CA Teachers’ Unions Losing the Long War Over Parental Choice … Here’s How

There is good news for the future of education—parents are beginning to demand quality education for their children, instead of blindly agreeing to the union run schools.  Finally parents are not accepting failed schools.  The children have been receiving mediocre education, even in the best districts compared to what they could do if they educated students instead of using the time to indoctrinate students, allow bullies to stay in the school and classroom—and use policy to discriminate.

“LAUSD’s school Board President Steve Zimmer led the board in March to make a controversial – and largely symbolic – vote in favor of one of the more noxious school union-backed bills to get a hearing in the state Capitol. Some charter supporters say Senate Bill 808 could be the death knell for most of the state’s charter schools, yet Zimmer’s support for it appears to have badly damaged his re-election chances. That’s another good news event.

SB 808 is a brazen attempt to bring charter schools under the total control of local school districts, many of which are hostile to their very existence. According to the Senate bill analysis, “This bill requires all charter school petitions to be approved by the governing board of the school district in which the charter school is located, prohibits a charter school from locating outside its authorizer’s boundaries, and limits the current charter appeal process to claims of procedural violations.”

Hopefully, this is a sign that crummy schools will no longer be tolerated—that the goal of education is education, not socialization or indoctrination.  Giving students the choice of educational venues makes all schools better—the competition for students will make even government schools better.

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CA Teachers’ Unions Losing the Long War Over Parental Choice … Here’s How

Steven Greenhut, City Watch LA,  5/25/17

EDUCATION POLITICS–Supporters of charter schools, homeschooling and other forms of school “choice” are so used to fighting in the trenches against the state’s muscular teachers’ unions that they often forget how much progress they’ve made in the last decade or so. Recent events have shown the degree of progress, even if they still face an uphill – and increasingly costly – battle.

The big news came from a local school-district race, although it wasn’t just any school district but the second-largest one in the nation. Charter-school supporters won two school board seats (there’s still some vote counting in one of them) in the massive Los Angeles Unified School District, and handily disposed of the union-allied board president. The race was followed nationally, and set the record for the most money spent on a school board race in the United States, ever.

The total cost was estimated at $15 million, with charter supporters spending $9.7 million, according to estimates from the Los Angeles Times. Typically, choice supporters get eaten alive by the teachers’ union spending juggernaut. It’s usually good news if our side can at least raise enough money to get the message out, but it’s a shocker – in a pleasant way – to find the charter folks nearly doubled the spending of the union candidates.

Various reformers, including Netflix cofounder and Democrat Reed Hastings, invested serious money in the race. He donated $7 million to one charter group, the Times reported. Another top donor was former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan, a moderate Republican, who spent more than $2 million. Once again, we saw that this was not some right-wing attack on unions. Victory didn’t come cheap, but it’s hard to understate the importance, from a reform perspective, of having a major school board run by a pro-charter majority.

LAUSD’s school Board President Steve Zimmer led the board in March to make a controversial – and largely symbolic – vote in favor of one of the more noxious school union-backed bills to get a hearing in the state Capitol. Some charter supporters say Senate Bill 808 could be the death knell for most of the state’s charter schools, yet Zimmer’s support for it appears to have badly damaged his re-election chances. That’s another good news event.

SB 808 is a brazen attempt to bring charter schools under the total control of local school districts, many of which are hostile to their very existence. According to the Senate bill analysis, “This bill requires all charter school petitions to be approved by the governing board of the school district in which the charter school is located, prohibits a charter school from locating outside its authorizer’s boundaries, and limits the current charter appeal process to claims of procedural violations.”

If educators wanted to create a charter school within any district in California and that district is run by a union-controlled school board that hates charters, then there would no longer will be any real workaround if the bill passes. That’s because the bill would wipe out appeals to the county and state level, except for some minor procedural matters.

Furthermore, the bill would let school boards decommission or reject charter schools if they are a financial burden. As the 74 Million blog  reports, “that argument could be made about any charter, as state funds follow students as they leave school districts.” The bill allows the board to revoke a school’s charter upon a variety of broad findings, including any improper use of funds or “sustained departure” from “measurably successful practices,” or “failure to improve pupil outcomes across multiple state and school priorities….”

So, one instance of improper use of funds could shut down a school. Imagine if that standard were applied to the LAUSD itself, given its scandals. Charters succeed because they have the freedom to have a “sustained departure” from the failed union-controlled teaching policies. Under this bill, the core of their success could be cause for their shut down. And no school can always improve pupil outcomes in every category. These things take time, and measurements can be subject to interpretation.

In other words, the bill would place the fate of California’s charter schools in the hands of those most committed to their destruction. Given that the makeup of school boards can change every election, it would destroy any security parents could have in these schools: one successful union board election could mean the beginning of the end for the school, as union-backed boards use these new “tools” to dismantle the competition.

But there is good news. The bill was recently shelved, turned into one of those two-year bills that is technically alive but going nowhere fast. The Democrats control the state Capitol and the California Teachers’ Association arguably is the most powerful force under the dome, but many Democrats representing low-income districts aren’t about to mess with successful charters.

In other words, charter schools have come into their own, and we’re probably well past the point that the unions could so directly stomp them.  They’ll do what they can to harass and hobble them, but such frontal attacks remain symbolic. And the courts continue to have their say, and frequently end up siding with the charter-school movement.

For instance, in late April the California Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled in favor of Anaheim parents who want to use the state’s parent-trigger law to turn a traditional public elementary school into a charter school. Under the trigger law, a vote by 50-percent of the student body’s parents can force low-performing schools to change the administration or staff, or revamp themselves into a publicly funded charter with more teaching flexibility.

The school district was adamantly against the change and made various challenges to a 2015 court decision approving the trigger. This is another victory for charter schools in California, although it has to be dispiriting to parents who have to continually fight in the courtroom while their kids get older. It’s been two years since the court approved changes at the school, which already has delayed improved education for two more class years.

But the court’s decision is still encouraging news, as the cultural sands shift in favor of educational alternatives, especially for low-income kids.

California candidates already are lining up for the 2018 gubernatorial race to replace Jerry Brown, who has been friendly to charters. One of the candidates is Delaine Eastin. She’s a close ally of the teachers’ unions. In the early 2000s, when she served as the superintendent of public instruction, Eastin tried to essentially outlaw homeschooling throughout the state.

California’s education code doesn’t directly mention homeschooling. The state’s compulsory education law mentions only an exemption for “children who are being instructed in a private full-time day school by persons capable of teaching….”

Homeschooling parents have long embraced a state-approved work around: They register as small private schools with their respective county boards of education.

Under Eastin’s leadership, however, those homeschools were required to file with the state Department of Education rather than the counties. And then Eastin sent a letter to district officials explaining that homeschooling as it is generally understood (parents without a teaching credential who teach their kids at home) “is not authorized in California, and children receiving homeschooling of this kind are in violation of the state’s truancy laws.”

Yet I talked to Eastin recently and she said she recanted her position long ago after getting quite an education from homeschooling parents. She even described herself as a supporter of charter schools. As with everything, we must follow Ronald Reagan’s advice for dealing with the Soviet Union (“trust, but verify”.) But what does it say when one of the most dogged allies of unionized public schools now takes a position acknowledging the importance of parental choice?

It says that we’re making progress. It’s frustrating, plodding and expensive. But such progress should keep charter supporters encouraged as they head into the next round of battles.

 

(Steven Greenhut is a contributing editor to the California Policy Center. He is Western region director for the R Street Institute. Write to him at sgreenhut@rstreet.org.) Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.

