Orange County Supervisors Consider Outsourcing More County Jobs

Elected officials have a fiduciary responsibility to the public. They are responsible for providing government services of high quality and low cost. If an agency is paying premium pay and benefits, for a union contract, when it can get the same quality for a lower cost by qualified workers that do not pay bribes to a third party (unions) to keep their job, then the agency is abusing tax dollars. Los Angeles County had the voters approve a measure to use qualified workers, union or not, for services. Now Orange County is about to do the same.

The problem is that unions will go to court for each nonunion worker used—it becomes a matter of making attorneys rich and the taxpayers poorer in order to provide responsible services. One way out of this is to end government programs and services—let the private sector pick up on it. Note the unions are upset private firms—with voluntary donations-might match union campaign donations made with stolen money—might be used in the future.

Proponents argue outsourcing saves taxpayer dollars on salaries and benefits and spawns more innovative ways to provide services through the profit incentive.

Opponents counter that privatization often ends up costing taxpayers more and delivers lower quality services, with lucrative deals and poor oversight of companies that finance elected officials’ political campaigns.”

20111201 jobs

 

Supervisors Consider Outsourcing More County Jobs

Voice of Orange County, 7/21/14

County supervisors are slated to decide Tuesday whether to ask voters in November to approve changes to the county charter and allow more county jobs to be outsourced to private companies.

The proposed ballot measure, requested by Supervisor John Moorlach, would change the county’s charter to allow the county to privatize more county work than currently is permitted.

Moorlach’s staff report doesn’t identify positions that could be outsourced.

The effort is likely to spark objections from county employee representatives, along with support from conservative groups.

Proponents argue outsourcing saves taxpayer dollars on salaries and benefits and spawns more innovative ways to provide services through the profit incentive.

Opponents counter that privatization often ends up costing taxpayers more and delivers lower quality services, with lucrative deals and poor oversight of companies that finance elected officials’ political campaigns.

The supervisors’ potential ballot measure comes as Costa Mesa’s city council majority continues to fight a years-long lawsuit challenging their efforts to outsource most of the work done by the city’s general employees.

The county measure is scheduled for discussion toward the end of Tuesday’s meeting, which starts at 9:30 a.m. Click here for Moorlach’s staff report on the proposal.

 

People Defeat Unions and Special Interests in School Bond Election

Look at the financial reports of any school bond measure. The donors are big business people, unions and corporations that expect to get the contracts to fulfill the school bonds—regular people do not donate, since they do not see any rewards for a school bonds. Most understand that only union workers will be allowed to work on the project—so 5% of workers will be eligible to work the project—but 100% of the workers must pay for it. These bonds are about raising money for school board member re-elections or election, seldom about quality education—if Boards were about quality education then would ask what is the punchline to “Common Core”—another rich peoples effort to dumb down education (Common Core was paid for by Bill Gates) with almost NO education input or documentation proving its values—he bought his way into the White House.

The people of Coronado refused to be bullied—hence they voted, overwhelmingly against this payoff. By a vote of 58% AGAINST and 42% FOR, this was killed.

“Support for the bonds was damn near universal among the Establishment. Doubtless funded by commercial construction firms, bond underwriting companies and (most important) the education labor unions, the prop looks like a no-brainer winner.”

vote ballot initiative

The little-noticed CRUSHING rejection of Coronado’s school bond measure — how and why

Written by Richard Rider, San Diego Newsroom, 7/18/14

There’s one taxpayer victory in the June, 2014 primary that I SHOULD have reported, but didn’t. A tiny, unfunded but determined pro-taxpayer group in Coronado CRUSHED a Ponzi-scheme school bond measure.

It’s perhaps a textbook example of how to defeat the Establishment and the special interests that back such measures. Representing San Diego Tax Fighters, I provided some expertise (at the request of the bond opponents), but the truth is that locals made it happen — not me. Note particularly the quality opposition website — one that added to the professionalism of the rag-tag band of opponents.

See here.

It was a short term school bond proposition for the small, affluent city of Coronado. It was largely intended to provide supplemental OPERATING funds for the district for 3 years, with a 5 year payback on the bonds — the theory being that, in those 3 years, additional funding would magically appear from the state of California.

If you want to see the ballot arguments and know more about the measure, this website is helpful:

See here.

If you want to drill down further, here’s the detailed, objective 13 page analysis of the San Diego County Taxpayers Association:

See here.

Support for the bonds was damn near universal among the Establishment. Doubtless funded by commercial construction firms, bond underwriting companies and (most important) the education labor unions, the prop looks like a no-brainer winner. Au contraire!

