Unions Uber Alles: Health of Millions Put at Risk by Strike

Nurses have gone on strike endangering the lives of patients in hospitals. They did not care, they are UNION. Hospitals and patients have been held hostage to unions. Now the pharmacists at Kaiser Permanente (disclosure—I am a long time member of Kaiser) have decided to stop work due to a union called strike. In my language when workers do not show up, then have quit. In union language it is a paid vacation. To the patients that need the medicine, it is life or death for many.

Oh, this is a strike with NO end date!

“So, what do these pharmacists want (and when do they want it)? They seek the restoration of a pension plan they lost three years ago (they didn’t technically lose it – it was taken from them); health benefits for part-time workers; and new procedures designed to ensure patients’ safety, Robin Borden says. Borden is president of the Guild for Professional Pharmacists, as well as a worker at the Kaiser medical center in Riverside.

The two sides talked Wednesday, with another bargaining session scheduled for Friday.

“If no resolution is reached,” after that, Borden told the Register, “the strike will ensue.”

Unions pension public sector

Kaiser Permanante pharmacists threaten strike

Scott Bridges, L.A. Business Journal, 5/15/14

Get your drugs now. It might be a little bit harder come Monday.

Kaiser Permanente issued a warning to its insured members that they might have to shut down most of its Southern California pharmacies starting Monday, as its 1,400 pharmacists have threatened to strike, the Orange County Register reported Thursday.

So, what do these pharmacists want (and when do they want it)? They seek the restoration of a pension plan they lost three years ago (they didn’t technically lose it – it was taken from them); health benefits for part-time workers; and new procedures designed to ensure patients’ safety, Robin Borden says. Borden is president of the Guild for Professional Pharmacists, as well as a worker at the Kaiser medical center in Riverside.

The two sides talked Wednesday, with another bargaining session scheduled for Friday.

“If no resolution is reached,” after that, Borden told the Register, “the strike will ensue.”

Unfortunately, there’s no magic pill – and if there was – well, who’s going to write that prescription?

If the pharmacists do strike, they will picket Monday at all Kaiser hospitals, including ones in Anaheim, Irvine, Los Angeles and West Los Angeles, Borden said. She also added that there was no end date in mind for the strike.

In addition to saying it has arrangements with seven outside pharmacy chains – CVS, Ralphs, Rite Aid, Target, Vons, Walgreens and WalmartKaiser said it sent notices to its members on Tuesday to say that in case of shutdown, all medical facilities will remain open and appointments will not be canceled. It urged people to fill prescriptions before Monday but said they could still do so after that, over the phone, online or at one of the seven aforementioned outside pharmacies.

About 3.7 million Kaiser members in the region could potentially be affected by the strike. That includes over 450,000 in Orange County, 1.7 million in Los Angeles County, and a combined 835,000 in Riverside and San Bernardino, according to the newspaper.

 

Judge in Stockton Case to Decide of CalPERS Should Share Losses

Stockton is bankrupt. It has decided to cut payments to all its creditors—except for CalPERS. For instance one bondholder, $35,000,000 worth, is being offered $94,000 (not a typo). Those bondholders are suing—they want the same deal as CalPERS. A judge will now decide who gets how much.

“That changed this week when CalPERS was dragged back into the Stockton case involuntarily. A bondholder that didn’t agree with Stockton’s plan is bringing to the city to court, looking to find out why CalPERS was able to get avoid getting cut.

This resulted in a CalPERS official being summoned to testify in U.S. bankruptcy court in Sacramento. The official, David Lamoureux, told the court that Stockton couldn’t reduce pension contributions without having its pension plan terminated and paying a hefty exist fee of hundreds of millions of dollars. Their employees and retirees would most likely also have their benefits scaled back. On top of all of those consequences, the rest of the CalPERS system could be affected as well, with state and local agencies having to contribute their funds to pay for Stockton’s benefit plan.”

The good news, if they are smart, are the future bondholders. If CalPERS gets treated differently, then future bondholders know they will get stiffed—so won’t loan money to the city—would you?

judge justice court

Judge in Stockton Case to Decide of CalPERS Should Share Losses

California City News, 5/15/14

After filing for bankruptcy, the city of Stockton unveiled a plan to reorganize its debts by spreading them across a host of bondholders. When the plan was unveiled in the fall, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) was spared from baring some of the city’s financial pain.

That changed this week when CalPERS was dragged back into the Stockton case involuntarily. A bondholder that didn’t agree with Stockton’s plan is bringing to the city to court, looking to find out why CalPERS was able to get avoid getting cut.

This resulted in a CalPERS official being summoned to testify in U.S. bankruptcy court in Sacramento. The official, David Lamoureux, told the court that Stockton couldn’t reduce pension contributions without having its pension plan terminated and paying a hefty exist fee of hundreds of millions of dollars. Their employees and retirees would most likely also have their benefits scaled back. On top of all of those consequences, the rest of the CalPERS system could be affected as well, with state and local agencies having to contribute their funds to pay for Stockton’s benefit plan.

