The End of Frontier Medicine in California

In the rural areas of California small doctor practices and clinics can be found everywhere—medicine is brought to the people. Thanks to ObamaCare, Medicare, Medi-cal and other government programs, doctors have become administrators instead of physicians. Now they are giving up.

Want health care—go to a big city. This is another way to force folks from where they want to live to where they need to live to gain a doctor.

“Over the past few years, Downieville has been caught up in changes for funding health clinics. Federal and state priorities have shifted from rural and frontier areas to underserved, urban population areas. When you do the math, the cost-per-patient equation will always come out in favor of a clinic in an urban area. As a result, a rural clinic must rely on the support of a larger, population-focused clinic—which doesn’t have any incentive to provide rural patients with better care.

In 2010, the number of patients we were seeing yearly decreased from 4,000-4,500 to 3,000-3,500, and we joined forces with a clinic in Grass Valley that sees 17,000 patients per year. Originally, the Downieville clinic was guaranteed continuing support for our 24/7 medical care. But while the larger clinic in Grass Valley expanded, our smaller clinic withered. Nutrition, physical therapy, and dental services were all cut. Behavioral health services are now accessed via telemedicine.”

healthcare medicine

The End of Frontier Medicine in California

Frank Lang, Zocalo Public Square, 9/22/14

Why Obamacare Can’t Save the Health Clinic I Built in Western Sierra County

Thirty-eight years ago, a young nurse practitioner, who was a veteran of the Air Force and the Army, moved his family from Denver to Downieville, California, the Sierra County seat, to volunteer for the National Health Service Corps. The village was founded during the gold rush—in 1851, its population peaked at 5,000—but by the time we arrived, there were only about 500 residents in Downieville and 1,200 in the immediate surrounding area.

On my first night in town, I was hooking up the television for my children and by sheer coincidence received a fragmented radio signal through the TV receiver from the sheriff’s office: There was an emergency, and they needed medical help. I found the sheriff’s office and was promptly whisked to the scene of the crisis—a car resting precariously on an embankment 150 feet below the road, with an unconscious person inside. I was lowered down by a tow truck cable, then secured the vehicle and started the patient on an IV. He was lifted back up on a Stokes rescue litter and taken by ambulance to the nearest hospital—in Grass Valley, 50 miles away.

The next day as I went through town, my adventure was all the talk. I wondered, “What have I gotten myself into?”

When I arrived in Downieville that day in 1976, there was virtually no consistent primary medical care or integrated emergency medical services response to trauma and medical emergencies. Some vagabond EMTs were just beginning to train with the fire department, and the local Lions Club had founded a fledgling medical care system. But an emergency like the one I’d attended depended on well-intentioned citizens getting into cars and trying to help out. No one knew what a nurse practitioner was; I lacked any credibility except what I could do for the ill or injured.

Luckily, I loved what I was doing from the start, and my work became our family’s story.

The National Health Service Corps (NHSC), which places health professionals in rural communities, had sent me to Downieville to open a health clinic. The deal was that the NHSC would pay my salary and clinical expenses for a couple years before the operation would be taken over by the community.

I started by building the clinic’s infrastructure: buying equipment, hiring a support staff, developing integrated referral processes to make it easy for patients to see specialists, and creating an emergency response system. Because of Downieville’s geographic isolation, the clinic staff needed to be able to treat a wide variety of illnesses and injuries; finding nurse practitioners and physician’s assistants to cover such a range was difficult, though not impossible.

My staff and I took supplemental classes at the UC Davis School of Medicine (a 2 1/2 hour drive away) to fill in gaps. To provide many of the services I added, I had to be licensed through the state and approved by practice boards. For example, we had no pharmacy in town, so we got licensed to dispense medication.

After the NHSC placement and funding ended, I decided to stay on in Downieville with the support of the community. I was able to secure funding for my salary through the California State Rural Health Association. I also wrote grants to foundations and nonprofits to purchase equipment: a defibrillator first, then an X-ray machine. Grants helped build up the facility over the years, but we still operated on a month-to-month basis.

The biggest issue was that running the clinic was a 24/7 commitment. My wife, who is also a registered nurse, began working in the clinic as a volunteer, and eventually received grant funding. She and I were raising three sons together, and we rarely were able to take any time off because it was so difficult to find people to come up to Downieville and cover shifts at the clinic. Some people I had trained at UC Davis would come up occasionally. The American Medical Association rural doctors program would send a doctor to the community for two weeks. After 22 years, we got external funding so that I could take two regular days off a week with another provider on call.

In 2007, our peak year, the clinic offered access to a nutritionist, physical therapy, and home care, and had substantial savings in the bank. But then the recession hit, our grants started to dry up, and state funding levels dropped. My wife went back to being a volunteer.

Over the past few years, Downieville has been caught up in changes for funding health clinics. Federal and state priorities have shifted from rural and frontier areas to underserved, urban population areas. When you do the math, the cost-per-patient equation will always come out in favor of a clinic in an urban area. As a result, a rural clinic must rely on the support of a larger, population-focused clinic—which doesn’t have any incentive to provide rural patients with better care.

In 2010, the number of patients we were seeing yearly decreased from 4,000-4,500 to 3,000-3,500, and we joined forces with a clinic in Grass Valley that sees 17,000 patients per year. Originally, the Downieville clinic was guaranteed continuing support for our 24/7 medical care. But while the larger clinic in Grass Valley expanded, our smaller clinic withered. Nutrition, physical therapy, and dental services were all cut. Behavioral health services are now accessed via telemedicine.

On October 1, Downieville’s medical care is scheduled to be reduced to three days per week, with no after-hours care or weekend coverage. This means, after that date, the community will no longer have critical care or advanced life support coverage, consistent urgent care, or end-of-life home care. There is a great deal of uncertainty about urgent care needs: Does an X-ray require the expense and time of a trip to Grass Valley? The integrated frontier healthcare delivery system I built over decades is being systematically dismantled; I worry that a patient will come into the clinic one day and be greeted by nothing more than an iPad.

The cutting of care has galvanized Downieville, and we have previously won delays in implementation of the reduced services. The clinic is going to join forces with other community partners, including the fire department, to develop an integrated 24/7 paramedic and clinic system. It won’t be ideal, but it is sustainable. And it will probably be paid for by the people it serves—with support from a western Sierra County health services fee for all landowners, increased user fees for community events, and higher ambulance fees.

Now, under the Affordable Care Act, everybody has insurance. Theoretically, this means people should have more access to healthcare. But that’s not true in Downieville after the changes of the last few years. More insurance won’t help people if healthcare treatments are inconsistent or unavailable.

One of the changes expected to take place under Obamacare is more reimbursement for clinics. But such reimbursement is based on the number of people served. There are not enough patient encounters in frontier areas like ours to be sustainable without grants or government funding.