Here’s the bottom line election results:

PROP E – CORONADO UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT
$29,000,000 Bonds (Requires 55%)
Precincts: 11
Counted: 11
Percentage: 100.0%
Votes:
NO – 3141 – 57.99%
YES – 2275 – 42.01%

– See more here.

My role was to provide a last minute rewrite/edit of the group’s ballot book rebuttal argument. One must be quite careful with such statements, as sloppy grammar, unsubstantiated facts and even a misplaced word or two can result in a lawsuit ending in thousands of dollars in attorney’s fees paid by the losers of the suit.

My rewrite was no great shakes, but I think it largely complied with the “safe statements” mandated in such official ballot arguments while making good reasons to reject the measure. It’s likely the other side took this grass roots opposition too lightly, and didn’t fully understand the effectiveness of the bond opponents. As Chairman of San Diego Tax Fighters, I signed the rebuttal argument.

The county GOP and SD Tax Fighters both formally opposed the bonds, joined only by the local ad hoc grassroots Coronado taxpayer group. I’m told the SD TF formal opposition carried some weight in the community.

I was asked to do some of the debates, but I quickly nixed that idea. They did NOT need some “outsider” telling Coronado citizens how to vote. Besides, the group was quite capable of fielding good debaters for the taxpayer viewpoint.

The SAN DIEGO U-T editorially supported the bonds. The San Diego County Taxpayers Association (the “big” taxpayer group of which I am an active member) wrestled with the issue, and finally went “neutral.” I had hoped for better, but it definitely could have been worse.

I never checked on how much the proponents spent on the measure. I suspect that it was AT LEAST 200 times what opponents could muster. But sometimes a bad idea is just a bad idea — particularly when you have a relatively knowledgeable electorate — knowledgeable because of the efforts of the bond opponents.

Without the active opposition, doubtless the bonds would have passed. It’s great to see a little pro-taxpayer effort by a small but energetic group producing such dramatic results.

 

Dell: Bitcoins Easier to use—Cheaper to Process—Will Accept for Payment

Photo Courtesy of newfilm.dk, Flickr.

Photo Courtesy of newfilm.dk, Flickr.

Dell starts accepting Bitcoin for online purchases from consumers and small businesses in the US

The Next Web, 7/18/14

Dell today announced it has started accepting Bitcoin for all items available on Dell.com (including Alienware products). The company says it is “piloting” the digital currency for consumer and small business shoppers in the US; presumably if the test goes well, the option will be expanded internationally.

Dell teamed up with Bitcoin payment processor Coinbase to provide the new payment option. Dell touted the two managed to add Bitcoin support to Dell.com in just 14 days while Coinbase declared that Dell is “the largest ecommerce company to officially accept Bitcoin, with nearly $60 billion in annual sales.”

Paying with Bitcoin on Dell.com can be done in three steps:

  1. When you’re ready to make a purchase, just add your items to your cart, fill out your shipping details and choose Bitcoin as your payment method. When you submit your order, you’ll be taken to Coinbase.com to complete your purchase.
  2. From here, you can choose to pay directly from your bitcoin wallet by using the generated payment address or by scanning the QR code with your smartphone. Or, if you have a Coinbase account, you can log in and send payment directly.
  3. Once your payment has been processed, you’ll be returned to Dell.com for order confirmation. It’s as simple as that!

For those who don’t know, Bitcoin is a decentralized digital currency, currently the most-widely used alternative to common forms of money. Because it has no central issuer, unlike credit cards and PayPal, it has no single authority and thus no way to lock out entire countries out of the network.

Dell offers its own introduction:

Bitcoin is a distributed peer-to-peer network offering a payment system based on a completely digital currency. Bitcoin payments can be made easily from anywhere in the world, and offer reduced payment processing costs. Bitcoins can be transferred instantly and securely between any two people in the world.

To celebrate the move, Dell is offering a promotion to save customers 10 percent off a new Alienware system (up to $150 limit) when checking out with Bitcoin. Not exactly a crazy deal (the limit seems unnecessary), but it certainly won’t hurt.

 

California “Denti-Cal” Program Good on Paper—Not Realistic for People

The State of California gave two million people FREE health care due to expansion of the Medi-Cal system. To service them there are now 25% FEWER doctors than before the millions were added. Plus, we do not know how many doctors still involved in this government program are taking new patients—or keeping all their current patients. In fact, Medi-Cal is little more than a feel good card, giving false sense of coverage. The same goes for dental care, for the Denti-Cal program. Yes, you have a card, but few dentists participating. Why? They cannot afford to lose money on every patient.

