2/28/17

Politico: “THE BUZZ: Small though it is, the California Republican Party reminded us over the weekend that it does still exist.”

A couple of weeks ago, the major donor, political strategist, voter registration king, Charles Munger, Jr. spoke to the Santa Clara Republican Central Committee.  His message was to the point and simple.  He said we need to celebrate the success of the chairmanship of Jim Brulte.  The audience applauded.

No one person is responsible for the state of the California Republican Party (CRP).  It is a team effort.  The lead sentence of this editorial is the lead in the February 27 edition of Politico, the online newsletter.  It clearly states the bottom line facts of the status of the CRP.

From the close of registration in October, 2012 to the close of voter registration October, 2016, Republicans lost a net of 303,000.  Yet the CRP spent zero dollars on voter registration.  Instead, it gave an exclusive franchise to an outside organization, with the key leader being Mr. Munger.  Now that we have had a four year loss, it looks like the CRP is not going to change the direction of voter registration.

In rounded off numbers, as of October, 2016 the GOP had 26% registration, Decline to State 24% and Democrats 43%.  By October, 2018 it is probable that the GOP will be the THIRD Party in California.

We all know that in the past four years, our “success” also includes giving the Democrats a super majority in the State Assembly and Senate.   A GOP legislator calls himself a member of the “Super Minority”.  This means no Republican are needed for any tax increase.  In the past few years, several Republicans would jump the fence and vote to give the Democrats the 2/3 needed to pass tax increases.  Hurting the brand, maybe this is one of the reasons for people leaving the Party.

At the California Republican Party convention this past weekend there were nine offices up for election—four regional Vice Presidents, Chairman, Vice Chairman, Treasurer, Secretary and Chairman of the County Chairmans Association.  What do you think the odds are of candidates for ALL nine positions running unopposed?  Remember, this is a political organization, we have massively lost voter registrations, gave the Democrats a super majority in the legislature, on the November, 2016 ballot there were 28 legislative  seats, plus the U.S. Senate race with only one Party on the ballot—and 16 legislative seats with only one candidate on the ballot.

Surely, there has to be unrest.  Surely, people will want some changes.  You would think those responsible for the situation might not run for re-election.

Of the nine positions up for election, everyone office had only ONE candidate.  In other words, if you liked the last four years, you want to have the same situation for at least the next two years.  The odds of nine offices in a political organization going unchallenged is astronomical.  Or is it a sign that folks have moved on.

There are currently 1415 members of the CRP.  The only victory in 2016 was the election of Donald Trump as President.. His early days as President has shown he is working hard to keep his campaign promises.  You would think the CRP members would put in numerous resolutions in support of President Trump and his policies.  Yet, when the official submission deadline passed, only one resolution had been submitted—to censure a GOP Assemblywoman who announced she was voting for Condie Rice for President.  That resolution failed.

Then before the normal deadline, which had been changed but few knew it, four resolutions were put forward by members of the Tea Party California Caucus—not even a chartered Republican group.  They dealt with taxes, immigration, ObamaCare and vetting terrorists.  These passed unanimously.  But, why didn’t others submit resolutions?

The Sacramento Bee ran this story about the resolutions.  Here. http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article135109124.html

 

Then you had a great reception hosted by Chairman Jim Brulte for the Trump Team.  Wonderful event—an effort to get Trumpsters involved in the California Republican Party.  Yet, at the reception and nowhere during the convention was it noted that four GOP legislators lost—and the commonality was they did not support Trump for President.  Assemblymembers, Linder, Hadley and Kim lost, all opposed Trump.  Assemblywoman Ling Ling Chaing running for State Senate—in a Republican District—lost.

 

Now we find that the Chair of the Ventura County GOP Central Committee, and Chairman of the County Chairmans Association informed his Venutra Committee that San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer was going to be the candidate for Governor in 2018.  This is the Mayor that planned a deficit of approximately $122 million, supported an effort to transfer $1.8 billion in taxpayers funds to the use of a billionaire football owner.  Then while Chairman Brulte is working hard to bring the Trump people into the Party, the Mayor refused to support Donald Trump for president. Think the Trump folks will forget?

Then you have CRP Vice Chair Olsen, appointed in November and elected without a challenger, said on October 12, 2016 she was not voting for Trump—but did say she would not vote for Hillary.  Here is the Modesto Bee article.

These leaders refusal to support Trump in the General Election was not even discussed.  Oh, all are still members of the California Republican Party and appoint delegates.

My long time good friend Jon Fleischman wrote a wonderful piece about the convention before the event started.  See it here.

At the end of the article he wrote, “Yet Republican leaders in California continue to distance themselves from President Trump (even yesterday, most Republican legislators chose to abstain from yet another resolution blasting the president’s crackdown on illegal aliens). Ironically, it is possible that the only road back to relevance for the California Republican Party will depend on the success of the new Republican Commander-In-Chief.”

Fleischman is right—it is a bit like football.  Chairman Brulte is the quarterback and the rest of us are the players.  Yet at the convention, except for a conference sponsored by the Tea Party Caucus of California “Make California Great Again”, there were no meetings or strategies discussed. With our poor record of voter registration, so many races without GOP candidates in 2016, no strategies, meetings of sponsored events to fix the problem.

Maybe the problem is not the quarterback—maybe it is the coach sending in the plays.  Huh?  Like Prop. 14, ending partisan primaries, a poor record on voter registrations, running Republicans against Republicans to assure NO Republican on November ballot for a particular race.  Add to this the lack of promotion of Party principles and values, has anyone seen a CRP or Sacramento GOP legislative leader promoting the Presidents ObamaCare repeal and replacement, tax cuts, immigration or fighting terrorism press releases?

In football, it is the coach that gets cut.  Maybe it is time to find a new coach—the quarterback is one of the great strategists in California—but the coach has failures piled upon failures—as Politico implied, the California Republican Party is an incredibly shrinking organization.

The Coach may be extremely rich, but look at what his money has bought.  And that includes sending in plays for legislative Republicans.

