California State DEBT: $1.5 TRILLION

Even this may be understated. Using more conservative discount rates for the state’s pension systems, which many financial experts feel are more realistic than the systems’ own assumptions (even though these have been lowered somewhat in recent years), the unfunded pension liabilities alone have been estimated in the high hundreds of billions of dollars, and perhaps as much as $1 trillion. This would put the debt burden at close to $100,000 per person.

To make matters worse, the state is far from up-front about just how much debt it maintains. “These statistics are troubling, but what’s more troubling is that state government officials continue to obscure large amounts of retirement debt on their balance sheets, despite new rules to increase financial transparency,” the study asserted. “This skewed financial data gives state residents a false impression of their state’s overall financial health.”

Yes, Sacramento is not “up front”—never will as long as we continue to [ass bonds and raise taxes.  It is time to take back government—we can not afford to watch TV re-runs or spoiled millionaires protesting our flag.

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Will California ever pay off its massive debt?

By Press-Enterprise Editorial Board,  9/27/17

Last week, we questioned whether Congress would ever get serious about paying down the national debt. Now we pose a similar question of our state elected officials.

There have been some successes, like the adoption of some much-needed, albeit modest, pension reform measures in 2012, and nearly eliminating the “wall of debt,” as Gov. Jerry Brown described a number of short-term liabilities that once totaled nearly $35 billion. But even these efforts have put only a small dent in the state’s total debt.

This point was crystallized by a new study from financial watchdog group Truth in Accounting, which just released its annual “Financial State of the States” report. The study found that “41 states do not have enough money to pay all of their bills, and, in total, the states have racked up

Not surprisingly, the Golden State did not fare well in the analysis, ranking 43rd in terms of debt per taxpayer, and comprising one of nine states to earn an “F” grade. “Repeated decisions by state officials have left the state with a staggering debt burden of $255.1 billion,” the report concluded. “That burden equates to $21,600 for every California taxpayer.”

Even this may be understated. Using more conservative discount rates for the state’s pension systems, which many financial experts feel are more realistic than the systems’ own assumptions (even though these have been lowered somewhat in recent years), the unfunded pension liabilities alone have been estimated in the high hundreds of billions of dollars, and perhaps as much as $1 trillion. This would put the debt burden at close to $100,000 per person.

To make matters worse, the state is far from up-front about just how much debt it maintains. “These statistics are troubling, but what’s more troubling is that state government officials continue to obscure large amounts of retirement debt on their balance sheets, despite new rules to increase financial transparency,” the study asserted. “This skewed financial data gives state residents a false impression of their state’s overall financial health.”

Moreover, the report noted, California was one of the most tardy in publishing its 2016 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, which took 265 days to release after the end of the fiscal year — nearly three months after the supposed 180-day deadline.

We are already seeing the effects of such debt. Local governments whose pension plans are administered by the state are struggling to keep up with significantly increasing contribution requirements, oftentimes resorting to tax hikes and cuts to public safety and other services. Some, like Vallejo, Stockton and San Bernardino, have been forced into bankruptcy, and many others are on the brink.

Yet, our elected officials, sometimes with the backing of a majority of voters, keep imposing ever-higher taxes — on “the rich,” on cigarettes, on gasoline, on local sales taxes — and proposing more bond measures — for housing programs, for the Delta water tunnels, for the restoration of the Salton Sea. In short, the government keeps getting bigger and bigger, while more people are struggling to pay their bills (including their tax bills) and get by.

Governments may be able to conceal their debts better than individual taxpayers, but they cannot avoid them forever.

 

Another Unnecessary Sports Expense

Oakland, which is about to lose the Raiders in 2020, has hired an Executive Director, to in affect, close down the Oakland Coliseum—at a cost of one million dollars for the liquidator.

“But less than three years later, McKibben, a former publisher of the Oakland Tribune and ex-chief of the Rose Bowl, has largely failed to complete his mission or justify his $250,000 annual salary. Earlier this year, the Raiders announced that they’re moving to Las Vegas, and earlier this month, the A’s revealed that they intend to build a new ballpark next to Laney College. As such, the Coliseum property, which McKibben is in charge of overseeing, will likely no longer host a sports team by early next decade.

Nonetheless, the Coliseum Authority board of directors voted on Sept. 15 to award McKibben a 20-percent raise to $300,000 a year retroactive to last February, make his contract guaranteed, and extend it to 2020. Authority members hastily approved McKibben’s new pact after learning that he had been offered $300,000 a year to be the head of the Santa Clara County stadium authority, which oversees the San Francisco 49ers stadium.

No football team, college or professional, is going to use the facility.  It has a large upkeep cost, would be cheaper to tear down and build affordable housing, or put a roof on it and make it a warehouse.   This is why government can not be trusted with tax dollars—unless you are am Establishment person, union or crony capitalist.

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Another Unnecessary Sports Expense 

Despite losing all three of its sports teams, the Oakland Alameda County Coliseum Authority has decided to pay nearly $1 million to an executive director it doesn’t need.

