ObamaCare Drug Reimbursement Policy Might BANKRUPT Union Health Care Plans

The proverbial joke is how you feel if you see your new Cadillac going off a cliff, with your mother in law inside. That was a joke. Now we find that the unions that stole from workers to promote ObamaCare might now have their health care programs go bankrupt due to the lack of serious reimbursement for drugs for union members forced into the union program.

Imagine spending millions to lobby and buy Democrat Members of Congress—spend over $100 million to get Barack Obama elected, and you find out what you wanted is going to kill your organization. Maybe this will get workers to revolt against the extortionist unions that steal dignity and paychecks.

Not surw who I root for in this battle—how about you?

“The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s voiding of limits on prescription drug payments is unconstitutional and threatens to bankrupt union health care funds, an employee benefits fund claims in Federal Court.
Norman Seabrook, president of New York’s Corrections Officers’ Benevolent Association sued President Barack Obama, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, and Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell, claiming the union’s expressed concerns about the Act’s annual cap on prescription drug benefits have largely been ignored.”

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Union Challenges Obamacare Drug Limits

By DAN MCCUE, Court House News, 6/20/14

 

MANHATTAN (CN) – The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s voiding of limits on prescription drug payments is unconstitutional and threatens to bankrupt union health care funds, an employee benefits fund claims in Federal Court.
Norman Seabrook, president of New York’s Corrections Officers’ Benevolent Association sued President Barack Obama, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, and Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell, claiming the union’s expressed concerns about the Act’s annual cap on prescription drug benefits have largely been ignored.
The Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association Security Benefits Fund is a single employer supplemental benefit fund sponsored by the labor union and managed by a board of trustees selected from the association’s executive board.
The fund provides prescription drug coverage, optical and dental benefits for New York City corrections officers and their dependents. It is “supplemental” in the sense that it is not the main health plan for covered individuals, but provides alternative coverage to that which is available through the employer.
The fund is also supplemental in the sense that prescription drug coverage is available through the City of New York, but with high cost employee contributions. By comparison, the fund requires no employee contributions, other than co-payments.
The provision of the act at issue, Section 2711, prohibits the fund from placing annual dollar limits on the amounts the fund will pay to cover a participant’s or dependent’s prescription drugs.
Seabrook claims the requirement became applicable to the fund on Jan. 1, 2014 and threatens “no less than the continued survival of the Fund.”
“This is because whereas in prior years the Fund had applied a $10,000 annual limit per family on its reimbursement for prescription drugs purchase though the Fund, the elimination of the limit has resulting in skyrocketing costs,” the complaint states.
Seabrook says his fund joined with others covering New York City’s unionized employees in seeking an exemption to the provision, and that while the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services did offer to delay implementation of the provision, the Obama Administration refused to exempt the funds from the requirements.
“It is the Fund’s contention that it is exempt as a matter of law under the ACA from the requirements to eliminate annual dollar limits,” Seabrook says, calling the administration’s refusal to grant it an exemption from Section 2711, “arbitrary and capricious.”
Seabrook believes in ignoring the union’s pleas, the administration and its agencies, “failed to take into account the serious consequences of applying limit elimination to collectively bargained single title, supplemental benefit funds such as the Fund.”
“It is the Fund’s further contention that Section 2711 and the regulators’ decision making with regard to the Fund was marked by an irrational hostility targeting such funds because they are sponsored by public section unions or, in the alternative, that the regulators turned a blind eye to the disparate adverse impact on funds such as the Fund. Whether purposeful or not, the regulators refusal to grant the requested exemption violates the equal protection and free association rights of union members and their dependents as the only reason they are threatened with the loss of their prescription drug coverage is their association with a labor union and with one another.
“Finally, it is the Fund’s contention that the application of Section 2711 to a Fund that is, of itself, wholly regulated by state law and which is the product of a collective bargaining process governed wholly by state law and wholly regulated by state entities encroaches on the reserved rights of the State of New York and the people of that state under the Tenth Amendment.
The union seeks declarative and injunctive relief blocking the implementation of the prescription drug payment limit.
The union is represented by Howard Wien, of Koehler & Isaacs LLP in New York.

 

CA PUC Might Force Utilities to Treat ALL Customers Equally

This is an interesting concept. Until now the California Public Utilities Commission caused one price for rich people and a different price for the poor and middle class for energy. Instead of treating all citizens equally, based on usage some paid more for the exact same energy source—which had the same cost to produce. The rich paid more, because they had higher prices because they had more energy needs than the poor.

Now there is a possible this discrimination will partially end. Thanks to government, not the marketplace, some pay more, others less—and fairness is thrown out. I would not have a problem with this if it were in the marketplace. Instead these are government policies imposed on private firms, monopolies created by government—so everyone lost.

“One typical Southern California Edison bill for the month of February showed up to 314 kilowatt hours costing just over 12 cents each, for a total of $40.06, while the top tier of that same bill had 135 kilowatt hours priced at almost 30 cents each, for a total of just over $50, about 25 percent more for only about 40 percent as much power included in the bottom tier.

Transmission costs for all rate categories were about 8.5 cents per kilowatt hour, meaning the difference in the cost of the energy itself was 17 cents between the first power used and the last, a difference of about 400 percent from the bottom tier to the top one.”

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“WILL POWER COMPANIES START “ROBBING THE ‘HOOD’?”

BY THOMAS D. ELIAS, California Focus, 6/20/14

For decades, Californians who use the most electricity have paid extra for that privilege, on the theory that high prices might provide an incentive for them to use less.

This system is designed to allow all ratepayers enough power for basic needs at very low prices, with the extra energy needed to run things like Jacuzzis and charge items like Tesla sedans coming at a premium price.

One typical Southern California Edison bill for the month of February showed up to 314 kilowatt hours costing just over 12 cents each, for a total of $40.06, while the top tier of that same bill had 135 kilowatt hours priced at almost 30 cents each, for a total of just over $50, about 25 percent more for only about 40 percent as much power included in the bottom tier.

Transmission costs for all rate categories were about 8.5 cents per kilowatt hour, meaning the difference in the cost of the energy itself was 17 cents between the first power used and the last, a difference of about 400 percent from the bottom tier to the top one.

