Stephen Frank is the publisher and editor of California Political News and Views. He speaks all over California and appears as a guest on several radio shows each week. He has also served as a guest host on radio talk shows. He is a fulltime political consultant.

Cities face seven years of growing CalPERS costs

We all know the myth that if you break a mirror you have seven years of bad luck.  In the case of California, CalPERS is broken and is going to giver cities and local government agencies seven years of massive financial bad luck.  At a minimum, it will be seven years and a more than doubling of mandatory contributions to this collapsing pension system  Were it a private system, government would close it down and liquidate.

“But a lengthy bull market that began in 2009 after a stock market crash may be coming to an end. And CalPERS is forecasting that its investment portfolio, valued at $340 billion last week, will earn a below-target 6.2 percent during the next decade.

The failure to recover from big investment losses, as CalPERS has done in the past, leaves no cushion to absorb large losses. A downturn could drop the funding level below 50 percent, a red line experts think makes a return to 100 percent unlikely.

“Frankly, if it falls below 50 percent it’s a hole that’s almost impossible to get out of,” Brad Pacheco, CalPERS deputy executive, told the Salinas city council on Sept. 26. “So we needed to inject cash into the system, and that’s one of the reasons they lowered the discount rate.”

This is unsustainable for the cities in California.  Oroville had to cut eh pay of police by 10%, just to fund CalPERS.  Simi Valley, my home town is so broke that the SEIU and police unions agreed to new contracts with ZERO increases—that s how bad it is.  CalPERS is going to collapse numerous California cities—yesterday I noted the City of Madera is in deep trouble thanks to CalPERS—too bad Guv Brown has nothing to say or do about this problem.  Maybe he is too confused to understand?

calpers

Cities face seven years of growing CalPERS costs

Ed Mendel,  CalPensions,  10/17/17

Cities jolted by a new CalPERS rate increase laid out in their annual pension reports this fall are finding few options for cost relief. Basically, they can pay more now to avoid higher costs later or curb the growth of employees and their pay.

As rising pension costs squeeze funding from government services, a big change could come from a state Supreme Court decision. Two unanimous rulings by appellate court panels allow cuts in pensions earned by current employees in the future.

Appeals of the two rulings have yet to be heard by the Supreme Court. How the high court will rule, and what might follow if the groundbreaking appellate rulings are upheld, is far from clear.

The California Public Employees Retirement System, like many public pension plans, has not recovered from huge investment losses a decade ago. Last year CalPERS only had 68 percent of the projected assets needed to pay future pension costs.

The funding level now is several percentage points higher. Investment earnings in the fiscal year ending in June, 11.2 percent, exceeded the 7 percent target. A $6 billion extra payment for state workers is expected to save $11 billion over two decades.

But a lengthy bull market that began in 2009 after a stock market crash may be coming to an end. And CalPERS is forecasting that its investment portfolio, valued at $340 billion last week, will earn a below-target 6.2 percent during the next decade.

The failure to recover from big investment losses, as CalPERS has done in the past, leaves no cushion to absorb large losses. A downturn could drop the funding level below 50 percent, a red line experts think makes a return to 100 percent unlikely.

“Frankly, if it falls below 50 percent it’s a hole that’s almost impossible to get out of,” Brad Pacheco, CalPERS deputy executive, told the Salinas city council on Sept. 26. “So we needed to inject cash into the system, and that’s one of the reasons they lowered the discount rate.”

The CalPERS investment earnings forecast used to offset or discount the cost of future pensions was lowered from 7.5 percent to 7 percent last December. The resulting employer rate increase for local governments begins next year and won’t be fully phased in until 2024.

CalPERS lowered the earnings forecast from 7.75 percent to 7.5 percent in 2012, triggering the first employer rate increase. A second increase from a reform of actuarial method will be fully phased in by 2019, a third increase for longer life spans by 2020.

Pacheco and Randall Dziubek, CalPERS deputy chief actuary, spoke at a Salinas study session on the recent fourth rate increase. A CalPERS review of investments done every four years could result in a decision on another rate increase as soon as December.

A fifth rate increase is considered unlikely at this point. CalPERS has been holding a series of meetings with local government groups this year to explain the rate increases and to get their views about the upcoming decision on investment allocations.

Some cities in CalPERS have been getting an outside opinion. Actuary John Bartel gave an analysis to a Pacific Grove city council pension workshop on Oct. 3 that differed from the CalPERS Salinas presentation in at least one notable way.

Bartel suggested the former CalPERS policy of delaying employer contribution rate increases added to the current funding shortfall. CalPERS had been spreading the recognition of investment losses over 15 years and paying them off with a 30-year “rolling amortization.”

The policy “smoothed” employer rates, avoiding sudden big increases that would strain or shock local government budgets. Rolling amortization is a kind of annual refinancing that pushes debt into the future, and theoretically might never pay it off.

Bartel praised CalPERS for adopting a new policy in 2013 that phases in a rate increase over five years and in 30 years will pay off the debt or “unfunded liability” from below-target investment earnings.

“The old minimum (rate) was not sufficient to pay the unfunded liability,” Bartel told the Pacific Grove council. “The new minimum will be once it kicks in.”

(The CalPERS chief actuary, Scott Terando, told the board last month he is considering a change that would pay off new debt from investment losses in a shorter period, perhaps 20 years. He said some employers want to pay down more quickly, saving money in the long run.)

Other causes of the CalPERS shortfall mentioned by Bartel and the CalPERS Salinas presentation are investment losses, lower earnings forecasts, generous retroactive pension increases around 2000, and a maturing pension system.

As retirees outnumber active workers, more investment funds must be used to pay annual pensions. Replacing losses in the massive investment fund requires larger contribution increases. More of the debt is owed retirees, leaving less time to replace losses.

One way mentioned to cut long-term costs is extra payments to CalPERS, like the $6 billion for state workers, or on a smaller scale a lump sum annual payment rather than monthly payments, like Salinas this year.

Another way to cut or manage pension costs and lower reportable liabilities is setting aside money to make future CalPERS payments. Bartel estimated that more than 100 local governments have set up prefunding trust funds with several private firms.

The CalPERS board voted last year to seek legislation allowing it to create a prefunding pension trust fund for employers. But the proposal stalled when employers would not agree to get union agreement before contributing to the fund.

Bartel said Pacific Grove is facing “crazy high” employer rates, well over 100 percent of pay, because the safety plan has a small number of active workers and a comparatively large number of retirees.

Some said it’s the expected result of merging the city fire department with Monterey a decade ago, which will save money in the long run. A Pacific Grove initiative in 2010 capping payments to CalPERS was overturned by a court as a violation of employee vested rights.

The CalPERS actuary, Dziubek, told the Salinas Council CalPERS is recommending that employers begin talking to unions about having employees hired before a cost-cutting pension reform in 2013 pay half of the pension normal cost.

Employees hired after the reform on Jan. 1, 2013, earn a lower pension formula and are required to pay half of the normal cost of a pension, covering the pension earned during a year but not the unfunded liability from previous years paid only by the employer.

Pension reform legislation was limited to new hires because of the “California rule” now before the state Supreme Court. Under a series of previous court rulings, the pension offered at hire becomes a vested right under contracrt law that can’t be cut unless offset by a new benefit.

More cost-cutting pension legislation seems unlikely. A dozen cities unsuccessfully urged the CalPERS board last month to analyze suspending annual cost-of-living adjustments and giving current workers lower pensions for work done in the future.

The Salinas city manager, Ray Corpuz Jr., said his four-point pension strategy is faster payment of debt, considering a prefunding trust, outsourcing some jobs and services if possible, and urging all employees to pay more of their pension cost.