By Robert Gammon, East Bay Express,  9/28/17

In early 2015, when P. Scott McKibben was appointed executive director of the Oakland Alameda County Coliseum Authority, he said his mission was clear, particularly in light of the fact that the Golden State Warriors had already announced they were moving to San Francisco. “My goal is to keep the A’s and the Raiders in Oakland,” McKibben said at the time.

But less than three years later, McKibben, a former publisher of the Oakland Tribune and ex-chief of the Rose Bowl, has largely failed to complete his mission or justify his $250,000 annual salary. Earlier this year, the Raiders announced that they’re moving to Las Vegas, and earlier this month, the A’s revealed that they intend to build a new ballpark next to Laney College. As such, the Coliseum property, which McKibben is in charge of overseeing, will likely no longer host a sports team by early next decade.

Nonetheless, the Coliseum Authority board of directors voted on Sept. 15 to award McKibben a 20-percent raise to $300,000 a year retroactive to last February, make his contract guaranteed, and extend it to 2020. Authority members hastily approved McKibben’s new pact after learning that he had been offered $300,000 a year to be the head of the Santa Clara County stadium authority, which oversees the San Francisco 49ers stadium.

In an interview, McKibben said the authority board convinced him to stay and that there is plenty of work for him to do over the next three years.

County supervisor Scott Haggerty, who led the effort to retain McKibben, also defended the decision, saying McKibben has done an “excellent job.”

“I think he’s a terrific individual, and he’s needed,” said Haggerty.

But Haggerty struggled to explain exactly why he thinks McKibben is needed, considering the fact that all three sports teams are leaving, or why McKibben warranted a raise and a contract extension. Haggerty contended that the Raiders’ departure was not McKibben’s fault, because city and county officials were in charge of negotiations to keep the team. Haggerty also declined to assign blame for the A’s’ decision to relocate. The moves, along with the Warriors’ departure, could leave the city and county on the hook for more than $175 million in bond debt on the Coliseum and Arena. (McKibben can’t be faulted for the debt; it was incurred in the 1990s to refurbish the facilities and keep the Raiders and Warriors from leaving then.)

Haggerty also had difficulty describing why he considers McKibben to be essential if he wasn’t involved in the negotiations to keep the Raiders from leaving. Instead, Haggerty argued that journalists would’ve criticized the Coliseum Authority if it had let McKibben go.

Oakland City Council President Larry Reid also defended McKibben’s new contract. “Even though we were unable to save the Raiders, he was invaluable to us,” Reid said. “Scott did a great job.”

Reid noted that McKibben led the negotiations for a Raiders’ lease extension in 2016, and he will likely need to negotiate another one, because the Raiders’ new stadium in Vegas won’t be completed until 2020. The Coliseum Authority also has a fight with the Warriors over the terms of the Arena lease. The authority maintains that the Warriors must pay off the remainder of the debt on the Arena when the team leaves in 2019, but the Warriors have disputed that assertion. (As for the A’s, their lease at the Coliseum runs through 2024, and team President Dave Kaval said last week that they hope to open their new ballpark near downtown by 2023.)

In other words, there’s actually not a lot for McKibben to do to earn his $300,000 guaranteed salary. Although McKibben argued that the A’s’ planned move to the Laney site is not yet a done deal, Kaval has made it clear that the team is now focused solely on that spot. In addition, the dispute with the Warriors is a legal matter that will require attorneys to hammer out — not an executive director. And a Raiders extension shouldn’t be too difficult to reach, considering the fact that the team has nowhere else to play. Plus, McKibben isn’t needed to run the day-to-day operations of the facility: a private company, Anschutz Entertainment Group, does that. Last year, the Coliseum Authority reported paying $1.75 million to AEG to manage the facilities, records show.

The Coliseum Authority, in short, had no compelling reason to keep McKibben. It could have easily hired a consultant to handle the Raiders’ extension. And with all the teams leaving, it should’ve started the process of winding down its functions. In a few years, it will no longer have a legitimate reason to exist. (McKibben, in fact, agreed that in four years, the authority’s usefulness will likely expire.)

But, unfortunately, the Coliseum Authority has a long history of wasting public funds. Exhibit A was last year’s ticket scandal, in which the Bay Area News Group revealed that city and county officials had claimed more than 7,000 Warriors tickets as a lucrative perk in the past three years — valued at $7.8 million — using them for themselves and family for favored donors and causes.
And awarding $900,000 to an unnecessary executive director for the next three years is just more of the same.

 

How sky-high housing costs make California the poorest state

Just a reminder.  California has 12 million in poverty and another 8 million in near poverty.  We are a State with the highest gas, income and corporate taxes and among the highest in sales taxes.  That is just for starters.  We have the highest cost housing and rentals in the nation, and this year alone the Legislature—with Republican help, raised gas taxes by a total of 83 cents a gallon.  Any wonder we are the poorest State in the union?