Originally posted at Zocalo Public Square.

 

The Show Won’t Go On Taxpayer-funded global warming musical closes early amid bad reviews

We are told we do not have enough money to place guards on our borders, but we can send 3,000 troops to Africa to become nursemaids to the Ebola outbreak. We need better roads—but the Feds have decided to spend almost $700,000 on a musical play. Yep, the Feds now produce musicals—maybe they can bring back Fred Astaire?

Previously the Feds have paid for studies of drug use among San Fran prostitutes, the sex lives of panda’s in China and school surveys asking kids about their parents sex life. Now Hollywood has taken a bite from the budget. To produce a play on Climate Change!

“The New York Daily News called it an “awkward musical,” with songs that “feel shoehorned in and not, pardon the pun, organic.” The NY Times gave some praise to the play for its climate change themes, but called the plot “borderline soapy.” 

“The narrative through-line — Phyllis’s search for Karl — mostly feels like a flimsy pretext for the show’s lengthy lesson plan,” the paper wrote.

None of the reviews mentioned that taxpayers financed the production.

The NSF would not say whether the agency considers the nearly $700,000 given to the Brooklyn theater company “The Civilians,” who produced the play, a waste of money.”

WhiteHouseMoney

The Show Won’t Go On

Taxpayer-funded global warming musical closes early amid bad reviews

BY: Elizabeth Harrington, Washington Free Beacon, 9/20/14

After a series of lackluster reviews, the traveling global warming musical that was financed by the U.S. taxpayers is ending its run early.

The Great Immensity, a musical described as “painfully long” and “awkward,” was made possible by a $697,177 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

“The play, which featured songs and video exploring Americans’ relationships to the environment, opened in New York in April with a three-week run before going on a national tour that was supposed to attract 75,000 patrons,” FoxNews.com reported. “But it stalled after a single production in Kansas City, falling short of the lofty goals outlined in a grant proposal.”

The musical was intended to tour the country in an effort to convince Americans to act on climate change. It ended up attracting meager audiences of theatergoers who were likely already on board with the play’s politics, the Washington Free Beacon found after seeing the play on its opening night in New York City.

The story revolved around a man named Karl, who quits his job on Shark Week because the show did not emphasize climate change enough. He then disappears with a 15-year-old “Earth Ambassador” for the UN, Julie, who convinces Karl to stage a kidnapping of young children during a global climate summit, on the eminently rational assumption that such an event would make the world act on global warming.

Karl abandons his wife Phyllis, who had been franticly searching for him, despite her hopes to start a family. In one of the final scenes, Karl gives Phyllis a jar of his frozen sperm.

The play featured singing and dancing about a carrier pigeon named Margaret, and lyrics about “sea-soaked teddy bears” and the redistribution of wealth. One line said people are “stupid” for not changing their life for global warming. (Enjoy the music here).

Reviews were not good.

“Much like the starving, survivalist polar bears that occupy a considerable amount of story time, though, the production seems to bite off more than it can chew,” wrote Entertainment Weekly, which gave the play a C+.

“Unfortunately, much as I’d like tell you that The Great Immensity is indeed immensely entertaining, that’s not the case,” wrote Curtain Up, an online theater reviewer remarked in an apologetically negative write-up.

The New York Daily News called it an “awkward musical,” with songs that “feel shoehorned in and not, pardon the pun, organic.” The NY Times gave some praise to the play for its climate change themes, but called the plot “borderline soapy.” 

“The narrative through-line — Phyllis’s search for Karl — mostly feels like a flimsy pretext for the show’s lengthy lesson plan,” the paper wrote.

None of the reviews mentioned that taxpayers financed the production.

The NSF would not say whether the agency considers the nearly $700,000 given to the Brooklyn theater company “The Civilians,” who produced the play, a waste of money.

“This particular project just concluded in August and the final report has not yet been submitted to NSF,” the agency said in a statement to FoxNews.com. “Final reports are due to NSF within 90 days following expiration of the grant. The final report will contain information about project outcomes, impacts and other data.”

 

Tea Party Brings Energy to California Republican Party– Auctions off Shotgun at GOP Convention

One group, claiming to be conservative, used a Board meeting at the Republican convention six weeks before an election to kick out members. Another group had just 12 people attend their meeting. Most groups had no more than a few dozen attendees. Yet the Tea Party California Caucus (disclosure, I am on the Board of Directors) had hundreds hear a retired border guard from New Mexico explain how Obama has stopped them from enforcing the immigration laws, Mike Spence discuss the state of education in California.

Then, following up on that the Tea Party had hundreds at a rally/conference to hear Bill Whittle talk about our values as a nation. Then Sheriff Mack of Arizona spoke about how the Federal government interferes with law enforcement. The Associate Representatives did not even bother to send out a email prior to the convention, nor hold a meeting, set strategy and work for a Republican victory in November. They were not even seen at the convention as an organization.

“Weatherby donated the gun, a $448 value, in support of the Tea Party California Caucus Sunday raffle.

Also auctioned was a four-day course at Front Site in tactical pistol, rifle or shotgun training, worth $2,000. Front Sight donated the package to the Tea Party Caucus for the $10-a-ticket raffle.

California State Republican Party Chairman Jim Brulte participated by drawing the two winning raffle tickets for the shotgun and tactical firearms training.”

msm media smear tea party

Tea Party Auctions off Shotgun at GOP Convention in L.A.

by Michelle Moons, Breitbart CA, 9/21/14

LOS ANGELES, California — The Tea Party Caucus of the California Republican Party closed the weekend’s state GOP conference with a bang, auctioning off a Weatherby shotgun and a trip to the world-class Front Site firearms training institute.

Weatherby donated the gun, a $448 value, in support of the Tea Party California Caucus Sunday raffle.

Also auctioned was a four-day course at Front Site in tactical pistol, rifle or shotgun training, worth $2,000. Front Sight donated the package to the Tea Party Caucus for the $10-a-ticket raffle.

California State Republican Party Chairman Jim Brulte participated by drawing the two winning raffle tickets for the shotgun and tactical firearms training.

The auction was merely the cherry on top after a schedule of packed meetings held by the energetic, growing grass-roots Tea Party crowd.

On Saturday, for example, the group held an issues panel, during which knowledgeable speakers came to share expertise in the areas of immigration and education.

In the late afternoon, PJTV talent and film producer Bill Whittle inspired the crowd by encouraging them to communicate with more relatable language when engaging others outside the movement, while at the same time sticking to conservative principles. He elaborated on examples of how to shine a light on misunderstandings over what it means to be a conservative (or a socialist).