“But in order to make this sustainable, organized labor, the employers, PERS, the Legislature and the courts have to kind of work together,” Corpuz said. “Otherwise we will have a catastrophic economic future that nobody wants for this state and certainly for this city.”

Reporter Ed Mendel covered the Capitol in Sacramento for nearly three decades, most recently for the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Next CalPERS Victim: Palo Alto—ONE Billion $$$!!!

Palo Alto is proud of its liberal ideology.  Years ago, Stanford, in Palo Alto had the professors vote down hosting the Reagan Presidential Library.  This is a city that loves taxes and big government.  Now the chickens have come home to roost—CalPERS could bankrupt the city!

“With that as a preface, the official CalPERS number for Palo Alto’s unfunded pension and retiree medical liabilities as of a year ago, 2016 — because we’re on a year-behind accounting cycle — was about $550 million. Now, a lot of people think that the number is actually much higher than that. I believe the number is close to a billion.

JD: A billion dollars owed to the city’s employees.

EF: I think we’re close to a billion dollars. And that’s a billion dollars that we owe our current and future retirees that we don’t have money to cover. That’s basically what that number is.

JD: Does this also include retiree medical costs?

EF: Yes. The jargon is OPEB, Other Post Employment Benefits, and retiree medical costs in Palo Alto are, you know, another 30 to 40 percent higher than pension costs.

Maybe Mark Zuckerberg and his buddies will bail out the city, one of the richest in the State and nation.  Otherwise watch taxes go up, services go down and families and businesses forced to provide security and other services for themselves.  Also glad to see when a Leftist city has financial reality hit it in the face.

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

‘Behind the Headlines’: Palo Alto’s pension problem

Transcript of City Councilman Eric Filseth’s conversation with Weekly journalists

by Palo Alto Weekly staff / Palo Alto Weekly, 10/16/17

Palo Alto is facing a pension and retiree medical liability that City Councilman Eric Filseth says approaches $1 billion. How is the city going to pay for it?

Hear his conversation with Palo Alto Weekly Editor Jocelyn Dong and city hall reporter Gennady Sheyner in this “Behind the Headlines” podcast, or read the transcription below.

(Due to a technical issue, this week’s episode of “Behind the Headlines” is not available in video.)

JD: This week we’re going to talk about an elephant in the room, the 1,000-pound gorilla or the biggest problem that no one wants to talk about and that’s the city’s unfunded pension liabilities. Here to unpack that for us is the chair of the Finance Committee, City Councilman Eric Filseth. Thank you for being here.

EF: Thank you very much. Pleasure to be here.

JD: Now, it’s been your goal for a little bit of time now to address this issue, to have the city get its arms around it. I was wondering if you could help us just by starting off to talk about what’s the scope of the unfunded pension liabilities over time.

EF: There’s an official number, which is calculated by CalPERS, which manages our city retirement investments and accounting. They are a statewide agency, and they do it for a lot of cities, and Palo Alto is one of them. And most people think that the CalPERS estimates are significantly lower in terms of liabilities than true liabilities, and we think that in Palo Alto. I think that.

With that as a preface, the official CalPERS number for Palo Alto’s unfunded pension and retiree medical liabilities as of a year ago, 2016 — because we’re on a year-behind accounting cycle — was about $550 million. Now, a lot of people think that the number is actually much higher than that. I believe the number is close to a billion.

JD: A billion dollars owed to the city’s employees.

EF: I think we’re close to a billion dollars. And that’s a billion dollars that we owe our current and future retirees that we don’t have money to cover. That’s basically what that number is.

JD: Does this also include retiree medical costs?

EF: Yes. The jargon is OPEB, Other Post Employment Benefits, and retiree medical costs in Palo Alto are, you know, another 30 to 40 percent higher than pension costs.

GS: I feel like the scope of the problem is so huge that a lot of residents have a hard time getting their arms around it. When you see a number like $10 million to $15 million, you can visualize a garage or something like that. But $800 million — when you consider it compared with the size of the General Fund — it’s almost abstract.

Can you explain a little why it’s important for the city to get ahead of this problem? It’s so easy to ignore it.

EF: It grows every year, right? It grows significantly every year. … It’s growing like 10 to 20 percent a year. … A real tactical issue is we have to pay a certain amount just to service it. If you have a big, big balance on your credit card — which is essentially what this is — then you have to make a minimum payment, right? Turns out that the minimum payment is now approaching 10 percent of the General Fund, and that’s just for the pension piece, not the OPEB.

It’s now getting close to 10 percent of the General Fund and it’s growing 15, 16 percent a year, which is much, much faster than any other major expense in the city and also substantially faster than city revenues, General Fund revenues, which historically have been in the 4 to 5 percent per year range. So last year they were a little bit higher, 6 percent, right? But you’re looking at a big liability growing three times as fast as city revenues, right?

Basically what it means is it crowds out our ability to pay for other kinds of services: staffing, fixing potholes in the streets and so forth. And the implication from the numbers is that, as that liability continues to grow and as the cost of servicing grows, we’re going to be increasingly unable to afford the level of services in Palo Alto to which we have become accustomed.

We’re looking at fire services this week and then the Stanford contract and so forth. But it’s not just fire services. It’s sort of all of the services we’re going to be (looking at), as we currently structure those services.

JD: This may be pretty obvious but there’s a lot of money in the General Fund every year that’s going to pay people who are retired at this point who are not contributing services — I mean, that’s kind of the definition of it. But just so people are clear, that’s a lot of money.

EF: That’s certainly a significant piece of it. I mean those are contracts we’ve entered into.

JD: Sure.

EF: And we’re making good on it.

JD: Yeah. I think there was some figure that I saw that 60 percent of the contributions into the pension fund are going to retirees at this point.

EF: That’s possible. Can I show a slide? (SHOWS SLIDE)

So, what you’ve got here: Over the last 15 to 18 years, the green line here is the revenue to the General Fund. OK? The red line is the expenses from the General Fund, which pays for most of our city services other than utilities, right? Utilities services is a separate financial operation.

And what you can see are our revenue and expenses out of the General Fund, as accounted for, track pretty closely, so, every year, we pretty much break even in the city, which is a sound way to manage your finances.

But what it doesn’t account for is the unfunded pension liability, which is the blue line, here. And a lot of people don’t really understand this, but this problem is less than 20 years old, and it stems back to a change made under the Gray Davis administration at the turn of the millennium, which basically gave a very, very large increase to public employee benefits, that there wasn’t anyway to pay for.

And the result has been that we’ve ran up close to a billion dollars’ debt in the last 16, 17 years … which basically means the city’s spending maybe $60 million a year more than we think they are. Alright?

There’s a lot of a sort of accounting protocol and convention involved in you exactly how you relate that to revenues and expenses, but essentially it’s a significant number of understated expenses. And actually, the numbers that we show — the official number of $550 million — the big problem is that CALPERS assumes that they are going to get 7 or 7.5 percent returns. Nobody thinks that they are going to do that well. Most people think put their estimates in the 6, low 6 percent. And that is a huge difference.

GS: I was going to ask you about that because to me it’s one of the kind of difficulties in discussing pensions is that we know the number is huge but it changes, and there are so many changes and there are so many variables that it depends on the methodology that CALPERS uses and things like that, and you mentioned $550 million is official, but it could be much higher. How much higher you think it could be, and to what extent do these CALPERS assumptions affect the fluctuations?

