Caught and Exposed: Secret Union Dealings of a College District

Government, at all levels is corrupt. Some agencies are more corrupt than others. Contrary to the law, secret deals are made all the time—especially in government schools with unions. The public is never told that unions control the districts—instead are told everything is open and aboveboard—that is a lie.

Tax dollars are secretly given as a premium to unions—qualified workers are not allowed to work—either pays a bribe to a union or you are not allowed to work. That is the worst form of corruption—the worker is forced to pay taxes, then because he will not bribe someone, not allowed to work.

“A construction trade association was willing to threaten litigation to make this happen. And to emphasize its seriousness, the association also made an elected board member accountable to voters for his involvement in the secret dealings. That candidate ended up losing a key election for a California State Senate seat.

What was done wrong? While negotiating a Project Labor Agreement with construction trade unions for future construction contracts, the elected board of trustees for this community college district appeared to violate state law requiring government entities to give public access to its deliberations and actions. The board discussed the proposed content of the Project Labor Agreement in closed session meetings. The public could not know what was happening.”

How many other secret deals have been made? No one knows—because the unions and their bought elected officials won’t tell.

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Caught and Exposed: Secret Union Dealings of a College District

ByKevin Dayton, Union Watch, 12/16/14

The Rancho Santiago Community College District in Orange County (California) declared in a December 8, 2014 letter that it “unconditionally commits that it will cease, desist from, and not repeat the challenged past action…” That action involves secret dealings with unions.

A construction trade association was willing to threaten litigation to make this happen. And to emphasize its seriousness, the association also made an elected board member accountable to voters for his involvement in the secret dealings. That candidate ended up losing a key election for a California State Senate seat.

What was done wrong? While negotiating a Project Labor Agreement with construction trade unions for future construction contracts, the elected board of trustees for this community college district appeared to violate state law requiring government entities to give public access to its deliberations and actions. The board discussed the proposed content of the Project Labor Agreement in closed session meetings. The public could not know what was happening.

California construction trade unions seemed to be encouraging local governments to discuss embarrassing Project Labor Agreement controversies (such as trade jurisdictional disputes among unions) out of sight of the public. A month before the closed session board meetings at the Rancho Santiago Community College District, the San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transportation Authority had been caught also planning to discuss Project Labor Agreement terms and conditions in a closed session meeting.

If this practice continued, it would undermine the public’s ability to comment on Project Labor Agreements.

An attorney representing the Southern California Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) initiated correspondence with the Rancho Santiago Community College District objecting to the board’s closed session meetings. Objections were based on California Government Code Section 54960 (part of the Ralph M. Brown Act), which authorizes any interested person to seek judicial action to stop or prevent violations or threatened violations of state laws related to open and transparent government conduct.

In response, the president of the college board of trustees provided the following statement:

The Board of Trustees of the Rancho Santiago Community College District has received your cease and desist letter on behalf of the Associated Builders and Contractors of Southern California, Inc. dated October 10, 2014, and clarification letter on November 6, 2014, alleging that the following described past action of the legislative body violates the Ralph M. Brown Act:

• Holding closed session negotiation and discussions regarding the terms of project labor agreements, including the ”Community and Student Workforce Project Agreement.”

In order to avoid unnecessary litigation and without admitting any violation of the Ralph M. Brown Act, the Board of Trustees of the Rancho Santiago Community College District hereby unconditionally commits that it will cease, desist from, and not repeat the challenged past action as described above.

But it wasn’t enough just to get a letter from the college district. There needed to be true public accountability for the scheme.

As it pursued the violation of the Ralph M. Brown Act, the Southern California Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors began informing the public about the involvement of community college board member Jose Solorio in the Project Labor Agreement scheme. Solorio was in a highly competitive election for an open State Senate seat.

In the end, Solorio lost the election to Republican Janet Nguyen, allowing Republicans to gain a seat in the California State Senate and deprive Democrats of a supermajority. The college district agreed not to engage in closed session discussions about Project Labor Agreements. And a warning was sent to union officials and their political sycophants about doing their business in secret.

Sources

“cease, desist from, and not repeat” letter from President of Board of Trustees of Rancho Santiago Community College District – December 8, 2014

Hiding of Solorio Backed Union Deal Likely To End in Lawsuit – OC Political – November 1, 2014

Ralph M. Brown Act (California Government Code Section 54950-54963)

Will California Union Officials Get to Discuss Project Labor Agreements in Closed Session?www.UnionWatch.org – November 26, 2013

 

Federal 401(k) plan proves such pensions can have tiny fees — debunking labor union claims

The Feds have been able to do what CalPERS and CalSTRS has been unable to do—run a pension system at very minimal cost. One of the reasons the California government systems are in financial distress is because of the corruption, incompetence and mismanagement of the system. In the former Golden State the pension systems are run to help promote ideology and politicians, not the workers.

“Due to its large size—with 4.6 million participants and $431.6 billion in assets, the TSP is the nation’s largest 401(k)-type plan—and the fact that the federal government subsidizes some of the plan’s administrative costs, the TSP has an average cost of 0.029% a year.  That translates into a fee of 29 cents for every $1,000 invested—or $29 on a $100,000 balance.

One way to save the California government systems is to reduce the administrative costs—but that means honest accounting and management—something Sacramento would not like.

Photo courtesy of kenteegardin, flickr

Photo courtesy of kenteegardin, flickr

Federal 401(k) plan proves such pensions can have tiny fees — debunking labor union claims

Rider Rants/San Diego News room, 12/15/14

Public employee pension apologists proclaim that 401(k)-type plans (defined contribution plans) are horribly expensive, with “Wall St” gobbling up much of the profits with fees, etc.  Sadly for them, there’s a major government 401(k) plan that, in effect, totally debunks this nonsense.
The WALL ST JOURNAL did a story on the federal Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) — essentially a 401(k) plan for federal employees. The theme of the article was why it was unwise for retirees to roll their plans over into “retail” IRA plans, because of the considerably higher fees. True enough, but what’s most important is to note the annual cost to employees of TSP.  Damn near zero.

