Sonoma County Uses FRAUD to Sell High Priced Government Energy

Sonoma County is using the force of government to force its citizens to pay high prices for energy—higher than the cost of PG&E, which is a private firm. The County uses its resources to mislead customers into a high price system that is owned by government—and you know how good government is in providing services, like education, roads and jobs.

“But what, actually, does SCP do? According to a press release on the same website,  “Electricity will continue to be delivered over PG&E’ s transmission and distribution system, and PG&E will maintain responsibility for meter reading, billing and maintenance.” In other words, PG&E will continue to do all the actual work.

But instead of generating electricity, SCP buys power from a number of sources, including Constellation, a Baltimore-based subsidiary of Chicago energy provider Exelon. SCP also has signed contracts for geothermal energy with Calpine’s local Geysers facilities and for solar power from Recurrent Energy.

Is Sonoma Clean Power actually cleaner?

There is one fact SCP is careful not to tell Sonoma County residents. To claim they are a cleaner provider, they compare their energy portfolio – 33 percent renewable  — to PG&E’s statewide portfolio – 19 percent renewable.”

Government lies—did you expect different?

wind energy turbine

Green power shocking big utilities

By Greg Karraker, Calwatchdog,   12/10/14

Peter Rumble, an outgoing Sonoma County administrator, recently announced the formation of California Clean Power, a new private company where he serves as CEO.

According to Rumble, the mission of CCP is “to provide cleaner power at a lower cost with local control.”  They plan to do this by helping cities and counties establish Community Choice power programs similar to the existing Sonoma Clean Power, which has replaced Pacific Gas & Electric in the vast majority of the homes and businesses it has targeted.

CCP, SCP and other firms are operating under California’s Community Choice Aggregation Act, Assembly Bill 117. In 2002 the Legislature passed AB117 and it was signed into law by Gov. Gray Davis a year before he was recalled.

The law defined CCAs as, “Any city, county, or city and county whose governing board elects to combine the loads of its residents, businesses, and municipal facilities in a communitywide electricity buyers’ program.”

Sonoma Clean Power

So how is this process supposed to work in cities and counties across the state?

One model is Sonoma Clean Power. Its process of “opting in” new ratepayers is anything but transparent. If CCP and similar companies follow that model, the same questions about transparency will arise.

SCP owns or operates no power plants. It owns or maintains no power poles, power lines or maintenance equipment. But SCP now pockets most of the payments Sonoma County residents would normally make to PG&E.

On their website, SCP wrote, “We provide everyone in participating cities with the option of using environmentally friendly power, generated by renewable sources, like solar, wind and geothermal, at competitive rates.”

But what, actually, does SCP do? According to a press release on the same website,  “Electricity will continue to be delivered over PG&E’ s transmission and distribution system, and PG&E will maintain responsibility for meter reading, billing and maintenance.” In other words, PG&E will continue to do all the actual work.

But instead of generating electricity, SCP buys power from a number of sources, including Constellation, a Baltimore-based subsidiary of Chicago energy provider Exelon. SCP also has signed contracts for geothermal energy with Calpine’s local Geysers facilities and for solar power from Recurrent Energy.

Is Sonoma Clean Power actually cleaner?

There is one fact SCP is careful not to tell Sonoma County residents. To claim they are a cleaner provider, they compare their energy portfolio – 33 percent renewable  — to PG&E’s statewide portfolio – 19 percent renewable.

But in Sonoma County, already the great majority of electricity that PG&E delivers is renewable, since it comes from Calpine, a completely green geothermal source. From the Calpine website:

“Calpine, the largest geothermal power producer in the U.S., owns and operates 15 power plants at The Geysers with a net generating capacity of about 725 megawatts of electricity — enough to power 725,000 homes…. The Geysers meets the typical power needs of Sonoma, Lake and Mendocino counties, as well a portion of the power needs of Marin and Napa counties. In fact, The Geysers satisfies nearly 60 percent of the average electricity demand in the North Coast region from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Oregon border.”

The only way SCP customers can get the same percentage of geothermal power that PG&E already delivers in Sonoma County is the SCP EverGreen Option, which costs 20 percent more than their basic service, and asks customers to make a 12-month commitment, with a $100 charge for early termination.

SCP claims people should switch providers because it offers “cleaner energy at lower cost”. But obviously a stronger force is at work here.

Opting in vs. opting out

AB117 tilts the playing field drastically in favor of CCAs and against PG&E, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric. For SCP, for example, just 5 percent have opted out, 95 percent automatically being included in SCP.

How? The unnaturally high adoption rate of any CCA is due to the automatic opt-in provision. Instead of giving residents the ability to choose the new government entity, California law states they are conscripted as CCA customers, unless they actively opt out and stay with the regular electricity provider.

To compound the situation, SCP makes it difficult for Sonoma County residents to even know their electricity provider has been switched. In early 2014, SCP sent out notices that it automatically had become residents’ new power company. It was cleverly disguised to look like the kind of promotional piece that is easy to throw away.

Here’s how the envelope looked, as if it were just another piece of junk mail in this age of email and texting. Below it is the letter that was inside.

‘Automatically start’

Notice how the letter spends about 150 words describing how supposedly wonderful  SCP is, and how it will “automatically start.”

Only way at the bottom does the letter mention, “You may opt out of Sonoma Clean Power and continue to purchase PG&E’s standard service” — which, by implication after all that went before, costs more and is dirty energy.

The mailer says it’s necessary to have “your account information” ready to opt-out, which for most people would be too much of a bother.

It’s as if an election for governor automatically picks one person unless 51 percent of voters actually show up to the polls, provide all their “information” and choose someone else.

First Community Bank offers financing

First Community President and CEO Debbie Meekins said her bank got involved with SCP because the new agency offered communities such compelling benefits as choice, more renewable energy and local control. “With California Clean Power, we’re looking to do the same thing,” she said.