“When the cost of living is factored in, the Golden State has the highest poverty rate in the country. More than 20 percent of its residents struggle to make ends meet, according to recently released Census figures. That’s nearly 8 million people.

Unfortunately for Californians, this year’s poverty numbers are not an aberration. The Census began releasing state-by-state results for its “supplemental poverty measure” in 2011, in an attempt to improve upon the outdated and heavily criticized official poverty statistics.

In the less sophisticated “official” measure, a family of four in San Francisco or Los Angeles or San Diego faces exactly the same poverty threshold—$24,339 annually—as a family in rural Mississippi. That’s despite the fact that you can rent a three-bedroom, two-bathroom 1,200-square-foot house in Horn Lake, Mississippi, for the same price ($850 a month) as half a living room in the Bay Area.

Imagine people in Mississippi are better off than we are!  That is how low California has sunk—yet the Democrats are proud of what they have done TO the people of the State.  Shame on us for allowing this.

money bag

How sky-high housing costs make California the poorest state

By Matt Levin, CalMatters,  9/27/17

California leads the nation once again in a statistic no state wants to boast about.

When the cost of living is factored in, the Golden State has the highest poverty rate in the country. More than 20 percent of its residents struggle to make ends meet, according to recently released Census figures. That’s nearly 8 million people.

Unfortunately for Californians, this year’s poverty numbers are not an aberration. The Census began releasing state-by-state results for its “supplemental poverty measure” in 2011, in an attempt to improve upon the outdated and heavily criticized official poverty statistics.

In the less sophisticated “official” measure, a family of four in San Francisco or Los Angeles or San Diego faces exactly the same poverty threshold—$24,339 annually—as a family in rural Mississippi. That’s despite the fact that you can rent a three-bedroom, two-bathroom 1,200-square-foot house in Horn Lake, Mississippi, for the same price ($850 a month) as half a living room in the Bay Area.

California has been the poorest state in the nation under the vastly more sophisticated “supplemental” poverty measure since the alternative statistic was created (Mississippi is poorest under the old measure). It’s not even really that close: Florida has the second highest rate, at 18.7 percent.

Part of the reason California tops the list year after year is a byproduct of how the supplemental poverty measure is calculated. It’s a three-year moving average, so year-over-year changes can’t swing a state’s poverty rate one way or another all that much.

The Census uses data dating to 2011 to calculate the cost of living, so even the improved poverty rate could be underestimating how big a drain housing has been on California’s poor. The biggest jumps in housing costs—like those we’ve seen in Sacramento and other mid-size California cities in recent years—typically apply to a relatively small percentage of renters finding new apartments. But ask any California renter whether they’d rather be paying 2011 rents or 2017 rents, and they’ll ask you for the keys to the DeLorean as soon as possible.

What exactly is the role of housing in California’s poverty problem? There are a couple ways to answer that question, none perfectly satisfactory.

One method: What would poverty look like if everyone in California had cheaper rents?

Researchers at the the Public Policy Institute of California, which has developed its own California-specific alternative poverty measure, tried to simulate an answer to that question. Researchers there ran a model of the state’s poverty rate with every Californian bearing a cost of living similar to that in Fresno County, where a family of four making about $25,000 would not be considered poor.

The result?

The overall poverty rate drops dramatically (from about 21 percent to 14 percent), with nearly 2.4 million Californians lifted above the poverty line. The effect is most pronounced among children, who are disproportionately likely to live in higher-cost regions of the state. The child poverty rate drops nearly 8 percentage points—about 717,000 kids—once the cost of living is lowered.

Relocating every poor family in the state to Fresno is, well, not a practical policy consideration. And housing subsidies for low-income families currently make only a small dent in the poverty rate, at least compared to some other safety-net programs.

(Advocates for the poor argue that’s a great reason to dramatically expanding housing subsidies).

A group of researchers at Columbia University re-created the Census supplemental poverty measure for all states with data stretching back to the late 1960s. Under this measure, California started looking considerably different from the rest of the United States in the early 1980s.

But notably, while California’s supplemental poverty rate has remained significantly above the national average in recent years primarily because of housing costs, in absolute terms the state is actually in better shape than it was in the early 1990s, when more than one in four Californians lived below the poverty line. And the recession of the early 1990s paled in comparison to the Great Recession of the late 2000s.

That’s partly because of the significant expansion of federal and state poverty programs to California families in the past three decades. In 1991, researchers estimate, such programs reduced California poverty by about four percentage points. In 2014, those same programs (and new ones) cut hardship by more than twice as much.

 

Political ‘Chaos’ Could Hamper CA Job Growth: UCLA Study

Riots on campus.  Environmentalists killing jobs and housing.  Sacramento, in total. Raised our gas taxes by 82 cents a gallon—and diesel even more—meaning the cost of food and other items will go up, forcing more Californians in poverty or hitting the 10 freeway for Texas.  The chaos UCLA is talking about is the special interest cronyism seen in the Capitol by the Super Majority Democrats.

