Archives for 2018

Antonucci: California teacher union stories we have forgotten

Quality education, according to the unions are based on collective bargaining, not best practices in the classroom.  Remember this incident:

1) In 2002, the California Teachers Association proposed a bill that would have made textbooks and curriculum a mandatory subject of collective bargaining. This met with resistance from school boards and some legislators concerned that teachers might strike over textbook adoption.

Not to worry, said CTA President Wayne Johnson. “Teachers won’t walk for anything except money,” he told the Los Angeles Times.”

This is an example of why LAUSD is a finance ial and educational disaster.  There are over 58,000 begging to get out of the failed schools and enrolled into charter schools—the unions prefer control to education.  This is going to harm yet another generation of young people—but the unions continue to demand teachers pay them bribes if they want to work—even though the Supreme Court has ruled this illegal.  Of course the union also supports felons from foreign nations to roam our streets and classrooms, so violating a court order is no big thing to them.

Ashs-teacher-and-students

Antonucci: California teacher union stories we have forgotten

Mike Antonucci, Los Angeles School Report,  8/15/18

I have covered California’s teacher unions for about 25 years, so my archive is filled with many tales of humor and woe regarding their doings. As I dug through the files I came across seven sagas that have faded over time and deserve one more revival. Do you remember these?

1) In 2002, the California Teachers Association proposed a bill that would have made textbooks and curriculum a mandatory subject of collective bargaining. This met with resistance from school boards and some legislators concerned that teachers might strike over textbook adoption.

Not to worry, said CTA President Wayne Johnson. “Teachers won’t walk for anything except money,” he told the Los Angeles Times.

2) After the state’s voters handily defeated a school voucher initiative in 1993, CTA President Del Weber released a statement. “No one in CTA interprets yesterday’s vote as a mandate for ‘business as usual,’” he said. “We must reform our public schools. And we in CTA believe that we can reform them – that we can make them once more the envy of the world.”

He announced the union would “prepare a bold and comprehensive plan for making our schools better.” The plan included reducing the number of people “who do not work with children directly and who do nothing to help teachers educate children.” He also derided excessive mandates, such as a requirement to teach children about bicycle safety. These “take time away from reading, writing or arithmetic,” he said.

3) Both CTA and the California Federation of Teachers have a history of paying for fancy invitation-only parties for Gavin Newsom, doing so in 2009 and 2011. The latter party included the creation of the Double Gavin — “a blue, sickly sweet mixture of vodka, Curaçao, and Sprite.”

4) In 2010, legislation included a provision that would allow a majority of parents to force a school district to overhaul a failing school. This was called the “parent trigger.” CFT President Marty Hittelman called it the “lynch mob provision.”

When the Los Angeles chapter of the National Action Network demanded “an immediate and public apology” for the racial overtones of the reference, Hittelman was defiant.

“What’s a lynch mob?” he said. “It’s when a bunch of angry citizens get together and without any study they decide to lynch somebody. And in this case, they’re going to lynch their school. If you want to call them a lynch mob, you can, but basically what they’re doing is lynching the school and all the teachers who will be fired and all the kids who will have to go to a different school.”

5) In 2011, CTA held a “state of emergency” protest as part of a plan to “occupy” the state Capitol. The union’s state council came up with a list of activities to accompany the protest. These included: having a “refrain from shopping” day; a one-day boycott of Microsoft; closing a major artery into various California cities; paying for everything with $2 bills; protesting at a major league baseball game; and working with an “organization like Ben & Jerry to have them create a labor-union flavored ice cream that can be sold at the rallies and in stores.”

6) After completing his terms as president of United Teachers Los Angeles and failing to win election to the vice presidency of the California Teachers Association in 2012, A.J. Duffy helped develop the Apple Academy charter school, to which he was named the chief executive officer. Ref Rodriguez was on the school’s board of directors. After a year, the school discovered it couldn’t afford a CEO and let Duffy go.

The teachers were unionized and affiliated with UTLA. According to a write-up in the newsletter of the California Teachers Association, the teachers submitted a statement to the charter’s board of directors stating they wanted a union to ensure “the quality of our students’ education.”

That quality failed to materialize as the school ended up ranking in the 0.47 percentile in academic achievement and closed after the 2016-17 school year.

7) In 2000, CTA staged a rally on the steps of the state Capitol that featured a group of activists chanting, “We want money!” I reported from the scene:

“The rally itself consisted of supportive speeches from the head of the school administrators association, the head of the school boards association, the head of the PTA, the Senate leader (Democrat), the Assembly speaker (Democrat), the Senate minority leader (Republican), and the lieutenant governor. Since this constituted representatives of virtually the state’s entire education and appropriations establishment, one wondered whom the rally was meant to persuade.”

Bonus details included a first-hand account written months later by CTA President Wayne Johnson, describing how he was on the phone with Gov. Gray Davis’s people as they offered richer and richer funding offers in an effort to get the rally called off.  Johnson ultimately settled for an additional $1.84 billion.

 

Reagan Library Shows America at Its Best

In 1966 I worked on the Reagan for Governor Campaign.  In 1980, I worked on the Reagan for President Campaign and was a member of the California Electoral College that gave him all of our votes.  As Governor and President I worked with his Administrations on various projects.  Now, I am lucky to live about a mile and a half from the Regan Presidential Library in Simi Valley.  It is a monument to freedom and responsibility.

“What first really captivated me were the collections of Reagan’s famous hand-written speech-note cards. I had imagined these index-cards, with which he built so many of his addresses and radio commentaries, as being large-lettered, bullet-pointed, quick-glance visual cues. Not at all. Painstakingly written in almost tiny cursive that filled the lines entirely (virtually no white space), the cards — hundreds of them — gave evidence of a rigorous, nuanced intellect.

Later, through the museum, it is the copious hand-written material which most vividly brings Reagan to life, while destroying the myth that the man was a celluloid simpleton reading others’ lines.

Particularly moving was the actual, hand-written draft of the famous letter he wrote, from his post-assassination-attempt hospital bed, to hideous Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev. Still in rather precarious health, and against the advice of some aides (and doctors), Reagan insisted — in his own hand, scratching out words along the way that weren’t quite right — on both making a heartfelt plea for peace and, characteristically, insisting that the American, freedom-centered worldview was superior to Soviet repression.”

At all times Ronald Reagan was a leader, with a heart.  Visit the Library and see how a single person can make a difference.

Reagan

Reagan Library Shows America at Its Best

Quin Hillyer, American Spectator,  8/15/18

 

A summer vacation trip well spent.

