Drones Seattle didn’t want land in LA with a cautious police department–spying on Angelenos

The people of Seattle were up in arms that their police bought two drones to spy on them without warrants or court approval. These police must have thought they worked for Obama in the NSA—corrupt, abusive and sneaky. They were forced to sell the drones, claimed they were being sold back to the vendors.

Instead they gave the drones to the Los Angeles Police Department—so they can illegally and immorally spy on our citizens and visitors. How soon will the people in LA revolt against this totalitarian spying effort by the local police?

“As reporter Joel Rubin explains it, LAPD officials went to pains to reassure the public the drones wouldn’t be used to spy on them – and said if they are used at all they will be used on a limited basis. One example given is when police need to see inside a building to know how to respond to a hostage situation or a barricaded suspect.

Seriously does anybody believe the LAPD? Time to get rid of the drones and those that accepted and approved them—including the Police Chief.

obama drones

Drones Seattle didn’t want land in LA with a cautious police department

Posted by Liz Enbysk, Smart Cities Council, 06/04/2014

Seattle officials pulled the plug on using drones for police work last year after protests from residents and privacy advocates. At the time, then-Mayor Mike McGinn indicated the two Draganflyer X6 Helicopter Tech drones purchased with a Homeland Security grant would be returned to the vendor.

But instead, they’ve landed at the Los Angeles Police Department as gifts from Seattle PD, according to a Los Angeles Times story.

As reporter Joel Rubin explains it, LAPD officials went to pains to reassure the public the drones wouldn’t be used to spy on them – and said if they are used at all they will be used on a limited basis. One example given is when police need to see inside a building to know how to respond to a hostage situation or a barricaded suspect.

ACLU raises concerns about potential for abuse

The Times report said LA police officials didn’t even refer to the unmanned aerial vehicles as drones to avoid the negative connotations the word arouses. Even so, an ACLU official in Southern California raised concerns about the department using them at all given the potential for abuse.

Similarly, the ACLU expressed similar concerns with the situation in Seattle, where a spokesman lauded the city’s decision to ground them. “Drones would have given police unprecedented abilities to engage in surveillance and intrude on people’s privacy and there was never a strong case made that Seattle needed the drones for public safety,” Doug Honig said in a Seattle Times story last year.

 

CA utilities outfoxing Cap and Trade law

The good news is that California utilities have figured out how to save a lot of money on the cap and trade scam. This is where Sacramento takes money from one company, gives it to another, and takes a cut for the theft. At the end of the day the climate has not changed, just the winners and losers. This is the easiest way to explain the redistribution of finances (not wealth) using cap and trade.

The better news is that if the utilities did not get around this massive tax, we the consumers would be paying for it. Never in the history of mankind has a corporation ever paid a tax, not a dime. All taxes “paid” by a corporation is melted into the price of a product or service—we pay the cap and trade tax, not the utilities.

“Total California CO2 emissions in 2011 were reported as 374.78 million tons (page 11).  But Cullenward states 30 to 60 million tons of CO2 have “leaked” out of compliance with California’s cap-and-trade program thus far.  Economists doing research for CARB estimate 74 million to 319 million tons of emissions could escape the cap and trade “cap” by 2020.  As Cullenward describes it, “[T]he resulting loophole could be bigger than the market itself.”

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image18514272

 

 

CA utilities outfoxing Cap and Trade law
By Wayne Lusvardi, Calwatchdog, 6/5/14 

This is Part 2 of a two-part series on Cap and Trade. Part 1 is here.

Recent news about California’s cap-and-trade emissions program is like reading a Spy vs. Spy comic strip in an old Mad Magazine, where spies try to outfox each other with booby traps.

There is a paper war going on backstage between California municipal utilities, public regulated utilities and out-of-state utilities with California’s cap-and-trade program, where each is trying to outfox the other. The program and its quarterly auction of greenhouse gas emissions was set up in 2012 by the California Air Resources Board under AB32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006.

The warfare is called “resource shuffling,” whereby it is difficult or impossible to trace whether the electrons being transmitted into California from other states come from clean or dirty power plants.

Another term for “resource shuffling” is “megawatt laundering.”  Like money laundering, the term is used to describe the process of obscuring the true origins of electricity sold in the market.  The infamous Enron Corp. was accused of “megawatt laundering” during the California Energy Crisis of 2001.