The company proposes to offer cities and counties turnkey solutions that include not only financing, but legal assistance, energy purchasing, public outreach, billing and other services.

According to the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, the company’s other four owners and directors are:

  • Developer Bill Gallaher, managing director of Oakmont Senior Living;

  • Former North Coast congressman Doug Bosco, a principal investor and general counsel for Sonoma Media Investments, which owns The Press Democrat;

  • Komron Shahhosseini, a county planning commissioner and a partner in Oakmont Senior Living in charge of site acquisition and development;

  • Jonathan Kathrein, a law clerk for Bosco and law school student with a background in environmental and community organizing.

In addition, “Gallaher and Bosco also are directors at First Community, which has provided $10 million in financing to Sonoma Clean Power, including a key startup loan of $2.5 million.”

Bosco served as U.S. congressman from the North Bay from 1982-1990. He was part of the Rubbergate scandal of the early 1990s, when he bounced 124 checks worth over $537,985 on the bank of the U.S. House of Representatives.

CEO Rumble anticipates great demand for his new company’s offerings. “There are several communities that are really interested in this model,” he said.

With everything available on a platter, from financing to legal help, to a guaranteed, state-sponsored takeover of PG&E’s customer base, why would they not be?

 

Six Ways the Government Criminalizes Economic Activity

By definition government is force, it is theft. The choo choo train is stealing land and property—if you do not agree with it taking your property; it will use eminent domain (government phrase for theft) and steal from you. The Feds have a program called Operation Chokehold—where the White House tells banks to stop allowing bank accounts to firms or industries, though legal, they do not like.

Government uses environmental rules, tax policies, loans and grants to help friends and destroy freedom of choice. Every day government makes it difficult for anyone to live an honest life—too many rules and laws, subject to interpretation. There is a book that talks about the fact each of us, yes each of us, commit THREE felonies a day, minimum.

“Institutions related to the financial sector live in fear of FSOC. Currently, FSOC is considering whether money market funds pose a systemically significant risk to the economy, and what regulations it should place on these funds. FSOC has the power to criminalize just about any firm. Proceedings are held behind closed doors, and there is practically no appeals process.”

attorney-general-eric-holder

Six Ways the Government Criminalizes Economic Activity

Diana Furchtgott-Roth, E21—Manhattan Institute, 12/11/2014

This article originally appeared in MarketWatch.

When an entrepreneur or business wants to do something, Uncle Sam says no.

Although many politicians say they support economic growth, the federal government goes out of its way to criminalize broad ranges of economic activity. It’s as simple as this: A person or a company wants to provide a good or a service, and Uncle Sam says no.

Here are six examples, and there are many others. As well as tax and entitlement reform, and passing an immigration bill, the 114th Congress could simply let people work.

Federal law criminalizes exports of oil and natural gas

North America’s oil and natural gas production is surging, but it is still unlawful to export it. On Tuesday, Rep. Joe Barton, a Republican from Texas, introduced a bill to allow exports of oil, and the bill will be considered at a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on Thursday. In addition, the United States could benefit from exporting some of its natural gas production. Companies in North Dakota waste about 33% of total gas production by flaring, or burning, it.

Exports stimulate the economy and result in more jobs because foreign customers buy U.S. products. Exports also lead to more innovation. With increased oil and natural gas exports, more people would be employed in its production and transportation. Over 1.1 million people are already directly employed and about 9 million are indirectly employed in the oil and gas sector, the vast majority from small and mid-size companies.

The export bans were set up in the 1970s, at a time when America was highly dependent on OPEC for energy. Now we have overtaken Saudi Arabia in oil production, and Congress should update our laws to reflect the new reality.

Financial Stability Oversight Council criminalizes any institution

The Financial Stability Oversight Council, set up under Dodd-Frank, has the power to designate any firm, either financial or nonfinancial, as having significant systemic risk to the economy. Then that firm comes under its oversight. FSOC is chaired by the Treasury secretary and includes the heads of nine federal financial regulatory agencies. If the FSOC says a firm poses a risk to the economy, the government can treat the firm’s shareholders and creditors as they choose, trumping existing law.

Institutions related to the financial sector live in fear of FSOC. Currently, FSOC is considering whether money market funds pose a systemically significant risk to the economy, and what regulations it should place on these funds. FSOC has the power to criminalize just about any firm. Proceedings are held behind closed doors, and there is practically no appeals process.

Minimum-wage laws criminalize low-skill work

Imagine being forbidden to work. That is the case for people with skills under $8.25 an hour. The federal hourly minimum wage is $7.25, and additional costs, such as Social Security, unemployment insurance, and workers compensation bring the cost of employment closer to $8.25. The minimum wage is one reason why the teen unemployment rate is 18%, the youth (20 to 24) unemployment rate is 11%, and the African-American teen unemployment rate is 28%. Those groups have markedly lower skills than average.

University of California (Irvine) economist David Neumark, and University of California (San Diego) economists Jeffrey Clemens and Michael Wither have shown in separate studies that young workers with low skills are harmed the most by the minimum wage. That is not surprising, given that half of minimum-wage earners are between the ages of 16 and 24. When the minimum wage is set above someone’s skill level, that person is left on the sidelines. If people cannot get their first job, how can they get their second or third? People who take minimum-wage jobs gain entry to the professional world. Once they are in, they can keep rising.

CAFE standards force carmakers to make unwanted small vehicles

People like to buy large vehicles, such as SUVs and trucks. But the government’s Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards, first implemented in 1975, require auto makers to calculate average fuel economy — miles per gallon — across their respective fleets. To balance out larger vehicles, car dealers have to make small ones that sit on the lots and are eventually sold at a loss to rental companies. This raises the price of larger vehicles for everyone else.

