Court Could Give Control of All Groundwater to the State

San Luis Obispo County has put a moratorium on new uses for groundwater. If you expand a home, hotel or farm, the water used must come from a current user. Democrat Senator Pavley has a bill to give the management of all the groundwater in the State to Sacramento. In textbooks that is called fascism?you still have private ownership?but government controls the use of the product or service.

Now a judge may have superseded the legislature and ruled that government MUST regulate groundwater, ?to protect a river?. That is the end of private farming since farmers would have no incentive to maintain, expand or build new wells, since government will control the use of the water. If this decision is upheld, California will quickly see the end of all farms, new building (homes and commercial). Only government desired and approved plans will be allowed?since it will own all the water in the State.

?Attorneys on both sides say it’s the first time a California court has ruled the “public trust doctrine” applies to groundwater. The doctrine says the State of California holds all waterways for the benefit of the people.

The lawsuit claimed groundwater pumping in the Scott River Basin is partly responsible for decreased river flows – limiting the public’s use of the river and harming fish habitat.?

ManInWater

 

Regulation Judge Makes Precedent-Setting Sacramento Ruling On Groundwater

Ed Joyce, capradio, 7/16/14

A Sacramento Superior Court judge issued a ruling Tuesday requiring regulation of groundwater pumping to protect a river in Siskiyou County.

Attorneys on both sides say it’s the first time a California court has ruled the “public trust doctrine” applies to groundwater. The doctrine says the State of California holds all waterways for the benefit of the people.

The lawsuit claimed groundwater pumping in the Scott River Basin is partly responsible for decreased river flows – limiting the public’s use of the river and harming fish habitat.

Jim Wheaton with the Environmental Law Foundation was lead attorney for the plaintiffs. He said the ruling is “a monumental decision.”

“Because California is famously the only western state that has no regulation of groundwater pumping at all. And so this decision for the first time is going to say that well at least where that groundwater pumping affects surface waters, you’ve got to regulate it and control it so you don’t do harm,? said Wheaton.

The lawsuit named the California State Water Resources Board and Siskiyou County.

Attorney Rod Walston represents Siskiyou County. He said under current state policy, groundwater regulation is a local responsibility.

Walston said the ruling by Superior Court Judge Allen Sumner fundamentally changes that system.

“By requiring, not allowing or permitting, but rather requiring counties to regulate groundwater by application of public trust principle,? said Walston.? He said the trial court ruling will likely be appealed and the final decision may be made by the California Supreme Court.

The ruling comes as California is in the third year of a drought which has brought calls for an organized groundwater management system.

July 15 Siskiyou County Groundwater Ruling

 

Who Gives a Frack? Every Californian and Those Wanting a Job

North Dakota cannot find enough workers and now has billions in surplus?this for a State that has a population smaller than that of Ventura County. Texas has a boom. In the past ten years, one third of all the jobs created in the nation were created in Texas. Gov. Perry has given his State a real surplus. California companies are flocking to the Lone Star State?and fleeing our State.

After over one hundred years of fracking in California, without any problems or incidents, the Democrats have decided to hold hearings for the purpose of killing off the one industry that can save the economy of California?almost overnight. Democrats once again prove they prefer poverty and welfare to freedom, free market and success.

?DOGGR, which has collected more than 150,000 SB 4?related comments from California residents since November, released a revised version of the bill in June based on input from previous public workshops and conversations from other agencies. Changes include ensuring that wells be tested before and after earthquakes and undergo more rigorous testing following earthquakes stronger than a 2.0 magnitude; that an ?acid volume threshold? be determined to weed out routine well cleanings from well-stimulation treatments; that a searchable index be created for people to see the pressurization and acidization history of every individual well; and that the type of water and how much water used in a drilling session be disclosed. But many environmental groups have since contended that the bill still contains too many?loopholes.?

Photo courtesy of Lyndi&Jason, flickr

Photo courtesy of Lyndi&Jason, flickr

 

Who Gives a?Frack?

State Regulators Hear Arguments For, Against Drilling?Law

By Lyz Hoffman, Santa Barbara Independent, 7/17/14

The dozen or so people who aired their grievances before the state?s oil and gas oversight agency on Tuesday all agreed on one thing: Senate Bill 4, the law that will place new regulations on hydraulic fracturing and acidizing operations across California in January, has reached its tipping point. What they didn?t agree on was which direction the bill should go. Instead, environmental activists and oil-industry officials took turns before the microphone, imploring the Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) to not allow the other side to have too much of a hand in the law?s final draft, which the environmentalists argued isn?t tough enough and the industry said could soon go too?far.

The first of five three-hour public meetings DOGGR will hold on SB 4 across the state, Tuesday?s session?????hosted in the Board of Supervisors? Santa Maria hearing room?????attracted only about 50 attendees and petered out after about an hour. The Water Guardians?????an activist group behind Measure P, the November ballot measure that would ban all new hydraulic fracturing (known as fracking), acidizing, and cyclic-steam operations in Santa Barbara County?????held signs outside the building prior to the meeting?s?start.