According to economist Danny Cullenward of the Berkeley Energy and Climate Institute, due to a loophole both private and municipal electric utilities can export their emissions to other states for no real net reduction in global CO2 (carbon dioxide). Cullenward calls this an “accounting trick.”

“Resource shuffling” is defined as: “any plan, scheme, or artifice to receive credit based on emissions reductions that have not occurred, involving delivery of electricity to the California grid.” Violation of resource shuffling rules is a criminal offense as electricity suppliers must attest that they are not doing so under penalty of perjury (Section 95852 (b) (2) of Final Regulation Order).

Resource shuffling trickery is difficult to prove

Total California CO2 emissions in 2011 were reported as 374.78 million tons (page 11).  But Cullenward states 30 to 60 million tons of CO2 have “leaked” out of compliance with California’s cap-and-trade program thus far.  Economists doing research for CARB estimate 74 million to 319 million tons of emissions could escape the cap and trade “cap” by 2020.  As Cullenward describes it, “[T]he resulting loophole could be bigger than the market itself.”

The way “resource shuffling” works is a municipal or private electric utility terminates its contract for “dirty” coal power from a power plant in Arizona, Nevada or Utah to comply with California’s green laws.  The utility then signs a contract with a natural gas or solar power plant, or both, to buy cleaner power.  But the natural gas and the coal power plants just swap contracts and ship the cheap coal power to California and the cleaner gas power to other customers.

In many cases it is legal to do so if the transaction involved 1) is in compliance with SB1368 of 2006; 2) is in compliance with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; or 3) “safe harbor” rules are followed for the early divestiture of a power resource allowed under the state’s cap-and-trade law.

The reason that California utilities are trying to trick CARB is that they must keep power rates low for their customers. Stanford economist Frank Wolak explains:

“Resource shuffling is the same thing as serving the interests of your shareholders or your customers, and therein lies the big problem and the challenge in trying to prohibit it. It’s analogous to telling utilities not to do what is least-cost to comply with the regulation.”

Energy reporter Debra Kahn says that definitively proving resource shuffling is difficult and hard to answer.

Enter Obama’s EPA CO2 reduction mandate

The only apparent solution is to compel other states to join California’s cap-and-trade market.  Just this week, President Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency finalized a rule mandating reductions in CO2 that may force other states into California’s cap-and-trade market. However, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt indicates that imposing the “cap-and-trade scheme” on other states would be a violation of the U.S. Clean Air Act.

All of this game playing flies in the face of a new economic study by economist Charles R. Frank of the liberal-centrist Brooking’s Institution that conventional hydro, nuclear and natural gas power can provide roughly the same CO2 reductions at way less cost than wind or solar power.

It is difficult to find out who is tricking whom with the implementation of California’s cap-and-trade law. But one thing is for certain: Californians are going to be paying higher electricity bills as a consequence unless their local utilities can outfox the rules.

That is, unless the green energy ball can be pushed back uphill and California goes back to relying on low- and no-carbon hydro and natural gas power, or re-opens the San Onofre nuclear power plant. But that has about a popsicle’s chance in Death Valley.

 

Brown’s Revised Budget Comes Amid High Health Care Spending

Thanks to Guv Brown declaring MediCaid an expanded program, eleven million Californians will be getting free health care at the expense of the few people still working. He was forced to add $1.2 Billion to his revised budget to pay for this—while the State Controller says we have a $10 billion cash deficit (the surplus and balanced budget is an inside joke, not close to reality). Then we have Senator Lara wanting to add a few illegal aliens to the free programs, at a cost of $350 million a year.

“The state is responsible for paying half the cost of new Medi-Cal beneficiaries who qualified for the program before the Affordable Care Act went into effect. California Department of Health Care Services spokesperson Anthony Cava said the state still is determining how many of the new Medi-Cal beneficiaries were previously eligible.

And in three years the State will be responsible for 100% of the cost! Watch the budget collapse under that expense.

Jerry Brown Legislature Budget

Brown’s Revised Budget Comes Amid High Health Care Spending

California Healthline, 5/13/14

On Tuesday, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) released his revised fiscal year 2014-2015 budget proposal as the state faces financial challenges, such as higher-than-expected health care spending, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Brown also is facing “pent-up demand” for funding for social services, such as home care for the elderly and individuals with disabilities, according to the Times (Megerian, Los Angeles Times, 5/12).

Background

In January, Brown released the first draft of his $154.9 billion FY 2014-2015 budget proposal.