 

In 2012, the standards were raised to 54 miles to the gallon by 2025. In comparison, according to the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute, the average fuel economy of new vehicles sold in November was 25 miles per gallon. The administration is also working on new standards for trucks, to be released next March. New standards combine a number of administration goals in one package: lower oil consumption and reduced imports, reduced exhaust-pipe emissions, and the use of electric cars.

Affordable Care Act criminalizes sales of certain health-insurance plans

Under the Affordable Care Act, approved plans must include services that many people do not need, such as maternity care, pediatric dental care, mental-health coverage and substance-abuse treatment. It is forbidden to offer other plans, even though people want to buy them. Naturally, many people complained when their lower-cost plans were canceled due to Affordable Care Act regulations, but it would have been against the law for insurance companies to offer the old plans.

Never mind that it is unlikely that Department of Health and Human Services bureaucrats will know what is best for individuals. The point of insurance is for people to choose the plan that works best for them, not for other people to tell them what they can, and cannot, buy.

EPA ozone rules will criminalize energy-intensive manufacturing

The Environmental Protection Agency’s new ozone regulations, as I wrote last week, would dramatically reduce the amount of ozone allowed in the air from the current standard of 75 parts per billion (ppb) to a range of 65 ppb to 70 ppb. Currently, 40% of the U.S. population lives in areas that do not meet the standard of 75 ppb. At 65 ppb, more than half of the United States would be out of compliance.

States would have to craft implementation plans, approved by the EPA, for keeping down levels of ozone within their borders. The only way for states to meet the standards is for them to reduce energy-intensive manufacturing, or some forms of energy production. Those activities would all become criminalized.

Gross domestic product is a measure of the economic activity of ordinary Americans. Our economy grows when people are allowed to engage in more economic activity. Unfortunately, Washington has criminalized a wide range of beneficial economic activity. No one wins except the bureaucrats.

 

Diana Furchtgott-Roth, former chief economist of the U.S. Department of Labor, directs Economics21 at the Manhattan Institute.

Poverty, the Next California Conversation (Because of out of control Sacramento)

California holds students hostage in failed government schools. The State has the highest taxes in the nation, making sure people have little money to make life better for themselves. The President of the UC system says that if you white, you are a racist. Unions extort workers and blackmail companies. The best and brightest leave California because government thinks fish deserve water more than people.

After all of these disastrous policies, is it any wonder now we need to talk about poverty in California? Remember, while employment numbers are going down, it is because 70% of the new “jobs” are part time, low pay/no benefit jobs—but still considered jobs.

I hope that in the discussion of poverty in the former Golden State included is the role of government in the creation of a permanent underclass of poverty stricken citizens.

Along with a $340 billion debt, California also has the nations highest poverty rate. “As of 2011, more than 6 million Californians live in poverty or on the edge of it.  According to the official poverty measure, the poverty rate was 16.2 percent in California — higher than the national average.”

JerryBrownSchw

Poverty, the Next California Conversation

By Jean Jordan, Public CEO, 12/11/14

My mother survived extreme poverty. Her coal miner father died when she was 2 years old and her mother passed away from cancer a couple of years later. She was one of eight children, so the oldest tried to take care of the younger children. But the war came, and the oldest boys were drafted. Her oldest sister took the three youngest and moved to California because they heard it was a place of opportunity. But things weren’t easy, and my mother spent most of her childhood ill due to a lack of food and proper nutrition.

Despite these hardships, she was the valedictorian of her high school and her community college. Today at 84 and financially secure, she still worries about having enough food and clothes and tends to stockpile things — just in case.

I refer to my mother’s story to emphasize the long-range effects poverty has on the both the physical and emotional health of those who have lived it. Today, poverty is a growing concern both nationally and in California. In the next few blog postings, we will take a look at who are the poor in California, what are the long-range effects of poverty, how it affects children, and the role counties can play in dealing with this important issue.

As of 2011, more than 6 million Californians live in poverty or on the edge of it.  According to the official poverty measure, the poverty rate was 16.2 percent in California — higher than the national average. The Obama Administration recently stated that the financial insecurity of the American family was the “defining challenge of our time.” The Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality together with the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) developed the California Poverty Measure which can be used to provide county-level estimates of poverty. This more sophisticated scale estimates that more than one in five people in California (22 percent) are living in poverty.

So, who is are the poor in California?

ETHNICITY

According to the PPIC, Latinos (23.6 percent) and African Americans (24.2 percent) have much higher poverty rates than Asians (12.6 percent) and whites (9.8 percent) in California. The statewide poverty rate among Latinos living in families with a foreign-born head of household is 26.9 percent. Poverty rates increased for all racial and ethnic groups in California between 2010 and 2011. The Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality notes in a recent report that poverty among immigrants is particularly high in part due to the ineligibility for safety-net programs.

EDUCATION

It is clear that education places a role in poverty. In 2011, the poverty rate among families headed by an adult lacking a high school diploma was 36.7 percent. In families headed by an adult with a college degree, the poverty rate was only 5.4 percent. For families where the head of household only had a high school diploma, the poverty rate was 19.9 percent.

EMPLOYMENT

The majority of poor people in California live in working families. In 37.3 percent of poor families, at least one family member is working full time, and in 25.6 percent someone is working part time.

Where do the poor live?

In 2011, the lowest poverty rate in California was in San Mateo County (7.2 percent) and the highest was in Merced County (30.0 percent). Bay Area counties, in addition to San Mateo, (Marin, Santa Clara, Sonoma, Contra Costa, and Alameda) had poverty rates below 13 percent.  Several Central Valley counties in addition to Merced (Tulare, Kern, Fresno, Stanislaus, Madera, Yolo, and Butte) had poverty rates in excess of 20 percent. Nearly 30 percent of all poor people in California lived in Los Angeles County (1.8 million people) in 2011.