Next Victim of CalPERS: My Home Town—Simi Valley

The 2017-18 budget for the City of Simi Valley includes a 19% increase in its mandatory contributions to CalPERS.  Over the next five years the contribution will double, at a minimum.  The city is unable to raise taxes, since the voters do not believe government properly spends the money already received.  In the case of some cities, in 2016 they begged for sales tax increase for roads and public safety—and now it has been exposed every dime is instead going to the pension costs.  The people of Simi Valley will not be scammed.

“For the 2016-17 fiscal year, the city paid about $11 million into the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, or CalPERS, the state employees’ pension fund. Of that total, $4.7 million was to cover pensions for safety employees (sworn officers) and $6.3 million was for miscellaneous employees, or general city workers.

By 2022-23, officials anticipate those annual costs to be about $8.8 million for safety personnel and $13.2 million for miscellaneous employees. Of that $22 million total, about $15.9 million will fall under unfunded pension liability—the gap between what is owed to retirees and what Simi Valley and its employees have paid into the system.”

Simi Valley is a well run city—with a AAA rating—and it is about to go in deficit to keep CalPERS open!  Imagine the poorly run cities.

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Officials grapple with rising pension costs, debt

Pensions account for about 15 percent of city’s budget

By Melissa Simon, The Acorn,  5/26/17

*All figures are in millions The City of Simi Valley’s rising annual pension costs, which are expected to double to nearly $22 million by 2022, is the most serious financial issue facing the city in coming years, local officials say.

For the 2016-17 fiscal year, the city paid about $11 million into the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, or CalPERS, the state employees’ pension fund. Of that total, $4.7 million was to cover pensions for safety employees (sworn officers) and $6.3 million was for miscellaneous employees, or general city workers.

By 2022-23, officials anticipate those annual costs to be about $8.8 million for safety personnel and $13.2 million for miscellaneous employees. Of that $22 million total, about $15.9 million will fall under unfunded pension liability—the gap between what is owed to retirees and what Simi Valley and its employees have paid into the system.

Those figures do not take into account the cost of health benefits for retirees, which are managed through a different system.

“I’m not going to downplay it,” City Manager Eric Levitt told the Simi Valley Acorn. “We have other problems, but this is the most significant (financial issue). And it’s not just here in Simi Valley, but in other cities across the state.”

With the city’s 2017- 18 budget slated for approval June 12, officials will have to face the issue of pension debt head-on in negotiations in coming weeks, including during labor talks with local police and public employee unions. Pensions account for about 15 percent of the city’s annual general fund budget.

“It’s a difficult issue with no easy solution,” Levitt said. You have to find ways to deal with revenues and expenses by either bringing expenses down, revenues up or a combination of the two.

“Hopefully, our revenues continue to grow (in coming years), but we’ll be lucky if they grow at the same rate this (unfunded liability) is going up.”

According to cost projections dated May 11, the city’s pension costs for 2017-18 are $6.8 million for general city workers and $4.9 million for safety personnel. Of that $11.7 million total, about $7 million is unfunded pension liability.

Furthermore, the projections show that Simi Valley will have to pay a total of $102.3 million into CalPERS over the next five years to cover pensions, of which $69.2 million is unfunded liability. Those figures may change depending on CalPERS investment earnings, Levitt said.

Councilmember Mike Judge said he’s seen the numbers, adding that all cities in

California are in similar situations. Still, he remains optimistic when it comes to Simi

Valley’s financial state.

“It’s going to be a struggle for a while, but . . . there’s not too much we can really do about it right now except tighten the belt,” Judge said. “I think (unfunded liabilities are) going to affect our budget for the foreseeable future. But I’m not worried that the city is going to go into bankruptcy or anything like that because we’re pretty solid financially.”

Councilmember Dee Dee Cavanaugh said pension debt is a major concern for the city. Officials have to find long-term solutions, she said.

“(Bankruptcy) is definitely a fear people have, and it could be a possibility . . . for all the cities that are in the same situation,” Cavanaugh said. “But we have a strong City Council, strong city management staff, and we’re going to be looking at everything we can to avoid that.”

One small way the city decreases its liability, Levitt said, is by prepaying its annual cost in one lump sum rather than making monthly payments. By paying the $7 million in unfunded liability to CalPERS in July for 2017-18, the city will save about $250,000 this fiscal year, Levitt said.

Catching up

In the late 1990s, Simi Valley’s pension account was super-funded, meaning the city had more than enough money in CalPERS to cover the demand, said Jody Kershberg, Simi’s director of administrative services. In 1999, for example, the city’s pension account was 127 percent funded for general workers and 109 percent funded for safety personnel, and employees were not making individual retirement contributions.

But over the past two decades, lower-than-expected returns on CalPERS’ investments and longer life spans have contributed to an imbalance in the pension fund, forcing the system to charge cities more to cover anticipated retirement costs.

As of 2014-15, the most recent numbers available, Simi Valley’s pension account was 72 percent funded for general employees and 70 percent funded for safety personnel.

As a result, “CalPERS has slowly been increasing the percentages the city has to pay in order to try to deal with the shortfall of unfunded liabilities,” Kershberg said.

As of 2015, Simi Valley had 661 retirees and beneficiaries receiving pensions through CalPERS; 144 of them were safety employees and 517 miscellaneous workers.

Levitt said the city’s ultimate goal is for both pension accounts to again be 100 percent funded.

“Hopefully, the unfunded liability will reduce over time, but it would be doubtful that it would reduce by 2022,” the city manager said. “I think it will stay along those lines, and may even increase, after that for a little while.”

Acorn editor Darleen Principe contributed to this report.

EMPLOYEE CONTRIBUTIONS

Starting in July 2010, all City of Simi Valley employees began paying a portion of their pension costs to help cover the city’s unfunded liabilities.

Today, miscellaneous employees contribute 7 percent of their salaries, while safety personnel contribute 12 percent.

Annual pension amounts are determined by length of service, type of employee and date of hiring by the city.

Both miscellaneous and safety personnel who were hired before 2013—when the California Public Employees’Pension Reform Act (PEPRA) took effect—are eligible to retire at 55 and receive annual pensions of 2 percent and 3 percent, respectively, of their highest salary for each year worked.

For example, a general city worker making $100,000 who retires after 30 years at age 55 could receive an annual pension of $60,000.

The 2013 pension reform act raised the retirement age and formula by which benefits are calculated. Miscellaneous employees hired after 2013 can retire at 62 and receive a pension of 2 percent of the average of their three highest salaries. Safety employees hired after 2013 can retire at age 57 and receive a pension of 2.7 percent of the average of their three top salaries.

CalPERS benefits are in lieu of Social Security, “essentially a paycheck coming employees’ way and doesn’t typically include medical coverage,” said Samantha Argabrite, deputy city manager.

 

Push to Make Government Child Care Cost TEN TIMES More Than Today

The State of California refuses to participate in the protection of 38 million citizens.  Instead, it is working hard to provide welfare, education, health care and police protection to those that break our laws.  Now some special interest groups want to multiply the number of Hispanics using tax funded child care—even if the parents want to take care of the child themselves or they are not eligible for any government benefits, but qualify for deportation.

“Immigrant families may be particularly reluctant to try to access government services for which they qualify. “The current climate is fear for immigrant families, immigrant families may not feel safe to take part right now,” Chun said.

Kristin Schumacher of the California Budget and Policy Institute, who authored the new study, said that an increase in the size of the Latino and Asian populations in California over the last decade has also made it difficult for eligible families to enroll their children in subsidized child care.

“The Latino and Asian child population age zero to 12 has been growing rapidly, and yet funding for the program is actually decreasing,” Schumacher said. “So while program funding goes down, the child populations are going up, and they just aren’t accounting for the eligible kids.”

But, this is NOT about immigrants—those are honest people.  This is really about using tax dollars to support illegal aliens, folks that qualify for deportation instead.  Why does government cost too much—because government steals from the honest and gives to the dishonest.