DOGGR, which has collected more than 150,000 SB 4?related comments from California residents since November, released a revised version of the bill in June based on input from previous public workshops and conversations from other agencies. Changes include ensuring that wells be tested before and after earthquakes and undergo more rigorous testing following earthquakes stronger than a 2.0 magnitude; that an ?acid volume threshold? be determined to weed out routine well cleanings from well-stimulation treatments; that a searchable index be created for people to see the pressurization and acidization history of every individual well; and that the type of water and how much water used in a drilling session be disclosed. But many environmental groups have since contended that the bill still contains too many?loopholes.

Katie Davis, one of the most prominent Water Guardians, shared her thoughts with the DOGGR representatives?????who didn?t respond to any of the comments but took notes for the final version of the bill?????after a series of area oil-industry officials said they support SB 4 but asked that it not be made tougher. That the industry is supporting the law, Davis said, ?may be an indication that your regulation is insufficient.? Davis suggested that DOGGR continue studying fracking?????she noted the several communities across the state that have recently banned the practice?????and consider adding to the bill?s watch list the practice of cyclic steaming, which has grown increasingly popular in Santa Barbara County. Cyclic steaming?????the most-proposed technique on the county?s radar?????involves injecting steam into the ground to thin the oil, while fracking and acidizing involve breaking and dissolving the rock formations,?respectively.

Sticking to cyclic steaming, Davis noted the seeps suffered at Pacific Coast Energy Company?s Orcutt Oil Field operations, a long-lasting spill in Canada, and the method?s overall four-times-greater contribution of greenhouse-gas emissions compared to conventional drilling. With SB 4, Davis said, DOGGR should look to ?privilege human health, preservation of our precious water supplies, and our obligation to reduce emissions to protect the future livability of our planet? over oil interests. ?That would be real regulation,? she?said.

But the industry officials who spoke before and after Davis stressed that California?????and Santa Barbara County in particular, which enacted stringent fracking rules in 2011?????is already home to some of the toughest regulations in the country. Strengthening SB 4 in the eyes of environmentalists?????by declaring moratoriums on certain practices, for instance?????many industry reps argued, would mean weakening an economy-fueling industry. ?That?s not what SB 4 spells out. SB 4 was a consensus bill, and we are urging you to implement that fairly,? said Brendan Huffman of the Coastal Energy Alliance. Joe Armendariz, of the Santa Barbara County Taxpayers Association, said that ?environmentalists should be celebrating their success? with what SB 4 has spelled out thus far, but he cautioned DOGGR against doing anything that would ?undermine? the bill?s regulatory-only?aims.

The state has until January to finalize the bill?s language, and DOGGR will hold four more public meetings up and down the state (Long Beach, Sacramento, Salinas, and Bakersfield) in the next couple of weeks. Legal and fiscal analyses of Measure P will come this?summer.

 

What Recovery? CA Sales Tax Revenues Down Three Months?Housing Sales Tank

In April, California sales tax collections were down 2.1%, in May they were down 3.2% and in June they were down over 11%. That shows the lack of confidence in the economy?saving, paying off debt instead of spending. California real unemployment (U-6 of the Bureau of Labor Statistics) in June was 16.7%. California ended the last fiscal year with a $1.9 billion ?surplus? (you get that by forgetting the $340 billion debt and hundreds of billions in unfunded pension plan liabilities). California is in a Depression and our confused Guv Brown cannot even understand the finances.

Now the housing market is tanking as well. Another sign the California economy is going south (while those in the south are invading us in the north).

?In June, non-distressed property sales increased 2.8 percent while sales of distressed properties fell 9.1 percent.

?June marks the sixth consecutive month that sales have been lower on a year-over-year basis,? says Madeline Schnapp, director of economic research for PropertyRadar. ?The lack of distressed property inventory and rapid increase in median prices has definitely taken a toll on demand.?

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California home sales tanking

Central Valley Business Times, 7/16/14

?? Rapid price increases fading into memory

?? ?Sixth consecutive month that sales have been lower on a year-over-year basis?
California single-family home and condominium sales gained 0.6 percent in June but were down 12.6 percent from a year earlier, according to a report Tuesday evening from real estate information company PropertyRadar Inc. of Truckee.

Year-to-date sales for the first six months of the year are the lowest since 2008, it says.

In June, non-distressed property sales increased 2.8 percent while sales of distressed properties fell 9.1 percent.

?June marks the sixth consecutive month that sales have been lower on a year-over-year basis,? says Madeline Schnapp, director of economic research for PropertyRadar. ?The lack of distressed property inventory and rapid increase in median prices has definitely taken a toll on demand.?

In June, the median price of a California home reached its highest level since December 2007, up $5,000, or 1.3 percent, to $390,000 from $385,000 in May. On a year-ago basis, median home prices gained 10.0 percent.