Sources

PPIC, Just the Facts, August 2013,

A Portrait of Poverty within California Counties and Demographic Groups, the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality

 

California Unfunded pension liabilities are staggering

State Controller Chiang says that the unfunded liability of CalPERs is $198 billion. California Budget Bites, using Federal criteria for accounting, says the unfunded liability is actually $754 billion. Either number is totally unsustainable. CalPERS is demanding a 50% increase in contributions, a sum that will throw many cities into bankruptcy and all cities into cutting basic services and raising taxes. Before taxes go even higher many productive Californians are leaving the State—they can not afford government and a quality lifestyle—so Texas beckons the best and brightest of the middle class.

“Among the lowlights of the revelations in Chiang’s database is the overarching fact that in 2013, California’s public-employee pension systems — including those for police, firefighters and teachers — were carrying an estimated aggregate of $198 billion in unfunded liability. That’s 31 times the unfunded liability 10 years earlier.

Employees are contributing more to their retirement funds than they were a decade ago, while employers’ contributions have risen at an even higher rate, sucking more and more tax money out of government budgets. But the funding gap expands because the number of retired government employees drawing benefits increased nearly 50 percent in the past decade, while the number of current government employees paying into the systems actually went down during the recession.”

Why is California in a Depression? Look for the union label.

calpers

Unfunded pension liabilities are staggering

Hanford Sentinel, 12/10/14

November brought two pieces of good news for Californians hoping to regain momentum in the fight against the public-employee pension systems that are strangling state and local budgets. Well, one and a half pieces of good news, anyway.

The one is the result of the mayoral election in San Jose, which pension reformers hope is a bellwether. Voters had a choice between a pro-reform candidate and a union-backed anti-reformer. Fortunately, they chose Sam Liccardo, who supports the agenda of outgoing Mayor Chuck Reed, architect of that city’s successful pension-reform ballot initiative in 2012 and leader of a stalled state initiative drive aimed at empowering government leaders to negotiate reductions in current workers’ future benefits.

The half — the semi-good news — is the online posting of huge amounts of data from 130 state and local pension systems. Available at state Controller John Chiang’s open-data website, ByTheNumbers.sco.ca.gov, the data show the severity of the looming crisis and underscores public officials’ failure to confront it. The silver lining is that this new information arms state residents to pressure their representatives to act before it’s too late.

Right now, pension reform is one of those major issues that lawmakers love to avoid. Unlike with federal immigration laws, there is no hope for an executive order to get the debate rolling.

That means the problem keeps getting worse.

How bad is it already?

Among the lowlights of the revelations in Chiang’s database is the overarching fact that in 2013, California’s public-employee pension systems — including those for police, firefighters and teachers — were carrying an estimated aggregate of $198 billion in unfunded liability. That’s 31 times the unfunded liability 10 years earlier.

Employees are contributing more to their retirement funds than they were a decade ago, while employers’ contributions have risen at an even higher rate, sucking more and more tax money out of government budgets. But the funding gap expands because the number of retired government employees drawing benefits increased nearly 50 percent in the past decade, while the number of current government employees paying into the systems actually went down during the recession.

Unfortunately, as the retirement contributions public agencies have to make continue to balloon, the hit on public budgets is likely to cause more public-employment job losses, further exacerbating the imbalance in a downward spiral.

A few figures from the controller’s data:

—California Public Employees Retirement System, the pension provider for most state and municipal employees, had an unfunded liability of $57.4 billion in 2013. Ten years earlier, CalPERS’ figure was just $7.9 billion.

—California State Teachers’ Retirement System: $70.5 billion.

The meager pension reforms of a couple of years ago haven’t fixed this problem. Legislators, voters and unions must all apply themselves toward finding a solution.

 

San Diego Students: We Want Our Bus Rides to Be Free!

Young people are not taught in school that government does not give what it does not take first. In San Diego students are demanding that the government bus company provide them with FREE bus passes. Oh, they want the cost of the free passes to be paid by cap and trade. Will someone tell them that their parents are going to be paying 12 to 76 cents more starting January 1, 2015 for a gallon of gas.

The kids need to know the reason their parents can’t raise their allowance is because government is stealing from them in the name of clean air. Oh, and $250 million a year is going to the choo-choo train to nowhere, to nowhere, for nobody—again, money that comes from workers paychecks. These kids are economic illiterates—and they will pay the cost of illiteracy.

“Students marched from San Diego High School to the Metropolitan Transit System offices Wednesday to persuade the transit agency to invest in a program that has given free bus passes to students at four area schools.

City Heights nonprofit Mid-City CAN organized the students. The group wants MTS to kick in new cap-and-trade dollars to sustain and expand the bus pass program.”

school education students

San Diego Students Want Cap-And-Trade Dollars For Free Youth Bus Passes

By Megan Burks, KPBS, 12/11/14

Speak City Heights is a media collaborative aimed at amplifying the voices of residents in one of San Diego’s most diverse neighborhoods. (Read more)

Students marched from San Diego High School to the Metropolitan Transit System offices Wednesday to persuade the transit agency to invest in a program that has given free bus passes to students at four area schools.

City Heights nonprofit Mid-City CAN organized the students. The group wants MTS to kick in new cap-and-trade dollars to sustain and expand the bus pass program.

The state’s cap-and-trade fund is set to grow by $4 billion next year, when oil companies will begin paying the state to offset their carbon emissions. The money is headed to local jurisdictions, and MTS will soon have to develop a plan for spending the funds.

Currently, the San Diego Unified School District is shouldering the $200,000 cost. District leaders hope the program will increase student attendance and achievement. With school bus routes cut, many students must now walk to school or rely on city buses, which can cost them $432 annually for an already-discounted pass.

Hoover High School senior Thong Huang said he’s become more involved in leadership activities since getting the pass because he can travel to community meetings after school.