In fact, the GOP Assembly leader misstated the Trump policy and sided with the Fake News of the Democrats.  Here is a press release sent by Assemblyman Chad Mayes:

Statement on Executive Order Barring Refugees from Assembly Republican Leader Mayes

Assemblyman Chad Mayes, 1/30/17

SACRAMENTO – Today, Assembly Republican Leader Chad Mayes (Yucca Valley) released the following statement in response to the recent executive order barring refugees from entering the country:

“Religious liberty is a core value of our nation. My ancestors immigrated to America to flee religious persecution. While bolstering our national security is important, when forced to decide between security and liberty, I will always side with liberty.”

As we all know no one was barred.  This was a moratorium on entrance to the U.S. from seven nations.  Mayes press release implies no refugee from any place else in the world was temporarily stopped.  And, this is not about immigrants—it is about protecting our nation from terrorism.

So, where do we stand as Republicans in California?

*loss of 303,000 registered voters—no changes

*loss of Assembly/Senate seats.  Democrats have Super Majority

* No major candidates for Governor, Senator or other Statewide races in 2018.  The primary is 16 months from now.

* Four years of partisan losses

*Lack of promotion of GOP principles, values and outreach based on policy to the public.

*Some GOP leaders that did not support the election of President Trump are expected to now promote him.

*Some Republican leaders misrepresenting the position and policies of President Trump.  This disheartens Trump supporters, especially those not strongly Republican.

It is definitely time for a new coach.  It is definitely time for a significant audit of our policies and we may have just a few months to complete and then implement new policy. To continue the past fours years in the next two, guarantee the same results.  Lets grow the Party based on policy, principle and hard work.  It can be done. It must be done.

Eber: Hollywood drinking too much of their Kool-Aid?

Somewhat obtuse contributor Rich Eber to the California Political News & Views column pertaining to “progressive” Hollywood’s strangulation of free speech was penned well before the Academy Awards ceremony last Sunday.

All that remained for him to do was to collect negative statements made about Donald Trump uttered by celebrities at the festive gala.  As it happened, Rich had a wide selection of bigoted material to choose from.

These comments, which were shared with the worldwide audience, went a long way to prove that the vitriolic hatred of the newly inaugurated President parallels the Joe McCarthy era of the early 1950’s. Even though a long time has passed since then including America’s flirtation with Gene McCarthy in the 1968 Presidential campaign, protecting the first amendment should always be on the political Endangered Species List.

Whether Hollywood’s present day prejudice against conservatives rises to the level of the early 1950’s, remains to be seen. Hopefully it will never reach the rock bottom of “You’ll never work in this town again.”  Seriously, the people who could not even get the name of a movie that won best Picture of the Year right, want to tell us how to protect our nation from terrorism, create jobs or hiw to protect our communities.  These folks read their lines well, write wonderful fantasies—are unable to face the real world.

oscars

Hollywood drinking too much of their Kool-Aid? By Richard Eber

Richard Eber, California Political News and Views,  2/28/17

It is fitting that the movie La La Land was victories in winning 6 awards including best Director. If there is anything we have learned over the years is that Hollywood’s specialty is depicting fantasy and fiction on the silver screen.

Unfortunately this gift of storytelling along with the suspension of reality they believe extends to the political arena as well. As proof, it was evident in listening to the self serving speeches at the Oscar broadcast seen on ABC, that the entertainment community does not like President Donald Trump very much. As such, they were not bashful sharing these sentiments with the whole world 15 times during the broadcast.

Judging from what we saw on Sunday, Hollywood makes no bones about loathing the Republican currently residing in the White House. Among the highlights or low lights of the Oscar show we witnessed notables:

  • Jimmy Kimmel, who hosted the ceremonies quipped “I want to say thank you to President Trump. I mean, remember last year when it seemed like the Oscars were racist? That’s gone, thanks to him.” He later went on to say, “This is being watched live by millions of people in 225 countries that now hate us.”
  • Barry Jenkins, director of Moonlight which was named  Best Picture said in accepting the Oscar for adapted screenplay said that “people who don’t feel like they have support can look to the American Civil Liberties Union and artists over the next four year”. Such comments were typical of the continuous snipes at President Trump which went on all evening
  • Iranian director Asghar Farhadi who took home the academy award for best foreign film for his drama The Salesman was absent at the Oscars. He had a message read which said ‘I’m sorry I’m not with you tonight. My absence is out of respect for the people of my country and the other six nations whom have been disrespected by the inhumane law that bans entry of immigrants to the U.S.” This comment, which received a standing ovation, came from an individual whose country subjugates women, executes homosexuals, and is the leading global sponsor of terrorism.

In effect, the Hollywood establishment  exercised their 1st amendment right to free speech to evolve into a Political Casting Couch. What does this mean?

In the not so distant (if at all) good old days, it was the custom for actors to engage in semi consensual sex with producers and directors in order to be given prime roles in their movies. Getting a break, we are told, involved more than just performing well in auditions.

Now we have a new litanies test in Tinsel Town for those who seek employment.  One must express progressive political ideology to match the party line expressed by Academy stalwarts or else.  Having a favorable opinion of Donald Trump is barely one step removed from being a child molester or serial killer. Being against the promotion of Sanctuary Cities is considered by them to be a hate crime, if not treason.

If one really wants to buy into the Hollywood establishment just make public that you are being treated by your therapist for political Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) because of being despondent about the outcome of the Presidential election. If nothing else receiving therapy dealing with Donald Trump’s triumph will get one not only a lot of sympathy, but a stash of prime downer pills as well.

It is unlikely even staunch Republicans are willing to buck the anti GOP sentiment in the film industry. Doing so is more serious than feasting on a Diamond Jim Brady Cut of prime rib after being a host at the PETA Awards ceremony. Big Brother is looking thru every peep hole to make sure there is a united front against the administration of Donald Trump.

Ironically the same groups of individuals, who grandstand about their devotion to promoting the first amendment, are in effect doing just the opposite. In their well intentioned efforts to defame and criticize Donald Trump they are inadvertently repeating the dark days of Joe McCarthy from the early 1950’s.