Driving the month-over-month price increase in June was the 2.8 percent increase in the sales volume of higher priced non-distressed properties, which accounted for nearly 83 percent of total sales, says PropertyRadar.

The median price of non-distressed homes was up only 0.8 percent over last year, indicating the 10.0 percent overall gain was primarily due to a shift from distressed to non-distressed sales, it says. The deceleration in price increases is even more apparent at the county level. In March, double-digit price increases occurred in 16 of the 26 largest California counties but by June that number had fallen to eight.

?The nearly uninterrupted double-digit monthly increases in median home prices from August 2012 through March 2014 has slowed considerably,? says Ms. Schnapp. ?That?s good news for buyers who were finding themselves rapidly priced out of the market.?

Other highlights of the report include:

? Cash sales remained elevated in June, accounting for 22.2 percent of total sales. Despite the historically high levels of cash sales, cash sales have been steadily declining, falling 31.6 percent, since reaching an interim peak in May 2013.

? Flip sales fell 6.6 percent for the month and were down 30.0 percent for the year and are down 40.4 percent from the October 2012 peak.

? Negative equity remains elevated in California and continues to impart negative headwinds to the real estate market. In June, nearly 1.1 million California homeowners, or 12.9 percent remain underwater.

? Foreclosure starts, or Notices of Default (NODs), fell 2.0 percent between May and June, extending a longer-term downward trend. Foreclosure sales fell 5.2 percent for the month and are down 12.6 percent for the year. The June decline decelerated compared to May.

?Affordability and tight credit have slowed or stopped price increases despite lack of inventory,? says Ms. Schnapp. ?Going forward, we expect low sales volumes and flat prices until increased supply forces prices lower or looser credit makes current prices more affordable.?

Surgery Center of Oklahoma: Proving Free Market Medicine Works

The Free Market works for the people. Government works for government and the special interests. Free market solution are based on individual needs?government plans are based on the masses, never the needs of the individual. Obama thinks forcing doctors, hospitals and patients into a net with the noose tightened by government is best for all. The Free market says that each person has different needs and tries to find a solution for the person, not society.

In health care there is a prime example of lower cost and higher quality by using the free market and it is found in Oklahoma.

  • ?The national average cost of a mastectomy is between $9,000 and $50,000. But SCO offers a mastectomy for $5,005, saving consumers between $3,995 and $44,995.

  • A spinal fusion costs an average of $50,000 to $150,000. But at SCO, the procedure costs just $16,500.

  • Similarly, a hip replacement runs $40,000 at most hospitals. At SCO, the procedure costs $19,400.?

Which do you want, the free market or Barack Obama as your doctor.

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Surgery Center of Oklahoma: Proving Free Market Medicine Works

National Center for Policy Analysis, 7/16/14

The New American recently profiled the Surgery Center of Oklahoma (SCO), a health care facility that has challenged and debunked the claim that free markets and health care do not mix. Founded 17 years ago by two anesthesiologists, Keith Smith and Steven Lantier, the facility does something remarkable in today’s health care market: it provides transparent, up-front, all-inclusive pricing for its services.

SCO’s founders were frustrated by the fact that pricing and quality in the American health care system were not the product of free competition but the product of deals between hospitals and insurance companies. Five years ago, SCO decided to post their prices online — a stark illustration of just how much most consumers overpay in health care costs:

  • The national average cost of a mastectomy is between $9,000 and $50,000. But SCO offers a mastectomy for $5,005, saving consumers between $3,995 and $44,995.
  • A spinal fusion costs an average of $50,000 to $150,000. But at SCO, the procedure costs just $16,500.
  • Similarly, a hip replacement runs $40,000 at most hospitals. At SCO, the procedure costs $19,400.

Dr. Smith said of the pricing practice, “What we’re doing here should not be that remarkable. What we’re doing is what every other industry in the United States does that operates fairly. We say, ‘Here’s what we do and here’s how much it is.’ We identify our costs, build in a marginal profit, and then display those prices. That’s how every other industry works, and it promotes healthy competition and keeps quality high and prices low.”

Americans in need of medical care have been flocking to SCO in Oklahoma City for a better deal. Some businesses are even paying the entirety of their employees’ hospitals bills when their employees go to SCO, because the facility saves them so much money. When Oklahoma County put SCO services on its public employee health plan, the county saved hundreds of thousands of dollars in the first month alone.

On top of this, SCO boasts a near-zero infection rate — a rate which ranges between 4 percent and 10 percent at other hospitals across the United States.

Dr. Smith told the New American that he thinks that the high prices of Obamacare may inadvertently create a new consumer market that will transform the American health care system back to an affordable system “where insurance wasn’t even necessary for the most part.”

Source: William F. Jasper, “Healthcare’s Free Market Alternative,” New American, June 24, 2014.