“I strongly support the youth bus pass campaign, because it is very crucial for us to offer each and every young student the equal opportunity to pursue their education, future and career,” Huang, 17, said.

MTS spokesman Rob Schupp said it’s too early to make any commitments.

“We’re still waiting to find out whether or not it has the desired effects,” Schupp said.

MTS is working with the district to track student ridership under the program. Early student survey results did not show increased attendance but did show students were safer because they didn’t have to walk through high-crime areas.

The pilot program runs through the spring semester.

 

Koch Bros. Group Sues California AG to Keep Donors’ Names Secret–to Stop Harassment by Left

We have seen mobs harass bankers because the Left did not like the loans given by the banks. The undocumented shoppers (as Obama would call them) have made a mess of New York. Ferguson, Chicago and San Fran. Campus radicals at Berkeley did not like Peter Thiel, a capitalist, speaking—so shut his presentation down.

Donors that supported Prop. 8 were harassed, lost jobs, families threatened and life was made miserable. Any wonder the Koch Bros. do not want to make public the names of their donors, since people’s lives are literally at stake. The crazies of the Left believe if you support the Constitution, oppose candidates that apologize for terrorism, do not believe in the right to work without paying bribes, then “by any means necessary”. We have already seen cops in numerous cities allow looting, burning of cars—even police cars—and the closing of freeways. Does anybody expect the police to protect citizens that use their First Amendment rights to donate to a candidate or cause?

“Acknowledging that its views “are not universally popular,” Americans for Prosperity says it needs to shield its donors to “ensure their safety.”
“Grotesque threats have been leveled against known associates of the foundation, ranging from threats to kill or maim to threats to firebomb buildings,” the group says in its complaint. “More mundane threats abound too, including boycotts, firings and public shaming, all of which are now demonstrated components of the playbook of the foundation’s more extreme opponents.

Photo courtesy of secretlondon123, flickr

Photo courtesy of secretlondon123, flickr

“Disclosure of the foundation’s donors thus poses a grave risk to these individuals’ ability to continue expressing themselves robustly and freely.”

Koch Bros. Group Sues California AG to Keep Donors’ Names Secret

 

By WILLIAM DOTINGA, Court Room News,   12/11/14

         

Americans for Prosperity, a right-wing political think tank founded by the Koch brothers, slapped California Attorney General Kamala Harris with a federal lawsuit on Tuesday, challenging her push to compel disclosure of the names and addresses of the group’s donors.
The Virginia-based group – which the Washington Post has wryly called “the third-largest political party in the United States” – claims that although the First Amendment and federal law gives political donors the right to remain anonymous, Harris “for reasons known only to her is nonetheless trying to compel disclosure of the confidential Schedule B by nonprofits around the state.”
Acknowledging that its views “are not universally popular,” Americans for Prosperity says it needs to shield its donors to “ensure their safety.”
“Grotesque threats have been leveled against known associates of the foundation, ranging from threats to kill or maim to threats to firebomb buildings,” the group says in its complaint. “More mundane threats abound too, including boycotts, firings and public shaming, all of which are now demonstrated components of the playbook of the foundation’s more extreme opponents.
“Disclosure of the foundation’s donors thus poses a grave risk to these individuals’ ability to continue expressing themselves robustly and freely. It is to alleviate such chilling that the First Amendment and federal statutes protect against the compelled disclosure of an advocacy organization’s donors,” the complaint continues.
The compelled-disclosure requirement came about in 2013, when Harris informed the group that its nonprofit registration from 2011 was incomplete because its paperwork did not include the names and addresses of its donors.
“No change in California law precipitated this letter: no new statute or regulation came into effect; no new policy of collecting donor data was announced; no sudden justification for this requirement was invoked,” the group’s complaint states.
The issue came to a head in October when Harris ordered the group to disclose donor information for 2011 and 2012 within 30 days. Failure to do so could mean revocation of the group’s nonprofit status, suspension of its state registration and fines for its board of directors individually, according to the complaint.
“Faced with these imminent sanctions and with the irreparable loss of First Amendment freedoms, the foundation is suing both to obtain a declaration that the Attorney General’s demand is unlawful on its face and as applied to the Foundation, and to enjoin the Attorney General from enforcing her demand,” the group says in its complaint.
The group attributes its concern with donor confidentiality to a litany of harassment, from hackers to President Obama. It recounts an email from a user called “deadkochs,” who claims to have declined a $500,000 offer to kill the Koch brothers because he’d “do it for absolutely nothing just to rub it in there [sic] faces that money can’t buy you happiness,” according to the complaint.
“Faced with such bullying, current and potential donors are understandably afraid that having their identities disclosed will put them and their families at risk,” the complaint states. “Dozens of potential donors, a number of whom live in California, have reluctantly refused to contribute to the foundation because they are too fearful of the reprisal they will face if their contribution becomes public knowledge, and current donors have indicated that they will cease their contributions if their names and addresses are revealed to the state of California.”
The group claims that another nonprofit, the Center for Competitive Politics, has entered Harris’ crosshairs for the same reason. That group sued Harris in Federal Court in March, then appealed the court’s denial of a preliminary injunction to the 9th Circuit.
Americans for Prosperity seeks an order barring Harris from demanding its donor information, and a declaration that her demands violate the First and 14th Amendments and the Supremacy Clause.It is represented by Harold Barza with Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan.

 

UC Tuition Goes Up—to Help Finance Legal Support for Illegal Aliens

This is something you did not see in the headlines, on the local news or as part of the report on the increased UC tuition. We know that most of that money is going toward the unsustainable UC pension system, to keep the checks to retirees flowing. Now we find out the resources of students, professors, classrooms, libraries and other government assets, meant for the education of our students is instead being used to provide legal assistance to illegal aliens—to keep them in this country, get loans, welfare and scholarships.