Judge Christopher Klein said that although Stockton did not cut any CalPERS payments, it could rule that CalPERS should be treated like the other creditors. He considers the trial a chance to get to the bottom of the court’s role in pension reform, likening the pension issue to a “festering sore” for the state.

In a landmark decision, a judge previously ruled in the case of Detroit’s bankruptcy that government pensions can be scaled back. The bankrupt city of San Bernardino has been reported to owe CalPERS millions in overdue payments, and may be looking to scale back on its pension obligations, but the case is still being mediated by courts.

Throughout all of this, CalPERS has been adamant that pension contributions should not be altered, even if the city is facing serious financial issues.

If the judge does make ruling regarding the Stockton and CalPERS issue, it could set a powerful precedent for other California cities.

Read more about Stockton here.

 

Behind California’s Dramatic Increase in Lifers Freed from Prisons

Guv Brown, our very confused governor, has released close to 40,000 criminals back to the streets. Feel safer? One result is that gun sales have skyrocketed—meaning criminals understand the public will fight back. One category of criminal back on the street are those given “life sentences”. If you thought a rapist or a murderer would never see freedom again, with a chance to harm innocent people, you are wrong. Guv Brown has done his best to give a second chance to the most vicious of criminals.

“For most of the past two decades, the odds that a lifer would ever set foot outside prison walls were slim. In 2010, a parole-eligible offender who had committed murder stood a 6 percent chance of leaving prison through the conventional parole process.

Three years later, the prospects for lifer parole had improved dramatically, and now lifers are leaving prison in record numbers. In the first 2½ years of the Brown administration, more lifers were released from prison (1,205) than during the previous three administrations combined (1,168).”

California Prisons

Behind California’s Dramatic Increase in Lifers Freed from Prisons

KQED News Staff, 5/15/14

Options Recovery in Berkeley is among the facilities seeing an increase in the number of lifers on parole needing housing and counseling services. (Jeremy Raff/KQED)

By Matt Levin

Amid the specter of rising violent crime rates and “tough on crime” posturing from both Democrats and Republicans, California voters in 1988 approved Proposition 89, amending the state constitution so that governors could directly intervene in the parole process for inmates sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole. The measure, which passed with 55 percent of the vote, allowed the governor to rescind parole for offenders who had committed murder — the most common crime for so-called lifers sentenced to unfixed terms like “15 years to life.”

The political calculus for governors, when reviewing parole decisions, was obvious: No governor wanted to stand accused of letting a convicted murderer roam the streets. Gov. Gray Davis reversed positive parole decisions more than 90 percent of the time, while Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger reversed 70 percent of the cases that came across his desk. (Gov. Pete Wilson was far more lenient, although he reviewed significantly fewer cases during his two terms in office.)

Timeline: History of California Lifers Up for Parole

For most of the 1990s and 2000s, the state Board of Parole Hearings was unlikely to grant parole in the first place to convicted murderers. When combined with the governors’ high reversal rates, the result was a mounting number of inmates serving life terms in state prison.

About one in five inmates in California prisons serves a life sentence with the possibility of parole — the highest percentage of lifers in a state prison population in the country. As of last year, there were more than 26,000 lifers behind bars.

For most of the past two decades, the odds that a lifer would ever set foot outside prison walls were slim. In 2010, a parole-eligible offender who had committed murder stood a 6 percent chance of leaving prison through the conventional parole process.

Three years later, the prospects for lifer parole had improved dramatically, and now lifers are leaving prison in record numbers. In the first 2½ years of the Brown administration, more lifers were released from prison (1,205) than during the previous three administrations combined (1,168).

Listen to Scott Shafer’s California Report story on Lifer Releases.

 

The unprecedented exodus of lifers in recent years sparks several serious questions for California. What programs are in place to ensure that lifers can make a smooth transition into an outside world radically different from when they were first incarcerated? What are the political implications of this trend in an election year? And perhaps, most importantly, why is this happening now?

Several factors account for the spike in lifer releases in recent years, including landmark court decisions, rising caseloads and shifting attitudes among the Board of Parole Hearings and the Brown administration.

The Lifer Exodus

The number of lifers released from state prison has increased significantly over the past five years, with a dramatic uptick occurring in the last three. The trend began in 2009, a year after a key California Supreme Court ruling limiting the reasons a lifer may be denied parole. From 1991 through July 2013, 2,373 lifers have left California prisons. More than half of that total has occurred in the last 2.5 years.

In 2012, California voters approved Proposition 36, which modified the state’s 1994 three-strikes law. The measure allowed inmates sentenced to life in prison to petition for resentencing and release if their third-strike felony was not serious or violent. While not lifers in the traditional sense (and not included in the chart below), the number of “Prop. 36ers” released since 2012 nearly doubles the count of offenders once facing life in prison who are now set to be released under Gov. Jerry Brown.

Sources: California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

*Note: Lifer releases through July 2013. It is important to note that, because of court challenges and the time lag between a parole grant and date of release, individuals paroled under one administration may not be released until a new administration.