The proposal would allocate $670 million to expand Medi-Cal and would prevent health care providers in the state from having to repay a 10% retroactive cut in the program’s reimbursements. Medi-Cal is California’s Medicaid program.

Overall, the proposal would seek a 5% increase in spending from FY 2013-2014 (California Healthline, 1/9).

Details of Revised Budget

The revised budget includes more than $2 billion in additional spending over Brown’s initial budget proposal.

The revised plan includes $1.2 billion in additional funding for Medi-Cal compared with the January budget plan, as well as higher spending on:

  • Additional contributions to CalPERS;
  • Additional staffing for the state’s unemployment insurance program.
  • Early childhood education;
  • Emergency drought assistance; and
  • Increasing In-Home Supportive Services’ caseloads.

In a release, Brown said the revised budget “shows that California can afford to provide health care to many more people, while at the same time paying its debts and shoring up the long-troubled teachers’ retirement system” (Office of the Governor release, 5/13).

Details of Challenges

Brown previously urged lawmakers to be fiscally conservative, but the state’s revenue has outpaced the governor’s projections by nearly $2 billion, according to data from the Legislative Analyst’s Office. Because of the surplus, Assembly Budget Chair Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) said holding funding back from social services “will be harder to justify” this year (Los Angeles Times, 5/12).

However, a summary of the revised budget states that spending on “health care, drought and other programs [has] increased by essentially the same amount” as revenue (Richman, San Jose Mercury News, 5/13). In addition, H.D. Palmer, deputy director for external affairs at the California Department of Finance, said, “While revenues have continued to improve, we continue to caution that they are one-time in nature” (AP/Sacramento Bee, 5/13).

Meanwhile, California officials had estimated that one million to two million additional residents would enroll in Medi-Cal through the end of 2014, but about 1.9 million consumers already had registered for the program by the end of March and an additional 900,000 applications are pending.

The state is responsible for paying half the cost of new Medi-Cal beneficiaries who qualified for the program before the Affordable Care Act went into effect. California Department of Health Care Services spokesperson Anthony Cava said the state still is determining how many of the new Medi-Cal beneficiaries were previously eligible.

Next Steps

The state Legislature is required to advance a budget plan by June 15.

Once the governor signs a plan passed by the Legislature, the new budget will go into effect on July 1 (Los Angeles Times, 5/12).

Rainy Day Fund Agreement

In related news, Brown last week announced an agreement with lawmakers to save up to 10% of the state’s general fund for a reserve fund, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports. Under the agreement, some of the money would be used to pay off the state’s debts and unfunded liabilities (AP/Sacramento Bee, 5/13).

Money will be deposited in the reserve fund when there are increases in the state’s capital gains revenues. In addition, annual deposits also would be required under the plan.

The plan replaces a proposed November ballot measure for a rainy day fund (Office of the Governor release, 5/8).

 

Public pensions hiding trillions in liabilities, SEC commissioner says

We already know that nationwide government pension plans have three trillion dollars of unfunded liabilities—and no way to pay. How corrupt is the system? A Securities and Exchange Commission member has declared that if government systems were in the private sector, management would be jailed and the plans closed.

These have become Ponzi schemes. In California starting July 1 CalSTRS will be taking $10 billion a year from education, up from $4.3 billion a year, just to keep the doors open. They have an unfunded liability of $166.9 billion per Federal criteria.

“In the private sector, the SEC would quickly bring fraud charges against any corporate issuer and its officers for playing such numbers games,” said Gallagher. “And, we would also pursue and punish the so-called fiduciaries who recklessly seek yield to meet unrealistic accounting assumptions. We should not treat municipalities any differently.”

unions pensions public employee

Public pensions hiding trillions in liabilities, SEC commissioner says

By Nick Thornton, Benefits Pro, 6/3/14

Lax governmental accounting standards that have allowed systemic underfunding of public pensions would amount to fraud were those public plans subject to laws governing the private sector, according to SEC Commissioner Daniel Gallagher.

“In the private sector, the SEC would quickly bring fraud charges against any corporate issuer and its officers for playing such numbers games,” said Gallagher. “And, we would also pursue and punish the so-called fiduciaries who recklessly seek yield to meet unrealistic accounting assumptions. We should not treat municipalities any differently.”

Gallagher’s comments were made in a May 29 address at the first Municipal Securities Regulator Summit. The SEC’s Office of Municipal Securities oversees the $3.7 trillion municipal bond market. Munis can be an important fixed-income vehicle for retirement, as the interest earned on them is tax-exempt.