EF: Right. So — so, again, I think the number is around $900 million today. Maybe a little bit higher than that. There are people who think it’s substantially north of that — it really depends heavily on what you assume for CALPERS investment returns and what rate you discount the liability at, right?

There are people, who have very conservative beliefs about the discount rate, that think our number’s actually much higher than that. I think it’s between 900 and abillion. I think what we need to do as a city, and it’s one of the things that the council directed the finance committee to go look at is, go figure out what the number really is.

GS:You think it’s possible?

EF: I actually do. Again, the major factor is, what is a realistic discount rate or investment return rate for CALPERS? So, about a year ago, CALPERS own consultants, Wilshire Associates, estimated that the proper discount rate, looking forward, would be about 6.2 percent. CALPERS took that data, consulted all their stakeholders and so forth, and said, “Well, we think maybe 7 percent’s a better number,” and then they gave everybody three years to get this 7 percent, plus a five-year grace period, so it’s really eight years.

The difference between 7 percent and 6.2 percent, that makes a huge difference. But I think if the city were to calculate its liabilities based on a 6.2 percent rate or somewhere in that range — it could be 6 percent, it could be 6.3 percent, it could be 5.8 percent — I think we’d come close to the actual number …. because the real issue is “What are we going to have to pay?” We’re going to need to know that before we can really get serious about a plan for how about how we’re going to address it. That’s the most important first step.

GS: Once you get past that first step, what kind of tools does the city have in its toolbox to deal with it, with such a huge number? I mean, we’re talking about an animal shelter that might cost $10 million. This is, what, 16 animal shelters or more than that?

JD: The pension liability is a contractual obligation we can’t scale that back any so the city has to come up with other means …

EF: I can tell you how agencies across the state are looking at this. … Lots and lots of cities and state agencies and counties have this problem and they’re all looking at it. I mean the levers are cut services, raise taxes, renegotiate contracts, sell off assets. I mean these are the — this is the toolkit. It’s not a huge toolkit, the ways of dealing with it.

GS: So that’s when you’re going to start getting people’s attention —

EF: Well — well, they should be aware of it now. I mean, even now, just the cost of servicing liability is in general between $15 and $20 million a year (in the General Fund, which doesn’t include utilities) and it’s going up fast, so I mean we’re already seeing — $15 to $20 million a year, growing 15 percent a year, I mean, like you said, we could buy a couple animal shelters for that.

GS: Right. Or a (parking) garage per year.

EF: Right. It’s already cutting back. It cuts away from everything we do, affordable housing, you name it. I actually personally think that this is probably the single biggest problem facing the city over the next several decades. I mean, yes, we have a lot of challenges — housing, transportation — but this just touches everything.

GS: Because if you can’t pay for these …

EF: If you can’t pay for them, exactly.

GS: And I think it’s worth pointing out that your committee has spent a lot of time digging into possible solutions. That conversation you’ll be having next week — and the prior council has also done that — some steps have already been taken. I was hoping we could go over those in terms of restructuring of contracts, and recently you guys started putting money into a trust —

EF: Section 115 trust, yup —

GS: Specifically for this problem, can we just go over some of the things the city has done in recent years to address this?

EF: So I think some of the things that we’ve done is the city has introduced new tiers of benefits for new employees, a third tier. A lot of cities — some cities only have one, a lot of cities have two — we actually have a third one. Again, I think the issue here is not wages. I think wages are — I think we pay well and we should pay well.

I think the issues are the pension benefits that are accruing liabilities. So we issued some new contracts for that, but again, we can’t touch the old contracts, so it really applies to sort of people who come forward.

GS: So when a new worker comes in they’d be in a new tier with a different pension.

EF: Now, one of the issues with the new tier is that the state introduced a set of guidelines called PEPRA (Public Employees Pension Reform Act). … Under PEPRA pensions are supposed to be fully funded, so a new employee isn’t racking up unfunded liability for the city. But unfortunately it doesn’t work because PEPRA assumed 7.5 percent or greater return. And so because the actual rate of return is very unlikely to be 7 percent, the difference gets picked up by the city.

So even a new employee that starts tomorrow is still racking up new unfunded pension liabilities in the city of Palo Alto and basically all the cities under CalPERS. San Jose, for example, is not under CalPERS and so they rejiggered their own finances differently and they’re going through a lot of hardship as I think everybody knows.

GS: And now and then you hear a suggestion, like on Town Square, “Maybe Palo Alto can ditch CalPERS.” But that creates a whole other huge obstacle.

EF: Yeah — CalPERS — they kind of don’t want people to go away from them; they’re like the Hotel California. You can check in but it’s pretty hard to check out.

GS: Yeah, you have to pay like a huge sum to get out.

EF: Yeah, I mean basically what CalPERS does is they value your liability. When they tell you how much you have to pay, they tell you, “Your liability is based on the 7 percent investment return rate.” But in order to get out of CalPERS, they want the whole thing up front, valued at the T-Bill rate, so 2.5 percent or something like that, which nobody can afford to do.

Basically, you can’t get out of CalPERS. But I actually think CalPERS as a portfolio manager is probably okay.

I think as a “managing your city finances” manager, I think that’s probably not a good situation for any city to be in, including Palo Alto.

And that’s one of the directions we have to move, so we’ll stay in CalPERS, but we have to sort of do our own accounting and our own saving, not to mention the trust. And that’s one of those elements we set up a couple of years ago. It’s called a Section 115 trust, which is a trust that you can put money in to save to pay down your unfunded liabilities, and we’ve got a few million dollars in there right now. Which is not anywhere near a billion, but it’s a start, and I think that’s one of the elements that healthy cities trying to get out from under this burden do.

JD: Getting back to your question about what else the city has done recently. The CalPERS contract was renegotiated recently, and the employees are now picking up some of the city’s contributions. Is that correct?

EF: Yes. The way these contracts are negotiated, the costs of the pensions are divided between the employer and employee. A mix of how much is picked up by employer and employee is shifting over time. To me, the delineation — as a finance person — the delineation between what percent is the city’s versus the employees — to me that one seemed always to be artificial.

It’s part of the contract and it’s in the bucket along with everything else, with vacation time and all the other issues that go ahead with the contract. The share of pension is part of the mix. It’s significant, but the delineation between employer and employee — at the end of the day, it all goes to pay the pension.

GS: I think in the past, the city picked up 100 percent of its own share and the employees’.

EF: Yes. That was the full share at 7.5 percent, plus the unfunded share — the “don’t ask don’t tell” share of what the difference was … what it would really cost, assuming it’s 6 percent.

By the way, I have another slide with an explanation of how we got into this problem. (SHOWS CHART) What you’re looking at here is: Over the last 50 years, interest rates and CalPERS projected return rates. I think everybody knows there is a correlation between interest rates and “risky assets” return rates like stocks and real estate and stuff like that.

Stocks have to be a higher return than the T-Bill rate because the T-Bill is no risk, and if they were the same no one would buy the risky things because they’d just (get) T-Bills. But they track. They go up and down together. Certainly, those of us whose parents had adjustable rate mortgages in the ’70s , when interest rates were 15, 16, 18 percent — the interest rates and stock returns used to be a lot higher. Those were the days of oil shocks, and stagflation and Vietnam War and stuff like that.

And so what happens is in ’80s and ’90s, state agencies in California were actually running small surpluses on pensions. In about 2000, under the Gray Davis administration, Sacramento and CalPERS got together and said, “We’re making all this money, looks like we’ll have huge investment returns for the indefinite future — 8 percent, 10 percent and so forth” — and they made a deal to vastly increase the value of pension benefits based on the assumption that they’ll make these huge investment-return rates.