Money

Money

A million Latino kids are eligible for subsidized childcare in CA — 11 percent are enrolled

Bonnie Petrie, KPCC.  5/24/17

A relatively small number of the California children eligible for subsidized childcare are enrolling – but among Latino and Asian families, the share of eligible kids receiving childcare is even tinier.

More than a million Latino children in California are eligible for subsidized childcare, but according to new research from the California Budget and Policy Center, only 11 percent are enrolled. More than 100,000 Asian children are eligible. Only about eight percent are enrolled.

Why?

Early childhood education advocate Diana Chun at Early Edge said language is a significant barrier. “Many parents who speak a different language, as well as immigrant families, face significant barriers to access,” Chun said. “And eligibility and reporting requirements to access these early learning programs are burdensome for families.”

Immigrant families may be particularly reluctant to try to access government services for which they qualify. “The current climate is fear for immigrant families, immigrant families may not feel safe to take part right now,” Chun said.

Kristin Schumacher of the California Budget and Policy Institute, who authored the new study, said that an increase in the size of the Latino and Asian populations in California over the last decade has also made it difficult for eligible families to enroll their children in subsidized child care.

“The Latino and Asian child population age zero to 12 has been growing rapidly, and yet funding for the program is actually decreasing,” Schumacher said. “So while program funding goes down, the child populations are going up, and they just aren’t accounting for the eligible kids.”

That means even if more families felt comfortable navigating the red tape it takes to enroll their child in a subsidized childcare program, they might find there is ultimately no room for them.

Chun said the state must reprioritize early childhood care and education for underserved, low-income, and at-risk populations.

“We have to update and increase our investments in quality early learning so that more children can benefit from these services, which we know help prepare them academically, developmentally, and socially for school and college and careers down the line,” Chun said.

“Three-year-olds do not get a do over, and it’s important that we focus on children during these early developmental years because their brain development sets the course for their life,” added Schumacher. “It’s important we invest in children early because it has maximum results in the long term.”

 

The Economy Needs More Workers; Trump’s Budget Cuts Would Produce Them

Years ago Wisconsin had a Governor named Tommy Thompson.  While Governor he passed welfare reform.  If you were single and on welfare you would have to work a minimum of twenty hours a week for government service to qualify to continue to receive welfare.  This one change cut the number of people on welfare by almost half—and created more new jobs in the State.  Now. President Trump wants to use that experience for the nation.  Imagine, if those on welfare who could work were forced to work twenty hours a week for the government—for the welfare check?

“A front-page New York Times article Sunday says that “the main economic concern” these days “is no longer a lack of jobs, but a lack of workers.” The Times reports that almost a third of the 388 metropolitan areas tracked by the Bureau of Labor Statistics have an unemployment rate below 4%.

As a result, the story goes on, there’s little chance that the economy could grow significantly faster, despite Trump’s promises.

But as we’ve pointed out in this space, the economy isn’t anywhere near full employment, given that the labor participation rate today is 62.9%, which is down from 66% before the last recession started in December 2007.

Just getting rid of the ObamaCare 29 hour a week restrictions and under 50 employees mandate, would add jobs to the community—at NO cost to the taxpayers.  This is what the nation needs, policies that grow jobs, not kill them.  What do you think?

US Vice President Mike Pence (L) and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R) applaud as US President Donald J. Trump (C) arrives to deliver his first address to a joint session of Congress from the floor of the House of Representatives in Washington, DC, USA, 28 February 2017.  / AFP / POOL / JIM LO SCALZO        (Photo credit should read JIM LO SCALZO/AFP/Getty Images)

The Economy Needs More Workers; Trump’s Budget Cuts Would Produce Them

Investors Business Daily,  5/22/17

Growth: Economists are saying that a big problem the economy faces right now is a lack of available workers. If that’s the case, then the welfare reforms in President Trump’s budget would be a big part of the solution.

A front-page New York Times article Sunday says that “the main economic concern” these days “is no longer a lack of jobs, but a lack of workers.” The Times reports that almost a third of the 388 metropolitan areas tracked by the Bureau of Labor Statistics have an unemployment rate below 4%.

As a result, the story goes on, there’s little chance that the economy could grow significantly faster, despite Trump’s promises.

But as we’ve pointed out in this space, the economy isn’t anywhere near full employment, given that the labor participation rate today is 62.9%, which is down from 66% before the last recession started in December 2007.

The ranks of those who are out of the labor force — they aren’t working and aren’t looking for a job — exploded by 15 million over those years. While some of this is due to the baby boom generation starting to hit retirement, a much bigger explanation is the fact that so many able-bodied people can access government benefit programs, which makes working more or less optional.

ObamaCare, for example, encouraged states to expand Medicaid eligibility, not only by raising the income threshold, but by making it available to able-bodied, childless adults. Thirty-one states have done so. As a result, Medicaid rolls have exploded by almost 17 million. ObamaCare itself discourages work, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Obama also eased requirements to get on food stamps, and as a result there are 14 million more people collecting food stamps today than there were in Dec. 2007.

There are 1.6 million more people collecting Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) checks than there were in Dec. 2007, growth that comes as jobs get less and less physically demanding.

This growth in spending and enrollment in welfare programs is always treated by Democrats as a sign of success. But the downside is that these programs discourage work. It stands to reason: If you can get by without a steady paycheck, then you will be far pickier about the kind of jobs you’ll take.

Trump’s budget plan can go a long way toward fixing the worker shortage simply by pushing work requirements to welfare programs that lack them, and strengthening the ones that already exist.

According to the Washington Post, Trump’s budget — set to be released on Tuesday — will call for giving states more flexibility to impose work requirements to get benefits, including Medicaid and food stamps.

It might also include a call to reform SSDI to get people who are actually able to do work back to work. As it stands, only a tiny fraction of SSDI recipients ever re-enter the workforce.

Unfortunately, Democrats and their handmaidens in the press won’t explain any of this, and will instead scream that Trump is “slashing” entitlement programs by $1.7 trillion and “gutting the safety net.”

As they shout, keep in mind that there are only two ways to boost the rate of economic growth — increase the labor force or increase productivity. With millions of potential workers sitting on the sidelines, finding ways to get them back into the labor force should be a no-brainer.

 

Single-Payer: How to Turn California into Cuba

If you like to wait months for a visit to the doctor, like the idea of limited drugs and poor quality hospitals, plus loss of jobs in California and families going belly up paying the $400 billion for a single year of Cuban style health care.

“The seemingly innocuous term they use for this is “single payer,” as if all they were seeking was to reorganize the health insurance industry — an industry that is probably about as popular as car dealers. But in a country where the vast majority of medical expenses are paid by insurance, control over the health insurance industry means control over the whole system.

It’s no different than if we continued to have scores of car manufacturers and theoretically independent repair shops, but only a single, national, government-owned dealership that had to buy or sell, or approve the servicing of, every new and used car in the country. He who pays the piper calls the tune.

Do you want Jerry Brown and Kevin De Leon determining the amount and quality of your health care?  It would be a disaster for the poor and middle class—the rich and government employees will be taken care of, the rest of us will have prayers to save our lives.

Obama Cuba

Single-Payer: How to Turn California into Cuba

Liberal legislature weighs government health care, even though it would bankrupt broke state

by Ramin Oskoui, MD, Polizette,  5/25/17

 

Just imagine if someone said: I have no desire to control the American automobile industry, or tell people what kind of car to drive, I only want to simplify life for the American people, and make driving safer and fairer, by having a single, government-controlled car dealership for the whole country, with every new or used car, bought or sold — and likely serviced as well — by that single dealership. And under my plan, everyone will drive a good, safe, fun car!

