Marijuana Legalization to be on 2016 Ballot—NOT This November

The effort to formally legalize marijuana in California is not to be on the November, 2014 ballot. Instead, there is a 99% chance it will be on the November, 2016 ballot. Internal fighting, for no discernible reason, caused the four groups promoting the formal legalization of marijuana to divide resources and assure the drug dealers and drug cartels have a monopoly on the sale of this easily to get illegal drug. Seriously, no school or business setting is marijuana free. It is as easy to find marijuana in California as it is to find a gas station. We do not have enough room in jails for murderers much less marijuana dealers. So cops mainly look the other way or give “warnings”.

My belief is the public is growing weary of enforcing marijuana and other drug laws. They see Guv Brown release criminals easily and quickly—while courts have opened the prison and jails due to “discomfort” of the prisoners.

Expect the measure to pass in 2016—since government needs the tax revenues—and just the Hollywood Elite could pay enough taxes to pay for the High Speed Rail over a period of thirty years!

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Pot advocates fail to qualify initiative for California ballot

Frank Stoltze, KPCC, 6/30/14

California voters anxious to legalize pot will have to wait for at least two years.

Supporters of legalizing the recreational use of marijuana in California are blaming an internal disagreement over strategy for their failure to qualify a measure for the November ballot.

“Most funders of the movement think 2016 is a more viable option for a ballot initiative,” said John Lee, who led the signature gathering campaign for the Marijuana Legalization and Control Act of 2014. It was the best-funded among four campaigns this year.

In two years, voters elect a new president. More liberal voters typically go to the polls in a presidential election year. The Drug Policy Alliance and billionaire political activist George Soros were among those who decided to wait until 2016.

Lee and others pushed to place a measure on the ballot his year because polls showed California voters appear ready to legalize pot. A Field Poll in December found 55 percent of Californians now support legalization.

The Marijuana Legalization and Control Act campaign raised about $200,000, Lee said. That’s well short of the estimated $2 million necessary to run a signature-gathering effort. They would have needed another $10 million to run a successful November campaign, he said.

The campaign collected about half the necessary 504,760 signatures needed to qualify a measure, Lee said. The deadline to collect the signatures was June 26.

Failure to qualify a measure for the ballot is a big disappointment for people like David Welch. He’s an attorney who represents medical marijuana clinics in LA, and hoped voters would get a chance to decide on wider use of the drug.

“A lot of us in the medical marijuana industry were hoping…we would fall in the footsteps of Colorado and Washington,” he said. Colorado and Washington legalized marijuana last year.

It seems likely California voters will have a chance to vote on the issue in two years. The question is how many different versions of marijuana legalization might make the ballot. Supporters of legalization differ on a number of key issues, including how sales would be regulated and how much pot people could possess.

As San Francisco’s Housing Costs Escalate, the City Can’t Afford Anti-Growth Legislation

San Fran Progressives may have hit the wall in “free” services and welfare programs, policies that raise wages and cut productivity. It is possible that the potential of a $15 per hour minimum wage also affects the cost of rental housing, putting it further out of the reach of hard working people. The average cost of an apartment in San Fran is $3500 a month (not a typo). At $15 an hour for a 40 hour week, that means $2400 a month, before taxes. So maybe $1800 to spend on a $3500 apartment. Any wonder California is in a Depression with the rich doing very well and the poor forced to eat scrapes.

Watch this once world class city become the poster child for the rich and tech oriented. The rest should leave while they can.

“Perhaps more than any other American city, San Francisco’s housing crisis is fueled by insufficient supply. “Unless we actually change the supply and demand equation, the average housing cost is going to stay crazy expensive,” says Metcalf. And yet, in a progressive city like San Francisco, growth is demonized, and inevitably aligned with the disruption and new money that have come with the tech industry.”

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As San Francisco’s Housing Costs Escalate, the City Can’t Afford Anti-Growth Legislation

By Diana Lind, Public CEO, 6/30/14

Earlier this week, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee announced that the city would pursue raising its minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2016. It was a policy move aimed to staunch some of the palpable anxiety over the city’s increasing unaffordability — and, unlike the city’s housing crisis, an easy topic to get consensus around.

And yet, the push to raise the minimum wage is inextricably tied to the city’s skyrocketing housing costs. The average cost of a one-bedroom in San Francisco is nearly $3,500 per month, and meanwhile 70 percent of housing units are selling for more than their asking price, suggesting that those who can afford to own are panicked to buy before prices get even higher.