This may be about to change, as the state Public Utilities Commission considers a proposal by Pacific Gas & Electric Co. to cut the number of payment tiers from four to two, a move that would likely raise the rates of low-usage customers. Yes, that’s the same PG&E indicted for criminal negligence in its fatal mismanagement of natural gas pipelines.

A further change, added to switches in raw pricing, would see discounts available to low-usage (read: poor) customers cut by as much as 20 percent from today’s levels. That’s one reason the current proposals are the very opposite of a Robin Hood plan that would take more from the rich, but rather have been called “robbing the hood.”

If approved for PG&E, it’s almost certain the same rate structure would be imposed soon after in the vast territories of Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric. Typically, systemic changes in utility regulation begin with PG&E and spread to the other companies less than a year later.

Some of this switch is prompted by complaints from electric users in the Central Valley and other high summer heat areas where air conditioning runs up electric bills. The current rate structure sees utilities charge high-use customers more for power than low users, regardless of where they live

But it’s also quite likely driven by a 2012 legislative conference on Maui, where some lawmakers saw their expenses paid by corporations and/or labor unions.

Rate restructure was pushed there by meeting sponsors, who had great access to legislators of both major parties, including some members of both parties’ leadership. Disclosure documents showed lobbyists there discussed energy rate changes with Assembly Republican leader Connie Conway of Tulare and Republican Fresno area state Sen. Tom Berryhill, for two examples.

Editorialized one newspaper during the conference, “The elected officials…receive the free trips because of…their capacity to affect public policy

If the businesses and their union workers, users on average of far more power than almost any household, had even a slight influence on passage of last year’s AB 327, which enables some of the changes now being considered, a few plane tickets will have proven a superb investment for them

PG&E, in pushing for the rate restructure, says it wants to make prices more sensitive to time of use, with power employed at night or in early morning hours cheaper than kilowatts used in the hottest, highest-use hours of the day.

That’s laudable, and has often been combined into the existing rate structure, which gives preference to small users. But it also could doom many poor, elderly Californians to heatstroke and worse if they can’t afford air conditioning.

If the PUC approves rates favoring big users over small ones, the folks calling this robbing the hood will be proven right. For it would be a classic reverse Robin Hood tactic, robbing the poor and rewarding the rich.

 

How much of a difference will the Vergara decision really make?

Now that a court has ruled that “tenure” is bigoted and harms the education of all children, especially minority kids, what will the results be for education? It can now be noted and said the CTA, NEA and other teachers unions are bigoted. They should be in the same class as 1950’s southern racists—since both wanted to make sure minority children received an inferior education.

My hope is that this wakes up the public and ask a simple question of all candidates for school board—“Do you support the acknowledged discriminatory policy of tenure, known to harm the education of minority children?’ This is the time to stand up for the children.

“Evidence shows that tenure reform can boost teacher quality in schools where good teachers are needed most. A new study of New York City schools by researchers at Stanford’s Graduate School of Education and the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education found that many ineffective teachers voluntarily left their positions when their probationary periods were extended in lieu of tenure. During the first four years of the reforms, researchers learned, a very small percentage of teachers were denied tenure. But the percentage of teachers whose probationary period was extended grew substantially—from less than 5 percent to more than 40 percent. “Because the policy had the effect of increasing the exit of extended teachers,” explained University of Virginia researcher Jim Wyckoff, “schools with a larger concentration of black students are especially likely to benefit from the policy, as likely replacement teachers will be more effective than extended teachers who leave, leading to an improvement of teaching in these schools.”

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Life After Tenure

How much of a difference will the Vergara decision really make?

Larry Sand, City Journal, 6/20/14

Education reformers hailed last week’s sweeping decision by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rolf M. Treu in Vergara v. California as a “total victory for the children” that “changes the landscape for improving education.” Treu’s ruling—which he immediately stayed pending appeal—voided the Golden State’s teacher tenure, seniority, and dismissal statutes. Unsurprisingly, the California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers denounced the decision, going so far as to say that it would harm children, and vowed to fight it all the way to the state supreme court. While Treu’s decision should hearten reformers, a final resolution could be years away. That gives policymakers ample time and opportunity to plan for a post-Vergara world.

Judge Treu’s decision is not prescriptive; he offered no fixes. If sustained on appeal, his ruling would simply remove five unconstitutional statutes from the state education code. What might replace them? If the state legislature does nothing, 1,043 individual school districts would have to decide their own policies on hiring, retaining, and firing teachers. That’s fairly common practice in other states. More likely, however, the CTA and CFT would seek legislation that meets the minimum equity requirements of Treu’s ruling with the hope that another judge could be convinced that the new reforms pass constitutional muster. And given the unions’ clout in Sacramento, they frequently get their way.

Tenure, for example, could survive in some form. Treu did not say teacher tenure is detrimental per se; rather, he stressed that the probationary period for most teachers is too short. California is one of only five states where schools reward teachers with permanence after two years or less. In 41 states, the probationary term ranges from three to five years. (The other four states don’t allow tenure at all.) It wouldn’t be unreasonable for a CTA-allied lawmaker to propose changing the period from two to three years. That would be a small improvement, but nothing of great substance.

Reforming seniority would be tricky. Treu’s ruling would mean the end of the “last in, first out” system that compels district officials to make layoff decisions without regard to teacher quality. Bill Lucia, president of Sacramento-based advocacy group EdVoice, suggests lawmakers could establish a system that “includes elements of a seniority system but with exceptions made for excellent teachers or permanent teachers willing to serve in hard-to-staff schools.” But how to quantify excellence? Using other states as a guide, it could be done through a combination of standardized tests, evaluations by principals and independent outsiders, and perhaps even parental input. The CTA and CFT remain steadfastly opposed to any system that would use student performance to measure teacher effectiveness, but they might not have a choice here.