EXCERPT:  Due to its large size—with 4.6 million participants and $431.6 billion in assets, the TSP is the nation’s largest 401(k)-type plan—and the fact that the federal government subsidizes some of the plan’s administrative costs, the TSP has an average cost of 0.029% a year.  That translates into a fee of 29 cents for every $1,000 invested—or $29 on a $100,000 balance.

That’s essentially three one-hundredths of one percent.  Good luck finding a government (defined benefit) pension with anywhere near that low a cost.

 

California Lawsuit to STOP SEIU From Stealing From Workers

It is going to take a lawsuit to stop the SEIU from stealing from workers in California. The bigger issue is that since this is theft, why aren’t criminal charges brought against the SEIU and the Medical Center? If I steal from your bank account you know the police would be brought in and I would be arrested—why isn’t the union and the finance people of the Center not being arrested. I suggest these two workers file a criminal complaint as well.

“Jeffery Lum and Andrew Li are leading a class action lawsuit against SEIU Local 521, alleging that the union illegally docked their paychecks for dues money. Lum and Li are pharmacists at the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, a county-owned hospital that primarily serves Medicaid, Medicare, and Obamacare beneficiaries, as well as trauma patients.

The pair opted out of union membership and chose to become agency fee payers, allowing them to pay solely for representational activities, rather than the union’s political activities. The suit, filed in a San Jose district court, contends that the union delayed refunding the workers for their dues.”

Unions are protected by government from extortion and blackmail laws—now we know they are also protected by theft laws as well. Government by definition is theft—in cahoots with the unions.

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Suit: We Were Bilked By SEIU

BY: Bill McMorris, Washington Free Beacon, 12/16/14

Two California healthcare workers are suing their local union and the government for illegally collecting dues payments.

Jeffery Lum and Andrew Li are leading a class action lawsuit against SEIU Local 521, alleging that the union illegally docked their paychecks for dues money. Lum and Li are pharmacists at the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, a county-owned hospital that primarily serves Medicaid, Medicare, and Obamacare beneficiaries, as well as trauma patients.

The pair opted out of union membership and chose to become agency fee payers, allowing them to pay solely for representational activities, rather than the union’s political activities. The suit, filed in a San Jose district court, contends that the union delayed refunding the workers for their dues.

“Local 521, during the entire 2013 fee year, collected from Plaintiffs and other objecting nonmembers agency fees equal to full union dues,” the lawsuit filed by attorneys at the National Right to Work (NRTW) Legal Defense Foundation says. “Local 521 did not rebate the non-chargeable fees it collected during the 2013 fee year to Plaintiffs … until March 2014.”

When the union finally returned Lum and Li’s money, it refused to pay interest on the fees, which the lawsuit contends counts as an illegal interest-free loan to the labor group.

“Local 521, on information and belief, has used non-chargeable fees collected during fee year 2013 from Plaintiffs and other objecting nonmembers to support its political, ideological, and other non-bargaining activities,” the suit says.

Local 521 collected $30 million in dues money from its 56,000 members and agency fee payers, who work mostly in the healthcare sector, according to federal labor disclosure filings. It spent more than $6 million on representational activities in the year, while shelling out half a million dollars in political spending and $8 million for union overhead and management costs.

Nearly 30 percent of its membership pays agency fees, rather than full dues. The union could potentially have boosted its coffers by hundreds of thousands of dollars per year if it treated all 15,000 of its agency fee payers as it allegedly did Lum and Li.

Local 521 did not respond to request for comment. A spokeswoman at the medical center declined to comment, saying that only the county could comment on the case. The county did not respond to request for comment.

The case does not just aim to recover Lum and Li’s union contribution; it also strikes at the foundation of forced unionism.

The lawsuit argues that the county government is unfairly forcing healthcare workers to join SEIU as a condition of employment. This violates the precedent the Supreme Court set in June’s Quinn v. Harris, according to NRTW. The Supreme Court ruled that the state of Illinois violated the rights of a home healthcare worker forced to pay union dues while caring for her disabled child. That decision was limited to Illinois, but led to a number of legal challenges at the state and local level.

“Since the Supreme Court has questioned the legal underpinnings of the opt-out requirements, Plaintiffs hereby seek judicial reconsideration of the ‘opt-out’ requirement,” the lawsuit says. “The County has and continues to seize, and Local 521 has and continues to accept, agency fees from Plaintiffs’ wages in violation of Plaintiffs’ First and Fourteenth Amendment rights.”

NRTW president Mark Mix said that the workers’ experience demonstrates the need to protect the individual rights of assembly for workers at the local, state, and national level. He urged government officials to adopt right to work laws that have been passed in 24 states to give workers a choice.

“Union bosses have government-granted power to compel workers to fund their political activities unless workers object—a power granted to no other private organization in our country,” he said in a release. “The First Amendment right for workers who refrain from union membership to automatically not pay union dues for politics is long overdue.”

 

Congress Quietly Passes Bill Allowing Feds Unlimited Access to Your Private Communications–Without Court Order

The just passed budget continues ObamaCare, the Michelle Obama School of horrible lunches, amnesty for criminals from foreign countries. What few knew, embedded in the budget was the ability of the government to secretly monitor your emails. Not only does the NSA get to monitor you, the material can now be given to YOUR local police department—without a court order! Imagine, thanks to Congress the cop that stops you is able to read your emails!

