City of Richmond Faces Pension Stress

Pick a city in California. Pick a county in California. Odds are, they could be the topic of this analysis instead of Richmond. But Richmond is the focus of a recent analysis published in Reason entitled “Richmond, California’s Finances Remain Shaky,” and that work provides solid data from which to take a deeper look at what’s truly driving their financial challenges: compensation and pensions.

To summarize the Reason analysis, their most recent financial statements include the following excerpt from the auditor’s comments: “If deficit spending continues in the funds that continue to borrow from the General Fund and other funds, it reduces the likelihood that the City will be able to continue as a going concern.”

In plain English, what the auditor is saying is that the City of Richmond is spending more than they’re taking in, and they’re at risk of running out of cash. Reason’s senior policy analyst and the author of the report, Marc Joffe, writes: “Richmond’s unrestricted general fund balance of $18 million is small relative to general fund expenditures of $157 million. The ratio of 9% compares unfavorably to the 17% level recommended by the Government Finance Officers’ Association.”

Where is the money going? Compensation and pensions. Using raw data readily available from the California Office of the State Controller, in 2018 Richmond paid $121 million in base pay, overtime, other wages, health benefits and pension fund contributions. This represents 77 percent of their general fund expenditures.

When that percentage of a city’s budget is going towards pay and benefits, there are only a few ways to recover from deficits. One is to cut positions, which is what Richmond’s outgoing city manager, Carlos Martinez, suggested in a proposal that cost him his job.

According to John Geluardi, writing for the East Bay Express, “The firing was driven by the city’s five unions, which were angry with Martinez over negotiations and alleged labor law violations. In the past two or three weeks, union leaders put heavy pressure on councilmembers to oust the city manager. But Martinez was facing a $7 million budget deficit, which he inherited.”

To cover that deficit, as reported in the East Bay Times, Martinez had “identified a $7.6 million shortfall in fiscal year 2019-20, and identified 12 positions to be cut in order to make up for it. Martinez said they were upper management positions, not rank and file.”

The Times article also quoted Detective Ben Therriault, head of the Richmond Police Officers Association, saying that “The labor relations in the city have come to a collapse. For the past 10 months, labor has been worse than it has been in the past 10 years.” But how will the City of Richmond pay the bills?

Raising taxes is always the favored option of California’s local governments. In November 2018, 259 local agencies put tax increases onto the ballot in California and over 70 percent of them were approved by voters. Maybe new taxes will rescue Richmond’s finances. But do Richmond residents deserve to pay higher local taxes – sales tax, parcel tax, business licence tax, transient occupancy tax, utility user tax, gross receipts tax, etc.?

Richmond is not a wealthy city. The average per capita income in 2016 was $26,238; the average household income was $61,814. The average pay and benefits for a full time employee in the City of Richmond in 2018 was $181,444. These figures were arrived at using raw payroll data submitted by the City of Richmond to the California Office of the State Controller. Readers are welcome to download the spreadsheet showing the calculations. Perhaps there are errors, and if so, contact CPC and we will publish a retraction. Because these figures are literally unbelievable.

Unlike most cities and counties in California, moreover, there doesn’t appear to be a significant difference in compensation between public safety employees and the city bureaucrats. The average total pay and benefits for the 223 city bureaucrats identified as full time employees in 2018 was $182,772. For the police, $168,576, and for the firefighters, an astonishing $212,219.

Something that has always been inexplicable is why police get less in compensation than firefighters. This disparity is evident in most California cities and counties, and is in conflict with market realities as well as common sense. It is always difficult to recruit police officers, whereas when firefighting positions open there are always hundreds, if not thousands of applicants. And common sense, backed up by national statistics, shows that while police work and firefighting are both dangerous professions, they carry roughly equal risk.

The solution to this disparity, however, is not for police officers to make more. It is for firefighters to make less. If the 97 firefighters identified in 2018 as working full time for Richmond were paid $168,576 per year – equal to what Richmond’s police were paid, it would save the city $4.2 million per year, which would go a long way towards solving their budget deficit. Perhaps then Martinez would have only had to cut a half-dozen high ranking bureaucrat positions to balance the budget.

We may dream on. But some solution that remains within the realm of fantasy today will become hard reality tomorrow. Because Richmond’s financial problems are just beginning. Using projections provided by CalPERS for the City of Richmond, that city’s pension contribution is going to rise from $31 million in the fiscal year just ended to over $49 million by 2024. And that’s the low number. If the market “corrects,” Richmond will have to throw even more money into CalPERS’s insatiable maw.

While it may be harsh to suggest firefighters take pay cuts, it’s also necessary to explain that restoring parity to police and firefighter pay cannot possibly be afforded via increasing police pay. The money is not there. If equitable parity is to exist between these two noble professions, unfortunately, firefighter pay will have to come down.