Whittle described how he once spoke to a room full of college students, of whom 70% identified themselves as socialists at the beginning of his message. As he asked them about their views in a rephrased fashion, he demonstrated that when thinking critically, most stood on specific issues truly more identified with conservative principles.

Following Whittle, former Graham County, Arizona Sheriff Richard Mack addressed the enthusiastic crowd on “The Fight for Property Rights.” Many stayed to attend an additional panel featuring California Assemblyman Tim Donnelly and activist Debbie Bacigalupi about the latest California water bond, which Donnelly opposed.

 

Opponents of governor’s tunnels now oppose governor’s water bond

Finally, folks are beginning to organize against the phony $7.5 billion water bond. The bond is sold as money for water storage—but the language says “$2.7 billion for groundwater clean up and water storage”. Of course if they spend $200 million on storage they would not have lied. Plus, even if they tried, California environmental laws would cause courts to stop any attempt to build a dam.

“The environmental group Restore the Delta has been the sparkplug behind the “Save the Delta, Stop the Tunnels” grass roots movement against the governor’s proposal to siphon fresh water from the Sacramento River via what would be two of the largest water tunnels ever built.

Now Restore the Delta’s executive director, Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, is branching out, heading a new group that opposes the governor’s water bond on the November ballot.”

vote ballot initiative

Opponents of governor’s tunnels now oppose governor’s water bond
by Gene Beley, Central Valley Business Times, 9/19/14

•  Say up to 70 percent of water bond is pork

•  “That’s when I go bang my head against the wall”
The environmental group Restore the Delta has been the sparkplug behind the “Save the Delta, Stop the Tunnels” grass roots movement against the governor’s proposal to siphon fresh water from the Sacramento River via what would be two of the largest water tunnels ever built.

Now Restore the Delta’s executive director, Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, is branching out, heading a new group that opposes the governor’s water bond on the November ballot.

She says the new organization, Citizens Against the BDCP Tunnels and Californians for Water Sustainability, had to be formed because Restore the Delta is not legally able to tell people how to vote.

The steering committee has leaders from the South and Central Water agencies, along with Osha Meserve, an environmental and land use attorney. Another leader is Mike Machado, of Linden, a veteran Democratic state politician now retired, who holds a degree from Stanford University in agricultural economics and another agriculture degree from the University of California, Davis, and attended the Harvard Agribusiness School in London, England.

Mr. Machado authored Proposition 13, the “Safe Drinking Water, Clean Water, Watershed Protection, and Flood Protection Bond Act.” He also assisted in the passage of Proposition 50, the “Water Security, Clean Drinking Water, Coastal and Beach Protection Act of 2002.”

Mrs. Barrigan-Parrilla says the organization is being funded by the South and Central Delta water agencies. She says that they have over 20 groups and it is growing rapidly. In speaking to the North Delta Community Area Residents for Environmental Stability of Clarksburg, better known by its acronym, North Delta CARES, at Husick’s Country Store in Clarksburg this past week, she quickly gave reasons why they are opposed to the Prop 1 water bond:

• The debt issue in California.

• The projects the water bond proposes net only a 1 percent increase in water supply in California. Mrs. Barrigan-Parrilla said the cost to the taxpayers is way too much.

• The state wants to buy water that the citizens of California already own.

“The state is already $777 billion in debt,” said Mrs. Barrigan-Parrilla. As she explained it, $128 billion of that is on general bond debt in California, which already eats up 21% of the budget every year.

And since borrowed money is seldom free, when interest is tacked on the bond bloats to $14.4 billion. Taxpayers would be paying $360 million a year for 40 years including interest, she said.

“Let’s get a little more Delta centric to talk about what’s going to happen to water and water supplies through the Delta all the way out to the Golden Gate,” she told the audience. “We look at all the pots of money throughout that water bond — whether it is money to put back into the funding for the Central Valley Project, the wildlife refuges, ability to buy flows to put water back into the system — you’re looking at a total of $900 million — close to $1 billion. There are two fundamental problems with it. As a citizen who believes in good government and cares about the environment first and foremost, the water the state and water districts want to buy is water that you and the citizens of California already own. Under the Constitution and as part of the public trust, you already own that water. Why in the world are we going to ask our citizens to pay for the water that they already own?

“That is the fundamental flaw in terms of good government. The flaw in terms of the environment is, if we have to start buying water to protect fish, it is all over, because the fish will always lose. The environment will always lose,” she said.

Mrs. Barrigan-Parrilla said the Sacramento River is over subscribed by five times. “The water sources for the two out of three major projects in the bond are the raising of Shasta Dam, Sites Reservoir, and Temperance Flat.” The water source for the first two those projects is the Sacramento River; Temperance Flat would be built on the upper San Joaquin River.

“Very few times in history has Shasta Dam been completely filled. When you put all three of those dam projects together, you will net between those three projects in an average year 316,000 acre-feet of water per year. That’s it,” she declared. “The total construction cost is between $7.85 and $9 billion. “You’re looking at only a 1 percent increase in water for that much debt.”

Due to scientists forecasting a 21 percent reduction in the Sierra Nevada snowpack, due to rising temperatures, without even talking about the amount of rainfall, there will be even less water to put into dams in California, she said.

“We have over 1,400 dams in California, according to the American Society of Engineers. On their 2013 report card they’ve already built dams on the best sites you should build dams. Even Friends of the River are not against storage or against every dam—just the dumb ones,” Mrs. Barrigan-Parrilla added.

She noted that over the state’s dam inventory, 807 dams are at high risk today. “If people are worried about flood threats and climate change and pulling out the water for drought, it seems to me you should be worried about maintaining the current existing infrastructure,” said Mrs. Barrigan-Parrilla. “Of those 1,400 dams in California, only 45 percent of them have an emergency preparedness plan. We are not prepared for the dam disasters. We have dams that are in very, very bad shape.”

She said one of the problems with the water bond is that it “was crafted in 48 hours and is not the same bond we lived with for the past four years,” referring to a proposed water bond that was repeatedly taken off the ballot before it could be voted on after politicians and their pollsters realized it would sink to defeat.

“So you get the new bond that says there has to be a recreation component in any storage project in order for it to move forward. I don’t know about you, but I can’t water ski in an underground reservoir, which is where you need to be putting water,” she said.

Raising Shasta Dam

Sixty percent of the benefits for raising the height of Shasta Dam are supposedly a public benefit for fish, she said. “You tell me, where in the world do they put up a dam for fish? At Temperance Flat, it’s worse at 73 percent of the benefits for fish. At Sites Reservoir people say it’s great, but they want to put it in fields that are laden with chromium and mercury because of past mining. I don’t think you want that water coming down the Sacramento River. We have enough problems with mercury throughout the Delta.”