Parole Granted More Often

Once a lifer serves the minimum amount of time required by his or her sentence in prison, a parole hearing date is set. A Board of Parole Hearings commissioner then hears the inmate’s case for getting out of prison, basing the decision on whether the inmate poses an unreasonable danger to society upon release. Commissioners are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate Rules Committee.

Starting in 2009, the parole grant rate has increased dramatically. In 2008, the California Supreme Court issued a decision upholding the parole of Sandra Davis Lawrence, an inmate of 24 years convicted of murdering her lover’s wife. The court overturned Schwarzenegger’s reversal of Lawrence’s parole, ruling that decisions on parole grants should be based exclusively on the likelihood a parolee would reoffend. The Lawrence decision, combined with the changing composition of the Board of Parole Hearings since the arrival of Brown, had spurred a marked increase in the number of lifers being paroled.

Sources: BPH Suitability Hearing Summary, CY 1978-2012; BPH Lifer Scheduling and Tracking System; Stanford Criminal Law Center

Notes: Following methodology of Stanford Criminal Law Center, grant rate is calculated by dividing the number of parole grants in a given year by the number of conducted hearings.

Brown Administration Less Likely To Interfere

Because of Prop. 89, California is one of only three states (Maryland and Oklahoma are the other two) where governors have the authority to review and reverse parole board recommendations for lifers. For lifers convicted of first- or second-degree murder, the governor may reverse the parole board’s grant outright. For lifers convicted of other crimes, the governor may send the parole case back to the full board of commissioners for reconsideration.

The higher parole rate for lifers has resulted in a record numbers of parole cases coming across the governor’s desk for review. In his first three years in office, Brown has reviewed nearly 1,678 lifer parole cases, nearly matching the total reviewed by Schwarzenegger over a seven-year period.

Sources: Stanford Criminal Justice Center, Governor’s Office

Note: Reversal rate is the percentage of parole grants for murder offenses reviewed by the governor’s office that the governor reverses. Some parole decisions in November and December 2003 may be incorrectly attributed to Davis because of data limitations. Data through mid-December 2013.

Unlike Govs. Schwarzenegger and Davis, Brown has been much less likely to interfere in the parole recommendations of the board. The reversal rate for Davis never dipped below 90 percent and the reversal rate for Schwarzenegger never dipped below 60 percent, but Brown has reversed less than 20 percent of the cases that have come across his desk.

The Brown administration has argued that the governor’s lower reversal rate stems from a more accurate interpretation of the laws behind parole review. According to the governor’s office, from January 2011 to June 2012, 111 of 158 reversals issued by Schwarzenegger were overturned in the courts.

Comprehensive data on the number of lifers granted parole through the courts is not available.

Lower Risk of Recidivism

While comprehensive data on how lifers fare after their release are limited, most studies point to a very low risk of recidivism. One study found that among 860 murderers paroled in California since 1995, only five individuals have returned to jail for new felonies since being released, and none of them for “life-term” crimes like murder. That stands in stark contrast to the state’s overall prisoner recidivism rate, which has neared 50 percent in recent years.

The reason behind lifers’ presumed lower risk of reoffending is simple: age. Most criminals typically “age out of crime” after they turn 30. The average age of  lifers at the time of their parole hearing was 51.

 

Middle Class in Silicon Valley: $94,000 salaries, $500,000 Homes

California is an expensive place to live. The more liberal the community the more expensive it is to survive. The more conservative it is, the less expensive. The Bay Area is liberal and expensive. The Central Valley is conservative and much less expensive. Of course, Silicon Valley loves government transportation—but the rich still use their cars—forcing the middle class into crowded public transportation—that they cannot afford to subsidize.

“An analysis released this week by real estate site Trulia defines “middle class” in the San Jose metro area as a household earning $94,077 annually — more than double the median income in Miami and $10,000 higher than the San Francisco metro area.

Despite the abnormally high earnings, Trulia found that Silicon Valley’s middle-income earners still have extremely limited home-buying power. Only about 34 percent of homes on the market cost $484,000 or less, which is the cutoff to keep housing costs from eating up more than 31 percent of income (ostensibly leaving funds for food, medical bills, etc.)”

Any wonder firms are leaving for Texas?

Photo courtesy of 401(K) 2013, Flickr

Photo courtesy of 401(K) 2013, Flickr

Silicon Valley’s new ‘middle class’ makes $94,000, home costs $484,000

The number of middle class households in Silicon Valley declined 5 percent from 2006 to 2012, according to research by Joint Venture Silicon Valley. A new report by Trulia shows that the middle class crunch also extends to housing, since the San Jose metro area is the No. 7 least-affordable market for middle-income earners.

Lauren Hepler, Silicon Valley Business Journal, 5/15/14

We already know that Silicon Valley’s middle class is shrinking, but a new report reveals just how how inflated regional incomes and costs of living have become amid a new tech boom.

An analysis released this week by real estate site Trulia defines “middle class” in the San Jose metro area as a household earning $94,077 annually — more than double the median income in Miami and $10,000 higher than the San Francisco metro area.

