SF Board of Education ready to take strong stance against violence

A Press Release is how the San Fran Board of Education is going to take a stand against violence in the schools. At the same time they are upset about gun running in the classrooms, they have no problem with bullies, assaults or drug dealing. Those caught being bullies or having drugs are not expelled—they are given restorative justice. Fox News ran a story the other day about a Philadelphia High School student that picked up a math teacher and body slammed him to the ground. While the cops were arresting him the Principal was lecturing him about violence and refusing to expel the student. This is also happening in San Fran schools.

Think your child is safe in a government school? Eyes need to be opened.

“Tonight, the Board of Education will consider a resolution that would call for the district to support gun-control policies, communicate information about gun-buyback events and gun-safety practices with families, and expand upon lessons in the classroom around violence prevention.

In addition, the resolution also explains how the SFUSD will continue to support students who have experienced other types of violence.”

Big deal.

classroom

SF Board of Education ready to take strong stance against violence 

By Laura Dudnick, SF Examiner, 11/18/14

Information about gun-buyback events will be sent out by the SFUSD in order to help families get weapons away from children.

The San Francisco Unified School District is set to take its strongest stance yet against gun violence.

Tonight, the Board of Education will consider a resolution that would call for the district to support gun-control policies, communicate information about gun-buyback events and gun-safety practices with families, and expand upon lessons in the classroom around violence prevention.

In addition, the resolution also explains how the SFUSD will continue to support students who have experienced other types of violence.

Recent incidents affecting youths in San Francisco, including the fatal stabbing of 14-year-old Rashawn Williams on Sept. 2 and the shooting death of youth outreach worker Allen Calloway in front of a crowd of children that included his own 10-year-old son on June 30, prompted Board of Education Commissioner Matt Haney to introduce the resolution with the help of gun violence-prevention advocates and students.

“Many of our schools have been dealing with the aftereffects of these incidents in the past few months,” Haney said. “As a school district, we have a responsibility to our kids and families to ensure that they are supported when these kinds of incidents occur.”

Children in The City are, sadly, no strangers to violence, Haney noted. Homicides are the leading cause of death among 15- to 24-year-olds in The City, where the rate of youth homicides is nearly twice as high as the rest of the state, according to San Francisco’s Adolescent Health Working Group.

In 2008, of the 98 homicides reported in San Francisco, approximately 38 percent were victims ages 14 to 25. Nationwide, more than 15,000 children and teens were injured by gunfire and 2,694 juveniles died from gunfire in 2010.

“Gun violence is a health epidemic in our nation, and it needs to be treated like that,” said Mattie Scott, president of the San Francisco chapter of the Brady Campaign who helped Haney write the resolution. Scott’s 24-year-old son was fatally shot in 1996.

As recently as two weeks ago, a 22-year-old man was shot to death just outside the fence to Rosa Parks Elementary School, prompting San Francisco resident Tim Miller, whose two children attend the school, to call on city officials to address safety in that area.

“Do we need to wait until a child is injured before we take action?” said Miller, who wants to see a stronger police presence and greater violence deterrents near the school.

Kevin Gogin, director of safety and wellness for the SFUSD’s Student, Family and Community Support Department, said the district and Police Department have discussed the Rosa Parks Elementary shooting and ways to increase safety around the school, possibly including increasing patrols.

“We are in ongoing dialogue with our city partners … to create a safe zone around our schools,” Gogin said.

The resolution is also timed with the SFUSD’s Violence Prevention Month in November, and comes weeks before a gun-buyback event in December sponsored by the Police Department and Mayor’s Office.

While the SFUSD already addresses violence prevention as part of its health-education curriculum, the resolution seeks to expand such lessons taught throughout middle and high schools as well as encourage schools to hold events for students and families relating to the prevention of gun violence.

“We’re hoping that this spurs a broader conversation in schools around guns and gun violence,” Haney said of the resolution.

Per the resolution, the SFUSD will also send home a letter in early December to parents with information about how to dispose of a gun, and updated state laws that require guns to be stored safely and away from children. Additionally, information about the Police Department’s Dec. 13 gun-buyback event will be shared with parents.

The effects of violence remain poignant at San Francisco schools today. Students at Buena Vista Horace Mann K-8 School are still grieving following the death of Rashawn Williams, who graduated from the Mission school last spring.

In fact, eighth-grade students who were friends with Williams helped write the resolution as part of a civics lesson, said Tara Kini, a social studies teacher at Buena Vista Horace Mann.

Students’ suggestions for the resolution included to strengthen language in the SFUSD’s commitment to providing mental health support to those who experience violence, as well as adding that the SFUSD will take a public stance in support of gun-control laws, Kini said.

Some of Kini’s students plan to attend tonight’s board meeting to share their own stories of violence.

“It touches so many of them so personally,” Kini said of Williams’ death. “Many of the students in my class, when they were talking about this issue … spoke about the impact of gangs in their community in particular, [and] gun violence in their community.”

 

San Fran Could Sell Public Excess Property—To Make Way for More Housing

Sometimes government does the right thing for the wrong reason, but it is the right thing to do. In San Fran the city wants more housing, but there is no more private land to build on. A couple of private projects, to build over 1,000 housing units were on a ballot and the people voted them down. Private housing could have been built, but the mob said no.