But ironically, the same progressive ethos that has championed the minimum wage is hindering efforts to build more affordable housing. Many people believe that by preventing luxury or even market rate housing from getting built, it will keep neighborhoods from gentrifying. In a recent example, 200 residents of the Mission District participated in a town-hall-style meeting to voice concern over a new development atop a BART station that would create 350 new units of housing and retail space, claiming it would push out low-income residents.

But as Gabriel Metcalf, executive director of SPUR notes, the Mission was once dominated by affordable housing and still, stifling new market rate housing has done nothing to keep the neighborhood from gentrifying in more recent decades. “If you look at the Mission, from 1970 to 2010, essentially zero units of market rate housing were built and yet the Mission is the elite example of hypergentrification, even more so than Williamsburg.”

Mayor Lee has called the lack of affordable housing a “crisis” that “threatens to choke off [the city’s] economic growth and prosperity for the future.” As part of a plan to deal with this issue, he has promised to build or rehabilitate 30,000 units of housing within the next six years. It’s a number that sounds impressive, but is barely an improvement upon current trends of about 3,500 new units of housing in 2013. Moreover, SPUR estimates that a rate of 5,000 new units of housing would merely stabilize prices, not lower them.

Meanwhile, another effort to preserve affordable housing has been introduced by Supervisor Jane Kim, who seeks to ensure that 30 percent of all housing that gets built be affordable. But while the intentions for the so-called “metering” plan are good, they’ll undoubtedly make building any type of housing more complicated — and therefore expensive — inevitably generating fewer total units.

Perhaps more than any other American city, San Francisco’s housing crisis is fueled by insufficient supply. “Unless we actually change the supply and demand equation, the average housing cost is going to stay crazy expensive,” says Metcalf. And yet, in a progressive city like San Francisco, growth is demonized, and inevitably aligned with the disruption and new money that have come with the tech industry.

Those in favor of increased regulation over affordable housing claim that without more oversight, developers will just get richer while few units for low- or moderate-income individuals will get built. The sad fact is that by preventing new housing, the lowest-income people stand the most to lose.

“There are lot of wealthy homeowners with property on top of hills with great views who personally benefit from keeping the existing system in place, and they seem to vote in high numbers,” says Metcalf. “The elected officials are willing to do almost anything — including spend money — on affordable housing, but the one thing they’re not willing to do is take on the anti-growth homeowner lobby.”

Instead of contemplating legislation like the metering plan, which will only belabor the construction process and prevent more housing from getting built, the city needs to fundamentally reconsider its zoning. While no paragon of affordability, New York City has used a 2003 rezoning ordinance to add capacity for 80,000 new units of housing. Ensuring San Francisco’s affordable housing stock is imperative — but it can be achieved much more quickly, and therefore more equitably, by not wasting time reviewing each building that throws off the mix of affordable and market rate housing, but instead rezoning parts of the city, particularly those serviced by public transit. If San Francisco further slows the process of building housing, those needing affordable housing will have to leave because they can’t afford to wait.

Unions Cause ObamaCare to Pass—Now Take 6% PAY CUT

Barack the First has an odd way to treat his “friends”—the unions stole money from workers, elected members of the Congress and Senate, got ObamaCare passed (high cost/inferior health care) and now the workers are taking another hit—a 6% CUT in their paychecks to pay for this Third World plan.

When will the workers revolt against union leaders that take their money then harm their paychecks and families? It was known at the time this would hurt union workers. Not mentioned in this article is that in 2017 many workers with union negotiated contracts will start paying taxes directly on their health care plan—another 4-5% pay cut thanks to union leaders.

“In the case of the Affordable Care act, Mulligan is talking about implicit marginal tax rates, or “the extra taxes paid, and subsidies forgone, as the result of working.” This means that the taxes and subsidies included in the Affordable Care Act increase the tax rate on an additional dollar of income by six percentage points.

Mulligan warns that we shouldn’t be surprised that “as we implement a new law that taxes jobs and incomes, we are ending up with fewer jobs and less income.”

BART and Unions present before  state panel

 

 

Obamacare Increases Marginal Tax Rate on Labor by Six Percentage Points

Andrew Lundeen, Tax Foundation, June 24, 2014

The Affordable Care Act increases marginal tax rates on labor by about six percentage points and is one of the largest tax increases in the last 70 years according to economist Casey Mulligan:

“During a period that included more than a dozen tax increases, the ACA is arguably the largest as a single piece of legislation, adding about six percentage points to the marginal tax rate faced, on average, by workers in the economy. The only way to cite larger marginal tax increases would be to combine multiple coincident laws, such as the Revenue Acts of 1950 and 1951 and the new payroll tax rate that went into effect in 1950. Even with these adjustments, the ACA is still the third largest marginal tax rate hike during the seventy years.”