““We’re trying to help those who have no other resources, and do it the correct way because we’re a teaching facility,” says Blake. Long Beach Memorial Medical Center, for which his clinic provides children’s oral-care services, is a training facility for USC dental students. And when a 4 year old comes in and needs treatment that involves surgery, the most humane way to do it is to sedate the child, Blake says.
While a number of dentists may still simply use anesthesia and restraints to keep costs manageable, he chooses to pay an anesthesiologist to sedate the child. Two hours costs $875, but Blake recoups only about $160—eating the $615 loss. He estimates three such cases each week.”

Kids

Denti-Cal Patients Feel the Pain as Rates Shrink

By Pamela K. Johnson, Healthy Cal, 7/16/14

A few years ago, Kathleen Hamilton became a foster mom to 13 and 14 year old boys, who also happened to be her nephews. Both needed extensive dental work, and the services were to be covered by the state’s Medi-Cal program. But year after year, Hamilton ran into a snag.

“It was difficult to find a dentist who would take new Medi-Cal patients,” she recalls, “and every time I would go to make the next appointment, [the previous] dentist wouldn’t see them. I hopscotched all over East County San Diego, driving almost to Mexico,” she says.

Hamilton has spoken out in recent years before the Senate Budget Subcommittee as both a mother and an advocate with The Children’s Partnership, which has called tooth decay in the state’s underserved children “the largest unmet health need in California.” And it’s a problem that’s likely to grow as 900,000 children were recently moved from the phased-out Healthy Families Program into Medi-Cal, where the rolls are expected to swell to 11.5 million between this year and next. This at a time when many dentists who service the program feel increasingly disgruntled about reimbursement rates.

John Blake, DDS, says that quite a few of his patients have found the 82-year-old Children’s Dental Health Clinic in Long Beach, Calif., after unsuccessfully seeking care at other area offices.

“They said that the other dentists were no longer treating Denti-Cal patients,” says Blake, who’s had a long association with the clinic. He and his twin brother volunteered there as teens, after their mother urged them to get them off their surfboards and do something purposeful. After dental school and running his own practice for 12 years, he got wooed back to the clinic in 2002. He’s now the executive director and dental director; a picture of a sailboat hangs on his wall and a surgical mask sits on his conference table.

Blake says 90 percent of his patients are on the Denti-Cal fee schedule which, according to the Department of Health Care Services, hasn’t seen an increase since 2000. “And then last fall there was a 10 percent reduction in our fees,” Blake laments, noting that California ranks near the bottom of all states in Medicaid reimbursement rates.

“We’re trying to help those who have no other resources, and do it the correct way because we’re a teaching facility,” says Blake. Long Beach Memorial Medical Center, for which his clinic provides children’s oral-care services, is a training facility for USC dental students. And when a 4 year old comes in and needs treatment that involves surgery, the most humane way to do it is to sedate the child, Blake says.
While a number of dentists may still simply use anesthesia and restraints to keep costs manageable, he chooses to pay an anesthesiologist to sedate the child. Two hours costs $875, but Blake recoups only about $160—eating the $615 loss. He estimates three such cases each week.

At Golden State Dental Group in Compton, Calif., Nagaraj P. Murthy, DDS, is also vocal about the challenges facing dentists in underserved communities.

“While reimbursement rates have shrunk, payroll, cost of living increases, and the costs of operating a dentistry continue to climb. But the dental material guy is not saying, ‘You guys are not getting reimbursed properly, [I’ll reduce my rate, too].’ They keep on raising their rates 5 percent, 8 percent, 10 percent…”

He estimates that Denti-Cal providers get less than 30 percent of market rate for their services. His office sees about 30 to 40 patients a day, and about 80 percent of them are on Denti-Cal.

Dentists, including Murthy, advocate that children establish a dental home, so that they get into a pattern of regular visits. But that can be difficult for those whose parents have to as Hamilton did, “make phone call after phone call after phone call,” to find a Denti-Cal provider, or who have a difficult time getting time off from work, have a language or cultural barrier, or who live too far away to commit to consistent care.

“There are real access … problems in the Denti-Cal program now, and it will only get worse now that eligibility has expanded to more than 50 percent of the state’s children,” says Scott Jacks, DDS, founder of Children’s Dental Group, one of the largest providers of pediatric care in the Denti-Cal program.

The group treated over 100,000 children in its 10 locations last year, with some patients traveling from nine surrounding counties to get services at two Northern California offices.

Renee Simpson, who lives in Northern California, says her 9-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter only got check ups three or four times in their lives until her kids’ school got Virtual Home Dental. It’s a “telehealth” program, where dental assistants and/or hygienists come in to take X-rays, clean teeth, and educate kids on prevention, and then send word back to a supervising dentist if more extensive treatment is needed.