Now the City is thinking of selling excess government land, parcels that can not be used. These parcels should have been sold years ago. Why does the city sit on property, keeping it off the property tax rolls and forcing the rest of the citizens to pay higher taxes to make up for the lost revenues?

Sell the land and get money for the government. Sell the land and property taxes will be paid. Sell the land and the improved property will pay lots of property taxes. It is a win for everybody—except the Luddites.

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Public land sites could hold thousands of units of housing in S.F.

Mary Ann Azevedo, San Francisco Business Times, 11/17/14

The city of San Francisco is working to make good on a pledge from earlier this year to unload some of its surplus or underutilized properties in an effort to help address the city’s severe housing shortage.

The city held two meetings in October to inform the public about its public sites portfolio project and gather initial feedback.

While the city declined to comment, its website noted that officials were soliciting public feedback on the overall approach and on sites that the city should evaluate for inclusion in the portfolio.

The city said the public sites effort would begin with select sites owned by so-called enterprise agencies (non-general fund departments) such as the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.

Once feedback is received and sites identified, the city will then solicit request for qualifications from developers.

Local industry observers applauded the move. Gabriel Metcalf, executive director of the urban policy group SPUR, said he was “really excited to see the city finally taking a look at its own property.”

Metcalf believes that there is “huge opportunity” in the portfolio to solve community problems, such as lack of housing.

“The city has some important decisions to make in terms of how to use its land,” Metcalf wrote in email to the Business Times. “But the good news is that across the portfolio, there is room to try out a lot of different things.”

David Prowler, who has been a San Francisco developer, consultant, planning commissioner and economic development director, was also encouraged by the city’s steps.

“They’re taking a very, very deliberative approach,” he said. “They’re hoping to build some neighborhood consensus before putting the sites out for bids.”

It’s also good news for developers, Prowler said, because the city is testing the water for them.

“At least developers will know what they are getting into before bidding,” he added. “The city will help identify what the hot-button issues are as well as the desires of the community. It takes away some of the risk.”

Of the potential sites, Prowler described the Balboa Reservoir as being “the best of the bunch.” Balboa Reservoir is located on Phelan Avenue between Ocean Avenue and Judson Avenue, and is owned by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. It’s currently home to a parking lot for a city college.

“You could probably build between 500 and 1,000 housing units on that site,” Prowler said.

Feinstein OPPOSES Choice and Freedom—Except for Abortion—Mrs. Hypocrite

Dianne Feinstein, wife of a billionaire, must own stock in Hilton, Hyatts and/or Marriott Hotels. She is using her office to stop you from the choice of hotels—she refuses to allow you to use the AIRBNB service—in other words, she believes government has the right to tell you which pillow to use for a stay in another city.

She claims to be a “moderate”—yet her opposition to you staying at the place of your choice is how radicals and tyrants speak—you have free choice—“as long as your choice is MY choice”.

“Living in stately Pacific Heights, Feinstein no doubt wants to keep trade out of her neighborhood. Alas, she does so at a cost to everyday San Franciscans who rely on Airbnb and similar platforms to make ends meet. San Francisco’s economy is dynamic, and many residents have to hustle to afford a roof over their heads in the Special City.

As a Republican, I am loving watching an old-guard Democrat take a stand against one of the most popular startups in the sharing economy. Airbnb is an apple-pie platform for many millennials. Feinstein wrote that Chiu’s measure will “destroy the integrity of zoning through San Francisco.” She sees her role as protecting residential neighborhoods from “commercialization.”

Photo courtesy of EivindAndHans, flickr

Photo courtesy of EivindAndHans, flickr

Sen. Feinstein Goes to War Against Airbnb

Debra J. Saunders, Townhall,11/16/14

In her mind, Dianne Feinstein will always be mayor of San Francisco. She may be a high-ranking U.S. senator with more than her share of clout in Washington, but she never forgets her roots as onetime mayor and supervisor in the city by the bay. As Ess Eff’s mayor emerita, Feinstein recently inserted herself into the city’s regulation of Airbnb and other short-term rental concerns. Last month, DiFi wrote a piece for the San Francisco Chronicle urging Mayor Ed Lee to veto compromise legislation written by Supervisor David Chiu. The senator sees Airbnb as a neighborhood killer. Lee failed to heed Feinstein’s advice, and now she apparently is withholding her endorsement for his re-election.

Living in stately Pacific Heights, Feinstein no doubt wants to keep trade out of her neighborhood. Alas, she does so at a cost to everyday San Franciscans who rely on Airbnb and similar platforms to make ends meet. San Francisco’s economy is dynamic, and many residents have to hustle to afford a roof over their heads in the Special City.

As a Republican, I am loving watching an old-guard Democrat take a stand against one of the most popular startups in the sharing economy. Airbnb is an apple-pie platform for many millennials. Feinstein wrote that Chiu’s measure will “destroy the integrity of zoning through San Francisco.” She sees her role as protecting residential neighborhoods from “commercialization.”

Young voters, take note. This is what happens when governments get too big and too self-important. People who rent out a spare bedroom or a backyard cottage become expendable.

Architect Kepa Askenasy of Potrero Hill found that renting out a guest room helped her pay medical bills after she was in a car accident. Askenasy likes Feinstein. She voted for Feinstein. She considers herself representative of locals who are “just trying to survive in this beautiful city and do it in a way that’s positive for everybody.”