As far as the dismissal statutes are concerned, the legislature made a gesture toward sanity with Assembly Bill 215. That bill, which passed both houses of the legislature unanimously last month with the support of reformers and unions, would make it somewhat easier for administrators to remove teachers accused of “egregious behavior,” such as sexual abuse. But Treu also cited evidence suggesting that anywhere from 2,750 to 8,250 “grossly ineffective teachers” are protected by seniority rules that have “a direct, real, appreciable, and negative impact” on millions of students. AB 215 would do nothing to ease the process of ridding classrooms of incompetent instructors—the “merely” ineffective, as opposed to “grossly” ineffective ones—but it’s a start.

Evidence shows that tenure reform can boost teacher quality in schools where good teachers are needed most. A new study of New York City schools by researchers at Stanford’s Graduate School of Education and the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education found that many ineffective teachers voluntarily left their positions when their probationary periods were extended in lieu of tenure. During the first four years of the reforms, researchers learned, a very small percentage of teachers were denied tenure. But the percentage of teachers whose probationary period was extended grew substantially—from less than 5 percent to more than 40 percent. “Because the policy had the effect of increasing the exit of extended teachers,” explained University of Virginia researcher Jim Wyckoff, “schools with a larger concentration of black students are especially likely to benefit from the policy, as likely replacement teachers will be more effective than extended teachers who leave, leading to an improvement of teaching in these schools.”

Judge Treu’s ruling could pave the way for more useful reforms along the lines of those adopted in New York City, but only if legislators have the courage and foresight to seize the opportunity.

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.

Study: California Pays $25.3 Billion Per Year for Illegal Aliens

What is the cost of Obama opening the borders? What is the price of Guv Brown giving benefits, college tuition, housing vouchers and protection from law enforcement? What is the price for the schools in your community for illegal aliens to crowd the schools and take limited tax dollars for their education, from honest students?

In California that number is $25.3 billion. That is one eighth of the State budget. That is money NOT going to education roads or tax cuts—which would grow the economy and create real jobs. When will the voters and families of California get angry enough to demand just one policy change—just one: Law enforcement obey and enforce the immigrations laws. That is all that is needed.

“Nearly half of those expenditures ($12.3 billion) result from the costs of K-12 education for the children of illegal aliens — both those illegally in the country and those born in the United States. Another major outlay ($2.1 billion) results from the need to provide supplemental English language instruction to Limited English Proficient students, many of whom are children of illegal aliens. Together, these educational costs are 57.1 percent of total expenditures.”

ObamaMoney

The Fiscal Burden of Illegal Immigration on California Taxpayers (2014)

FAIR

Executive Summary

Click here to read the full report in PDF.

Californians bear an enormous fiscal burden as a result of an illegal alien population estimated at almost 3 million residents. The annual expenditure of state and local tax dollars on services for that population is $25.3 billion. That total amounts to a yearly burden of about $2,370 for a household headed by a U.S. citizen.

Nearly half of those expenditures ($12.3 billion) result from the costs of K-12 education for the children of illegal aliens — both those illegally in the country and those born in the United States. Another major outlay ($2.1 billion) results from the need to provide supplemental English language instruction to Limited English Proficient students, many of whom are children of illegal aliens. Together, these educational costs are 57.1 percent of total expenditures.

Other fiscal outlays result from the costs of medical care ($4.0 billion), public assistance services ($800 million), administration of justice functions ($4.4 billion), and general governmental services ($1.6 billion).

Because some tax revenue is collected from the illegal alien population, we include an estimate of this revenue from sales, income, property and “sin” taxes. Yet, it should be kept in mind that the $3.5 billion in tax collections is not truly an offset to the fiscal costs, because similar, and likely greater, tax revenue would be collected if the same jobs were filled by legal workers.

The adoption of new amnesty legislation, such as Senate bill S.774, the so-called Gang of Eight bill, backed by the Obama administration, would not be an economic benefit to Californian taxpayers as some have argued. Amnesty advocates assert that providing legal status to illegal aliens would reduce the cost of “undocumented immigrants.” That is akin to arguing that the way to reduce speeding on the highways is to abolish speed limits. Doing so would eliminate speeding, but it would not eliminate the danger of operating vehicles at excessive speed, and, arguably, would have the opposite effect. Similarly, converting illegal aliens into legal residents would reduce the size of the illegal alien population, but it would not reduce the overall fiscal outlays associated with that population, and arguably would significantly increase them as the newly legalized residents became eligible for public assistance that was denied to them while they did not have legal status. It would also lead to additional illegal immigration as happened following the 1986 amnesty, which would further increase the fiscal burden.

The costs related to the presence of illegal aliens can be lowered. The most effective step a state can take to discourage the arrival of illegal aliens is to utilize the E-Verify screening system designed to prevent employers from hiring illegal workers. California instead is moving in the opposite direction by adopting measures designed to accommodate the presence of illegal aliens. A.B. 4, the so-called Trust Act, restricts the cooperation between state and local law enforcement agencies with federal immigration authorities. A more recent law, A.B. 60, gives illegal aliens access to driver’s licenses. This measure alone is going to cost the state of California, by its own admission, $64.7 million per year.

 

Arnold and Jerry Allowed FORCED Sterilizations of Prison Inmates

Everybody believes that Arnold and Jerry are great liberals, truly believing in criminals rights and women’s rights—and that convicts must be protected. Yet, we now know that both allowed the forced the sterilization of female inmates. This was done without permission, it was forced on the women—many times without even telling them. The question now is when these physically abused convicts will sue the State of California and the Governors that had no regard for the “choices”.

Jerry and Arnold support abortions. This is a permanent abortion for these women. Shame on us for not putting this on the front page. Both need to apologize and offer to pay the women for their suffering and violations.

“Lawmakers requested a state audit after an investigation by the Center for Investigative Reporting found that physicians under contract with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation violated state law by sterilizing at least 148 female inmates without required approval between 2006 and 2010. In addition, about 100 other women likely received unauthorized sterilizations dating back to the late 1990s, according to state documents (California Healthline, 8/14/13).”

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State Audit Uncovers Illegal Inmate Sterilizations in Recent Years

California Health line, 6/20/14

A state audit has found that many female California inmates were sterilized between 2006 and 2010 without approval required under state law, the Center for Investigative Reporting reports (Johnson, Center for Investigative Reporting, 6/19).

Background

California banned forced sterilizations in 1979.