“It was hard without a car,” Simpson recalls of the time, a few years ago, before her children’s school got the telehealth program. The kids’ dentist was on the other side of town, and when they got there, they were obstacles to getting certain services: “They would have to get approval for this and approval for that.” Recently Simpson’s 10 year old, Sophia, testified before the California Senate urging them to pass bill AB1174 to fund Virtual Home Dental past its pilot phase; the bill has already passed the Assembly.

Dentists report that staying afloat is a pressing concern. Blake says he can only do it with the help of a full time grant writer and development director, who help raise the $2 million shortfall needed for his $4 million budget. Jacks’ group partners with Health Trust in San Jose, which came to him he says.

“We were spending about a million a year and seeing 4000 patients,” says Frederick Ferrer, Health Trust’s CEO. “We were continuously paying for it, and said, ‘Can we figure out a different way?’ ”

Working together they opened a clinic in Sunnyvale, which has 50-60 percent Denti-Cal patients, and one in San Jose, which sees 85-90 percent Denti-Cal cases. Instead of paying a million dollars to care for 4000 people, says Ferrer. “We now have 20,000 patient visits at Sunnyvale, and [as a nonprofit] we get $150,000 a year in free services given back to us [from the Children’s Dental Group].”

Ferrer asserts that the reimbursement rate to support dentists who treat underserved children has dwindled because “if you’re a legislator, your children don’t have tooth decay, so you don’t understand, and why would you?”

He points to last year’s stats for his two clinics to underscore his point: Of the 17, 950 children treated at his two clinics, 17,350 needed fillings; 13,083 needed crowns; 10,364 got root canals, and 5,113 had teeth extracted. “And yet the legislature doesn’t understand what’s the big deal. That’s the big deal.”

 

The new ACORN? How about Baptist Child and Family Services…

ACORN is back—and is now using the names of religions to promote radical, totalitarian, anti-freedom policies. One group, Baptist Child and Family Services is giving out in Southern California about $1000 a child, tax free, for you to take in an illegal alien. Instead of helping American children the White House and these NON religious groups with religious names are trying to take over State foster child systems, force American foster children into group homes instead of a family home.

The Baptist group is almost 100% funded by the Federal government—by the Obama administration. Why does Obama hate American children so much he wants them out of foster homes to make room for illegal aliens from around the world?

“BCFS caught our attention because they got headlines when they were involved in the purchase of a $4 million resort in Texas.  You can click through some pictures of the resort here.  It has 193 rooms, wireless and cable TV, a pool, and a restaurant, all the amenities you’d expect to find at a resort. Was BCFS going into the hospitality business?  Actually, no they weren’t.

The Palm Aire Hotel and Suites is set to be sold to Baptist Child & Family Services (BCFS) operating under a federal contract, pending local government approval, according to reports from Weslaco, Texas where the hotel is located. Weslaco is a few miles north of the Rio Grande in Hidalgo County.

The resort hotel for illegal alien children is reportedly the ‘first in the nation’.

Ask your member of Congress to vote NO on any additional funds for importing more illegal aliens.

ObamaFeetOnDesk

 

The new ACORN? How about Baptist Child and Family Services…

The Right Curmudgeon, 7/17/14

We all remember ACORN.  They’re the “community service” organization, 100% funded by Democrats with tax dollars, who were raking in hundreds of millions of shadow money for a variety of housing and mortgage scams.  They’re the people that James O’Keefe brought down with a series of videos.  Probably his most famous was one of him and an attractive young lady dressed as a pimp and a prostitute going to an ACORN office, telling them they were in the sex trade and wanted a house but didn’t have any declared income.  ACORN was ready to help them falsify the paperwork to qualify for a loan.

As a result of O’Keefe’s videos ACORN lost their government funding and disbanded.  Of course, like zombies, they weren’t dead, they just morphed into several new “community service” organizations, again being fed with a combination of your tax dollars and money borrowed from the Chinese.

It would appear, thanks to the flood of illegal alien minors, that there’s a new version of the old ACORN.  They even look respectable, after all, it’s a Baptist organization, Baptist Child and Family Services.  According to their website they were established in 1944 and their work sounds like this.

BCFS is a global network of non-profit organizations operating health and human services programs throughout the U.S., Eastern Europe, Latin America, Southeast Asia and Africa.

They even have a “Program” page.  We’ve worked with a variety of charities over the years and what we expect to see on a “Program” page is a list of the work they do.  After all, they are a “global network of non-profit organizations” so there must be a whole bunch of programs they could tout.  After all, they’ve got a “Donation” button, so what the heck are we donating to?  They don’t tell you, beyond some amorphous statements with pictures of kids and families.  And then there’s a link we’ll come back to in just a moment.