We haven’t gotten there yet for cars — and the experiments in the Soviet Union, Cuba, and Venezuela are not very encouraging. But the dream of American socialists, progressives, and many Democrats is to do the same thing for health care — to nationalize or socialize the huge segment of the economy now occupied by the medical and nursing professions, hospitals and clinics, the pharmaceutical industry, medical device manufacturers, and health insurers.

The seemingly innocuous term they use for this is “single payer,” as if all they were seeking was to reorganize the health insurance industry — an industry that is probably about as popular as car dealers. But in a country where the vast majority of medical expenses are paid by insurance, control over the health insurance industry means control over the whole system.

It’s no different than if we continued to have scores of car manufacturers and theoretically independent repair shops, but only a single, national, government-owned dealership that had to buy or sell, or approve the servicing of, every new and used car in the country. He who pays the piper calls the tune.

Even if liberals and Democrats succeed in ensuring that nothing is changed in Obamacare, they still wouldn’t yet have the progressive and socialist dream of single payer for the vast majority of us who get our health care through private insurance. We would have it with the VA, for veterans, and we would have it in some areas for those accessing the individual market (now that Obamacare has virtually eliminated that market in many areas of the country). How’s that working out for you?

The response to those failures is usually that they haven’t been tried long enough, or widely enough, to give them a chance to succeed. Margaret Thatcher had a phrase for that — “The only problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other peoples’ money.”

But Californians can’t wait for socialism to fail economically — as it always has and presumably always will — or to succeed politically on a national level — which seems unlikely in the near future. They are designing their own single-payer system for their own singular state.

The leading bill put forward, SB562, would eliminate traditional insurance companies and guarantee coverage for everyone. The state would contract with health providers and pay the bills for all residents, much as the federal government covers seniors through Medicare.

Medicare isn’t that bad, from the patient’s perspective. The problem with Medicare, of course, is that it is completely insolvent and unsustainable, with the taxes and premiums paid covering only about a third or less of the actual costs, and the remainder borrowed from the Chinese and shifted to future generations. Eventually, even though it only covers the elderly, it will go bankrupt, the same way Bernie Madoff’s ponzi scheme ran out of new investors to fleece.

Given that financial pedigree, how does California figure it will make single payer work for the entire California population? Indeed, presumably the “single payer” will pay for anyone who immigrates there, legally or illegally, from Mexico or New Mexico, showing up with a heart condition and asking for medical care. After all, who could imagine California denying health care to immigrants?

A study by the State Senate’s appropriations committee found that a proposed single-payer system would cost $400 billion a year — more than twice the state’s current bloated budget of $182 billion. How will it be paid for? According to the Sacramento Bee, half or $200 billion would come in the form of a new tax of about 15 percent on all earned income. That’s in addition to the 13 percent-plus state income tax already levied on Californians, and their federal income and Social Security taxes.

Unfortunately, that would still leave another half — another $200 billion to find somewhere else. Very likely they will go after employers for that, but presumably they would only be able to impose new taxes on California employers. Those who move to Texas or Rhode Island would be safe. It will be interesting to see the effect that has on jobs. California has already lost millions of residents and thousands of businesses because of its excessive taxation and onerous regulations, even without taking on health care as a government responsibility.

Taxes can’t be raised high enough to pay for such a system. And regulations — such as requiring a minimum salary for every job — cannot be enforced without driving businesses out of state or into bankruptcy. Economic reality does not respect their utopian delusions. But don’t take my word for it. By all means, let’s encourage California to try it. And anyone who is anticipating high bills can vacation there, or move there for a few years.

It won’t be long before such “medical tourism” stops, most likely because very few doctors will remain in the state. But that’s okay. If California goes bankrupt a few years earlier than it otherwise would, as its citizens enjoy the same lovely climate and health care enjoyed in Venezuela, it might give the rest of us a few more years to learn from their failures and use the market system to help bring down health care costs for the rest of the country. Every time socialism has been tried, it has failed. That’s okay, as long as California can keep its failures to itself.

Dr. Ramin Oskoui, a cardiologist in the Washington, D.C., area, is CEO of Foxhall Cardiology PC and a senior health care adviser to LifeZette.

 

Teachers’ union president obsesses about billionaires at California Democratic convention

Now even Democrat billionaires are being attacked by the Sanders Progressives in the California Democrat Party.  This does not help tom Steyer in his efforts to buy the governorship.  But, it is my understanding the Progressives do love one billionaire—George Soros, the rich guy that finances the bullying on campuses and in the community, the racist organization Black Lives Matter and promotes hatred of the races via his organizations.  You will see CNN, MSNMC denounce the billionaire Koch Brothers—but say nothing about the financial manipulation of Soros and his buying of elections and the Democrat Party.

“Heins asserted that billionaires just bought two seats on the elected board of the Los Angeles Unified School District (in an election on May 16 – see L.A. Voters Opt for School Choice). He was aghast that voters rejected union-backed candidates in “the most expensive school board election in U.S. history.”

He also accused the billionaires of spending $27 million in 2016 on state legislative and school board races. (He did not provide a source for this number, but an early citation is in a February 7, 2017 letter from the president of the United Teachers Los Angeles to Eli Broad criticizing him for supporting the California Charter Schools Association.)”

The Progressives need the billionaires—how else will they pay $400 billion a year for single payer, Third World health care in California?  Think the billionaires will stay in this State?  Think the rich will keep their companies in California.  Watch for the collapse.

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Teachers’ union president obsesses about billionaires at California Democratic convention

Kevin Dayton, California Policy Center,  5/25/17

Billionaires weigh heavy on the mind of the president of the California Teachers Association (CTA).

During his brief May 21 speech at the 2017 California Democratic Party convention, CTA president Eric Heins referred to billionaires four times. He didn’t refer to reading, writing, or mathematics at all.

It appears the CTA leadership has discovered a legion of billionaires teaming up with President Donald Trump and U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to destroy public education and “push failed educational policies on California.”

Heins asserted that billionaires just bought two seats on the elected board of the Los Angeles Unified School District (in an election on May 16 – see L.A. Voters Opt for School Choice). He was aghast that voters rejected union-backed candidates in “the most expensive school board election in U.S. history.”

He also accused the billionaires of spending $27 million in 2016 on state legislative and school board races. (He did not provide a source for this number, but an early citation is in a February 7, 2017 letter from the president of the United Teachers Los Angeles to Eli Broad criticizing him for supporting the California Charter Schools Association.)

And the motive for this election involvement? According to Heins, what the billionaires want is profit – profit from corporate-run charter schools and private school vouchers.

Of course, the vast majority of charter schools in California are not run for-profit, except of course for the profit of union leaders like Heins, who earned $280,000 last year. In the world of such government union leaders, billionaires are bad when they won’t give away their money and, where nonprofit charters are concerned, worse when they do.

Heins claimed that “public education is the foundation of our democracy,” although in reality the Constitution is the foundation of our democracy and public education is a tool for the people’s understanding of it. Perhaps Heins didn’t want listeners to consider how many students graduate from California public schools without ever reading the U.S. Constitution or even being capable of reading it.

To be fair, student academic performance was not the focus of his speech. The 2017 California Democratic Party convention was not a time to talk about whether students are actually learning. It was a time to send a “strong message to billionaires.”

Schools are “the centers of our communities, not corporate profit centers.” Education is for “not just white students, not just rich students, but all students.” It is “the great equalizer.” And “public education should be about kids, not profit…. I said, public education should be about kids, not profit,” Heins declared, repeating it to get a more vigorous audience response.

Heins asserted that classroom teachers in California see how President Trump is affecting students, who fear being “rounded up by ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] and deported.” Students will soon become sicker, because they are certain to lose health care. And students will accumulate massive debt from college loans.