Fresh on the heels of lamenting the Aug. 6 death of former U.S. Sen. Paul Laxalt, known as Ronald Reagan’s “best friend in politics,” I found myself last Friday looking at a hand-written sentence from Reagan to Laxalt.

On an otherwise routine response to a policy-inquiry message from Laxalt to the White House, Reagan wrote that “Nancy joins me in sending our love to [Laxalt’s wife] Carol” — thoughtfully insisting, amidst a host of other paperwork, on adding that personal touch.

That personal touch of Reagan’s is evident throughout the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley, California, which I visited for the first time last week. The museum is a wonderful facility — well organized, engagingly presented, intellectually stimulating, emotionally powerful, and beautifully designed to present an expansive, soul-warming vista of the hill-surrounded valley stretching 15 miles to the Pacific.

The exhibits do a fine job telling the story of Reagan’s remarkable life. Many of them expertly capture his buoyant personality, his infectious optimism, and especially his love for wife Nancy. Yet this isn’t one of those postmodern, vapid substitutions of personal ephemera for real history. Instead, the personal material is seamlessly and appropriately integrated into the important account of Reagan’s world-altering public life and presidency. Never does a visitor lose sight of why there is a museum for Reagan — of what he believed, what he did in office, and why his presidency mattered.

As a confirmed Reaganophile for more than 40 years (and an editor of a major book on Reagan’s ascension to the presidency), I already was quite familiar with much of Reagan’s story. Even so, the museum provided copious, important details, including many little grace notes, which were entirely new to me.

What first really captivated me were the collections of Reagan’s famous hand-written speech-note cards. I had imagined these index-cards, with which he built so many of his addresses and radio commentaries, as being large-lettered, bullet-pointed, quick-glance visual cues. Not at all. Painstakingly written in almost tiny cursive that filled the lines entirely (virtually no white space), the cards — hundreds of them — gave evidence of a rigorous, nuanced intellect.

Later, through the museum, it is the copious hand-written material which most vividly brings Reagan to life, while destroying the myth that the man was a celluloid simpleton reading others’ lines.

Particularly moving was the actual, hand-written draft of the famous letter he wrote, from his post-assassination-attempt hospital bed, to hideous Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev. Still in rather precarious health, and against the advice of some aides (and doctors), Reagan insisted — in his own hand, scratching out words along the way that weren’t quite right — on both making a heartfelt plea for peace and, characteristically, insisting that the American, freedom-centered worldview was superior to Soviet repression.

The letter was the unfiltered essence of Reagan, strong-willed and insistent that his principles were correct, but magnanimous and eager to find common ground.

Also moving was the audio of Reagan himself describing, in retrospect, his famous series of meetings with Soviet semi-reformer Mikhail Gorbachev. The account is made more deeply personal by his own voice. Indeed, throughout the museum, the use of audio and video is superb, with Reagan “coming to life” as a vibrant, compelling figure.

It’s also worth noting — I won’t belabor the point — that I was literally brought to tears to see and hear again how a president should speak and act, how a certain dignity and decency were once considered essential characteristics to model. True, some presidents (Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Clinton) didn’t exactly excel at that task, especially in private, but at least they usually attempted in public to pay homage to those expectations. One wonderful thing about Reagan, indisputably apparent throughout these exhibits, is that those behavioral virtues emanated from Reagan without artifice. They were part of his essence, a part lamentably lacking in today’s politics.

Of course, no review of the Reagan Museum can fail to mention its three most famous exhibits: a full-sized model of the Oval Office, meticulously re-created exactly as it was in Reagan’s day; the actual Air Force One plane used throughout the Reagan presidency; and the multi-colored piece of the Berlin Wall next to which, in a famous photo, Reagan and Polish hero Lech Walesa posed together in celebration of freedom’s victory over Sovietism.

All three exhibits inspire awe. To actually walk through the former Air Force One is fascinating: At only about a third the size of the current 747, this old 707 was far more humble and even homey (but not homely) than one would expect. There was something remarkably unpretentious, for example, about the tiny little cot on which Nancy Reagan grabbed some shut-eye on long journeys.

But for those of us of a certain age and older (I’m 54), the piece of the Berlin Wall was the most chill-inducing. For those just a few years younger (much more so for Millennials and whatever they call the generation after that), it is hard to imagine what an ominous presence that wall was, physically and emotionally, for the first quarter century of our lives. Had Reagan not been president, there is good reason to think the monstrosity would still be standing in Berlin, rather than having one piece of it peacefully overlooking a lovely valley, not many steps from the grave of the great American president who worked to tear it down.

Back inside the museum, the final large-ish room of the tour features an audio-visual montage of some of Reagan’s finest moments and speeches. Right at the end, most inspiringly, is the simple clip from his final Republican National Convention Address (in 1992, four years after he left office): “Whatever else history may say about me when I’m gone, I hope it will record that I appealed to your best hopes, not your worst fears; to your confidence rather than your doubts.”

The Reagan Library and Museum reminds us that Reagan’s wish is the real American way. Here’s hoping we recapture it.

Quin Hillyer (@QuinHillyer) is a Senior Editor of The American Spectator, and is the author of  The Accidental Prophet trilogy of recently published satirical, literary novels.

Sacramento tracking license plates to monitor welfare recipients

Photo courtesy BenFrantzDale, flickr.

Sacramento County officials have been tracking the license plates of welfare recipients in the hopes of catching potential fraud, according to a new report in the Sacramento Bee.

The license plate monitoring program, which the ACLU warned us about, snaps photos of license plates when the cars they are attached to make their way past telephone poles and police cars, letting officials track the location of vehicles. Welfare fraud investigators working with the Sacramento County Department of Human Assistance (DHA) pay $5,000 a year for access to the license plate reader database to track those welfare recipients they suspect of fraud. This isn’t new, either: They’ve been doing it since 2016.

It’s not immediately clear what welfare investigators are even hoping to do with the information they unearth by tracking license plates, but the Sacramento Bee reports the DHA accessed the data over a thousand times in two years. …

Click here to read the full article from Fast Company

How to Make California’s Southland Water Independent for $30 Billion

The megapolis on California’s southern coast stretches from Ventura County on the northern end, through Los Angeles County, Orange County, down to San Diego County on the border with Mexico. It also includes the western portions of Riverside and San Bernardino counties. Altogether these six counties have a population of 20.5 million residents. According to the California Department of Water Resources, urban users consume 3.7 million acre feet of water per year, and the remaining agricultural users in this region consume an additional 700,000 acre feet.