Askenasy doesn’t see how renting her spare rooms reduces what activists refer to as the city’s “scarce housing stock.” She wouldn’t want a permanent roommate. In the plus column, Askenasy sees the peer-to-peer economy as contributing to making basic resources go further and allowing the city to be “more sustainable” — another tenet of the left. “It’s something that’s beneficial,” she stressed. “There’s nothing wrong.”

To me, the strongest argument against Airbnb involves fairness. How can hotels and bed-and-breakfasts compete with dabblers who don’t have to pay a hotel tax? That’s one of the stronger parts of Chiu’s law: It requires hosts to pay a 14 percent hotel tax, register with the city and get insurance. Only residents who live on a property for three-quarters of a year qualify to be hosts. Askenasy welcomes the compromise and the protections.

So what about all those tourists who, according to numerous anecdotes, knock on the wrong door in the wee hours? Chiu trumpets the city’s ability to yank registration from bad hosts.

The mayor’s spokeswoman, Christine Falvey, told me that Hizzoner has discussed the issue with the senator and that he is open to refining the rules. “It’s a balance.”

For its part, Airbnb was willing to forfeit its on-the-fly spirit to keep city regulators at bay. Being sucked into the establishment is the price of success.

A little bird told me to phone real estate investor Doug Engmann, who has DiFi’s ear on short-term rentals. Engmann told me he never discussed Airbnb with Feinstein until after he heard she opposed the Chiu measure. Engmann and the senator share a distaste, he told me, for Airbnb’s “seemingly willful decision to encourage people to break the laws.”

The thing is I don’t think it should be against the law to rent out a room in your own home. And if that’s what zoning is for, then zoning laws need to change.

LAUSD Has “Teacher Jail” — Teacher in it for THREE YEARS/PAID—Found INNOCENT

In Los Angeles the failed school district has an attorney that argued pedophilia is OK—until it became public. Now we find that it takes the District THREE YEARS (not a typo) to investigate if a teacher inappropriately “touched” a student. After three years and hundreds of thousands of dollars (the teacher got full pay and benefits, though not allowed in a classroom) he was found innocent. Then the District forced the innocent teacher to “retire”.

Corruption has many faces—this was not mere incompetence—it was corruption of the system and abuse of the teachers, parents, students and community.

“He says he was left in teachers jail for three years, from June 2011 to February 2012. When officials refused to return him to the classroom, he says he decided to retire.

But when he filed his application, the charges of misconduct resurfaced and the district tried to dismiss him and strip him of his teaching credentials, according to the 13-page lawsuit.

Though the district later dropped the investigation, Lang says that the district “created a stressful, unhealthy, and unsettling atmosphere that forced him to prematurely retire.”

He seeks punitive damages and costs and is represented by Sanford M. Passman of Los Angeles.

Teacher

Educator Says He Was Left in ‘Teacher Jail’

By MATT REYNOLDS, Court House News, 11/16/14

An educator cleared of charges that he had inappropriately touched a student was consigned to “teacher’s jail” for three years, forcing him into early retirement, he claims in court.

Steven J. Lang sued the Los Angeles Unified School District in Superior Court this week, seeking punitive damages and costs for civil rights violations.

On June 6, 2001, Lang claims, an 18 year old student at Crenshaw High School came forward and alleged that the teacher had touched her and made inappropriate comments.
But the girl later told police officers that she did not believe that Lang had “acted in a sexual manner” and said it was not her intention to file a police report.

According to Lang, investigations by the school and the school district cleared him of any wrongdoing, even though the girl’s friend came forward and made similar claims. City prosecutors declined to pursue the case, he says.

The Nov. 10 lawsuit says the remainder of his students and a teacher who had observed Lang on June 6 said that nothing untoward had happened, and that he was a “‘good teacher.'” Over 37 years teaching, Lang claims there were never any other allegations made against him.

Despite those findings, Lang says that he was forced to drive 30 miles every day to “teacher’s jail” an administrative office in Van Nuys, and then transferred to a similar office downtown L.A.

He says he was left in teachers jail for three years, from June 2011 to February 2012. When officials refused to return him to the classroom, he says he decided to retire.

But when he filed his application, the charges of misconduct resurfaced and the district tried to dismiss him and strip him of his teaching credentials, according to the 13-page lawsuit.

Though the district later dropped the investigation, Lang says that the district “created a stressful, unhealthy, and unsettling atmosphere that forced him to prematurely retire.”

He seeks punitive damages and costs and is represented by Sanford M. Passman of Los Angeles.

Obama Kicks Out Black Americans—Replaced With Illegal Aliens

In a few days Barack Obama is going to give five million illegal aliens, people who violated our laws, and continue to do so every day, amnesty and a work permit. That means the illegal aliens are going to compete with black Americans, young Americans, all Americans for available low pay job. Every real American, black or white, young or old, will become a victim of Obama when employers start hiring illegal aliens and not hiring Americans.

Barack has made a choice—he favors law breakers over honest Americans—and he chooses illegal aliens to honest Americans. Could the 2016 election show that blacks are finally fed up with the Democrat Party that threw them under the bus and become Republican voters, the Party that wants to protect them from Obama? The opening is there for Republicans.