So what is the solution, from the perspective of the president of the California Teachers Association?

  1. The California Teachers Association has “launched a massive social justice campaign.” Attendees at the convention were encouraged to go to the California Teachers Association booth and sign a pledge for public education: Take the Pledge: A Call to Action for the Public Education ALL California’s Students Deserve.
  2. A California Democratic Party “Kids Not Profits” resolutiondemands transparency and accountability for corporate-run charter schools. Apparently the California Teachers Association believes that current government oversight of charter schools is as inadequate as government oversight of the California High-Speed Rail Authority.
  3. People are “awakening to the call of democracy” through organizing, mobilizing, town halls, grassroots protests, and voter registration. Heins called for people to speak with “one voice for quality public education, health care, good jobs, affordable housing, worker rights, social justice, equity and equality.”

The speech ended with a political call to persist and resist. And indeed, the California Teachers Association persists and resists in 2017.

It persists in seeing public schools as a catalyst to transform society into a democratic socialist model. And it resists the idea that schools should work for parents and the public by ensuring students graduate from the system knowing how to read, write, speak, and calculate.

Kevin Dayton, a frequent contributor to CPC’s Prosperity Digest, is the President & CEO of Labor Issues Solutions, LLC, and is the author of frequent postings about generally unreported California state and local policy issues at www.laborissuessolutions.com.

To Get More Riders, L.A. Metro Needs to Think Outside of the … Bus

The County of Los Angeles has spent over $8 billion on light rail and other government transportation systems.  How well is the system doing?  The city of Los Angeles has gone crazy spending money on buses and a subway system—how well is that doing?

“Ridership on Metro Buses is declining rapidly and in large percentages. Metro is in a tailspin. To reverse this decline, the mindset of Metro and the cities the buses pass through must change. Some of the changes must be directed to the routes, how often the buses run, how early and how late. Thinking must also shift to what occurs outside the bus when riders are approaching or leaving a bus stop, how well placed the stop is, how comfortable the stop is for the rider, and the experiences riders have when boarding and exiting a bus.”

The article is clear—government run transportation in Los Angeles is WORSE than buses in Third World countries.  That is why happens when government socializes a service and tries to kill off competition—it does not have to be good, it is a monopoly—with unlimited resources—the tax payers.  It is time to sell the system, create competition and stop government from running programs it has no ability to run—like pension systems, education and transportation—all are total failures and total monopolies.  Think about it.

whitehousemoney-300x166

To Get More Riders, Metro Needs to Think Outside of the … Bus

Matthew Hetz, City Watch LA,  5/25/17

RIDERS HAVE RIGHTS TOO-Ridership on Metro Buses is declining rapidly and in large percentages. Metro is in a tailspin. To reverse this decline, the mindset of Metro and the cities the buses pass through must change. Some of the changes must be directed to the routes, how often the buses run, how early and how late. Thinking must also shift to what occurs outside the bus when riders are approaching or leaving a bus stop, how well placed the stop is, how comfortable the stop is for the rider, and the experiences riders have when boarding and exiting a bus.

Riding the bus since 1992, I have experienced and continue to run into obstacles using bus stops. This is called the “client’s experience” in using the system. It is the gold standard of customer data, something scrutinized obsessively by businesses to improve their sales and work for their client’s return. But this is a concept that seems completely alien to bus companies and cities, whether it be accidentally or on purpose.

From my understanding, establishing a bus stop is a two-step process. But the two actors involved — the bus agencies and the cities — do not seem to be in communication with each other as to how bus stops service and affect bus riders.

Step One. Metro and other bus agencies decide where a bus stop is needed. I do not know the process or this. The placement of stop is regulated by safety issues, traffic concerns, and proximity to other bus stops for transfers. The mechanics used for placing a bus stop are complicated, taking into account the needs for a particular route and how it functions within the total bus network. Once determined, the bus stop is marked with their signs on a pole listing the route(s) serviced at that particular stop.

Step Two. The cities accept the bus stop and decide what street furniture — benches, trash cans and lights (if any) — will be placed at the stop.

Where Metro and bus agencies place bus stops and how cities treat those stops must involve more proactive assistance for bus riders, not only while they are at the stop waiting for a bus, but also when they are approaching or leaving the bus stop, and boarding or exiting the bus.

For Metro alone there are 170 lines and 15,000 stops. There are numerous other bus routes and stops in other LA County cities which have their own bus agencies. My bus riding experiences do not come close to being comprehensive in the number of bus routes I’ve ridden or stops I have used. However, my experiences riding the buses of Metro, Culver City and Santa Monica as well as throughout the LAX Area, Culver City, West Los Angeles, Mid-Town, Mid-Wilshire, Santa Monica and Downtown Los Angeles, lead me to believe that the bad client experiences I go through are shared by other bus riders throughout Los Angeles County.

These bad client experiences are a large factor leading to the decline in ridership.

I will give examples of obstacles I face at bus stops whose placement may serve the needs of Metro and other bus agencies and fulfill the mechanics necessary for those stops, but do not meet the needs of bus riders.

Sidewalk trees. I am a tree hugger. I love trees. The city desperately needs more trees for shade to cool the higher temperatures triggered by global warming. Trees beautify cities. They offer shelter for people to escape the hot sun, and offer some protection against rain. Trees are critical for birds to survive in a harsh urban environment. But at bus stops where there are sidewalk trees, they can be a hazard and an inhibition to bus riding, particularly when exiting the rear door or both back doors on the longer articulated buses.

Rear door exits are crucial in enabling buses to run with speed. When passengers insist on exiting through the front door they run into those boarding, creating a log jam as people stop and squeeze by each other, wasting time, and slowing travel.

One example is the northbound Culver City No. 6 stop at Venice Blvd. This bus stop in the City of Los Angeles has a grass parkway and a tree in the center.

Exiting at this stop using the rear bus door, the rider may encounter parkway grass that is wet from morning dew or from rain or from sprinklers. This creates a hazard of falling. And it is worse when the sprinklers are on because the bus rider steps onto wet grass and gets sprayed by a sprinkler – a very bad client experience.

When using the back bus exit here, the doors swing open and a tree is in front of the rider. There is a step down from the bus to the ground. Sometimes a rider’s foot will step off the bus and lands on a large root which throws him off-balance. The rider may slip or step into dirt or mud. This can be a very awkward exit, nothing like the smooth exits from light rail trains and subways.

The back bus doors close automatically after a few seconds, so when a rider is confronted with a tree and its roots, it takes a moment to assess the situation, but then the doors close in his face. The rider must yell to the driver to reopen the doors. This wastes time.

Twisting, turning and sliding, the rider must maneuver around the tree, its roots and the dirt, all while holding the doors open so they won’t close automatically on their own limb. This is another very bad client experience and can lead to strained limbs. I know this from my own client experiences.

I use a rolling attache case to carry heavy books I use in teaching. Trying to maneuver myself and the attache out of the back doors of the bus and around the tree is a very bad client experience, and is sometimes impossible. Exiting safely around a tree takes time and slows down the bus. It takes even more time if I see that using the back door is impossible; I have to holler to the driver to wait at the stop while I make my way to the front bus door to exit. If the bus is crowded, this is a long, difficult process and slows the bus even more. Another bad client experience.

This is a situation where Metro and bus agencies must work in tandem with cities to decide when and where to plant sidewalk trees. The sizes of buses are fairly standard, so before planting trees cities must include in the planning process the knowledge of how many feet it is from the bus sign, and where the bus should stop. They should measure from the front door to the back door of the bus, and then plant a tree at least ten feet further down from the back door spot.