“Jerry Nickelsburg, director of the UCLA Anderson Forecast, wrote in his California forecast that the construction industry could be negatively impacted by rising interest rates, while health care and hospitality could suffer from changes in the Affordable Care Act and a drop in international tourism.

“Though the national data does not suggest a significant downturn in economic growth over the next 12 months, these patterns do not give us much in the way of historical evidence for continued robust employment growth,” Nickelsburg wrote. “Indeed, to continue the very rapid growth in employment requires immigration.”

Of course when you say we need “rapid growth in immigration” for employment needs ignores the facts that Disneyland, Facebook, Google and many other California companies FIRE Americans and then hire foreigners with HB-2A visa’s—to lower payroll costs.  We have plenty of Americans wanting jobs and the crony capitalists prefer to hire outside the country and cry when the President promotes American workers over foreigners.

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Political ‘Chaos’ Could Hamper CA Job Growth: UCLA Study

Construction, hospitality and health-care to suffer with rising interest rates, Obamacare repeal and drop in tourism, immigration: report.

By SoCal Patch (Patch Staff), 9/27/17

 

LOS ANGELES – California has seen continued job growth in a variety of sectors over the past year, particularly in the construction, hospitality and health-care sectors, but changes on the national political front could soon alter that pattern, according to a UCLA economic forecast released Wednesday.

Jerry Nickelsburg, director of the UCLA Anderson Forecast, wrote in his California forecast that the construction industry could be negatively impacted by rising interest rates, while health care and hospitality could suffer from changes in the Affordable Care Act and a drop in international tourism.

“Though the national data does not suggest a significant downturn in economic growth over the next 12 months, these patterns do not give us much in the way of historical evidence for continued robust employment growth,” Nickelsburg wrote. “Indeed, to continue the very rapid growth in employment requires immigration.”

“With (President Donald) Trump’s policies decidedly reducing immigration, net domestic migration to California would be required,” he wrote.

Hampering that possibility, however, is the state’s continued high cost of housing.

“It is well known that the high price of housing excludes many people who would otherwise move to California,” Nickelsburg wrote. At least part of the reason why California housing from Bakersfield and Fresno to San Francisco and San Diego is uniformly higher than elsewhere in the U.S. is the premium, attributable to the amenities that Californians enjoy.

“The premium has been going up much faster than home prices in the rest of the country of late and that is the `housing affordability crisis’ that the state Legislature and city councils around the state have been grappling with these past few years.”

Nickelsburg said that legislative efforts will “moderate” the increase in housing costs but won’t do much “to alleviate the high cost of living.”

“In other words, expect relatively slow growth in California, just slightly above the U.S. through the next few years with a tilt, a slight tilt, towards more new home construction,” he wrote.

Nickelsburg predicted employment growth of 1.1 percent, 0.9 percent and 0.9 percent over the next three years, with the unemployment rate expected to reach 4.5 percent by 2019.

On the national front, UCLA Anderson Forecast Senior Economist David Shulman wrote in his forecast that the economic optimism that rose thanks to Trump’s plans for tax cuts and infrastructure investment has largely fizzled because of a lack of movement on those initiatives in Washington, D.C.

“Nevertheless, notwithstanding the chaos in Washington, D.C., the economy continues to plow ahead with modest growth in real GDP and rather strong gains in employment,” Shulman wrote. “The employment gain has been even more impressive because it is occurring against a backdrop of a year-over- year decline in retail employment caused by the ongoing restructuring of that industry as online competition takes its toll.”

Shulman predicted growth in gross domestic product of 2.1 percent, 2.8 percent and 2.1 percent over the next three years.

Unemployment will remain at or below 4.4 percent over that same time period, he wrote.

 

Debt race: Sacramento police get pay raises as state’s retirement fund is projected to reach an unprecedented deficit

When your city raises pay for its employees, there is also an increase in the benefits and payments to Social Security, Medicare, workers Comp, health care and CalPERS.  In fact, the city of Oroville had to cut the pay of cops 10%, because of CalPERS.  My hometown of Simi Valley was forced to give the police a ZERO percent raise for the next four years, in order to pay for CalPERS.  Sacramento joins the list of cities in trouble with public safety due to CalPERS.

“Specifically, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, which government workers depend on, has a staggering shortfall in its ability to make future payments. Meanwhile, Sacramento’s $363 million portion of that unfunded liability could be rising, depending on what happens in upcoming contract negotiations.

The twinned fortunes of the state retirement system and local governments became painfully clear during the recession. In the years since, cities and counties have struggled to scale back the overly generous pension obligations they made during the boom times.

Is it possible we need to add CalPERS to the list of physical dangers to Californians, along with gangs, thugs and terrorists?  I do.

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Debt race: Sacramento police get pay raises as state’s retirement fund is projected to reach an unprecedented deficit

Experts warn California’s unfunded pension liabilities are higher than CalPERS is admitting
By Scott Thomas Anderson, News Review,  9/28/17

A week after Sacramento leaders tried to fix morale issues in their police department by boosting pay and compensation, economists gathered at Stanford University to discuss a darkening cloud over California’s long term pensions.