You thought the UC system was teaching honesty—instead it is a sleazy corrupt operation providing law violators assistance so they can continue to violate our laws.

“The Undocumented Student Legal Services Center—a pilot project announced on Nov. 21 by University of California President Janet Napolitano—is the first legal assistance program designed to aid students across a university system rather than on a single campus, said dean Kevin Johnson. If the pilot is successful, administrators hope the program can be replicated by other university systems.

“We’re trying to figure out how best to address the needs of undocumented students at these other campuses,” Johnson said. “One of the things these students fear is getting a traffic ticket and ending up in removal proceedings. It’s a difficult existence and we want to do what we can to make things a little easier for them.”

Napolitano is the former Homeland Security Secretary that opened the borders, took guards from the borders and created the climate for the newest surge of criminals from foreign nations.

Photo courtesy The National Guard, flickr.

Photo courtesy The National Guard, flickr.

California Campuses To Aid Undocumented Students

Karen Sloan, The National Law Journal, 12/4/14

Undocumented students at six of the University of California’s 10 campuses will soon have access to free legal help under a new program spearheaded by the University of California, Davis School of Law.

The Undocumented Student Legal Services Center—a pilot project announced on Nov. 21 by University of California President Janet Napolitano—is the first legal assistance program designed to aid students across a university system rather than on a single campus, said dean Kevin Johnson. If the pilot is successful, administrators hope the program can be replicated by other university systems.

“We’re trying to figure out how best to address the needs of undocumented students at these other campuses,” Johnson said. “One of the things these students fear is getting a traffic ticket and ending up in removal proceedings. It’s a difficult existence and we want to do what we can to make things a little easier for them.”

University of California officials said earlier this year that about 2,000 undocumented students are in the system.

California Assembly Bill 540, signed into law in 2001, allows undocumented students to pay in-state tuition at the state’s public universities, though those students do not qualify for federal loans.

The center, expected to open in the spring, will operate under the umbrella of Davis’ immigration law clinic. The school plans to hire up to four recent Davis law graduates with an interest in immigration law as fellows for one year, with an option to extend a second year. The fellows will counsel undocumented students under the supervision of more experienced attorneys, said law professor Leticia Saucedo. Funding for the initiative is coming from Napolitano’s office, not the law school.

Napolitano has tasked the center with helping students at the University of California’s Merced, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, San Diego and Riverside campuses. The four other U.C. campuses with law schools are not part of the pilot, as some of them already offer assistance to undocumented students, but they could be brought into the effort after the initial phase, Saucedo said.

The center’s fellows will assist undocumented students with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) applications, visa applications, and the new deferred action program announced this month by President Obama.

“There has been a real concern among some DACA applicants about the nature of the relief, how long that will last, and what could happen when a new president comes in,” Johnson said.

The center grew out of a recommendation from the President’s Advisory Committee on Undocumented Students, which formed earlier this year to examine the needs of undocumented students.

“This pilot program is just the beginning,” said Napolitano in her announcement of the program. “We want to create a model for other U.C. campuses and universities across the nation to provide legal representation for undocumented students on their campuses.”
 

Gruber Paper Found That Aborting Poor Children Saves Taxpayers Money

Why does the Gruber created ObamaCare have a death panel? Because he is, in a fashion, the male version of the eugenics founder of Planned Parenthood, Margaret Sanger—he wants the poor to die. Even better, he prefers abortions for the babies of the poor.

“So, this gets me to another instance where you committed candor,” Massie said in the hearing. “You conclude legal abortion — and birth outcomes among a birth cohort … and on page 26, you state that your research indicates that the legalization of abortion saved the government $14 billion in welfare payments through 1994,” he continued. “Is providing more access to abortion, is that a worthy social outcome to achieve cost savings for the government?”

“That is not what my paper was about,” Gruber answered. “It wasn’t a philosophical paper. It was about empirical facts.”

Why does Gruber, Obama and their friends hate minorities and the poor? These elitists love a “perfect” society—no minorities, no “poor” no freedom. They really hate people—they hate themselves is the real problem. This is a big story—think the Times, Bee or legacy media will report it?

Planned Parenthood Abortion Pro Choice

 

Gruber Paper Found That Aborting Poor Children Saves Taxpayers Money

Will this same philosophy be applied to Obamacare IPAB for seniors?

By Paula Bolyard, PJ Tatler, 12/9/14

MIT professor Jonathan Gruber was in the hot seat at Tuesday’s House Oversight Committee hearing, answering questions regarding his offensive comments about the stupidity of the American people and his assertions that the Affordable Care Act was passed based on a mischaracterization of the facts.

At the hearing Gruber was asked by Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) about a paper he co-authored in 1998, “Abortion Legalization and Child Living Circumstances: Who is the ‘Marginalized Child’,” in which Gruber suggested that children who die as a result of abortion are better off because the majority of them would have ended up in single-parent households and living in poverty.

“So, this gets me to another instance where you committed candor,” Massie said in the hearing. “You conclude legal abortion — and birth outcomes among a birth cohort … and on page 26, you state that your research indicates that the legalization of abortion saved the government $14 billion in welfare payments through 1994,” he continued. “Is providing more access to abortion, is that a worthy social outcome to achieve cost savings for the government?”

“That is not what my paper was about,” Gruber answered. “It wasn’t a philosophical paper. It was about empirical facts.”

Massie quoted the paper: “‘By 1993 all cohorts under the age 19 were born under legalized abortion and we estimate steady state savings of $1.6 billion per year from positive selection.’”

“What did you mean by positive selection?” Massie asked. “Because in this paper you’re talking about providing more access to abortions to a socioeconomic strata of our constituents.”