Businesses near a bus stop. On the Venice Boulevard Eastbound Metro Rapid 733 stop just east of Sepulveda Boulevard, and around the corner from the Culver City No. 6 stop mentioned above, is a bus stop in front of car wash. There are some trees there which offer shade but there are hazards connected to the car wash, creating a very negative client experience. There is so much noise from this car wash because cars and trucks are detailed immediately behind this bus stop. The workers spray chemicals on the vehicle bodies and tires, and it stinks. Who knows what is being used or how poisonous it is when smelled and inhaled.

Crosswalks. Crosswalks are crucial in assisting bus riders to safely cross streets to get to bus stops. In many intersections there are only three crosswalks, serving three of the street corners, and the bus stop is at the far side of the intersection. This may be a benefit to drivers, but it is detriment to pedestrian bus riders.

When a bus rider approaches a bus stop and is on a corner across the street where there is no crosswalk for direct access, the rider then must use two crosswalks to get to the stop, making a “U” pattern instead of simply walking across the street.

Here are two examples of a three-crosswalk intersection: the southbound Culver City No. 6 and Rapid 6 stop at Sepulveda and Centinela Boulevards, and the southbound Santa Monica No. 3 at Lincoln Boulevard in LMU Drive. Bus riders must take twice as long to cross the two streets to get to the stop. I have experienced both of the above crosswalks and have had a bus pull up to the stop and leave before I could safely cross. Had I been able to cross using only one crosswalk, I would have made the connection.

When this happens I get frustrated because I miss the bus by seconds and will have to wait between twelve to over thirty minutes for the next bus. It seems the three crosswalk situation is there to placate drivers, but it does not help pedestrians. I am certain this situation can be found repeatedly throughout Los Angeles County, creating bad client experiences.

The sidewalk situation. It is no secret there are miles of broken sidewalks in Los Angeles, and much digital ink in City Watch has been spilled about this. These are hazardous for all pedestrians, and all bus riders are pedestrians. This creates another bad client experience.

Another difficult situation arises when there are sidewalk cut-outs for cars to enter and exit properties. Sometimes the bus back door opens above a sidewalk cut-out and the already high step from bus to sidewalk now requires a giant leap. The young may take this leap, or, along with not so young, hold onto the door handle and slowly let themselves down from the bus to the ground. Or, the rider can retreat, yell at the driver to not drive off, and waste time slowly walking to the front door where the gap between bus and sidewalk is not so deep.

This sidewalk cut-out gap is made worse when it is raining and the gutter is filled with water. When the sidewalk is flat, the gutter water flows between the curb and the bus and can be stepped over. But when the door is above a sidewalk cut-out filled with water, the only options are to get your feet soaked or yell at the driver to not drive off and walk to the front door. More time wasted — and yet another bad client experience.

Bus benches, trash cans and fire hydrants. As with sidewalk trees, both the bus agencies and cities must calculate where bus riders will board and depart buses from front and back doors, and keep the street furniture far away. Bus benches, trash cans and fire hydrants are obvious necessities for bus riding and maintaining a good urban environment, but when a bus rider is blocked with them while boarding or exiting a bus, they become obstacles — more examples of bad client experiences.

Bus stops and Metro Rail: On the Sepulveda Boulevard Northbound Culver City No. 6 and Rapid 6 is a stop for the Sepulveda Expo Station. This is excellent bus stop placement: it is in front of the station, the TAP kiosks and station entrance. However, the stop for the Southbound Culver City No. 6 and Rapid 6 for this Expo station is at Pico Boulevard, around fifty yards north of the station. This is not good, as it takes minutes to walk from the station to this bus stop, enough time to miss a bus.

There are many times I exit the Expo Line at this stop to take the Southbound Culver City Bus and the bus pulls away just as I approach it. Then I have to wait for next bus. Depending on the time of day and day of the week, the wait can be from twelve up to fifty minutes. I assume the stop for this southbound route is not in front the Expo Station because of the right turn lane on Sepulveda Boulevard; a stop there could slow traffic in that lane. As a bus rider I say, too bad — bus riders should be given more consideration. I do not know if this is an issue with Los Angeles or with the Culver City bus line, but it is a bad client experience.

On Santa Monica Boulevard westbound at 14th Street is a stop for Santa Monica Bus No. 1. It has a stop with two of Santa Monica’s round, blue bus chairs and between them is a fire hydrant. When the back bus door opens on this — which it nearly always does — a nearly unsurmountable obstacle awaits the rider upon exiting. Again, a bad client experience.

Covered Bus Shelters. This is a thorn in my side. I have written extensively in City Watch about the need for more covered bus shelters, particularly along Santa Monica Boulevard in West Los Angeles. This is issue involves the complaints of locals who do not want advertising to be placed on the shelters along the boulevard. They claim it will destroy the character of their neighborhood. I have written much about this for years but the westbound bus stop at Santa Monica Boulevard and Sepulveda Boulevard remains without a covered bus stop. This is an issue the city refuses to address — a very, very bad client experience.

If Metro and any other bus agencies are going to gain back riders (clients) there must be more covered bus shelters. A city cannot claim to support bus ridership when it purposely withholds this kind of amenity to the public.

Combining Bus Stops and Extending Lines. In my bus travels on Metro I encounter one of the dumbest placements of a bus stop there is, along with the city’s ignorance of the line’s potential. The line is Metro 217, and the stop is southbound at Center Drive at the Howard Hughes Center, just south of this intersection. The sign is hidden under a tree. I’ve seen Metro drivers drive right past this hidden stop and suddenly realize they missed it. Then they have to make a severe turn into the curb to pick up riders. This stop is so close to the intersection that, at times, the Metro bus will block the intersection.

Yet, close by, southbound down Sepulveda Boulevard, is a bus stop for the Culver City No. 6 and Rapid 6, which is clearly visible with a covered bus shelter. Why does Metro not move their stop and combine the two to give some visibility and shelter to the riders of Line 217?

Line 217 is a route which completely wastes it potential. Whether it is the fault of Metro or the City of Los Angeles, it illustrates a mindset in which the thought process is locked deep inside the box.

Route 217 is from the Red Line (subway) Hollywood/Vine Station to mainly the Expo Line La Cienega Station. Only during day and late afternoon hours, and about once an hour, the line extends south into the Howard Hughes Center in Westchester.

This line could be a tourist gold mine because it goes to mythical Hollywood and Vine, passes through Hollywood, the Grove and the famous and fantastic Farmers Market, and then by LACMA and the Tar Pits. The southern terminus is Howard Hughes Center, about three miles short of the hotels serving LAX along Century Boulevard. These hotels are filled with tourists, many of whom want to get to such LA landmarks but there is no direct service from the LAX area to these tourist gold mines. The tourist-rider needs to take three buses or a bus and two rail lines to get to Hollywood.

If Line 217 were extended south from its current Howard Hughes Terminus to service the LAX hotels and tourists at LAX waiting during long lay-overs and if its hours were extended late into the night and with frequent service, the city and Metro could provide excellent client service to travelers who want to spend money, as well as locals who want to reach these places. A bus with “Hollywood and Vine” on its marquee passing by hotels filled with tourists would be like a magical bus offering a way to the Promised Land.

Why the tourist agency of Los Angeles cannot see this or figure it out illustrates how the city holds bus riders in low esteem – missing important tourist revenue. It shows how cities ignore the needs of riders, thinking only about the mechanics of where to place a bus stop — not of how their decisions affect their client-riders’ experiences.

Anyone worried about declining bus ridership should get outside, take buses, and think outside the bus.

 

(Matthew Hetz is a Los Angeles native. He is a transit rider and advocate, a composer, music instructor, and member and president and executive director of the Culver City Symphony Orchestra.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.

 

CalPERS: Is It Melting Down?