Indian partners stand to lose

“Two of our coalition partners since the beginning of the tunnels battle include the Winnemem Wintu tribe at Shasta that was registered in the Federal Register as a national tribe at the federal level. One day when the federal government decided to build Shasta, they erased the tribe from the Register. They are a culture that has struggled for survival. If Shasta is raised, their 21 sacred cultural sites are gone. They presently own a small piece of property southeast of Redding. They struggle with their status and funding. They are some of the most beautiful people I know in California,” she said.

A second problem no one paid attention to, she said, is that is they want to put the Sites Reservoir where the Concow Maidu tribe has lived for years. “So we’re talking about wiping out another community. And for someone who has spent all these years fighting to save this community (Clarksburg and the Delta), I just can’t in good consciousness say, ‘It’s their problem now.’ There’s got to be a better way to do projects in California.”

Mrs. Barrigan-Parrilla asked, “Have you been paying attention to how many days water quality standards have been violated this year in the Delta? The pumps never go off. We know from the 2010 Water Resources Control Board that we have adequate water quality control standards. The benchmark has been set too low to keep the total estuary healthy.

“Now let’s throw in the BDCP component that says it is tunnel neutral on the water bond. You can write all kinds of things into a bond. How that money is going to get appropriated also depends on how other documents are written and how the end results are operated,” she warned.

Mrs. Barrigan-Parrilla told the group that through a public records act request in March 2013 “we know that the BDCP on March 29, 2013 wrote a BDCP Supplemental Water Concept. What that document says is that they needed to create a fund of $1-$1.5 billion for water to be used for environmental flows. But guess what? It can also be sued for export liability. If you and I are willing to pay for it, they can make the project pencil out for Westlands and Kern County Water Agencies. Again, this goes back to ‘What do I want to pay for it as a taxpayer?’

She said she has no problem spending pubic money for public infrastructure. “I do have a problem when my tax dollars are going for projects that benefit a very small percentage and doesn’t create infrastructure that serves the greater good.

“That environmental account came with the water purchases for and after the tunnels. It will just be a repeat of the environmental water account like with Stewart Resnick in 2009 when he bought up water through the environmental water account and sold it for hundreds of millions of dollars, as well as other big growers on the west side of the San Joaquin for speculative development of desert cities.”

Habitat in the Delta

“When we finished our BDCP comments our colleague and friend, Bill Jennings from the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance pulled together an absolute, wonderful major report,” Mrs. Barrigan-Parrilla said. “We live in the Delta and like to say, ‘Come on out. I’ll show you the bad habitat and what’s wrong with it. That’s lovely and I see it all with my own eyes. But it is all really antidotal. The fact is you have to use facts and science to beat ‘them’ at their own game. Well, Bill beat them at their own game. The truth is, out of 27 habitat projects built over the past 25 years, he documented that they have turned the Delta into methylmercury sinks, the water is too hot, and they are overgrown with invasive species and not been maintained.”

A moment of irony

“Here I stand, as an environmentalist, telling you I am really against the habitat project,” continued Mrs. Barrigan-Parrilla. “I am really against the habitat project. But on a science level, even more.”

Since 1996 a group of state and federal agencies called Cal-Fed has spent more than $50 million buying up farmland in the Delta designed to convert farmlands into wetlands and wildlife habitat.

But now studies are showing that wetlands can actually intensify problems with mercury, which is a neurotoxin that can cause brain cancer and even death.

Mrs. Barrigan-Parrilla told the Clarksburg CARE audience that she thinks the BDCP is building a lake habitat for predators. She added that it is easy to write a piece of legislature that says these habitat projects will not have anything to do with the BDCP twin tunnels “because you shuffle them back into Category A.” She said research has revealed over 150,000 acres of habitat between state lands, county lands, and private lands in the Greater Delta.

“The fisheries have been crashing since when they put the Central Valley Project on line (in 1937),” said Mrs. Barrigan-Parrilla. “We have to reduce the total flows that go out if we are going to have a vibrant fishery, not just for the Delta, but also for San Francisco and the coastal salmon fishery. We need free flowing water that moves through the Delta, cleans the system and gets fish out of here to the ocean. I can’t stress that enough as being another problem with the water bond.”

Prop 1 for the rest of the state

Mrs. Barrigan-Parrilla listed the following significant points for the rest of the state:

• “Sixty to 70 percent of the water bond is pork and will create projects that will hurt people in the community and fisheries. Again, the $1 billion for purchasing water is water we already own.”

• “The $2.7 billion for dams that won’t net any significant new water”

• Administration fees larded throughout the bond

• The money marked for conservancies that have nothing to do with watershed restoration throughout the state.

“We have some problems with our own local legislators who are supporting Prop 1. Here is the key — we’re all under political pressure. Those legislators have to be forced to do the right thing by the citizens.”

But she sees good parts of the bond

She went on to say there are some good water projects in the bond: One is funding for clean drinking water to some of those cities in the San Joaquin Valley next to the big growers like Westlands. But then Mrs. Barrigan-Parrilla quickly said from prior bonds, “We have $2.9 billion that has not been spent for water projects that should have been spent for clear water projects to clean up the same water.” She added that “we have another $450 million in federal grants that the state has not tapped.

“How many times can you sell people on the fact you need cold drinking water for this one specific community?” Mrs. Barrigan-Parrilla asked the Clarksburg audience.

“What’s worse is, when they chopped this one, they only cut the funding for the bad projects by 10 percent, but they cut the money for good conservation like recycling, groundwater, recharge, the things we needed for near term action through the drought by 36 percent. That just drives me crazy!”

She said some Los Angeles people are thinking they have to support Prop 1 to get groundwater cleanup money. “But then people are getting hip to the fact that, gee, what you put in the bond is only going to cleanup one third of what we need in the San Fernando Valley. They did not put enough money into the right investments.”

Is that just the way it is in California?

“Other people say this is the way politics works. They have to craft a compromise. This is how you get things done,” she said.

“My response always is I understand people want their legislators to get things done, hold hands and sing Kumbaya. But this bond is not good enough for California because it doesn’t get to the real solutions that we need. We need significant investments because we have pipes crumbling like the water break at UCLA (July 29 that drained 8-10 million gallons of water at 75,000 gallons per minute before the water could be shut off). There was another 1.6 gallons lost in San Diego when a 64-year-old, 18” cast iron pipe broke Sept. 3 that took 80 minutes to just shut down and disrupted hospitals in the Birdland area of the city.”

Mrs. Barrigan-Parrilla urged the audience to read a story in a Cathedral City newspaper under noonprop1.org that told about a broken city water pipe for four years in that desert city. “The investment in California would be $80 billion. That will have to come with public and private partnerships on the regional level and people demanding accountability of people in their water districts,” she said.