Despite the abnormally high earnings, Trulia found that Silicon Valley’s middle-income earners still have extremely limited home-buying power. Only about 34 percent of homes on the market cost $484,000 or less, which is the cutoff to keep housing costs from eating up more than 31 percent of income (ostensibly leaving funds for food, medical bills, etc.)

That makes Silicon Valley the No. 7 least-affordable housing market for the middle class. On the other end of the spectrum, Ohio cities Akron, Toledo and Dayton top the list of the most affordable locales for the middle class, which is no surprise given the rust belt cities’ histories as industrial centers that have more recently confronted major economic obstacles.

Silicon Valley’s outlier definition of “middle class” is not a function of Trulia employing suspect calculations. The site simply used 2012 U.S. Census data and multiplied by 2013 wage growth reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in an effort to get more current figures.

A separate report earlier this year by thinktank Joint Venture Silicon Valley defined middle class as residents making $35,000-$99,000. That population shrank 5 percent from 2006-2012 despite overall population growth that helped drive up by 6 percent the number of residents making more than $100,000 annually.

 

Soros-Backed Group Claims Charter Schools Are Racist

To Progressives like George Soros giving black children quality education is racist. In most cities, like D.C. and N.Y. at least a majority of those enrolled in charter schools are black. “A George Soros-backed advocacy group filed complaints in three cities alleging that charter schools are racist.

The Advancement Project is asking the Justice Department to investigate the closures of failing public schools in New Orleans, Chicago, and Newark on the grounds that the closings are racially motivated.

All three cities have black majorities in the schools. Can Soros force other races to attend the schools—or even live in the city? Newark’s black population is 49.7%, Chicago has a black population of 32.9% and New Orleans comes in at 67.25%.   Yes, schools are being closed—mostly because they are failures and no amount of money has saved them. The students going to charter schools succeed and excel—something Soros does not want—he has a Plantation mentality toward people of color. Expect anything different?

Walton_High_School_New_Classroom

Soros-Backed Group Claims Charter Schools Are Racist

Elizabeth Harrington, Washington Free Beacon, 5/14/14
A George Soros-backed advocacy group filed complaints in three cities alleging that charter schools are racist.

The Advancement Project is asking the Justice Department to investigate the closures of failing public schools in New Orleans, Chicago, and Newark on the grounds that the closings are racially motivated.

The group, whose mission is to dismantle “structural racism” and promote “racial justice,” filed complaints under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act on behalf of “Journey for Justice,” a coalition of grassroots organizations supported by teachers unions.

“The coalition has come together because, across our communities, education ‘reformers’ and privatizers are targeting neighborhood schools filled with children of color, and leaving behind devastation,” the organization wrote in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, attached to the New Orleans complaint.

“By stealth, seizure, and sabotage, these corporate profiteers are closing and privatizing our schools, keeping public education for children of color, not only separate, not only unequal, but increasingly not public at all,” they said.

The organization compared charter schools to prisons.

“Adding insult to injury, the perpetrators of this injustice have cloaked themselves in the language of the Civil Rights Movement,” the Advancement Project wrote. “But too many of the charter and privately-managed schools that have multiplied as replacements for our beloved neighborhood schools are test prep mills that promote prison-like environments, and seem to be geared at keeping young people of color controlled, undereducated, and dehumanized.”

The complaint asks for an investigation into “racially discriminatory school closings,” and for the DOJ to stop the closures of five public schools in New Orleans. The group also wants a moratorium on school closings.

The complaint admits that all the schools the Advancement Project is fighting to remain open are failing. On page 10, a list of the schools shows that two received F grades in the 2011-2012 school year, the remaining three received a D+, D, and D-.

The Advancement Project has received nearly $4 million from George Soros’s Open Society Institute since 1999, according to the Capital Research Center, and grants from Open Society Foundations.

Harry Belafonte, who has compared the billionaire philanthropist David and Charles Koch to the KKK and called former President George W. Bush the “greatest terrorist in the world,” sits on the organization’s board of directors.

Journey for Justice Alliance is also allied with the Chicago Teachers Union, American Federation of Teachers, and Teachers for Social Justice.

The Advancement Project argues that charter school advocates used Hurricane Katrina to plot “behind closed doors” to open more charters, independently run schools that receive public funding. Teachers at charter schools are often not unionized.

“The ‘New Orleans experiment’ has failed, and African-American students have borne the brunt of this failure,” the complaint claims.

However, Louisiana posted a record-high graduation rate in 2012 at 72.3 percent, New Orleans leading the way with 77.8 percent of its students graduating. The city has been steadily increasing its graduation ranks since 2004, when only 54.4 percent of its students graduated. New Orleans has the highest charter school enrollment in the nation, at 79 percent.

Gov. Bobby Jindal (R.) touts his state’s education reform, which includes expanding charters and his Scholarship Program that allows students to flee failing public schools and attend private ones with a voucher. The vast majority of voucher awards go to minority students.

Jindal helped remove the cap on the number of charter schools allowed to operate in Louisiana, and increased K-12 education spending from $3.13 billion in January 2008 to $3.44 billion in July 2013. He requested an additional increase of $102.8 million in his budget this year.

