Secretary Zinke: Leave California’s National Monuments Alone

National monumentDuring his two terms in office, President Barack Obama designated or expanded more national monuments than any previous president, including several in California. One of the more unheralded aspects of his legacy is the millions of acres of protected public lands he left behind.

Shortly after taking office, President Donald Trump directed Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to review all national monument designations going back to 1996, including those made not only by Obama, but also Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

Late last month, Secretary Zinke delivered his recommendations to the White House. Unfortunately, this report has not been made public; only parts have leaked out. As the supporters and fans of dozens of monuments across America wait for potentially bad news, it is time that we Californians call on Secretary Zinke and President Trump to leave the Golden State’s monuments alone. There are several reasons for this.

First, under the Antiquities Act of 1906, originally signed by President Teddy Roosevelt, a Republican, national monument designation is a “one-way street.” Presidents may unilaterally designate or enlarge a monument, but only Congress has the authority to rescind that decision. Secretary Zinke, facing near-certain lengthy and expensive litigation should follow the tenets and spirit of the law.

Next, hundreds of thousands of Americans and visitors from all over the world visit California’s vast and incredible open spaces every year. As an avid outdoorsman, I take seriously the responsibility we have to protect the treasures nature has bestowed upon us, and ensure they’re conserved for future generations. I, like many other Californians, regularly enjoy the unique beauty of our public lands – I hope Secretary Zinke will take the opportunity to come visit and see for himself.

Lastly, the process the administration has employed has lacked the transparency and collaborative nature our national monuments deserves. During the Trump Administration’s four-month review period, more than 2.8 million Americans weighed in with public comment. Of all the public comments received nationally during the review, 99-percent of comments were in favor of keeping national monuments protected.

In the two-page summary of Zinke’s report – which is all that has been so far made public – he claimed that the supportive public comments merely reflected a “well-organized national campaign.” In truth, the depth and breadth of the wide array of Americans who spoke out to support national monuments from coast to coast is a powerful demonstration of real, popular support for national monuments.

There are countless stakeholders – from hunters and environmentalists to native tribes and local residents who deserved to have their voices and views heard in a fully, open and public forum.

The Interior Department and Secretary Zinke chose not to provide this outlet or public discussion and that is disappointing.

As a former political appointee in the administration of President George W. Bush, I fully understand the pressures at work around this issue (in fact, two of the national monuments created by President Bush fell under the Trump Administration’s review). Secretary Zinke, too, is a westerner, from Montana, and understands the precious nature of America’s monuments. I hope that he will overlook partisan political considerations and do what is right: Leave California’s monuments as they are: a precious asset to be enjoyed today and for many years to come.

Tim Isgitt is a Managing Director at Humanity United, overseeing the Strategic Communications portfolio. He served in the State Department in the Administration of George W. Bush.

A Word to CA Political Philanthropists: Watch What Politicians Do not What They Say

I do not care what words you use, I only care about your actions.  In the case of politicians it is their votes that count, not their weasel words.  How many times have you heard a State legislator tell you they are “Pro-Life” but vote for money for Planned Parenthood?  They claim they are personally pro-life.  Who cares?  They are financing abortions.  Actions count.

“A politician cannot both be an innovator and be hostage to innovation opponents.

That’s an example of Political Dissonance, which is the chasm between political rhetoric and political action. Another example is that of politicians who claim they’re working to improve access for California’s 14 million Medicaid beneficiaries but block legislation that would boost the availability of health care providers.

Political Dissonance is another reason why political philanthropists should focus less on what candidates say and more on what they do. That would also align philanthropists’ political and non-political spending behaviors.

We have two types of candidates and elected officials—those that are running to win and those that are running for a principle.  Chad Mayes is an example of running to win. Jim Patterson is an example of someone running for principle.  Which would you choose?

Chad Mayes2

ASSEMBLYMAN CHAD MAYES

A Word to CA Political Philanthropists: Watch What Politicians Do not What They Say

David Crane, City Watch LA,  9/25/17

-Imagine the following: A candidate for elected office in California says to donors and voters that, if elected, he will innovate state services so they are as consumer-friendly and digitally-available as, say, Apple’s services. But the candidate also seeks the political support of government employees (e.g. school district and DMV employees) for whom such innovation would likely mean fewer jobs and stricter performance measures. Given that government employees are the largest contributors to political campaigns in California, what do? The answer is NOT innovate.