In the case of the Affordable Care act, Mulligan is talking about implicit marginal tax rates, or “the extra taxes paid, and subsidies forgone, as the result of working.” This means that the taxes and subsidies included in the Affordable Care Act increase the tax rate on an additional dollar of income by six percentage points.

Mulligan warns that we shouldn’t be surprised that “as we implement a new law that taxes jobs and incomes, we are ending up with fewer jobs and less income.”

In response, Greg Mankiw did some rough math to illustrate what the six percentage point tax increase might do to the economy:

“Given that labor income was already taxed by income and payroll taxes, that figure indicates the return to working fell by about 10 percent. If we apply a plausible aggregate labor supply elasticity of 0.5, this in turn suggests a decline in labor supply of about 5 percent. In the long run, as the capital stock adjusts, a fall in labor supply leads to a proportionate fall in output.”

Mankiw says that Mulligan emailed him and shared that he believes the effect will be about a two percent drop in the size of the economy.

In an economy where the labor force participation rate sits near the levels of the late 1970s at near 63 percent, policies that cut the return to work by 10 percent and decrease the size of the economy by any amount are the last types of policies that workers need.

A Robot WILL Write Some Press Releases and More—it is Starting

Call Centers take your pizza order. Online forms are used to purchase suits, shoes and music. A machine has been made and is being used to make hamburgers for fast food joints. But the media can not be computerized, especially the writing of news and press releases for the rip and read media. Until now.

““Interestingly, we already have been automating a good chunk of AP’s sports agate report for several years. Data comes from STATS, the sports statistics company, and is automated and formatted into our systems for distribution.”

Think Wolf Blitzer or Bob Schieffer can be replaced by a vocalized computer? Would anybody notice the difference or care? So few are watching broadcast news that few will see a difference between Wolf reading an Obama press release and a machine doing the same. Those pushing for higher taxes, more regulations, higher minimum wages are accelerating business moving from people to machines to do the work. Again unions and Democrats working hard to harm the poor, middle class and minorities.

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Will Robots Write Your Client’s Next Press Release?

By Patrick Coffee, Medisbistro, 6/30/14

Did you take our headline too literally? Our apologies. Robots will almost certainly not write your next press release…or the one after that, or the one after that.

The Associated Press did, however, just announce a very real “robotic content production deal” with a company called Automation Insights. In fact, the AP even published a Q&A on the matter which very closely resembles…a traditional press release!

Of course there’s more.

As robotic as most releases may seem, Automation Insights will only produce those related to financial reports. More specifically, they’re launching “company earnings stories based on robot-processed data” in July, with said data provided by a company called Zacks Investment Research (a name that may have doubled as the title of a “Saved by the Bell” episode).

As Andrew Beaujon of Poynter reported this morning, the AP frames this move not as the further marginalization of investigative reporting but as a way to empower financial journalists to spend less time compiling numbers and more time telling us what those numbers mean.

Lou Ferrara, the AP’s managing editor of business, writes:

“For many years, we have been spending a lot of time crunching numbers and rewriting information from companies…

…instead of providing 300 stories manually, we can provide up to 4,400 automatically for companies throughout the United States each quarter.

This is about using technology to free journalists to do more journalism and less data processing, not about eliminating jobs.”

This isn’t as revolutionary as it might seem, either:

“Interestingly, we already have been automating a good chunk of AP’s sports agate report for several years. Data comes from STATS, the sports statistics company, and is automated and formatted into our systems for distribution.”

Thankfully, trusty trade bloggers will still be around to copy and paste fake quotes on staffing announcements…as long as you don’t demand that we give your team credit for writing them in the first place.

Now we can return to the only thing more boring to the average reader than a financial earnings report: debating the future of the press release.

 

CA East Bay Area Politico’s: We Want HIGHEST Minimum Wage in the Nation

If I wanted to create a regional Depression, forcing the middle class to move to Texas and the poor to lose job opportunities I would take the road being proposed. Instead of a City or County passing a high minimum wage, which will cause job losses, vote to have everybody in the region to pay the same—supposedly so no jobs are lost by an individual city. Instead, they want to end small businesses in the region, create more expensive housing and make more people dependent on government welfare services. They want everybody to lose jobs.

Or, they will depopulate the area, since machines will do the jobs of unskilled, inexperienced workers, for much less. The East Bay of California will become The New World—quickly becoming the very rich, the very poor and the illegal alien. Wonder how the rich are going to get their house cleaning, landscaping done, along with going to those special small out of the way bistro’s that will no longer afford to stay open.