BCFS caught our attention because they got headlines when they were involved in the purchase of a $4 million resort in Texas.  You can click through some pictures of the resort here.  It has 193 rooms, wireless and cable TV, a pool, and a restaurant, all the amenities you’d expect to find at a resort. Was BCFS going into the hospitality business?  Actually, no they weren’t.

The Palm Aire Hotel and Suites is set to be sold to Baptist Child & Family Services (BCFS) operating under a federal contract, pending local government approval, according to reports from Weslaco, Texas where the hotel is located. Weslaco is a few miles north of the Rio Grande in Hidalgo County.

The resort hotel for illegal alien children is reportedly the ‘first in the nation’.

BCFS was going to get a $50 million contract to house illegal aliens, and it is “the first in the nation” which means we can expect to see more of these.  Word got out about the deal and the fit hit the shan.

The deal fell through because of backlash because of news reports.  As you listen to the reports, please note that the illegal aliens who were going to be housed in this resort were going to receive “health, mental health services, education, case management services” over the two week period that they were housed in the resort while awaiting relocation to foster families across the US.

Think about that for just a moment.  These illegals, who have no right to be in the country, are going to be housed by the Department of Homeland Security for two weeks and they’d receive health, mental health services, education and case management services provided by taxpayer dollars over that two week period.

Let’s contrast that with the VA hospital in Phoenix where men who fought for America, who were injured, who bled for freedom were – and probably still are being – put on waiting lists for medical care that was promised them for their honorable military service.  We’ve got military veterans who are being put on phantom waiting lists for care, who stay on those waiting lists for months or years, while illegal aliens can receive care immediately.

Then there’s the foster care system that these illegal aliens are supposedly going into in two weeks.

The first and most glaring crisis in the current foster care system is that there are simply not enough families to provide quality homes for the children who need them. Nationwide, there were 783,000 children in the foster care system in 2007, and only 25 – 30 percent of the necessary foster homes to serve them.

If we’ve got only 25% of the capacity for American kids in foster care – remember, that in 2007, you can be sure it’s significantly worse today – where in the world is the capacity coming from to house the hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens that DHS is going to place?

These questions, to which the most transparent administration in American history will never provide answers, heck, they may never be asked, bring us back to BCFS.  Given all their donation buttons, you’d think they got their money from private donations and Baptist Charities, probably supported by Baptist Missions organizations given the countries they supposedly work in.  Well, it appears you’d be wrong.

Their “Partners” page lists 22 governmental groups, both federal and state, so it looks like the $50 million contract they walked away from because of bad publicity is just a drop in the bucket.  The number of groups that appear to have religious affiliation?  Zero.  Groups connected with any Baptist denomination?  Zero.

Your federal government.  Giving illegal aliens benefits that US military veterans have earned with their blood, overwhelming an already overwhelmed foster care system, and building a new ACORN network of stealth “community service” organizations.

 

L.A. Teachers Union: 17.6% Pay Raise or They Strike

In the 1970’s the Los Angeles teachers union had a lengthy strike. The slogan was, “Teachers want what children need.” What did children need? They “needed” a 20% pay raise—though the money to pay did not exist. Now they are demanding a 17.6% pay raise—or they will shut down the LA government schools. That might help the students in the long run—families interested in education will move or take their children out of the failed LA schools.

It will cause parents to either care or leave—leaving the system to the illegal aliens flooding the schools and while good students are third and fourth priorities for the unions and school administrators. Do you think failed teachers deserve a 17.6% pay raise? Where will the money come from?

“Alex Caputo-Pearl, who on July 1 began his term as president of the 35,000-member United Teachers Los Angeles, said he’s been advising teachers to begin putting aside a portion of their pay to prepare for a work stoppage.

“We may have to strike. This district is not moving on fundamental things that kids and educators need,” Caputo-Pearl said. “Our employees have been treated like doormats over the past few years. This is not a negotiation ploy.”

Walton_High_School_New_Classroom

 

Teachers union leader raises strike possibility

BY FERMIN LEAL, LA Register, 7/17/14

LAUSD teacher pay

$450 million

Additional spending required each year for 17.6 percent pay

increase union wants

35,000

Number of certificated staff (teachers, counselors, nurses, etc.)

2007

The year of last

pay increase

1989

The year of last LAUSD teachers strike

42 percent

Amount of district budget dedicated to teachers pay (excluding benefits)

The newly elected chief of Los Angeles Unified School District’s teachers union has told members a strike is viable option as the union continues its battle for a 17.6 percent pay raise.