A politician cannot both be an innovator and be hostage to innovation opponents.

That’s an example of Political Dissonance, which is the chasm between political rhetoric and political action. Another example is that of politicians who claim they’re working to improve access for California’s 14 million Medicaid beneficiaries but block legislation that would boost the availability of health care providers.

Political Dissonance is another reason why political philanthropists should focus less on what candidates say and more on what they do. That would also align philanthropists’ political and non-political spending behaviors.

When purchasing a stock, car, computer or building or selecting an airline, lawyer, accountant or money manager, most people don’t base decisions significantly on what salespeople say. Instead they investigate past performance, predict future performance, and seek references. But not political donations, which are all-too-often made based upon what a candidate says. That doesn’t make sense. If donors measured how rarely rhetoric matches action they would be stunned.

Political donors should base their decisions on more than words spoken by salespeople.

Candidates have to sell themselves to donors and voters. That’s a good thing. But donors should base decisions on more than words spoken by salespeople. Elected officials in California have enormous power, especially over non-rich people who  —  unlike most political philanthropists — have no choice but to send their kids to public schools, ride public transportation, utilize public health services, patronize public parks and attend public colleges and universities and whose jobs and wages are sensitive to state rules and regulations. As a result, political philanthropists have a duty to their fellow citizens to look beyond sales pitches to make informed political donations. 

Sure, listen to what candidates have to say…but also study what they’ve done and compare their rhetoric with their actions.

 

(David Crane is a Lecturer at Stanford University and president of Govern For California. This appeared on Medium.com.)  

Eber: Free Speech Dying at UC Berkley

It cost the taxpayers $600,000 to allow Ben Shapiro to speak at Cal Berkeley.  For fifteen minutes on campus by Milo, you paid $800,000 to protect him.  Earlier in the year millions were spent on the riots caused by Progressives, Antifa and Black Lives Matter when they rioted, burned cars and building to stop Milo and others from speaking on campus.  To my knowledge not a single student was suspended or expelled—and the rioters, mostly were allowed to burn and loot, with the cops looking on.

“While these dissident groups have every right to have their views be heard, is it fair that even mainstream conservatives are silenced on UC because of the appearance of Milo, who arguably is the conservative version of Anthony Weiner.  If this is an example of free speech, buy me a plane ticket to Moscow!

Even more troubling than adherence to the 1st Amendment at UC or any college campus in California, is the concern that these institutions of higher learning do not employ professors who are not progressive ideologues.  Liberal Arts are overrun by these people. The time might come when being a strict constructionist or a Republican might be construed to being a hate crime on campus.”

The Free Speech movement was started by Mario Savio at Cal in 1964.  It dies at Cal in 2017 by Antifa and the UC Chancellor that allowed it—Janet Napolitano.  RIP Free Speech.

Sather Gate, UC Berkeley

 

Free Speech Dying at UC Berkley by Richard Eber

Richard Eber, California Political News and Views  9/29/17

As recent events have shown, there is apparently a price set for the value of “Free Speech” on the campus of The University of California at Berkeley.  The place which gave us Mario Savio and the Free Speech Movement over 50 years ago has changed their perspective on standing up for the First Amendment of the Constitution.

After issuing a press release where they said $ 800,000 was spent providing police protection for conservative outcast Milo Yiannopoulos, the chancellor basically said UC had done their part.  Free Speech Week at the school was canceled for 2017.  UC changed the ground rules for the Bill of Rights from principle to an economic equation.

Outside of the students who were denied the opportunity to listen to anyone  who might be a diehard  progressive, the school unwittingly became a co-dependent for AntiFa, Critical Resistance,  Arab Resources and Organizing Committee, (AROC) The National Lawyers Guild, Black Lives Matter, The Occupy Movement,, and other left wing groups supporting radical social change in American society

While these dissident groups have every right to have their views be heard, is it fair that even mainstream conservatives are silenced on UC because of the appearance of Milo, who arguably is the conservative version of Anthony Weiner.  If this is an example of free speech, buy me a plane ticket to Moscow!

Even more troubling than adherence to the 1st Amendment at UC or any college campus in California, is the concern that these institutions of higher learning do not employ professors who are not progressive ideologues.  Liberal Arts are overrun by these people. The time might come when being a strict constructionist or a Republican might be construed to being a hate crime on campus.