Since 1994, California has required that voluntary inmate sterilizations be approved by state medical officials on a case-by-case basis.

According to state law, it also is illegal to coerce prisoners to undergo sterilization or ask for their consent during childbirth or labor.

Lawmakers requested a state audit after an investigation by the Center for Investigative Reporting found that physicians under contract with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation violated state law by sterilizing at least 148 female inmates without required approval between 2006 and 2010. In addition, about 100 other women likely received unauthorized sterilizations dating back to the late 1990s, according to state documents (California Healthline, 8/14/13).

Details of State Audit

State Auditor Elaine Howle found that more than 25% of the 144 tubal ligations performed on inmates in fiscal years 2005-2006 and 2012-2013 did not include consent required by law (Siders, “Capitol Alert,” Sacramento Bee, 6/19). According to the audit, providers involved in the 39 illegal sterilization cases include:

  • 17 doctors; and
  • Eight hospitals.

In the report, Howle noted that the “true number” of procedures done without consent could be higher because records were lost for seven cases.

The state audit found that most women who received the procedure:

  • Were between ages 26 and 40 and had been pregnant five or more times; and
  • Had less than a high school reading level, with about 33% having less than a sixth-grade reading level.

The inmate’s physician in 27 cases did not sign a consent form stating that the patient was mentally competent, understood the procedure and had satisfied the required waiting period, according to the audit.

In addition, 18 cases potentially violated the 30-day waiting period requirement. The auditor also found that some physicians falsified documents related to the waiting period (Center for Investigative Reporting, 6/19).

The report recommended that the federal receiver’s office — which oversees medical care in California prisons –provide the names of physicians involved in the illegal sterilizations to the Medical Board of California and the state Department of Public Health for disciplinary action (Willon, Los Angeles Times, 6/19).

Reaction

Liz Gransee, a spokesperson for the federal prison receiver, said that the agency disagrees with the audit’s conclusions but that the office would implement its recommendations (Center for Investigative Reporting, 6/19). Gransee said, “We are taking additional safeguards to ensure that nothing like this happens again in the future” (Los Angeles Times, 6/19).

However, Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Redondo Beach) demanded that the federal receiver’s office issue a formal apology over the matter. Lieu said, “The federal judiciary took over our state prison system and they are responsible,” adding, “These gross failures demonstrate again why the judicial branch is ill-equipped to run a large, complex prison system.”

Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), one of the lawmakers who requested the audit, said the findings provide “clear proof that the prison environment is an environment where consent simply cannot be obtained in a responsible, reliable manner for these procedures” (Center for Investigative Reporting, 6/19).

 

Newsweek Claims Global Warming Is Causing Antarctic Sea Ice To Disappear Is An OUTRIGHT LIE!

Gallup reports that the American public has almost no trust in the media. Newsweek is becoming the poster child of corrupt, propaganda reporting, lying about scientific facts. Newsweek is trying to convince the public we have global warming and that the icebergs are melting. They know this is a lie. Newsweek should not be in the public policy section of the newsstand—it should be placed next to Mad Magazine—at least they admit it is a joke.

“On the face of it the claim is a bit frightening especially if you are a crustacean living in the sea bed. But calm down. First of all if you are reading this, chances are you are not a crustacean. Secondly and probably more important than the first, the report of melting Antarctic sea ice is an outright lie.

First of all according to the U.S. government’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), as of June 17th, Antarctic Sea Ice Extent is 1,281,000 sq km above the 1981-2010 mean. That is also the 100th daily record in 2014 out of 167 days. In other words the sea ice is expanding not melting.”

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Newsweek Claims Global Warming Is Causing Antarctic Sea Ice To Disappear Is An OUTRIGHT LIE!

Jeff Dunetz, The Lid, 6/19/14
A Newsweek article posted Monday called “How Global Warming Threatens Antarctic Animals” claims global warming is causing a dramatic decline Antarctic sea ice and that decline might hurt the Animals living in the seabed, hurting ecosystems across the world.

In Antarctica, the movement of icebergs is seasonal. When winter hits, the sea surface freezes, locking icebergs into place and preventing them from colliding on the seabed—where most Antarctic species live. For at least the last half century, however, global warming has led to a dramatic decline in this winter ice, meaning there are more glacial collisions, known as “scouring,” on the Antarctic seabed. In a Current Biology paper published Monday, scientists argue that this increase in scouring might negatively alter how species on the shallow portion of Antarctica’s seabed interact with one another—and they worry this is a harbinger of climate change–linked ecosystem changes around the globe.

On the face of it the claim is a bit frightening especially if you are a crustacean living in the sea bed. But calm down. First of all if you are reading this, chances are you are not a crustacean. Secondly and probably more important than the first, the report of melting Antarctic sea ice is an outright lie.

First of all according to the U.S. government’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), as of June 17th, Antarctic Sea Ice Extent is 1,281,000 sq km above the 1981-2010 mean. That is also the 100th daily record in 2014 out of 167 days. In other words the sea ice is expanding not melting.

Those of you who have purchased SCUBA gear expecting that global warming is going to melt the ice caps causing most of us to soon be underwater are going to be disappointed in this next one. A peer reviewed paper published Wednesday project that Antarctic sea ice is going to grow so much that sea levels are going to decrease:

A paper published today in The Cryosphere studies one of the largest ice shelves in East Antarctica and predicts increased accumulation of ice on the surface of the ice shelf will have a net contribution of decreasing sea levels over the 21st and 22nd centuries.

According to the authors, “Overall, the increased accumulation computed by the atmosphere models outweighs ice stream acceleration so that the net contribution to sea level rise is negative.” Furthermore, the authors predict the grounding line of this ice shelf system will have “little grounding line retreat” and thus it very unlikely this ice sheet will break off from the continent.

It appears that the Newsweek editors are so wrapped up in selling the global warming theory that they forgot one of the key components of good journalism…telling the truth.

 

Corruption and Cronyism Surround the West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs

The Veterans Administration may be the most dangerous and corrupt Federal government organization—except for the IRS. The VA is now known for killing off veterans, lying about waiting lists, lying to Congress, having massive budget increases that in reality have made the problem worse for veterans.