Nearly three-fourths of muni bonds are held by retail investors.

Gallagher said that municipal bond issuers are misleading investors by failing to disclose the true extent of pension and other post-employment benefits (OPEB), like retiree health care obligations.

“Trillions of dollars in liabilities … are not appropriately reflected on government books, thereby seriously misleading investors about the riskiness of their investments in municipal securities,” he said.

The most optimistic estimates (often made by plan administrators) show state and local pension plans are underfunded by $1 trillion. Others believe the more accurate number is more than $4 trillion. Gallagher said that in order to fund the shortfalls, every household in the U.S. would need to pay $14,000 a year for the next 30 years.

With the most grievous shortfall — Gallagher did not name the city or state — each household in that municipality is on the hook for more than $88,000 in unfunded pension liabilities. Median income in the unnamed city is $47,000.

In Detroit, pensions will be bailed out with an infusion of liquidated assets and federal relief, but general obligation bondholders are only expected to recover 10-13 percent of their principal.

Gallagher said that Detroit proves that bankruptcy courts will favor underfunded pension funds over bondholders. “It is imperative the bondholders know with precision the size of the potential pension liabilities of the entities in which they are investing. And yet, they do not.”

Public pension plans have been over-optimistic in assuming future rates of returns that will be used to pay liabilities. Generally, a 7 1/2 to 8 percent return is factored. Gallagher says a return in the mid-6 percent range is more realistic. Risk is potentially exacerbated when funds chase yield to account for inflated return goals.

“This lack of transparency can amount to a fraud on municipal bond investors, and it does a disservice to state and local government workers and retirees by saving elected officials from making the hard choices either to fully fund the pension promises that were made to public employees, or not to make the promises in the first place,” Gallagher said.

Gallagher applauded GASB efforts to bring transparency to public pensions and urged all municipalities follow the board’s improved accounting standards. But reform of this scale isn’t expected overnight. Gallagher recommends the requirement of supplemental disclosures to fully inform investors.

 

SF transit workers find no support from public –so what?

The unions in San Fran cannot believe how gullible and silly the public has become. During the BART strike the public yelled, screamed, threatened, promised to stop the strike. Instead the union got its raises, workers got paid for not working and the public pays more tax money to subsidize the system and fares have gone up to pay for the extortion.

Now the unions controlling the MUNI (the bus service) are doing the same and reporters are still noting the public is not backing the strike. The unions do not care—they know the government will cave, the people will pay more and the extortionists will have more power. This is what happens when you allow unions a stranglehold on your services.

BART and Unions present before  state panel

SF transit workers find no support from public 

By Chris Roberts, SF Examiner, 6/5/14

Following a three-day sickout that has infuriated the public, Muni’s 1,500 or so operators have found themselves without friends in government, isolated from the broader labor movement and out of options — thanks in part to a 2010 voter initiative that changed the way transit workers are paid.

Muni service ran at about 70 percent Wednesday, the lightest day of a three-day sickout staged in protest of a labor dispute between the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and its vehicle operators union. Under the City Charter, Muni workers cannot strike.

Union honchos claimed no association with the sickout, which kept about 120 of 600 vehicles out of service Wednesday.

That’s a lower number of missed runs than Muni experienced on at least two days in May, according to records. Muni officials were “cautiously optimistic” that today’s service would be even closer to normal, agency spokesman Paul Rose said.

However, city officials’ patience is beyond exhausted. Unlike with last year’s two BART strikes, no prominent elected officials have publicly sided with Muni operators.

One of BART’s unions is the politically powerful Service Employees International Union, which is a major force in California politics. Muni’s union, Transport Workers Union Local 250-A, has no such clout.

Following calls Tuesday from Mayor Ed Lee and other key elected officials to end the sickout, City Attorney Dennis Herrera filed a complaint Wednesday against Muni’s union with state labor officials.

Muni drivers are currently the sixth-best-paid transit operators in the country, with a maximum wage of $29.52 per hour, said John Haley, the SFMTA’s transit director. The SFMTA’s current contract offer ups that maximum to $32 an hour.

However, increased employee contributions to pensions would lead to a $1.10-per-hour cut in take-home pay, said Local 250-A President Eric Williams.

Muni also suffers from a driver shortage, with over 450 unfilled positions, Rose said.

Voters played a role in the current labor dispute four years ago.

Prior to 2010, a salary survey guaranteed Muni operators the second-highest pay among transit workers in the nation. But that year, voters approved Proposition G, removing the salary survey and sending Muni workers to collective bargaining and then binding arbitration like all other city workers.