The controversy of free speech at UC and throughout the rest of the Country has erupted into Middle America with the controversy of professional athletes allegedly disrespecting the flag in the name of protecting victims of social injustice. Started with his refusal kneel last year when the National Anthem was played, Colin Kaepernick started a social movement which has taken the country by storm.

In doing a match-up of the former 49er and Breitbart editor, it is difficult not to detest both of them. Colin in my mind is a dumb jock who is over his pay grade making social commentary. Putting the words “Cops are pigs” on his shoes reaches the bottom of the barrel with me. Calling this statement a leap of faith, even with a first amendment advocate such as myself, is a stretch.

Milo is another case.  He has a much better grasp of the English language that the ex 49er quarterback who was virtually illiterate when it came to reading opposing defenses.  Judging from Milo’s stick that mixes homosexual activities with young boys with conservative political commentary, such a formula is adherent in every way.  He is high on my list of “deplorable” I wish he would disappear; but this is not my call.

Police protection for this demagogue is marginal regardless of his past connection with Breitbart. Next time that Milo puts on his act in front of a hostile audience, I wouldn’t be sad were there to be an outbreak of “Blue Flu” that day.

White Supremists vs. AntiFa: This is a tough one. Normally, at least in Cowboys and Indians lore, those wearing white are the good guys while those attired in black are stereotyped to be derelicts and criminals.  Making this distinction is an impossible task when the KKK and AntiFa are involved.

When those dressed in white beds sheets while being accompanied by burning crosses march, they spread a message of racism, hatred, and cowardice, without revealing their true identities.  AntiFa, minus burning crosses also shops at the “Bigots Outlet Store”  dressed in their black face hugging masks to shield themselves from law enforcement  when looting businesses, throwing rocks at police, or beating up other demonstrators,

Trying to determine which of these two groups is worse than the other is a daunting task. If ever there was a case of Cheech and Chong’s door #3, this would be it except “take the reds” is not a viable answer. A better choice would be to select Longshoreman philosopher Eric Hoffer’s theory that when comparing the extreme left and right, there is little difference between the two.

Donald Trump vs. NFL Owners This is a tough match-up because most of the time these guys including NFL Commissioner Roger Goddell and Donald Trump are on the same team.  They all specialize in extracting tax benefits and infrastructure improvements from local governments when building stadiums and commercial developments. They are for the most part the same person except in this case when their business interests differ.

Uncharacteristically, those who own football teams are now on the side of players who decide to, kneel, join hands or denigrate the American Flag prior to football games. Curiously enough, these same players are fined if they wear their socks too high, celebrate too much after scoring a touchdown or refuse to answer a reporter’s questions following a game.  Go figure?

At the same time Donald Trump, in his current status as President of the United States, steadfastly defends the red, white, and blue; at least till his term in office is concluded.

How can this be?  As always “it’s the money stupid.” Owners can’t afford a player’s strike or further acts of civil disobedience as it would threaten their brand name.  By not disciplining Colin Kaepernick’s failure to respect the flag last year, the mistake opened Pandora’s Box, this season.  So for now, NFL Owners have to pretend they are protecting the oppressed and needy from their thrones at the County Club.

As the battle continues to see how the first amendment is to be treated by future generations, this is a war in its infancy.  At the end of the day it really doesn’t matter whether a creepy character such as Milo is heard from or whether professional athletes will want to be social commentators prior to the start of games.

What is more important is that identity politics on both the left and right not give the opportunity for those who dissent the opportunity to be heard without law enforcement needed to act as referees.

As old fashioned  as it might seem, it  is not be a bad idea to revisit the days of the Free Speech Movement  days when idealistic young people occupied  Sproul Hall in Berkeley to have their voices heard in a world where many people believed that “Nixon’s the One”

Those involved over 50 years ago were not trying to drown out their opponents like so called Anti-Fascists are attempting to do today. They just wanted to be heard without being shouted down as advisories. This contrasts with the new generation of left wing radicals who now refer to those who disagree with them as being disciples of Adolf Hitler.

How sad with all of this transpiring prior to kick-off.

 

San Fran Unified Scams Voters on Bonds

The people of San Fran voted for bonds to fix schools, buy equipment and to create better learning environments.  Instead the scam artists that run the government schools used the money for “The San Francisco Board of Education voted unanimously Tuesday night in favor of a plan to achieve carbon neutrality — the phasing out of fossil fuel use entirely — by 2040. Board officials say the San Francisco Unified School District now has in place the nation’s most aggressive carbon reduction goal of its kind.