She said new technology is also being ignored. “There is a new underground wireless system where you can track water breaks in five minutes and get your repair team out there. We’re looking at a much smaller investment to get these systems put in the water districts throughout California while you’re dealing with the bigger infrastructure problem. That gets you more water than if you try to build projects that give a 1 percent increase.

She said one doesn’t have to go far from the Delta to see where improvements can be made. “When I drive eight miles east of Stockton, I see overhead sprinklers hitting county roads at 3 p.m. That’s when I go bang my head against the wall.”

Public Utilities Commission crashes into Uber, Lyft

Great work by Uber and Lyft, firms that provide private cars as alternative to taxi cabs. The public Utilities Commission is trying to close them down by making the regulations too costly to stay in business. Instead, the firms are ignoring the corruption of the system by this notorious government agency. Maybe if the utilities did the same energy would be cheaper in California?

When a government agency exceeds its authority you can sue or just ignore. Good work by these firms in understanding that bullies should be ignored—the public wants these services, even if the unions are crushed by them. This is not about regulations, it is about unions controlling transportation in California. Looks like those days are dying.

“In response, the ridesharing companies vented their frustration with the state’s legal hurdles.

Uber said:

“The only conclusion we can come to is that the PUC doesn’t like technology, environmental progress, or anything that might make California a better place to live.”

Sidecar said:

“San Francisco was quick to embrace Shared Rides because they are so convenient and well-priced you can get across town for a just a little more than you would pay for the bus.”

cpuc public utilities

Public Utilities Commission crashes into Uber, Lyft

By James Poulos, Calwatchdog, 9/19/14

This week was supposed to be a Kumbaya moment for state legislators and ridesharing services. On Wednesday, Gov. Jerry Brown signed it into law compromise legislation allowing the firms to continue to flourish, while requiring them to increase their insurance coverage.

But just before then, the California Public Utilities crashed its regulations into the ridesharing services’ carpool operations, such as Lyft Line and Uber Pool.

Carpooling via smartphone app has become a key element of the services’ strategies for competitiveness and growth. Uber’s carpooling service offers rates some 40 percent lower than UberX, its most affordable regular option.

But in the CPUC’s bureaucratic lingo, a car pool is called a “charter party carrier.” The CPUC’s letter to Uber read:

“In accordance with §5401, the Commission has consistently found that charter party carriers cannot charge an individual fare when carrying multiple persons in a vehicle, and, therefore, a person chartering a charter party carrier vehicle must have exclusive use of the vehicle.”

However, Bloomberg reported the CPUC also observed it “lacks the flexibility to allow a type of transportation service that is against state law,” counseling the companies to “petition lawmakers to modify the state code if they think it is outdated.”

In response, the ridesharing companies vented their frustration with the state’s legal hurdles.

Uber said:

“The only conclusion we can come to is that the PUC doesn’t like technology, environmental progress, or anything that might make California a better place to live.”

Sidecar said:

“San Francisco was quick to embrace Shared Rides because they are so convenient and well-priced you can get across town for a just a little more than you would pay for the bus.”

Lyft championed its Lyft Line carpool as contributing to “carbon reduction and improved air quality,” high priorities for many state and city officials.

Indeed, the CPUC’s own website — featuring Brown’s picture prominently at the top — boasts of its efforts to reduce carbon use:

“California has already taken some huge steps to lower the state’s carbon footprint.  Here are some of our most impactful programs. …”

Uncertain legal terrain

As Mark Rogowsky pointed out in Forbes, California’s regulatory framework is so arcane and complex the CPUC appears to have only inferred the transportation services’ carpools are illegal. Under current law, there actually are three categories of services:

1. A Passenger State Corporation, or PSC. Rogowsky explains: “[I]t can charge people individually for a shared vehicle. This is how SuperShuttle can drive around to multiple neighborhoods, pick people up and drop them all at the airport without running afoul of the law.

2. A “charter-party carrier,” oddly given the acronym TCP. “It can only rent out a vehicle by time or distance. Limos and charter buses fall into this category.”

3. Transportation Network Companies or TNCs, the category for ridesharing carpools. “The law for TNCs is unique in some critical ways — only TNCs are required to run criminal background checks on drivers, TCPs aren’t — but it hews closely to the way those vehicles have been regulated. And amid the legalese of Section 5401 of the state’s public utilities code, which concerns those TCPs, are these key words: ‘[N]o charter-party carrier of passengers shall … demand or receive compensation, for the transportation offered … on an individual-fare basis.’”

Scrambling to keep up

None of the services indicated it had any plans to shut down or suspend carpool features. Despite tooth-and-nail competition among the three, all have chosen in effect to call the CPUC’s bluff. As of yet, there is no indication the CPUC has created concrete plans to ensure their interpretation of the law is enforced — shifting attention back to lawmakers in Sacramento.

But the regulatory assault comes after the compromise worked out in the Legislature. Rather than ramming new regulations down the throats of the app-driven companies, lawmakers struck a deal that left all sides content, if only for the moment.

The CPUC’s action reminded everyone that not just legislators elected by the people, but unelected bureaucrats, hold clout in the Golden State.

College Student Forced to Remove American Flag from Balcony, ‘Could Offend Foreign People’

While Obama is sending troops for the Ebola virus to Africa, troops with no boots to Iraq and the Middle East to fight for freedom (or at least show up pretending we are fighting for something) students in San Diego are told flying the flag of the United States is “offensive” to foreigners. Which ones—if they are offender by our flag they must also be offended by our freedoms—maybe they should go home?

“We were then told that it was for political reasons and that the flag could offend foreign people that live here, foreign exchange students,” Smith said. “I’ve had friends and family fight to defend that flag.”

While Smith’s lease agreement with the apartment’s management does have a clause that says “no signs or other personal property may be kept outside the premises,” attorney Christian Curry told ABC. that the clause comes close to infringing on First Amendment rights.”

800px-Flag_of_the_United_States.svg

College Student Forced to Remove American Flag from Balcony, ‘Could Offend Foreign People’

by Daniel Nussbaum, Breitbart CA, 9/20/14

 A San Diego State University sophomore was forced to remove an American flag from his balcony after apartment managers said foreigners could find the display offensive.

Brad Smith, who had just moved into the Boulevard 63 apartment complex in San Diego last month, told ABC 10 News that he received a written notice to remove the flag a few days ago.

“We were then told that it was for political reasons and that the flag could offend foreign people that live here, foreign exchange students,” Smith said. “I’ve had friends and family fight to defend that flag.”

While Smith’s lease agreement with the apartment’s management does have a clause that says “no signs or other personal property may be kept outside the premises,” attorney Christian Curry told ABC. that the clause comes close to infringing on First Amendment rights.