Great way to kill a region economically in just one election. Go for it. “Inspired by the proposed minimum wage hike facing Oakland voters this November, Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates wants the two cities — plus Alameda, Albany, El Cerrito and Emeryville — to ensure pay hits $12.82 within the next three years. (The city of Richmond, meanwhile, is on track to raise its minimum wage to $12.30 within the same time frame.)”

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East Bay proposal reignites minimum wage fight
By James Poulos, Calwatchdog, 6/30/14

When a handful of corporations conspires to fix wages, they face legal action. But for several cities in the San Francisco East Bay area, the idea of a concerted effort to set pay has a newfound appeal.

Rather than taking a permissive attitude toward business collusion, however, the plan is to create what supporters are calling a regional minimum wage, one higher than the $8 per hour rate that prevails in the area. (Next month, California law will require a statewide wage of at least $9 an hour, with another increase to $10 in January 2016.)

Inspired by the proposed minimum wage hike facing Oakland voters this November, Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates wants the two cities — plus Alameda, Albany, El Cerrito and Emeryville — to ensure pay hits $12.82 within the next three years. (The city of Richmond, meanwhile, is on track to raise its minimum wage to $12.30 within the same time frame.)

As the San Francisco Chronicle reports, Bates flips the traditional free-market critique of minimum wages on its head, claiming that a regional wage allows East Bay cities to “share enforcement duties” and avoid the “economic disadvantage” of losing jobs to more pro-business municipalities.

From national to local

Left unexplained is how an East Bay wage cartel would manage to keep businesses from shifting work toward the nearest comparable cities without artificially inflated minimum wages.

Under the present circumstances, political hardball, not economic logic, is driving the Bay Area’s push for higher wages. This year, Democrats had hoped to use a national push for an increased minimum wage to attract votes, offsetting the unpopular and inefficient implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Despite some initial gains, the key effort behind a congressional wage law failed, driving advocates and policymakers to shift their strategy to the state and municipal level.

Ironically, the moves have helped spur a majority of the U.S. Conference of Mayors to adopt a resolution urging an increase in the federal minimum wage. Congressional action would take the heat off of individual mayors, who often face withering pressure from well-organized or highly vocal groups agitating for dramatic wage hikes.

Mayors in the hot seat

It’s the kind of activism that can leave mayors scrambling — and hoping to settle the issue in a way that spreads responsibility for compromise numbers, not concentrates it.

Mayor Bates himself incurred the wrath of Raise the Wage East Bay, an organization that believed it had his support in May for an ambitious minimum wage plan. According to Raise the Wage, Bates signaled his agreement to raise the wage to $15.02 by 2020, at which point the wage would be indexed to inflation. But Bates ended up “switching sides,” the group claims, leading “a confused stampede” toward a “minuscule increase” of 75 cents in Berkeley’s minimum wage. “The measure they passed has no provisions for health insurance, paid sick days or even adjustments for inflation.”

It’s a pattern repeated elsewhere in the Bay. Richmond’s Chamber of Commerce managed to derail a planned minimum wage increase to $12.30, enabling a wave of 11th-hour exemptions that applied to employers hit hardest by wage hikes – small businesses, nonprofits and bars and restaurants. Outraged, unions and their allies formulated plans to take a broader increase straight to voters.

Until then, the onus is on the East Bay’s mayors to stake out their positions as the political winds blow. For at least some key figures in the debate, that means no small amount of stalling. Jac Asher, mayor of Emeryville, captured the mood with some carefully qualified words about Bates’ proposal. Although she insisted she supports a regional minimum wage, her concern, she said, was simple: “Every city is going to be dealing with a different context and different circumstances.”

U.S. Election Corruption: 6.9 million multiple voters in 28 states, report finds

American elections seem to be as honest as an election held in a Third World country. In a Third World Country people vote and there is almost no check to make sure you are eligible to vote—and that you are who you say you are. In the United States you can register to vote in New York and all the New England States, then on election day go State to State and vote—easily you could vote in a minimum of six States in one day—and if you add New Jersey, it would be seven. This is no longer fiction—it is a reality.

“The latest interstate voter cross check tallied 6,951,484 overlapping voter registrations, and they’re just the tip of the iceberg.

The cross-check program involves only 28 states and does not include the three largest: California, Texas and Florida.

Imagine how many more double and triple voters are on the voter rolls when you include 22 more States!

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6.9 million multiple voters in 28 states, report finds

By Kenric Ward, Watchdog.com,   6/28/14

‘IT’S A MESS’: True The Vote executive director Catherine Engelbrecht says “radical special interests” can game the electoral system.