During this time a black list was created that cited individuals in the entertainment community for having ties with the Communist Party.  Most notable were the Hollywood 10 who were denied work because of the stigma that they were somehow affiliated in some way in spreading Marxist propaganda.

Unfortunately, the term “You’ll never work in this town again” became reality for artists during the “red scare” era of our political history. Hopefully a similar environment will never be repeated. This is where present concern lies.

Judging from what we witnessed at the Academy Awards show, a new version of the McCarthy era is being witnessed in Hollywood today; only on the opposite end of the political scale. Those of conservative political persuasion in the film industry are being forced to hang out with Eva Braun in their bunkers until the smoke clears and they can once again engage in free speech.

This is a sad state of affairs, but hardly unusual in politics. Many of us remember what was written in Longshoreman philosopher Eric Hoffer’s 1951 classic The True Believer He said Hatred is the most accessible and comprehensive of all the unifying agents. Mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a god, but never without a belief in a devil.” 

Hoffer went on to theorize that when one deals in political movements, there is little difference between left and right with extremist followers of fascism or communism. In acting the part of progressive zealots, is the film industry headed in this same direction?

As such Hollywood political establishment needs to back off in their hatred of Donald Trump which has extended to being much more personal than society is comfortable with.  Despite what the entertainment world might think, the GOP won 60% of the states and governorships last November not to mention the two houses of Congress. Oh yes, they also elected a President.

Many of these folks go to the movies and pay for tickets.  If things get any weirder in Hollywood, it is likely Middle America will tire of the anti Trump onslaught coming their way.  If this means boycotting films of actors who place progressive values above their careers, major ramifications may ensue.

History has demonstrated on more than one occasion that when a movie star fails to produce box office, they are discarded without mercy like yesterday’s fish wrappings.  This is why the Hollywood establishment needs to take a deep breath and realize they are in the entertainment business and to not step over the well defined boundaries of the red carpet they cherish so much.

No one in this town wants to have projects go “straight to video” where much of this bunch is headed.

 

 

 

 

BART Board Weighs Deficit Solutions as Ridership and Revenue Sink

We already know that BART is corrupt.  They set up a $3.5 billion bond (including interest it is $7 billion).  Instead of capital expenditures at least $1.2 billion can be shifted—and a lot of the rest can be used to finance the deficit.  Now we find out the real reason for the problem—low ridership and thus revenues are declining.

In a budget update delivered to the BART Board of Directors on Thursday, staff reported that average weekday ridership between July 1 and Dec. 31, 2016 was down nearly 1 percent from the same period the previous year. A glance at the district’s ridership report for January shows the trend has continued into this year, with total weekday ridership down about 4.5 percent from January 2016.

What kind of financial hit does that add up to for BART?

The district reported bringing in $480 million in fare revenue for fiscal 2015-16 and projected an increase of about 6 percent, to $510 million, for this fiscal year. BART financial staff now projects the agency will collect about $492 million in fares — $18 million less than forecast.

There’s one silver lining for BART in the ridership and revenue numbers, though: The number of passengers riding between the East Bay and San Francisco on weekdays is actually up 1 percent over last year.”

BART is the poster child for not having government transportation.  It is the people of the Bay region that must finance the debt and deficit and misuse of bond money.  Sell BART and use the proceeds to lower taxes.  Then use the tax revenues from the private company running BART to finance even lower taxes.  Just a thought.

budget

BART Board Weighs Deficit Solutions as Ridership and Revenue Sink

By Dan Brekke, KQED,  2/24/17

When BART developed its budget for the current fiscal year, which runs from last July 1 through this June 30, it made what seems like a natural assumption.

The agency had seen several years of dramatic growth in the number of passengers using the system, especially on weekdays. So staff estimated that, even though there were signs that ridership growth was slowing down, the system would continue to see more people board its trains during this fiscal year.

For BART managers, the agency’s board of directors and system patrons alike, the number of people riding is more than a matter of academic interest or personal comfort. Train fares are BART’s biggest single source of cash, and they’re a key factor in the agency’s annual budget.

As things have turned out, the slowdown in ridership growth BART saw in early 2016 has turned into an actual decrease in the number of people using the trains. And that trend, coupled with lower-than-expected growth in the district’s sales tax proceeds, spells budget trouble that could impact passengers who continue to crowd onto the system’s rush-hour trains.

In a budget update delivered to the BART Board of Directors on Thursday, staff reported that average weekday ridership between July 1 and Dec. 31, 2016 was down nearly 1 percent from the same period the previous year. A glance at the district’s ridership report for January shows the trend has continued into this year, with total weekday ridership down about 4.5 percent from January 2016.

What kind of financial hit does that add up to for BART?

The district reported bringing in $480 million in fare revenue for fiscal 2015-16 and projected an increase of about 6 percent, to $510 million, for this fiscal year. BART financial staff now projects the agency will collect about $492 million in fares — $18 million less than forecast.

There’s one silver lining for BART in the ridership and revenue numbers, though: The number of passengers riding between the East Bay and San Francisco on weekdays is actually up 1 percent over last year. Those are longer trips with higher fares and have softened the overall loss of revenue.

Still, the district is facing an estimated $15 million to $25 million budget deficit for the year ending June 30; another shortfall of as much as $35 million is forecast for the 2017-2018 fiscal year.

So, we’ve done the numbers. What might they mean for BART riders?

BART staff presented the board with a series of options. A majority of board members have expressed support for some of the ideas, like a crackdown on fare evasion and expanding advertising opportunities at the system’s stations. Other proposals include automating trains so they no longer require an operator, raising parking fees and imposing a new fee on Silicon Valley employee shuttles that pick up and drop off passengers at BART stations.

But Carter Mau, the head of BART’s office of planning and budget, said the board will have to go beyond these measures.

“The sum of all these categories together will not be able to address the deficit we are facing,” Mau said.

He told the board it would need to consider steps like raising the district’s base fare — the minimum amount it charges for a ride ($1.95, or $3.20 for the shortest transbay trip) — and reducing the discount for youth and senior passengers. He said the district could save money through better timing of its allocations for long-term capital projects. And he noted that the agency has already imposed a freeze on hiring 160 approved positions.