Specifically, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, which government workers depend on, has a staggering shortfall in its ability to make future payments. Meanwhile, Sacramento’s $363 million portion of that unfunded liability could be rising, depending on what happens in upcoming contract negotiations.

The twinned fortunes of the state retirement system and local governments became painfully clear during the recession. In the years since, cities and counties have struggled to scale back the overly generous pension obligations they made during the boom times.

According to Sacramento Police Officers Association President Timothy Davis, before the new police contract was enacted September 11, city officers earned 22 percent less pay than their counterparts at surrounding agencies. Davis said the $8.4 million increase to the contract brings Sacramento officers to just 3 percent under the regional average. Compensation is one of several factors officials have cited to explain an exodus of men and women wearing the badge.

According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program, the Sacramento Police Department had 652 officers on the payroll in 2016, six more officers than the previous year. That’s still down roughly 60 officers since before the recession.

“This is the first contract the city and SPOA have collaboratively negotiated together since 2005,” Davis said publicly. “It took trust and a leap of faith for both sides.”

Prior to voting, Mayor Darrell Steinberg praised “a balanced and fair contract” he said did right by the officers. He also called the two-year, $20 million contract “fiscally smart for the city.”

Steinberg didn’t mention pension liabilities, which will go up $5 million this year. But the specter of them was the main topic that elected officials from around the state were talking about days later at Stanford’s Institute for Economic Policy Research, or SIEPR. Four prominent economists agreed that CalPERS’ self-reported $150 billion unfunded liability is actually far higher, especially when calculated with more realistic assumptions.

“We put the number, on a market basis, at about a trillion dollars for California,” said Stanford professor Joe Nation, a SIEPR researcher. “And I’m not counting retiree health obligations. … You add that in, the number grows even more.”

Another key speaker was former San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, who led a battle to overhaul that city’s pension system in 2012.

Reed described the saga as an exhaustive process that resulted in a ballot measure approved by San Jose voters. The measure called for smaller pensions and higher retirement ages. Reed said San Jose leadership felt the need to take action because of what economists call “pension crowd-out,” meaning a local government has to spend more and more of its annual budget on pension contributions, while it spends less on providing services in real time.

“We had 10 years of cutting services, every year, to balance the budget,” Reed recalled. “We’d reached the end of the line in cuts. You know when you’re laying off cops and firefighters you’re pretty much out of things you can do.”

But San Jose’s pension reform came with a cost, according to current Councilwoman Dev Davis, who told the conference a large number of police officers quit when the measure passed.

“The measure was necessary to reign in costs,” Davis said, “but there were unintended consequences. … Workers wanted to go where the benefits were better, regardless of whether or not they were sustainable.”

San Jose has been on a campaign to hire cops ever since.

Retaining police officers was a main motivator behind Sacramento City Council’s agreeing to the new contract, at least four council members told SN&R in the months leading up to the vote.

Finance Director Leyne Milstein said the question of whether the contract will impact the city’s pension shortfall will be clearer once negotiations end with four other employee unions. The city’s budget has a built-in assumption of 3 percent salary growth. If the police and other contracts add up to more than 3 percent, it will push the pension liability in the wrong direction. A new Fire Department contract next year will also be a factor.

CalPERS officials informed the City Council in June it can expect a three-tiered rate hike over the next eight years.

“With or without the salary change, pension costs are skyrocketing and it’s unsustainable,” Milstein told SN&R.

Councilman Steve Hansen acknowledged the city is going to have to make incremental adjustments in its future budgets to keep up with the growing contribution demands from CalPERS. Whether or not that crowds out services, Hansen said, will depend on how CalPERS’ investments fare. So far, Hansen’s not impressed.

“The returns on their investments have been embarrassingly small,” Hansen stressed. “It’s seems like they’re horribly off the mark on managing the retirement funds. If they don’t start to get better returns, it’s going to be calamitous.”

 

Next CalPERS victim: Oroville—10-% pay cut for cops

Oroville is facing bankruptcy, cut back in basic services, tax increases—all to finance the collapsing CalPERS—and it will not, and never, be enough.  How much longer will the cops stay working for the people of Oroville?  Not much longer.  He is why.

“The city cut down its $1 million deficit to achieve a balanced budget this year but is not exactly thriving financially, operating with low staffing levels and recently negotiating a 10 percent pay cut for police, with more negotiations to come.

“It’s crazy to even try to think about doing more,” Wright said. “We’re already providing such minimal services to the community.”

Wright projects the city will plummet into debt again when reserves run out in about four years, with added CalPERS expenses mostly to blame. It is expected Oroville will have to pay over $5.6 million in increases by 2023.”

Oroville is the next victim of CalPERS.  Is your City on the list?