 

Report: They?re tracking your personal health data ? and you don?t know it

Every time you visit a web site, a ?big data? collection firm is gathering your information. Buy something on the Internet, ask for information on a subject through Google, every web site visited?is all collected, sifted through and you get profiled by a data company. Then that information is sold to marketing firms, government agencies get it?and not through the NSA, but through legitimate sources. Go to a web site and ask about diabetes?that goes on your data record. Ask about cancer, which is now on your record.

No need for a data company to steal personal information, we give it away every day?and others make money from selling it!

?Just using cellphones, credit cards, going to certain websites and even using store coupons clipped from the paper leaves trails of data that are often harnessed by third parties, sometimes without consumers’ knowledge. These pieces-n-parts of data are scooped up by firms specializing in parsing ?big data? for their clients.?

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Report: They?re tracking your personal health data ? and you don?t know it

Central Valley Business Times, 7/16/14

?? People leave wide open trails of data ? without knowing it

?? ?The potential to paint a detailed health profile of individuals?
Americans are letting third parties unknown to them get a thorough picture of their health, thanks to the mining of ?big data,? says a report from the California Healthcare Foundation.

Just using cellphones, credit cards, going to certain websites and even using store coupons clipped from the paper leaves trails of data that are often harnessed by third parties, sometimes without consumers’ knowledge. These pieces-n-parts of data are scooped up by firms specializing in parsing ?big data? for their clients.

?Aggregated and analyzed, these data flows, which occur with and without our knowledge, have the potential to paint a detailed health profile of individuals, as well as to describe whole communities based on location, health conditions, or other factors,? the foundation says.

Most people are unaware that they are leaving their personal data behind, says the foundation, and that some of this information is not protected by HIPAA ? the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 ? which is supposed to protect health information from prying eyes.

Despite HIPAA, data brokers are able to build health profiles of individuals to sell to marketers just be gluing together information outside of the law?s shield.

Don?t like it, assuming you could find out about it? Too bad. Consumers lack recourse to obtain or correct their information, says the foundation.

But it?s not all skulking about by evil-doers, the report says. There are positives to this data mining.

Examples:

? It can make clinical trials faster and more effective

? It can help anticipate epidemics

? It can help manage chronic diseases such as asthma

? It can help individuals focus on their own health goals/

But there are growing concerns, the report says. For example, computers will make decisions on mathematical models that are kept from the public.

?We are outsourcing decisions to a virtual entity which has none of our humanist notions or a sense of fair play,? the report quotes Fred Trotter, a health technology expert with the research firm O?Reilly Media Inc. of Sebastopol.

 

L.A. Mayor Garcetti Wants Obama Imported Gang Members Brought to Los Angeles

Eric Garcetti has decided to bring thousands of illegal aliens to Los Angeles, though the town might already have more than 500,000. Then he wants these to be kids under 16. That means our crowded government schools will be more crowded and the school district will demand more bonds, to build more schools for these kids imported by the President.

The good news is that many of them will have ?jobs? when they get here. Not legal ones (after all they are illegally here.) No, local gangs and transnational gangs will have new recruits brought into the country by the President and into the city by its Mayor. Oh, and all the relocation costs paid for by the American taxpayers.

?The transnational gang phenomenon dates back decades, to the initial mass migration refugees fleeing civil war in El Salvador and Guatemala. Central Americans began arriving in the U.S. in large numbers in the 1980s, when both countries were suffering through the height of conflict. Many settled in Los Angeles, especially a large population of Salvadorans, who moved into working-class urban neighborhoods like Pico-Union and Koreatown.?

Photo courtesy of Eric Garcetti, Flickr.

Photo courtesy of Eric Garcetti, Flickr.

 

Transnational gangs: The Central American migrant crisis’ LA connection

Leslie Berestein Rojas, KPCC, 7/16/14?

As children, teens and families continue to arrive at the U.S.-Mexico border from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, many of these migrants and their advocates have cited gang and drug related violence as one of the main factors driving them north.

But much of that gang violence isn’t rooted in Central America. It’s rooted in the United States, particularly in Los Angeles. It’s part of a long and complicated history between the U.S. and Central America, in which the deportation policies of recent decades figure prominently.

“Gang violence has increased steadily over the last decade or two, and one factor that has contributed to it is that the U.S. has deported a lot of convicted criminals back to Central America,” said Marc Rosenblum, deputy director of the U.S. immigration program for the Migration Policy Institute in Washington. “All three of the countries in the northern triangle are pretty weak states, and so that?s given criminal organizations an opportunity to sort of establish themselves and flourish.”

The transnational gang phenomenon dates back decades, to the initial mass migration refugees fleeing civil war in El Salvador and Guatemala. Central Americans began arriving in the U.S. in large numbers in the 1980s, when both countries were suffering through the height of conflict. Many settled in Los Angeles, especially a large population of Salvadorans, who moved into working-class urban neighborhoods like Pico-Union and Koreatown.