It is impossible to overstate the appreciation most people feel for public safety professionals, certainly including firefighters. The same cannot be said for the leadership of the firefighters union. Over the past 20 years or longer, why didn’t the firefighters union leadership help stand up to the extreme environmentalist lobby, so legislation could have been passed allowing public agencies and private landowners to thin the forests? Why didn’t they fight for better wildland management, allowing for more controlled burns?

Instead, earlier this year, Harold Schaitberger, head of the International Association of Firefighters, marched in the streets with the United Teachers of Los Angeles – a radical leftist mob bent on destroying life as we know it. Perhaps it’s time for a long overdue grassroots insurgency by the center-right membership of public safety unions, so they can overthrow their “comrades” in charge.

Meanwhile, unions and management need to sit down in Richmond, and elsewhere, and talk about how to lower the cost of living for everyone, instead of always pushing for more, more, more.

5 Warnings For Parents This Back-To-School Season

It is back-to-school time for students across America, which means that it also a time for parents to be aware of the signs that schools may not be providing the quality of education they want for their children.

Here are the top five warning signs for which parents should be on the look out.

Low student performance. Parents, of course, should be aware of whether their children’s school is improving their knowledge and achievement.

Too many schools fail to get students up to proficient levels in the core subjects.

On the latest National Assessment for Educational Progress exam, two-thirds of U.S. eighth-grade public-school students failed to reach proficiency in math and reading.

Middle-class parents should not be complacent, since more than half of non-low-income students failed to achieve proficiency in either math or reading.

Safety and discipline. Ask parents and most will say that their children’s safety is a top priority, which is justified given data showing significant safety issues on public school campuses.

A federal report found that during 2015-16, “79 percent of public schools recorded that one or more incidents of violence, theft, or other crimes had taken place, amounting to 1.4 million crimes.”

Yet, the Obama administration pushed school districts to repeal tough discipline policies that might have a disparate impact on minority students, even if those policies had no discriminatory intent.

In fact, research shows that prior student behavior, not race, is the key factor explaining why students are suspended.

Although the Trump administration repealed this Obama anti-discipline guidance, many school districts continue to implement lax discipline policies, so parents need to find out whether schools are promoting safety for all or political correctness.

Curriculum and indoctrination. In too many schools, education is morphing into ideological indoctrination.

In California, for example, a proposed ethnic studies curriculum lists capitalism as one key source of “power and oppression.”

The curriculum urges educators and students to connect “to past and contemporary resistance movements that struggle for social justice on the global and local levels” and imagine “new possibilities for post-imperial life.”

Students, therefore, are to be turned into ideological revolutionaries.

This call for more leftist indoctrination is not limited to California.

American Federation of Teachers union boss Randi Weingarten has urged “more civics participation” by students, which includes “the fight for social justice.”

District unresponsiveness. When parents see things they don’t like, they want schools to be responsive to their concerns.

Sadly, many school districts could not care less what parents want.

In New York City, ultra-liberal Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza has pushed changes to the admissions system for the city’s elite public schools that the city department of education admits will cut Asian-American enrollment by half.

Asian-American parents are understandably outraged, not only about the policy, but about the secretive process under which the policy is rolling out.

Recently, Carranza held a closed-door “community chat” on the policy change that was not listed on his schedule, closed to the press, and not open to most Asian parents, many of whom came out to protest the off-limits meeting.

Yifeng Chen, a member of a local community education council, said, “There are a lot of Asians in my area,” and yet “no Asian members of our CEC were in this meeting.”

Teacher unions using parents and children as pawns. Finally, teacher unions often use children as pawns in their quest for more money and power and for their fight to limit the school choices for parents.

The union-driven Red for Ed teachers movement has pushed strikes and protests, claiming these actions will benefit students.

However, the National Education Association, the country’s largest teachers union, voted down an internal motion to “re-dedicate itself to the pursuit of increased student learning in every public school in America” and to “make student learning the priority of the Association.”

Further, in strikes from West Virginia to California, unions focused on limiting the right of parents to choose different schooling options, especially charter schools, that best meet the needs of their children.

Thus, parents be forewarned — your children may not only receive a bad education, they can become pawns and victims of leftist ideologues and special interests.

Lance Izumi is senior director of the Center for Education at the Pacific Research Institute and author of the new book, “Choosing Diversity: How Charter Schools Promote Diverse Learning Models and Meet the Diverse Needs of Parents and Children.”

The end of Cabernet in Napa Valley?

Cabernet Sauvignon grapes make America’s favorite wine, and they are the lifeblood of Napa Valley, our country’s most famous wine region. Cabernet accounts for 65% of the grapevines grown in Napa, where last year the crop reached a record $1 billion in gross value.

But Cabernet, like all of California agriculture, is under threat. As Napa’s wine industry continues to confront rising temperatures, increasingly frequent wildfires, intermittent drought and erratic weather, a small but growing contingent of vintners is becoming more vocal about the need to address climate change head-on.