Calpers headquarters is seen in Sacramento, California, October 21, 2009. REUTERS/Max Whittaker

CalPERS rising costs could cause Oroville – and cities like it – to go bankrupt

By Risa Johnson, Orovillemrc,   9/27/17

The city’s finance director Ruth Wright told the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) finance and administration committee last week that the word “bankruptcy” was being thrown around, though not at council meetings.

CalPERS manages pensions and benefits for employees of Oroville and thousands of other local and state entities as the nation’s largest public pension fund. With lower than expected return rates, the pension fund has been asking state and local governments to make higher contributions.

The city cut down its $1 million deficit to achieve a balanced budget this year but is not exactly thriving financially, operating with low staffing levels and recently negotiating a 10 percent pay cut for police, with more negotiations to come.

“It’s crazy to even try to think about doing more,” Wright said. “We’re already providing such minimal services to the community.”

Wright projects the city will plummet into debt again when reserves run out in about four years, with added CalPERS expenses mostly to blame. It is expected Oroville will have to pay over $5.6 million in increases by 2023.

“All cities and counties cannot keep up with the increases,” she said. “I think it’s up to them (CalPERS). They need to do something. They need to do a better job investing.” The organization announced in December that discount rates would drop from 7.5 to 7 percent over the next three years in an effort to make the fund more stable, but with impacts to state and local governments.

“CalPERS has a few levers to pull in dealing with pensions, having to do with discount rates,” said Wayne Davis, head of public affairs for the pension fund. “We’re very much aware of what lowering the discount rate means.”

Oroville’s finance director said the number of city representatives coming to confront CalPERS has been growing. At the meeting last week, officials from cities such as Chico, Santa Rosa, Laguna Hills, Lodi, West Sacramento, Vallejo, Yuba City, Hayward, Manteca and Concord were there. A legislative representative for the League of California Cities also participated.

“Everyone is referring to it as a ‘PERS crisis,’” she said. “We’re all banning together to urge CalPERS to offer relief.”

Wright said most of the CalPERS representatives she has spoken with seem “out of touch” with the issues cities like Oroville are facing. She is planning to meet with them once a month for the foreseeable future.

“They said ‘tighten your belts’,” she said. “To think we just need to tighten our belts … How do you look me in the eye and tell me to get back to the bargaining table? It’s very clear CalPERS does not understand the burden they are putting on cities.”

Dane Hutchings, League of California Cities representative, said Oroville’s situation is more the rule than the exception, with regard to CalPERS.

“Other cities are operating (in) functional insolvency, meaning they are bankrupt — they just don’t know it yet,” Hutchings said. “Our goal is to educate our membership. Many cities don’t understand their liability.”

Scott Dowell, Chico’s administrative services director, said the CEO of CalPERS suggested city representatives come to the board meetings and share their concerns and ideas during the public comment section, so he started attending in August.

Dowell was hoping CalPERS representatives would look into two ideas that would help lessen the blow for cities but those were shot down.

Dowell was hoping the pension fund representatives would do some research on the possibility of freezing cost-of-living adjustments, meaning retirees would receive a flat rate every year. They would no longer receive additional money — currently up to 2 percent of their annual salaries — to account for changing inflation.

The other concept was switching all employees onto the same kind of pension plan as employees who started after Jan. 1, 2013. The Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act went into effect then, offering fewer benefits to new employees. That could mean the difference between retiring at 55 and 62, Dowell said.

He doesn’t think Chico will need to file for bankruptcy, but the city’s obligation to pay $11 million to CalPERS this year, increasing to $18 million in the next five years, is daunting, he said.

“I’m sitting here as a finance person knowing we can’t increase revenues that rapidly so we have to decrease services or cut staff,” Dowell said. “Like Oroville, it’s hard to cut back when you’ve already cut so much.”

He thinks trying to work with CalPERS is the best approach.

“I was really happy because we had the city of Chico, Oroville, Chico’s Parks and Recreation District and Yuba City, so we had some entities from the north state,” he said. “We’re trying to — from a local standpoint — work together for solutions. We want to see changes happen now.”

It’s next to impossible for cities like Oroville to switch to another pension fund. Hypothetically, the city could get out of its contract — but it would have to pay a termination fee of $73.6 million.

If that fee went unpaid, current and former employees would take the burden in pension reductions, like it happened in the small town of Loyalton in Sierra County. Oroville employees would see about a 28 percent reduction in benefits, Wright said.

CalPERS could also slash benefits for retirees and employees if the city filed for bankruptcy. Wright said she wasn’t sure exactly what pension reductions would look like in that case.

 

CSU-Long Beach seeking prof to teach ‘Trans Studies’

Would you hire an employee with a degree in “Trans Studies”—whatever that is?  What qualifications in the real world do you have with classes in these subjects?  Is this the best way to spend limited tax dollars and high tuition fees to finance a propaganda class?

“California State University, Long Beach is looking for a new professor to teach classes on “transgender studies” and “gender variant theories.”

The successful applicant for the new “Assistant Professor of Trans Studies” position will be required to teach numerous courses on transgenderism in the Women’s Studies Department, including classes on “Queering Gender,” “Introduction to Queer Studies,” and “Feminist Theory.”