But what happened was that interest rates were already falling at that time. Any one looking at that should have looked and said, “Hmm, I’m not sure we can really project stock returns, real estate returns and all the other stuff CalPERS invests in. Might not be a good idea to project those things will stay high forever.” But they did and they basically doubled pensions everywhere. And then what happened since then is interest rates continued to fall, asset return rates continue to fall and what you can see here — and this is a chart from Stanford professor Jeremy Bulow — CalPERS never lowered the discount rate.

And the difference between what CalPERS projected as an investment rate and what we and all other agencies in California base our contracts on versus what they’re really making — that’s the result of basically everything you see here. It all comes back to that. It’s actually simpler than it looks.

GS: It’s wishful thinking by CalPERS on a very long-term basis, even with changing conditions, it sounds like. But I want to ask about two big-picture ways to possibly deal with the problem No. 1, the Fire Department and No. 2, Utilities. Every now and then we get comments, “Why doesn’t the city just outsource these services? Fire can go to the county, utilities can go to PG&E for most of them.” Is that something you see the council even considering in the next couple of years, as it tries to get a grip on pensions?

EF: First of all, outsourcing things doesn’t do anything about your existing commitments, but it may help you not pile up future commitments. I wouldn’t want to single out any particular agency. I would think outsourcing things is one of the tools in the toolkit.

It’s a little bit wrong-headed because in the private sector, most people outsource things they don’t consider to be their strategic core competency. Anything that’s a strategic core competency they would keep in house.

In public-sector economics, the crazy world of CalPERS, pensions and retiree benefits—it means that it pushes you to outsource stuff that you would consider to be your strategic competence in the city. It’s completely upside-down. But that’s where we are. Ultimately, there’s only so much money and we have to figure out how to use it.

GS: Sounds like the conversation must happen. It is in the toolbox.

EF: It has to be. I don’t think Palo Alto’s … Obviously there’ve been some other cities in the news, you know, that have come up with pretty drastic solutions — Stockton and so forth. I don’t think Palo Alto’s in that boat today, but if we don’t take action. we could potentially get there. These are very, very large numbers. The whole state problem maybe approaches a trillion dollars. I can’t imagine how the whole state is going to pay a trillion dollars.

You know if you read (Thomas) Piketty, every major western nation that ran up a big war debt never paid it off — they all defaulted or inflated, with one exception: Britain paying off the Napoleonic wars in the 19th century.

So if you read your Jane Austen — you’re supposed to marry someone with a big income, right, Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley. That’s where it went: It was invested in British government debt. They paid it off over a hundred years. Everybody else defaulted.

JD: To Gennady’s question: There was an interesting comment on Town Square related to the fire department downsizing, which was, “Is the city really charging Stanford, for example, for the pension liability (for fire personnel) or are they just paying for the salaries and other compensation?”

EF: That’s a really good question. I am not intimately familiar with the discussion with Stanford. … They are certainly not paying for the unfunded pension liability. And probably they should be. They’re not paying for the blue line (on the chart, indicating unfunded liability).

GS: Are other cities paying for the blue line when it comes to the animal shelter — Los Altos, Los Altos Hills — or the Regional Water Quality Plant, there’s various cities participating in that?

EF: No, because we don’t account for it.

GS: But it’s Palo Alto shouldering the blue line costs? Is that something you’re interested in the future asking East Palo Alto, Mountain View, others in the sewage plant (consortium) to contribute to the pensions?

EF: That’s one of the things that the council directed the finance committee to look at in its assessment of what are the numbers here. And yeah, we need to know. In fact it’s on the agenda for Tuesday — I don’t know how far we can get (in the agenda) — what are the true costs, including the unfunded liability. And yes, it applies to both to external agencies, and you’re right, Stanford’s not the only one, there are other districts we deal with.

JD: I wanted to toss one question your way: If we have an employee who is working for Palo Alto but they previously were working for the city of Mountain View, what is Palo Alto’s portion of this pension liability?

EF: It’s proportionate to how long they worked in Palo Alto versus how long they worked in Mountain View.

JD: OK, that’s pretty straightforward.

GS: So Palo Alto’s just got to marry a rich city.

EF: There is one thing that came up in the (Town Square) discussion of fire (staffing) that I thought was interesting … Some of the points of discussion, like about response time, that are of the interest in the community are being discussed in the meet-and-confer process, which is basically closed. There was some commentary that, “Geez, there are major interests of the community discussed in a closed-door environment. Is that really the right thing to do?” And I wonder about that. I think that’s something we need to think about.

JD: Nothing comes out of meet and confer? There’s no report to council?

EF: No, it’s a closed door.

GS: I would love to know what goes on in there. I totally support your opening the doors of every closed-door negotiation.

JD: So, the finance committee is going to talk about pensions this week.

EF: We’re going to talk about it this week; (and) I expect the discussion to continue. Our focus right now is we need to understand what the numbers really are. I mean, there’s a couple of variations: There’s the normal cost and interest costs.

GS: So it’s either an elephant in the room or King Kong in the room.

JD: Get out the scale and figure out what it is! Well, Eric Filseth, thank you so much for joining us for this discussion on pensions.

EF: Thank you very much for having me.

 

Santa Clara, Employee Union File Joint Suit Over DACA

The SEIU is using money stolen from its forced members, to file a lawsuit, to support illegal aliens being protected—the same illegal aliens that are taking the jobs of the SEIU members—and at a lower cost.  Why do the workers allow the union to harm them and their families—and the community?

““Yet again, the Trump administration has overstepped the constitutional bounds of its authority,” said Dave Cortese, president of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors. “The county and its residents are harmed by stripping law-abiding young people of their ability to participate in the workforce and access critical safety net services.”

The county’s partner on this venture, SEIU local 521, represents 10,000 public workers in the county. It says many of them are Dreamers.”

What rights?  Obama illegally gave amnesty to illegal aliens—he broke the law and the public is paying for it.  Want to repeal the law?  Go through the legislative process, not create illegal orders.

SEIU-California-340x250

 

Santa Clara, Employee Union File Joint Suit Over DACA

California County News,  10/14/17

 

In a national first, Santa Clara County and its public employee union have filed suit against the Trump Administration over its decision to end the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals Program (DACA).

This is the first instance of a lawsuit filed jointly by an employer and a labor union on behalf of DACA recipients. It came nearly one month after a DACA suit filed by the City of San Jose.

“Yet again, the Trump administration has overstepped the constitutional bounds of its authority,” said Dave Cortese, president of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors. “The county and its residents are harmed by stripping law-abiding young people of their ability to participate in the workforce and access critical safety net services.”

“The county of Santa Clara is prepared to fight vigorously to defend the rights of its employees and residents,” he added.

The county’s partner on this venture, SIEU local 521, represents 10,000 public workers in the county. It says many of them are Dreamers.

 

Our View: League of California Cities’ resolution is step in right direction

Crime is spiking in California.  Arrests are down since previous legislation and ballot measures have made felonies into misdemeanors and cops do not have the time to fill out the paperwork for tickets.  Then you have the unreported crimes, theft of items valued at under $950—why report the crime since the cops have no intention of investigating, since even an arrest and conviction provides no jail time.

“The next law that will benefit criminals and hurt everyone else is AB 953, which we wrote about some months ago following a meeting with Sheriff John McMahon. Under the guise of trying to study and prevent racial profiling, this law will turn law enforcement officers into paper pushers and census takers and take them away from their primary duty — fighting crime.