Much of this water is imported. In an average year, 2.6 million acre feet of water is imported by the water districts serving the residents and businesses in these Southland counties. The 701 mile long California Aqueduct, mainly conveying water from the Sacramento River, contributes 1.4 million acre feet. The 242 mile long Colorado River Aqueduct adds another 1.0 million acre feet. Finally, the Owens River on the east side of the Sierras contributes 250,000 acre feet via the 419 mile long Los Angeles Aqueduct.

California’s Plumbing System
The major interbasin systems of water conveyance, commonly known as aqueducts

California’s Overall Water Supplies Must Increase

Californians have already made tremendous strides conserving water, and the potential savings from more stringent conservation mandates may not yield significant additional savings. Population growth is likely to offset whatever remaining savings that may be achievable via additional conservation.

Meanwhile, the state mandated water requirements for California’s ecosystems continue to increase. The California State Water Board is finalizing “frameworks” that will increase the minimum amount of flow required to be maintained in the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers order to better protect fish habitat and reduce salinity in the Delta. And, of course, these rivers, along with the Owens and Colorado rivers, are susceptible to droughts which periodically put severe strain on water users in California.

At about the same time, in 2015, California’s legislature began regulating groundwater withdrawals. This measure, while long overdue, puts additional pressure on urban and agricultural users.

California’s water requirements for healthy ecosystems, a robust and growing farm economy, as well as a growing urban population, are set to exceed available supply. Conservation cannot return enough water to the system to fix the problem.

How Can Water Supplies Increase?

In Southern California, runoff capture is an option that appears to have great potential. Despite its arid climate and perennial low rainfall, nearly every year a few storm systems bring torrential rains to the South Coast, inundating the landscape. Until the Los Angeles River was turned into a gigantic culvert starting in 1938, it would routinely flood, with the overflow filling huge aquifers beneath the city. Those aquifers remain, although many are contaminated and require mitigation. Runoff harvesting for aquifer storage represents one tremendous opportunity for Southern Californians to increase their supply of water.

The other possibilities are sewage recycling and desalination. In both cases, Southern California already boasts some of the most advanced plants in the world. The potential for these two technologies to deliver massive quantities of potable water, over a million acre feet per year each, is now predicated more on political and financial considerations than technological challenges.

Recycling Waste Water

Orange County leads the United States in recycling waste water. The Orange County Sanitation District treats 145,000 acre feet per year (130 million gallons per day – “MGD”), sending all of it to the Orange County Water District’s “Ground Water Replenishment System” plant for advanced treatment. The GWRS plant is the biggest of its kind in the world. After being treated to potable standards, 124,000 acre feet per year (110 million GPD), or 85 percent of the waste water, is then injected into aquifers to be stored and pumped back up and reused by residents as potable water. The remainder, containing no toxins and with fewer total dissolved solids than seawater, is discharged harmlessly into the ocean.

Currently the combined water districts in California’s Southland discharge about 1.5 million acre feet (1.3 billion GPD) of treated wastewater each year into the Pacific Ocean. Only a small percentage of this discharge is the treated brine from recycled water. But by using the advanced treatment methods as are employed in Orange County, 85% of wastewater can be recycled to potable standards. This means that merely through water reuse, there is the potential to recycle up to another 1.2 million acre feet per year.

Needless to say, implementing a solution at this scale would require major challenges to be overcome. Currently California’s water districts are only permitted to engage in “indirect potable reuse,” which means the recycled water must be stored in an aquifer or a reservoir prior to being processed as drinking water and entering the water supply. By 2023, it is expected the California Water Board will have completed regulations governing “direct potable reuse,” which would allow recycled water to be immediately returned to the water supply without the intermediate step of being stored in an aquifer or reservoir. In the meantime, it is unlikely that there are enough uncontaminated aquifers or available reservoirs to store the amount of recycled water that could be produced.

Desalinating Seawater

The other source of new water for Southern California, desalination, is already realized in an operating plant, the Carlsbad Desalination Plant in San Diego County. This plant produces 56,000 acre feet per year (50 MGD) of fresh water by processing twice that amount of seawater. It is the largest and most technologically advanced desalination plant in the Western Hemisphere. It is co-located with the Encina Power Station, a facility that uses far more seawater per year, roughly ten times as much, for its cooling systems. The Carlsbad facility diverts a portion of that water for desalination treatment, then returns the saltier “brine” to the much larger outflow of cooling water at the power plant.

Objections to desalination are many, but none of them are insurmountable. The desalination plant proposed for Huntington Beach, for example, will not have the benefit of being co-located with a power plant that consumes far more seawater for its cooling system. Instead, this proposed plant – which will have the same capacity as the Carlsbad plant – will use a large array of “wet filters” situated about 1,500 feet offshore, on the seabed about 40 feet below the surface, to gently intake seawater that can be pumped back to the plant without disrupting marine life. The outgoing brine containing 6 percent salt (compared to 3% in seawater) will be discharged under pressure from an underwater pipe extending about 1,800 feet offshore. By discharging the brine under pressure, it will be instantly disbursed and immediately dissipated in the powerful California current.

While desalination is considered to be energy intensive, a careful comparison of the energy cost to desalinate seawater reveals an interesting fact. It takes a roughly equivalent amount of electricity to power the pumps on the California aqueduct, where six pumping stations lift the water repeatedly as it flows from north to south. To guarantee the water flows south, the California aqueduct is sloped downward by roughly one foot per mile of length, meaning pump stations are essential. The big lift, of course, is over the Tehachapi Mountains, which is the only way to import water into the Los Angeles basin.

Barriers to Implementation – Permitting & Lawsuits

The technological barriers to large scale implementation of water recycling and desalination, while significant, are not the primary impediments. Permitting and financing are far bigger challenges. Moreover, financing costs for these mega projects become more prohibitive because of the difficulties in permitting.

The process necessary to construct the proposed Huntington Beach Desalination Plant is illustrative of just how difficult, if not impossible, it is to get construction permits. The contractor has been involved in the permitting process for 16 years already, and despite significant progress to-date, still expects approval, if it comes, to take another 2-3 years.

One of the problems with permitting most infrastructure in California is that several agencies are involved. These agencies can actually have conflicting requirements. Applicants also end up having to answer the same questions over and over, because the agencies don’t share information. And over the course of decades or more, the regulations change, meaning the applicant has to start the process over again. Compounding the difficulties for applicants are endless rounds of litigation, primarily from well-funded environmentalist organizations. The failure to-date of California’s lawmakers to reform CEQA make these lawsuits potentially endless.