“The new Section 309, according to Amash, “authorizes ‘the acquisition, retention, and dissemination’ of nonpublic communications, including those to and from U.S. persons. The section contemplates that those private communications of Americans, obtained without a court order, may be transferred to domestic law enforcement for criminal investigations.”

No court orders needed, no probable cause, no judge to look it over—just some hack politicians, like Holder or Obama or the government worker wanting to date your girl friend, can now see your emails. The budget has killed all pretense of privacy and honest government.

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Congress Quietly Passes Bill Allowing Feds Unlimited Access to Your Private Communications

By Shawn M. Griffiths, Independent Voter Network, 12/16/14

On Wednesday, December 10, Congress passed a bill called the “Intelligence Authorization Act for 2015.” Not very many people have heard of this bill, much less its passage since the media’s main focus is on the CIA torture report. However, the Act contains language that U.S. Representative Justin Amash (R-Mich) calls “the most egregious sections of law” he has encountered during his time in Congress.

“It grants the executive branch virtually unlimited access to the communications of every American,” Amash explains.

H.R. 4681, the “Intelligence Authorization Act for 2015,” was introduced in May and authorizes appropriations for the government’s intelligence agencies and intelligence-related activities for FY 2014-2015. This includes the activities of all federal intelligence, defense, law enforcement, and security agencies and departments. The bill initially passed the House 345-59.

On Tuesday, the Senate passed the bill by voice-vote on the same day the CIA torture report summary from the Senate Intelligence Committee released. A voice-vote essentially means the bill was declared “passed” without the vote being recorded and not very many lawmakers needed to be present for its passage.

However, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) added an amendment to the bill that created a new Section 309, requiring it to go back to the House for approval.

Initially, Section 309 required “the heads of the DNI, CIA, DIA, NSA, NRO, and NGA to ensure that there is a full financial audit of their respective entities each year and that each audit contains an unqualified opinion of the entity’s financial statements.” It required “the chief financial officer of each entity to provide an annual audit report to Congress.”

The new Section 309, according to Amash, “authorizes ‘the acquisition, retention, and dissemination’ of nonpublic communications, including those to and from U.S. persons. The section contemplates that those private communications of Americans, obtained without a court order, may be transferred to domestic law enforcement for criminal investigations.”

“To be clear, Sec. 309 provides the first statutory authority for the acquisition, retention, and dissemination of U.S. persons’ private communications obtained without legal process such as a court order or a subpoena. The administration currently may conduct such surveillance under a claim of executive authority, such as E.O. 12333. However, Congress never has approved of using executive authority in that way to capture and use Americans’ private telephone records, electronic communications, or cloud data.” – Rep. Justin Amash, letter to fellow members of Congress

On the same day Feinstein decried the actions of the CIA (infringing on the civil liberties of others by using torture) on the Senate floor, she stealthy added an amendment to an appropriations bill that gives the executive branch and law enforcement agencies virtually unlimited access to the private communications of persons (citizens or non-citizens) in the United States without approval from a judge.

The bill was then rushed to the House floor on Wednesday for a voice-vote without much debate. While Amash went before the House to demand a roll call vote, there was not enough time to stop the bill. It passed 325-100, with 9 lawmakers not voting. Forty-five Republicans and 55 Democrats voted “Nay.”

Here is a list of the 100 lawmakers who voted “Nay.” Was yours one of them?

Amash (R-Mich.)
Bass (D-Calif.)
Bentivolio (R-Mich.)
Blumenauer (D-Ore.)
Bonamici (D-Ore.)
Brat (R-Va.)
Bridenstine (R-Okla)
Brooks (R-Ala.)
Broun (R-Ga.)
Burgess (R-Texas)
Chu (D-Calif.)
Clark (D-Mass.)
Clarke (D-N.Y.)
Clawson (R-Fla.)
Cohen (D-Tenn.)
Conyers (D-Mich.)
Cummings (D-Md.)
DeFazio (D-Ore.)
DelBene (D-Wash.)
DesJarlais (R-Tenn.)
Doggett (D-Texas)
Doyle (D-Penn.)
Duncan (R-S.C.)
Duncan (R-Tenn.)
Eshoo (D-Calif.)
Farr (D-Calif.)
Garamendi (D-Calif.)
Garcia (D-Fla.)
Garrett (R-N.J.)
Gibson (R-N.Y.)
Gohmert (R-Texas)
Gosar (R-Ariz.)

Gowdy (R-S.C.)
Graves (R-Ga.)
Grayson (D-Fla.)
Griffith (R-Va.)
Grijalva (D-Ariz.)
Gutiérrez (D-Ill.)
Hahn (D-Calif.)
Hanabusa (D-Hawaii)
Hastings (D-Fla)
Heck (D-Wash.)
Holt (D-N.J.)
Honda (D-Calif.)
Huelskamp (R-Kan.)
Huffman (D-Calif.)
Jackson Lee (D-Texas)
Jones (R-N.C.)
Jordan (R-Ohio)
Kaptur (D-Ohio)
Kildee (D-Mich)
Kingston (R-Ga.)
Labrador (R-Idaho)
Lee (D-Calif.)
Lewis (D-Ga.)
Lofgren (D-Calif.)
Lowenthal (D-Calif.)
Lummis (R-Wyo.)
Massie (R-Ky.)
Matsui (D-Calif.)
McClintock (R-Calif.)
McCollum (D-Minn.)
McDermott (D-Wash.)
McGovern (D-Mass.)
Meadows (R-N.C.)
Mica (R-Fla.)