It will lessen by thousands of man hours each month the time police officers and sheriff’s deputies will have on the street actually arresting criminals or trying to prevent crime. Instead, they will be holed up in stations filling out forms to tell our lawmakers who they stopped, why, how many people they engaged and what their races and genders were.”

Seriously does it matter of the person that stole from you, raped you or assaulted you is black or white?  Criminals are criminals.  The next step is to allow arrests based on a racial quota—too many of one race arrested means no more arrest of that race until the other races catch up!  Silly?  Yup, but believe it will come.

Photo credit: Michael Coghlan via Flickr

Our View: League of California Cities’ resolution is step in right direction

By The Daily Press Editorial Board, 10/9/17

The League of California Cities, spurred by the request of the city of Whittier, recently voted unanimously to approve a resolution asking Gov. Jerry Brown and the state Legislature to consider amending or working to amend AB 109, Proposition 47 and Proposition 57. All three laws deal with prison overcrowding by allowing for early release of prisoners. The two propositions, both approved by a majority of California voters, do so by decriminalizing offenses that used to be felonies.

We’ve all seen the results: Rising crime rates across the state, felons being released only to commit murders, such as the brutal slaying of an elderly couple in Apple Valley last year.

Whittier brought the issue to the league following the shooting death of one of its police officers by a parolee who had recently been released early.

We salute the League of California Cities for taking up the issue and hope Apple Valley Mayor Scott Nassif is right in predicting the league will work to place an initiative on the November 2018 ballot to correct some of the outlandish changes that these laws brought about.

There is a will to do so already among Republicans in the legislature. Unfortunately, they are virtually powerless in Sacramento because the Democrats have a supermajority.

That too is something that must be addressed by voters all over the state. As we have seen since the Democrats gained their supermajority, they continue to propose and pass — and Gov. Brown continues to sign into law — legislation that increases the tax burden on Californians and increases the likelihood that crime will continue to soar.

The next law that will benefit criminals and hurt everyone else is AB 953, which we wrote about some months ago following a meeting with Sheriff John McMahon. Under the guise of trying to study and prevent racial profiling, this law will turn law enforcement officers into paper pushers and census takers and take them away from their primary duty — fighting crime.

It will lessen by thousands of man hours each month the time police officers and sheriff’s deputies will have on the street actually arresting criminals or trying to prevent crime. Instead, they will be holed up in stations filling out forms to tell our lawmakers who they stopped, why, how many people they engaged and what their races and genders were.

Somehow, a majority of the state legislature found this to be an appropriate use of law enforcement’s time, which tells you all you really need to know about the regard Democrats have for the average citizen.

Of course, nonsense like this will never stop until the voters of California rise up and say enough. It’s not enough for voters in the High Desert to do so, unfortunately. Our state representatives are not the ones supporting AB 953 or bills that create new taxes or bills that make criminals a protected class in the court system.

Somehow, someway California needs a movement of intelligent, fed-up citizens who will demand common-sense solutions and take back their government from these mostly left-wing lunatics.

Until such a groundswell of intelligence begins, however, things will only worsen in Sacramento and our pain will only increase.

Democrat Hypocrisy: Want MORE Gun Control Because of Las Vegas/Sacramento LESSENS Punishment for Gun Crimes

Before the smoke cleared in Las Vegas, every Democrat with a Facebook account, a PR person or a chance to get on TV or radio, cried that we needed more gun control.  Feinstein, Brown, Harris, San Fran Nan, among them begged to take guns away via regulations.  Guess they did not talk with Jerry Brown, as Governor and the Democrats in the Assembly or Senate passed SB 620 and the really confused Guv Brown signed the bill—to lessen the penalties for using a gun during the commission of a crime.

“Yesterday, Governor Brown signed SB 620 by Senator Steven Bradford (D-Compton) and it will become law January 1, 2018. PORAC cannot understand why the Governor and democratic leaders would pass a law that allows criminals using a firearm in the commission of a crime to not be charged with the use of that firearm.

PORAC has opposed the bill from the beginning, and for two serious reasons:

  • The current statutes relating to firearm enhancements already allow a judge to use discretion in sentencing. Each enhancement section has various levels of sentencing durations to be used by the judge on a case-by-case basis.”

Once again the Democrats are protecting the criminals while harming innocent residents.  Hypocrites—especially Jerry Brown.  Did anyone expect different?  When choosing between residents and criminals, Democrats almost always side with the criminals over the victims.

police-badge

PORAC IS DISAPPOINTED OVER SIGNATURE OF SB 620

Highland News,  10/12/17

In the wake of the Las Vegas shooting, there is a bi-partisan effort in Congress to place more restrictions on the use of assault weapons and tools used to convert legal semi-automatic firearms into rapid fire or automatic weapons.

Yesterday, Governor Brown signed SB 620 by Senator Steven Bradford (D-Compton) and it will become law January 1, 2018. PORAC cannot understand why the Governor and democratic leaders would pass a law that allows criminals using a firearm in the commission of a crime to not be charged with the use of that firearm.

PORAC has opposed the bill from the beginning, and for two serious reasons:

  • The current statutes relating to firearm enhancements already allow a judge to use discretion in sentencing. Each enhancement section has various levels of sentencing durations to be used by the judge on a case-by-case basis.
  • PORAC continues to have concerns over the passage of Proposition 57 and the early release of prisoners who have not only committed serious crimes against the public, but have usually left a trail of victims behind. The firearm enhancement sections of the Penal Code oftentimes may be the only penalty keeping a convicted criminal from being eligible for early parole under Proposition 57. By allowing a judge to eliminate, or not impose, the firearm enhancement, the likelihood of dangerous criminals on the street increases.

This measure is unfair to victims and dangerous for our communities.

The Peace Officers Research Association of California (PORAC) was incorporated in 1953 as a professional federation of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. Today, PORAC represents over 70,000 public safety members and 930 associations, making it the largest law enforcement organization in California and the largest statewide association in the nation.

 

Confused Guv Brown/Democrats Deny Science—Create “Third” Gender

Al Gore and his folks demand we listen to science, believe science and kill our economy and jobs—because “science” says we are doomed.  Yet, it looks like Gov. Brown and the legislative Democrats, by fiat law, declared a new gender—“non-binary”.

“Under Senate Bill 179, California will join Oregon as the only states to allow residents to be identified by a nonbinary gender marker on their driver’s license and becomes the first to allow a third option on birth certificates. The measure also changes state law to allow people to apply for gender changes without providing judges with proof of undergoing gender transition treatment.

State Sen. Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, applauded Brown for updating and streamlining state identity laws.

“I want to thank Gov. Brown for recognizing how difficult it can be for our transgender, nonbinary and intersex family members, friends and neighbors when they don’t have an ID that matches their gender presentation,” Atkins said in a statement. “The Gender Recognition Act will eliminate unnecessary stress and anxiety for many Californians, and it exemplifies the leadership role that our state continues to take in LGBTQ civil rights.”

“Gender Recognition Act”?  What gender is being recognized, male of female—science tells us there are two genders.  To paraphrase President Trump, “Fake Legislation”.

560px-School-education-learning-1750587-h

Nonbinary Gender Option Coming to California IDs in 2019

NICK CAHILL, Courthousenews,  10/16/17

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) – In an effort to remove identity barriers for transgender Californians, Gov. Jerry Brown late Sunday approved adding a third gender option to driver’s licenses and birth certificates.

Under Senate Bill 179, California will join Oregon as the only states to allow residents to be identified by a nonbinary gender marker on their driver’s license and becomes the first to allow a third option on birth certificates. The measure also changes state law to allow people to apply for gender changes without providing judges with proof of undergoing gender transition treatment.