In West Los Angeles the Veterans Administration is working hard, with your tax dollars to steal property from the public. Land was given to the VA for veterans activities, now the VA has “other” plans for the land. Under terms of the gift, if the VA does not use the land for veterans the land returns to the general public.

“An investigation by HMG-CN has revealed that cronyism and corruption have filtered up to the highest levels in local, state, and even the federal government, all at the expense of mentally disabled and homeless Veterans in Los Angeles.

Powerful real estate developers and unresponsive government bureaucrats are now strong allies against an army of outspoken critics, almost all of them former military Veterans, who line the streets around the property each weekend, donning protest signs and wearing trademark American military greens.”

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Corruption and Cronyism Surround the West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs

By Brian Hews and Randy Economy, Los Cerritos News, 6/12/14

It is the dirty little secret that everyone knows about in Brentwood.

The 388-acre property in West Los Angeles/Brentwood was intended to be hallowed ground to honor, protect and rehabilitate untold thousands of military Veterans.

John P. Jones and Arcadia B. de Baker deeded the land to the State of California for the “express use of Vets” in 1888.

However, the Veterans have been abandoned literally on the side of the road along Sunset Boulevard in West Los Angeles fighting a new war that has become heated and volatile.

An investigation by HMG-CN has revealed that cronyism and corruption have filtered up to the highest levels in local, state, and even the federal government, all at the expense of mentally disabled and homeless Veterans in Los Angeles.

Powerful real estate developers and unresponsive government bureaucrats are now strong allies against an army of outspoken critics, almost all of them former military Veterans, who line the streets around the property each weekend, donning protest signs and wearing trademark American military greens.

Welcome to the new normal for thousands of Veterans in Los Angeles as they wage a battle with controversial officials deep within the West Los Angeles Veterans Administration (WLAVA).

Hews Media Group-Community Newspaper has spent countless hours researching records, emails, and other critical documents that outline how political leaders are resorting to the implantation and execution of illegal lease agreements with commercial organizations on its property in Brentwood to keep Veterans out of what is rightfully theirs.

It is a web of some of the most powerful people in the country who are catering to the “Brentwood Elite” in a decades-old effort to keep Veterans “out of Brentwood,” in what one Veteran says is the “biggest land fraud scheme in U.S. history.”

Local and regional media, weekly and daily newspapers, along with LA County Supervisors have ignored the problem for years, not wanting to anger the Brentwood Elite and face the political wrath of the uber-wealthy who reside there.

The only time the politicians got involved with the property was during election years, after which they resorted back to catering to the elite.

Those involved include former VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, California Senator Dianne Feinstein and her billionaire husband Richard Blum, Congressman Henry Waxman, LA County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, LA County Supervisorial Candidate Bobby Shriver, WLAVA Director Donna M. Beiter and the powerful Brentwood Veterans Park Conservancy.

Sources tell HMG-CN that others are also ignoring the Veteran’s plight, including KFI’s John Kobylt of the John and Ken radio show and Bill Handel who is heard daily on the same station.

The intricate case centers on the 388-acre WLAVA property, which was deeded to the government in 1888 “to be used exclusively by homeless and disabled Veterans.”

Under the deed, anything done on the land should directly benefit Veterans and Veteran’s health, period. Anything else is illegal and a “breach of fiduciary duty.”

But in 2001, WLAVA began leasing land to commercial organizations. These organizations put the donated land to uses that had absolutely nothing to do with providing health benefits to Veterans, a breach of fiduciary duty and an affront to Los Angeles Veterans.

The ACLU finally got wind of this and filed a lawsuit to fight the leases and remove the companies. District Judge John Otero agreed in 2013 that the land, under the 1888 deed, is to be used exclusively by Veterans, and adjudicated the leases in Federal Court as “unauthorized by law and therefore void.”

Otero then entered a Federal Judgment against the Defendants, now-former Secretary of the VA Shinseki and Beiter.

Shockingly, Shinseki and Bieter appealed the judgment using the full force and power of the United States and the Department of Justice. One ACLU lawyer called the appeal “morally and legally indefensible.”

Newly appointed VA Secretary Sloan Gibson is the de-facto party in the lawsuit now, and is allowing the appeal to continue.

And incredibly, some of the companies with leases on the property are riding the coattails of Shinseki/Gibson and fighting the ruling while the media, newspapers, and politicians sit on the sideline and ignore the saga as a matter of political and monetary convenience.

But that is the way it has been since 2001; politicians act to defend the Brentwood Elite and Los Angeles media disregards the story for fear of monetary retribution.

Brentwood Elite Legislation By Feinstein Paves the Way to Lock Out Veterans

In 2006 President Bush wanted to sell the WLAVA land for over $4 billion, which would have directly benefitted Veterans.

Feinstein and Waxman sprung into action and passed legislation preventing the sale or lease of the land. But WLAVA continued to broker agreements, shamelessly calling the agreements “sharing not leasing.”

Enter the Veterans Park Conservancy (VPC), which now operates a 16-acre park on the property, and is an outgrowth of the Brentwood Homeowners Association, boasting some of the wealthiest and politically active people in the state.

Most are major supporters of Feinstein, Waxman, Yaroslavsky, and a host of Brentwood councilmembers.

In 2007 when then-VA Secretary R. James Nicholson placed a one-year termination clause to the VPC 16-acre park lease, Sen. Feinstein wrote a letter on U.S. Senate letterhead on behalf of the VPC asking for the removal of the clause.

See letter click here.

Three months later, lightning speed for any similar government action, Nicholson removed the termination clause and signed a 30-year rent-free “sharing agreement” with the VPC basically giving the VPC a $1 billion property free as a “public park.”

This free public park “gift” rendered the land unavailable for Veterans and VA development, some accusing the VPC of striking the deal to keep Veterans out of Brentwood.

Feinstein, Waxman and Yaroslavsky turned a blind eye and allowed the agreement to be approved.

Incredibly, the park is now padlocked and does not allow Veterans to enter while the WLAVA rents the land out for $1,000 per plate fundraisers. Most of the park is in complete disrepair, with the exception of the $1 million fence built by the VPC to enhance the entrance appeal into Brentwood.