Barriers to Implementation – Financing

Even if permitting were streamlined, and all technical challenges were overcome, it would be a mistake to be glib about financing costs. Based on the actual total cost for the Carlsbad desalination plant, just under $1.0 billion for a capacity of 56,000 acre feet per year, the capital costs to desalinate a million acre feet of seawater would be a daunting $18.0 billion. On the other hand, with permitting reforms, such as creating a one-stop ombudsman agency to adjudicate conflicting regulations and exercise real clout among the dozens of agencies with a stake in the permitting process, billions could be shaved off that total. Similarly, CEQA reforms could shave additional billions off the total. How much could be saved?

The Sorek desalination plant, commissioned in Israel in 2015, cost $500 million to build and desalinates 185,000 acre feet of water per year. Compared to Carlsbad, Sorek came online for an astonishing one-sixth the capital cost per unit of capacity. While there’s undoubtedly more to this story, it is also undeniable that other developed nations are able to deploy large scale desalination plants at far lower costs than here in California.

Financing costs for water recycling, while still staggering, are (at least in California) not comparable to those for desalination. The GWRS water recycling plant in Orange County was built at a capital cost of $905 million – $481 million was the initial cost, the first expansion cost $142 million, and the final expansion cost $282 million. This equates to a capital cost of $7,300 per acre foot of annual yield. If that price were to apply for new facilities to be constructed elsewhere in the southland, one million acre feet of recycling capacity could be built for $7.3 billion. Until there is direct potable reuse, however, it would be necessary to add to that cost the expense of either constructing storage reservoirs, or decontaminating aquifers for underground storage.

It’s anybody’s guess, but with reasonable reforms to contain costs, and taking into account additional investments in aquifer mitigation, a budget to make California’s Southland water independent might look like this:

  • 1.0 million acre feet from water recycling – $7.5 billion
  • 1.0 million acre feet from desalination – $15.0 billion
  • 0.5 million acre feet from runoff capture and aquifer mitigation – $7.5 billion

Total – $30 billion.
How much again is that bullet train? Water abundance in California vs. high speed rail

While runoff capture, water recycling, and desalination have the potential to make Southern California’s coastal megapolis water independent, it will take extraordinary political will and innovative financing to make it happen. The first step is for California’s voters and policymakers alike to recognize that conservation is not enough, that water supplies must be increased. Once the political will is established, it will be necessary to streamline the regulatory process, so cities, water agencies, and private contractors can pursue supply oriented solutions, at realistic prices, with a reasonable certainty that their applications will be approved.

*   *   *

Edward Ring co-founded the California Policy Center and served as its first president. This article originally appeared on the website of the California Policy Center.

McCarthy praises Trump policy over “backwards” California—and is met with protest

California is raising taxes while Congressman Kevin McCarthy and President Trump is lowering taxes.  President Trump is adding jobs to the economy, California lost 50,000 jobs since February.  Trump/McCarthy want an infrastructure plan—California has the worse freeways and road sin the nation.  Yup, McCarthy is accurate—California is a backward State.  Trump is trying to make America great again, Jerry Brown is trying to make California into the North American version of Venezuela.

“Speaking at a Sacramento event hosted by the Public Policy Institute of California, McCarthy offered a laundry list of reasons why he and his caucus deserve to be reelected this November. He championed the Republican-led federal tax overhaul, which cut personal and corporate taxes across the board last December. He credited those changes to the tax code for the recent round of rosy economic statistics nationwide. He also called for tighter borders and defended the president on trade policy, predicting agreement on the North American Free Trade agreement “probably sometime within the next month.”

In contrast to federal policy, McCarthy slammed the state of California, leading with his criticism of the recent increase in the gas tax. Last year, state lawmakers hiked taxes on gasoline and diesel and introduced two new vehicle fees to fund more than $5 billion in extra transportation spending per year.”

Hopefully the voters will hear the words of McCarthy and see the results of the Trump policy and pull us from the precipice of poverty and slums by voting against Socialism on November 6, 2018.  What do you think?

kevin mccathey support photo

McCarthy praises Trump policy over “backwards” California—and is met with protest

 

Ben Christopher, CalMatters,  8/15/18 

 

Protesters outside the Sheraton Grand Hotel in downtown Sacramento. Photo by Elizabeth Castillo for CALmatters

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy today touted federal policy under the Trump administration, in contrast to what he termed “backwards thinking” coming out of California.

“Once President Trump was elected, it seemed as though California wanted to be in a position to just sue and fight instead of take a pause and listen,” he said.

Speaking at a Sacramento event hosted by the Public Policy Institute of California, McCarthy offered a laundry list of reasons why he and his caucus deserve to be reelected this November. He championed the Republican-led federal tax overhaul, which cut personal and corporate taxes across the board last December. He credited those changes to the tax code for the recent round of rosy economic statistics nationwide. He also called for tighter borders and defended the president on trade policy, predicting agreement on the North American Free Trade agreement “probably sometime within the next month.”

In contrast to federal policy, McCarthy slammed the state of California, leading with his criticism of the recent increase in the gas tax. Last year, state lawmakers hiked taxes on gasoline and diesel and introduced two new vehicle fees to fund more than $5 billion in extra transportation spending per year.

“It’s the backwards thinking between what California is doing and what Washington (is doing),” he said. “Washington lets you keep more of your own money.”

McCarthy, whose district includes Bakersfield, is hoping to replace fellow Republican Paul Ryan as the next Speaker of the House. He’s considered the most likely successor—but only if Republicans maintain their House majority after November’s midterms.

He’s also long maintained a cozy relationship with President Trump, who once called the congressman “my Kevin.” As CALmatters’ Laurel Rosenhall wrote in her profile of the congressman last year, he has served as Congressional Republicans’ Trump-whisperer throughout the president’s tumultuous first term, “charged with shepherding the president’s legislative agenda.”

“No politician has more clout with the Trump White House than he does,” she wrote.

This November, voters will be given the chance to repeal that increase in the gas tax, with its business and labor defenders arguing that it’s necessary to maintain the state’s crumbling roads and highways, but Republicans hoping to channel opposition to boost GOP turnout.

McCarthy also lambasted plans to implement a single-payer health insurance system, either in California or nationwide. He called the state’s vehicle emission standards, which the Trump administration recently challenged, “impossible to reach” and predicted that whoever becomes the next governor of California will be forced to cancel the high-speed rail project, which is now estimated to cost up to $98 billion. Republican gubernatorial candidate John Cox has promised to do just that if elected.