RICHMOND, Va. — Some 6.9 million Americans are registered to vote in two or more states, according to a report obtained by Watchdog.org.

“Our nation’s voter rolls are a mess,” says Catherine Engelbrecht, president of the election-watch group True The Vote.

“Sensible approaches to roll maintenance are fought tooth and nail by radical special interests who can use the duplicity in the system to their advantage,” she said.

The latest interstate voter cross check tallied 6,951,484 overlapping voter registrations, and they’re just the tip of the iceberg.

The cross-check program involves only 28 states and does not include the three largest: California, Texas and Florida.

“Duplicate registration is an open invitation to voting fraud,” said Clara Belle Wheeler, a member of the Election Board in Albemarle County, Va. “This ability to vote more than once dilutes the legal votes and changes the results of elections.”

The interstate cross-check program matches first and last names and dates of birth to identify multiple registrations.But the data are not routinely used to purge duplicates.

“Increasingly lax standards in our election process produce increasingly unreliable results,” Engelbrecht asserted.

“The few conversations that are had about how to shore up these weaknesses are immediately seized on by certain politicians and special-interest groups as fuel to further divide American voters based on trumped-up race and class-based narratives,” she said.

Engelbrecht said the “vicious cycle” can be fixed “if citizens wake up, stand up and refuse to settle for a broken system.”

Jay DeLancy, executive director of the Voter Integrity Project of North Carolina, says the solution is as simple as one-two-three.

“First, tie registrations more closely to (each state’s) Department of Motor Vehicles. All voter ID cards would originate there,” he explained.

“As is today, when we get an ID card from DMV, we get registered to vote — but turning in your former state’s ID card should revoke your right to vote in the state that issued it.

“Second, make it a felony to possess a voter ID card — or any other DMV-issued ID card — from more than one state.

“Third, we would only be allowed to vote from the address on that ID card. If a voter shows up with the wrong address, the vote is provisional until the card is corrected,” DeLancy concluded.

He added: “We don’t need a federal ID card to do this. In fact, it wouldn’t require any more feds to be hired.”

States, however, will have to tighten up. And that could be a challenge — both politically and fiscally.

In Virginia, Wheeler noted that the State Board of Elections and Department of Elections “have had their funding reduced greatly by the (Terry) McAuliffe administration.” McAuliffe is a Democrat.

“With reduced funding, they have a grossly limited staff and thus, will be greatly limited in the ability to do the cross checks and reduce voter fraud.”

SBE officials, who provided the cross-check data in response to a Freedom of Information Act filing by the Virginia Voters Alliance, did not respond to Wheeler’s assertion.

Watchdog previously reported Virginia and Maryland have 44,000 duplicate voters between them.

Two national voting-rights groups — the League of Women Voters and America Votes — did not respond to Watchdog’s requests for comment.

Kenric Ward is a national correspondent for Watchdog.org and chief of its Virginia Bureau.

 

Hell Froze Over: Lt. Gov. Newsom Supporting Freedom of Choice–Non Union Workers

Has Gavin Newsom gone over to the bright side to support capitalism and freedom? The UC system sent a memo to employees NOT to use cheaper “sharing economy” items like cars and lodging. This could save money for the taxpayers if the UC system uses the shared services. This usually means the workers get paid without a kickback to the unions. Imagine workers getting all their paycheck (minus taxes taken out) and being able to decide how to spend their money on politics, if at all.

Newsom I guess is trying to become the business Democrat in 2018 when he runs for Guv—against Kamela Harris, the Attorney General—who thinks of herself as Obama in a dress. Happily the memo was forced to be repealed—but the attitude of Janet Napolitano against capitalism, choice and freedom is obvious, as the head of the UC system the memo belongs to her—whether she wrote it or not.

“”As the market matures and these businesses evolve, the University may reconsider whether reimbursement of travel costs provided by peer-to-peer or sharing businesses will be allowed,” wrote Belinda Borden, UCLA’s director of travel services.

“Therefore, until further notice, please do not use services such as Uber, Lyft, Air B&B or any other similar business while traveling on or engaging in UC business,” she wrote.”

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Lt. Gov. Newsom criticizes UC’s warning to staff about Uber, Airbnb

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom wrote a letter criticizing a notice sent to UC workers about “sharing economy” companies such as Uber and Airbnb.

Patrick Hoge, San Francisco Business Times, 6/27/14

Some University of California staff have been told they will not be reimbursed for using “sharing economy” services like Airbnb, Uber and Lyft for lodging and travel, a move that spurred Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom to send a letter of complaint Thursday to UC President Janet Napolitano.