“The old mantra of sustainability is, ‘How can we be more efficient? How can we be slightly better?’ ” says Nik Kaestner, the district’s sustainability director. “The new mantra is, ‘How can we get to zero? How can we do it in a way that, in the end, we won’t have anything else to improve upon?”

Too bad well educated professionals are taken in by the Al Gore scam of junk science.  Now the kids will have less money for education, the schools will crumble—but they will be energy efficient using high priced alternative energy while short changing the education of the students.  Guess it makes them feel good to waste money on junk science.

SantaMoney

San Francisco Schools Aim for a Zero Carbon Footprint by 2040

By Dana Cronin, KQED, 9/27/17

The San Francisco Board of Education voted unanimously Tuesday night in favor of a plan to achieve carbon neutrality — the phasing out of fossil fuel use entirely — by 2040. Board officials say the San Francisco Unified School District now has in place the nation’s most aggressive carbon reduction goal of its kind.

“The old mantra of sustainability is, ‘How can we be more efficient? How can we be slightly better?’ ” says Nik Kaestner, the district’s sustainability director. “The new mantra is, ‘How can we get to zero? How can we do it in a way that, in the end, we won’t have anything else to improve upon?”

‘One of the things that we always tell our students in our schools is: Lead by example.’Matt Haney, S.F. Board of Education

The plan aims to reduce fossil fuel use in two major areas: school buildings and the district’s fleet. Schools will be designed or retrofitted to generate enough energy to cover demand, and to collect enough rainwater to meet half of water demand. SFUSD aims to reduce its natural gas use by half by 2030 and stop burning natural gas entirely by 2040. All district-owned vehicles are scheduled to be emission-free by 2030, and buses will switch to renewable diesel over the next three years.

SFUSD claims it has already cut its energy use by 22 percent and its water use by 29 percent.

“One of the things that we always tell our students in our schools is, ‘Lead by example,’ ” the resolution’s co-author, Matt Haney, told a Tuesday gathering at John Yehall Chin Elementary School, a World War I-era building that has been extensively retrofitted for energy efficiency. “That is something that we’re trying to do here today with this policy.”

District officials say the money will come from already existing school bonds.

 

More LAUSD seniors are on track to graduate–43% With “D” Average!

Great news—most LAUSD students are on track to “graduate”.  What does that mean?  “The percentage of students over time who have a D or better has gone from 29 percent in 2005 to 81 percent with the class of 2017.

For C grades or better, the percentage has risen from 18 percent to 57 percent over the same dozen years.”

That means 43% of those that graduate in June had a “D” average.  That means they are graduating functional illiterates—but proud of it. When will the parents and taxpayer revolt against this massively failed government education system? D averages and proud.  Professional educators in LAUSD should make education safe and successful for students—they can do that by finding other work, like filling taco shells.  Can’t hurt too many that way.

graduation cap diploma isolated on a white background

More LAUSD seniors are on track to graduate

Mike Szymanski, Los Angeles School Report,  9/27/17

More high school seniors are on track to graduate so far this year than in any of the past dozen years, according to an LA Unified report released last week.

“We are seeing numbers higher than last year and the year before, and the expectations are increasing,” Chief Academic Officer Frances Gipson said. “We are using the data to get a clear sense of how to continue and get better and more rapid results.”

Gipson was reporting to the school board’s Committee of the Whole on how many students are getting either a C or D in a set of required classes called A-G courses. In order to be eligible for California’s public universities, students need a C or better in all of those courses. But they can still get an LA Unified diploma if they have D’s.

Gipson said during her presentation on “The ABC’s through A-G’s” that the district has always been striving to make sure students earn C’s or better so they will be college-ready.

More students are starting the school year on track to graduate, according to the report, with 66 percent (or 138,222 students) on track to graduate with a D or better, which is up from 54 percent two years ago. About 54 percent are on track to graduate with a C or better, compared to 43 percent two years ago.

The percentage of students over time who have a D or better has gone from 29 percent in 2005 to 81 percent with the class of 2017.

For C grades or better, the percentage has risen from 18 percent to 57 percent over the same dozen years.

“We are thinking it should be a B or better,” Gipson said.

The district has been criticized for lowering graduation requirements to D grades, which has also resulted in grad rates rising from 62.4 percent for the 2009-10 class to the record-breaking estimated 80.2 percent for the 2016-17 class.