Frustrated by the lack of industry-wide action, some are taking matters into their own hands by planting experimental vineyards — and, in some cases, acknowledging that the future of Napa Valley may not lie solely with Cabernet.

“I hear some wineries saying, ‘We’re going to have to start thinking about different grape varieties in 30 years,’” says Dan Petroski, winemaker at Larkmead Vineyards in Calistoga. His incredulous response: “You’re going to start thinking about it in 30 years?” …

Click here to read the full article from the San Francisco Chronicle

New Split Roll Initiative, Same Old Problems

Supporters of the split roll ballot initiative already qualified for the 2020 ballot to tax commercial property on a different basis than residential property made “adjustments” to the measure’s language. They claim they are strengthening the measure to help it pass. What they are doing is recognizing flaws in the initial version and not changing the thrust of a measure designed to raise taxes, consumer costs and undercut Proposition 13. 

The flaws in the measure are costly for the proponents. 

An initiative to qualify for the ballot, in this case a constitutional amendment, needs signatures that equal a percentage of votes cast for governor in the last election. The previous initiative required 585,407 and cost over $3 million to qualify. Since the number of petition signatures required has increased to 997,113 after the last governor’s race, the proponents will have to spend double or more while the initial investment is down the drain. 

Or is it? 

The proponents have yet to pull the first measure already qualified for the ballot despite its flaws. They have the power to do that. Even if the measure has obvious problems acknowledged by proponents, will they leave it in place while trying to gather the necessary signatures to qualify the new measure to use as some form of leverage or in case they fail to gather enough signatures in time? If the old initiative stays active with its admitted flaws it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to pass. 

Of the new measure, Rob Lapsley, president of the California Business Roundtable and co-chair of Californians to Stop Higher Property Taxes said, “This is just another, equally flawed measure aimed at dismantling Proposition 13.” Lapsley added, “Proponents should at least withdraw their existing measure, which they now acknowledge is fatally flawed. However, there are no tweaks or amendments that can be made to this split roll measure that will prevent it from being a major, multi-billion-dollar tax on all Californians in the form of higher prices on everything we buy – from groceries and gasoline to diapers and day care.” 

Among the changes the Schools & Communities First initiative is dealing with are fixing school funding formulas and clarifying tax relief for small businesses, according to the campaign’s press release.

Schools in basic aid districts complained they were not getting a fair share of the new taxes the split roll intended to raise. The press release notes that business changes include delaying reassessments on buildings that have 50% or more small businesses occupying a building. The idea is to protect businesses that rent from property owners and have the property tax increase passed to them as many leases require.

However, it only means delayed pain for small businesses; that pain is still coming. Apparently, small businesses that rent in a building that has less than 50% small business occupants are out of luck. 

With the state already sitting on billions in reserve money, proponents are going to have to explain why attacking businesses is a priority that will lead to higher consumer costs, lost jobs and a damaged economy. 

With polls at best showing a bare majority of support for the split roll when the polls don’t follow up with opposing arguments, the split roll effort becomes more complicated by adding new, confusing language to the measure. 

Whatever the changes, the overall threat to the long term existence for Prop 13 will be a focus of the 2020 campaign.

Jon Coupal, President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and co-chair of Californians to Stop Higher Property Taxes stated, “It is no secret that split roll proponents have had their eye on unraveling Proposition 13 protections for decades. Homeowners will not tolerate any changes to Proposition 13 now or in the future.” 

(Disclosure: I have worked on efforts to oppose major changes to Proposition 13 over the years.)

Joel Fox is editor and co-publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily.

This article was originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily.

New Lawsuit Challenges California’s Assault Weapons Ban

A gun-rights group sued Thursday to block California from enforcing its assault weapons ban, contending it violates the Second Amendment right to bear arms.

The lawsuit was the latest among gun advocacy and lobbying groups to challenge California’s firearms laws, which are among the strictest in the country, and comes after a recent series of deadly mass shootings nationwide involving military-style rifles.

The lawsuit was filed in the same San Diego federal court district where a judge in April tossed out a nearly two-decade-old California ban on sales and purchases of ammunition magazines holding more than 10 bullets.

The new lawsuit says that decision by U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez undercuts California’s ban on certain weapons defined as “assault weapons” because they can use large-capacity magazines. Benitez’s decision triggered a weeklong buying frenzy before he stopped sales while the state appeals his ruling. …

Click here to read the full article from CBS News

Impact of Scooters on Environment Not So Simple

The dockless electric scooters that started popping up in California cities three years ago are facing a two-front backlash. 

The first front involves complaints over heavy use hurting quality of life in tourist areas and posing safety risks to both users and pedestrians.

In Los Angeles, anger over scooters has left city leaders increasingly opento a regulatory crackdown and led to hundreds, perhaps thousands, of scooters being vandalized. In San Diego, California’s second largest city, whether to ban or severely limit scooters is shaping up as a major issue in the 2020 mayoral race. One of the two early frontrunners, Democratic Assemblyman Todd Gloria, is a scooter supporter. The other, Democratic Councilwoman Barbara Bry, sees them as a failed experiment. 