Obama the listener

Dear Black People: The Democrats Are About To Break Up With You

Derek Hunter, Townhall, 11/16/14

For decades, the black vote in the United States almost uniformly has gone to Democrats.

How’s that working out? Black unemployment is twice the national average, poverty rates are higher than before Democrats offered “help,” and the education system fails a disproportionate number of black children. That’s what 50-plus years of blind voting loyalty to Democrats has earned. And, thanks to those same Democrats and the nation’s first black president, it’s about to get a lot worse.

President Obama is set to legalize upwards of 5 million illegal aliens, with the dream of granting amnesty and citizenship to 6 million to 25 million more, based on estimates and chain migration. These aren’t Ph.D.s with seed capital ready to start tech companies; they’re low- and no-skilled workers with limited English skills ready to take any job available, especially entry-level jobs.

After decades of embracing Democrats on a national and local level, the black community is disproportionately poor and, therefore, a higher percentage of the Americans likely to be competing for those entry-level jobs.

Just six years ago, this extra thumb in the eye to a loyal Democratic voting base would have been unthinkable, but Hispanics are the new dominant minority in American politics. In the future, the black vote is going to be less and less necessary to Democrats, which means they will be taken for granted even more than they have been. Loyalty in politics lasts only as long as the last election.

Democrats won’t immediately ignore black voters. It will be gradual. When loyalty is garnered so effortlessly, dismissing it out of hand is folly. But it will happen.

Democrats play identity politics – appealing to people based on race, gender, sexual orientation, income level—whatever you got works for them. If people are concerned that an “other” is out to harm them in some way, they’re extremely loyal to those who pretend to be their protector.

“Leaders” reinforce this lie because it empowers and enriches them personally. They see members of these groups as nothing more than a means to an end. Identity politics is not their genuine belief system; their agenda is. And if they have to stand on people’s necks and crush their spirit to obtain what they want, so be it.

Democrats, particularly progressive Democrats, have run every city with a large minority population, nearly uninterrupted, for generations and they’ve only declined. Detroit, Baltimore, Chicago … name any city with a large minority and/or poor population and you will find it run by progressives for the vast majority of the last 50 or more years.

With blind loyalty there’s no reason to actually address problems, so city councils in these areas have been busy banning plastic bags, raising taxes and fees, nickel-and-diming their population to death and making them more dependent on government in the name of “compassion.” It’s a snake eating its tail – progressive anti-poverty policies trap people in poverty, taxes are raised to pay for them, which drives out more businesses, which traps more people in poverty, which necessitates more anti-poverty programs.

This con is aided by the insistence that things are getting worse because of the “other.” In the case of progressive politics, the other is Republicans. Even though they have had zero power or influence in these areas, “leaders,” both political and social, swear it is so, and things will get worse if Republicans obtain power. “Benefits” will be cut. Fear is one hell of a motivator. The corrupt are re-elected, poverty worsens and blame is deflected.

That’s how you can end up with the first black president set to legalize the equivalent of the populations of Wyoming, Vermont, North Dakota, South Dakota Alaska, Delaware, and the District of Columbia combined even though black unemployment is more than 11 percent. No one thinks a competitive job market, particularly in low-skilled labor, will thrive if only it had more people competing for the limited number of jobs available. Big business wants this because if the prospective employee pool is larger, the pressure to raise wages to attract workers is non-existent.

In other words, it harms mostly poor and minority Americans and helps the wealthy – the exact opposite of what the Democratic Party professes to be about. And what political price will Democrats pay for this blatant backhand across the faces of those they claim to champion? None

In 2012, there were 17.8 million black voters and only 11.1 million Hispanic voters. If 5 million Hispanics are added to the population and eventually gain citizenship that, coupled with population growth, will mean Hispanic voters will outnumber black voters within 20 years if not sooner.

Democrats are attempting to position themselves to be the protector and champion of Hispanics, which means black voters become less valuable to the party. Although that will be good for the black community because it will remove the government weight on its shoulders, it will mean that all that loyalty was for nothing.

Considering what that loyalty has wrought on the black community, nothing is better than the “something” they’ve been getting.

 

Drought Brings Boom for Water Delivery Trucks

In Montecito, Santa Barbara County, the County government is trying to stop private water deliveries to the mansions of the quaint seaside community. Folks like Oprah Winfrey and Al Gore have ocean view homes in this very wealthy community that has run out of water. So, they get private water.

Now this is becoming a way of life in many areas of the State—water meant for farmers and families are set aside by government for birds and fish instead.

“Sometimes Keeney, with his water delivery company NRK Services, delivers drinking water as far as 50 miles away, but today his trip is shorter, across the street. “In this little neighborhood here, I have probably about 10 to 15 customers,” Keeney says.

Many of these wells have run dry and some homeowners are on waiting lists for new wells. “Some of the areas that are north of town —  their groundwater wells are inadequate for their needs,” says Lisa Cohen, assistant public utilities director for Clovis.

Will California close down due to water policy? We are in a Depression—it will get worse.

ManInWater

Drought Brings Boom for Water Delivery Trucks

Clovis water hauler Eugene Keeney delivers water all across Central California. He says the calls came in extra early this year. (Ezra David Romero/Valley Public Radio)

By Ezra David Romero, Valley Public Radio, 11/17/14

It’s the dead of autumn and there’s no sign that the California drought will ease up. When wells run dry the immediate answer is to dig a new one, but they’re expensive. In some parts of the state there’s been an uptick in water theft, but in Central California many homeowners are turning to a legal water solution that’s not dependent on city water lines.