Moore (D-Wis.)
Mulvaney (R-S.C).
Nadler (D-N.Y.)
Nugent (R-Fla.)
O’Rourke (D-Texas)
Pallone (D-N.J.)
Perry  (R-Penn.)
Pocan (D-Wis.)
Poe (R-Texas)
Polis (D-Colo.)
Posey (R-Fla.)
Rangel (D-N.Y.)
Ribble (R-Wis.)
Roe (R-Tenn.)
Rohrabacher (R-Calif.)
Salmon (R-Ariz.)
Sanford (R-S.C.)
Schakowsky (D-Ill.)
Scott, Austin (R-Ga.)
Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.)
Serrano (D-N.Y.)
Speier (D-Calif.)
Stockman (R-Texas)
Swalwell (D-Calif.)
Takano (D-Calif.)
Tierney (D-Mass.)
Tipton (R-Colo.)
Velázquez (D-N.Y.)
Waters (D-Calif.)
Weber (R-Texas)
Welch (D-Vt.)
Woodall (R-Ga.)
Yarmuth (D-Ky.)
Yoho (R-Fla.)

Note: It is not fully clear how many of these lawmakers voted against the bill because of the new Section 309.

 

Taxpayer-Funded Immigrant (Illegal Alien) Advocacy Group Blasts Republicans

It is hard enough for the Republicans to fight the George Soros billions, the non profits that actually are political operations—like AARP, Planned Parenthood, Heart and Cancer foundations, etc. Now we find proof (we always knew this was fact) that tax dollars have been given to non profits to fight Republicans, smear them and to demean voters that support Freedom.

“The New York Times reported that groups including the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA) hosted an information session for about 5,000 unauthorized immigrants at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Immigrants received assessments about whether they would be among the millions who could qualify for three-year deportation deferrals and work permits under President Obama’s executive order.

The event was also explicitly political in nature. CHIRLA executive director Angelica Salas reportedly blasted Republicans for “getting in the way of immigration reform.” A slide show presented during orientation for the session featured unflattering pictures of House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.).”

$250,000 of YOUR money went to this political organization. I will note that Lois Lerner had no problem giving a tax exempt status to these folks.

by Mike Lewis, from The Hill

by Mike Lewis, from The Hill

 

Taxpayer-Funded Immigrant Advocacy Group Blasts Republicans

BY: Daniel Wiser, Washington Free Beacon, 12/15/14

An immigrant advocacy group that receives taxpayer funding condemned Republicans on Sunday and encouraged undocumented residents seeking deportation relief to solicit political support from young voters.

The New York Times reported that groups including the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA) hosted an information session for about 5,000 unauthorized immigrants at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Immigrants received assessments about whether they would be among the millions who could qualify for three-year deportation deferrals and work permits under President Obama’s executive order.

The event was also explicitly political in nature. CHIRLA executive director Angelica Salas reportedly blasted Republicans for “getting in the way of immigration reform.” A slide show presented during orientation for the session featured unflattering pictures of House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.).

CHIRLA was awarded $250,000 in federal funds this year by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS) Citizenship and Integration Grant Program, which sponsors organizations that assist permanent residents applying for citizenship. The overt political activity of the group raises questions about its support from taxpayers.

A CHIRLA spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.

A spokeswoman for USCIS noted that grant recipients can only use the funds to help lawful permanent residents prepare for the naturalization process, such as the civics and English test.

Thousands of undocumented immigrants have attended workshops across the country to determine whether they qualify under Obama’s order. Immigrants who have lived in the United States for five years, avoided serious criminal charges, and have a child who is an American citizen or legal permanent resident can apply for the deportation reprieve and work permits. Nearly 5 million could avoid deportation.

Republicans view Obama’s order as an unconstitutional action that should have originated from the legislative process. More than 20 states so far have filed lawsuits to impede the action.

Some immigration experts say the temporary legalization program could lower the annual earnings of Americans during a time when many are struggling with stagnant wages.

Salas left no doubt about one of the political motives behind the event for immigrants in Los Angeles. She urged attendees living here illegally to secure political support from those who can vote.

“All those children are going to be voters,” she said, “and those voters are going to remember who stood with their dad and their mom.”

 

Chiang Urges Action on State’s $72 Billion Unfunded Retiree Healthcare Liability

We already know that the Teachers pension system, CalSTRS, has unfunded liabilities of over $166 BILLION—based on Federal accounting standards. CalPERS, using Fed standards, is at $754 BILLION in unfunded liabilities—causing both to demand a 50% increase in the contributions, just to keep the doors open and check flowing.

Now the State Controller is saying our State healthcare program has $72 billion in unfunded liabilities. If this is like the others, the $72 billion is a very low number—since the State of California can not be honest and use Federal standards. For instance Chiang says CalPERS has $198 billion in unfunded liabilities—if we used Federal standards, it is $754 billion.

Whatever the exact numbers—they are unsustainable. Prop.30 is giving, through manipulation, almost all the $6 billion collected to CalSTRS, instead of the classroom—and that is not enough. Pay attention to these numbers when our confused governor and his Democrat buddies claim we have a balanced budget—oh, besides this we have a $340 billion DEBT. Why is California in a Depression? Because our leaders refuse to tell the truth.

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Chiang Urges Action on State’s $72 Billion Unfunded Retiree Healthcare Liability

 State Controller John Chiang, 12/16/14

Unveils pre-funding plan that uses investment returns to lower costs

SACRAMENTO State Controller John Chiang today released a new report showing the unfunded liability of providing health and dental benefits for state retirees under the current funding policy is $71.8 billion. The amount represents the present-day cost to provide benefits earned as of June 30, 2014, which is expected to be paid over the lifetime of current and future retirees.