The second front of criticism has generally caught the scooter industry by surprise: That’s the view that one of scooters’ main selling points – that they help the environment by limiting vehicle emissions – is exaggerated or false. 

Scooters only last a month or two, not a year

The criticism took off last year after industry leaders Bird and Lime disclosed that many scooters were only lasting a month or two, not nearly a year, as some investors were told. That means the amount of industrial pollution generated by the manufacturing of the inexpensive scooters is five times or more what was expected.

Now a Los Angeles Times’ report detailing academic research into the question of scooters’ effects on the environment has confirmed how much the durability issue undercuts hopes that scooters will bring emissions down.

“While traveling a mile by scooter is better than driving the same distance by car, it’s worse than biking, walking or taking a bus – the modes of transportation that scooters most often replace. That’s primarily because of the energy-intensive materials that go into making the vehicles,” the Times noted, but also “because of the driving required to collect, charge and redistribute them.”

The key research cited by the newspaper was published last month in the journal Environmental Research Letters by North Carolina State University researchers Joseph Hollingsworth, Brenna Copeland and Jeremiah Johnson. While it did conclude that under current conditions, scooters were not helping the environment, the study was only partly downbeat.

Study offers mixed take on scooters’ value

The researchers said scooters could end up a net plus if durability were improved to the point that they lasted two years. The study also noted that scooter companies which developed more efficient systems for gathering and recharging scooters each night – in particular by not picking up scooters that still held charges – could limit emissions.

And the researchers not only found that scooters were very helpful in improving urban mobility, but that they “may be an effective solution” to one of the thorniest transportation issues: the “last-mile problem.” Because bus, train and other transit stops and stations are spaced blocks or even miles apart, transit officials struggle to efficiently get people from destination to destination. 

Dockless scooters’ potential to reduce this problem has also been hailed by a Wall Street Journal columnist, a former Cato Institute researcher and urban planners in Australia.

This article was originally published by CalWatchdog.com

PG&E is accused of trying to dodge wildfire responsibilities

PG&E was accused on Monday of attempting to dodge potential liabilities in a lethal Wine Country inferno, at a time when fire victims must wrestle with two separate deadlines to file claims related to a series of deadly blazes.

The utility — a convicted felon for federal crimes it committed before and after a fatal gas explosion in San Bruno — is under fire because of the company’s attempts to convince a U.S. bankruptcy judge to predict how a jury would determine PG&E’s liability for a catastrophic Wine Country conflagration in 2017 known as the Tubbs Fire.

“What is going on here is PG&E is once again attempting to avoid responsibility for its fires and its actions,” said Robert Julian, an attorney with the Baker Hostetler law firm, which is representing fire victims with potential claims before the bankruptcy court. PG&E filed for a Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January to attempt to reorganize its shattered finances. …

Click here to read the full article from the Mercury News

California counties sue over public benefit immigration rule

San Francisco and Santa Clara counties filed the first lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s new rules to deny green cards to migrants who use Medicaid, food stamps, housing vouchers or other forms of public assistance.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday, came after the Department of Homeland Security’s announcement Monday of its expanded “public charge” rules to restrict legal immigration.

In a filing, the counties of Santa Clara and San Francisco argued that the rules will worsen the health and well-being of their residents, increase public health risks and financially harm the counties.

The rules, the counties argued, would result in a “chilling effect” in which migrants forgo or disenroll from federal public assistance programs to reduce the risk of being denied a green card. This practice would mean that the cost of services would shift from federal to state governments, the counties argued. …

Click here to read the full article from the Associated Press

Let Them Come to Hong Kong

President John F. Kennedy’s speech in Berlin on August 13, 1961, is most remembered for his “Ich bin ein Berliner” phrase, but he delivered equally memorable – and powerful – words leading up to that.  He was delineating the differences between the communist and democratic world: “There are some who say that communism is the wave of the future. Let them come to Berlin. And there are some who say in Europe and elsewhere we can work with the Communists. Let them come to Berlin. And there are even a few who say that it is true that communism is an evil system, but it permits us to make economic progress. Lass’ sie nach Berlin kommen. Let them come to Berlin!”

Powerful words – elegantly crafted as usual by Ted Sorenson and elegantly delivered as usual by Kennedy. The estimated 1 million people in the crowd were waving thousands of American flags, then as now the worldwide symbol of freedom – unless you are deep into the leftist fever swamps. Fast forward 58 years and move 5,400 miles to the east and you come to Hong Kong and the latest example of the power of our 243 year grand old flag.

Unless you’ve lived in a cave – or are a typical flag-phobic American liberal – you know that hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong residents have been demonstrating for weeks demanding more freedom from their socialist masters in Beijing. Their adopted symbol of freedom is – gasp – that horrid piece of cloth with red, white and blue stars and stripes on it. Who knew there were so many white nationalists, Nazis and racists in Hong Kong?