There was already heavy gang presence in Los Angeles, predominantly Mexican-American and African-American gangs. Some Central American youths began drawing together for protection, the kernel of what eventually became Mara Salvatrucha, an L.A. gang that has by now become now a powerful international criminal organization. Others joined the rival 18th Street gang, an offshoot of an established gang that accepted Central American youths.

At the same time, U.S. immigration laws were growing tougher in relation to immigrants who committed crimes, especially those with gang ties. From the late 1980s on, a series of laws made it easier to deport immigrants with criminal records.

But one particular 1996 law sharply stepped up criminal deportations to Central America. The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act, or?IRAIRA,?broadly expanded the list of crimes for which people could be deported, even if these offenses were committed in the past. It also took away protection for legal residents, meaning even people who were in the U.S. legally and had spent most of their lives here could be removed if they committed a deportable offense.

It became, as former Mara Salvatrucha gang member Alex Sanchez recalls, like “a witch hunt.”

“What this created was a witch hunt of people that had been convicted of a crime 10 years prior, 20 years prior,” said Sanchez, who now directs Homies Unidos, an organization that focuses on gang prevention and helping ex-gang members adjust to society. “That created masses of individuals that were detained, persecuted and picked up at their homes and then processed for deportation.”

Between the early 1990s and the late 1990s, IRAIRA essentially doubled the number of criminal deportees being flown back to Central America, Rosenblum said.

And when these young men arrived, there was no infrastructure to help them adjust. Many did not speak Spanish well, if at all; some no longer had immediate relatives still living in the country.

Sanchez, who came to the U.S. with his parents during the war when he was 7, was deported when he was 22 in 1994, a couple of years before IRAIRA took effect.

“I was one of those individuals that … ended up in El Salvador in an airport with only a piece of paper and an address scribbled,” Sanchez recalled. “I didn’t know which way to go. Luckily for me, I had a home that belonged to my grandfather, where I went to. Many other individuals didn’t have the same luck. Many ended up homeless.”

Some tried to seek shelter at churches, he said. Others tried to seek out relatives but were rejected for their gang tattoos or? for “the stigma that was created in El Salvador and in Central America in general around tattooed individuals, who were considered the worst of the worst,” Sanchez said.

But there was one receptive audience: Disenfranchised local kids. Sanchez says there were a few local gangs in El Salvador before deportees from the U.S. began arriving, but that the mass deportations created a monster.

“Many of these people that were in El Salvador had tattoos that belonged to gang members here in Los Angeles,” he said. “That became really attractive to many youngsters that were homeless themselves, that were street children. I witnessed some of these children transition from being a street individual, that nobody gave a damn, to an individual that just by putting a tattoo [on] their face, on their body, where they were seen, now demanded respect and created this sense of fear among the people that used to treat them bad before.”

Sanchez returned to the U.S. and eventually won the right to stay, thanks to his work with former gang members. He says Homies Unidos has tried to work with criminal deportees in El Salvador, but anti-gang vigilantes and death squads have made this kind of work dangerous.

The danger that Central American migrants say they’re fleeing is tied not just to gang violence, but also to a related rise in drug trafficking through the region, said MPI’s Rosenblum. As this has occurred, gang presence has spread more heavily throughout Guatemala and Honduras, where traffickers have been operating. Organized crime has become hard to escape, he said, even for average citizens.

“There are parts of all three of these countries, particularly in El Salvador and Honduras, where there is very little state presence,” Rosenblum said. “So that the gangs are present in schools; they are present in communities. A lot of their business model involves extortion and demanding protection, either protection payments from families or demanding that young adults and kids become involved as foot soldiers or to transport drugs, or to be lookouts, or to become part of the gang’s criminal activity.”

While state presence is heavier in some areas, “there are pockets, there are communities, within all three of these countries where criminal organizations have a stronger presence than the state and have a stronger presence than the police,” Rosenblum said.

And as he puts it, people who don’t want to live with this find themselves in a difficult situation, so they’re leaving ? or sending their kids north.

 

New Democrat LA County Supervisor: Illegally Raised Money as Obama Secretary of Labor

Want to find a crook, quickly? Find a current or former member of the Obama Administration. Either that are illegally spying on citizens, covering up corruption, selling guns to drug cartels, importing illegal aliens or transferring tax dollars to their solar energy buddies. Now we have the proof that a Cabinet Secretary, newly elected Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis, used her Secretary of Labor office as a boiler room, making calls to raise money for the re-election of Barack Obama. The FBI is now investigating.

Just as interesting, the people in her district KNEW she violated the law and still elected her! What does this say about the voters? To me it means they expect a government official to be corrupt. The good news is the FBI is investigating. The bad news is that the FBI reports to Eric Holder, a man who authorized the selling of guns to the Mexican drug cartels?expect an indictment?