Drivers around the park often see homeless Veterans sleeping outside its gates.

 

Annenberg Foundation Slams WLAVA Leases

In late 2011, the Metabolic Studio, a direct charitable activity of the Annenberg Foundation, wrote a position paper on the 1888 deed and WLAVA property.

The Annenberg Foundation has been a leader with a proven commitment to Veterans for over half a century.

The paper addressed the breach of trust and the violation of the fiduciary duty of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs with respect to WLAVA.

Metabolic Studio said, “the restrictions imposed under the 1888 Deed created a charitable trust [and the VA must only use] the donated land as a home for Veterans. The VA holds the donated land as a trustee and the VA is not permitted to divert the use of the land.”

Earlier in the year, the Annenberg Foundation contributed $1 million to the VPC to build a rose garden at the park.

After learning that the land was exclusively deeded to Veterans, the Annenberg Foundation wrote the VPC telling them to keep the million dollars but to remove their name and make the donation anonymous.

Richard C. Blum was involved with the UC Regents when the UCLA lease was signed. UCLA pays $5,000 per month for 10 acres of prime Brentwood land that is, by rights, to be used only by Veterans.

UCLA, which maintains the Jackie Robinson Stadium for their baseball team, signed a lease in 2001 and pays a paltry $5,000 per month in rent for the 10-acre facility.

Richard C. Blum has been both a Chairman and a Regent of the U.C. Board since the late 1990’s. Blum is a billionaire real estate executive and the husband of Senator Dianne Feinstein. He knew the value of the land and knew of the deed of 1888, yet the stadium lease was signed during Blum’s tenure.

The influence of Waxman was again called into question by many Veterans as Waxman attended UCLA, earning a bachelor’s degree in political science and a J.D. degree from UCLA’s law school.

UCLA operates “UCLA Veterans.com,” with a website that boasts, “UCLA has been serving Veterans for nearly 70 years, since the end of World War II.” There are over 20 departments within the organization to assist Veterans, yet the organization somehow chooses to ignore what is going on right across the 405 freeway.

In further blatant disregard and admittedly callous use of words in regards to homeless Veterans in Los Angeles, attorney George F. Soneff with the Los Angeles based law firm Manatt, Phelps, and Phillips representing UCLA wrote, “The Otero judgment (voiding the lease of the stadium) would render UCLA’s championship winning team homeless.”

 

Brentwood Elite and the Brentwood Private School

Sitting just north of the Jackie Robinson Stadium is the elite Brentwood Private School. Reportedly costing $30,000 per year in tuition, the school claims some of the wealthiest parents and alumni in the nation. Most children of the Brentwood Elite attend Brentwood School.

The school occupies 27 acres of the property, its rental payments a miniscule $25,000 per month or $300,000 annually. A comparable annual rental in the area would run into the tens of millions of dollars.

In 2001, using its “new enhanced leasing (sharing) agreement with the WLAVA,” as a selling tool, the school undertook a capital campaign to remodel the campus and added $2 million to the school’s endowment fund.

In 2005 the school built a new Student Learning Center, and in 2008 the school finished the Caruso Watt Aquatics Center.

Shockingly, the entire 27 acres is padlocked and off limit to Veterans and the $2 million sits in the endowment fund, not one dime of the money spent to help Veterans.

 

Bobby Shriver and KFI Radio

In his run for LA County Supervisor, Bobby Shriver proclaims himself as a savior for the Veterans, claiming he has “helped Veterans in Los Angeles for his entire career.”

But sources tell HMG-CN that Shriver is very involved with the Brentwood Private School, ignoring the plight of the Veterans in Los Angeles.

Sources also tell HMG-CN that John Kobylt of the John and Ken show on KFI, along with Bill Handel who has a morning show on KFI, are very involved with the school.

Conveniently, neither Kobylt nor Handle has talked on-air about the deed issue or the leasing agreemnts on the WLAVA property.

 

20th Century FOX’s ‘Friend’ at the WLAVA Gives Them a Break

20th Century Fox (FOX) has a lease with the WLAVA to store its sets and use the land for location shoots, shutting Veterans out of another 10 acres of land on the property. As one lawyer put it, “and the lease usage has what to do with helping Veterans?”

On August 27, 2007, a FOX location manager sent a letter out entitled “We have a friend at the VA,” boasting the “great site rental agreement” we have with the WLAVA and how it “will substantially cut our production costs.”

FOX seizes every opportunity to investigate and report on any VA allegation that has surfaced.

That is, with the exception of what has been going on at the WLAVA property for the past decade.

FOX is one of Waxman’s biggest supporters.

WLAVA Exec Dir. Donna Beiter lives rent free in the Governor’s Mansion on the VA property. She has allowed the leasing agreements for several years.

WLAVA Executive Director Donna M. Beiter recently testified in front of Congress saying, “GLA has implemented new innovative strategies in the area of eliminating Veterans’ homelessness (in Los Angeles). We continue to target the most chronically homeless Veterans with a focus on getting the most vulnerable Veterans off the streets and into permanent housing.”

Beiter failed to mention that she lives rent-free on a perfectly manicured 22-acre “Governor’s Mansion” on the WLAVA property earning over $250,000 per year and in direct in sight of homeless Veterans sleeping on the street in front of the Veterans Park Conservancy’s Park.

She also failed to mention she was party to the ongoing lawsuit that allowed the DOJ to appeal the 2013 ruling by Otero.

It was revealed this past week that the VA hospital she oversees has the longest wait time in California, 56 days, to see a Veteran patient.

LA County Supervisors Drag Feet

On January 8, 2014, the LA County Veteran Affairs Committee was briefed on Judge Otero’s 2013 ruling voiding the leases. The VAC unanimously agreed with Otero’s ruling and sent a letter to current LA County Board of Supervisor Chair Don Knabe on March 14,2014 calling on Knabe to write a letter of support for the ruling to the Department of Justice.

To date, no letter has been sent to the Department of Justice by the Supervisors.

And the onslaught on the judgment voiding the leases-and the veterans-continues.

 

Shameless Appeal by UCLA and Brentwood

After the August 2013 ruling to void the leases, UCLA filed it is Motion on September 23 and Brentwood followed suit October 3, 2013. The court ruled on the Motions October 21, 2013.