Many of the demonstrators have been arrested, many have been beaten, all risk arrest and long prison terms. The powerful allure of freedom – of America and its flag – makes it all worthwhile to our freedom-loving soul brothers on that prosperous archipelago.

The Democrat candidates for president, their mouthpieces in the press and the far-left hive of “hate all things American all the time” groupies have been completely silent on these protests. Colin Kaepernick has apparently been too busy labeling cops as “pigs” and the flag “a symbol of racism and oppression” to notice. Megan Rapinoe, the pink-haired, self-aggrandizing attention whore whose claim to fame is that she kicked a ball into a net the size of a double garage, has been too occupied insulting America’s national house and its flag to comment.

If the demonstrators were burning American flags you may be sure it would be nightly news, with Trump being blamed. Every one of the 73 Democrats running for president would be tut-tutting about how Trump has damaged America around the world. But several hundred thousand pro-American demonstrators is not a story to the Left or the media, pardon the redundancy, and certainly not worth the time of the occupants of the Democrat presidential clown car to comment on.

But if Kaepernick and Rapinoe want to learn what real oppression is – let them come to Hong Kong. If Pocahontas, Spartacus, Kamala “Heels Up” Harris, Slow Joe or any of the other Democrat candidates want to understand why their plans to remake America into a socialist paradise are idiocy – let them come to Hong Kong.

And if any of the above or any of the folks suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome – including members of my family – want to see first hand how Donald Trump has  made America great again, in the eyes of people who are in fact oppressed, and know the truth about our country and the horrid alternatives – let them come to Hong Kong.

Bill Saracino is a member of the Editorial Board of CA Political Review.

Death by Ecology: Killing California … God’s Best Green Deal

[An excerpt from a forthcoming book]

So you think the Green New Deal isn’t going to happen? Well, California is leading the way — good[?] intentions on the road to hell? Here’s an autopsy of the Green policies killing California and identifying the killers. For 15,000 years, millions of human beings migrated to California. It was the American Dream.

Millions of Californians go elsewhere to pursue life, liberty, property and happiness. From 1992-2018, California lost a net 4.2 million people to other American states. From 1990 to 2012, California lost nearly a million manufacturing jobs. That’s nearly half, 40%, of all manufacturing jobs. Similarly, industrial employment plunged 60% from 2005-2015. Two-thirds of the aerospace industry that sent America to the moon and won the Cold War has gone since 1990.

In short, costly environmental drove them out of jobs and out of state.

The New Left leader Jerry Brown, 1.0 and 2.0, and compliant Republicans Pete Wilson and Arnold Schwarzenegger decided they could do better than God and a free people. These eco-gods demanded air, water and land made cleaner than God Himself made them. Human habitat, private property, had to give way to the needs of fish and wildlife.

In pursuing eco-utopia, deep state environmentalists often appear rather silly, even stupid. Yet they are deadly serious. They destroyed what was once the world’s happiest place.

Consider the California Crow. The California Air Resources Board is at war with milk and meat. They say cow farts, gases, are appalling dangers to the atmosphere of planet earth. The Water Resources Control Board is taking action against the dreaded enemy — cattle manure. 

Eco-warriors have convicted grazing cattle of a genocidal holocaust. They blame cows for killing all manner of species and destroying their habitat: fairy shrimp, Desert Tortoise, salmon etc. One cow on one acre at a time, are blamed for destroying all manner of wildlife.

Of Straws and Smelt. California’s war on all things plastic — bottles, bags and straws — shows its Lilliputian desperation to save the planet. California environmentalists are desperate to save the “fragile” 187 quintillion gallon Pacific Ocean from overflowing plastic. And the 100 million-acre California must not run out of spaces to put trash in landfills.

California sends half of its abundant fresh water to the Pacific Ocean. Water police order city folk to drink recycled toilet water and to live on 55 gallons a day. Ten percent of all water is too much for the serfs who may bathe every other Saturday whether they need it or not. Desalinated seawater at ten times the cost of reservoir water is also recommended. California demands its residents take a water conservation pledge … and to the utopia for which it stands.

***

The Deadly Serious.

Environmental authorities act as police, prosecutors, juries, and judges. They, do not yet conduct executions, but they do ruthlessly prosecute and assassinate the characters and livelihoods of resisters. They defame greedy businessmen for intentionally poisoning air, water and land. Fines, jail time, and costly regulations have driven tens of thousands of the smallest mom and pop enterprises (dry cleaners, body shops, independent gas stations) out of business. Few family-owned, independent gasoline stations remain. They once competed with Big Oil on gasoline prices.  

***

Tyranny of the Clerks–Eco-Police Powers.

Eco-zealots build authoritarian bureaucracies ordering all Californians, convicted without due processes, to conform to their delusions of an eco-utopia. TheCalifornia Penal Code grants armed police powers to state public employees policing food, drugs, and chemicals.