The total unfunded obligation grew $7.2 billion from the $64.6 billion obligation identified as of June 30, 2013. Healthcare claims did not grow as rapidly as expected, and design changes in health systems also helped to lower costs, but those positive events were outweighed by new mortality assumptions that alone added $7.1 billion to the liability. Specifically, men are assumed to live approximately 2 years longer than previously expected. For women, the new mortality assumptions increase life expectancy by up to 1.8 years.

“The price tag associated with providing healthcare to retired state workers has quietly grown to rival or even eclipse the funding gap associated with public pensions,” said Chiang. “While important steps have recently been taken to properly fund the State’s pension obligations, we remain dangerously complacent about a liability that has grown by a stunning $24 billion in just the past eight years. If we continue to do nothing, we will be sowing the seeds of a future crisis.”

Today’s annual report is the eighth time Chiang has sounded the alarm on unfunded retiree healthcare costs. His first report, in 2007, identified the long-term liability at $47.8 billion. Today’s unfunded liability is 33 percent higher.

While state pensions are pre-funded, allowing investment returns to significantly reduce liabilities, California only pays for retiree health benefits on a “pay-as-you-go” basis, or only covering the minimum amount needed to fund the costs as they are due. The latest actuarial report provides estimates of California’s obligation for retiree health and dental benefits, also referred to as Other Postemployment Benefits (OPEB), based on two different funding scenarios:

·        The current pay-as-you-go policy results in an unfunded liability of $71.8 billion, which represents the present-day cost of providing retiree health benefits earned by current and future state retirees. Based on this funding policy, California should pay more than $5 billion in 2014-15 to fund the costs as they are due as well as the future costs of paying retiree healthcare benefits.  However, that year’s Budget Act only provides $1.9 billion to cover just the actual costs of current retirees’ health and dental benefits.

·        If the State shifted to fully pre-funding the costs of benefits earned in the future, the unfunded liability for FY 2014-15 could be cut by $25 billion (or 35 percent) to $46.8 billion because, under current governmental accounting rules, a higher discount rate can be supported. Under a full pre-funding approach, money would be set-aside in a separate trust solely for future retiree healthcare benefits. The investment income generated by the trust would be used to reduce future costs to the State and its employees of paying for retiree healthcare benefits. To take advantage of the tremendous reduction in liability from fully-prefunding, the State would need to contribute $3.7 billion in 2014-15, or $1.8 billion more than the State currently has budgeted.

Recognizing that fully pre-funding this obligation cannot be accomplished overnight, Controller Chiang proposes that the initial objective be to annually put away enough money to cover the full costs of retiree health benefits earned that year by active employees.

“This is a liability that has grown over decades of poor fiscal planning and a callous willingness to pass along debt to our children’s generation,” said Chiang. “While it can’t be erased overnight, we have to resolve ourselves to meaningful progress. Let that first step be a commitment that liabilities created by one generation of Californians be fully paid by that generation and not passed off to the next.

“With pre-funded pensions, investment returns cover roughly two-thirds of all payouts. By pre-funding healthcare in a similar manner, we can allow interest returns to significantly reduce the burden on workers and the taxpayers they serve.”

The Controller proposes a five-year implementation plan, at the end of which retiree medical and dental costs earned annually in the future by its active workforce (often referred to as “normal costs”) will be fully pre-funded, reducing the unfunded, long-term liability by $19.5 billion because a higher discount rate can be supported under the funding policy.

The following table details the level of pre-funding of normal costs that would be achieved during each of the five years, the amount in annual contributions that would be needed above and beyond the $1.8 billion pay-as-you-go amount, and by how much the $71.8 billion liability would be reduced.

Fiscal Year Cumulative Amount of Annual Payments above Current Contribution Level of Pre-funding of Costs Associated with Current Workforce Reduction in Unfunded Liability Due to Additional Payment
2015-16 $250m 10% $3.2b
2016-17 $670m 30% $8.7b
2017-18 $1.0b 50% $12.8b
2018-19 $1.3b 70% $16.1b
2019-20 $1.7b 100% $19.5b

In addition to cutting costs by prefunding the obligation, Chiang said the State should continue to be aggressive in its efforts to contain healthcare costs by promoting prevention and wellness and innovations in health care delivery.

Read the actuarial report.

 

Compton: Homes in Gang Territory Can be bought for $100,000

You can have a single family home in Los Angeles County, in the city of Compton, for as low as $100,000. For $200,000 you can have a decent home. You will have to put bars on the windows, make sure your guns are loaded—and the front door is steel, so the local thugs can not invade.

Compton is the LA capitol of crime, gangs and violence. Also, several of their council members have called jail their home—very cheap living.

You will note this city does not do gun back backs—who would give up their protection in a town run by gangsters?

“Who doesn’t like a good deal when it comes to buying real estate? Since some people believe every area in L.A. County is undergoing ubiquitous gentrification I wanted to throw some good deals your way. Now some of you might balk at the city and the bars on the window but you still get the benefit of the sun, the weather, access to beaches, all the “fun” things to do, proximity to employment, and you will be within the county itself. So what city are we talking about? Compton people! I love browsing the listings and seeing what is happening across all areas of Southern California. Over the last couple of weeks, I noticed lower priced properties popping up. End of the year cleaning. $100k for SoCal housing? This can’t be! Don’t expect HGTV perfection here but you do get bars on the windows and deferred maintenance. But with these price tags, you have a lot of room to upgrade and make this into your new gentrified palace.”

440px-Foreclosedhome

Real Homes of Genius: $100k homes in Compton. Time to shop for deals in L.A. County if you don’t mind brown lawns and a touch of metal bars on the windows.