State Sen. Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, applauded Brown for updating and streamlining state identity laws.

“I want to thank Gov. Brown for recognizing how difficult it can be for our transgender, nonbinary and intersex family members, friends and neighbors when they don’t have an ID that matches their gender presentation,” Atkins said in a statement. “The Gender Recognition Act will eliminate unnecessary stress and anxiety for many Californians, and it exemplifies the leadership role that our state continues to take in LGBTQ civil rights.”

Supporters argued SB 179 removes “onerous and unnecessary barriers” and that it takes power over gender-identity decisions from doctors and judges and gives it to individuals.

Under current law, gender change applicants must appear in court and submit a physician’s letter certifying that they have received treatment.

“Too many times, I have smiled to mask my discomfort while police officers, doctors, nurses, teachers and so many others have inspected and interrogated me, trying to determine if I’m a boy or girl,” said Tone Lee-Bias, a nonbinary 20-year-old from Sacramento. “It’s a relief knowing that I can finally get an ID that reflects who I truly am.”

The Legislature passed the measure in September on a party-line vote, and it takes effect January 2019. Supporters included the Transgender Law Center, the American Civil Liberties Union of California and the Anti-Defamation League. State fiscal committees estimate it will cost the Department of Motor Vehicles $880,000 to provide a third gender option on driver’s licenses and ID cards.

Opponents argued the bill would violate federal standards for issuing sources of identification and could increase identity theft and fraud. Just two organizations registered opposition, the Catholics for the Common Good Institute and the California Family Council.

Brown also signed a bill that will allow inmates to petition state courts for name and gender changes without approval from jails and prisons officials. Inmates must currently receive written approval from their parole agents or probation officers in order to submit name change petitions to the court.

The Transgender Law Center called Senate Bill 310 – written by currently and formerly incarcerated transgender people – “groundbreaking.”

“For too long, California prisons and jails have denied the humanity and dignity of transgender people in their custody by refusing to recognize who they truly are,” said Kris Hayashi, executive director of Transgender Law Center. “This law, developed by currently and formerly incarcerated transgender people, is a welcome step towards addressing the severe discrimination transgender people face in prison and upon release from prison.”

 

Fresno wants $4,200 in water fees added to new-home prices. Big developers say: See you in court

Wonder why the cost of housing is so expensive in California?  Easy:  taxes, time to get permits, environmental regulations, “amenities” that are needed, added costs for affordable housing and tie ins to existing systems.  Fresno has decided to add $4200 to the cost of a new house—over thirty years on a normal mortgage, that is about $10,000.

“The “water capacity fee,” which adds up to $4,246 for a typical new single-family home with a one-inch connection to a water meter, was approved in April on a 5-1 City Council vote following a contentious public hearing at which developers voiced strong objections. Many of those concerns found their way into the litigation now working its way toward a March trial date in Fresno County Superior Court.

“We want to make sure that new-home buyers pay their fair share, but we want to make sure it’s fair and equitable,” Granville Homes president Darius Assemi told the council earlier this year. “We’re simply going to pass it through. … We want to make sure an appropriate fee is put together with the correct amounts.”

Maybe this was lobbied by the Texas Chamber of Commerce—to remind Californians how out of control our government has become.  Maybe this is the governments way to limit our population growth?

Money

Fresno wants $4,200 in water fees added to new-home prices. Big developers say: See you in court

By Tim Sheehan, Fresno Bee,  10/15/17

Buyers of newly built homes in Fresno are on the hook for a fee of more than $4,000 to ensure they have enough water coming to their residences. But a trio of major home builders is challenging the city’s fees in court, contending they’re too high, are unfair and amount to a tax that violates state law.

The “water capacity fee,” which adds up to $4,246 for a typical new single-family home with a one-inch connection to a water meter, was approved in April on a 5-1 City Council vote following a contentious public hearing at which developers voiced strong objections. Many of those concerns found their way into the litigation now working its way toward a March trial date in Fresno County Superior Court.

“We want to make sure that new-home buyers pay their fair share, but we want to make sure it’s fair and equitable,” Granville Homes president Darius Assemi told the council earlier this year. “We’re simply going to pass it through. … We want to make sure an appropriate fee is put together with the correct amounts.”

The Building Industry Association of Fresno/Madera Counties, Granville Homes Inc., Wathen Castanos Peterson Homes Inc. and Lennar Homes of California Inc. filed the lawsuit in May. Less than a month later, however, the trade association pulled out of the case in a petition to Judge James Petrucelli without detailing a specific reason.

“The board decided that it was not in the BIA’s best interest to continue,” said Mike Prandini, the association’s president and chief executive officer. “If we won, it would just delay the inevitable. The builders felt the amount (the city) was charging wouldn’t go down much, if at all, so it wasn’t worth the resources to battle the city.”

Attorneys for the developers say the fees unjustly burden builders with extra charges that they say cannot be legally justified. They point to references in a water fee study conducted for the city that describe doubling the treatment capacity of the Northeast Surface Water Treatment Plant to help meet future water needs. They assert that the expansion requires a detailed analysis under the California Environmental Quality Act before fees for that portion of the long-term program can be charged.

“Basically the bottom line is primarily the 50 percent of fees for the northeast treatment plant,” said John Kinsey, one of the builders’ attorneys. “It increases the costs for people who are interested in buying new homes.”

They also argue that the fees are greater than what it will cost the city to assure a stable water supply for a growing population. As such, they should be considered a “tax” that requires approval from two-thirds of voters in an election rather than mere adoption by the Fresno City Council.

“The city’s position is that there’s no need to comply with CEQA because the funds are for unknown future projects, but the fees can’t be greater than needed to cover cost,” Kinsey said. Either the city has committed to a project with a known cost and has to do the environmental review, or hasn’t finalized a project with a known cost and hasn’t taken it to the voters, Kinsey added.

In their lawsuit, the builders and their attorneys want Petrucelli to declare the fees invalid and decide that they violate state law, and order the city to rescind its approval of the fees. They also want a court order barring the city from assessing and collecting the fees “unless and until the city complies with all controlling laws, including … CEQA.”

The city’s legal team – City Attorney Douglas Sloan and attorneys from the Irvine law firm Aleshire & Wynder – contends that the new fees don’t violate the state’s constitution. In court documents, they assert that the fees are only what’s needed to cover the cost of services. They add that the fees will bear a “fair or reasonable relationship” to new homeowners’ burdens on future water demands or their benefit from a more reliable water supply.

The defense attorneys also argue that the fees themselves do not represent a project that triggers CEQA requirements for an environmental assessment. “CEQA applies only to projects which have the potential for causing a significant effect on the environment,” they countered. “The fees do not have the potential to result in a direct physical change in the environment. …”

The $4,246-per-home fee adopted in April was lower than a previous proposal in December 2016 for $6,373. Fees would also be charged for commercial and industrial properties with larger water meter connections. The fees would only be charged for new development, not existing homes and businesses, because they are intended only to accommodate the water demands created by future growth. That includes $143.9 million in new water wells, groundwater recharge basins and distribution pipelines.

The city began charging the new fees in mid-June. Builders typically pay the fees when building permits are issued. Through the end of September, Fresno has collected just over $104,000 – about the equivalent of 24 single-family homes, said Mark Standriff, a spokesman for the city.

The two sides will argue their points in a March 22 hearing in Petrucelli’s courtroom in downtown Fresno.