??Hi?this is Hilda Solis calling, um, just calling you off-the-record here?Wanted to ask you if you could, um, help us get folks organized to come to a fundraiser that we?re doing for Organizing for America for Obama campaign on Friday at La Fonda at 6 P.M.,? she says in the voicemail obtained by the committee.?

corruption steal theft

 

Recordings Reveal Former Labor Secretary Violated Hatch Act

Solicited donations for President Obama?s reelection campaign

BY: Bill McMorris, Washington Free Beacon, 7/16/14
A former top Obama appointee solicited donations for the president?s reelection campaign on the job, according to audio recordings released by the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday.

Former Labor Secretary Hilda Solis allegedly violated the Hatch Act, which prohibits political activity on government time, when she invited an unnamed person to a fundraiser for President Obama?s super PAC.

?Hi?this is Hilda Solis calling, um, just calling you off-the-record here?Wanted to ask you if you could, um, help us get folks organized to come to a fundraiser that we?re doing for Organizing for America for Obama campaign on Friday at La Fonda at 6 P.M.,? she says in the voicemail obtained by the committee.

Solis served as the guest of honor at the fundraiser. Although political appointees are allowed to privately participate in fundraisers, they are prohibited from conducting such business on company time. The committee says that the call came from Solis? government phone. On the call, she asks the person to recruit other attendees for the fundraiser.

?There are a lot of folks that we know that are coming but wanted to ask you if you might help contribute or get other folks to help out,? she says in the recording. ?It?s for a Friday event at La Fonda [inaudible] we?re just trying to raise money to show that we have support.?

Solis has denied that she violated any federal law in connection to the fundraiser.

?Solis knows that the Hatch Act prohibits federal employees from personally soliciting campaign donations. She believes that her participation in the (fundraiser) was proper and does not believe that she has done anything illegal or improper,? she said in a statement released in February.

The committee released the recordings as part of a larger investigation of political activity in the Obama administration during the 2012 campaign. Director of the White House Office of Political Strategy and Outreach David Simas failed to comply with a congressional subpoena to appear before the committee.

Solis is just the latest federal employee to become embroiled in Hatch Act violations. Last week the IRS suspended a worker for exhorting callers to vote for Obama in 2012.

Solis was elected to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors in June, despite the FBI inquiry and committee investigation into her activities. Her transition team did not respond to request for comment.

Patients With Low-Cost Insurance Struggle To Find Specialists

You never get what you think you pay for when you deal with government. Many people were forced, under threat of being fined to buy worthless health care plans through the government. They were told the names of doctors and hospitals that were in the network?everybody knew those were and are phony lists. Just because the government is selling a program doesn?t mean it is not a scam.

Now the poor and middle class that believes in ObamaCare realize the promise is as good as getting good wishes from a mall Santa Claus at Christmas time?looks good but no substance.

?Inside the clinic, internist Charu Sawhney sees patients from many countries and circumstances. She’s a big believer in the Affordable Care Act since most of her patients have been uninsured. She actively pushed many of them to sign up for the new plans.

But now she’s seeing something she didn’t expect. When patients need treatment unavailable at the clinic, it’s been hard to find specialists and hospitals that accept the insurance.?

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Patients With Low-Cost Insurance Struggle To Find Specialists

By Carrie Feibel, KCBX, 7/16/14

The Hope Clinic in southwest Houston is in the very heart of Asia Town, a part of the city where bland strip malls hide culinary treasures ? Vietnamese pho, Malaysian noodles, Sichuan rabbit and bubble tea.

Inside the clinic, internist Charu Sawhney sees patients from many countries and circumstances. She’s a big believer in the Affordable Care Act since most of her patients have been uninsured. She actively pushed many of them to sign up for the new plans.

But now she’s seeing something she didn’t expect. When patients need treatment unavailable at the clinic, it’s been hard to find specialists and hospitals that accept the insurance.

“I was so consumed with just getting people to sign up,” she says, “I didn’t take the next step to say ‘Oh, by the way, when you sign up, make sure you sign up for the right plan.’ ”

Understandably, a lot of her patients picked lower-cost plans, she says, “and we’re running into problems with coverage in the same way we were when they were uninsured.”

One of her patients is a Chinese immigrant to Houston who purchased a Blue Cross Blue Shield HMO silver plan. Soon after, he was diagnosed with stomach cancer. Sawhney found an oncologist to coordinate his treatment, but she and the oncologist ran into trouble trying to schedule chemotherapy and radiation. “The process just isn’t as easy as we thought it would be,” she says.

That’s because the two largest hospital chains in Houston, Houston Methodist and Memorial Hermann, are not in that plan’s network. Neither is Houston’s premier cancer hospital, MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Those are the hospitals that the patient’s oncologist, Paul Zhang, calls on the most. He says coordinating surgery or radiation usually isn’t a problem, because most of his patients have insurance plans with wide networks.

“I could not find a surgeon,” says Zhang. Eventually Zhang found one who took the insurance, though they’d never worked together. After the surgery, Zhang tried to set up the patient’s chemotherapy and radiation at Houston Methodist. But that hospital wasn’t taking the plan.

