Poll: Most Say Federal Taxes Too High

From Politico:

The day before Tax Day, April 15, a new poll shows that more than half of Americans think the amount they pay in federal income taxes is too high.

Fifty-two percent said the amount they have to pay is too high, while 42 percent called it “about right,” according to a Gallup poll released Monday.

(Read Full Article)

Photo courtesy of Rob Crawley, flickr

Photo courtesy of Rob Crawley, flickr

California Sen. Leland Yee indicted

From The Sacramento Bee:

Marking the next step in a sweeping FBI operation that has implicated suspended Sen. Leland Yee, a federal grand jury has indicted Yee and 28 others.

The indictment charges Yee with honest services conspiracy, wire fraud and conspiracy to deal in and import firearms. If convicted on all counts, Yee faces a sentence of 125 years in federal prison and $1.75 million in potential fines.

Also indicted were Keith Jackson, a former San Francisco School Board member and Yee fundraiser who surfaces throughout an FBI affidavit (wire fraud, engaging in business of dealing in firearms narcotics conspiracy, murder for hire, conspiracy to deal in and import firearms) and Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow, a former convict who had publicly touted having reformed and re-invented himself (money laundering conspiracy to traffic contraband cigarettes, conspiracy to transport and receive stolen property in interstate commerce).

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California Tax Addicts Set Sights on Property

From U-T San Diego:

A common refrain in California is that it’s awfully difficult to raise taxes because of Proposition 13 and other laws. But the reality is these obstacles have often been overcome. That’s why we have among the nation’s highest income, sales and gasoline taxes.

Because of Proposition 13’s limits on how much assessments can increase from year to year, California is in the middle of the pack nationally when it comes to property taxes. But now state Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, is backing SB 1021, which would change the rules under which school districts can impose higher parcel taxes if two-thirds of local voters give their approval. Because of a dubious legal finding, the measure only requires majority approval by the Legislature, not the two-thirds approval required for many tax measures.

(Read Full Article)

taxes

Anti-Outsourcing Resolution passes California Assembly

From The Sacramento Bee:

On a party-line vote, the Assembly on Thursday affirmed a union-backed resolution urging lawmakers to resist contracting out public services.

The non-binding resolution stipulates that the Assembly “opposes outsourcing of public services and assets.” Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez, D-Los Angeles, the measure’s author, said public entities can cloud an otherwise open process when they contract out work, and warned outsourcing can lead to “rubber-stamped” contract awards with no discussion.

“Over the years, outsourcing has left taxpayers without transparency or accountability to where the taxpayer money is being used,” said Gomez.

Photo courtesy of Wendy McCormac, Flickr

Photo courtesy of Wendy McCormac, Flickr

What Legislators in Sacramento Want to Ban

From The Sacramento Bee:

Extinguish your filtered cigarettes, ditch the plastic bags to carry your groceries, toss your micro-beaded facial scrub and cancel those plans to catch an orca show at SeaWorld.

Each of those things would be prohibited under a package of bills circulating in Sacramento. Seeking to address such issues as pollution, animal cruelty and tobacco use, lawmakers have advanced measures to ban or limit the availability of various consumer products and activities.

The items facing potential prohibition join a growing list of products legislators have banned in recent years, like lead ammunition, foie gras, eggs from tightly caged chickens and edible shark fins. Those bills drew protests from specific groups saying they were being unfairly penalized – hunters decrying the loss of lead bullets, Chinese Americans who eat shark fin soup mourning the loss of a cherished tradition.

Taken together, critics say, sweeping statewide bans are prime examples of unmerited government interference.

Photo courtesy of Wendy McCormac, Flickr

Photo courtesy of Wendy McCormac, Flickr

States with most segregated public schools are Liberal Epicenters

From The Daily Caller:

The state with the most segregated public schools is New York.

Other states with exceptionally segregated schools include California,  Illinois and Michigan.