 

 

Two Million Foreigners To Get Work Permits in 2017

President Trump has kept the number of immigrants with work permits in the United States down to just 2,000,000.  At the same time we have over 90,000,000 Americans no longer looking for jobs—imagine if two million of them had jobs, instead of foreigners taking American jobs.  Of course, the NBA, NFL and Major League Baseball will still need foreign players.  Hollywood will need new starlets from other countries to sexually harass, a new crop every year.  But, Facebook, Disney, Google and the rest do not need to import workers just to do IT work—we have plenty of folks looking for jobs in the tech world.

“Roughly 2 million foreigners will get temporary work permits, dubbed “Employment Authorization Documents,” or EADS, during 2017, despite administration efforts to cut back some of the many business-backed foreign-worker programs, according to two sets of data released by the Department of Homeland Security.

“This is almost entirely outside of our legal immigration and legal guest-worker system — these are additional workers,” said Jessica Vaughan, a policy expert at the Center for Immigration Studies. “The majority of these [EAD] work permits are given to people who originally entered the country illegally and now have some kind of exception being made for them, either on a temporary base or while they apply for some other benefit,” she added.”

It is time to fix the problem—jobs for Americans first, anybody opposed to that?

Jobs

Two Million Foreigners To Get Work Permits in 2017

by Neil Munro, Breitbart,  10/16/17

The number of foreign workers getting work permits for U.S. jobs will hit 2 million this year, partly because President Donald Trump’s deputies have reduced only a few of President Barack Obama’s foreign-worker programs and policies.

Roughly 2 million foreigners will get temporary work permits, dubbed “Employment Authorization Documents,” or EADS, during 2017, despite administration efforts to cut back some of the many business-backed foreign-worker programs, according to two sets of data released by the Department of Homeland Security.

“This is almost entirely outside of our legal immigration and legal guest-worker system — these are additional workers,” said Jessica Vaughan, a policy expert at the Center for Immigration Studies. “The majority of these [EAD] work permits are given to people who originally entered the country illegally and now have some kind of exception being made for them, either on a temporary base or while they apply for some other benefit,” she added.

The new data shows that 1.6 million work-permit EADs were given out during the first nine months of the government’s 2017 accounts. That puts the number on track to break 2 million, partly because an extra rush of people applied for DACA amnesty work permits in September and early October.

Four million young Americans join the workforce each year. But their ability to get well-paid jobs is hurt by the one-for-one influx of roughly four million lower-wage foreign workers.

As the new report show, roughly 2 million foreigners will get EADs in 2017. Also, 1 million foreigners are allowed to become legal immigrants. Roughly half a million foreign “guest workers” get work-visas, such as the H-1B, H-2A, H-2B, J-1 and L-1 visas, and a few hundred thousand illegal immigrants will cross the Mexican border or overstay the temporary tourist or work visas. That inflow adds up to almost 4 million, or one new migrant for every American who turns 18.

“There’s no way you can make the case that this number of work permits being issued annually does not have an effect on the labor market,” Vaughan said.

A huge population of roughly 30 million lower-wage immigrants has filled up job openings since the 1970s, leaving millions of American men unwilling or unable to work. In 1980, 94 percent of prime-age U.S.-born men were working, according to federal data. The number fell to 91 percent in 2000, down to 89 percent in 2010, and down to 88.4 percent in Spring 2017, according to federal data.

The activity rate for Americans has fallen, but low-immigration Japan has raised its work rate.

Under Trump, “there is some small progress” in reducing the number of EADs, said Vaughan.

The progress includes a reduction in the number of illegal aliens who get permission to stay, she said. Similarly, the agency has nudged down the number of people getting work-permits after applying for U visas, is pressuring some countries to take back their illegals and is ending “Temporary Protected Status” for some foreigners who fled homeland disasters a decade or more ago, she said.

On October 8, Trump announced his pro-American immigration principles, saying:

As President, I took an oath to uphold the Constitution, which makes clear that all legislative powers are vested in the Congress, not the President.

I, therefore, tasked the relevant executive departments and agencies to conduct a bottom-up review of all immigration policies to determine what legislative reforms are essential for America’s economic and national security.  Rather than asking what policies are supported by special interests, we asked America’s law enforcement professionals to identify reforms that are vital to protect the national interest.  In response, they identified dangerous loopholes, outdated laws, and easily exploited vulnerabilities in our immigration system – current policies that are harming our country and our communities.

I have enclosed the detailed findings of this effort.  These findings outline reforms that must be included as part of any legislation addressing the status of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients.  Without these reforms, illegal immigration and chain migration, which severely and unfairly burden American workers and taxpayers, will continue without end.

Immigration reform must create more jobs, higher wages, and greater security for Americans — now and for future generations.  The reforms outlined in the enclosure are necessary to ensure prosperity, opportunity, and safety for every member of our national family.

Trump is pushing Congress to implement his pro-American policies, but Trump has plenty of authority to reduce the EAD output each year.

“To really rein this [EAD problem] in, they need to rein in the big categories,” said Vaughan.

The big categories for work permits are Obama’s 2012 DACA amnesty, the TPS program, the Optional Practical training program, and the asylum program.

Obama’s DACA amnesty was announced in 2012, and it exploded the number of EADs issue in 2013 by 550,000, up to 1.8 million. The DACA people got two-year EADs, so many did not have to apply again in 2014 when the EADs total dropped down to 1.2 million. Most of the initial 2013 DACA EADs expired in 2015, so pushing that year’s total back up to 1.96 million. Many of the DACA applicants signed up again in 2017, until President Trump blocked the program on on October 5.  That decision will drop the EAD numbers down to roughly 1.5 million in 2018 if no other changes are adopted.

Partly because of Obama’s welcoming policies, the number of people who asked for asylum skyrocketed from 188,000 in 2012  to 252,000 in 2017. The 2017 number likely to reach that level partly because Obama’s deputies worked with immigration advocates to get judicial backing for his welcoming policies, so preventing any easy fix. Trump has asked Congress to change the law so that border agents can reduce the inflow of asylum-seekers.

The OPT program was created by administration officials and it can be easily stopped — but the education and business sectors strongly support the extra inflow of cheap white-collar labor. Officials have not announced any changes.

Administration officials have cut back the TPS program, but face big tests in the next few months when TPS status for the large resident population of people from El Salvador has to be continued or ended.

Officials have asked a judge for more time as they decide how to answer a lawsuit calling for the end of the H-4 program, which allowed work permits to roughly 68,000 foreign spouses of H-1B visa-workers in 2015 and 2016, and another 36,000 in 2017.

Four million Americans turn 18 each year and begin looking for good jobs in the free market.

The Washington-imposed economic policy of mass-immigration floods the market with foreign laborspikes profits and Wall Street values by cutting salaries for manual and skilled labor offered by blue-collar and white-collar employees. It also drives up real estate priceswidens wealth-gaps, reduces high-tech investment, increases state and local tax burdens, hurts kids’ schools and college education, pushes Americans away from high-tech careers, and sidelines at least 5 million marginalized Americans and their families, including many who are now struggling with opioid addictions.

The cheap-labor policy has also reduced investment and job creation in many interior states because the coastal cities have a surplus of imported labor. For example, almost 27 percent of zip codes in Missouri had fewer jobs or businesses in 2015 than in 2000, according to a new report by the Economic Innovation Group. In Kansas, almost 29 percent of zip codes had fewer jobs and businesses in 2015 compared to 2000, which was a two-decade period of massive cheap-labor immigration.

Americans tell pollsters that they strongly oppose amnesties and cheap-labor immigration, even as most Americans also want to favor legal immigrants, and many sympathize with illegals.

Because of the successful cheap-labor strategy, wages for men have remained flat since 1973, and a growing percentage of the nation’s annual income is shifting to investors and away from employees.