“Clearly, they want to keep it clean and that’s something they want to accomplish,” Curry said. “It’s a compelling reason, but it’s hardly a reason that’s going to overcome your free speech.”

Management initially told ABC that anyone who hangs a flag would be asked to take it down; however, it looks like the management capitulated after the media highlighted the story. An associate of the owners of the apartment complex told ABC there was a “misunderstanding,” and that the flag would be allowed to fly.

 

Resigned to Freedom: California Teachers Association prepares for life as a voluntary association.

Great news. Even the totalitarian California Teachers Association (if you do not pay a bribe you are not allowed to teach) recognizes that the “F” word is becoming the value of this State—That word is FREEDOM. While the CTA steals money from teachers to support candidates that believe in choice for abortion, they do not believe a teacher should have a choice in paying dues to a union.

Now they are aware that in Wisconsin teachers won their freedom from unions and the schools are better and there is less hassle with unions interfering with the education process. In many other States teachers are allowed to teach without paying bribes, and the kids get educated.

“The worst union in America is contemplating its worst nightmare—a time when state law no longer compels California’s teachers to pay it for the privilege of working at a public school. According to a 23-page PowerPoint presentation unearthed by union watchdog Mike Antonucci, California Teachers Association officials are taking seriously the idea that a raft of pending litigation could put an end to mandatory union dues in the Golden State, and they’re exhorting local union leaders to rise to the challenge. The presentation’s title is fitting: “Not if, but when: Living in a world without Fair Share.”

brochure04_MyCTA

 

Resigned to Freedom

The California Teachers Association prepares for life as a voluntary association.

Larry Sand, City Journal, 9/21/14

 

The worst union in America is contemplating its worst nightmare—a time when state law no longer compels California’s teachers to pay it for the privilege of working at a public school. According to a 23-page PowerPoint presentation unearthed by union watchdog Mike Antonucci, California Teachers Association officials are taking seriously the idea that a raft of pending litigation could put an end to mandatory union dues in the Golden State, and they’re exhorting local union leaders to rise to the challenge. The presentation’s title is fitting: “Not if, but when: Living in a world without Fair Share.”

“Fair share” in this context refers to the union’s current legal right to collect dues from every public school teacher in the state, whether they join the union or don’t. But a world without compulsory dues isn’t hard to imagine—it’s already the reality in 24 right-to-work states, including Florida, Indiana, and Michigan, home to the still-powerful Michigan Education Association. The CTA presentation offers a candid assessment of emerging legal “attacks” in the wake of Harris v. Quinn, in which the Supreme Court this year ruled that the First Amendment forbids the state of Illinois to force part-time home health-care workers to pay collective-bargaining fees. The high court is likely to take up Friedrichs v. CTA, a much wider-ranging lawsuit now pending before the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals alleging that compulsory dues to public-employee unions are flatly unconstitutional.

After beginning with some basic demographics and shifting into a brief history of “fair share,” the CTA PowerPoint plows through a chronology of failed state ballot initiatives aimed at curbing the union’s unbridled power through “paycheck protection”—including Proposition 226 in 1998, Proposition 75 in 2005, and Proposition 32 in 2012. The union crushed all three measures simply by outspending their proponents. For example, the CTA poured $32 million into the $44 million campaign against Prop. 75, which would have required public-employee unions to get annual written consent from each member to use part of their dues for political activity. The “yes” campaign, by contrast, spent just $5.8 million. Given that disparity (and the unions’ fear-mongering about the policy issues involved), it’s easy to understand why the measure went down on Election Day. The CTA worries, with reason, that an adverse ruling from the Supreme Court would force the union to rein in its political largess.

The CTA is evidently resigned to the inevitability of losing the state’s protection. The last part of the union’s PowerPoint outlines an action plan suggesting different techniques to attract new members. The union contemplates ways to build its infrastructure by appealing to “young, prospective members to learn what might incent [sic] them to want to join the Association voluntarily.” The union suggests assessing would-be members’ level of interest in possible benefits, and looking for messages that “resonate with this demographic.” This sounds more like the AARP—or any interest group that relies on voluntary membership dues—than the old forced-dues model that California’s public-employee unions have relied on for so long. In the new scenario, if an educator thinks the union has something beneficial to offer her, she can join; if she doesn’t see any value in belonging, she can just say no and the union can’t force her to pay any dues. Imagine that.

This new voluntary spirit seems to be catching on with leaders of other unions, as well. Gary Casteel, a veteran union organizer recently named secretary-treasurer of the United Auto Workers, has come out in favor of right-to-work laws. In February, he said, “This is something I’ve never understood, that people think right-to-work hurts unions. To me, it helps them. You don’t have to belong if you don’t want to. So if I go to an organizing drive, I can tell these workers, ‘If you don’t like this arrangement, you don’t have to belong.’ Versus, ‘If we get 50 percent of you, then all of you have to belong, whether you like to or not.’ I don’t even like the way that sounds, because it’s a voluntary system, and if you don’t think the system’s earning its keep, then you don’t have to pay.”

Former Florida teacher and teacher-union president Doug Tuthill also seems comfortable with the right-to-work trend. “The two most effective unions in the United States are the National Rifle Association and the AARP,” Tuthill wrote on redefinEd, an education reform website. “They’re not industrial unions, but they are unions, and they are far more effective politically and financially than today’s teachers unions. Teachers should adopt this model. . . . Unlike today’s teachers unions, the NRA and AARP do not require their members to be part of a centralized bureaucracy. Their members are united by common values and interests.”

As unions come to terms with the right-to-work movement, they fall into line with broader public sentiment. A poll conducted earlier this year by Google Consumer Surveys found that nearly 83 percent of the American public believes that workers should have the right to choose whether to join a union. Additionally, nearly 29 percent of union members nationwide responded they would be interested in leaving their union if given the opportunity. And in its annual Labor Day poll, Gallup found 82 percent of Americans agree that “no American should be required to join any private organization, like a labor union, against his will.” Perhaps unions are on the verge of conforming to what Alexis de Tocqueville called the characteristic institutions of American life—voluntary associations. It’s about time.

Larry Sand, a retired teacher, is president of the California Teachers Empowerment Network and a contributor to City Journal’s book, The Beholden State: California’s Lost Promise and How to Recapture It.

 

If So Many People Support Government Transit, Why Do So Few Ride?

Nancy Pelosi loves to spend tens of billions on government transportation—but will not be caught on a bus. The same for most in the White House. I will say I have seen some Members of Congress use the Metro train in D.C. But when they get home, it is a government provided car for them. Do you think the head of the Department of Transportation or his deputies used government transportation before they came to D.C.? Joe Biden did take Amtrak, with YOU subsidizing his ride, to go home to Delaware in the evening. Think he is so poor we had to pay for his ride?