Alex Caputo-Pearl, who on July 1 began his term as president of the 35,000-member United Teachers Los Angeles, said he’s been advising teachers to begin putting aside a portion of their pay to prepare for a work stoppage.

“We may have to strike. This district is not moving on fundamental things that kids and educators need,” Caputo-Pearl said. “Our employees have been treated like doormats over the past few years. This is not a negotiation ploy.”

The district’s teachers, counselors, nurses and other certificated employees have not received a pay increase since 2007, as the state struggled through a recession.

The union and district have been negotiating since April. In May, the district offered a 2 percent lump sum payment and another 2 percent salary increase for the upcoming school year.

Union leaders called the offer an insult for employees who have endured seven years without a salary increase. The union instead demanded a 17.6 percent increase spread over an “undetermined” number of years.

Last year, certificated salaries made up about 42 percent of the district’s $6 billion budget. An increase of 17.6 percent would mean the district could eventually have to spend about $450 million more each year on teachers pay.

Caputo-Pearl said the money is now available for significant teacher raises following an improved state economy and the passage of Proposition 30, the voter-approved initiative that provides billions in extra funding for California’s school districts by temporarily raising taxes.

Besides the pay increase, the union is also asking for increased staffing levels to reduce class sizes, the ability for teachers to set school bell schedules at campuses and other concessions.

Los Angeles Unified reached deals earlier this month for new contracts with other employee unions, including administrators union and the 33,000-member Service Employees International Union, Local 99, which represents custodians, cafeteria workers, security guards and instructional aides. The agreement with the latter group included a provision to set a $15 an hour minimum wage for the district.

District officials have so far declined to comment on the ongoing labor talks with the teachers union. Superintendent John Deasy has said he’s confident the district can reach an agreement with the union in coming months.

Caputo-Pearl publicly discussed the threat of a teachers strike for the first time during the past weekend’s American Federation of Teachers convention held at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

The union president, who previously worked as a teacher at Crenshaw High, said letters have been sent out to teachers asking them to save money in case of a strike.

“We’ve gotten overwhelming positive response from our members who support the idea,” he said.

Los Angeles Unified teachers last went on strike in 1989. The work stoppage lasted nine days, with nearly 80 percent of teachers joining picket lines. The union would have to meet a series of legal hurdles before leaders can call for a strike. An impasse would have to be declared in negotiations. Then the parties would to submit their dispute to a state arbitrator.

The next round of negotiations is set for August.

 

AVERAGE Orange County Pension 88% of Final Salary

Here is a great deal for you. Would you accept, on average, 88% of your salary if you did not have to drive to work, work late, buy lunches with your colleagues, had to travel and miss family events and celebrations? Think of the money you would save by not having to wear a shirt, tie and suit every day, buy those Girl Scout cookies, put in $20 for a present for the boss? In Orange County the average pension is 88% of your last paycheck. They could do better, in some Northern California counties retirees receive over 100% of their final check as a pension. This is not sustainable, but public officials refuse to fix the system—they want promotions or re-election.

“Focusing on only recent retirees prevents older retirees — who’ve received significant cost of living adjustments to their pension benefit — from artificially inflating the comparison of pension benefits as a percentage of final salary. The average pension benefit received by a full-career OCERS retiree who retired in 2004 or later was $81,283, which represents 88 percent of the average final salary.

OCERS retirees who worked for the O.C. Fire Authority received an even larger percentage of their final salary in retirement. The average full-career Fire Authority retiree received a pension benefit of$117,934 in 2013, which was 94 percent of the average retiree’s final salary. Retirees who had retired after 2004 received an average benefit of $119,326, worth 94.5 percent of their final salary.”

BW_pension-reform_236x60_ani

 

AVERAGE Orange County Pension 88% of Final Salary
By Robert Fellner, Research Fellow, California Policy Center, 7/21/14

Would you take a 12 percent pay cut in exchange for a 100 percent reduction in work? In Orange County, if you’ve worked 30 years – say from age 25 until age 55 – that is exactly what you can expect. And many OCERS retirees receiving pensions in excess of their highest salary.

For instance, Orange County Department of Education’s former deputy superintendent Lynn Hartline retired in 2013 with an OCERS-reported final average salary of $250,018. Hartline won’t have too much trouble adapting to life without a salary, however. Her 2013 full-year pension benefit from OCERS (Orange County Employees Retirement System) was 100 percent of her final average salary – $250,018.

Charles Walters received the second-highest OCERS yearly payout in 2013. Walters was the former Orange County assistant sheriff who retired in 2008 amidst a criminal grand jury probe for the 2006 murder of John Chamberlain in the jails he oversaw. His pension for the 2013 year was also 100 percent of his final average salary — $226,365.