Zhang says he cannot refer patients with these narrow plans to the specialists he thinks are best, and that’s a problem if the cancer is particularly complicated.

“You have limited options. So you’re like a second-class citizen, you know. That’s my feeling, you have this insurance and you cannot see certain doctors,” he says.

Sawhney was less surprised by the barriers. Medicaid patients have similar problems finding doctors, and her uninsured patients have always struggled to find care. But she thought the Affordable Care Act would be an improvement.

Her patient with stomach cancer thought so too. He asked not to be identified because he has not shared his diagnosis with close family members.

“The (insurance) agent said that a lot of doctors will accept that insurance but when I got sick I found out nobody wants that kind of insurance.”

The biggest irony, she added, is that even Harris Health, the county-wide public hospital system in Houston, doesn’t take all the new marketplace plans. Yet Sawhney can still send uninsured patients there for cancer treatment. As people learn that some doors are closed, she worries people will decide insurance isn’t worth the money.

“I don’t want patients to get discouraged,” she says. “I don’t want patients when they have a choice again to say, ‘You know what? I’m just not going to sign up because it doesn’t matter if I have insurance or I don’t have insurance, I still have problems getting health care.’ ”

Narrow networks of doctors and hospitals aren’t new, but they’ve attracted attention with the rollout of the Affordable Care Act. Analysts point out that narrow networks are a powerful tool for insurance companies seeking to control costs ? especially since they can no longer control costs by excluding sick people or adjusting premiums by gender or age.

By restricting the choices in a plan, the insurer can promise more customers for the doctors and hospitals that are included. In exchange, the insurers can get a break on what they pay those doctors and hospitals.

Louis Adams with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas says if patients want access to more hospitals and more specialists, it’s available, but usually at a higher price.

“Our goal was to offer an array of plan choices,” he explains. “We created more focused networks as a way to offer a broad range of plans with lower premium prices.”

Sawhney and Zhang eventually found a place for the patient to get chemotherapy and radiation.

Despite the delays and difficulties, Sawhney still believes it’s better to have insurance, and she still believes in the law. But, she says, from now on she’ll tell her patients to shop more carefully, taking into account price and whether they have a chronic illness. It won’t be about the cheapest plan anymore, but rather the plan that best meets their medical needs.

This story is part of a reporting partnership between NPR, Houston Public Media and Kaiser Health News.

 

San Leandro Places 30-Year Sales Tax Extension on November Ballot

Government in San Leandro realizes that they could not always fool the citizens into voting to extend a slush fund, ur sales tax, every few years. So, the city council decided not to take a chance and tie the hands of the citizens and keep the government hands in their pockets for thirty years. They want to add $8 million a year to city revenues for the next 30 years. I would almost agree to this if as part of the vote the city agreed no more tax or fee increase and no bonds for the next 30 years. The people need to get something in return for a generation and a half of tax increases. People not born today will be paying this tax in 25 years!

?The previous referendum, known as Measure Z, passed in 2010, but included a sunset clause set to expire in 2018. City leaders, however, said the time is now to ask voters to renew the successful sales tax measure to increase budget predictability and repair some of the worst roads in Alameda County.?

Government can always create a ?good? excuse to beg for more money. Note that to fix the roads they want more money instead of cutting current expenditures.

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San Leandro Places 30-Year Sales Tax Extension on November Ballot

Steven Tavares, EBCitizens, 7/8/14

SAN LEANDRO CITY COUNCIL | Nearly four years after voters in San Leandro approved a much-needed sales tax measure viewed by many to have helped the city escape the worst of the Great Recession, city leaders will again ask them to extend the half-cent increase next fall for another 30 years.

The San Leandro City Council approved placing the extension on the ballot Monday night that could potentially net the city $8 million annually in revenue. The vote was 6-0, with Councilmember Ursula Reed absent.

The previous referendum, known as Measure Z, passed in 2010, but included a sunset clause set to expire in 2018. City leaders, however, said the time is now to ask voters to renew the successful sales tax measure to increase budget predictability and repair some of the worst roads in Alameda County.

?The timing is right,? said Councilmember Michael Gregory. In particular, the state of San Leandro?s roads and the lack of funding has been a consistent problem over the past four years, said Gregory ?We have been searching and failed to find any funding,? said Gregory. ?Nobody has come up with a better solution that I know of.? Federal and state funding for road work is unlikely, he said. ?We can?t wait; we have to do this now.?

During his run for office in 2010, San Leandro Mayor Stephen Cassidy campaigned vigorously against Measure Z, but now supports its extension this year. Without the additional sales tax revenue, steep cuts to services and staff that highlighted recent economic down times could return, said Cassidy. ?If Measure Z expires and there is no replacement, it will be some hard constraints on our budget.?

Cassidy is not running for re-election this year, but the two council members running to replace him this fall, Councilmembers Diana Souza and Pauline Cutter, both registered strong support for the proposed ballot measure. Councilmember Jim Prola added, he believes the steady flow of sales tax revenue will not only help the city repair its infrastructure, but potentially help it hire more police officers.