There was, however, one major exception. The ballot initiative also inserted language into the arbitration rules that “stack the deck” against worker proposals and make it harder to negotiate, said Jamie Horowitz of the Transport Workers Union’s national offices.

Workers rejected the SFMTA’s contract offer 1,198-47 last week. Wage and pension terms will now be decided by an arbitrator. Meetings are slated to begin Saturday.

 

Now Even California’s Fog Is Disappearing (Blame Global Warming)

Al Gore must be laughing his head off as he banks the checks from his climate change scam. Now we have a lack of “tule fog” in California due to the drought, caused by “global warming”. I guess everybody forgets about science, natural changes in weather systems and that the climate has changed, with and without human kind since the Earth was formed. If only we got rid of cars, people, trees, animals and travel, the planet would be saved. The Luddites want to be Neanderthals.

“The same atmospheric forces that are drying California to the bone – like a shifting jet stream, which researchers say could become more pronounced as the planet warms – are also conspiring to expel another one of the state’s winter phenomena: the famous Tule fog. This cottony miasma arises during the Central Valley’s rainy season when the ground is cold enough to condense the air above.

climate change global warming

Now Even California’s Fog Is Disappearing

The drought-hit state’s vanishing Tule fog spells more trouble for farmers.

John Metcalfe, City Lab, 6/5/14

With California’s drought-stricken soil baked to the consistency of powdered Saltines, it’s difficult to imagine the state becoming even more dry. Yet that’s what is happening with the Central Valley’s winter fog, which over the years has been appearing less and less often – a trend that signifies yet more trouble for the state’s bedeviled agriculture industry.

When talking about the drought, much attention is given to the declining snowpack in the Sierra Nevadas. The melt-off from this winter snow historically has provided vast amounts of water to farms and cities, but over recent years the ‘pack has dwindled so much it’s now at 18 percent of its average accumulation, as shown in these satellite images from February 2011, 2012, and 2013:

The same atmospheric forces that are drying California to the bone – like a shifting jet stream, which researchers say could become more pronounced as the planet warms – are also conspiring to expel another one of the state’s winter phenomena: the famous Tule fog. This cottony miasma arises during the Central Valley’s rainy season when the ground is cold enough to condense the air above. It’s a thick, chewy vapor, often reducing visibility from 600 feet down to 10 feet and causing multiple-vehicle accidents on local roadways.

Tule fog is becoming a shadow of its former self, though, according to Dennis Baldocchi and Eric Waller at the University of California, Berkeley. By studying satellite images, they found that despite yearly variations, the number of days with fog has steadily plummeted. In fact, since 1981 between November and February, there’s been a 46 percent decrease in fog days. And the persistence of severe drought has mightily tamped down on the emergence of Central Valley fog since 2012, adds NASA, which has provided this image of one of the last big fog events in 2011:

NASA Earth Observatory

Waller and Baldocchi speculate that the fog’s disappearance is both occurring along with the state’s milder winters, and is also contributing to them, as less fog in the air means warmer temperatures. The clearer air may be good news for motorists, but it’s another kick in the butt to California’s multitude of fruit and nut farmers. Here’s NASA explaining why:

The fog is important to California’s crops because fruit and nut trees, like people, need sufficient rest before they can be their most productive. They get that rest in the winter when cold temperatures –between 0° and 7° Celsius (32° and 45° F) – bring on a dormant period. Fewer fog days corresponds with fewer cold days, and other studies have confirmed that the trees are now being exposed to hundreds fewer cold hours compared to 1982.

The fog also shields the trees from direct sunlight during the winter. Direct sunlight can warm the buds even when surrounding air temperatures are cool. The warming decreases the number of cold-rest hours the tree gets during the winter, which decreases its productivity.

There’s no word yet on whether the fading fog will add to the drought’s economic drag. The latest estimate for that money-sucking vortex, issued by researchers late in May: a staggering $1.7 billion.

 

“Top Two” Electoral Disaster for California–18% Turnout and One Party Rule

“Top Two” Electoral Disaster for California–18% Turnout and One Party Rule

Stephen Frank Editorial, California Political News and Views/California Political Review. 6/5/14

Here is what Charles Munger has brought us when he gave us Prop. 14, the “Top Two” primary instead of the traditional partisan primary.