The Recovery School District, a special district that manages chronically low-performing schools in the state, is the subject of the complaint. The district defended its policies as promoting civil rights.

“Over the last eight years, the schools in New Orleans have made tremendous progress by any academic measure—ACT scores, student achievement, graduation rate,” the district said in a statement. “In 2005, over 60 percent of our students attended failing schools. Today only 5 percent of students city-wide attend failing schools.”

“It is critical to insist on the civil rights of every child, and there is no doubt New Orleans is closer to assuring those rights than it was a decade ago,” they said.

While antagonistic to voucher programs, the Obama administration has been generally favorable to charter schools, making it unlikely the DOJ will meet the Advancement Project’s demands.

The Department of Education provided $242 million for the Charter Schools Program in 2013, and Secretary Arne Duncan has said that high-performing charters have “irrefutably demonstrated that low-income children can and do achieve at high levels.”

Charter schools also have bipartisan support in Congress, with the House of Representatives passing a bill to expand the charter school program last week.

 

20 California Counties: $73 BILLION in Unfunded Pension Liabilities

The California Political News and Views has brought you stories about CalPRS, CalSTRS, the UC system, LA DWP, among others having unfunded pension liabilities. Now a report has been made about the twenty counties that have their separate pensions systems. The bad news is that combined, they have unfunded liabilities of $73 billion.

As the costs go up, and due to revenues losses because productive jobs are leaving the State, these counties will join Detroit, Stockton, Vallejo and the State of California in an impending collapse of the systems.

“The report, issued by the California Policy Center, looks not only at pension costs—which are the sole focus of most such previous analyses—but also includes retirement health care costs, along with balances of any bonds counties have had to sell to raise money to pay retirees.

The 20 counties, with a combined population of 29.3 million, have a total unfunded liability for their pension systems of $37.2 billion. But, the study says, when you add pension bond obligations and unfunded health care liabilities, the unfunded total nearly doubles, to $72.3 billion.”

calpers

A Time Bomb That Needs Defusing

Mountain News, 5/13/14

There’s good news and bad news for San Bernardino County residents in a new report, issued May 6 by a California think tank.

The report analyzes the level of unfunded retirement liabilities for the 20 California counties that have their own retirement systems. Though they represent just over a third of California’s 58 counties, these jurisdictions make up 77 percent of the state’s population. San Bernardino County is among them.

The good news is that of the 20 counties with their own pension plans, San Bernardino County ranks sixth best when it comes to the unfunded percentage of pensions, pension bonds and healthcare liabilities it shoulders for its retirees.

The bad news is that it its 72-percent overall funding ratio for its out-to-pasture workers still represents a liability of $4,713 per county household.

The report, issued by the California Policy Center, looks not only at pension costs—which are the sole focus of most such previous analyses—but also includes retirement health care costs, along with balances of any bonds counties have had to sell to raise money to pay retirees.

The 20 counties, with a combined population of 29.3 million, have a total unfunded liability for their pension systems of $37.2 billion. But, the study says, when you add pension bond obligations and unfunded health care liabilities, the unfunded total nearly doubles, to $72.3 billion.

Put another way, when you average the money these counties owe their retirees for just pensions, they are 74 percent funded—meaning they can’t cover one of every four dollars that, God forbid, they could be called on to pay. Adding in pension bond and health care costs, though, they could cover just 60 percent of the costs.

In financial circles, when a plan has unfunded liabilities of 20 percent or less, it’s considered healthy. At 72 percent funding, San Bernardino County is far better off than second-worst Los Angeles County, with just a 51-percent ratio, or once-bankrupt Orange County, whose fifth-worst ranking is at 60 percent.

But any county, or any level of government, for that matter, with a substantial unfunded pension liability has big problems, especially since, as the report says, reforms to date have not required public employees to help close the funding gap by payroll withholding.

Should the counties try to reach 100-percent pension funding in a modest 20 years, they would have to earmark amounts ranging from 23 percent of their total budget for Los Angeles County to 2 percent for Tulare County, with San Bernardino lawmakers needing to kick in 10 percent of their budget.

Obviously, that’s not going to happen, because even relatively well-funded San Bernardino County couldn’t afford to slash its level of public services by one-tenth to make sure retired workers continue well fed and cared for.

But serious as the numbers may appear, the scary fact is they’re probably understated. The report says the figures are based on pension systems earning 7.5 percent on their investments, a dubious assumption in today’s economy.

To get an idea of what a drop in earnings might mean, the report says the total unfunded pension liability for all of California’s public employee pension systems, including city, state and schools, is $128 billion, assuming 7.5 percent.

But should that return actually be a more conservative 5.5 percent, their total would skyrocket to $329 billion, and to $450 billion if the average return were just 4.5 percent.

These figures lead to the obvious conclusion—public employees who have yet to retire must begin contributing significantly to reducing their government’s unfunded pension liabilities. After all, it’s the retiring worker, and not the typical taxpayer, who’ll get the benefits.