The interview was interrupted for several minutes by immigration activists chanting “McCarthy, where’s your heart?”

After the banner-toting activists were ushered from the room, McCarthy bemoaned what he sees as the demise of civility in our national discourse—an erosion for which many hold Trump responsible.

“Why can’t we sit down and communicate with one another?” McCarthy asked. “Why do we have to be so divided?”

 

Colman: IT’S TIME FOR A PEACEFUL, ELECTIVE COUP

Is it time to say normal politics are over?  Are we in an era where social media bans conservative thought, the news media either makes up the news, or led by the Boston Globe calls for the end of an elected president?  Our campuses, just opening have already started the riots and bullying—Cal had a sit in near the student “union” demanding that illegal aliens be allowed in our nation and they, the students get “free” tuition—to learn how to riot, rally and bully—education is not part of the equation.

In California, the Democratic Party has a virtual stranglehold on government.  The Democrats are wallowing in the excrement of identity politics — a politics based on factors other than merit.  It’s time to end Affirmative Action, a complicated way of saying quotas and discrimination take priority over ability and hard work. 

At the state-level, California Democrats have abused power by dictating land-use policies for local communities.   

Public transportation in Northern California is riddled with crime and overcompensated labor and management personnel.  Recently, BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) experienced three murders in five days.  Why would anyone want to use BART?  In fact, at each BART station, there should be signs saying:  “Enter at Your Own Risk.  Possession of a firearm is recommended.” 

We need a revolution at the ballot box—short of that expect chaos, bullying, higher taxes and a government controlled by the special interests—and the corrupt.

ballots-vote

IT’S TIME FOR A PEACEFUL, ELECTIVE COUP

By Richard Colman, California Political News and Views,  8/17/18

In America, including California, governments are not overthrown by violent means. 

The best way to change things is to use the ballot box. 

In California, the Democratic Party has a virtual stranglehold on government.  The Democrats are wallowing in the excrement of identity politics — a politics based on factors other than merit.  It’s time to end Affirmative Action, a complicated way of saying quotas and discrimination take priority over ability and hard work. 

At the state-level, California Democrats have abused power by dictating land-use policies for local communities.   

Public transportation in Northern California is riddled with crime and overcompensated labor and management personnel.  Recently, BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) experienced three murders in five days.  Why would anyone want to use BART?  In fact, at each BART station, there should be signs saying:  “Enter at Your Own Risk.  Possession of a firearm is recommended.” 

California used to be the land of opportunity.  The public schools were good, tuition at the University of California was less than $200 a year, the freeways were not overwhelmed with traffic, and there were places to park.  Housing was affordable, and jobs were plentiful.  Today, California is more and more like Mumbai (Bombay).  California seems ungovernable. 

In California, English used to the main language.  Now, it seems that fewer and fewer people in California really how to speak, read, and write English. 

It’s time to tell people who, for general purposes, want to speak some language other than English to stop using foreign tongues — at least in public.  English must be the official language of all states in the United States.  People who disagree are free — and should — move to another country. 

At the national level, there is too much power in the presidency.  If the president wants to impose tariffs on imported goods, he must get approval from Congress.  Otherwise, the president is acting like a dictator. 

Tariffs, simply put, are taxes — taxes imposed without the consent of Congress.  Why should a president autocratically impose tariffs on imported steel, aluminum, washing machines, solar panels, and other products? 

Tariffs only invite retaliation by other nations hurt by American tariffs.  Eventually, tariffs produce higher prices and lower economic growth for all nations involved. 

In America, the rate of inflation from June 2017 to June 2018 was close to three percent.  Inflation, like tariffs, is a form of taxation — again, taxation not passed by Congress. 

Here is an example:  If a person earns $100,000 a year and there is three percent inflation, he has $97,000 left over.  If Congress passes a three percent tax, that same person will still have $97,000 left over.  No wonder people are losing confidence in the American dollar and other fiat (government) currencies.  While people are reading this commentary, the value of the money in their possession is going down. 

The Federal Reserve, the nation’s central bank, has two mandates:  full employment and price stability.  There should only be one mandate:  price stability.  Otherwise, it’s time to get rid of the Federal Reserve. 

On August 15, 1971, President Richard Nixon ended the convertibility — at a fixed price — of dollars into gold.  Before that date, one could exchange $35 for one ounce of gold.  Today, one needs $1,200 to buy an ounce of gold.  That means that a person — 47 years later — has to pay 34 times more for an ounce of gold.  Thus, if a person earned $20,000 a year in 1971, that person would need $680,000 annually to buy that same amount of gold. 

Control of immigration is a responsibility of the federal government.  Yet, the federal government — intentionally or unintentionally — is letting millions of people enter the United States illegally.  The United States cannot accommodate all the people who want to live in this country.  Anyone who is here illegally should be deported. 

There is nothing wrong with legal immigration.  However, legal immigrants must know English and have a job.  There cannot be any government funds (welfare) for immigrants who don’t know English and are unemployed. 

Both the Democratic and Republican Parties are failing Americans.  It’s time for both parties to change.   Otherwise, it’s time for a new political party — a party for Americans who play by the rules. 

America must not have violent overthrow of the government.  But Americans must use the power of the ballot box to restore America — including California — to greatness.

 

Labor Watchdogs Back Trump’s Dues Skimming Crackdown

Did you know that unions are stealing money from the workers paid for by the VA to take care of disabled veterans?  Without permission, the unions have been taking money from the workers’ paychecks.  Thanks to President Trump, this theft is ending.  Now, will the Administration sue the unions to get the money back for the workers?

“The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services issued a new proposal in July that would reverse an Obama era rule that allowed third parties such as unions to automatically deduct fees and dues from Medicaid reimbursements. Those reimbursements are generally intended to pay full-time home health aides for the disabled, which in many cases are people caring for relatives.

“This proposed rule would remove the regulatory text that allows a state to make payments to third parties on behalf of an individual provider for benefits such as health insurance, skills training, and other benefits customary for employees,” the proposal says. “We are concerned that these provisions are over broad, and insufficiently linked to the exceptions expressly permitted by the statute.”

The move earned high praise from labor watchdogs, who have long objected to using Medicaid payments to enrich labor organizations.”

Trump has also ended the free rent for unions stealing government offices for their organizing efforts.  Now they have to pay rent.  Personally, they should not be allowed to run a business on public property, period—especially a business that has as it model extortion and blackmail, plus harassment of workers that object.  What do you think?