18% primary turnout

3 legislative districts with no GOP on ballot–just NPP–not a single third party

20 legislative races with one party on ballot.
11 legislative candidates unopposed
Superintendent race  D vs. D

(Analysis of Secretary of State Unofficial Results)

Those were part of the results of the primary election held Tuesday. The fight for victory was mostly fought by special interests, the very rich and unions. Individuals and unions spent on behalf of candidates hundreds of thousands of dollars. One rich man spent over $500,000 esach on two Assembly candidates—both lost. The same man spent $700,000 in 2012 on an Assembly candidate and she lost. Good thing he is very rich!

The California Teachers Association spent $1.4 million for an Assembly candidate (he is in a runoff) and $4 million for a candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction (he is in a runoff). Other unions spent similar amounts for winners, losers and runoff candidates.

Then you have the “business” interest spending millions on both Democrats and Republicans. One business interest spent over a million dollars on an Assembly candidate, a Democrat, that lost to a Democrat supported by the unions and a Republican supported by a very rich person. Crazy, huh.

democracy vote election ballot

This year, without any controversial ballot measures, statewide candidates that few cared about (except family, friends and special interests) most found going to work or the mall a more productive endeavor.

Come November there will be exciting ballot measures, though I predict very unexciting races for statewide offices. The voter turnout may even double—to 36 or 40%–still not a lot of voters.

What will it take to get voters out? Simple, make it mean something. Republicans try to sound like Democrats in November, but in June EVERY GOP’er, no matter how liberal, claims to be a “conservative”. Those that do not pay close attention believe it. As George Kostanza in Seinfeld said, “It is not a lie if you believe it.” Voters need to question each candidate, prove they are a conservative, or a liberal, that they are honest.

California has a $340 billion debt and a $10 billion cash deficit while EVERY member of the legislature and the Governor have claimed they oppose policies that put us in debt. If so, how did we get here—is this why people have no trust or respect for elected officials.

We cannot blame the proponents of Prop. 14 for the measure, we voted it into law—we need to take responsibility. I hope that now we have seen how it works, we call it a grand experiment that failed and repeal it. Until then 18% in a primary might look really good.

Angry yet? Willing to return elections to election day?

 

 

Alabama GOP Gets Dose of Teacher Union Bipartisanship–Happening in CA as Well

The SEIU has made it clear they want to take over the California Republican Party. In fact, the process has started—it was a sponsor of the recent California Republican Party convention. The goal is to “moderate” the GOP—to the SEIU Feinstein is a moderate and Boxer a liberal. Indeed the GOP ran a candidate for Governor who voted for Obama, and worked for him, and is openly against the Second Amendment. Is that the “moderate”—he did receive $350,000, via an independent expenditure committee, from Charles Munger—the same person that tried to “moderate” the GOP Platform a couple of years ago and just spent almost $2,000,000 in the primary to determine the nominees of the Party.

In Alabama the unions are spending massive amounts of money in GOP primary races—to nominate “moderate” Republicans—those the union can work with

“Our story begins with National Research Services, a previously unknown firm with a Tennessee post office box that incorporated in Delaware on a Friday and received hundreds of thousands of dollars of AEA PAC money the next Monday.

National Research Services then provided campaign advertising to a slew of friendly Republican incumbents and the primary challengers to the unfriendly Republican incumbents. On May 9, the union’s PAC had already spent more than $2.1 million on the primaries, far exceeding any other group.”

SEIUObama

Alabama GOP Gets Dose of Teacher Union Bipartisanship

By Mike Antonucci, Education Intelligence Agency, 6/2/14

Alabama GOP Gets Dose of Teacher Union Bipartisanship. Two articles of faith about teachers’ unions are being put to the test in Alabama’s primaries tomorrow. The first is that Alabama is one of those “weak union” states. The other is that teachers’ unions give all their political money to Democrats.

The Alabama Education Association (AEA) is attempting to put both of those beliefs to rest simultaneously as it makes an unprecedented effort to dismantle the Republican supermajority in the state legislature. Its unique method of accomplishing this is to throw huge amounts of money at Republicans.

Our story begins with National Research Services, a previously unknown firm with a Tennessee post office box that incorporated in Delaware on a Friday and received hundreds of thousands of dollars of AEA PAC money the next Monday.

National Research Services then provided campaign advertising to a slew of friendly Republican incumbents and the primary challengers to the unfriendly Republican incumbents. On May 9, the union’s PAC had already spent more than $2.1 million on the primaries, far exceeding any other group.