CalPERS is bankrupt.  Otherwise it would not need $500 million extra in this years’ budget.  It would not need to double the mandatory contributions—and it would not need to “borrow” $6 billion from a previously unknown State slush fund—with NO need to pay it back.  If this was a corporation, the Feds would close it down and indictments would start.  In the case of California, the Guv is willing to steal from slush funds, money needed for health care and education and give it to a system that in 2015 had a return on investment of .61%–a total disaster.  On Wall Street this firm would be closed.

“The second development was the recent joint announcement by Governor Jerry Brown and State Treasurer John Chiang that they want to buy down the unfunded liability of CalPERS by some $8 billion (that’s right, billion) of taxpayer money. The theory is that “for every dollar we put in today, the unfunded liability will be reduced by $2 over the next 20 years.”

Jerry Brown and John Chiang, as I have stated before, are about the only two grown-ups in California politics. If they are worried enough about the long term solvency of CalPERS to come up with this doozy, I as a pensioner am officially afraid. This seems a lot like the canary in the coal mine.

Government is a consumer, not a producer—that $8 billion buy down” comes from taxes, money meant for other purposes—and it is already known the money will not be repaid—that is call theft.  Ready for the CalPERS total collapse—sooner rather than later.

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

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

CalPERS: Is It Melting Down?

Tony Butka, city Watch LA,  5/25/17

EASTSIDER-Ever since Anne Stausboll suddenly announced her retirement effective August 2016, I have wondered what’s going on with CalPERS. She was seemingly at the peak of her powers running the pension giant, and there was no particular event that precipitated her leaving. Now we have a new CEO, Marcie Frost, as of October 2016, fresh from Washington State’s Department of Retirement Systems (DRS.)

Obviously she is not familiar with the insides of CalPERS, and has been very quiet to date. This major leadership change, coupled with two recent developments have me seriously worried about CalPERS.

The first development, of course, is the announcement of JJ Jelincic that he is not going to run again for the CalPERS Board. The only honestly open and transparent Board member, the rest of the gang did their best to hound him out by means both fair and (mostly) foul. You can read the Wall Street Journal article about his leaving here. Honestly, I think he just got tired of the endless lies and siege mentality of the rest of the Board.

The second development was the recent joint announcement by Governor Jerry Brown and State Treasurer John Chiang that they want to buy down the unfunded liability of CalPERS by some $8 billion (that’s right, billion) of taxpayer money. The theory is that “for every dollar we put in today, the unfunded liability will be reduced by $2 over the next 20 years.”

Jerry Brown and John Chiang, as I have stated before, are about the only two grown-ups in California politics. If they are worried enough about the long term solvency of CalPERS to come up with this doozy, I as a pensioner am officially afraid. This seems a lot like the canary in the coal mine.

So What the Heck Is Going On at CalPERS? 

Some of these factors I have covered before for CityWatch in, A New Cabal at CalPERS? which underscored General Counsel Matthew Jacobs’ orchestration of how CalPERS now works — mostly in the dark.

There are really three individuals who seem hell bent on turning the nation’s largest public pension plan into a contemporary version of the Titanic. First, a Board President who is more interested in being President-for-Life than in having any idea of the quicksand underneath his feet. Second, a General Counsel who has assumed, de facto, the running of CalPERS hidden underneath a layer of “attorney-client privilege,” while controlling the hiring process. And third, a conflicted Outside Fiduciary Counsel to the Board who had actually sued CalPERS, resulting in an Appeals Court Decision which could materially change the Plan as it currently exists.

The Prez 

You need a total “go along to get along” Board President to front for all of these issues as they ripen, and there couldn’t be a worthier example than Rob Feckner. He has now been President for a total of thirteen, that’s right, 13 terms! As an example of how out of tune with reality Mr. Feckner is, back in his early days as President he was great pals with Fred Buenrostro, even congratulating Fred on his retirement — until, of course, Messrs. Buenrostro and Villalobos were indicted in a major influence peddling and bribery investigation by the Feds.

And then there’s his recent manipulation of the Board rules so that he could cast the tie-breaking vote to defeat a term limits proposal for president and committee chairs. The effect of this vote was that he could break the tie and thereby vote for himself as President. Alfred E. Neuman of MAD Magazine fame would have been proud — “conflict, what conflict?” As a result, maybe he really can be president-for-life. Here’s the link.

Finally, there is the evidence of Mr. Feckner being the highly visible front in the Board’s attempt to get rid of JJ Jelincic for having the intestinal fortitude to challenge in public some of the Board’s more odious actions. I find it curious that someone who came out of the ranks of a union would suddenly just “disappear” the concept of due process.

The General Counsel 

I’ve written about Matthew Jacobs, the General Counsel, before. He’s the one who has redefined the phrases “transparency” and “public accountability,” into his new favorite words “attorney-client privilege.” Since the retirement of Anne Stausboll, he seems to be acting as unelected ringmaster for the CalPERS staff. And beyond.

In a fairly detailed column, I described how he has assumed control of any and all public records requests, and carefully manipulated the process for hiring the Board’s new outside fiduciary counsel, Ashley Dunning.

At a recent Board meeting Jacobs further demonstrated his orchestration of events. The Board was offered only two carefully vetted candidates to choose from as fiduciary counsel. Both had actively sued CalPERS itself — a Seyfarth Shaw candidate, and Ashley Dunning of Nossaman LLP (at the time of the suit a partner with Manatt, Phelps.) Her suit on behalf of Marin County is now before the California Supreme Court.

It is very curious that Matthew Jacobs evidently could not provide the Board with a single qualified law firm in the State of California that did not have a conflict in suing CalPERS to the detriment of its beneficiaries. C’mon.

The Outside Fiduciary Counsel 

Speaking of the new fiduciary counsel, Ashley Dunning seems to be Matthew Jacobs’ kind of lawyer. While she was representing the Marin County Employees Retirement Association against CalPERS, she was all in to the tune of about $10,000 per week at $580 /hour.

Suddenly, as she was asked questions by the CalPERS Board, she says, “not to worry,” the Marin County case really wasn’t about what the California Court of Appeals says it was. Honest, I’m not making this up. Here’s the Sacramento Bee article.  

And for their part, the folks in Marin County aren’t too happy either. No kidding. I’m sure that if the Marin County Retirement Board folks knew that the lawsuit would cost a ton of money and risk their pensions, they might have taken a different course of action. Not to mention how wonderful the Marin County taxpayers must feel about footing the bill.

And this is the best that Matthew Jacobs could do. Of course, maybe it actually was, since Dunning clearly owes him big for this lucrative contract with CalPERS.

The Takeaway 

To those who know the implications of what Brown and Chiang are really saying, CalPERS is in trouble and this is a way to make the books look a lot better next year. The idea of CalPERS actually getting a 7% return on investment is laughable, and they know it. So the quick infusion of cash helps make the underfunding of the Plan look ok.

Given the political timing, this was not the moment that either of these two seasoned politicians wanted to take such a controversial step. With elections coming up next year for the State of California, Jerry Brown and John Chiang didn’t dream up a $6 billion bailout out of the goodness of their hearts. I suspect they are trying to minimize the pension issue in the state-wide elections.

As to the rest, Feckner is clearly in love with being President, and could care less about actual governance. The only thing he’s driving is his car, not CalPERS.

However, the real heavy in this tale is General Counsel, Matthew Jacobs. Prior to leaving CalPERS, JJ Jelincic called out Jacobs as the equivalent of Joseph McCarthy’s slimy lawyer, Roy Cohn. Hat tip to Naked Capitalism. 

Personally, Shakespeare’s quote, “The first thing we must do is kill all the lawyers” in Henry VI, comes to mind.