Unfortunately the examples above are hardly extreme outliers, but rather indicative of an underlying trend. For all OCERS full-career retirees — those with 30 or more years of service credit for retirement — the average annual pension benefit received in 2013 was $73,875, or nearly 90 percent of their final salary.

Focusing on only recent retirees prevents older retirees — who’ve received significant cost of living adjustments to their pension benefit — from artificially inflating the comparison of pension benefits as a percentage of final salary. The average pension benefit received by a full-career OCERS retiree who retired in 2004 or later was $81,283, which represents 88 percent of the average final salary.

OCERS retirees who worked for the O.C. Fire Authority received an even larger percentage of their final salary in retirement. The average full-career Fire Authority retiree received a pension benefit of$117,934 in 2013, which was 94 percent of the average retiree’s final salary. Retirees who had retired after 2004 received an average benefit of $119,326, worth 94.5 percent of their final salary. For 2008 or later full-career Fire Authority retirees, the average pension benefit in 2013 was $122,770, which was 94.75 percent of the average retiree’s final salary.

The data from those who retired after 2008 demonstrates that pension benefits worth 94 percent their final salary is indicative of the base pension amount an employee can expect to receive upon retirement.

Reviewing the OCERS 2013 data reveals that this problem goes beyond fire retirees. In addition to Hartline’s quarter million dollar yearly benefit, a former social services directorassistant public defender, and sanitation district manager all receive annual pension benefits well over $150,000 apiece.

As salaries rise, so too will future pension benefits for which taxpayers are responsible. Consider the Orange County Department of Education’s current superintendent, Alfred Mijares, who received a salary of $287,500 in 2013.  If Mijares retires with at least 30 years of service credit, he will likely receive a pension benefit of over $250,000 his very first year of retirement.

Private citizens usually consider an appropriate pension amount to be what is necessary to cover the cost of living during retirement. Yet for many Orange County employees, pensions have become a continuation of the extravagant salaries they took home during their careers.

This system encourages government employees to retire 10 to 20 years earlier than their private- sector counterparts. Taxpayers are left paying for six-figure government pensions that most can only dream of, while simultaneously trying to fund their own, significantly smaller pensions.

Robert Fellner is a research fellow with the California Policy Center and a transparency researcher for TransparentCalifornia.com.

 

San Fran Left Upset: Billboards Warns About Unemployment Due to Minimum Wage Increase

Free people are allowed to have their voices heard—that does not mean they will have listeners. In San Fran a group has put up billboards noting that if the minimum wage is put at $15 an hour, hundreds, if not thousands will either lose their jobs or have their hours cut. The billboards note that this will force firms to expedite the use of computers and robots, call centers, etc. to get the job done with fewer workers. Want to lose your job the billboard says, vote to raise the minimum wage.

Go to BadIdeaCA and see the facts. 46% firms cut workers in San Jose when that city raised the minimum wage. 42% of workers had their hours cut.

“Walking home from Pando’s office a few nights ago, I noticed this giant new billboard which claims to be “holding activists accountable for minimum wage consequences Its message — that minimum wage increases will lead to service workers being replaced by apps — is continued on an accompanying website — BadIdeaCA.”

minimum wage

New San Francisco billboard warns workers they’ll be replaced by iPads if they demand a fair wage

By Paul Carr, Pando Digest, 7/17/14
Walking home from Pando’s office a few nights ago, I noticed this giant new billboard which claims to be “holding activists accountable for minimum wage consequences Its message — that minimum wage increases will lead to service workers being replaced by apps — is continued on an accompanying website — BadIdeaCA — which.”

So who the hell pays for billboards threatening waitstaff with redundancy if they demand a living wage? A bit of digging and clicking reveals that the campaign is backed by Employment Policies Institute, the conservative lobbying group which regularly campaigns on behalf of the restaurant industry.

Followers of Pando’s Techtopus might remember the Institute for one of its key advisers, Kevin Murphy, aka “the man Silicon Valley’s CEOs turn to when they want to justify screwing workers“. As Mark Ames explained back in February…

[W]hen the heads of companies like Apple, Adobe, Google, Intel, Intuit, Microsoft and others, are called upon to explain why it’s okay to screw over employees—or their consumers—they know exactly who to call…

…Murphy has a long history of trying to convince courts that workers are not being screwed and that dominant monopoly corporations are good citizens, despite evidence to the contrary.

It’s somehow grossly fitting that a group which argues for screwing service staff — and which is advised by a guy who tells companies like Apple that it’s ok to screw their workers — is now posting ads in San Francisco saying that service staff deserve to be replaced by iPads if they demand a fair wage.