Feminist transnationalism “critiques Western mainstream feminism.”

Why does Janet Napolitano and Jerry Brown allow the teaching of a course based on hate and division.  This would be better taught by Antifa than a government school.  Another example of why you should never vote for more money for government schools—at any levels.

Claremont College

CSU-Long Beach seeking prof to teach ‘Trans Studies’

Toni Airaksinen, Campus Reform,  9/26/17

  California State University, Long Beach is looking for a new professor to teach classes on “transgender studies” and “gender variant theories.”

  The new hire will be asked to develop courses on topics such as “transgender studies, feminist transnationalism, trans feminism, gender variant theories, and transmigration.”

California State University, Long Beach is looking for a new professor to teach classes on “transgender studies” and “gender variant theories.”

The successful applicant for the new “Assistant Professor of Trans Studies” position will be required to teach numerous courses on transgenderism in the Women’s Studies Department, including classes on “Queering Gender,” “Introduction to Queer Studies,” and “Feminist Theory.”

Feminist transnationalism “critiques Western mainstream feminism.”

Additionally, the new hire will be asked to develop courses in their field of expertise, which the college hopes will be related to “transgender studies, feminist transnationalism, trans feminism, gender variant theories, and transmigration.”

Gender variance, for example, refers to transgender or gender-nonconforming people, with the American Psychological Association (APA) noting that transgender “is an umbrella term for people whose gender identity or gender expression does not conform to that typically associated with the sex to which they were assigned at birth.”

Feminist transnationalism, on the other hand, is a theory that “critiques Western mainstream feminism for using itself as a referent for communities of color, and calls for a decentering from hegemonic Western discourse,” according to Canadian academic Sarat Colling, who adds that “anti-globalism and anti-capitalism” are “key” components of said theory.

In addition to teaching classes on such topics, the new Trans Studies professor will be asked to mentor students, publish research, and serve on various academic committees.

Notably, the Women’s Studies Department offers a variety of other feminist courses, including one on “the social construction of masculinity;” another titled “Lesbian Histories and Cultures;” and a class on “Queering Gender,” which is focused on the “intervention that queer theory seeks to make into heteronormative culture.”

Campus Reform reached out to the university for comment, but did not receive a response in time for publication.

Oakland Middle School Teacher/Antifa Leader Arrested in “Scuffle”

Do you send your children to government schools?  Do you know who is teaching them and what they do in their spare time?  Oakland has a middle school teacher that promotes riots, violence, bigotry and hatred.  She has been arrested a few times and considers it is badge of honor to have a mug shot.  Think this is good for your kids?

“Prominent anti-fascist leader Yvonne Felarca was arrested Tuesday following a rowdy Antifa “Victory March” in Berkeley, California.

Felarca, a 47-year-old middle school teacher who leads the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration & Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality by Any Means Necessary (BAMN), was arrested following a scuffle with demonstrators who had turned out for a Patriot Prayer rally.

She consider PRAYER a fascist action.  She might invade your church or temple with her thugs and terrorists to stop you from praying—at least she has a job—teaching your children.  Feel good about that?

Occupy Oakland street scene, photo courtesy Heart of Oak, Flickr.

Antifa leader arrested after scuffle in Berkeley

 

Nikita Vladimirov, Campus Reform,  9/28/17

 

  • Prominent anti-fascist leader Yvonne Felarca was arrested Tuesday following a rowdy Antifa “Victory March” in Berkeley, California.
  • Images and video obtained by Campus Reform appear to show Felarca being surrounded by numerous police officers in riot gear in the middle of the street.

Antifa leader Yvette Felarca being arrested in Berkeley on September 26.

Prominent anti-fascist leader Yvonne Felarca was arrested Tuesday following a rowdy Antifa “Victory March” in Berkeley, California.

Felarca, a 47-year-old middle school teacher who leads the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration & Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality by Any Means Necessary (BAMN), was arrested following a scuffle with demonstrators who had turned out for a Patriot Prayer rally.

Images and video obtained by Campus Reform appear to show Felarca being surrounded by numerous police officers in riot gear in the middle of the street. According to an eyewitness on the ground, the activist was then taken to the back of a police car that promptly left the scene.

Felarca, an organizer of many anti-fascist demonstrations in Berkeley, has a history of publically advocating for violence against her political opponents.

Earlier in the summer, Felarca was arrested and charged with inciting a riot after she openly punched a member of a white nationalist organization who was peacefully protesting in the street.

According to numerous reports, the video of the incident showed Felarca punching the man in the stomach while shouting “get the fuck off our streets.”

The political organizer has also frequently clashed with the Republican students at Berkeley, accusing them, without evidence, of “stalking women” and targeting minorities.

UPDATE, 7:45 p.m. Eastern: Berkeley Police has released Felarca’s mugshot via Twitter, confirming that she was arrested for “battery and resisting arrest.”