Dr. Housing Bubble, 12/16/14

 

Who doesn’t like a good deal when it comes to buying real estate? Since some people believe every area in L.A. County is undergoing ubiquitous gentrification I wanted to throw some good deals your way. Now some of you might balk at the city and the bars on the window but you still get the benefit of the sun, the weather, access to beaches, all the “fun” things to do, proximity to employment, and you will be within the county itself. So what city are we talking about? Compton people! I love browsing the listings and seeing what is happening across all areas of Southern California. Over the last couple of weeks, I noticed lower priced properties popping up. End of the year cleaning. $100k for SoCal housing? This can’t be! Don’t expect HGTV perfection here but you do get bars on the windows and deferred maintenance. But with these price tags, you have a lot of room to upgrade and make this into your new gentrified palace.

Compton deals

Compton California has a population of 96,000 people. Some might not know this but Compton is one of the oldest cities in Los Angeles County being incorporated back in 1888. The typical Compton household pulls in $42,335 per year and 26 percent of the population lives below the poverty line.

Here is the first deal that popped up on my feed:

608 E Elm St, Compton, CA 90221

3 beds, 1 bath, 1,236 square feet

“***CALLING ALL SERIOUS INVESTORS!!—LOOK NO FURTHER!!!—BEST DEAL IN LOS ANGELES!!!—HUGE PRICE REDUCTION FOR QUICK SALE! DON’T MISS OUT!!!* Seller very motivated!!! This House is in a Nice area of Compton…It is close to major streets and shopping center and large bedrooms. This is Truly a Great House for the Price. Must see to appreciate!!!”

Are you a serious investor? If you are, pick up that freaking phone! Apparently things are so hot for investment properties that they had to drop the price on this place to make it move.

One of the funniest things I found on Google Street View for this place is that there is a “Cash 4 Houses” sign posted on a telephone pole right in front:

How about the “Cash 4 Houses” guy calls up the current agent for this place?  Seems like a match made in heaven.

Let us look at the pricing history here:

This place sold for $369,000 back in 2005. The current list price of $165,000 is a 55 percent price reduction over the last decade. I thought prices only went up? Not always and you can ask the people living through the 7,000,000 completed foreclosures about real estate always being a simple buy and hold decision.

This home has gone through two foreclosures with one in 1997 and one in 2000. You can have this place for $165,000. Let us look at the next deal:

2034 N Kalsman Ave, Compton, CA 90222

3 beds,2 baths,1,100 sqft

“Nice 3Bedroom 2Bath home located in the Rosewood area. The home is in need of repair so it will not qualify for FHA financing.”

Nice lawn and steel encased front door. No FHA financing for this place since we have some built up deferred maintenance. The sales history looks similar to the last place:

This place sold in 2005 for $325,000. The current list price of $190,000 is a nice 41 percent reduction. It was listed at $140,000 back in January of this year and then the funny pricing game started. Recently they have changed the price from $190k to $180k back and forth.

So there you have it. Two good “deals” for the taking in the current housing market. You get all the benefits of SoCal that supposedly exist nowhere else on the planet: proximity to beaches, sun, L.A. County bragging rights, fantastic food, access to jobs, and most importantly, a shack to call your own.

Oakland Students Decide to Take Afternoon Off From School—Stay for Free Lunch

In most Oakland schools 80% of the students get a free lunch—while it maybe bad food, it is still a free lunch (paid for by taxpayers). If you are going to take the afternoon off to protest government, you want your free lunch first.

At most the students missed two classes…with a drop out rate of about 20%, guess they did not miss much. Instead they had a chance to see democracy in action—looting, stopping traffic, closing of streets, cops doing nothing. The California Attorney General Kamela Harris is spending millions to stop government school truants—in this case she said and did nothing—she approved of the truancy and the lawlessness.

This is what we spend out tax dollars on—be proud. ““We’re here to fight for our rights and do what we have to do,” Martinez said. “We’re tired of police murders for no reason and targeting African American and black people for no reason.” The protests are Oakland’s latest over the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a Ferguson, Missouri, police officer in August and the chokehold death of Eric Garner by a New York City police officer.” Yup, being truant will make a big difference.

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Students in at Least 4 Oakland High Schools Walk Out in Protest

The teens walked out between 1 p.m. and 1:30 p.m.

By Autumn Johnson (Patch Staff) , 12/16/14

At least four Oakland high schools staged a walkout over police killings of unarmed black men and are rallying at the Fruitvale BART station Monday afternoon, organizers said. Students at Oakland High School at 1023 MacArthur Blvd. walked out between 1 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. and students at Oakland Technical High School walked out at 2:30 p.m., according to Yvette Felarca, an organizer with the group By Any Means Necessary.

Francisco Martinez, 17, an 11th-grader at Oakland High said he participated in today’s walkout and as of about 4 p.m. was rallying at Fruitvale station, the place where Oscar Grant III was shot by a BART police officer in 2009. He said the Oakland High group was joined by students from Oakland Tech, Skyline High School at 12250 Skyline Blvd. and MetWest High School at 314 E. 10th St. Most of the students at Oakland High walked out with him, Martinez said. He said teachers said that after they left few students were still on campus, despite the objections of school staff.

“We’re here to fight for our rights and do what we have to do,” Martinez said. “We’re tired of police murders for no reason and targeting African American and black people for no reason.” The protests are Oakland’s latest over the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a Ferguson, Missouri, police officer in August and the chokehold death of Eric Garner by a New York City police officer.

The high-profile cases have sparked nationwide protests in the last month after grand juries declined to indict officers in either case. The students are rallying “to fight for justice for Michael Brown and Eric Garner and to jail the killer cops and to demand accountability and end the Jim Crow justice system,” Felarca said. “They’re fighting for more educational opportunities, and to end the segregation in the schools, and to build a new civil rights youth-led movement,” she said.