The A-G courses were started in 2005 after multi-racial citywide coalitions joined with LA Unified to ask for high school diplomas to align with college prep courses. College readiness is a focus of new school board members Kelly Gonez and Nick Melvoin, who asked the staff questions about the data presented.

Gonez asked what accounted for the increase and was told by staff it had to do with personal support for with each student, getting good first instruction, increased professional development for teachers, newly adopted standardized textbooks, and integration of technology into the classrooms.

Melvoin asked why the 70 percent of students who attend college through sophomore year falls to only 25 percent earning a degree after six years.

“Are we tracking why so many students do not finish college? Is it money?” asked Melvoin.

The district’s A-G director, Carol Alexander, said there is more need for data, and that students and counselors have said “it is clear that there is need for more support.”

Credit recovery classes, which help students who were failing to raise their grades, have helped boost graduation rates, and Gipson said the district is working with colleges and community groups to help students improve their grades.

One student speaking at the meeting, Samantha Dorca, said she was failing at Garfield High but got motivated in credit recovery classes and “I am now a proud 2017 graduate” and is in college. “During my credit recovery classes, they had me do daily check-ins,” Dorca said.

The district staff pointed out they had 2,400 more students take Advanced Placement classes and that 4,500 more students passed the AP exams than the year before.

 

Cyber Security Experts Say California Vote Audit Has Exploitable Problems

Think you are voting in an honest election in California.  Believe in the tooth fairy?  The tooth fairy is more realistic that having an honest voting process in California.  The L.A. County Registrar of Voters was caught sending 82 absentee ballots to one small apartment in San Pedro.  The Secretary of State is protecting illegal aliens that vote by not doing a computer run of the illegal aliens with a drivers license from the DMV and the voting rolls.

“California relies on machines to tabulate the millions of ballots cast during an election, but counties also do a manual audit of one percent of precincts.

A bill on Brown’s desk clarifies the audits only have to include ballots cast on or before election night—not provisional or late-arriving vote-by-mail ballots.

Elections cyber security experts say that creates an opening malicious actors could exploit. Computer scientist David Jefferson chairs the elections transparency group Verified Voting.

“The one percent manual tally is intended to be an end-to-end check on the correctness of the tally, and you can’t do that if you exclude a large fraction of all the ballots cast,” says Jefferson.

You read that right—send in a late arriving ballot or cast a provisional ballot and no audit.  How much easier can corruption of the election process be?  Well, you can register your dog as a voter on-line in California—so that is easier.

vote count election

Cyber Security Experts Say California Vote Audit Has Exploitable Problems

Ben Bradford, Capradio,  9/26/17

Federal officials told California Friday that Russians probed the state’s election system for vulnerabilities before the 2016 election. That’s raising new questions over a bill on Governor Jerry Brown’s desk. Cyber security experts say the measure could weaken California’s voting systems.

California relies on machines to tabulate the millions of ballots cast during an election, but counties also do a manual audit of one percent of precincts.

A bill on Brown’s desk clarifies the audits only have to include ballots cast on or before election night—not provisional or late-arriving vote-by-mail ballots.

Elections cyber security experts say that creates an opening malicious actors could exploit. Computer scientist David Jefferson chairs the elections transparency group Verified Voting.

“The one percent manual tally is intended to be an end-to-end check on the correctness of the tally, and you can’t do that if you exclude a large fraction of all the ballots cast,” says Jefferson.

James Schwab of the California Secretary of State’s office told lawmakers this month that many counties have always done their audits this way, because waiting for all ballots to come in could take too long.

“Counties could potentially be rushed to complete the tally, undermining its integrity and not being able to meet the 30-day deadline to complete it,” says Schwab.

The measure is in response to a San Diego court case that counties say created ambiguity over how they’re supposed to conduct the manual tally.

Brown has three weeks to act on the bill.

Next CalPERS Victim: City of Palo Alto

Palo Alto is one of those ritzy, rich, elitist cities—they love Progressives, tax raisers, freedom taking politicians.  Now the chickens have come home to roost.  By giving extortionist unions everything they want over the years, Palo Alto is facing bankruptcy—even in this ultra-wealthy community.

“During the meeting, City Manager Jim Keene warned council members about challenges that may arise from tackling the pension issue.