***

Drat those deplorable human masses yearning to breed free and plunder the planet.

***

California Environmental Law.

The most authoritarian elements of California’s Green Regime are the California Endangered Species Act, the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (Proposition 65) and the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32). These laws and more enrich bureaucrats, environmental consultants, green industries, lawyers, and crony capitalists.

California Endangered Species Act. Under eco-ethics, every deplorable human is commanded to care about nobler species like the road kill scavenger, the California Condor. In time, the ESA zealots may recover the Unicorn, lost in ancient fables or more likely the Black Plague, the 1918 flu, and/or small pox.

The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).  CEQA routinely extorts outrageous concessions, green blackmail, “mitigations,” of cash, land and project modifications from property owners. Only the very wealthy or large corporations can afford the consultants and lawyers required. Governments routinely grant exemptions for crony capitalist friends and privileged projects, e.g. sports stadiums, solar and wind projects, public transit, “bullet” trains and subways. 

CEQA limits economic growth and stops or delays vital housing, roads, bridges, dams, canals, refineries. CEQA delays efforts to clear away kindling, dead, dying and dry trees and brush, to prevent catastrophic firestorms. In 2018, like policies killed 88 people in Paradise California and statewide destroyed 10,000 homes, business and cars.

Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (Proposition 65). Unreal, but usefully scary, Prop 65 requires warning labels and regulations on nearly 1,000 chemicals. ‘The State of California has determined,” presumes, chemicals and their users are guilty for causing cancer or birth defects.  Yet the American Cancer Society says California lacks a scientific basis for its cancer warnings.

California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32). A few“experts” of science and economics command and control major sectors of the economy. 360 major industries. Carbon is the prime target. Businesses buy and sell, trade, emission allowances. Like Soviet five-year plans, Cap and Trade demands quotas. Carbon emissions are ordered to decline every year. It is a phony market pretending to reflect the supply and demand for greenhouse gases.

***

California’s Environmental Apparatchiks

California Environmental Protection Agency (Cal EPA). The second highest building in Sacramento, capital of California, is the headquarters of the California Environmental Protection Agency (Cal EPA). Cal EPA’s 5,000 employees have their own safe spaces from Nature, cars and citizens. They have bike racks and no parking. Caught using a verboten rodenticide to kills rats infesting the CalEPA environs, EPA caved under pressure. Rats, fleas, plague, hantavirus and typhus all breathed a sigh of relief.

The EPA building is the home of six omnipotent deep state bureaucracies: California Air Resources Board (CARB), State Water Resources Control Board (WRCB), Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHMA), Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) and Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle)

The California Air Resources Board (CARB), the eco-state’s Air and Space Force, has summarily convicted carbon in air pollution for causing lung cancer and chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD). In fact, compared to historical and geological time, carbon is now in very short supply, a drought.

Condemning the “economic poisons” of capitalism, CARB’s claims about air pollution are suspect. Smoking, not air pollution, explains almost 90% of deaths from lung cancer and COPD. Similarly, fine particulate matter (PM), dirt blowing in the wind ruins visibility, irritates existing lung conditions, but rarely kills. Bacteria, viruses and fungi, e.g. pneumonia, influenza and mold do kill. Compared to unhealthy individual behavior—smoking, dirty homes (cockroaches, rats, dust, mites), obesity, alcoholism—chemical pollutants are insignificant. The air inside the most sanitary homes is two and five times more polluted than the air outside.

California works tirelessly to drive people out of the mobility and safety of their cars. The Board blames the car for air pollution and death from lung diseases. Yet individuals are responsible for their own unhealthy lifestyles including reckless and drunken driving. The environmentalists care little about individual responsibility and freedom. California law aims to reduce vehicle miles traveled (VMT), freedom.

California steals 80% of taxes on gasoline. California builds or repairs few roads and bridges. They recommend sidewalks, bike paths, buses, trains, telecommuting, car pools. Preferring “smart” growth, high-density housing, California opposes affordable suburban housing. Life in high-rise Soviet style housing projects, like rats in cages, is filthy and frightful.

In 1990, California ordered carmakers to produce electric cars, aka “Zero Emission” Vehicles (ZEV). Policy overlords expected to jump start innovation and repeal the laws of physics, the limited energy storage capacity of batteries.

California Energy Commission. The Commission has stopped Big Oil’s evilly profitable access to both America’s largest shale reserves in the Monterey Shale and off shore crude oil reserves.. The Commission has also succeeded in banning or tearing down nuclear and hydroelectric power plants producing cheap, clean and reliable electricity. The Commission has commanded all new single-family homes and apartments have solar panels by 2020.

The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System (392 MW) got special permissions to kill Desert Tortoises. Taxpayers paid millions to relocate handfuls of turtles. subsidized wind projects kill Golden Eagles, hundreds of thousands of birds and millions of bats.