Eugene Keeney hooks his 2,500-gallon water truck up to a fire hydrant outside Fresno, in Clovis. On the south side of Shepherd Avenue — in the city of Clovis — the grass is green and still moist, with the water from daily running sprinklers piped in from Clovis’ water system. But the north unincorporated side of Shepherd Avenue is in Fresno County, where residents chose not to connect to the city’s water system some years back. From this side of the road all you see are brown yards and dirt driveways.

Sometimes Keeney, with his water delivery company NRK Services, delivers drinking water as far as 50 miles away, but today his trip is shorter, across the street. “In this little neighborhood here, I have probably about 10 to 15 customers,” Keeney says.

Many of these wells have run dry and some homeowners are on waiting lists for new wells. “Some of the areas that are north of town —  their groundwater wells are inadequate for their needs,” says Lisa Cohen, assistant public utilities director for Clovis.

Keeney says the price to hire a well driller is costly, and even if a new well is drilled there is no guarantee water is in the aquifer. “One customer got one done in six months,” says Keeney. “I got another customer that’s been waiting seven months now, but they got to go like 1,000 feet deep. And if you want to pay extra, they’ll drill your well sooner.”

Keeney, who delivers water legally, says the calls for deliveries began two months early this year. Last year Clovis sold 33 million gallons of water to contractors like Keeney. He says the calls increase when farmers with crops near residential areas begin to irrigate. “It’s the straw effect, long straw and short straw,” Keeney says. “You know they’re 1,000 feet deep, homeowners are a couple hundred feet deep, so as soon as you start drawing, the water table drops and you lose your water.”

This is how the water delivery truck system works in Clovis. Keeney checks out a water meter from the city, he tells the clerk what hydrants he’ll draw from, he self-reports the gallons pumped over the phone, pays his bill and brings his meter in every six months for evaluation

It costs him only $3.50 or so to fill his 2,500-gallon truck. That’s the same rate people who live in Clovis pay. Keeney’s profit is about $147 per truckload.

Peter Hammar’s private household well was reduced to a dribble this summer when the well nearly dried up. Hammar has grown accustomed to preserving his water by taking short showers, reusing sink water and limiting the watering of his once-green yard. (Ezra David Romero/Valley Public Radio)

The Clovis Water Authority says that although this seems like a lot of city water used by truck haulers, it’s really less than 4 percent of the city’s yearly water production.

Twice a week Keeney delivers water to over 40 homes.

Peter Hammar, who lives on a 2½-acre parcel, is one of Keeney’s customers. He’s had to severely cut his household water consumption since his well was reduced to a dribble earlier this summer.“We noticed that the tank was filling slower and slower and slower,” Hammar says. “Finally, I had the well guy out, Scott Water. Scott’s guy said the well is essentially dead.”

Hammar’s yard is sparse. There’s not a weed in sight, just a giant palm and three other trees. He’s turned to living weed eaters to keep his plot tidy and drought-tolerant. “Come on you guys, wake up,” Hammar calls out to his goats.

Past the goats and behind a fence, Hammar’s well is pumping at about one cup per minute. “I have a large green 3,000-gallon tank that you see all over the unincorporated parts of this county and it’s quite empty. You can hear how resonant that is,” Hammar says. “The water is about at the last quarter.”

Because of the higher cost of buying water from Keeney and the uncertainty of building a second well, Hammar and his wife are using water very carefully.

“You take measures; you do the best you can,” Hammar says. “Putting dishpans in every sink so you collect your rinse water, and that becomes your wash water. You take 90-second showers and so on.”

Hammar is not alone in this struggle for water, and Eugene Keeney the water transporter admits to making a profit off this increasingly scarce natural resource. But then again, he says he has to make a living and pay off his truck.

He operates his company out of Clovis, but demand brings him all over Central California. “I’ve got calls from Sanger, I’ve got calls from Del Rey, I’ve got calls from Easton, Visalia, Oakhurst, Bass Lake,” Keeney says.

And, unfortunately, that is the fate of many other homeowners in the region, grappling for water when their neighbors have it miles or just feet away.

 

USPS Workers Rally Against Upcoming Closures, Cuts in Services

The good news is that the $8 billion Post Office deficit is going down to $5.5 billion this year. But there is no money to pay the debt and the Congress refuses. So, like a responsible business the Post Office is cutting employees and facilities—along with services.

That does not stop the economically illiterate unions to protest the cuts, demanding that nothing be cut. Yet, they do not say how to pay for it. But, there is a way to cut the debt, NOT cut services or employees. Yes, there is a way. All that needs to be done is cut the wages, pensions and benefits of the union workers—you can save them money by not forcing them to pay dues to a union that is killing their company, the U.S. Post Office. Maybe if the union declares a moratorium on dues jobs and services could be saved. What do you think?

post office

USPS Workers Rally Against Upcoming Closures, Cuts in Services

The USPS last week announced a $5.5 billion loss in the 2014 fiscal year despite a $569 million increase in operating revenue.

By Autumn Johnson/ Editor (Patch Staff), 11/16/14

United States Postal Service workers in the Bay Area are spoke out last week against looming cutbacks, processing center closings and cuts in service. Postal workers in San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose are held rallies today to protest the Jan. 5 changes.