These findings come from a longitudinal study of enrollment figures conducted  by the Civil Rights Project at the University of California at Los Angeles, The Associated Press reports. The period  studied was 1998 through 2010.

(Read Full Article)

democrat party liberal

Public Pension Reform Unlikely, but Problem isn’t Going Away

From The Sacramento Bee:

San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed’s chances of enacting a comprehensive public pension reform ballot measure were scant even before Attorney General Kamala Harris gave it an unfriendly official summary.

He faced the essential dilemma of all would-be pension reformers: They have no natural allies among the political interest groups that might put up the many millions of dollars a successful ballot measure drive would require, but must contend with public employee unions – foes with bottomless wells of campaign money.

When Harris’ office issued a summary that characterized the proposal in negative terms closely paralleling the unions’ position, and Reed couldn’t persuade a judge to alter it, he backed off.

public employee union pension

Republicans should fire McConnell and Boehner

From The Daily Caller:

Senate Republican boss Mitch McConnell and his House counterpart, John  Boehner, have a clear strategy and a honed communications plan to undermine the  opposition.  Unfortunately, the two men believe that opposition is  comprised of people who think the congressional GOP should actually do things.   For that reason — and the opportunity that the feckless duo are poised to  botch — their Republican peers in Congress should fire them.

Remember the last time Congress mattered?  In the four years after the  1994 Republican landslide, a GOP-led Congress forced a Democratic president to  accept welfare reform, tax cuts, and the first balanced budget since 1969.   Can you think of a significant conservative legislative accomplishment  from the Beltway GOP since that era?  Neither can anyone else.  Nor  does anyone seriously think McConnell and Boehner are up to the task of  challenging Obama successfully in the final two years of the Obama era — even if  Republicans win control of both houses of Congress.

Time and again, McConnell and Boehner have failed to fight wisely or even  fight at all.

(Read Full Article)

Mitch McConnell

CA Lawmakers Suspend Three Disgraced Senators with Pay

From The Sacramento Bee:

The California state Senate today took the unprecedented step of suspending three of its members who have been accused of crimes including corruption, perjury and conspiracy to traffic weapons — a move that takes away their power but maintains their pay.

With a vote of 28-1, senators ousted colleagues Democrats Leland Yee of San Francisco, Ron Calderon of Montebello and Rod Wright of Baldwin Hills with a resolution that says they can’t resume office “until all criminal proceedings currently pending against them have been dismissed.”

Expelling them would be premature, Senate leader Darrell Steinberg said, because Yee and Calderon have not been convicted of their corruption charges and Wright is waiting to see if the judge in his perjury trial upholds the jury’s guilty verdict.

(Read Full Article)

democrat supermajority sacramento california

Asian-Americans Halt CA Affirmative Action Revival

As many Californians are well aware, more than half of students at UCLA and UC Berkeley are Asian or Asian-American. Yet, in California, proportions like these haven’t made for a political football — until now.

After almost 18 years of a ban on using affirmative action in college admissions after the passage of Proposition 209 in 1996, state Democrats set about working to overturn the law. The plan was for SCA 5, by state Sen. Ed Hernandez, D-West Covina, to pass both houses of the Legislature and secure voter approval. It would have brought back affirmative action.

That’s not the way things are turning out, thanks to California’s Asian-Americans.

Last week, saying they had received thousands of calls and emails from constituents, state Sens. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco; Ted Lieu, D-Torrance; and Carol Liu, D-La Cañada-Flintridge, asked Assembly Speaker John Perez to stop the bill.

“As lifelong advocates for the Asian-American and other communities, we would never support a policy that we believed would negatively impact our children,” they wrote in a letter to Perez.

Now, SCA 5 is dead in the water — much to the delight of Republicans, who have championed the affirmative action ban all along.