A commitment to such change is a reasonable expectation for any candidate for public office. We hope those seeking county or state positions in June and November will pledge to do something about this ticking time bomb. If they won’t, voters should support candidates who will.

What Recovery? Another California Company moves Headquarters to Dallas

Toyota is moving to the suburbs of Dallas. Now another California firm is moving. Our State is in a Depression and the confused Governor thinks everything is great—even claims a surplus, while the State Controller puts out a press release showing a $10 billion cash deficit—and the LAO says we have a $340 billion debt.

One by one productive firms are leaving the State, as leases expire, or they get great deals from Texas.

“Amerflight LLC announced Thursday that it will relocate its headquarters and flight and maintenance operations from Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, California, to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.

The company has 600 employees and 170-plane fleet make it the largest U.S. FAR Part 135 air cargo carrier, the company said in a release.”

Wonder if the Guv has calculated the loss of revenue from so many leaving?

jobs obama sotu

Cargo carrier Ameriflight to relocate HQ, operations to D/FW Airport

Lance Murray, Dallas Business Journal, 5/15/14 

Chalk up another corporate relocation for Dallas-Fort Worth at California’s expense.

Amerflight LLC announced Thursday that it will relocate its headquarters and flight and maintenance operations from Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, California, to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.

The company has 600 employees and 170-plane fleet make it the largest U.S. FAR Part 135 air cargo carrier, the company said in a release. Not all the employees will relocate to D/FW Airport, as many are stationed at the company’s 17 bases around the country.

Ameriflight said it is aiming at a September move.

“Relcation to DFW will allow us to better serve our customers throughout North and South America, as well as centralize our operations at a major international hub in the nation’s geographic core,” Ameriflight President Andrew Lotter said. “It’s the right move for Ameriflight’s continued growth and expansion as the industry as the industry’s leader in small air cargo.”

Federal Aviation Regulations Part 135 govern commuter and on-demand aviation operations.

Ameriflight operates scheduled and contract services to destinations in 38 U.S. states, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.

 

Guv Brown New Budget: $1 Billion Higher—MediCaid Costs UP $1.2 Billion

We are just beginning to see the budget busting of the MediCaid fiasco to the people of California. In January the Guv presented a budget. A couple of days ago, he presented the revise of that budget—the difference is one billion dollars. The TOTAL increase goes to the “unexpected” addition costs of MediCaid. Next year expect multiples of this increase. At the same time, due to 50% of the doctors and 75% of the specialists refusing to participate, expect long wait times for appointments, driving lengthy distances to find a doctor—and even longer to find a hospital.

We now know that many of the health care programs promoted by the government through “Covered California” lied about the doctors and hospitals involved. This is called bait and switch, which is illegal—except when government does it. Almost one third of Californians will be getting health care, free, paid for by the other 2/3’s!

“With the influx in new enrollees, California’s total number of Medi-Cal beneficiaries is expected to increase to 11.5 million by 2015 — about 30% of the state population (HealthyCal, 5/13).”

Photo courtesy of RambergMediaImages, flickr

Photo courtesy of RambergMediaImages, flickr

Brown’s Revised Budget Includes Additional $1.2B for Medi-Cal

California Healthline, 5/14/14

On Tuesday, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) released a revised fiscal year 2014-2015 budget proposal that includes an additional $1.2 billion in Medi-Cal funding to account for about 800,000 new beneficiaries who qualified for the program before the expansion under the Affordable Care Act, HealthyCal reports.

Medi-Cal is California’s Medicaid program (Weintraub, HealthyCal, 5/13).

Background

Brown on Tuesday released his revised budget proposal, which includes more than $2 billion in additional spending over his initial budget proposal in January.

In addition to the increased Medi-Cal funding, the revised budget plan also includes higher spending on:

Additional contributions to CalPERS;

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

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

Higher-Than-Expected Medi-Cal Enrollment

California officials had estimated that one million to two million additional residents would enroll in Medi-Cal through the end of 2014, but about 1.9 million consumers already had registered for the program by the end of March and an additional 900,000 applications are pending (California Healthline, 5/13).

About 800,000 of the new beneficiaries were eligible for the low-income health program before the ACA was implemented. The state is responsible for paying half the cost of new Medi-Cal beneficiaries who qualified for the program before the ACA went into effect (HealthyCal, 5/13).

Diana Dooley, a spokesperson for the Brown administration, said the state’s outreach efforts brought previously eligible residents “out of the woodwork” to enroll in Medi-Cal (Megerian, Los Angeles Times, 5/13).

With the influx in new enrollees, California’s total number of Medi-Cal beneficiaries is expected to increase to 11.5 million by 2015 — about 30% of the state population (HealthyCal, 5/13).

Details of Medi-Cal Funding in Budget Plan

The additional $1.2 billion in funding called for under Brown’s revised budget plan includes:

  • $193 million for 2013-2014; and
  • $918 million for 2014-2015.