Alan Menjivar, a postal worker for 31 years and a lead organizer for last week’s American Postal Workers Union rally in San Francisco, said the proposed cutbacks, the closure of 82 processing centers nationwide and the elimination of overnight delivery service will be devastating for workers and for customers who rely on getting their mail.

“By cutting back, we are going to lose 15,000 jobs,” Menjivar said. “We are sending a message to the (USPS) Board of Governors we are not happy with what’s going on.”

About 100 people were expected at the San Francisco rally, which is was held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Fox Plaza. An Oakland protest was also planned from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the processing and distribution center at 1675 Seventh St. Protestors rallied in San Jose from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at City Hall at 200 E. Santa Clara St.

Gus Ruiz, a spokesman for the USPS, said the proposed cutbacks are necessary if the agency wants to remain viable in the future.

“We are making the necessary decisions to stay in business,” Ruiz said. “We need to adapt to meet changing needs.” Ruiz said the USPS is positioning itself to better respond to the growth in parcel deliveries that come from areas like online shopping. He said the agency doesn’t need as many processing centers due to overall decreases in mail volume.

The postal workers union has argued the closing of the centers and lower service standards such as delayed delivery times for mail will create a domino effect that will degrade the service. The USPS last week announced a $5.5 billion loss in the 2014 fiscal year despite a $569 million increase in operating revenue. The net loss is largely due to the prefunding of the Postal Service Retiree Health Benefit Fund to the tune of $5.7 billion, according to a USPS release. The retiree health benefit prefunding is required by law. The USPS has seen an annual net loss for eight consecutive years.

“The legally mandated $5.7 billion requirement for the Postal Service Retiree Health Benefit Fund contributed to our continuing losses,” USPS Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President Joseph Corbett said in the release.

“Due to lack of sufficient cash, we were forced to default on the $5.7 billion prepayment, underscoring the need for legislative change.” The USPS Board of Governors also announced today the Feb. 1 retirement of Postmaster General and CEO Patrick Donahoe. Megan Brennan, the current chief operating officer will succeed Donahoe as the 74th Postmaster General and CEO.

 

 

No more set vacation or sick days for workers at LA Times

The LA Times loves Obama, kept quiet about John Gruber, refuses to demand answers about Benghazi, Fast and Furious, the IRS/NSA scandals and the White House apologies to the terrorists.

The LA Times has a liberal editorial page, propaganda on its front page, but is managed like a 1930’s company—anti-worker. They have taken away sick days and vacation time from workers—SERIOUSLY.

“Starting January 1, staffers will no longer be able to bank vacation — because they won’t automatically earn or be entitled to any vacation, sick days or floating holidays. To get any time off, a reporter or editor will have to go to a supervisor and make a case “subject to their professional judgment and to the performance expectations of their supervisor that apply to their job.” In one stroke, vacation time and sick days become a management tool to monitor and reward or punish performance — or to favor the yes men that plague the Times’ organization — and crucially, a way to get that expensive banked vacation off the books.”

In other words, they are cooking the books—will the SEC look at this, which government agency will stop this—maybe Obama will have Homeland Security take over the paper?

Looks like the Times is fast becoming a neighborhood throw away…can no longer be taken seriously.

losangelestimes

Huge change: No more set vacation or sick days at LA Times

By Kevin Roderick, LA Observed,   11/17/14

 

First, a little background. Dating to even before Tribune Company ownership of the LA Times, the cost cutters looked for a way to reduce the huge commitment on the books to pay for vacation days banked by employees. In newsrooms, like in many workplaces, staffers tend not to take a lot of vacation and thus the earned time off accrues. Well, the new ownership — Tribune Publishing — has found a way to trim this cost, while also giving managers a new hammer to hold over the heads of harried newsroom staffers. Starting January 1, staffers will no longer be able to bank vacation — because they won’t automatically earn or be entitled to any vacation, sick days or floating holidays. To get any time off, a reporter or editor will have to go to a supervisor and make a case “subject to their professional judgment and to the performance expectations of their supervisor that apply to their job.” In one stroke, vacation time and sick days become a management tool to monitor and reward or punish performance — or to favor the yes men that plague the Times’ organization — and crucially, a way to get that expensive banked vacation off the books. That’s because if a staffer succeeds in getting permission to take time off, he or she first has to use any banked time to pay for it. So the company’s financial burden gradually lessens.

In theory an employee will be able to take more time off than now, since there will be no stated limit. Instead of, say, three weeks a year plus sick days, you could ask for eight weeks next summer to go trekking in Nepal and a supervisor could say cheerfully, “Cool! Take nine!” But I haven’t talked to anyone around the Times who believes that’s in the cards here — and this was the hot subject all weekend wherever Timesmen and women gathered, I’m told. Times staffers and managers already feel more pressure than ever to cover the news for print, web and social media with a much smaller and less experienced staff. The first line in the company’s explanation of the objective behind the new Discretionary Time Off policy makes clear it’s about performance: “A performance-driven culture is one where results are rewarded.” The first bullet in a summary sent to all employees make it clearer: To ask for time off, “you will need to understand your supervisor’s expectations for your performance.” Nothing subtle there.