The Office of the President’s general counsel has “determined that third party lodging and transportation services, commonly referred to as peer-to-peer or sharing businesses, should not be used because of concerns that these services are not fully regulated and do not protect users to the same extent as a commercially regulated business,” according to a notice posted Monday by the UCLA Faculty Association.

“As the market matures and these businesses evolve, the University may reconsider whether reimbursement of travel costs provided by peer-to-peer or sharing businesses will be allowed,” wrote Belinda Borden, UCLA’s director of travel services.

“Therefore, until further notice, please do not use services such as Uber, Lyft, Air B&B or any other similar business while traveling on or engaging in UC business,” she wrote.

Steve Montiel, a spokesman in Napolitano’s office, responded to a query with the following written statement:

“The University of California system does not have a policy banning the use of peer-to-peer services such as AirBnb, Lyft and Uber. University employees currently use those services and are reimbursed for them when they involve UC business-related travel. We are, however, reviewing and evaluating issues revolving around the safety and security of our employees when they use such services. We are actively seeking ways to overcome potential liability and safety concerns and would like to work proactively with companies such as these to get everyone to a point of complete comfort with the risks involved.”

Borden, who declined a request for further comment, did not specifically mention San Francisco-based Airbnb, Uber Technologies or Lyft in her message, but Newsom, San Francisco’s former mayor, did.

All of the companies impacted by the Monday notice have had conflicts with government regulators because their business models do not conform to existing laws governing vacation rentals and transportation.

Newsom acknowledged that there are regulatory questions around some peer-to-peer companies, but said “the decision to permanently prohibit its employees from choosing low-cost travel and transportation options is shortsighted and unnecessary,” and sends the wrong message about controlling costs and supporting innovative thinking among students.

“A University that is focused on the future and committed to fostering new technologies should not work against innovators and entrepreneurs,” wrote Newsom, who also penned an opinion piece earlier this month that advocated that government should not stifle innovation by “over-regulating” Uber, the smartphone transportation dispatcher.

Airbnb, for its part, was pleased by the lieutenant governor’s support, and posted Newsom’s letter as part of a blog post applauding government officials around the country who have supported “sharing economy” companies.

“It now appears that the University is reconsidering these policies and we hope U.C. employees can continue to participate in the sharing economy,” Airbnb said.

 

Billionaire’s energy tax crusade is risky business for unions

Is the energy issue the one that breaks apart the private sector unions hold on the workers and society? Coal industry workers, by the thousands are losing jobs thanks to Obama. All the nuclear energy union members are goners—Barack is now working on killing off unionized oil field workers—and refuses to allow 20,000 union people get jobs building the Keystone Pipeline. We will see Nick Rahall a longtime Democrat Congressman from West Virginia lose his re-election in November—coal miners are holding him responsible for Obama killing off their jobs and throwing the economy into chaos. The Senate seat and Governorship in that State will be won by the Republicans as well—because they never supported Obama.

Could we see a revolt of private sector union members, losing pensions, signing bad contracts, forced to pay dues so Democrats like Obama can be elected—to their own detriment? We just saw in Sacramento Hispanic Democrats vote against a minimum wage increase because they knew it would kill jobs in their communities. Is this the start of the Democrat coalition falling apart—the ideology does not meet the needs of the people.

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Billionaire’s energy tax crusade is risky business for unions  

By Jason Stverak, Watchdog.com, 6/26/14

A billionaire investor arrived in Washington Tuesday to kick off a $100 million spending campaign designed to overwhelm the opposition this fall midterms, and senior Democrats were predictably furious.

MONEY MAN: Tom Steyer’s millions will go toward promoting a variety of environmental causes, including opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline, but the California billionaire’s primary objective is a revival of a variety of new energy taxes that will cost all Americans more.

But this megadonor wasn’t a Koch brother or any other conservative bogeyman. It was Tom Steyer, an environmental activist planning to spend nine figures of his own money to force politicians to support policies that Congress and the public have flatly rejected. However, this moneybomb is a poison pill that is poised to tear apart the Democratic Party from within.

Steyer’s advocacy may be the beginning of the end of the Democratic coalition that we’ve known for the past century. Wine-track coastal progressives have always been an awkward political partner for beer-track, blue-collar union workers, and it may be impossible for the latter to stand idly by while the former spends millions to take away their jobs.