The budget proposal also includes other expenditures related to the Medi-Cal program, including:

  • $191.2 million in funding to expand Medi-Cal mental health and substance misuse programs;
  • $187.2 million in funding for managed care rate increases; and
  • $94.4 million to enhance the technology program used to determine Medi-Cal eligibility and process Covered California applications (Robertson, Sacramento Business Journal, 5/13).

Lawmakers’ Reactions

Some state lawmakers applauded Brown’s efforts to expand health coverage through Medi-Cal, but others said his revised budget focused too much on the program.

Assembly member Jeff Gorrell (R-Camarillo) said the revised budget “represents a responsible framework,” but he added that the “dramatic increases in health care costs indicate that there are many unanswered questions in the implementation of the [ACA].”

Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway (R-Tulare) in a release said government health care programs “will consume more and more of the state budget and eventually reduce the amount we can spend on other important priorities such as education, public safety and transportation” (Smith, “Capitol Alert,” Sacramento Bee, 5/13). She also said that spending $1.2 billion in state funds on residents who previously qualified for Medi-Cal without additional federal funding is “a problem” (Duckworth, KCBS, 5/13).

Health Advocates’ Reactions

Meanwhile, C. Duane Dauner, president and CEO of the California Hospital Association, in a release expressed “disappoint[ment]” that the revised budget did not reverse “looming retroactive Medi-Cal payment cuts to hospital-based skilled-nursing facilities.”

Dauner said that the “omission comes at a critical time in the evolution of the Medi-Cal program” and that the cuts could “threaten access to care for millions of low-income and elderly patients” (“Capitol Alert,” Sacramento Bee, 5/13).

A joint release by several health advocacy groups said the coalition was “pleased that the governor’s May revision reflects the continued success of the state’s expansion of Medi-Cal coverage to more children and families.” However, the release added that the budget “misse[d] a golden opportunity to build a healthier California” by restoring funding for children’s health programs.

The coalition includes:

  • California Coverage & Health Initiatives;
  • Children’s Defense Fund California;
  • Children Now;
  • PICO California;
  • The Children’s Partnership; and
  • United Ways of California (The Children’s Partnership release, 5/13).

 

 

 

 

Gov. Brown proposes change in tallying of low-income students for funding formula

Guv Brown has figured a way to change standards, in order to create more people—by changing definitions. Any wonder California has the highest rate of poverty in the nation—the confused Guv just changes definitions.

“In his May budget revision, Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday proposed a change that will allow school districts to more broadly define who is eligible for a free or reduced-price meal and, by association, who is identified as low-income and eligible to receive extra state education funds. The proposal would affect more than 1 million students who fall into a gray area of free lunch eligibility.”

This means, by changing the law, Jerry Brown just made one million more students poor, poverty stricken—by government fiat. Not in reality, but in order to use money tax dollars, then demanding more tax dollars and finally raising taxes because we have one million more poor kids. This is how government operates.

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Gov. Brown proposes change in tallying of low-income students for funding formula
By Jane Meredith Adams, EdSource, 5/14/14 

In his May budget revision, Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday proposed a change that will allow school districts to more broadly define who is eligible for a free or reduced-price meal and, by association, who is identified as low-income and eligible to receive extra state education funds. The proposal would affect more than 1 million students who fall into a gray area of free lunch eligibility.

While the new Local Control Funding Formula requires school districts to count low-income students annually, and ties funding to the tally, Brown’s proposal would allow a subset of schools with large numbers of low-income students to count them only once every four years. Instead of individual student data, schools where more than 80 percent of students qualify for free and reduced-price meals would be allowed to submit a group percentage of low-income students. The proposal would allow the schools to continue the system they have used for years, although it requires that districts be diligent about verifying student family income levels every four years.

Brown’s proposal would give districts what they have sought: greater flexibility and less paperwork. These 1,500 high-poverty schools operate under Provision 2 of the National School Lunch Program, which frees schools with high concentrations of low-income students from conducting the time-consuming and costly process of verifying income eligibility for free or reduced price meals every year. Instead, these schools collect a “base year” of income eligibility data every four years, although schools can obtain extensions and in some cases the data have become quite stale, according to the state. In exchange for being relieved of paperwork, the schools provide free meals to every student, with districts paying the difference between the qualified percentage and 100 percent.

But with hundreds of millions of dollars for low-income students on the line under the new funding system, the California Department of Education said it needed current student data. Districts with large populations of low-income students, led by Los Angeles Unified and Fresno Unified, have protested vociferously for the past nine months, even as they have collected the necessary information.

Ruth F. Quinto, chief financial officer of Fresno Unified, said last fall that the new data collection was unnecessary, given an abundance of federal and state data documenting poverty through the census, unemployment rates and enrollment in state food stamp programs.

Los Angeles Unified Superintendent John Deasy said that families were wary of filling out forms they’d never seen before, and according to the rules of the free lunch program, the schools couldn’t require that forms be returned for students to receive free meals. Deasy charged that requiring new forms from the low-income families was inconsistent with the spirit and the letter of the new funding formula, which the governor has described as a push toward equity for needy students.