Mau added that some major service cuts might be necessary for BART to save its budget shortfall. That could involve eliminating the first hour of weekday service, which now begins at 4 a.m., and cutting direct early evening service from San Francisco to Richmond and Fremont.

Rebecca Saltzman, the BART board president, said she’s concerned that a cycle of reduced service, reduced ridership and reduced revenue would threaten the district’s ability to continue reinvesting some of its operating income for capital projects.

Reducing service “should be the absolute last thing that we consider,” Saltzman said. “I think it would be a really big mistake.”

Board member John McPartland, who has an extensive history in emergency services, echoed that sentiment. “In medical terms, we call that circling the drain, and it leads nowhere good,” McPartland said.

Debora Allen, a board member elected in November as a budget hawk, said the agency needs to address its long-term retiree pension and medical costs. She also lectured fellow board members for directing staff to undertake projects like developing a policy that would make BART a sanctuary from immigration enforcement.

“I think this board needs to remember when we ask staff to do things — when we ask them to research things, when we ask them to go spend time on housing bills, we ask them to go develop sanctuary-in-transit policies — we have to remember that that’s a cost to this system as well,” Allen said. “We have costs of the system that are in operations, but all of these other things where we sort of move off into things that don’t make our trains run on time, these are costs, too, that we need to be looking at.”

Lateefah Simon, another newly elected board member and one of two members who put forward the sanctuary proposal, took issue with Allen’s remarks.

Responding to issues like sanctuary “is absolutely central to our being voices in the communities for folks who have no bullhorns,” Simon said. “… As elected, the diversity and demography of our districts demand that we come to staff with a diversity of issues.”

The board will revisit its revenue shortfall and alternatives for dealing with it at a Finance Committee meeting on March 14.

AB 943 Would Stymie Local Slow-Growth Measures–Gives State the Power

It is always amazing to see how union people try to protect their people.  Democrats are basically no-growthers, they use the environment as cause not to build housing or commercial property—and prefer land be controlled by government not private firms or individuals.  Assemblyman Miguel Santiago was the candidate of the unions.  See here. 

Now he has a bill to make it difficult for local people and city councils to control the growth and density of their community—instead he wants the State of California to tell the people in Chico what can and should be built.

“Under AB 943, introduced by Assemblyman Miguel Santiago, any local ballot measures that restrict development would require a two-thirds supermajority to pass. The aim is to stop anti-growth policies that have contributed to a shortage in housing, Santiago says.

The assemblyman was motivated in part by Measure S, which will appear before Los Angeles voters on the March 7 ballot. The initiative would scale back L.A.’s development by imposing a two-year moratorium on any projects requiring special planning approvals, such as height or density increases.

This is not about what is good for the community—it is about union power through extortion and blackmail of developers and communities.  While I do not live in Los Angeles and would probably vote NO on Measure S, I also oppose AB 943—zoning and housing decisions must be made locally, not by power brokers in Sacramento.

urban-housing-sprawl-366c0

Proposed Bill Would Stymie Local Slow-Growth Measures

California City News, 02/23/2017

California’s astronomical real estate prices and lack of affordable housing have reached critical mass. Now, one Los Angeles lawmaker hopes to correct the crisis by restricting slow-growth policies currently flourishing at the city and county levels.

Under AB 943, introduced by Assemblyman Miguel Santiago, any local ballot measures that restrict development would require a two-thirds supermajority to pass. The aim is to stop anti-growth policies that have contributed to a shortage in housing, Santiago says.

The assemblyman was motivated in part by Measure S, which will appear before Los Angeles voters on the March 7 ballot. The initiative would scale back L.A.’s development by imposing a two-year moratorium on any projects requiring special planning approvals, such as height or density increases.

Measure S is just one of countless local initiatives proposed to curb housing density in California. These slow-growth efforts have led to a clash between the state and local governments, which City News explored several months ago.

While everyone agrees on the importance of housing affordability, local government advocates believe AB 943 is the wrong way to go. League of California Cities Legislative Director Dan Carrigg says it would take too much power out of the hands of voters, giving deference to development interests instead. (Not surprisingly, the bill’s main sponsor is the California Apartment Assn.) The law could also end up applying to a range of measures that have nothing to do with curbing density, argues Carrigg.

Santiago takes issue with anyone who believes his bill represents a state power grab.

“I fully support local democracy,” Santiago said. “But NIMBYism on steroids is not something I will support when we’re trying to build affordable housing in California.”

California’s astronomical real estate prices and lack of affordable housing have reached critical mass. Now, one Los Angeles lawmaker hopes to correct the crisis by restricting slow-growth policies currently flourishing at the city and county levels.

Under AB 943, introduced by Assemblyman Miguel Santiago, any local ballot measures that restrict development would require a two-thirds supermajority to pass. The aim is to stop anti-growth policies that have contributed to a shortage in housing, Santiago says.

The assemblyman was motivated in part by Measure S, which will appear before Los Angeles voters on the March 7 ballot. The initiative would scale back L.A.’s development by imposing a two-year moratorium on any projects requiring special planning approvals, such as height or density increases.

Measure S is just one of countless local initiatives proposed to curb housing density in California. These slow-growth efforts have led to a clash between the state and local governments, which City News explored several months ago.

While everyone agrees on the importance of housing affordability, local government advocates believe AB 943 is the wrong way to go. League of California Cities Legislative Director Dan Carrigg says it would take too much power out of the hands of voters, giving deference to development interests instead. (Not surprisingly, the bill’s main sponsor is the California Apartment Assn.) The law could also end up applying to a range of measures that have nothing to do with curbing density, argues Carrigg.

Santiago takes issue with anyone who believes his bill represents a state power grab.

“I fully support local democracy,” Santiago said. “But NIMBYism on steroids is not something I will support when we’re trying to build affordable housing in California.”

 

Editorial: Legislature should reverse BART’s deceit of voters

When a major government agency, not tied to a specific city or county openly lies—and gets caught—how do you punish them and who should do the punishing?  Plus, because of the lie, taxpayers have lost billions of dollars—how does that money get returned?