AEA is so set on ousting the sitting GOP legislators, it is spending money on mailers accusing the incumbent Republicans of voting to “bring Obamacare to Alabama.”

The weekly campaign disclosure reports continue to show almost all of AEA’s PAC contributions going to Republican candidates.

State representative Todd Greeson is a Republican running for an open senate seat. He has received $200,000 from AEA, but sought to highlight his independence.

“Outside of probably the NRA, that’s probably the only group I’ve voted 100 percent with,” he said. “And pro-life – I’m about 100 percent (voting) on pro-life. That’s about it. That’s the only areas I’ve voted with a special interest group. But the NRA doesn’t really contribute money in a legislative race.”

AEA is either getting very broadminded in supporting gun-toting, abortion-hating, Obamacare-damning Republicans for office, or it is engaging in the worst kind of cynical political power play – the kind of thing teachers’ unions always claim to be above.

But there’s plenty of cynicism to go around. The Republicans and pundits who have complained for years about the percentages of teacher union money going to Democrats can now see what the reverse looks like. Do they feel better or worse?

 

Free POT For San Jose Voters—Bribe and Brain Killer?

Years ago, a Democrat named Cecil Green was running for the State Senate in LA County. He got into trouble for handing out vouchers for a free donut if they voted. Just a donut. Now the marijuana industry in San Jose has really upped the ante. They are gave away free and discounted POT to those that vote. Of course, they are given a list of those to vote for, though it is impossible to tell if they voted “right”.

I have a better idea—give lots of marijuana to anyone that says they will vote. Let they fry their brains so they are unable to voter. Maybe a group will do that in November. Certainly will stop many young people and Hollywood types from voting—and that would be good for all.

Cannabis marijuana weed pot

Silicon Valley Cannabis Coalition Announces “Weed for Votes” List of Participating Collectives

Silicon Valley Cannabis Coalition, 6/2/14

Activists wonder how much of an impact the “ CannaVote ” will have on tomorrow’s primary election

The Silicon Valley Cannabis Coalition (SVCC) , the group promoting the “Weed for Votes” campaign hopes to increase the turnout at the polls. Voting locations open at 7am tomorrow morning, Tuesday June 3rd. To find your location visit CannaVote.com and click “Find Your Voting Location.” Activists state voting is more important than ever.

Politicians should remember in 2010 that San Jose voters approved a marijuana tax with over 78% of the vote. Unfortunately, mayoral candidates are ignoring this fact and making irrational statements. Councilmember Sam Liccardo’s website states that cannabis clubs make “communities more dangerous,” and Councilmember Rose Herrera has stated, “I’m going to move to ban them.”

“San Jose voters want regulated medical cannabis. All the issues related to cannabis clubs in San Jose have been directly caused by the city’s failure to reasonably regulate them,” said John Lee, director of the Silicon Valley Cannabis Coalition ( SVCC ). “The current council members are responsible for these problems, and voters should hold them accountable.”

With predictions of one of the lowest voter turnouts in history this Tuesday, cannabis supporters could have a huge effect. The impact of each vote is effectively doubled when compared to the November elections. Supporters hope to show local politicians that the “ CannaVote ” can impact elections and they should be taken seriously.

“With CannaVote.com we tried to recommend candidates that will take a reasonable approach to regulating cannabis clubs,” said Dave Hodges, founder of the All American Cannabis Club (A2C2) and SVCC member. “In a few cases candidates were simply better than the alternatives. CannaVote.com links directly to candidates websites so voters can do their own research.”

To encourage voting tomorrow, throughout San Jose collectives are offering everything from discounts to free medicine for members who come in with an “I Voted” sticker or ballot stub on June 3rd. A list of clubs participating in the “Weed for Votes” program is on SVCannabis.org

After voting, supporters are asked to attend the 1:30pm San Jose City Council meeting, where medical marijuana regulations will be discussed. Large numbers are expected in protest of unreasonable regulations, and to show support for the SVCC proposal of a commission to regulate cannabis businesses.

 

Water Authority Sues Metropolitan Water District over Rates for 2015 and 2016

Who sets your water rates? Obviously your water provider. But who set their rates? Many places in Southern California get their water from the Metropolitan Water District. The people in San Diego believe that over a 45 year period they will be overcharged by $2 billion. Like everybody, instead of negotiations and acting like adults, the lawsuits are flying. In the end, it will be the ratepayers forced to pay more to pay off the lawyers. In this case, it is government vs. government—you would think they could solve a problem without going to court.