Steyer’s millions will go toward promoting a variety of environmental causes, including opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline, but the California billionaire’s primary objective is a revival of a variety of new energy taxes that will cost all Americans more. Cap-and-trade plans, carbon taxes, and oil extraction taxes like Steyer is working for in California, have been political nonstarters since 2009, when the Waxman-Markey climate bill barely passed a House where Democrats held a 78-seat majority, and promptly died in the Senate, which at the time had a 60-Democrat supermajority — the largest majority of liberals that chamber has had in the modern era of politics.

These burdensome energy taxes are dead for a good reason — Democrats killed them. The Waxman-Markey bill, which in effect would have placed an exorbitant tax on the vast majority of American energy, was popular in liberal coastal cities, iffy at best in the suburban swing areas that tilt the balance of power in Congress, and horrifically unpopular in the rural and energy-producing regions of America.

The reason noncoastal Democrats abandoned cap-and-trade and other burdensome energy taxes is because the policies explicitly harm working people, the traditional backbone of the party of Jefferson, Jackson and the New Deal.

Energy production creates real jobs, and not the briefcase-and-cubicle type. Millions of Americans who make a living with their hands work in coal mines, refineries, power plants and the variety of industries directly supported by energy, including manufacturing, construction, plastics, and dozens more.

These jobs have long been one of the bedrocks of the American middle class and are the economic engines of working cities from Pittsburgh to Houston to Duluth. The nascent hydraulic fracturing industry also is creating thousands of jobs in previously depressed areas, offering people still out of work from the recession a chance to start anew.

Further complicating this picture for Steyer is that many of the jobs directly and indirectly supported by the energy he wants to tax are union jobs, and by crusading against energy, he’s biting the hand that feeds the party he claims to support.

Labor unions — and not billionaires like Steyer and the Kochs — were the largest source of outside money in the 2012 elections, spending $1.7 billion (almost all in support of Democrats), and providing Democratic candidates with an unparalleled get-out-the-vote operation. Very little gets done on the left side of the aisle without labor’s blessing, and although most major unions do not oppose cap-and-trade, Steyer’s agenda would lead to the direct loss of union jobs and create unrest in the labor movement.

Steyer’s millions, for example, will advocate for further restrictions on the coal industry, an end to oil and gas pipeline construction, and higher taxes on fuel and electricity. In practice, any of these policies would eliminate blue-collar jobs, and make it harder for families to pay their utility bills. Steyer has said that  “we need to reward people whose behavior reduces climate risk, and penalize people who add to it,” either unaware or unconcerned that the people punished will largely be middle-class union workers.

Supporting new energy taxes has proven to be political suicide for any member from an Appalachian or interior state. In fact, 31 House Democrats from moderate and conservative districts — some of whom hadn’t even drawn a challenger the previous year — lost their seats after voting for Waxman-Markey. Opposition to the bill among energy-state senators was so fierce that the Senate never even took up the bill.

Democrats who rely on the votes of blue-collar workers would rather talk about anything but new energy taxes that will delay job growth and slow economic recovery, but Steyer’s millions are going to force them to.

Now, with Democrats defending Senate seats in seven states carried by Mitt Romney in 2012, three more in moderate, rural interior states, and one in coal-heavy Virginia, Steyer wants to unearth this anvil from its political grave and tie it around the necks of anyone who attempts to run under the blue banner.

Jason Stverak is president of the Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity.

 

Californian Monitors LAPD With Drone

Now the cops are being surveilled by the public. A private citizen is using a drone to monitor the activities of the police, mainly in arrests and DUI checkpoints. No more one way photos, videos or statements. The people are beginning to get involved in protecting themselves from the police. This is an amazing turn of events. This is how little respect and trust average citizens have for government—they distrust the police who are meant to protect us.

This is another example of the public turning away from the government. We do not know if the person doing this is from the Right or Left—or just angry at government and its double standards. This is what happens when law enforcement refuses to enforce our laws and the President uses the IRS, EPA and NSA to spy on and harass citizens. It is a war—though undeclared.

“Cmdr. Andrew Smith of the Los Angeles Police Department told the paper that the emergence of drones used by civilians is an “eye-opener” that law enforcement would “need to pay attention to.”

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Man flips drone fear on its head, uses technology to monitor L.A. cops

By Douglas Ernst, The Washington Times, 6/27/14

A California man decided to turn the fear that drones will be abused by law enforcement officials on its head by using the technology to monitor police behavior.

“I don’t think it’s a substitute for a hand-held camera, but it’s definitely a complement,” Daniel Saulmon of Torrance told the Los Angeles Times.

Mr. Saulmon said he has been filming police behavior with the technology for a month, typically monitoring DUI checkpoints to make sure police aren’t abusing their power. He added that he is careful not to run afoul of any laws while filming.