“The Bay Area’s critical transit district is being run under a cloud of deceit. District officials last year convinced voters to pass a $3.5 billion bond measure for capital projects. They promised that the district would continue to kick in its fair share, but less than three months after the election they are moving to renege on that.

They could withdraw as much as $1.2 billion and redirect it to the district’s excessive labor costs. In effect, that means that a large chunk of the money from the bond sales, for which property owners will pay higher taxes for decades to come, will not go for the capital projects that were promised.

Instead it will go to cover the district’s mounting projected operating shortfall, now forecast at more than $300 million over the next 10 years.

Maybe the State should freeze the BART accounts, take over the agency finances, and investigate those responsible and stop the illegal expenditure of at least $1.2 billion.  Think Brown or the new Attorney General are willing to do the right thing?

bart

Editorial: Legislature should reverse BART’s deceit of voters.

By East Bay Times editorial board, 2/23/17

The Bay Area’s critical transit district is being run under a cloud of deceit. District officials last year convinced voters to pass a $3.5 billion bond measure for capital projects. They promised that the district would continue to kick in its fair share, but less than three months after the election they are moving to renege on that.

They could withdraw as much as $1.2 billion and redirect it to the district’s excessive labor costs. In effect, that means that a large chunk of the money from the bond sales, for which property owners will pay higher taxes for decades to come, will not go for the capital projects that were promised.

Instead it will go to cover the district’s mounting projected operating shortfall, now forecast at more than $300 million over the next 10 years.

Credit Assemblywoman Catharine Baker, R-Dublin, and Sen. Steve Glazer, D-Orinda, with trying to rein in this financial train wreck. Credit newly elected Assemblyman Tim Grayson, D-Concord, for backing some of their efforts.

While the rest of their Bay Area legislative colleagues give tacit consent to this mismanagement of public funds, Baker and Glazer are proposing simple, meaningful changes.

For starters, Baker’s AB 1509 would require that BART keep its promise to the voters by making its full $1.2 billion contribution to capital projects. If it failed to do so, the state would withhold a like amount of sales taxes.

Glazer’s two bills attempt to address the underlying cause of BART’s behavior: sweetheart labor contracts that the district cannot afford but agrees to under the threat of strikes that can gridlock Bay Area roadways.

SB 603 would prohibit BART officials from signing labor agreements that limit its ability to prepare for a strike. Under the current contract, only a “qualified train operator” can drive trains, and they’re all union members. Glazer’s bill would enable BART to train management workers so they’re prepared in case of a strike.

SB 604 would simply prohibit BART workers from striking after a contract runs out if the district continues to maintain provisions of the old contract and that old contract has a no-strike clause.

As reasonable as these measures are, Baker and Glazer will have a tough time garnering support in the labor-dominated Legislature.

But they might have leverage: The Legislature will soon be considering a transportation infrastructure package and placing a bridge toll increase on the ballot from which BART wants even more money.

BART shouldn’t get more until its leaders start managing what they have responsibly.

 

Bethel Church offers $500,000 to prevent police layoffs in Redding

Finances in the city of Redding is so bad that a CHURCH is offering the city $500,000 and trying to raise another $740,000, just to prevent police layoffs.  Again, the problem is caused by CalPERS.  City by city you will see an economic disaster as we go through the Spring and watch cities try to raise taxes and fees, cut basic services to keep the incompetent and mismanaged pension system open.

Bethel’s offer, which Bethel’s $500,000 offer likely will need to be voted on still needs to be fleshed out, arrives against a money crunch backdrop that may force job cuts in the fire department. Communities everywhere in California are being stricken by more benefits and pension cost increases. The financial gift would guarantee at least an extra $250,000 to the city’s tight coffers for each of the two years. The total cost to keep four officers over that period is $1.24 million.

“Not to be a complete wet blanket for the rest of your discussion today, but I think we need to be very, very judicious in terms of making new commitments or committing general fund resources going forward until we have a better sense of how that (pension contributions) looks,” Starman said.”

Yet have you heard of any attempt to reform the pension system in Sacramento?  Guv Brown, our very refused head of State, is confused and doing nothing.  The unions are allowing the system to collapse—no idea why they are not concerned.  This is not going to be a good summer for the people of California.

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Bethel offers $500,000 to prevent police layoffs

Jenny Espino,  Record Searchlight, 2/22/17

Bethel Church is offering the city of Redding $500,000 over two years and challenging faith groups and businesses to raise another $740,000 over the same period to retain the four officers that would allow the police department to keep the neighborhood police unit.

City Manager Kurt Starman met with church leaders and Councilwoman Julie Winter, herself a church elder, Wednesday. He announced the offer to the City Council a few hours later as members debated their spending priorities for the upcoming 2017-19 budget.

Bethel’s offer, which Bethel’s $500,000 offer likely will need to be voted on still needs to be fleshed out, arrives against a money crunch backdrop that may force job cuts in the fire department. Communities everywhere in California are being stricken by more benefits and pension cost increases. The financial gift would guarantee at least an extra $250,000 to the city’s tight coffers for each of the two years. The total cost to keep four officers over that period is $1.24 million.

“Not to be a complete wet blanket for the rest of your discussion today, but I think we need to be very, very judicious in terms of making new commitments or committing general fund resources going forward until we have a better sense of how that (pension contributions) looks,” Starman said.

The California Public Employees’ Retirement System lowered its investment expectations in December. The new forecast, to be phased in over three years, will have profound implications for the state, cities, counties and special districts, he said.

“Today, for our public safety employees … we’re spending about 50 cents (for every $1) to CalPERS as the employer contribution,” he said.

“With this most recent thing as well as other changes CalPERS has made … we think that percent will increase from 50 percent to the high 70s — 76 or 77 percent is our most recent analysis,” Starman said.

Enforcement initiatives ranked at the very top, while updates to the city’s General Plan and its Riverfront Specific Plan scored the lowest.

Winter said Bethel leadership also has expressed interest in committing $50,000 toward a marketing effort that promotes a sense of ownership in the community and giving.

“We really all need to step up and participate to help pay for those officer positions,” she said and stressed that need, given the defeat of Measures D and E sales tax last November.