“Nor do these investments necessarily pay off in greater transit usage over time. Recently, transit scholars Michael Manville and Benjamin Cummins analyzed 21 local transportation funding ballots from 2001 to 2003, and found that, on average, these tax increases were approved by 63 percent of the vote. Yet a decade later, the share of commuters who drove alone in these places had fallen just 2 points, from 87 to 85 percent, while the share of transit commuters had stayed the same, at 5 percent. At best, the behavioral shifts were modest; at worst, they didn’t exist.

People believe transit has collective benefits that don’t require their personal usage.”

high speed rail train

If So Many People Support Mass Transit, Why Do So Few Ride?

Closing the support-usage gap will be key to a strong public transportation future.

Eric Jaffe, City Lab,   9/21/14

Every transit advocate knows this timeless Onion headline: “98 Percent Of U.S. Commuters Favor Public Transportation For Others.” But the underlying truth that makes this line so funny also makes it a little concerning: enthusiasm for public transportation far, far outweighs the actual use of it. Last week, for instance, the American Public Transportation Association reported that 74 percent of people support more mass transit spending. But only 5 percent of commuters travel by mass transit. This support, in other words, is largely for others.

What’s more striking about the support-usage gap is that it doesn’t just exist on paper. In addition to saying they support transit funding, Americans back up that support with their own pocketbooks. Time and again at the polls, people are willing to raise local taxes to maintain or expand the transit service that so few of them actually use. According to the Center for Transportation Excellence, there were 62 transportation measures on ballots across the country in 2012—many with a considerable transit component—and nearly 80 percent of them succeeded.

Nor do these investments necessarily pay off in greater transit usage over time. Recently, transit scholars Michael Manville and Benjamin Cummins analyzed 21 local transportation funding ballots from 2001 to 2003, and found that, on average, these tax increases were approved by 63 percent of the vote. Yet a decade later, the share of commuters who drove alone in these places had fallen just 2 points, from 87 to 85 percent, while the share of transit commuters had stayed the same, at 5 percent. At best, the behavioral shifts were modest; at worst, they didn’t exist.

People believe transit has collective benefits that don’t require their personal usage.

One of the clearest examples of the disparity comes from Los Angeles County. In 1980, about 7.5 percent of commuters used transit. That year, voters approved a permanent half-cent sales tax increase to pay for transportation initiatives, including lots of transit upgrades, but by 1990, the share of transit commuters had declined to 6.5 percent. That year, voters again approved a half-cent increase by a two-to-one margin, with nearly all the money going to transit. But the transit commute share was still at 7 percent come 2008, when yet another transportation ballot, Measure R, was passed by two-thirds of the vote.

So why do so many people support transit—not just with their voices but their wallets—when they have no intention of using it? The conclusion reached by Manville and Cummins largely echoes that of the Onion: people believe transit has collective benefits that don’t require their personal usage. Maybe voters think transit will reduce traffic congestion, or improve the environment, or help low-income residents, or translate into economic development. So long as someone else uses transit right now, everyone else will win in the end.

This outcome may seem obvious, but the data behind it are truly staggering. Take a look at one analysis Manville and Cummins perform on a transportation survey conducted by the National Resources Defense Council in 2012. They found no statistical connection between respondents who supported transit funding and those who wanted to drive less, or even those willing to use transit if it were more convenient. But respondents who believed “the community would benefit” had a 700 percent increase in odds of being a pro-transit voter. The researchers write in the journal Transportation:

Put simply, Americans are more likely to see transit as a way to solve social problems than as a way to get around.

This doesn’t have to be a bad thing, so long as people indefinitely keep paying for transit they don’t use. Perhaps that’s even a sign of societal maturity. But problems will arise if voters stop agreeing to devote their taxes to transit, because the broader benefits they’ve hoped for fail to materialize. Of course, the reason these benefits don’t emerge is that the very people supporting transit aren’t riding it: traffic congestion isn’t going to get any better, after all, if every driver waits for someone else to shift to the subway or the bus.

There’s an even worse outcome already happening in some places: the wrong types of transit riders get subsidized with public money. Since transit ballots must often appeal to wealthier suburban communities to gain enough support to pass, much of the subsequent funding goes toward the commuter rail serving these areas. That leaves city bus riders who need good service most with a smaller slice of the pie. Transport scholars Brian Taylor and Eric Morris recently reported that rail riders get 31 percent more public funding than bus riders, on the whole.

Total inflation-adjusted transit subsidy per unlinked trip by mode: 1995 to 2009. (Taylor & Morris, Transportation, 2014)

Where all these trends converge is the realization that truly supporting transit requires more than just voting to support transit. To make a real dent in mobility trends, cities will need to make driving more expensive at the same time that they make transit more appealing. “So long as many transit supporters prefer to drive, new transit spending may neither increase transit ridership nor reduce driving,” write Manville and Cummins. “Taxing driving, in contrast, could accomplish both.” But it doesn’t take the wisdom of the Onion to know that’s an idea far less than 98 percent of commuters will support.

 

Mathews: Kashkari Represents Another Failure of the Top Two

The California Republican Party has decided NOT to contest for votes in twenty districts to help Neel Kashkari and the rest of the GOP statewide races. They are allowing the Democrats free rein in those districts (and the GOP gets free rein in four legislative districts). Thanks to Prop. 14, the ballot measure that gave us the “top two” primary” (which ends the GOP and Democrats from nominating candidates for legislative office) we have 24 races in November with only one Party on the ballot.

On Sunday, the California Republican Party had the opportunity of making the decision to just OPPOSE Prop. 14 and ask for its repeal. The Leadership of the GOP in the Legislature and Congress, along with California Republican Party leadership, decided to oppose—and thus kill—a mere resolution to oppose.

As Joe Mathews notes that big loser in all this, besides the people of California, is Neel Kashkasri—since the GOP is giving up—and accepting the lose—in twenty legislative districts. I thought they wanted him to win? Oh, TWO GOP candidates for State wide office REFUSE to endorse Kashkari—Peterson for Secretary of State and Swearingin for Controller.

“When we approved the top two, we essentially dealt a huge blow to politics and engagement. But most Californians – at least most of that diminishing number Californians who still bother to pay attention to state politics – don’t yet realize it. Wake up, California. Or we’ll have more Neel Kashkaris.”

Neel Kashkari

Kashkari Represents Another Failure of the Top Two

 

By Joe Mathews, Fox and Hounds, 9/19/14

Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)

Neel Kashkari should be the embodiment of what backers of the Top Two (it-is-not-a-primary, don’t call it a primary) promised us.

He is moderate. He is willing to depart from the doctrine of his own party. He presents himself as less partisan. He talks all about working together.