Vacation time has always been subject to a desk’s scheduling needs — keeping shifts covered is not what this is about. Any spinmeister who tries to say this is about allowing more time off or “flexibility” is lying to your face — if the big boss wants to give you a bonus of more paid time off now, he has ways to do so. Under the new blanket policy, to get any time off — say, to have dental surgery or for a sensitive family issue you don’t want to talk about in the office — a staffer will have to sell a supervisor who may have his own performance pressures from above. Or who may not like you. Or who wants to send you or his bosses a message. The memo from the company repeats often that adequate time off will be officially encouraged and expected of supervisors, but the memo also stresses over and over that approval will be subject to overall performance. In an environment where just about everybody already half-expects to be laid off at any time, it feels like all the incentive will be to not even ask for time off. The company memo says supervisors will be evaluated on their employees taking enough time off — but whose work ethic will decide what is enough? It suddenly becomes totally subjective, in a newsroom where some women and minorities already feel out of place and out of favor in a sea of white men. When the next wave of staff cuts sweeps the newsroom, I doubt anybody wants to be the person who took a lot of time off and whose last tweet was insufficiently goosed to attract eyeballs.

So I expect there will be much less time taken off by Times staffers, who already seem kind of burned out — which appears to be a main goal of the policy. But there is a huge other motivation for Tribune Publishing. Banked vacation days — which the Times has to pay out in cash when employees leave or retire, and many are more or less perpetually trying to leave — will gradually evaporate off the books. This was a major perk for many employees, who may have forgone vacation for years in order to bank time and get paid for it when they retire, quit or get fired. Now they will have to draw down that banked asset to take any time off, even a sick day — no one will earn any more discretionary vacation days to bank. That’s a pretty big financial and lifestyle hit for workers, including by the way many who have chosen to stick it out at the LAT while friends were leaving for more up-trending media outlets or just more stable employers. Now they all have more incentive to leave, seems to me. Good move, Tribune.

Romenesko posted on Friday the original Tribune Publishing memo which spun the new policy as good for employees. That went over so poorly that late Friday night Gwen Murakami, the senior VP for human resources, sent out an attempt to calm people down. Notice how carefully it is spun — and the audacious BS that the change is about giving employees “greater flexibility.”

 

Marin’s Housing Mix and the Affordability Myth–Land of the Rich

The people of Marin County are as liberal as they come—they even allow affordable housing in the County (of course that happened only when Washington threatened to sue them and place the housing without local input) and love the idea of illegal aliens (low wages for household help and landscaping is the real reason).

“What passes today for the middle class are lower-wage workers and first-time earners in their 20s and early 30s, many with good jobs and making more than their parents did who can ill afford the escalating costs of living in Marin and the Bay Area.

A significant proportion have college and even advanced degrees, but lack the earning power necessary to buy homes even at the lower end of Marin’s housing scale.

Along with these young adults are long-term residents, many on fixed incomes, who have little enthusiasm for community planning models that would further drain municipalities, which lack the taxing powers to pay for increased service demands and view all high-density developments with natural suspicion.”

Maybe if government got out of the way costs will go down and free choices will be prevalent? 

PileOfMoney

Marin’s Housing Mix and the Affordability Myth

Richard Rubin, Public CEO,   11/17/14

In 1975, my wife and I moved here into a modest yet comfortable two-bedroom home in picturesque Corte Madera with an unobstructed view of the bay tidelands and nearby San Quentin State Prison from our back deck that alarmed more than a few of our guests.

We were living the middle class dream.

When we traded it in a few years later to accommodate a growing family it fetched nearly twice the price. The house’s value has no doubt tripled in value several times since.

The views remain and the prison is still open for business.

What is disappearing, however, is the middle class as we knew it in much of Marin 40 years ago if defined by housing affordability, income levels and the evolving population mix.

Marin has undergone some dramatic changes and controversies in that span, some regarding the still unresolved issues surrounding housing developments which affected the outcome of the last supervisorial elections.

We have indeed created a bit of paradise, but the waters are roiling in otherwise mellow Marin and the admittance fee has become quite steep. It is unclear, if polled, what percentage of Marinites would support housing diversity in their communities. But my guess is they outnumber opponents.

However, the real issue is the nature of the choices, if they are meaningful, and if the parameters set forth decades ago when there actually were genuinely affordable options for the middle class are even relevant today.

There is no evidence of a hidden conspiracy to keep out newcomers anymore than there are avaricious developers massing at the gates ready to exploit vulnerable, cash-starved communities.

Marin’s housing woes are the result of the natural forces of supply and demand notwithstanding below-average population growth; an unparalleled abundance of beauty and hospitable climate; and a sudden influx of the newly-wealthy outbidding one another in a race to the real estate offices.

What passes today for the middle class are lower-wage workers and first-time earners in their 20s and early 30s, many with good jobs and making more than their parents did who can ill afford the escalating costs of living in Marin and the Bay Area.

A significant proportion have college and even advanced degrees, but lack the earning power necessary to buy homes even at the lower end of Marin’s housing scale.

Along with these young adults are long-term residents, many on fixed incomes, who have little enthusiasm for community planning models that would further drain municipalities, which lack the taxing powers to pay for increased service demands and view all high-density developments with natural suspicion.

We perpetuate the affordability myth by proposing solutions that are unrealistic, would make little dent in the housing deficit for those in the middle class who are becoming permanently priced out of the market, and only accentuates the growing gap between the very wealthy and those much less so.