California leads the nation in self-imposed power blackouts and bankrupted utilities.The state schedules rolling blackouts and approves blackouts to prevent wildfires. These actions cover up California’s inadequate supply of electricity caused by its war on oil, coal, nuclear and hydroelectric energy. 

The Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) leads a totalitarian assault up your cars’ tailpipe and your pocketbook. Almost 100% of cars today have low emissions. Hence, California’s annual SMOG tests are a scam for collecting more taxes on Californians’ “perverse love of their cars,” freedom. Paying cash for clunkers separates poor people from affordable transportation.

The regulation of diesel particulate matter (PM), based on the flawed study of a CARB fake Ph.D., kicks thousands of small independent truck owners out of business.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District, SCAQMD, the eco-states’ Army, Southern Command, has perfected bureaucratic art of exercising the death penalty on all stationary sources of air pollution. The District placed a moratorium on all oil production off the California coast after the Santa Barbara oil spill. Eliminating one bad smelling GHG, sulfur dioxide, has only succeeded in reducing regional hazy skies. A few days of wildfire, a volcano eruption or an steroid easily wipes out a full year’s emissions from all automobiles.

The all-powerful District has driven tens of thousands of the smallest mom and pop enterprises (dry cleaners, body shops, independent gas stations) out of business. While heavy metals and solvents from oils smell bad, there is little evidence their concentration in water are health risks (parts per billion and trillion). The independents once competed on gasoline prices with Big Oil.  

In short, The District has waged a war on economic opportunities for the poor, the young and the middle class.   

The Water Resources Control Board (WRCB), “control” being its Prime Directive, exercises near absolute power over California’s water, both its supply and quality. The Board has halted the building of major water storage, new dams, for forty years. It is working to tear down existing dams. The Board is diverting water from humans to fish.  

The water Board and the Department of Water Resources steal voter approved bond monies. Time and again, California voters are deceived into believing phony promises to build new water storage. Yet only 12% of bond funds are spent on new water storage.

Water Quality. WRCB’s second absolute power is water quality. It defines clean water as it wishes. It hypes up public fear of tap water, some of it the cleanest water on earth. Most violations of state clean water regulations and laws are clerical, technical, minor, even trivial and frivolous infractions presenting little or no danger to public health or the environment.

Less than one per cent of all the violations of the U.S. Safe Drinking Water Act involve organic chemicals like pesticides. A full 70 per cent of dangerous clean water violations are disease organisms, requiring increased use of chemicals, chlorine and a hot sun, to keep water safe.

The primary achievement of the WRCB is scaring citizens, corporations and local governments out of money to pay off lawsuit-chasing attorneys, environmental consultants, prevailing wage unions and state certified crony capitalist contractors to build water treatment plants releasing water cleaner than it comes out of the sky, rivers, lakes or wells.

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California’s Chemistry Police.

California trumps up dangers of chemicals through its Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) and Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR). Toxic chemicals cause less than 3% of cancer.   

Within the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) California’s Ministry of Politically Correct Science, is the overlord for the health risks of about 1,000 chemicals. OEHHA and others have “determined” fire-fighting foam causes cancer or reproductive harm. Note the chemicals concentrated in chocolate cake are 250 times greater than typical risk guidelines for toxic chemicals.

Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC). Born, nurtured and grown to one thousand employees, the DTSC arose out of public outrage over alarming stories of hazardous toxic chemical waste sites and road spills. Easily deceived citizens blame  their bad health upon some dump, factory, farm, or refinery close by. The Superfund solution has been totalitarian, never ending and immensely profitable to lawyers and remediation companies.

DTSC has taken the lead in seeking safer alternatives to toxic chemicals used in nail salons. California’s has thousands working in hazardous waste teams responding to spilled milk and overturned trucks.

California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR). DPR is a complex   bureaucracy dedicated to smothering regulation and the nations’ most stringent laws banning and restricting the use of the Devil’s own pesticides. California is the breadbasket of the world. There is no link between disease and pesticide residues on food. Recently listed food recalls of the Federal Drug Administration and the Center for Disease Control are entirely for microbes, pathogens, bacteria and viruses, not pesticides. Glyphosate, Roundup, found in Ben and Jerry’s ice cream would take very mighty doses–200,000 pints of ice cream to  kill–roughly six pints a day for 100 years. One will run out of either ice cream or life before dying from Roundup.

The pesticide free world, willfully, if silently, protects deadly, killer, species of pests and microbes– fungi, malarial mosquitos, Bubonic Plague rats, Ebola fruit bats, E. Coli, salmonella, listeria, vibrio cholera, etc. The ban on DDT protects the deadliest predator on earth, the mosquito, transmitting deadly malaria killing 1 million every year– a child dies from malaria every 30 seconds. Mosquitoes also spread dengue fever, yellow fever, encephalitis and West Nile virus.

California has experienced hysterical episodes over Malathion, Methyl Bromide, chlorpyrifos as well as Roundup.