“I have to use common sense with it,” Saulmon said. “It’s easy to fly. I would have to really go out of my way to be reckless and cause a problem with it.”

Cmdr. Andrew Smith of the Los Angeles Police Department told the paper that the emergence of drones used by civilians is an “eye-opener” that law enforcement would “need to pay attention to.”
 

Port Hueneme Navy Base Should be Closed: Obama Using it as Home to Illegal Aliens/Not Military Base

Every few years the Department of Defense looks at the Navy base at Port Hueneme in Ventura County, California. In the past the argument has been used that the Base is important for national defense. That is no longer true. This is a Navy facility the Obama White House plans to use as a processing center for illegal aliens imported by the Administration into this nation. Once processed, the illegal aliens will sneak off the base and into the shadows of the County and region, take California jobs, welfare and add to the cost of criminals in the community. The cost of illegal aliens in 2013 to California government was $25.3 billion—not including the cost of lost jobs.

Now that Port Hueneme Naval Base is a processing center for criminals, it should be closed—our national defense does not need it. I could argue that our national defense is harmed by keeping it open as an R&R center for criminals, drug cartel members and terrorists. Close Port Hueneme.

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California Faces Dicey New Round Of Base Closings

Thomas B. Elias, Columnist, Santa Monica Mirror, 6/28/14

When Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel asked Congress the other day to authorize a new round of military base closings and consolidations in 2017, alarm bells should have gone off in many parts of California.

For this state has been victimized more than any other in the last two such rounds, with profound economic effects in many parts of the state.

Sure, there have been positive new uses of some old bases, from parkland in the Presidio of San Francisco to a college campus on the former site of Ft. Ord near Monterey. But the jobs lost when those bases closed, plus the ones lost from the Long Beach Naval Shipyard, the El Toro Marine Air Station, March Air Force Base and many others, still have not been replaced.

Nor have the ripple effects stopped, as many surviving businesses near those bases now are far less profitable than before, employing many thousands fewer than they once did.

This new potential round of closures comes at a particularly dicey time for California, which has lost or is about to lose some of the veteran members of Congress who might have fought for a fair deal for their state.

Of course, there’s little evidence that the likes of Democrats Henry Waxman and George Miller, or Republicans Gary Miller and Buck McKeon (current chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, no less) ever did much to spare California pain.

The base closures are one reason California ranks 43rd among all states in federal per capita spending, getting back just 78 cents for every dollar its taxpayers put into the U.S. treasury.

Those veteran congressmen and the rest of the state’s 53-member largest-in-the-nation House contingent couldn’t even get a single Californian onto the Base Realignment and Closure Commission in the early 2000s. In the previous closure rounds, that commission each time presented Congress with one complete package of cuts, with the lawmakers committed to a yes-or-no vote on the entire thing, no amendments allowed.

Just as it was almost inconceivable at one time to imagine the Army’s huge training facility at Ft. Ord disappearing, so it now seems impossible that the Marine Corps’ giant Camp Pendleton just north of San Diego could be closed.

But the real estate on which that base sits is so prime that a federal commission might decide to take the money and let it be built over, as seems the likely fate for the mostly vacant former El Toro base in Orange County, now that park proposals for that land have been thwarted.

With U.S. policy leaning against new desert wars, will Ft. Irwin and its desert warfare training facility be scrapped, some of the land perhaps to be used for trendy solar thermal electricity projects?

The last two times around, Californians in Congress overwhelmingly backed both the creation of BRAC and its plans. It’s no coincidence that once the closures in those plans occurred, California dropped 20 places in its rank among the states in federal spending. Meanwhile, the last U.S. Census showed Texas, site of the Army’s troubled Ft. Hood, now home to much of the training that once took place in California, got $19.7 billion in military salaries in 2010 compared with just $10.3 billion for California.

Does anyone doubt that an extra $9 billion in personal income being spent and re-spent in California might have some effect on the state’s chronic unemployment? Similarly, is there any doubt all that extra income had something to do with Texas weathering the Great Recession better than many other places?

The upshot of all this is that Californians in Congress must make sure any new round of cuts does not again make this state its prime victim. One way to do this would be to insist that the House and Senate get some control over who serves on the next BRAC commission and that any new plan not be presented on an all-or-nothing basis.

But Californians in Congress have rarely shown much appetite for working together for the welfare of the whole state. This has to change, or we could see a California with no Seabee base in Ventura County, no Travis Air Force Base in the East Bay and no Lemoore Naval Air Station in the Central Valley. And as many as 120,000 more related jobs gone, as happened in the last round.