Martinez had his own run-in with authority in May when he was knocked from his wheelchair and beaten by a school security guard who is now facing felony charges for the assault.

“We’re all fighting against police brutality, not only for Michael Brown, but for myself too,” Martinez said. “School should be a safe space where we can learn and not be brutalized by security.” A neighbor in the Temescal neighborhood said she saw about 100 students walking in pairs down the sidewalk on 40th Street and chanting shortly after Oakland Tech’s walkout. The Fruitvale and MacArthur BART stations were briefly closed this afternoon because of the protests, BART officials said.

 

 

Van Nuys Prefers Deadly Fires to Trashing Community With a Fire Station

In a few years, if there is a fire in the Van Nuys section of the San Fernando Valley expect the fire trucks to arrive a few minutes later than planned. A bunch of NIMBY’s have decided having a fire station in their neighborhood ruins the ambiance of the community. A fire station does not fit into the luxury of single-family houses.

Though some folks do not want the station, the city needs to remind them of the hazards—oh, and the closer the fire station to your home, the better prices for fire insurance! For those that do not like fire protection, they need to sue the city, forcing the city NOT to respond to any emergencies or fires at their home—why waste resources on protectors of firebugs?

“The Tiara Group’s lawsuit contends its members who live near the station “will suffer direct harm as a result of any adverse environmental and/or public health impacts caused by the project.”

The vacant lot where the station is to be built contains abandoned underground storage tanks — a 10,000-gallon gasoline tank and a former 900- gallon kerosene tank, the lawsuit said.”

Let those that brought the suit to pay the city and its taxpayers the full cost of this attempt at stopping firefighters.

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Council to consider rescinding fire station approval

Posted by Debbie L. Sklar, MyNewsLA, 12/16/14

The Los Angeles City Council Tuesday will consider rescinding its approval of a $20 million Van Nuys fire station project, nearly five months after residents filed a lawsuit contending the environmental affects of the plan need to be studied.

Councilwoman Nury Martinez is asking her colleagues to reverse a June council vote green-lighting the construction of a station at Oxnard Street and Vesper Avenue to replace a smaller station next to Van Nuys City Hall. Martinez’s motion calls for an “expedited” environmental impact review to be done on the project.

The turnabout by Martinez, who pushed for approval of the project, comes after the city was sued by a collective — calling itself the Tiara Group — that consists of “residents, citizens, property owners, taxpayers and electors residing in the Van Nuys community of the city of Los Angeles,” according to court papers filed in July.

The group specifically names Jeffrey Lynn and Robina Suwol, both residents of a property immediately next to the fire station project, the court papers said.

The Tiara Group’s lawsuit contends its members who live near the station “will suffer direct harm as a result of any adverse environmental and/or public health impacts caused by the project.”

The vacant lot where the station is to be built contains abandoned underground storage tanks — a 10,000-gallon gasoline tank and a former 900- gallon kerosene tank, the lawsuit said.

Martinez aide Linda Serrato Ybarra said the councilwoman wants to do everything possible to address all of the concerns raised by the public, including asking for the project to be delayed so that an environmental review of the project could be done, “if it’s going to offer residents comfort.”

“The city’s not trying to be difficult in dealing with the fire station,” Ybarra said.

Ybarra added that the choice of where to build the fire station “was not a flippant decision.”

“This is something the Bureau of Engineering has been researching for awhile, and it comes down to response time, where we can most quickly respond to constituent needs, and (the site) being technologically advanced enough for a fire station,” she said.

The council in June unanimously approved a proposal to build an 18,500- square-foot fire station a half-mile from the existing 14,000-square-foot Station 39 built on Sylvan Street in 1939.

The new station would be built with funds from Proposition F, which was approved in 2000 to raise money for replacing outdated fire stations. Several residents at the time objected to the fire station being built at 14615 Oxnard St. and said there were other viable sites.

However, other residents supported the project. Monica Alexenko said opposition comes from a “small group” that has caused construction on the fire station — slated to begin in January — to fall  “almost seven months behind schedule.”

Martinez said in June that the project is necessary because the streets around the existing station are too narrow for fire trucks, and the station was one of the oldest still in use in the San Fernando Valley.

By comparison, Martinez said, Oxnard Street was “considered a secondary highway.”

Due to concerns from residents whose backyards “abut the proposed site,” the city also held 12 public hearings during the past year and conducted a sound study, she said.

That study resulted in a mitigation plan which includes building a wall, six-feet or taller, to block out sound.

Councilman Mitch Englander, who chairs the Public Safety Committee, said it was “shocking” to hear opposition to the chosen site, saying that in an emergency, “you want (fire stations) as absolutely as close as possible.”

 

Left Upset: Collapsing Oil Prices Makes Unaffordable “Green” Living Canard Exposed

There is great news in the collapsing cost of oil and gas. As the artificially high prices go down, the public has more money to spend on their needs, instead of the terrorist governments that sold us the oil. The better news is that the real cost of going ”green” is being exposed. Without the government (taxpayer) subsidies almost all solar firms, wind turbines, hydrogen gas stations would collapse. The massive costs of transforming our economy is being exposed.

Spain is proud of it “green” economy—which also has caused 25% unemployment, inflation, bank bailouts, businesses being closed. As Europe has gone “green” it has lost its will to flourish—it is now becoming a terrorist haven, lost jobs, and inflation and whole nations on the brink of bankruptcy. In Europe going green really means going in the red.