Asian-Americans

Key to the sudden momentum shift are the complex of interests and alliances surrounding Asian-Americans. The San Jose Mercury News notes that the group’s historic support for affirmative action led state Democrats to assume SCA 5 faced clear sailing. More than a few organizations, the Mercury News reports, tout affirmative action as a benefit to some Asian communities that remain statistically underrepresented in colleges and universities.

The cognitive dissonance playing out around affirmative action in California underscores what’s at stake as different activist and interest groups struggle to lay down clearer markets in the identity politics debate. “What we need now,” one Asian-American Studies scholar told The New York Times, “is not to group everyone together into some mythical model minority but to have greater nuance in understanding Asian-American groups.” Southeast Asians and Pacific Islanders needed special attention, she added.

Different kinds of colleges and universities have different kinds of access to affirmative-action outcomes. Ivy League schools, for instance, pride themselves on admitting at least one student per year from every state in the union, and every corner of the globe. America’s elite universities often possess more than an interest in recruiting star applicants from far-flung locales. They often possess a unique ability to attract him or her.

For less prestigious institutions of higher education, checking the long list of identity-political boxes is a taller order. There, the process of ensuring the level of ethnic, national, and regional diversity demanded by advocates tends to give way to broader goals — adding to the Asian portion of the student body, for instance, instead of increasing the number of Pacific Islanders.

That’s a trend which increases the role played by ethnic studies professors and identitarian organizations, to whom college administrators look for approval when trying to determine whether campus diversity levels meet or exceed expectations.

Ironically, the predominantly Chinese opposition to SCA 5 reflects an attitude toward upward mobility and a college degree that compounds the anxiety facing less-well-off Asian-Americans looking for social advancement through education. The political push against SCA 5 played off of Chinese-American fears, as Steven Hsieh put it in The Nation, “that students would lose university spots to underrepresented minorities if affirmative action is reinstated.”

For many Chinese-Americans, college is not just one option among many for the rising generation, but a make-or-break experience against which family success must be judged. As San Gabriel city councilman Chin Ho Liao bluntly argued, ”Other ethnic groups don’t put their kids’ education as number one priority. You don’t realize how much Asian parents sacrifice.”

Case study

Protracted debates continue to swirl around just how much it benefits kids to be admitted into colleges where, for any reason, success eludes their grasp. As the Los Angeles Times reported in its 2013 case study of UC Berkeley freshman Kashawn Campbell, enrolling students in the quest for optimal diversity can usher in a host of unintended consequences.

The consequences include the kind of quiet contempt among fellow students that encourages campus thought policing to an even more unfortunate sense of inadequacy and fraudulence among affirmative-action beneficiaries.

Given the durability of the status quo in California, the U.S. Supreme Court offers a few useful guidelines:

  • In Regents of the University of California vs. Bakke, the court outlawed explicit racial and ethnic quotas.
  • In Grutter vs. Bollinger, the majority affirmed that taking diversity into account was still acceptable.
  • In last year’s Fisher vs. Texas ruling, the court insisted colleges and universities demonstrate that looking at race was essential to increasing diversity.

Now, a decision is soon to come down in Schuette vs. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, where justices have considered whether a Michigan ballot initiative may make it illegal for state officials — including at public universities — to “discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin.”

Outreach

Among states potentially impacted by the Schuette ruling, California is already ahead of the game in one sense: the state’s Early Academic Outreach Program, first established in 1976, has become an effective means of boosting diversity by targeting economically disadvantaged students. A survey of the program at The Atlantic summarized the program’s results:

“The percentage of Latino and Chicano resident freshmen admitted to UC has increased, from 11.9 percent in 1998, two years after the affirmative action ban, to 27.6 in 2013. The increase of African American resident freshmen admits was more modest, from 3 percent, in 1998, to 4.2 percent in 2013.”

EAOP hasn’t restored minority admissions to the levels attained before California’s affirmative action ban. But it has increased them in a manner more consistent with state and federal law.

(James Poulos is a contributor to CalWatchdog. Originally published on CalWatchdog.)