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Redding Councilwoman Julie Winter addressed a $500,000 from Bethel Church to help prevent the layoff of four police officers. Jenny Espino

Starman and department heads are early in the development of the new budget, which starts on July. 1.

Funding for three firefighters and six apprentice firefighters expires at the end of June. A request to retain their positions at a cost of $838,000 was among four ideas that tied for fourth highest spending priority.

Following the meeting, Mayor Brent Weaver spoke of the tough choices the council is having to make.

“These are personnel decisions, people’s livelihoods,” he said. “My hope is that we will be able to find the money for the firefighters. (But the city) cannot make money magically appear for the positions.”

The neighborhood police unit tied with code enforcement as the highest priority. The cost for the unit is $620,000. For two retired code enforcement officers and homeless camp cleanups, the cost is $100,000.

Those two were followed by an updated development impact fee program and an evaluation of Redding Electric Utility’s proposed rate structure to deal with rising fixed costs. If it makes the cut in the budget, the evaluation may cost REU $75,000.

Two years ago, the REU proposal stirred public blowback. To quell angst, the council postponed the discussion until its budget workshop and Assistant City Manager Barry Tippin, also the utility director, said the agency was financially stable for years to come even if the restructure did not happen.

Besides the firefighter positions, the council ranked with the same urgency more community service officers, ongoing attention to the downtown and initiatives to jump-start the mostly idle Stillwater Business Park.

Kent Dagg, Starman said of a conversation with the real estate investor, has suggested dividing a 15-acre parcel into half-acre and acre lots to attract business. His proposal is expected to come before the cou

Scholarship Applications for Illegal Aliens Down 40% in One Year

Great news for honest students and taxpayers.  Also good news for schools on the cusp of needing more space.  Thanks to the new Administration in Washington, many have received the message that until laws are repealed, they will be enforced.  In this case there are 40% fewer applications for scholarships for illegal aliens—nicknamed “dreamers” by Barack Obama.  Maybe the money will now go to honest students and citizens?

“Last year at this time, the California Student Aid Commission had 34,000 applications. Now, just a few days before the March 2 Cal Grant deadline for new applications, there are only 20,000 applications on file.

“Under the Dream Act, no student’s personal information is shared at the federal level,” Mr. Oakley says. “I encourage all eligible students to apply today for the Cal Grant, as well as other forms of state-funded financial aid, such as the Board of Governors Fee Waiver, that are available year-round.”

The illegal aliens understand that since the Feds give California money for education and the University system, the information on them also belongs to the Federal government.  If you sign up for a “Dreamers” scholarship you are admitting you are here illegally—making it easier to find you and much easier for deportation—because you have already admitted it in writing.  Without a lot of fanfare the climate is changing.

Photo courtesy San Diego Shooter, flickr

Photo courtesy San Diego Shooter, flickr

Fewer community college students tapping state’s “Dream Act” aid

Central Valley Business Times,  4/24/17

  • Applications down more than 40 percent from last year
  • “Our 113 community college campuses … are open to all eligible students”

There’s been a dramatic drop in financial aid applications among undocumented students taking classes at California’s community colleges, the system says Friday.

“It’s apparent that the national conversation surrounding immigration and deportation has created an environment that is confusing and threatening to many of our students,” says California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley.

Last year at this time, the California Student Aid Commission had 34,000 applications. Now, just a few days before the March 2 Cal Grant deadline for new applications, there are only 20,000 applications on file.

“Under the Dream Act, no student’s personal information is shared at the federal level,” Mr. Oakley says. “I encourage all eligible students to apply today for the Cal Grant, as well as other forms of state-funded financial aid, such as the Board of Governors Fee Waiver, that are available year-round.”

The California Dream Act allows undocumented students to apply for many of the same financial aid opportunities available to others. Renewal of Cal Grants under the California Dream Act can be made after March 2.

“Our 113 community college campuses are a promise to the future and their doors are open to all eligible students. I urge everyone to apply,” Mr. Oakley says.

The California community college network is the largest system of higher education in the nation composed of 72 districts and 113 colleges serving 2.1 million students per year.

 

Judge Rules San Diego State railroaded accused student by denying him adequate defense

California government schools are authoritarian in nature.  If they believe you committed an infraction and bring you up on charges you are guilty—no need for the niceties of a defense, facts, witnesses, attorneys or truth.

“San Diego State University violated “procedural fairness” by refusing to let a student accused of rape have an advocate “with the same or substantially similar skills, training and experience” as his accuser’s advocate, a California court ruled.

Judge Joel Wohlfeil ordered the university to “dissolve the finding” by Dr. Lee Mintz, who also served as the school’s investigator, that “John Doe” did not stop having sex with “Jane Roe” when she asked.

It also must take back its finding that Roe “became incapacitated” and Doe “continued to have sex with her.” Mintz characterized those findings as “sexual assault” and “rape.”

At San Diego State, the judge is also the prosecutor and determines the rules.  Corruption is the result.  Hopefully, the student will sue Mintz and the school for corruption, abuse and defamation.  Mintz needs to find work elsewhere and stay away from students—he obviously is biased—maybe teaching yoga at a mall would be more to his abilities.

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Judge rules San Diego State railroaded accused student by denying him adequate defense

College Fix Staff, 2/24/17

‘The disparity of these circumstances is enough to shock the Court’s conscience’

San Diego State University violated “procedural fairness” by refusing to let a student accused of rape have an advocate “with the same or substantially similar skills, training and experience” as his accuser’s advocate, a California court ruled.

Judge Joel Wohlfeil ordered the university to “dissolve the finding” by Dr. Lee Mintz, who also served as the school’s investigator, that “John Doe” did not stop having sex with “Jane Roe” when she asked.

It also must take back its finding that Roe “became incapacitated” and Doe “continued to have sex with her.” Mintz characterized those findings as “sexual assault” and “rape.”

Doe did not contest findings that “may support the sanction of expulsion” that he received before filing suit, so the California Superior Court judge declined to overturn his expulsion.

Wohlfeil scheduled a March 10 hearing on whether SDSU should get another crack at trying Doe on the now-dissolved findings against him.