Gruber answered, “In that paper we were studying the characteristics of children who were born before and after abortion was legalized. You can infer the characteristics — ”

Gruber wrote in the 1998 paper that “the government saved $480 million in 1980 because of abortion legalization. Had all children in 1980 been born at a time when abortion was legal, our estimates imply that positive selection would have reduced the welfare caseload in 1980 by 173,500 families for a total savings of $1.1 billion in 1980.”

Massie said he finds it chilling that Gruber is implying that by reducing the number of poor children born, the quality of life can be improved for other Americans. He said his constituents fear that this same philosophy will be used on the Affordable Care Act’s Independent Payment Advisory Board.

“My constituents fear that this is, in fact, a method by which Obamacare will ration health care for elderly and therefore implement cost savings for Medicare. My question to you is, does your philosophy on abortion, that it can save money and improve outcomes, have any implications in the realm of end of life care?”

“So, Dr. Gruber,” Massie asked, “if there are fewer elderly people, particularly poor elderly people, wouldn’t that save a ton of money, too, as an economist? Wouldn’t you think that would save money, too? Do you understand the dangerous implications of going down this path?”

“I have no philosophy of abortion,” Gruber answered. “I have no philosophy of end of life care. My job as an economist is to deliver the empirical facts so that you all can make the necessary decision.”

 

Organic Astroturfing Organic food companies funding anti-GMO protest

Seriously, can anyone taste the difference between an organic tomato and one grown using pesticides and other items to keep them from going bad sooner? Think a burger made from an organic cow is better than one from a regular eating cow? It is like the great marketers that sold you on buying bottled water—which costs $9 a gallon—more than three times the cost of gas. It is great marketing, not a great product.

So, the money making special interests in the organic industry, selling the sizzle, not the steak, is using it money to force people to buy their product, the old fashioned way—using government to condemn and eliminate the competition.

“Anti-GMO food labeling would provide a boon to the growing organic food market. Those companies have poured millions into the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), which is leading the Capitol Hill protests on Wednesday. The group offers complimentary bus rides and “free organic lunch” to supporters who turn out against the legislation, which they have dubbed the DARK Act.

“The DARK (Deny Americans the Right to Know) ACT—was introduced by Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) at the bidding of Monsanto, Big Food, and the Koch Brothers,” the group said. “If we don’t turn out in numbers to protest this bill, our voice could be silenced.”

Now you know the home of crony capitalism is on the Left and is in the Democrat Party. Shame on them for lying to the American public—you would think Jon Gruber was its leader.

400px-CH_cow_2

Organic Astroturfing

Organic food companies funding anti-GMO protest

BY: Bill McMorris, Washington Free Beacon, 12/9/14

Organic food interest groups will be out in force to protest a Wednesday committee hearing on food labels.

The House Subcommittee on Health will hold a hearing on the safety of genetically modified food ingredients (GMOs), as well as bipartisan legislation that would solidify the FDA’s role as the arbiter of food labeling. The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2014 was drafted by Rep. Mike Pompeo (R., Kan.) and G.K. Butterfield (D., NC) in reaction to several state and local proposals that require products made with GMOs to disclose the presence of the man-made ingredients.

The hearing will focus on current Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority over foods from genetically engineered plants and what the agency has learned about the safety of such products. Further, it will provide an opportunity to engage with scientific experts about the role bioengineering plays in our nation’s food supply and economy as well as to hear from stakeholders that could be affected by State-specific regulations of product labeling.

Organic food interest groups are rallying against the legislation.

Anti-GMO food labeling would provide a boon to the growing organic food market. Those companies have poured millions into the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), which is leading the Capitol Hill protests on Wednesday. The group offers complimentary bus rides and “free organic lunch” to supporters who turn out against the legislation, which they have dubbed the DARK Act.

“The DARK (Deny Americans the Right to Know) ACT—was introduced by Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) at the bidding of Monsanto, Big Food, and the Koch Brothers,” the group said. “If we don’t turn out in numbers to protest this bill, our voice could be silenced.”

OCA did not return a request for comment.

The protest is also being sponsored by alternative medicine giant mercola.com, which offers suspect medical advice from Dr. Joseph Mercola. The FDA has warned Mercola to stop issuing “unfounded claims” as he peddles his holistic medicine.

Other doctors have criticized Mercola for putting people at risk. Johns Hopkins Medical School Prof. Steven Salzberg called Mercola “the 21st-century equivalent of a snake-oil salesman” in a 2012 Chicago Magazine article.

“The information he’s putting out to the public is extremely misleading and potentially very dangerous,” Dr. Stephen Barrett, who runs the medical watchdog site Quackwatch.org, told the magazine. “He exaggerates the risks and potential dangers of legitimate science-based medical care, and he promotes a lot of unsubstantiated ideas and sells [certain] products with claims that are misleading.”

Mercola did not respond to a request for comment.

The Environmental Working Group has also helped foster discontent over the legislation.

“This is about transparency, not technology,” EWG vice president of government affairs Scott Faber said in a release. “Consumers simply want to know what’s in their food and how it’s grown—just like consumers in 64 other countries.”

Faber, who is scheduled to testify at the subcommittee meeting, has flip-flopped on food labeling since joining EWG. He spoke out against food labeling legislation as a representative of the Grocery Manufacturers Association in 2008. He blasted a proposal to force manufacturers to disclose their food’s nation of origin, saying that it would drive up food prices.

“At a time when thousands of Americans are being forced out of their homes and losing their job, it makes little sense for congress to arbitrarily increase the price of food,” Faber told the House Energy Committee at the time.

EWG did not respond to request for comment.

Pompeo said that GMOs have been vindicated by science as safe. The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act is intended to ensure uniformity, so consumers do not receive mixed messages about their food.

“Countless scientific studies have affirmed the safety of GMOs. This legislation is a science-based solution that will give the FDA the authority over the safety of, and labeling of, genetically engineered crops and GMOs,” Pompeo said in a statement. “It also preserves the right of companies to truthfully label their products as GMO-free or organic.”