In their arguments, UCLA and Brentwood abandoned the other organizations with leases at the WLAVA, describing how their agreements “provide health-care benefits to veterans.”

The court was quick to point out that allowing veterans to occasionally play on the Jackie Robinson field does not substantiate the claim of providing health-care benefits to Veterans.

Otero was angry at the motion that Brentwood School helps Veterans since no Veterans are allowed on the property.

Otero was then compelled to allow a motion for the “limited purpose of appealing,” that is, removing the case from Otero’s court and taking it to a higher court.

The limited purpose of appealing “is allowed even after a final judgment… where it is necessary to preserve some right which cannot otherwise be protected.”

UCLA and Brentwood filed the appeal to the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth District one week later, with the earliest court date expected to be August of this year.

Appeal Could Take Years…

ACLU attorney Mark Rosenbaum told HMG-CN, “the case will be heard by a three judge panel by August at the earliest. It could then be heard “En Banc,” by the entire eleven judges which could take months, and could even get up to the US Supreme Court.”

Meanwhile, homeless, disabled and mentally ill men and women who fought for the United States of America sit and wait for closure, some sleeping right outside the park created for them and in the shadow of the WLAVA Executive Director’s 22-acre Governor’s Mansion.

One veteran said, “to treat veterans like this is tragic. For no one to act and fight to have the lawsuit dismissed is a travesty and slap in the face to all Veterans. This is the biggest human and land fraud scandal in the history of the United States and no one is doing anything about it.”

 

Orange County Illegal Aliens Supporters Upset Probation Department Following the Law

Yesterday the California Political News and Views ran a story about illegal aliens whining that they had to pay a large fee for a driver’s license—though they are here illegally and under the law should be deported when they apply for a license. Now they are complaining that the Orange County Probation Department is obeying the Federal law and turning over convicted criminal illegal aliens to the Federal government for deportation.

What do they expect—that these law enforcement officers violate the law? They were caught, convicted and now must be deported—they did the crime but refuse to pay the penalty. Guess most of them believe is if you criminally break the law you can become a citizen. Oh, Obama did give amnesty to 36,000 convicted prisoners that were illegal aliens.

Stop the whining and do the right thing—no benefits for illegal aliens, enforce the law for all, not some.

immigration-reform-David-Fitzimmonscagle-Oct.-30-2013-300x213

Immigrant Rights Groups Call on Feds to Investigate OC Probation

By YVETTE CABRERA, Voice of OC, 6/20/14

A coalition of Orange County organizations is calling on Department of Homeland Security to investigate the county Probation Department’s practice of referring juveniles suspected of being undocumented to federal immigration authorities, and asked the department to halt the use of detainers on juveniles, among other recommendations.

The Probation Department’s procedures have “drastic repercussions for youth of color in local communities” and undermine “the fragile trust that local law enforcement has with the immigrant community,” the coalition stated in its letter, which it sent to Homeland Security head Jeh Johnson Thursday.

The coalition asked Homeland Security to stop accepting juveniles referred to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) by the Probation Department, require that local law enforcement agencies inform juveniles of their due process rights before they are questioned by ICE agents in juvenile halls, and honor a state confidentiality law that protects the privacy of juveniles.

The coalition is comprised of more than two dozen local and regional organizations, including legal and immigrant advocates, and labor and religious organizations.

Among them is the Santa Ana-based migrant youth advocacy group Resistencia, Autonomia, Igualdad, lideraZgo (RAIZ), which serves as the Orange County chapter of the statewide Immigration Youth Coalition; the Santa Ana Boys and Men of Color initiative; the ACLU Foundation of Southern California; and the UC Irvine School of Law’s Immigrant Rights Clinic.

“We believe this is an issue nationwide, so if we can set a precedent in Orange County hopefully we can also push for a national change in procedure and policy so that minors don’t have to fear being deported and parents don’t have to go through this unnecessary process…,” said Abraham Medina, a member of RAIZ and Santa Ana Boys and Men of Color, which aims keep youth in school and out of the hands of immigration authorities.

Probation Department spokesman Edward Harrison said the department has heard the coalition’s grievances, investigated their issues, and sought legal counsel on the matter.

“We’re confident that our actions are lawful and in keeping with our mission. I’m comfortable that we’re doing what we’re chartered to do,” Harrison said today.

He pointed out that the department has been responsive to the changing legal landscape, including case law, statues and legislation.

“The Probation Department is an important part of our community safety and when we make a notification [to immigration authorities] it’s in keeping with the provisions of the Trust Act,” said Harrison, referring to the state law that went into effect on Jan. 1 and curtails the instances when law enforcement agencies can respond to immigration detainers lodged by ICE.

The Probation Department’s practice of referring and releasing youth to immigration authorities has occurred for decades, but it has received increased scrutiny over the last few years as youth advocates and immigration attorneys across the state have put pressure on California’s probation departments to halt the referrals and releases of juveniles to ICE.

Critical Report

Here in Orange County, the UC Irvine School of Law’s Immigrant Rights Clinic issued a report last December contending that the department’s practice of ascertaining a juvenile’s immigration status oversteps its authority, and violates a California confidentiality law that protects the privacy of minors in the juvenile justice system.

The report, titled “Second Chances For All” urged the department to stop referring these juveniles, who often qualify for immigration relief, and to halt the practice of responding to ICE detainers and keeping juveniles in custody past their release date to comply with such holds.

As the UCI report noted, the federal government doesn’t reimburse local law enforcement agencies for the cost to detain individuals past their release date, and thus the Probation Department incurs additional detention costs by responding to these ICE detainers.

The Probation Department recently announced that it would stop responding to ICE detainers that require the agency to hold juveniles or adults for up to 48 hours (not including holidays or weekends) past their release date.

This policy change came in response to a decision in April by a federal district court in Oregon that ruled that the Clackamas County Jail violated the constitutional rights of an undocumented immigrant who was eligible for release, but was held in custody solely on the basis of an immigration detainer.