 

Police Union Will Not Allow Garcetti, Beck To Talk to the Rank and File

Unions claim they own the workers forced to pay them dues. The workers either pay or do not have a job. Now, a Los Angeles Police Union say that the Mayor and/or the Police Chief are not allowed to speak to the cops about the proposed contract. Unions are enforcing a rule that the cops are not allowed to hear all sides of an issue. Isn’t this how totalitarians act?

Unions are bullies—they do not have the public or workers interest at heart—just controlling, in this case, the LAPD—no elected officials or superiors allowed a different word. Shame on the cops, men and women that stand up to crooks, can not stand up to unions.

“Tyler Izen, president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, said that under state and city law, the mayor, Chief Charlie Beck and other LAPD management staff are “prohibited from communicating with employees concerning subjects of ongoing collective bargaining negotiations” when the two sides are not at an impasse.”

Unions pension public sector

Police Union Doesn’t Want Garcetti, Beck Talking to the Rank and File

Union chief Tyler Izen said the law prohibits the mayor, police chief and other LAPD management staff “from communicating with employees concerning subjects of ongoing collective bargaining negotiations.”

Posted by Penny Arévalo, Studio City Patch, 7/18/14

The union representing Los Angeles police officers signaled its intent today to file a complaint with the city in an effort to bar Mayor Eric Garcetti and the police chief from attending police roll calls to talk to its members about ongoing labor negotiations.

Tyler Izen, president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, said that under state and city law, the mayor, Chief Charlie Beck and other LAPD management staff are “prohibited from communicating with employees concerning subjects of ongoing collective bargaining negotiations” when the two sides are not at an impasse.

“The law is very clear,” Izen said.

The union plans to file an unfair employee relations practices complaint with the city employee relations board next week, union spokesman Eric Rose said.

The LAPD declined comment, referring reporters to the mayor’s office, which had no immediate response.

Izen contends the mayor told reporters he plans to “meet with LAPD officers to explain the contract proposal that was recently rejected by the rank-and-file,” while Beck “canceled an out-of-town trip to attend roll calls and other meetings with specialized units to discuss the contract.”

The Los Angeles Police Protective League represents 9,900 rank-and-file police officers. A proposed labor agreement reached by city management and union officials earlier this month was rejected by union members during a ratification vote last week.

The proposed one-year agreement did not include cost-of-living increases for most employees, but would have raised starting annual salaries by $7,000 – – to about $57,000 — beginning in January.

The proposed contract would have also increased the amount the city would pay in overtime from an initially budgeted $30 million to $70 million. The city would also start paying down overtime that was banked over the past few years.

The tentative contract would have extended a labor pact that expired June 30.

 

Only In California: Couple Following Water Conservation Rules Faces Fine For Brown Yards

California is in a drought caused by nature. The lack of water though is because of government policy. In over 40 years we have not built a new water storage facility or dam. We voted tens of billions for water—but most of that ended up as a slush fund for special interests “conserving” our wetlands. Now State and local government have created conservation measures, forcing a cut back in water use.

Yet, at the same time, cities are enforcing rules that need water. Glendora, in the San Gabriel Valley portion of Los Angeles, is fining homeowners that have allowed their lawns to go brown, due to being unable to water the laws, per other laws.

“Only in California: Worst drought in years. Fines – or “Water School” – for overusing water. Don’t overuse water and run the risk of being fined for not having a “wonderful landscaped property that helps achieve conservation.”

Photo courtesy sheagunther, flickr

Photo courtesy sheagunther, flickr

Only In California: Couple Following Water Conservation Rules Faces Fine For Brown Yard

By Mike Miller, IJR, 7/20/14

A Southern California couple who say they followed emergency statewide orders to conserve water due to the state’s drought now face a potential fine. For having a brown yard. Uh-huh.

Mike Korte told the hosts of “Fox and Friends” Saturday:

“We were following the orders of the state government and our consciences and reduced our watering, and the city government decided to fine us. We also face criminal actions for having a brown lawn.”

And the response from Glendora City Manager Chris Jeffers?

“When staff determined that the home was occupied but on the verge of violating the maintenance standards, they left a flier just reminding them that we can conserve and have a wonderful landscaped property that helps achieve conservation.”

Only in California: Worst drought in years. Fines – or “Water School” – for overusing water. Don’t overuse water and run the risk of being fined for not having a “wonderful landscaped property that helps achieve conservation.”

Incidentally, as IJR’s Michael Hausam reported Friday, Californians who overuse water may attend Water School in lieu of paying a fine. You don’t suppose they also have a Brown Yard School, do ya?

Good to be reminded every once in awhile why I live in the Midwest.