Union

Labor Watchdogs Back Trump’s Dues Skimming Crackdown

Proposed rule would close Obama era loophole, steer millions away from unions

BY: Bill McMorris, Washington Free Beacon,  8/14/18

Labor watchdogs are praising the Trump administration for its proposal to prevent unions from siphoning off money meant to care for disabled Americans.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services issued a new proposal in July that would reverse an Obama era rule that allowed third parties such as unions to automatically deduct fees and dues from Medicaid reimbursements. Those reimbursements are generally intended to pay full-time home health aides for the disabled, which in many cases are people caring for relatives.

“This proposed rule would remove the regulatory text that allows a state to make payments to third parties on behalf of an individual provider for benefits such as health insurance, skills training, and other benefits customary for employees,” the proposal says. “We are concerned that these provisions are overbroad, and insufficiently linked to the exceptions expressly permitted by the statute.”

The move earned high praise from labor watchdogs, who have long objected to using Medicaid payments to enrich labor organizations. Trey Kovacs, a labor expert at the pro-free market think tank Competitive Enterprise Institute, said the rules are more in line with the spirit of supporting home health aides and caring for the disabled.

“The Trump administration rule-change will ensure Medicaid funds reach their intended destination and used exclusively to care for the elderly and disabled, not siphoned off to a labor union that may be unwanted by patients, families, and caregivers,” Kovacs said in a statement.

Labor unions have been the chief beneficiary of these automatic dues payments. CMS estimates that third party organizations have collected $71 million from such dues skimming policies, while another analysis has found that unions have pocketed as much as $150 million from these types of payments. Vincent Vernuccio, a senior policy adviser at the State Policy Network, called these practices “deceptive” and said the lower reimbursements that come after skimming “reduces the quality of care that can be provided to people who need it most.”

“No mother should be coerced into joining a union just to look after their child, and HHS’ proposed rule would ensure this never happens again,” Vernuccio said in a statement.

This is not the first time such schemes have come under scrutiny. In 2014, the Supreme Court declared an Illinois dues-skimming policy unconstitutional because the union had no input over bargaining—such as asking for higher wages—since the federal government sets reimbursements, not the states. That ruling, however, only applied to Illinois. Trump’s proposal is designed to avoid any potential work-arounds at the state or local level that would allow unions to continue collecting dues.

Labor unions that have used dues skimming in the past have accused the Trump administration of “silencing” workers. Service Employees International Union said the proposal could “endanger quality home care services” and would undermine attempts from home workers to demand higher wages or other regulations on working conditions.

“The proposed rule targets these home care workers and is designed to stop them from contributing their own wages to support their union,” the union said in a July release. “This proposal is a transparent attempt to interfere with workers’ freedom to choose to join together in a union and advocate for higher wages, better training, and basic benefits like affordable health care and paid sick time that are crucial to ensure quality home care.”

The National Right to Work Foundation helped to bring the suit that ended Illinois’ dues skimming practice. President Mark Mix said in a statement that he hopes the new rule would settle the question and eliminate any future loopholes. He called on the agency to adopt the proposal “expeditiously.”

“It is long past time that this outrageous attempt to create another exemption in federal law for union officials be ended,” Mix said in a press release. “Despite the wishes of the politicians they back, union officials are not exempt from federal law. All the current proposed rule change would do is close the illegal loophole the Obama administration attempted to create.”

The public comment period for the proposed rule ended Monday evening. The department will issue a final rule after reviewing the submissions, though no formal date for that response has yet been issued.

 

Motorists In Los Angeles Take $3,000 Hit Due To Bad Roads, Congestion

Thanks to government corruption, mismanagement and ineptness, the cost of driving a car in the Los Angeles area has an added $3,000 per year.  If that is not enough, we also have dozens of unsafe bridges—you could see yourself on the evening news re-living your car going down and collapsed bridge—exciting!!

“Driving on Los Angeles area roads costs motorists nearly $3,000 a year in vehicle repairs, fuel costs, the results of crashes and lost time because of traffic congestion, a transportation research organization said Wednesday.

The Washington, D.C.-based group TRIP found that throughout California more than two-thirds of major locally and state-maintained roads are in poor or mediocre condition, costing drivers more than $900 dollars a year in the form of accelerated vehicle depreciation, repair costs, increased fuel consumption and tire wear.

A report from the group also stated that 176 of the 4,703 bridges that are 20 feet or more in length in the Los Angeles area are structurally deficient, with significant deterioration to the bridge deck, supports or other major components.”

We have the highest gas taxes in the nation and the least amount going to the streets and roads—corruption?  This is how a socialist government operates—they create a problem, tax you to fix it, then spend the money on trains, buses and choo choo trains to nowhere!

Photo courtesy of Eric Garcetti, Flickr.

Motorists In Los Angeles Take $3,000 Hit Due To Bad Roads, Congestion

Posted by Contributing Editor, MyNewsLA, 8/15/18    :

Driving on Los Angeles area roads costs motorists nearly $3,000 a year in vehicle repairs, fuel costs, the results of crashes and lost time because of traffic congestion, a transportation research organization said Wednesday.

The Washington, D.C.-based group TRIP found that throughout California more than two-thirds of major locally and state-maintained roads are in poor or mediocre condition, costing drivers more than $900 dollars a year in the form of accelerated vehicle depreciation, repair costs, increased fuel consumption and tire wear.

A report from the group also stated that 176 of the 4,703 bridges that are 20 feet or more in length in the Los Angeles area are structurally deficient, with significant deterioration to the bridge deck, supports or other major components.

TRIP also found that drivers paid on average about $300 for vehicle repairs from traffic crashes in which roadway features likely were a contributing factor.

Traffic congestion is worsening in the Los Angeles area, causing 82 hours of delay a year and costing drivers nearly $1800 in lost time and wasted fuel, TRIP said.

The report stated the efficiency and condition of California’s transportation system, in particular its highways, is critical to the health of the state’s economy. Businesses deciding where to relocate or expand may look for states with smoother, more efficient roads and modern transportation systems, impacting the nearly $3 trillion in goods that are shipped to and from sites in California, mostly by trucks, relying on the state’s freeways and bridges, said TRIP.

“Adequate funding for the state’s transportation system would allow for smoother roads, more efficient mobility, enhanced safety, and economic growth opportunities while saving California’s drivers time and money,” said Will Wilkins, TRIP’s executive director.

The TRIP report, “Los Angeles Transportation by the Numbers: Meeting the Region’s Need for Safe, Smooth and Efficient Mobility” is available at tripnet.org.