‘Deeply flawed’ adjudication system

Doe and Roe had sex shortly after he offered her an edible marijuana called a “Black Bar,” which contains high doses of concentrated THC oil.

Roe claimed she tried to stop the previously consensual intercourse when she started feeling sick from the bar’s effects, while Doe said the sex was over before the bar could have had any psychoactive effect on Roe.

Doe’s lawyer had presented text messages and phone records from Roe that undermined her claims about the duration of sex and her alleged incapacitation, noting she was able to walk “normally” out of Doe’s apartment and down to her friend on the street. A polygraph examination also supported Doe’s version of events, his lawyer said.

Wohlfeil’s Feb. 1 “minute order” denounces the university’s “well-intentioned, but deeply flawed, administrative system to investigate and review complaints of student misconduct,” which stacks the deck against accused students.

“The disparity of these circumstances is enough to shock the Court’s conscience,” the judge wrote.

“Dr. Mintz wore multiple hats,” Wohlfeil said: SDSU first assigned her to investigate Roe’s claims, and then she “became” the accuser’s “advocate” and “advisor. … From the start of the process through and including the hearing, Dr. Mintz both counseled Jane and spoke on her behalf.”

She was required to receive “training” on “how to conduct an investigation process that protects the safety of the Complainant,” meaning the accuser, Wohlfeil wrote.

‘A rational foundation exists’ to reverse the findings

The judge made clear that he was bound by an “extremely deferential substantial evidence standard of review,” meaning the university’s findings have a “strong presumption as to their correctness and regularity. … Only if no reasonable person could reach the conclusion reached by” SDSU would Wohlfeil dissolve its findings.

Even as he agreed that there was evidence to “support the hearing officer’s findings,” and that Wohlfeil was not allowed to “weigh the evidence, consider the credibility of witnesses, or resolve conflicts in the evidence,” the judge noted his disapproval of the process.

Mintz gave Doe’s medical records to the hearing officer “without authentication, foundation or explanation from any competent person,” and over Doe’s protests, Wohlfeil wrote.

“Multiple witnesses were allowed to speculate and express, without an adequate foundation, opinions about a subsequent ‘panic attack’ that Jane allegedly suffered” after the incident and “consequences to Jane from the alleged assault,” the judge said.

After Doe provided a Mintz report to a polygraph expert through his attorney – who was not allowed to participate in the hearing – the hearing officer attacked Doe’s “credibility” and called it “inappropriate.”

In a vast understatement, Wohlfeil said that “from a fair reading of the record, a rational foundation exists to support findings the hearing officer could have made in favor of” Doe that “the incident, as alleged by Jane, did not occur.”

Judge wonders how Doe handled himself so well

Doe was “fundamentally deprived of a fair hearing” by the university’s failure to give him an “adult advisor” on par with Mintz, the judge said. That didn’t need to be a lawyer – it could have been a faculty member – but Doe needed the assistance of an “adult” to ensure the playing field was level for both Doe and Roe, according to Wohlfeil.

SDSU violated U.S. Department of Education rules on providing advocates “equally for both parties,” the judge said, laying out just how much SDSU tilted the proceedings against Doe.

“At the time of the incident, Petitioner [Doe] was 18 years old. At the time of the hearing, in which Dr. Mintz accused him of ‘sexual assault’ and ‘rape,’ Petitioner was 19 years old,” Wohlfeil said:

Respondents [SDSU] presented their case through a skillful, trained and experienced advocate; namely Dr. Mintz. Petitioner was left to present an opening statement, examine lay and expert witnesses, and argue his defense on his own behalf. True, Petitioner was allowed to consult with his attorney (which the record reflects as “whispering”) but he was still the only person allowed to advocate his defense.

The judge concluded: “The Court wonders how, given Petitioner’s youth, infant stages of his post-secondary education and the seriousness of the charges, Petitioner was able to conduct himself as well as he did.”

 

New DNC Chair Tom Perez Has Problems W/ Email, Ethics, Racism and Perjury

Great news for the Republican Party.  Tom Perez, Obama appointee, Clinton sycophant is the new Democrat Party chair.  He then appointed Keith Ellison as his Deputy—a man who has defended Louis Farrakhan and apologizes for the terrorists—and an open hater of Israel.  Can you imagine them going to a Jewish group asking for money?

The best part of this is the Perez acceptance speech.  Instead of promoting policies and programs for the people, Perez was clear as to his goal.  “Resistance”: and persistence instead of jobs and national safety.  This should make it easier for Republicans in 2018.

“All told Perez violated the Federal Records Act 34 times while working for the Department of Justice:

“What’s more, in a letter sent to Mr. Issa Wednesday, Peter J. Kadzik, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs at Justice, responded to the subpoena and admitted Mr. Perez violated the Federal Records Act (which requires that federal business is archived) at least 34 times. The letter also suggested Mr. Perez used his personal email account almost 1,200 times for official government business.

Perez even had a Clintonesque excuse when questioned by Congress about his unlawful email practices. Perez claimed that he did not have “any recollection” of sending 1200 emails from his personal account”

Perez is as (un)ethical as Hillary Clinton. And has been caught lying and and shown to be racist.  This is not a surprise—he is a Democrat leader.  Goes with the territory.

Thomas Perez

New DNC Chair Tom Perez Has Problems W/ Email, Ethics, Racism and Perjury

by Jeff Dunetz, The Lid,  2/25/17

Well the results are in, and the DNC has chosen its new leader.  In the proxy battle between the Sander-nistas and the Clinton-ites, Tom Perez the choice of the Clinton-ites won the race for to be the next Chairman of The Democratic National Committee with 235 votes only 17 more than the necessary 218 majority.

The Sander-nistas choice was the anti-Semitic, anti-Israel Congressman Keith Ellison, who has strong ties to Muslim Brotherhood affiliated organizations, had the endorsement of Bernie Sanders, Harry Reid and Elizabeth Warren, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer among others. Schumer’s endorsement was very strange. The NY Senator had the guts to stand up to his party’s president Barack Obama’s anti-Israel hatred, but somehow lost his cojones when it was time to stand up to the anti-Israel, anti-Semitic, terrorist appeasing extreme-liberal wing of the Democratic Party who pushed Ellison.