But still, districts pulled together alternative income verification forms and launched widespread campaigns to collect information from families. Fresno Unified gave away tickets to the Fresno Fair to encourage families to return forms and sent teams of parents door-to-door. Oakland Unified handed out 1,400 tickets to Raiders games to reward schools that collected high numbers of forms.

After months of conversations with districts, school lunch advocates and the California School Boards Association, Gov. Brown proposed the changes in the May revision of his spending plan for 2014-15.

Deasy expressed gratitude that the governor had responded to districts’ complaints. “I want to thank Gov. Jerry Brown for listening to our concerns about streamlining processes under the new Local Control Funding Formula,” he said in a statement. “His proposed changes should help mitigate the burdensome process for collecting alternative forms to verify income eligibility, so that we can focus more attention on teaching and learning.”

Brown’s proposed changes would also allow the districts to throw out their 2013-14 count of high-needs students, if the count for 2014-15 is higher.

Tia Shimada at California Food Policy Advocates said the proposed changes would encourage schools to continue to participate in programs that serve all students free meals, while still being able to provide necessary data for the funding formula. The proposed changes are “a step in the right direction,” she said.

Report: NSA Bugged Internet Devices

Photo Courtesy of newfilm.dk, Flickr.

Photo Courtesy of newfilm.dk, Flickr.

Our government is going to cause foreign businesses and foreign nations to stop buying ANY technology from a United States firm. Thanks to the Snowden revelations, folks like Germany’s Merkel are being watched by NSA and the President of the United States. Already Europeans are stopping the acquisition of U.S. technology. Now it gets worse—not only are we spying on Prime Ministers and bankers in other countries, honest citizens here, NSA is using U.S. products sold overseas as spying devices.

In Japan buy a router from Cisco—and the NSA is spying on your computer and Internet—directly.

“The NSA obtains routers and other network devices being exported from the U.S., implants backdoor surveillance features, repackages the devices with factory seals and sends them to the international customers to tap into the networks of their users, The Guardian reports. The article cites a June 2010 report from the head of the NSA’s Access and Target Development Department leaked by Snowden.

Responding to an email about the report, NSA spokeswoman Vanee’ Vines would not comment “on specific, alleged intelligence-gathering activities,” but said the agency relies on the security of American-built tech devices.”

Report: NSA Bugged Internet Devices

Amid controversy, allegations on surveillance the new NSA director promises more transparency.

The NSA is reportedly tapping exported Internet routers before being sold to foreign nations.

By Tom Risen, US News, 5/13/14

The Obama administration has accused China of hacking companies and Congress has questioned whether Chinese businesses tamper with telecom devices, but the National Security Agency may be using those same tactics, according to reports citing documents leaked by former agency contractor Edward Snowden.

The NSA obtains routers and other network devices being exported from the U.S., implants backdoor surveillance features, repackages the devices with factory seals and sends them to the international customers to tap into the networks of their users, The Guardian reports. The article cites a June 2010 report from the head of the NSA’s Access and Target Development Department leaked by Snowden.

Responding to an email about the report, NSA spokeswoman Vanee’ Vines would not comment “on specific, alleged intelligence-gathering activities,” but said the agency relies on the security of American-built tech devices.

“While we cannot comment on specific, alleged intelligence-gathering activities, NSA’s interest in any given technology is driven by the use of that technology by foreign intelligence targets,” Vines said. “The United States pursues its intelligence mission with care to ensure that innocent users of those same technologies are not affected.”

This alleged espionage is the kind commercial spying the House Intelligence Committee suspected was being dealt by China-based telecom Huawei. The committee investigated Huawei in 2012 in part because its CEO used to be a military technologist for the People’s Liberation Army. The congressional scrutiny led the Chinese telecom to step back from the U.S. market.

Nearly a year has passed since reporter the June 2013 publication of the first story about widespread, secret NSA surveillance citing documents leaked by Snowden. This latest report in The Guardian is an excerpt from a book about the NSA disclosures called “No Place to Hide,” by Glenn Greenwald, who wrote the first news story about Snowden for the news group.

Reports citing documents leaked by Snowden also indicated the NSA has uploaded spyware on to computers to monitor both criminals and trade rivals.

The new director of the NSA, Vice Admiral Michael Rogers, promised on Monday the agency would be more transparent while it factors privacy rights into national security efforts, Reuters reports.

“The dialogue to date that we have had for much of the last nine months or so from my perspective, I wish was a little bit broader, had a little more context to it and was a little bit more balanced,” Rogers said at the Reuters Cybersecurity Summit, alluding to the surveillance debate generated by Snowden.

The trouble with transparency in the spy business is that everything is “compartmented” among the people in different secret operations, so very few people – if any – at the agencies know what everyone on the payroll is doing, says Bob Baer, a former secret case officer for the Central Intelligence Agency.

While Baer suspects some of the NSA reporting during the past year may have incomplete or inaccurate sources, he adds it is hard to account for contractors on the payroll doing surveillance or data mining for agencies.

“I have rarely seen an intelligence flack out and out lying – they may not know the whole story,” Baer says. “The intelligence community is so big, and there is always somebody pushing the envelope at some level.”