 The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) prohibits the “taking” of the lives or habitat of any endangered or threatened species of wildlife. With the help of the feds, it has driven many loggers, farmers, miners (gold, sand, gravel), cowboys and land owners out of California. ESA’s absolutist takes or reduces the value of private property without just compensation and due process of law. Along with CEQA, the ESA has halted the building of adequate numbers of homes, roads, dams etc.

The California Coastal Commission, the eco-states’ Marine Corp specializes in driving private property owners off their own land and out of their homes. The Commission also usurps the powers of elected local officials. The Commission’s near-dictatorial powers extend in the “coastal zone.” That’s 1,100 miles from the Oregon to Mexico border seaward three miles and as many as five miles inland.

The California Resource Agency, and related entitiesare devoted to preserving all of California’s natural resources. The federal and state government owns about 52% of California’s 103 million acres. Not good enough, the Resource Agency has declared 75% of California is wildland. Unfortunately, about 28% of such sacred ground is still in private hands. Conservancies are “voluntarily” absorbing private land into woodland, wildlife, nature, or “agricultural” preservations. Access for recreation, logging, mining, farming, motorized recreation etc. is limited or outright prohibited. Banning logging and burns (controlled and natural), allied with bark beetles have killed 129 million trees fueling catastrophic firestorms.  Many owners squat as serfs on their own homesteads in the Kings’ forests.  

Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) works hard for a perfectly waste- free, “Zero Waste” regime. Otherwise, California’s 100 million acres might run out of space for landfill. A trash gestapo collects a tax, a “California Redemption Value” of a mere five or ten cents on each of ten billion or so pop, beer and juice cans and bottles a year.  Fewer and fewer Californians are feeling virtuous about giving their free labor picking rags, sorting trash, fondling “post-consumer” garbage, and diving into dumpsters. No wonder so much meticulously sorted trash quietly goes directly to a landfill. It takes a lot of indoctrination, technology and phony analyses to justify massive recycling. More people recycle than vote. How’s that for environmental indoctrination?

California’s education system, a wholly owned subsidiary of the California Teachers Association (CTA), successfully maintaining the second highest teacher salaries, has driven math, English, science and civics out of California schools keeping the serfs too ignorant, tired or intimidated to object to eco-tyranny.

Roger Canfield, Ph.D. americong.com

Mid career Dr. Canfield applied for a position with the California Forestry Association fighting the destruction of California’s timber industry by state and federal protection of the allegedly endangered Spotted Owl. The eco-terrorist Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski, murdered Gilbert Murray the better man the Forestry Association hired.

Canfield has been researching and writing about environmental issues for over thirty years as a college professor, candidate, legislative staffer, consultant, journalist, and public information officer. Listening to the complaints of hundreds of Californians, he has first-hand knowledge of California’s environmental tranny.  

As a child, the author swam in an orange pond of an abandoned open pit coalmine down near the Ohio in southern Indiana and came away with a hard head and harder teeth. He worked three California summers spraying asbestos laden plaster upon the ceilings of new homes and businesses and came up 25 years later with a bad heart and lungs…from decades of heavy smoking.  He interned with the special Projects Office of the Navy building Polaris nuclear submarines. He worked a summer at a piece-work plastics factory in Sweden.      

As a Public Information Officer for the Department of Water Resources (DWR), he attended symbolic public meetings. In one series, he felt angry citizens were close to lynching the unresponsive DWR bureaucrats before them. Why had the DWR spent millions to study, but had no plans for new flood control dams, levees, flood plains? Why did DWR believe its computer models instead of the flood experience of citizens before them. A lynching appeared quite justified.

For over thirty years, he has supported building a water, power and flood control dam at Auburn to protect and serve the Sacramento region. Environmental groups vigorously opposed, claiming to protect the Delta Smelt, while fronting for rafting companies and the commercial salmon industry. 

In 1990, the author was campaign manager opposing a statewide ballot initiative, Prop 117, of nearly a billion dollars to provide habitat for Mountain Lions. Today Mountain Lions roam California farms and urban areas munching on livestock, pets, Long Horn Sheep and an occasional jogger.

On a long tour of the Klamath River watershed, he attended a rally in southern Oregon of angry homesteading farmers losing water to bottom feeding, bony suckerfish and Coho Salmon.

 For failing to care for levees because DWR protected elderberry beetle habitat on levees, DWR was successfully sued for the deaths and destruction following a flood in Linda California.

Working for the County of Placer where environmentalists, e.g. Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and the Tree foundation, opposed cutting trees or clearing brush and pine needles to prevent wildfires. Therafter, the Agora fire destroyed 242 homes and 67 businesses in South Lake Tahoe.

Working for the City of Colfax, he observed a locust of lawyers suing city for petty paperwork violations of clean air law costing the tiny thousands to fix and millions to build a new water treatment plant producing cleaner water than pristine Sierra runoff.