 

Environmentalist Policies Are Exacerbating Wildfires. It’s Time to Rethink Forest Management.

Over 200,000 acres in Northern California have burned, 41 people are dead and close to 6,000 structures, including whole neighborhoods, are gone.  While the proximate cause may be PG&E and its equipment, the real cause of the massive destruction is the lack of forest management by the National Forest Service.  They have the view that cutting down dead and diseased trees and clearing the underbrush—to take away the fuel for a fire—is morally wrong.  So instead of savings property and lives, the Feds along with the State of California have determined that trees are more important than people—and by making that decision harm the trees and people.

“As a Reason Foundation study noted, the U.S. Forest Service, which is tasked with managing public wildland, once had success in minimizing widespread fires in the early 20th century.

But many of these successful methods were abandoned in large part because of efforts by environmental activists.

The Forest Service became more costly and less effective as it increasingly “rewarded forest managers for losing money on environmentally questionable practices,” wrote Randal O’Toole, a policy analyst at the Cato Institute.

Spending on the Forest Service has risen drastically, but these additional resources have been misused and haven’t solved the underlying issues.

“Fire expenditures have grown from less than 15 percent of the Forest Service budget in [the] early 1990s to about 50 percent today. Forest Service fire expenditures have increased from less than $1 billion in the late 1990s to $3.5 billion in 2016,” O’Toole wrote.

Yes, the Forest Service has money, and trees, to burn.  We pay the bill to the government, to the insurance companies and to the companies that replace our businesses and homes—sadly, the Feds can not replace the people killed.

Photo courtesy of prayitno, flickr

 

Environmentalist Policies Are Exacerbating Wildfires. It’s Time to Rethink Forest Management.

 

 

Jarrett Stepman, Daily Signal,  10/16/17

Massive wildfires continue to rage out of control in Northern California, causing historic loss of life and billions of dollars in damage.

The images coming out of California towns, which look like bombed-out cities from World War

Stopping these huge blazes is, of course, a priority. The firefighters who have been battling these infernos have at times done a miraculous job under extremely difficult circumstances.

However, policymakers should also look at ways to curtail the long-term trend of growing numbers of major wildfires. While some argue that climate change is to blame for the uptick in fires, it’s also worth grappling with the drastic alterations in forest management that have occurred over the last four decades.

Many have argued that this is driving the surge in huge fires.

As a Reason Foundation study noted, the U.S. Forest Service, which is tasked with managing public wildland, once had success in minimizing widespread fires in the early 20th century.

But many of these successful methods were abandoned in large part because of efforts by environmental activists.

The Forest Service became more costly and less effective as it increasingly “rewarded forest managers for losing money on environmentally questionable practices,” wrote Randal O’Toole, a policy analyst at the Cato Institute.

Spending on the Forest Service has risen drastically, but these additional resources have been misused and haven’t solved the underlying issues.

“Fire expenditures have grown from less than 15 percent of the Forest Service budget in [the] early 1990s to about 50 percent today. Forest Service fire expenditures have increased from less than $1 billion in the late 1990s to $3.5 billion in 2016,” O’Toole wrote.

Perhaps now, Americans will begin to re-evaluate forest management policies.

In a May congressional hearing, Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif., said, “Forty-five years ago, we began imposing laws that have made the management of our forests all but impossible.”

He went on to say that federal authorities have done a poor job of implementing methods to reduce the number of deadly fires, and that this has been devastating for America’s wildlands.

“Time and again, we see vivid boundaries between the young, healthy, growing forests managed by state, local, and private landholders, and the choked, dying, or burned federal forests,” McClintock said. “The laws of the past 45 years have not only failed to protect the forest environment—they have done immeasurable harm to our forests.”

In a recent House address, McClintock pinned the blame of poor forest management on bad 1970s laws, like the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act. He said these laws “have resulted in endlessly time-consuming and cost-prohibitive restrictions and requirements that have made the scientific management of our forests virtually impossible.”

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has promoted a change to forest management policies, calling for a more aggressive approach to reduce the excess vegetation that has made the fires worse.

Congress is also moving to address the problem.

Members of the Western Caucus have proposed legislation to dramatically change the way forests are managed. If passed, this bill would give power back to local authorities and allow for more aggressive forest thinning without subjecting them to the most onerous of environmental reviews.

While state and federal governments can take measures to enhance forest and wilderness management, private management can also get involved to improve conditions.

One idea is to adopt a policy popularized by the school choice movement: create charter forests that are publicly owned, but privately managed. This would allow forest management to move away from top-down, bureaucratic control to a decentralized and varied system that may better conform with local realities.

As professor Robert H. Nelson wrote for The Wall Street Journal, the charter forest “would be exempt from current requirements for public land-use planning and the writing of environmental impact statements. These requirements long ago ceased to perform their ostensible function of improving public land decision making.”

Similar privatizing efforts have succeeded in the past.

No measure can truly prevent all fires, but reasonable steps can be taken to reduce the incidence of huge blazes like the ones currently engulfing California.

It’s time for lawmakers to redouble their efforts to protect American lives and property from nature’s most devastating ravages.

 

Planned Parenthood At 101 Years: 7 Million Abortions And Counting

Genocide is the killing of people on the basis of race, religion or sexual orientation.  In the case of Planned Parenthood they can killed children of color and females for 101 years.  This is a genocide of girls and kids of color—that was the purpose of PP—Margaret Sanger was a eugenicist, hated blacks, Jews and baby girls.

““The most merciful thing that the large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it,” Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger wrote in her 1920 book “The Wickedness of Creating Large Families,” and her corporation has not let her down.

Planned Parenthood aborted 6,803,782 babies between 1978 and 2016, according to CNS News, and 328,348 unborn babies between 2015-2016, according to its annual report, putting the 2017 grand total at 7,132,130.”

Hatred has a price—yet Pelosi, Feinstein, Brown and Obama have no problem killing off a generation of black babies, females and potential creators of cancer cures.  Society and humanity loses while babies are killed.  Thought you would like to know about the American Genocide—paid for by your tax dollars.

A sign is pictured at the entrance to a Planned Parenthood building in New York August 31, 2015. Picture taken August 31, 2015. To match Insight USA-PLANNEDPARENTHOOD/   REUTERS/Lucas Jackson  - RTX1RKFV

Planned Parenthood At 101 Years: 7 Million Abortions And Counting

Grace Carr, Daily Caller,  10/16/17

Planned Parenthood celebrated its 101st birthday Monday, marking the century-long operation of what started as a small birth control clinic in Brooklyn and is now an abortion giant operating in every U.S. state.

“The most merciful thing that the large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it,” Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger wrote in her 1920 book “The Wickedness of Creating Large Families,” and her corporation has not let her down.

Planned Parenthood aborted 6,803,782 babies between 1978 and 2016, according to CNS News, and 328,348 unborn babies between 2015-2016, according to its annual report, putting the 2017 grand total at 7,132,130.

While Planned Parenthood aborted more than 300,000 unborn babies last year, they handed out only 2,889 adoption referrals — roughly one adoption referral for every 114 abortions.

The abortion giant attempts to make light of these numbers by insisting that abortions make up only 3 percent of the services it offers, because it counts an abortion as one service. A woman who goes to Planned Parenthood to receive an abortion also receives a pregnancy test, contraception kit and a pap smear. By Planned Parenthood’s math, aborting the baby is only one-quarter of a woman’s visit.

“This is a little like performing an abortion and giving a woman an aspirin, and saying only half of what you do is abortion,” columnist Rich Lowry wrote in The New York Post.