“On April 24, San Francisco County Superior Court Judge Curtis E. A. Karnow issued a final statement of decision that said MWD violated cost-of-service requirements in California’s Constitution, statutes and common law when setting rates for 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014. Specifically, the court said MWD’s rates violate California’s wheeling statute, Government Code section 54999.7(a), and common law that apply to ratemaking. He also said MWD’s 2013 and 2014 rates violate Proposition 26, approved by voters in November 2010 and now embodied in the California Constitution as Article XIIIC.”

PileOfMoney

Water Authority Sues Metropolitan Water District over Rates for 2015 and 2016

San Diego County Water Authority, 5/30/14

Superior Court judge sided with Water Authority on two similar suits in April

May 30, 2014 -The San Diego County Water Authority on Friday filed its third legal challenge against rates set by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, alleging that MWD’s rates for 2015 and 2016 aren’t based on the costs of providing the services. If allowed to stand, MWD’s rates for those two years alone would overcharge San Diego County ratepayers by $92 million; over 45 years, the total overcharges by MWD could exceed $2 billion.

The latest lawsuit follows a sweeping victory for the Water Authority in the first phase of litigation in two similar lawsuits challenging MWD’s rates. On April 24, San Francisco County Superior Court Judge Curtis E. A. Karnow issued a final statement of decision that said MWD violated cost-of-service requirements in California’s Constitution, statutes and common law when setting rates for 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014. Specifically, the court said MWD’s rates violate California’s wheeling statute, Government Code section 54999.7(a), and common law that apply to ratemaking. He also said MWD’s 2013 and 2014 rates violate Proposition 26, approved by voters in November 2010 and now embodied in the California Constitution as Article XIIIC.  Proposition 26 shifted the burden to public agencies to prove they are not charging more than the actual cost of the services they provide.

The Water Authority’s Board of Directors voted unanimously on April 24 to authorize another lawsuit against MWD over rates it adopted on April 8 for 2015 and 2016 using the same illegal methodology it used the prior four years.

“Even after a major legal defeat, MWD continues clinging to its belief that it can set rates however it wants,” said Maureen Stapleton, general manager of the Water Authority. “That’s bad for water ratepayers across Southern California. They will have to pay millions more dollars for MWD to defend decisions that the court has already ruled are illegal.”

MWD’s current rates were expressly designed to protect the agency’s monopoly and to discriminate against the Water Authority by shifting unrelated water supply costs onto transportation rates, while illegally subsidizing MWD’s water supply rate. MWD asserted in court it can set its rates without regard to the actual costs of service, and that it can even collect more than the costs of the services it provides, as long as a majority of its board votes for it. MWD also contended in court that it was exempt from Proposition 26, as well as other constitutional and statutory provisions of California law.

The Water Authority filed its first rate lawsuit against MWD in 2010, then filed a second suit in 2012 because MWD refused to reform its rates, which effectively force San Diego County ratepayers to subsidize water ratepayers in other parts of Southern California. The two cases were coordinated for trial, with the main issues being broken into two phases of hearings.

Attorneys for the Water Authority argued during a five-day trial in December that MWD had loaded unrelated costs onto the rate it charges for transporting water – a scheme that disproportionately damages San Diego County ratepayers because the Water Authority is the only water agency that uses MWD’s transportation service (also known as “wheeling”) to move large volumes of supplies purchased from sources independent of MWD.

A case management conference is set for July 2 to schedule the second phase of the trial to address the Water Authority’s claims based on breach of contract and preferential rights.

Phase 2 of the trial also is expected to determine the disposition of tens of millions of dollars in disputed payments the Water Authority has made since 2011. Should the court award a refund to the Water Authority, the agency will deduct its litigation expenses and return the remaining money to its 24 member agencies in proportion to their past payment of MWD’s illegal overcharges.

The Water Authority’s lawsuits stem from historic agreements the agency signed a decade ago to secure independent sources of water from the Colorado River and reduce the San Diego region’s once near-total reliance on MWD for water. To transport these Colorado River water supplies to San Diego County, the Water Authority must use pipelines controlled by MWD, which has a monopoly on imported water distribution facilities in Southern California. The Water Authority is the only MWD member agency that uses the pipelines MWD controls to transport a large volume of third-party water supplies each year.

For more information about the Water Authority’s lawsuits, including a copy of the most recent lawsuit, go to www.sdcwa.org/mwdrate-challenge.