“We haven’t at all talked about the real-life realities … about implementing changes that force reallocations,” Keene said. “Even outsourcing in and of itself can be quite challenging to the community — particularly when you’re not in a crisis mode. We all just know human nature. The thing is, ‘why are you guys doing all of this? Why do I have to have a contract street sweeper? It was so much better when Public Works did it.’ There will be a hundred issues
like that, potentially.”

The worse news is that the City Council, I predict, will do nothing—they will hope it collapses after they leave office.  Liberalism kills and economy and Palo Alto is the next victim.  They voted for the suicide..can’t blame anyone else but themselves.

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

City pension woes hit home as shortfall hits $405 million

 

BY ELAINE GOODMAN, Daily Pilot,  9/26/17

As the city of Palo Alto looks for ways to reduce its massive employee pension shortfall, residents might soon start feeling the impact, officials said.

City services could be reduced. Pay and benefits for city employees might be affected. And the pension gap could influence how often the city hires outside contractors to perform services.

The city doesn’t pay pension benefits for the contractors, and so outsourcing might make sense in more situations, city council members said during a meeting of the City Council Finance Committee this month.

During the meeting, City Manager Jim Keene warned council members about challenges that may arise from tackling the pension issue.

“We haven’t at all talked about the real-life realities … about implementing changes that force reallocations,” Keene said. “Even outsourcing in and of itself can be quite challenging to the community — particularly when you’re not in a crisis mode. We all just know human nature. The thing is, ‘why are you guys doing all of this? Why do I have to have a contract street sweeper? It was so much better when Public Works did it.’ There will be a hundred issues
like that, potentially.”

The city of Palo Alto’s shortfall for covering employee pension costs shot up by nearly 20% in one year, reaching $405 million as of June 2016, according to new data that was presented to the Finance Committee.

The $405 million figure is an increase from a pension shortfall of $338 million as of June 2015 and $250 million in mid-2014, according to the projections by the California Public Employees Retirement System, or CalPERS. The new figure is close to double the amount of the city’s $210 million general-fund budget for this fiscal year.

The unfunded liability

The pension shortfall — also known as the unfunded liability — is the difference between what will be needed to pay employee pensions into the future and the amount that’s been set aside.

CalPERS determines the unfunded liability amount by estimating how much will be needed to pay for pensions of current and future retirees. Another variable is how much CalPERS will earn from investments of the money it collects. A lower rate of return means that cities will need to contribute more to cover pension costs.

CalPERS announced in December that it would start using a lower rate of return in its calculations, decreasing the rate from the current 7.5% to 7% over three years starting next fiscal year. That’s expected to cause a sizable increase in the city’s annual CalPERS payment, and will also increase the amount of the pension shortfall.

Palo Alto officials are concerned that the actual rate of return will turn out to be 6.5% or even lower. Councilman Eric Filseth, who chairs the Finance Committee, said in May that the city’s pension gap could actually be between $500 million and $800 million.

At this month’s committee meeting, Filseth said he wants to “get the numbers right” before developing strategies to reduce the pension gap. “Because once the other stuff starts, once we start on a funding strategy, even the numbers, there’s going to be a tendency to try to politicize those,” Filseth said.

Explaining the problem to the public

Finance Committee members said this month that they want to find a way to explain the pension dilemma to the public in easy-to-understand terms. For example, the city’s payments to CalPERS thus far could be viewed as similar to making a minimum payment due on a personal credit card. The minimum payment does little toward paying off a large outstanding balance.

Councilman Greg Tanaka said when the city discusses the cost of employees, the expense of pensions should be considered as well as salaries. The pension costs should be a factor in situations such as labor negotiations and in deciding whether to contract out a job rather than have a city employee perform it, he said.

“That’s really important to have every figure for labor framed as our true cost,” Tanaka said.

The Finance Committee will continue discussing the pension issue in a series of meetings this fall, and is expected to make recommendations on how the city can approach the issue.

City attempts to reduce the debt

Chief Financial Officer Lalo Perez told council members that they could decide to “bite the bullet” and pay off a large portion of the pension gap in a short time. The question would be how such a move would impact city services, he said.

The city has been reducing pension benefits to new employees over the last several years by increasing the pension eligibility age and decreasing the amount paid.

Another issue is how much the worker pays toward their pension, Keene noted.

“The distribution of the cost between the employee and employer is not set in stone,” Keene said. “That can be renegotiated and actually, in some ways we’re behind some other jurisdictions as far as shifting more of the growth and the increasing cost to the employee.”