“Lower pump prices rekindled America’s love for bigger vehicles. Lower pump prices also enabled increased economic growth from increased consumer buying power. The boomer generation, enjoying more buying power plus the start of their families, began buying “mini-vans,” SUVs and full-size pick-up trucks. The government aided this shift to less fuel-efficient vehicles by applying a lower fuel mileage requirement for “light trucks” that included SUVs, full-size pick-up trucks and mini-vans. By 1999, the sale of SUVs had jumped up 75 percent from 1994. The price of gasoline escalated with the increased sale of less fuel-efficient vehicles. Gas prices steadily rose from $1+ per gallon in the 1990s to a $3.50 to $4+ per gallon price range in the 2000s.

To the Left lower gas prices equal a higher quality of life—something the Left opposes because it shows that prosperity comes from Freedom not government.

drill oil

How the 2014 Oil Price Collapse Threatens Sustainability

Bill Roth, TriplePundit, 12/15/14

1980 was the last time we had an oil price collapse. Americans buying fuel-efficient vehicles created the 1980 oil price collapse, just as they have contributed to today’s oil price collapse. But what consumers did in response to lower pump prices during the 1980s does not bode well for today’s pursuit of sustainable solutions for our economy and climate change.

Will history repeat itself, where the 2014 oil price collapse undercuts our adoption of sustainable technologies?

1974 energy crisis sparks energy efficiency

America got acquainted with vehicle fuel efficiency in 1974, when the Organization of Petroleum Countries (OPEC) embargoed oil imports to the U.S. At the start of 1974, the U.S. was importing almost half of its oil supply. Overnight the price at the pump jumped to $1 per gallon. America’s gas pumps literally could not handle these higher prices. They were designed to record prices only up to 99 cents.

The 1974 oil embargo sparked an auto industry technology revolution in pursuit of vehicles that had both higher fuel efficiency and acceptable performance. Unfortunately, American manufacturers were unprepared to compete. U.S. auto companies launched some of the worst cars they ever produced including the Pinto, Vega and Gremlin. The technology leadership failure of American automakers opened the sales door to the Japanese auto industry selling cool and fuel-efficient cars like the Accord, Corolla and 280Z. The end results were:

  1. A government financial bail-out of the U.S. auto industry
  2. Explosive growth in Japan’s economy
  3. A gradual fall in gas prices as more Americans began driving higher MPG vehicles.

1980 “Oil Glut” rekindled America’s love for big vehicles

America’s mass adoption of more fuel-efficient automobiles, combined with reduced economic growth caused by record high oil prices, resulted in a dramatic reduction in oil demand that cut U.S. oil imports in half. By the mid-1980s, the major news outlets were proclaiming an “oil glut” from oil supplies exceeding oil demand. In competitive response, the oil producers slashed the price of oil from $80 per barrel to below $30 per barrel to win market share. The result was a dramatic drop in pump prices.

Lower pump prices rekindled America’s love for bigger vehicles. Lower pump prices also enabled increased economic growth from increased consumer buying power. The boomer generation, enjoying more buying power plus the start of their families, began buying “mini-vans,” SUVs and full-size pick-up trucks. The government aided this shift to less fuel-efficient vehicles by applying a lower fuel mileage requirement for “light trucks” that included SUVs, full-size pick-up trucks and mini-vans. By 1999, the sale of SUVs had jumped up 75 percent from 1994. The price of gasoline escalated with the increased sale of less fuel-efficient vehicles. Gas prices steadily rose from $1+ per gallon in the 1990s to a $3.50 to $4+ per gallon price range in the 2000s.

Will the U.S. repeat its mistakes?

The American consumer appears to be on the threshold of repeating their 1980s consumption mistakes in response to lower gasoline prices. Sales are soaring for full-size vehicles. The sales of fuel-efficient automobiles are lagging.

Today’s CAFE vehicle fuel regulations might save America from Americans repeating their 1980s consumption of light-duty trucks that operate with lower fuel efficiency. CAFE regulations mandate a “fleet fuel efficiency” level for vehicle manufacturers. Today’s manufacturers have strong incentives to sell a fuel-efficient mix of vehicles compared to their 1980s unbridled ability to sell “light-duty” vehicles. But a potential emerging political threat to vehicle fuel efficiency is whether Americans will continue to support CAFE fuel standards in the face of lower pump prices.

Energy technology crossroads

The world faces an energy technology crossroads. The success of vehicle fuel efficiency achieved through technology leaps in engine and vehicle designs has delivered lower pump prices. Hybrid-electric and electric vehicles are now offered by Tesla, BMW, Porsche and Ferrari that deliver screaming performance and superior fuel efficiency. Achieving economies of scale is the path to reduced prices and mass-market adoption of hybrid-electric and electric vehicles. This is a path that offers sustained restoration of jobs, our economy and the environment.

California is now experiencing the economic and environmental benefits from achieving economies of scale in sustainable technologies. When I first began developing solar power in California, it was so costly that California taxpayers had to subsidize installation costs. With economies of scale, the industry no longer receives state subsidies. The cost of solar has fallen so much that California homeowners are buying rooftop solar systems to cut their electric bills by approximately 40 percent. In addition, an increasing number of rooftop solar homeowners are discovering that they can more than pay for the lease on an electric vehicle through gasoline cost savings achieved by fueling their electric cars from their home’s solar system. The net result for California is an increase in local jobs, a reduction in climate changing emissions and lower consumer costs.

America’s question is: Will it will repeat its mistakes from the 1980s? Right now it is not looking good, as consumers delight in buying less fuel-efficient, gasoline-powered vehicles now that pump prices have fallen. History has proven that this path will lead to higher pump prices from consumers reigniting oil demand. This path lays the seeds for another cyclical economic decline plus irreversible climate change.

History does not have to repeat itself. A path is in place for achieving economies of scale in technologies that can deliver a sustainable future generating local jobs, increased U.S. economic growth, sustained reduced consumer costs and a restored environment. It is now in the hands of the America consumer.