Diverse communities are socially healthier and more sustainable over time. But let’s bring some honesty to the conversation. We need to devise formulas relevant to the changing population — not for one that no longer exists.

 

Vallejo in Danger of Bankruptcy Again–NO Pension Reform

The California Political News and Views noted that when the bankrupt city of Vallejo presented it’s plan to the bankruptcy court, it was noted the city would go bankrupt again. Why? There was no pension reform, none. They kept the system that put them in court—and with cutting firefighters, cops, road repair, parks and libraries, it has made no difference.

Now the people have no confidence in city government and are finally acting responsibly—they are refusing to tax themselves any more for the government to waste.

The rest of California needs to take notice of the citizens of Vallejo—to force real reforms you need to stop the money going to a corrupt and wasteful government. The better way is to elect officials that are responsible to the citizens not the unions or other special interests.

“Facing a weakened police force and a failed experiment in citizen-driven budgeting, Vallejo’s structural challenges have persisted. In the wake of the pension crisis that helped plunge the city into bankruptcy, residents have become resistant to spending more money.

Hungry for cash, the City Council has turned its attention to a raft of proposals for big-ticket projects like large new casinos. Meanwhile, law enforcement has attempted to staff up even while suing the city for modifying proposed pension benefits during its bankruptcy proceedings.”

calpers

Vallejo’s struggles capture CA city perils

By James Poulos, Calwatchdog,   11/14/14

After three years spent in bankruptcy, 2008-11, running the city of Vallejo is still a struggle.

Facing a weakened police force and a failed experiment in citizen-driven budgeting, Vallejo’s structural challenges have persisted. In the wake of the pension crisis that helped plunge the city into bankruptcy, residents have become resistant to spending more money.

Hungry for cash, the City Council has turned its attention to a raft of proposals for big-ticket projects like large new casinos. Meanwhile, law enforcement has attempted to staff up even while suing the city for modifying proposed pension benefits during its bankruptcy proceedings.

All told, this portrait of a precarious, ailing city has cast doubt even on bankruptcy as a reliable fix for the budgetary woes imposed by public pensions — a challenge still unmet across California.

Spending confusion

Vallejo residents have recently encountered several unexpected developments in city budgeting. In a bid to avoid a second bankruptcy, they narrowly voted in a 1 percentage-point increase in the city sales tax in 2011. As CityLab reported, however, concerns mounted that the increased revenues would simply be funneled back into Vallejo’s broken budgetary system.

As a result, Councilwoman Marti Brown advanced a radical notion. Cooked up during Brazil’s 2005 World Social Forum, so-called “participatory budgeting” was designed to give residents a direct say in how budgets were allocated. Over strenuous objections, Brown worked with the Participatory Budgeting Project to squeak their approach through the Vallejo City Council with a 4-3 vote.

That’s when things took an unpredictable turn. As CityLab recounted, residents’ initial skepticism turned to curiosity, and soon citizens had produced some 800 potential budget items. By May 2013, the shortlist of expenditures was ready for a vote. And once it came time to allocate funds for the winners, city council meetings became a hotbed of civic engagement. “For the first time with participatory budgeting, you had a packed room, rooting for the budget,” city manager Dan Keen told CityLab. “They had a stake in the budget that they had imparted.”

The elation, however, was short-lived. The program’s operating costs, reaching $300,000 a year, have been tough for Vallejo to swallow at a time when basic services like law enforcement require more funds. The chunk of Vallejo’s money allocated for participatory budget spending has been cut by two-thirds, down to $1 million. Although increased citizen participation brought a brief wave of city pride, it failed to surmount Vallejo’s structural challenges.

Police drama

Vallejo’s new police chief, Andrew Bidou, came into office with a clear mission: grow. “At its lowest staffing point, the Vallejo Police Department had seen as few as 77 sworn officers on duty, for a city of about 120,000 residents,” the Times-Herald reported. “Bidou said he’s looking to get 110 officers on duty and that the department is on track to meet that number by the end of the year” — up from the current tally of 101.

Though many in Vallejo have strongly supported a return to pre-bankruptcy levels of policing, law enforcement was part of the spending problem that drove Vallejo toward insolvency. Vallejo police refused to negotiate away from their unaffordable pension agreements with the city.

As a result, Vallejo declared an impasse in contract negotiations and unilaterally included police in its $300-a-month cap on medical benefits for retired public employees. That led to a lawsuit brought by police. After a year of legal wrangling, a hearing date has been set for December.

Although the case has yet to progress, the expenses faced by the city could, once again, threaten bankruptcy.

A search for funding

Amid the uncertainty, Vallejo has lurched from budget proposal to budget proposal.

Measure E, a $239 million bond that would have renovated sites throughout the local school district, won 59 percent of the vote on Election Day, but fell short of the two-thirds of votes necessary to make it law. Now the City Council has been confronted with a series of offers for massive casino construction.

In partnership with Native American tribes, not all of which possess reservations, developers have promised thousands of jobs and millions in revenue.

Opponents, however, continued to worry that embracing casinos as a way out of Vallejo’s challenges would be more of a gamble than ever.

It’s a cautionary tale for Stockton and San Bernardino, both of which are working through bankruptcies — and for all California cities.