The City Council also discussed adding a second ballot measure in November. This one, an extremely simple and non-controversial revision to the City Charter hopes to move the ceremonial appointment of vice mayor from May to January.

 

Like Obama, Laws Mean Nothing to San Fran Gov?t Land Grabbers

The city of San Fran, permitted by the city government, allowed the voters of the town to vote on waterfront development. The voters said NO. While I disagree with the decision, it is the right of the voters. Except in this case. The property being voted on actually is under the control of the State. Like Obama, the city of San Fan was telling the world, you don?t like this, so sue us.

Now the State of California is suing. Good for them?San Fran, like most governments feel they are the rulers?and the rest of the people and society must bow down. In the end it is the taxpayers that lose in this spitting match between government entities. We pay for the attorneys on both sides of the table.

?The lawsuit, filed by the California State Lands Commission against The City, questions the legality of Prop. B, which passed by a decisive margin in the June 3 primary election.

The commission, comprised of Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, State Controller John Chiang and Finance Director Michael Cohen, asserts that while the waterfront is managed by The City’s Port Commission, the California Legislature retains ultimate authority of the property? Newsom is the former Mayor of San Fran!!

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SF defiant over State Lands Commission lawsuit against Prop. B?

By Laura Dudnick, SF Examiner, 7/16/14

Proposition B advocates touted their ballot box victory as a win for preservation of The City?s historic waterfront.

The City has promised to aggressively defend a measure passed last month that forces waterfront height-limit increases in San Francisco to go before voters after a lawsuit was filed Tuesday challenging the measure’s validity.

The lawsuit, filed by the California State Lands Commission against The City, questions the legality of Prop. B, which passed by a decisive margin in the June 3 primary election.

The commission, comprised of Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, State Controller John Chiang and Finance Director Michael Cohen, asserts that while the waterfront is managed by The City’s Port Commission, the California Legislature retains ultimate authority of the property.

Strong reactions from those who support Prop. B, including City Attorney Dennis Herrera and the No Wall on the Waterfront coalition, rang out Tuesday.

“With [Tuesday’s] lawsuit, the State Lands Commission seems to have embraced the notion that any local initiative — and, by extension, any land use regulation approved by a Board of Supervisors or Planning Commission — affecting port property is barred by state law, and therefore invalid,” Herrera said in a statement.

Prop. B passed 71,421-49,870, giving voters a voice for developments that would exceed existing height limits along the 7.5-mile strip from Fisherman’s Wharf to the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard under Port of San Francisco authority, which vary from as low as 40 feet on piers to 105 feet on Seawall Lot 330 just south of the Bay Bridge.

But the Lands Commission contends that The City has no power to grant the voters that option, as the Port Commission was entrusted to manage the land under the state’s 1968 Burton Act.

“While the commission respects the power of the initiative as it relates to local and municipal affairs, when it comes to the management of state property including public-trust land, the Legislature has specifically delegated the management responsibility for those lands to the San Francisco Port Commission,” said Jennifer Lucchesi, executive officer for the Lands Commission.

Herrera fired back against the lawsuit, promising to “aggressively” defend Prop. B.

“That view represents a radical departure in law and practice from land use decision-making in San Francisco and elsewhere,” Herrera said. “While The City must certainly honor its obligations as trustee in managing public-trust property, it is a legally and practically untenable position to argue that San Francisco’s voters and elected officials have no direct say over how our city’s waterfront is developed.”

Jon Golinger, co-chair of the No Wall on the Waterfront coalition, called the lawsuit “a slap in the face” to everyone who has voted on waterfront development, including Prop. B, over the years.

“At its core is really a raw political power play,” Golinger said. “It’s an attempt to silence The City in regards to what happens on the waterfront.”

But the Chamber of Commerce, a longtime opponent of the measure, commended the Lands Commission’s lawsuit.

“The state’s made a good case that local jurisdictions don’t have the authority to directly impact land-use decisions on state owned property,” said Jim Lazarus, senior vice president of public policy for the chamber.

Lazarus emphasized that the issue could affect more than San Francisco’s waterfront.

“There are ports up and down the coast of California that operate lands under [state] trust,” Lazarus said. For instance, he added, “the Port of San Diego is a local agency chartered by state law that oversees port property … owned by the state of California, similar to San Francisco’s circumstance.”

Tim Colen, executive director for the Housing Action Coalition and a plaintiff in a separate lawsuit seeking to block Prop. B earlier this year, said this case could mark the first time the measure’s validity has been explored in court. The first lawsuit was rejected by a judge “without a whiff of discussion” as to its merits, according to Colen.

“We’ve always been convinced that Prop. B was illegal, and we hope that it will be tried now on its merits, which it never has been before,” Colen said. “Now with the State Lands Commission taking action, finally we get to hear both sides argued. And let’s see who prevails.”