Native Tribes Are Taking Fire Control Into Their Own Hands

Good news for the Native Tribes—they are now able to manage their forest to protect themselves and property from out of control, massively intense and large fire.  How?  By using common sense and cutting down dead trees, taking them away—making some money from them, then clearing the brush—so there is less fuel for the fire.

Too bad Jerry Brown and the previous Washington Administration want out of control fires—they outlawed cutting dead trees and dead brush—they wanted the fuel for a fire to exist.

“Such scenery is rare in the western US today, a result of 1911 federal legislation that made it illegal to ignite fires on public forest lands. That legislation curtailed centuries of forest management by the native Karuk, Yurok, and Hupa people, who had long lived in villages dotted throughout these forests; a 1918 US Forest Service ranger’s memo declared that “renegade Indian” fires were rooted in “pure cussedness.”

A hundred years later, though, western science and policy-makers are rethinking the subject. Federal forests are now choked with dead leaves, brush, and dense fir trees, a tinderbox for wildfires whirling out of control. Between 1975 and 1985, wildfires burned just over 2,000 acres a year in the Klamath area. In the decade from 2005 to 2015, that number averaged more than 350,000 acres a year. So in a new policy, the Forest Service on July 27 signed an implementation plan for managing public forest lands—an agreement in which both fire and the Karuk play a vital role.”

Once again, native Americans are, and were, smarter that the out of place government in Washington—glad to see at least native American forests can be saved—how about Yosemite?

Rainforest

Native Tribes Are Taking Fire Control Into Their Own Hands

Mejs Hasan, Wired,  8/14/18

The Klamath region near the California-Oregon border is home to indigenous tribes that once used controlled burns to prevent wildfires. Now, their role is being restored.

Sometimes Vikki Preston is inching her way through the forest when she comes across a grove of tan oak trees that feels special. The plants are healthy, the trees are old, and their trunks are nicely spaced out on the forest floor. “You can feel that the grove has been taken care of,” she says. “There’s been a lot of love and thoughtfulness.”

Tan oak groves have long been tended by indigenous people who still live along the banks of the forested Klamath and Salmon Rivers near the California-Oregon border. Preston, a cultural resource technician for the Karuk tribe, grew up watching her grandfather tend just such a grove—by burning it. Fire helped cleared away small pines, alders, and willows. It killed pests like weevils that ruin acorns, and allowed for new, straight shoots of hazel to grow that can be used for basket-weaving. It left a forest sentineled with sugar pine and oaks, scattered with meadows full of wildflowers and ferns.

Such scenery is rare in the western US today, a result of 1911 federal legislation that made it illegal to ignite fires on public forest lands. That legislation curtailed centuries of forest management by the native Karuk, Yurok, and Hupa people, who had long lived in villages dotted throughout these forests; a 1918 US Forest Service ranger’s memo declared that “renegade Indian” fires were rooted in “pure cussedness.”

A hundred years later, though, western science and policy-makers are rethinking the subject. Federal forests are now choked with dead leaves, brush, and dense fir trees, a tinderbox for wildfires whirling out of control. Between 1975 and 1985, wildfires burned just over 2,000 acres a year in the Klamath area. In the decade from 2005 to 2015, that number averaged more than 350,000 acres a year. So in a new policy, the Forest Service on July 27 signed an implementation plan for managing public forest lands—an agreement in which both fire and the Karuk play a vital role.

The first project will burn 5,570 acres near Somes Bar, California, with the Karuk, NGOs, and state and federal agencies all working to manage the project’s contracts and workforce for the next 10 years. To prepare the forest, Karuk and other local work crews will first saw away some brush and thick vegetation, lightening the load of flammable material, explains Bill Tripp from the Karuk Department of Natural Resources. They will also use heavy equipment to thin out some dense stands of conifer trees, opening up room for hardwoods that are being shaded out.

A few landowners whose homesteads are tucked within the public forest are wary of the controlled burns. But Will Harling, codirector of the Mid-Klamath Watershed Council, says most of them have come to see the logic in it. It’s the difference between having a few days of smoky air and long months of wildfire smoke. And part of the work crews’ task is to dig up a bare-soil buffer to protect private lands.

Usually, if a prescribed burn gets out of control, it’s due to inexperience. But among the Karuk, Yurok, and Hupa, fire knowledge is deep—and now that laws are changing, that knowledge can finally be applied. Preston attends a yearly managed-fire training program, TREX, in her small hometown of Orleans. The two-week program attracts about 80 to 100 participants, who learn to spray water, create fire buffers, and determine safe temperature and wind conditions for managed fires. At the end, the teams conduct a prescribed burn on a few hundred acres of forest. Trained youth teach their new skills to their parents, filling in generational gaps where traditions were lost (federal policies separated Karuk children from their families for “re-education” in the early 1900s).

Getting to this point took a lot of work. In 2009 a previous collaboration between the Forest Service and the Karuk fell apart when a ceremonial trail was damaged by loggers. During discussions, the Karuk had pointed out the significance of this trail, but their requested protections never made it into the Forest Service logging contract. Resentment built and all sides found themselves in court, where the contract was ordered to be rewritten with cultural protection in place.

Just around that time, Randy Moore became the regional forester for the Forest Service in the area. Moore grew up in Louisiana and moved to North Dakota to work with natural resources. “I was shy and reserved,” Moore recalls, and he stood out as an African-American man. “I didn’t think anyone wanted to know what I think. What made a difference to me was when people invited me into the conversation.”

Moore remembered that feeling when he started working in the Klamath River area. To rebuild trust, he hired two Hupa members, Merv George and Nolan Colegrove, to his team. “They were both highly qualified,” Moore says, “and I really mean that.” In 2013, the Karuk and NGOs led the formation of the Western Klamath Restoration Partnership, with members including indigenous people, the Forest Service, landowners, and fire safety councils. The Nature Conservancy facilitated the hodgepodge of interests through public workshops, out of which emerged the first pilot project at Somes Bar. It was just awarded $5 million from Cal FIRE, besides other funding from the Forest Service, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

On July 27, about 40 people assembled around a table placed at Camp Creek in the forest outside of Orleans to watch the Forest Service sign the project implementation plan. “We had elders crying their eyes out. They never thought they’d see this day,” says David Medford Rubalcaba, who heads the Karuk’s Integrated Fire and Fuels Management Program and is in charge of the Karuk work crews who will carry out the project. “There’s still some people around here who think natives are savages. But western science is catching up. They’re finally realizing that Native Americans have had this [forest management] knowledge all along.”