Let us pray that someone comes forth in the upcoming CalPERS elections to take up the mantle of openness, transparency, and inquiry that JJ represented so well.

State Senate STOPS Law Setting Limits on Drugged Driving—Allows Bullying to Stop Free Speech on Campus

Democrats love crime, poverty and rotten education.  In this case the Democrats in Sacramento killed bills that would set standards for driving while under the influence of marijuana—no current standards are workable.  So, potheads can drive after a couple of joints without penalty.  Then you have a bill to stop the bullying on California campuses—the Democrats came down on the side of bullying, stopping free speech and totalitarian actions by Administrations disallowing those to the right of Bernie Sanders to speak, even in the classroom and not be “shamed” for supporting the President or the Constitution.

“Among the more noteworthy casualties: a bill that sought to protect free speech on college campuses, in response to conservative speakers like Ann Coulter being blocked from speaking at UC Berkeley, and a measure that would have set legal limits for driving under the influence of marijuana, now that voters have legalized its recreational use.

The committee did approve a closely-watched bill that would create a single-payer health care system in California – despite a $400 billion price tag. But a new amendment to the bill inserted by the committee blocks its implementation until a funding source is in place.

But they did pass a bill killing private health care and allowing government to determine whether or not you get life savings health care—oh, at a cost that would bankrupt most families, small businesses.  Now they need to pretend they have a source of funding.  They can lie, and kill off the elderly, the young and the sick—that is how they will finance socialized medicine.

Cannabis marijuana weed pot

Senate Approps Casualties: Drugged Driving Limit, College Free Speech Bill

 Ben Adler, Capital Public Radio,  5/25/17

A California Senate committee blocked dozens of bills Thursday without even mentioning them – let alone voting on them – during a 45-minute hearing.

The Senate Appropriations Committee killed roughly 80 of the nearly 300 measures on its “suspense file“ – the legislative limbo where bills that have been found to have significant costs to state taxpayers sit until legislative leaders decide which ones to let out and which ones to hold indefinitely.

Among the more noteworthy casualties: a bill that sought to protect free speech on college campuses, in response to conservative speakers like Ann Coulter being blocked from speaking at UC Berkeley, and a measure that would have set legal limits for driving under the influence of marijuana, now that voters have legalized its recreational use.

The committee did approve a closely-watched bill that would create a single-payer health care system in California – despite a $400 billion price tag. But a new amendment to the bill inserted by the committee blocks its implementation until a funding source is in place.

Measures that advanced Thursday must pass the full Senate by the end of next week.

The Assembly Appropriations Committee will hold its “suspense file“ hearing Friday morning.

 

California Crazy: Woman Sues Jelly Belly -Claims She Didn’t Know Candy Had Sugar

Late night TV comedians, if they stopped demeaning and smearing President Trump, would have plenty of laughs just talking about California—the quake and flake State of the nation.  In this case a woman with an IQ less than room temperature—or a sleaze trying to extort a corporation is suing the favorite candy of President Reagan—Jelly Belly.

“Perhaps she’s not a moron, perhaps she grew up under a rock, or Iraq, or Iran..or some other place where existing in medieval times. Because here in the United States of America it common knowledge that most candy is sweetened with sugar (unless of course it says sugar-free). Actually that’s what stone age lady thought, that she was being fooled.

The California cretin (of course she is from California) is suing Jelly Belly, the maker of jelly beans, because she was “tricked” int believing they were sugar-free……let that one sit for just a minute.

There’s a very easy way of telling, as a diabetic I can tell you that if it tastes good…it’s real sugar. But this lady probably didn’t try the “taste test.”

If this is not a joke, I hope Jelly Belly (name of the company as well) sues hers for a frivolous lawsuit.  Why is California is such economic trouble?  This lady is allowed to vote.

lawsuit

Woman Sues Jelly Belly -Claims She Didn’t Know Candy Had Sugar (Quick–Hide the Gene Pool)

by Jeff Dunetz, The Lid,  5/25/17

This may be a sign that mankind has grown so stupid, we no longer deserve to exist…and I am not just talking about progressives, Democrats, and other socialists. The woman described in this story a complete moron but to be honest that would not be fair to morons (complete or partial). They are much smarter than her.

Perhaps she’s not a moron, perhaps she grew up under a rock, or Iraq, or Iran..or some other place where existing in medieval times. Because here in the United States of America it common knowledge that most candy is sweetened with sugar (unless of course it says sugar-free). Actually that’s what stone age lady thought, that she was being fooled.

The California cretin (of course she is from California) is suing Jelly Belly, the maker of jelly beans, because she was “tricked” into believing they were sugar-free……let that one sit for just a minute.

There’s a very easy way of telling, as a diabetic I can tell you that if it tastes good…it’s real sugar. But this lady probably didn’t try the “taste test.”

Here’s another way, the package says “Gluten Free,” shouldn’t that serve notice that if it was “sugar-free” there might be something on the package?  Maybe not because I am sure this lady doesn’t have a tattoo on her forehead saying “brain free.”

According to Legal News Line, Jessica Gomez, from San Bernardino county, bought the “Jelly Belly’s Sports Beans” which contain carbohydrates, electrolytes, vitamins, evaporated cane juice, and more. She claims that the “fancy phrasing” confused her because the label referred to the sugar as evaporated cane juice.

Gee cane juice—mmmm— what would one think that was, blood and perspiration from someone who was caned in Singapore? Come on even if one didn’t know what it was…someone who was trying to avoid sugar and had an I.Q. higher than a sugar cane plant, would read “cane juice” and ask if that was sugar. Hey Jessica, curiosity killed the cat, but humans with a low intelligence are allowed to ask questions.

Fox News reports:

Gomez purchased Jelly Belly’s Sport Beans, a product marketed as an exercise supplement containing carbohydrates, electrolytes and vitamins, which lists “evaporated cane juice” on the label instead of citing sugar as an ingredient.

In the class action suit, Gomez claims the wording on the label is in violation of state’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act, Unfair Business Practices Law and False Advertising Law and is designed to intentionally deceive the health-conscious consumers being targeted by Sport Beans.

Ooh Class action too.  If she wins maybe Ms. Gomez will take a balloon to Oz and ask the wizard for a brain. Although he might ask you to throw water on a wicked witch first– that may be hard because Congress is in session and Pelosi doesn’t days off.

The Forbes story added:

Jelly Belly called the case “nonsense,” as stated in an April motion to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing, “No reasonable consumer could have been deceived by Sport Beans’ labeling – Gomez could not have seen ‘evaporated cane juice’ without also seeing the product’s sugar content on its Nutrition Facts panel.”

But Gomez seems to have the Food and Drug administration on her side..which proves the entire thing is idiotic. In May 2016, the FDA announced that the term “juice” should not be used unless referring to that of a fruit or vegetable, and that calling sugar “evaporated cane juice” is in fact misleading to consumers.

The guidelines, though not law, state that “The FDA encourages firms that market sugar cane-derived sweeteners or products that contain a sugar cane-derived sweetener to review the final guidance and consider whether their labeling terminology accurately describes the basic nature and characterizing properties of the sweetener used.”

But Jelly Belly, which is headquartered in Fairfield, Calif., is still arguing that the case should be thrown out for a number of reasons, primarily because “Plaintiff does not explain why an athlete—or anyone [who is allowed out of their house without a helmet]—would be surprised to find sugar in a product described as ‘Jelly Beans’.”

How can Jelly Belly at fault, let’s face it–if someone looked inside this lady’s cranium they would see nothing but an Error 404 message. It would be different if she was a child (under 5) but she is an adult –and normal adults would be suspicious if there was NO sugar in jelly beans. But this dimwit says she was fooled.

Parts of this post were originally seen at Eagle Rising