McCarthy: Time to Send California’s Sputtering High-Speed Rail Project to the Scrap Yard

This is what you need to know:  “McCarthy has said that the real price tag to complete the massive train line will likely exceed $60 billion just to build, and would require heavy government subsidies to operate. More importantly, there are no realistic predictions that riders would utilize it enough to offset the annual costs, he has argued.

The original rail plan called for 14 million rider-trips a year originating in the state’s rural Central Valley, but the number of rail and plane rides there have never exceeded a million annually.

McCarthy pointed out that Congress has provided no new money for the rail line since Republicans took over the majority in the House, and he intends to keep it that way.

In fifteen years this scam has produced not a dime in private investment—the market place is speaking, this is a money loser.  It was passed only because Guv Schwarzenegger and the scam artists running the choo choo to nowhere lied about routes, environmental protections, costs and ridership.  They should go to jail for the corruption…stealing billions from taxpayers for a payoff to unions and crony capitalists.

high speed rail train

McCarthy: Time to Send California’s Sputtering High-Speed Rail Project to the Scrap Yard

Bullet train ‘a colossal waste’ of taxpayer dollars, still not ‘ready for primetime’

BY: Susan Crabtree, Washington Free Beacon,  9/26/17
After billions of dollars in cost overruns and missed deadlines, California’s top Republican in Congress is again training his fire on his state’s high-speed rail project, arguing that the mammoth $2.5 billion Obama-era stimulus boondoggle is still struggling to get off the ground and should be scrapped altogether.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) has long opposed the state’s plans for a bullet train linking San Francisco and Los Angeles even though the backbone of the rail system was supposed to run through his hometown of Bakersfield.

With construction of the main line of the project, straight through the state’s Central Valley, set to miss a Sept. 30 deadline, McCarthy says it’s past time to end the “colossal waste of precious taxpayer dollars.”

“Turning a blind eye to the evidence showing that this project is not ready for primetime is not just irresponsible, it’s negligent,” he told the Washington Free Beacon.

Supporters of California’s bullet train said it would cut their travel time from San Francisco to Los Angeles by car nearly in half and be far cheaper than a plane ride.

California Democrats teamed up with President Barack Obama in 2010 to pony up more the more than $2.5 billion in federal economic stimulus money for the train.

McCarthy has said that the real price tag to complete the massive train line will likely exceed $60 billion just to build, and would require heavy government subsidies to operate. More importantly, there are no realistic predictions that riders would utilize it enough to offset the annual costs, he has argued.

The original rail plan called for 14 million rider-trips a year originating in the state’s rural Central Valley, but the number of rail and plane rides there have never exceeded a million annually.

McCarthy pointed out that Congress has provided no new money for the rail line since Republicans took over the majority in the House, and he intends to keep it that way.

“I’ll continue to work to ensure this remains the case and no more federal taxpayer dollars are wasted on this project,” he said.

As the Fresno Bee reported Monday, the money allocated for the project has been spent and construction is well underway in Fresno and Madera counties. Still, the planned construction for the largest segment of the rail line, which would run through Kings, Tulare, and Kern counties, is still in the planning stages.

Originally, the full rail service had an opening date of 2022 but that has shifted to 2025 at the earliest and that connection points switched from initial plans to build the rail between Merced and Los Angeles to a new route between Bakersfield and San Jose.

In addition to the lack of continued funding, the rail line has hit huge road blocks in the form of protracted environmental reviews and lawsuits, along with a plodding and complex process of buying up the necessary land.

Trump preparing executive order to let Americans purchase health insurance across state lines

The revolution in health care begins next week.  People from California will be able to buy low cost, individualized health care plans from insurance companies in Iowa or Vermont.  No longer will a State be able to hold families hostage.  We can buy auto insurance from anyone we want, why not health care.  Want to push the collapse of ObamaCare—allow consumers choice.  Trump will allow you to buy health insurance from any firm, nationwide, not just inside the State.

“White House spokesman Ninio Fetalvo said Trump wants to provide relief for Americans who have seen their premiums skyrocket or faced limited insurance options under Obamacare, citing Congress’ failure to pass legislation that could otherwise solve such problems.

“The Senate has thus far failed to repeal and replace this disastrous law,” Fetalvo said in an email to the Washington Examiner. “The President and his Administration are considering several actions to provide flexibility and relief to the many Americans who continue to suffer under Obamacare.”