One day, Rubalcaba hopes they will manage the entire 1.4 million-acre area that comprises Karuk aboriginal lands, almost all of it administered by the Forest Service today. But in the near future, they at least want to clear away enough brush and forest litter so it will be safe enough to perform ceremonial burning for the Karuk’s World Renewal Ceremony at Offield Mountain. Ceremonial burning has been absent for over a century.

American Indians across the US are now contacting Tripp, Rubalcaba, and others in the Klamath River, wondering what chances they have for similar partnerships. Many tribes in different parts of the country are in conflict with local authorities—from state agencies controlling reservation water resources in Wyoming, to oil and gas companies threatening to disrupt reservation lands in Oklahoma. Rubalcaba offers them advice and some hope: “Washington, DC, is watching what’s happening here; they’re aware. If you can’t convince your local agencies to help, what about Congress or your governor? If you can’t build it with them, go higher up, go to Washington, go to the media. You’ll get somebody’s ear. Talk to other tribes, find out what ear they have. But don’t wait, don’t waste time.”

Future Taxpayers and Public Employees Are Paying for Past Pension Mistakes

In 1998 or 1999, the California legislature passed SB 400—since then CalPRS and CalSTS have been pushed into insolvency—kept alive by doubling the mandated contributions and having the State add hundreds of millions each year—otherwise, the doors would close.  If either were in the private sector, the government would close them down.  Then you have cities and school districts raise wages without thought of the added pension costs—again, creating massive deficits in the programs.

“As San Diego County sues its own pension fund for the right to slash benefits for new hires, and while taxpayer costs continue their ascent to record-high levels, understanding the true cause of the county’s pension crisis is more important than ever.

While some blame the stock market crash of 2008-09, the real culprit was an explosive growth in the size of promised pension benefits, and the flawed accounting practices that encouraged such recklessness. Over the past 30 years, the accrued liabilities of the San Diego County pension fund, SDCERA, increased by nearly 1,300 percent — almost four times more than the growth in the county’s total personal income over that same time period.”

It is a disaster waiting to happen, like watching a train wreck and government adds to the problem.  Now future employees will pay for the sins of the past—sounds like government, right?

SACRAMENTO, CA - JULY 21:   A sign stands in front of California Public Employees' Retirement System building July 21, 2009 in Sacramento, California. CalPERS, the state's public employees retirement fund, reported a loss of 23.4%, its largest annual loss. (Photo by Max Whittaker/Getty Images)

Future Taxpayers and Public Employees Are Paying for Past Pension Mistakes

Public sector unions are displeased at proposals to make the full cost of their pensions known. But as the experience of San Diego County so aptly demonstrates, the damage caused by overpromising is often borne by government workers themselves, particularly future hires.

 

Robert Fellner, Voice of San Diego,8/14/18

As San Diego County sues its own pension fund for the right to slash benefits for new hires, and while taxpayer costs continue their ascent to record-high levels, understanding the true cause of the county’s pension crisis is more important than ever.

While some blame the stock market crash of 2008-09, the real culprit was an explosive growth in the size of promised pension benefits, and the flawed accounting practices that encouraged such recklessness.

Over the past 30 years, the accrued liabilities of the San Diego County pension fund, SDCERA, increased by nearly 1,300 percent — almost four times more than the growth in the county’s total personal income over that same time period.

The willingness to make such large pension promises stems from accounting practices that understate their cost by ignoring risk entirely.

Specifically, by treating assumed future stock market returns as certain — despite acknowledging their investments will underperform expectations roughly 50 percent of the time — SDCERA can “discount,” or minimize, the estimated cost associated with safely funded employees’ future pension benefits.

Of course, ignoring risk on your balance sheet doesn’t make it go away in the real world, which is why this approach is outlawed in the private sector and rejected by public pension plans in more than 100 countries worldwide, with U.S. state and local public pension plans being the only exception from that consensus.

This also reveals why blaming San Diego County’s soaring pension costs on the Great Recession is so misleading. The cost was created when the promises were made, as indicated by SDCERA’s nearly 1,300 percent increase in accrued liabilities, not when they were exposed by a market downturn.

But because defraying costs to future generations is so politically attractive, there has been little interest in reform, despite the urgings of those like Warren Buffet, Nobel Laureate William F. Sharpe and what seems like the entirety of the economics profession.

Thankfully, after years of fierce criticism by prominent actuaries worried about the harm that would befall their profession as a result of its continued silence, the Actuarial Standards Board proposed a new rule that would finally require pension plans to meaningfully account for risk.

While the proposal would simply require plans to disclose the level of risk associated with their funding strategy, government unions are nonetheless howling in displeasure at the idea, terrified at the consequences of making the full cost of their pensions known.

But this reflexive opposition to honest accounting is short-sighted and destructive. As the experience of San Diego County so aptly demonstrates, the damage caused by overpromising is often borne by government workers themselves, particularly future hires.

After having been lulled into a false sense of security by numbers that overstated the health of the fund while understating the cost of increasing benefits, the County Board of Supervisors in 2002 passed a 50 percent benefit enhancement for all county employees.

But when the inevitable market downturn hit — a certainty for any long-term investor like SDCERA — paying the full cost of the 2002 enhancement fell to today’s taxpayers and public employees, who never received any of the benefits they are now being required to pay for.

In addition to forcing both groups to pay more, while getting less, the county also repeatedly cut the benefits offered to new hires to get its soaring retirement costs under control.

After reducing the retirement benefits offered to new hires in 2009 and again in 2013, the county earlier this year approved a plan to cut new employees’ benefits to the lowest level allowable under law, which are worth roughly half as much as those received by pre-2009 employees.

The current lawsuit that has delayed the implementation of this new, bare-bones retirement plan focuses only on how and when that plan will be implemented, not if.

This makes clear that all groups — including government employees — are harmed by the status quo.

Had the Board of Supervisors been informed of the true cost of the excessive and unnecessary 2002 benefit enhancement — and the degree of risk associated with relying on stock market returns to pay for it — this whole mess could have been avoided.

Requiring public pension funds like SDCERA to meaningfully account for risk will make it much harder for policymakers to force future generations to pay for their past funding failures.

And that’s good news for everyone concerned with the fiscal health of the county and the fair treatment of all its citizens — taxpayers and public employees alike.

Robert Fellner is executive director of Transparent California, a public pay database supported by the nonpartisan Nevada Policy Research Institute.