Anyone who believes the Democrats dodged a bullet by choosing Perez over Ellison is wrong.  Perez was not only the choice of the Clinton wing of the party, but he has many of he same issues as Hillary Clinton, including  email, ethics, telling the truth, and a belief that only Caucasians can commit race crimes.

This past December The Hill  exposed that as reported that Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights  Perez used a private email account violating the Federal Records Act, and then tried to cover it up.

“The House Oversight and Judiciary Committees, along with the minority staff on the Senate Judiciary Committee, launched an investigation. They found Mr. Perez had tried to cover up the quid pro quo and ‘likely violated both the spirit and letter of the Federal Records Act’ by using his personal email accounts to conduct official government business. The House subpoenaed his emails.”

All told Perez violated the Federal Records Act 34 times while working for the Department of Justice:

“What’s more, in a letter sent to Mr. Issa Wednesday, Peter J. Kadzik, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs at Justice, responded to the subpoena and admitted Mr. Perez violated the Federal Records Act (which requires that federal business is archived) at least 34 times. The letter also suggested Mr. Perez used his personal email account almost 1,200 times for official government business.

Perez even had a Clintonesque excuse when questioned by Congress about his unlawful email practices. Perez claimed that he did not have “any recollection” of sending 1200 emails from his personal account:

 “In a March 22 interview with congressional investigators, Perez was asked whether he had ever conducted official business from his personal email account. Perez said: ‘I don’t have any recollection of having communicated via personal email on this matter.’”

Even when Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) requested Perez turn over the work emails sent from his personal account, Perez stonewalled Congress.

But this wasn’t Perez’s first case being dishonest to congress. He has this nasty habit of telling people his grandfather was thrown out of the Dominican Republic because he spoke out about the Dominican Leader’s massacre of Haitians, an impossibility as reported in the Wall Street Journal.

In addition, Mr. Perez testified in 2013 at his Senate confirmation hearing that his grandfather ‘was declared ‘non grata’ for speaking out against the dictator following the brutal massacre of thousands of Haitians’ in 1937. But in fact, Mr. Brache had left the Dominican Republic about two years earlier, according to State Department memos and media accounts at the time.

The losing candidate represented the very-very-very, left-wing part of the Democratic party, but like his buddy Hillary, Perez is no moderate. In fact, the Baltimore Sun said he was one of the most liberal members of the very liberal Obama administration:

“Perez, a Buffalo native who attended Harvard Law School and now lives in Takoma Park, is among the most liberal members of President Barack Obama’s administration.  Republican senators who had accused him of being overly political at the Justice Department opposed his confirmation as labor secretary. Business groups are wary of the scope of new rules and regulations he has ushered in. ‘He has pushed an ideological agenda that’s hurt workers and employers,’ said Heather Greenaway of the conservative Workforce Fairness Institute in Washington. ‘It’s almost like he was the fox guarding the henhouse, and now he could be in charge of the whole farm.’”

At the beginning of the Obama Administration, the Justice Department dropped a voter intimidation case against the New Black Panthers that had already been won because they felt that Caucasians could not be victims of voter intimidation, and that African-Americans couldn’t be the oppressors. Tom Perez was involved with, and lied to congress about the racist decision.

According to Christian Adams resigned from the DOJ Voting Rights Division and went public with the story of the “hows and whys” the Black Panther case was dropped. Adams explained the decision to drop the case was based on race and Perez lied about it in his congressional testimony.

Based on my firsthand experiences, I believe the dismissal of the Black Panther case was motivated by a lawless hostility toward equal enforcement of the law. Others still within the department share my assessment. The department abetted wrongdoers and abandoned law-abiding citizens victimized by the New Black Panthers. The dismissal raises serious questions about the department’s enforcement neutrality in upcoming midterm elections and the subsequent 2012 presidential election,

Adams said the New Black Panther case was most open and shut case of voter intimidation that he had seen during his years of service at the DOJ Voting Rights Division. They had sworn testimony that the members of the Black Panther party blocked white voters from entering the polling place. But Adams reported that wasn’t the testimony the DOJ gave before Congress:

The assistant attorney general for civil rights, Tom Perez, has testified repeatedly that the “facts and law” did not support this case. That claim is false. If the actions in Philadelphia do not constitute voter intimidation, it is hard to imagine what would, short of an actual outbreak of violence at the polls….

Mr. Perez also inaccurately testified to the House Judiciary Committee that federal “Rule 11” required the dismissal of the lawsuit. Lawyers know that Rule 11 is an ethical obligation to bring only meritorious claims, and such a charge by Mr. Perez effectively challenges the ethics and professionalism of the five attorneys who commenced the case. Yet the attorneys who brought the case were voting rights experts and would never pursue a frivolous matter. Their experience in election law far surpassed the experience of the officials who ordered the dismissal.

Adams places the blame for the dismissal of the case on racism.

..the dismissal is part of a creeping lawlessness infusing our government institutions. Citizens would be shocked to learn about the open and pervasive hostility within the Justice Department to bringing civil rights cases against non white defendants on behalf of white victims. Equal enforcement of justice is not a priority of this administration. Open contempt is voiced for these types of cases.

Some of my co-workers argued that the law should not be used against black wrongdoers because of the long history of slavery and segregation. Less charitable individuals called it “payback time.” Incredibly, after the case was dismissed, instructions were given that no more cases against racial minorities like the Black Panther case would be brought by the Voting Section.

For their leader the Democrats elected a man who has problems with the truth, problems with email, has broken the federal records act, has lied to congress and the American people and doesn’t believe in equal justice under the law for all citizens.  Kind of sounds like the last Democratic Party candidate for president.

And the best part is that Chuck Schumer and Elizabeth Warren will still be happy, because Perez picked the radical progressive, anti-Semitic, anti-Israel, Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Keith Ellison for his deputy chair.

The Democrats who have lost touch with the average Americans, have just taken one giant leap further away from the middle-class, and rust belt voters who gave Donald Trump the presidency in November.