This is a victory for freedom.  Watch as the cost of private health insurance goes down while ObamaCare continues to skyrocket.

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Trump preparing executive order to let Americans purchase health insurance across state lines

by Gabby Morrongiello, Washington Examiner,  9/27/17

 

President Trump is preparing an executive order to allow people to purchase health insurance across state lines, a reform conservatives have long championed as a way to bring costs down and stir greater competition in the national marketplace.

The executive action gives the White House a chance to follow through on at least one promise related to healthcare reform after Senate Republicans’ second attempt to overhaul Obamacare failed this week. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul first mentioned the action during a TV appearance Wednesday morning, saying Trump was considering taking matters into his own hands.

“I think there’s going to be big news from the White House in the next week or two, something they can do on their own,” Paul told MSNBC, adding that Trump “can legalize on his own the ability of individuals to join a group or a health association across state lines and buy insurance.”

A Senate GOP source told the Washington Examiner the executive action is considered “a done deal” and likely to be announced “in the next few weeks.”

Trump later confirmed to reporters he is likely to issue an order permitting “people to go out across state lines, do lots of things, and buy their own healthcare.”

The president described the forthcoming executive action as “very major,” adding he also intends to spend the next few months negotiating with Democrats on a bipartisan healthcare bill.

Paul said he has discussed the proposal with the president and Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta on “multiple occasions” while the Senate was focused on advancing the Graham-Cassidy bill, which was pulled from a vote on Tuesday.

White House spokesman Ninio Fetalvo said Trump wants to provide relief for Americans who have seen their premiums skyrocket or faced limited insurance options under Obamacare, citing Congress’ failure to pass legislation that could otherwise solve such problems.

“The Senate has thus far failed to repeal and replace this disastrous law,” Fetalvo said in an email to the Washington Examiner. “The President and his Administration are considering several actions to provide flexibility and relief to the many Americans who continue to suffer under Obamacare.”

 

Californians With Fuel-Efficient Cars Fall Prey To “Diet Soda” Effect

If you drink a diet soda at lunch, do you also order a side of fries and a greasy burger?  If you buy an electric vehicle, do you have other cars—big ones to make up for the diet car?

“”What we find is that if they initially bought a car that is more efficient, they’re going to buy a less-efficient car today,” said David Rapson with the Davis Energy Economics Program, one of the paper’s co-authors.

In addition, the research found those with more fuel-efficient vehicles ended up driving farther. All in all, fuel savings were reduced by 60 percent in these households.

“If our goal is to reduce the amount of gasoline that’s being consumed, then we would want people to drive less,” Rapson said. “So, if you are implementing a policy that makes more car efficient and that also causes people to drive more, then that’s going to create an unintended consequence in that regulation.”

As expected government mandates and policies backfire on this issue.  Government is incompetent—so when it spends billions in tax dollars to push for electric vehicles—that means Big cars are going to do well.  Stop government interference with the choices of families and companies.

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Californians With Fuel-Efficient Cars Fall Prey To “Diet Soda” Effect

Randol White, Capradio,  9/27/17

Just as studies have shown that people who order diet drinks tend to increase their consumption of unhealthy foods, new research out of UC Davis shows Californians do a similar thing when it comes to their vehicles.

What they found is that Californians tend to buy larger, gas-guzzling vehicles if their other car is a fuel-efficient model.

The study looked at two-car households using data from the Department of Motor Vehicles stretching from 2001 to 2007.

“What we find is that if they initially bought a car that is more efficient, they’re going to buy a less-efficient car today,” said David Rapson with the Davis Energy Economics Program, one of the paper’s co-authors.

In addition, the research found those with more fuel-efficient vehicles ended up driving farther. All in all, fuel savings were reduced by 60 percent in these households.

“If our goal is to reduce the amount of gasoline that’s being consumed, then we would want people to drive less,” Rapson said. “So, if you are implementing a policy that makes more car efficient and that also causes people to drive more, then that’s going to create an unintended consequence in that regulation.”

But there are still overall fuel savings, he said.

“What we’re not saying is this policy is self-defeating,” Rapson said. “We’re not even, in this paper, saying that it’s not the best policy, although we have a belief that there are probably better policies out there.”

Rapson said the intent of the study is to help the state meet its climate change goals.

The data did not include households with electric cars.

The paper is currently being peer reviewed.