 

 

 

City of L.A. to Cut Investment Projections—Add $175 Million to $10 billion Unfunded Liability

The bad news is that the City of Los Angeles has a $10 billion unfunded pension system.  The worse news is that due to its management, that goes up by at least $175 million this year—could be worse.

“Expected yearly earnings were cut from 7.5% to 7.25% following a unanimous vote by the City Employees’ Retirement System board. That will shift $38 million in retirement costs to the general fund budget.

It couldn’t come at a worse time. Earlier this year, the Los Angeles Fire and Police Pensions board, cut its assumed annual rate of return from 7.5% to 7.25%. Together, these two decisions will add $170 million in retirement costs to next year’s budget, analysts say.

How many cops will not be replaced when they retire?  How many library hours will be cut back?  How many more potholes not filled?  These are just some of the results of the pension crisis for Los Angeles—and your city?

Photo courtesy of Eric Garcetti, Flickr.

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L.A. Pension Board Cuts Investment Projections

California City News, 09/28/2017

The board that oversees pension benefits for thousands of workers in the City of Los Angeles reduced its projected rate of return Tuesday in a move that will further strain the city’s general budget.

Expected yearly earnings were cut from 7.5% to 7.25% following a unanimous vote by the City Employees’ Retirement System board. That will shift $38 million in retirement costs to the general fund budget.

It couldn’t come at a worse time. Earlier this year, the Los Angeles Fire and Police Pensions board, cut its assumed annual rate of return from 7.5% to 7.25%. Together, these two decisions will add $170 million in retirement costs to next year’s budget, analysts say.

What will it all mean for Los Angeles? Read the full story at the L.A. Times.

 

Workforce Development: Why California Should Become The Next Colorado

Colorado has it right, and us Californians could make the same commitment in short order.

As we approach a statewide job shortage figure of 1 million by 2030, labor agencies, public education institutions and private enterprises must band together to remedy this impending economic crisis. Without a highly trained, technical and employment-ready workforce, our ability to produce the goods and services of tomorrow will not keep up with other areas of the country, let alone the world. No one entity can solve this. Collaboration by all stakeholders will solve this looming problem.

And it starts in the factories and offices with high school students.

Look no further than The Centennial State to see how this is done. As one of the fastest growing economies in the country, demand for skilled labor soared, but supply remained insufficient to meet it. Businesses, with the help of state workforce development agencies, began to create apprenticeship programs that offer high school students the ability to acquire relevant, job training that counted toward not just their high school diploma, but also advanced college credits. In turn, the participants received valuable skills that translated into greater education opportunities as well as a path toward well-paying careers, all while lowering the cost of college and bolstering the Middle Class.

What’s more, a myriad of Colorado-based industries, not just manufacturing, benefited from these types of programs. California can most certainly do the same. Achieving optimum results, though, will require that apprenticeship programs include the following elements:

Industry-Driven Objectives

The kind of apprenticeships will depend not just on the current needs of industries within The Golden State, but future ones. State agencies should solicit the help of companies that reside within our border, but also others that its economic development task forces are wanting to attract. These organizations are wonderful targets for developing partnerships that will bring in new jobs as well as fill critical openings.

Businesses clamor to collaborate with government and educational institutions in workforce development initiatives. Today’s global economic environment means funding a well-trained labor pool on their own would hamper their ability to compete around the world, let alone here at home. State agencies that reach out to companies will obtain a very willing partner.

Financial Aid Incentives For Students

The amount of debt a student typically holds from their traditional four-year degree puts many of them at a distinct disadvantage. Apprenticeship programs that integrate high school students on job sites can be the catalyst to reducing the cost of education statewide. Incorporating trade level certification programs that tie into high school graduation requirements and, better yet, advanced college credits, will mean fewer days in the classroom for students and less overhead for campuses. Many businesses will also gladly offer these rising stars tuition assistance and other financial incentives to further their education.

From the students’ perspective, apprenticeship programs like these will put them on a faster route toward good paying, rewarding careers. They will also infuse more of their income into the economy that would have otherwise gone towards paying off their incredibly burdensome school debt.

Provide Options For Those With Certifications

Be clear to students that participating in apprenticeship initiatives doesn’t mean they’re tied to the companies after completing the program. The desire to continue employment should remain up to the businesses and the individual. Undoubtedly, some attrition will occur, but for the most part, it will stem from the students’ desire to take their newly acquired skills a different direction.

The economic benefit for the state and companies will remain, though. The individuals that complete the apprentice program, but find other opportunities, will be lucrative economic engines on their own. Those students that continue with the company will be valued assets who have completely bought into the business.

Apprenticeship programs will rise to prominence as the labor shortage in California continues to grow. The question then becomes how to make them successful. Looking at Colorado’s success is a good start.

Margo Turner is the Founder and CEO of Powerminds, a tribe of strategic and creative minds invested in transforming education, workforce and economic development that spans every discipline and every kind of partner. She can be reached at margo@power-minds.com.