The protests are scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. on Wednesday. The subcommittee will meet at 10:15 a.m.

 

Water Bond to Waste Millions Paying Off Unions for Support

Did you think that the water bonds were to provide a source of water for the people of California? If so, I understand San Fran is selling the Golden Gate Bridge, bidding starts at a dollar. Seriously, billions of that money is going to “wetlands”—a government phrase for the theft of private land. More billions are going to clean up groundwater, now controlled by the State, not the owners.

All of this takes workers. If you do not pay a bribe to a union—like 95% of the workers in the private sector, you must pay your taxes, but are disqualified from working on these projects. If you pay a bribe to a union–regardless of how incompetent you are—you got the job.

“At the demand of California Assemblymember Luis Alejo, the Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 and the Water Board voted 6-1 to direct staff to negotiate a Project Labor Agreement with the Monterey/Santa Cruz Building and Construction Trades Council for the Interlake Tunnel Project. All construction companies will be required to sign this union agreement as a condition of working on the project.”

The water bond was for the benefit of the special interests and the unions—honest Californians get to pay for the bribes and payoffs.

BART and Unions present before  state panel

Unions Win First Victory to Control Projects Funded by Water Bond

ByKevin Dayton, Union Watch, 12/9/14

It was unlikely that a few isolated and marginalized critics would discourage California voters from approving a statewide ballot measure (Proposition 1) authorizing the state to borrow more than $7 billion for water projects. As Proposition 1 stated, “California has been experiencing more frequent and severe droughts and is currently enduring the worst drought in 200 years. These droughts are magnifying the shortcomings of our current water infrastructure.”

As a result, Proposition 1 passed on November 4, 2014 with 67.1% of the vote. Few people heard or heeded warnings from negative ninnies alleging that state agencies and local governments would surely squander the borrowed billions from Wall Street on special interest enrichment schemes.

Now the rains are coming to ease the crisis. Meanwhile, the Monterey County Board of Supervisors and Monterey County Water Resources Agency Board of Directors today (December 9, 2014) took the first legislative action to prove the negative ninnies were right.

At the demand of California Assemblymember Luis Alejo, the Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 and the Water Board voted 6-1 to direct staff to negotiate a Project Labor Agreement with the Monterey/Santa Cruz Building and Construction Trades Council for the Interlake Tunnel Project. All construction companies will be required to sign this union agreement as a condition of working on the project.

This project is likely to be among the first – if not THE first – water project to obtain Proposition 1 water bond funding from the California Water Commission. At Monterey County Board of Supervisors meetings on October 14 and October 28, Assemblyman Alejo told the board that he had received a commitment from Governor Brown for $12-15 million for the project.

But Assemblyman Alejo also first suggested and then declared to the board that the money would only come if the county adopted a specific “design-build” procurement procedure authorized in Assembly Bill 155, introduced by Assemblyman Alejo and signed into law by Governor Brown. Assembly Bill 155 included a provision requiring the county to impose a Project Labor Agreement if it bid the Interlake Tunnel Project using the design-build procurement method.

Documents subsequently obtained from Monterey County through a public records request exposed how state and local construction union lobbyists inserted this Project Labor Agreement mandate into the bill with the enthusiastic participation of Assemblyman Alejo. Democrats (and one Republican) moved this bill through the state legislature, despite votes by the Monterey County Water Resources Agency Board of Directors and the Salinas River Basin Management Plan Committee to oppose Assembly Bill 155 because of the unwanted Project Labor Agreement mandate imposed by the legislature on their own project.

By the time the scheduled vote on the Project Labor Agreement appeared on the December 9, 2014 joint meeting of the Monterey County Board of Supervisors and Monterey County Water Resources Agency Board of Directors, the design-build procurement procedure had become a sideshow to the real issue: giving the unions a Project Labor Agreement. A staff presentation stated that a Project Labor Agreement would be imposed on the Interlake Tunnel Project no matter what kind of bid procurement system was used.

And no one wanted to let the public know why the unions were getting a monopoly on construction of a project expected to receive federal, state, and local funding courtesy of the taxpayers. The staff report and staff presentation for the item did not define or explain a Project Labor Agreement, nor did it indicate any reasons why a Project Labor Agreement was needed.

No one on the Board of Supervisors or Water Board wanted to explain it either. Any ordinary residents watching the meeting and looking at the background documents would have been mystified. However, they would have recognized that Assemblyman Alejo and union lobbyists at the meeting were very intent on making sure that the boards made an unambiguous commitment to mandate a Project Labor Agreement.

Water Board member Mike Scattini, a representative appointed by the Grower-Shipper Association, was the one NO vote. The other eleven board members supported the deal or surrendered to the deal, for ideological reasons, political reasons, or pragmatic reasons.

California local governments are getting accustomed to the idea that the state will withhold funds for their projects and activities unless they acquiesce to the union political agenda. For example, charter cities throughout the state have been scrambling in the last few months to modify their municipal codes to express complete submission to state prevailing wage laws.

Water agencies will soon learn that money borrowed by the state via water bond sales comes to local governments with some costly and anti-competitive conditions imposed from the capitol. The Interlake Tunnel Project was estimated in June to cost $22 million; now it is estimated to cost $63 million – including $32.2 million just for the construction component. It’s unknown if the estimate includes cost increases anticipated from the reduced bid competition under a Project Labor Agreement.

Sources

How a Bill Becomes a Law in California: Assembly Bill 155 (2014) (with links to cited source documents)

Agenda and Reports for December 9, 2014 Special Joint Meeting of the Board of Supervisors, Board of Supervisors of the Water Resources Agency and the Water Resources Agency Board of Directors

Proposition 1 – Water Bond. Funding for Water Quality, Supply, Treatment, and Storage Projects

Election Results – Proposition 1