Trouble is, the top two makes it next to impossible for him to get noticed, much less compete.

Because the top two primary doesn’t actually support any of the things – moderation, compromise, anti-partisanship – that it’s supposed to.

It’s a system that discourages parties, and thus discourages the sort of engagement and connection that moderation and compromise require. It empowers ideologues. Kashkari nearly lost to an arch-conservative backbencher with no money, not much of a campaign, and a reputation mainly for carrying a gun through airport security.

By weakening parties and other ties, the top two makes one factor even more important than it already is: money.

If you don’t have money, you can’t compete. Indeed, you need to go through two rounds, without party backing, so money – and the political consultants for campaigns – are even more essential.

And Kashkari, while a wealthy person by normal standards, is a pauper in this new era. He can’t self-fund to the degree that he is known even by a majority of Californians. Wealth or massive fundraising is required. (A note: Political consultants who today criticize opposing candidates for their wealth should be called on their craven hypocrisy, since this consultant-driven system requires such rich candidates).

So we’re left with a campaign that is a non-campaign.

When we approved the top two, we essentially dealt a huge blow to politics and engagement. But most Californians – at least most of that diminishing number Californians who still bother to pay attention to state politics – don’t yet realize it. Even Pete Peterson, a Secretary of State candidate who knows more about civic engagement than any Californian, hasn’t come to his senses on this; he expressed support for the top two in a debate last week in Sacramento, even though the system works against virtually all of his stated goals.

Wake up, California. Or we’ll have more Neel Kashkaris.

 

Board of Equalization: Part of the Problem, But Michelle Steel’s Office the Solution

We all believe the legislature is to blame for our tax and growth problems—and they are. Yet, it is the Board of Equalization that creates the mean-minded implementation of tax policies that make no sense and were not written into law—just what the Democrats wanted, but could not put into exact words. So, the Board of Equalization interprets the law that taxes us based on their interpretation of the law. There are three Democrats and two Republicans on the Board (four elected to the Board and the State Controller automatically on the Board).

There are two GOP’ers on the Board George Runner and Michelle Steel. Both have been strong advocates for responsible implementation of the laws and not to stretch the truth in laws passed by the legislature. Many know George Runner, he has been in the Legislature and has worked that process. The other is Michelle Steel who represents a wide area of Southern California. Like Runner, the Steel office takes action to protect citizens. This article about a problem solved by the Michelle Steel office created by an obnoxious and vicious “auditor” in a Democrats office.

“Taxpayers should never be treated like this. Even if they owe back taxes they should be treated with respect. They should not have to have someone like me to protect them from a system that just stomps on their rights. The BOE and all California tax agencies need to clean up their act and remember who pays the bills.”

20111127 california tax overhaul reform

Board of Equalization: Part of the Problem, But Steel’s Office the Solution

Bruce Bialosky, Flashreport, 9/19/14

The government of California does not realize they are the proximate cause of business leaving California. They think they can pound on businesses ad infinitum because we have great beaches and great weather. All they are concerned about is getting their money which actually feeds their unionized employees excessive compensation. Here is another tale of their attempted destruction.

My client, a young man, got caught being on the hook for a couple of entities for which he was wholly responsible. Despite that he accepted responsibility for the liability and tried to set up a payment method. The Board of Equalization (BOE) agreed to a reduced (but still substantial) amount under a program that would allow him to make expedited payments. Unfortunately, due to the slow economy, his business income stuttered and he was unable to meet the payment schedule. We were back to the full liability and establishing a smaller payment plan over the length of the debt.

I received a call from a staff person at the BOE West Covina office. This is in the district of Jerome Horton, BOE Chairman. Which district you are in very well may determine the treatment you receive from the BOE staff. Horton is a liberal Democrat and the staff in his district is far less taxpayer friendly than in Michelle Steel’s district (she is a Republican). The lady from the BOE left a message which was challenging to understand as English was clearly not her native language. When I was able to determine her name and phone number, I returned her call about an hour later. That was a Tuesday. I called her again on Thursday. I did not hear back from her until 5 P.M. on Friday after I had left for an engagement. I returned her call first thing Monday morning and did not hear back from her. On Tuesday morning a gentleman left me a message. I again struggled to discern what he was saying as English was not his native language.
I digress here, but it used to be people came to America to create a better life for themselves, create a business, and become part of the American culture. Not anymore at least not in California. They come here to go to work for the government. The employees who audit the Los Angeles city business licenses are just as bad or worse. I often cannot make out what they are saying and I may ask for a supervisor who often speaks worse English. Isn’t there something wrong with importing people from foreign lands to oversee our tax system? Isn’t it a basic right for taxpayers to have someone who speaks clear, understandable English?

When I spoke to the gentleman about an hour and a half after his call, he informed me he had called my client in the interim period. I lost it. He knew I had a power of attorney (POA) and contacting my client directly was unacceptable and illegal behavior. I brutalized the man, got my client on the phone with him to find out what they discussed, and then demanded to speak to his supervisor. I then called my client back who informed me when the man called, the first thing my client told the BOE staffer was to call me, but he lied to him and continued on with the call.

When I spoke to his BOE supervisor, she reiterated that the BOE has a policy that if they cannot reach the POA they can call the taxpayer. I informed her the policy had no validity and never would stand up in a court of law. I then asked for the staff person to be removed from this case which generated a 15-minute conversation. She told me she would call me back. When she did she informed me they had decided to keep the man on the case. I asked to speak to her supervisor.

I was now speaking to William Tucker, Principal Compliance Officer. We spoke for 20 minutes during which he restated all the garbage that I had been told up to this point. I asked him if lying to the taxpayer and circumventing his POA was not just cause to be removed, then what was just cause? Of course, he did not answer. He then thought he would be a smart guy and say to me “You don’t get to choose your compliance officer.” Fortunately I was prepared and replied “I am not choosing my compliance officer, I am just choosing who will not be my compliance officer — with just cause. How many people do you have working under you? 50, 100, 200? I will take any one of them; just not this guy.” He still insisted that this was the guy. I told him he was making a bad mistake.

I reached Joel Angeles, Chief of Staff to Michelle Steel. When Angeles heard the story he was taken aback. I told him can you imagine being at a bank and being assigned a loan officer. You determine you cannot work with the loan officer and you go to the branch manager to ask for a change and he refuses. It would be inconceivable, but with California government they believe they can push taxpayers around. Mr. Angeles told me he would get back to me. A half hour later he called to inform me I would have a new compliance officer.

Taxpayers should never be treated like this. Even if they owe back taxes they should be treated with respect. They should not have to have someone like me to protect them from a system that just stomps on their rights. The BOE and all California tax agencies need to clean up their act and remember who pays the bills.