The Probation Department will still release juveniles to ICE on an immigration detainer if the minor is in custody under a local court order and is taken into ICE custody within seven calendar days of his or her last day of commitment, per a 2001 Orange County Superior Court order.

The department also revised its detainers procedures in February to incorporate changes in the Trust Act.

One of the most glaring violations highlighted in the UC Irvine report is tied to the probation department’s process of verifying the legal status of these juveniles.

Up until Nov. 2012, under the probation department’s previous procedural manual, the department directed probation officers to identify a minor’s citizenship status during the custody intake process at the Juvenile Hall, and required officers to verify the minor’s legal entry into the United States.

The probation officer was then instructed to immediately notify the ICE Liaison deputy probation officer if the minor “claims citizenship in another country or is a suspected foreign national.”

Concerns About Procedures

Since February, the revised procedures require the custody intake probation officer to determine the juvenile’s place of birth, obtain birth verification documentation, and determine whether the youth is a U.S. citizen. If the juvenile claims birth or citizenship in another country or is a “suspected foreign national” the officer is required to notify the department’s ICE liaison.

At issue is whether these practices of determining a juvenile’s nationality or legal status fall within the purview of the probation department or usurp federal immigration authority.

The coalition asked Homeland Security to investigate the department’s practices within the context of the federal agency’s immigration enforcement procedures.

Subsequent to the release of the UC Irvine report, and after having County Counsel review its procedures with regard to the referrals and release of juveniles to ICE, the Probation Department said that it stands by its procedures.

“[The UC Irvine] report was reviewed by county counsel, who advised us that our practices are in keeping with statute and case law…” said Harrison, shortly after the February revision, noting that the department’s procedures are reviewed at least annually and in response to changes in the law.

Chief among the coalition’s concerns is the historically high number of juvenile ICE referrals from the Probation Department. After the probation department revised its procedures in late 2012, the number of juvenile referrals and releases to ICE dropped significantly. A total of 31 juveniles were referred and released to ICE in 2013.

But in previous years, Orange County referred at rates far higher than other probation departments across the state.

A 2013 report from the San Francisco-based Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice showed that Orange County accounted for 43 percent of ICE detainers placed on California juveniles from Oct. 1, 2009 to Feb. 10, 2013.

Almost half of the detainers (45.6 percent) were placed on youth with no documented criminal history, and of those youth with a criminal history approximately half were for “non-violent, non-serious crimes,” the center’s analysis found.

When immigration authorities take these juveniles into custody, if the minor is placed in deportation proceedings he or she is then shipped to a group home, a juvenile hall or other facilities across the state and country to await an immigration hearing.

The coalition’s letter to Homeland Security comes after months of unsuccessful efforts, the group says, to convince the department to alter its procedures and stop referring juveniles to immigration authorities.

‘Agreed to Disagree’

Members of RAIZ, Boys and Men of Color and others met with department officials in February and asked the agency to follow the procedures set out by the state’s juvenile confidentiality law in the Welfare and Institutions Code, section 827.

Unless special permission from the Juvenile Court is granted, only a limited and specified group of individuals from the state’s juvenile justice system is given authority to inspect a juvenile’s case files. Among them are the district attorney, child protective agencies, or law enforcement officers who are “actively participating in criminal or juvenile proceedings involving the minor.”

Section 827 doesn’t include ICE, nor any federal official, on this list.

“They claim they have a right to share the information with ICE, that it was by law that they had to share this information,” said Medina of the meeting with probation officials.

Ultimately, the coalition members “agreed to disagree” with probation officials, noted Medina, and decided to move forward by contacting Johnson because of continued concerns with the ramifications of these practices.

The coalition criticized the referrals as being “disruptive to the health and wellbeing of the juveniles and their families,” for “undermining community policing efforts,” and for failing to “make Orange County safe.”

The coalition, which requested a meeting with Johnson, also asked the secretary to immediately terminate the federal government’s 287(g) agreements with all Orange County law enforcement agencies.

The Probation Department doesn’t have this 287 (g) memorandum of agreement with ICE, which allows the federal agency to train and supervise designated local law enforcement officers to enforce immigration law.

Earlier this month, a Sheriff’s Department spokesman said the agency, which does have a 287(g) agreement, is reviewing its detainer procedures in light of the Oregon federal court’s decision, and subsequently announced that it will continue to respond to the detainers for sentenced inmates whose offenses meet the criteria established by the Trust Act.

However, the Sheriff’s Department will no longer comply with ICE detainers that require the agency to hold pre-sentenced inmates beyond their release date. The department will contact ICE during the release process, and release the inmate to ICE so long as the transfer of custody takes place during the release process and doesn’t “require additional detention of the inmate,” the agency said in a statement.

While the coalition praised the recent changes in the Probation Department’s detainer procedures as an important step forward, they plan to continue to advocate for a complete halt to the ICE referrals.

 

Crony Capitalists Want Californians to Pay for Their Operations—Taxpayers, not Investors to Take Risk

The State of California gave $100 million to the Hollywood Elite Billionaires. That was not enough, this year they wanted $400 million. In others words, they wanted taxpayers to take a risk on their TV shows and movies—we get the bill and they get the profits. Now we find the State is “giving away” $559 million as incentive to businesses to stay in California or relocate to our former Golden State. Of course, the firms will then tell other States about the “incentives” to see if they will up the ante. In the end taxpayers in both States lose and the crony capitalists and politicians win.

At some point government needs to stop subsidizing business—all business—from the oil industry to ethanol, to illegal aliens to choo choo trains for nobody to nowhere. Why is California in a Depression and the nation in a Recession? A few living off the productivity of many hard working honest citizens.

“Enterprise Zones, which cost the state $760 million in 2010, aimed a disproportionate amount of money at the less than one-half of 1% of California businesses with assets of more than $1 billion. Lawmakers liked them for either pro-business ideological reasons or because enterprises in their districts benefited directly from them.”

PileOfMoney

Not Enough Free Taxpayer Money for Corporations to Go Around

Allgov, 6/10/14

California’s beleaguered Enterprise Zone Program essentially came to an end on December 31, 2013, for a host of reasons, not the least of which were complaints that channeling taxpayer dollars to prop up businesses was corporate welfare.

The last vestiges of the program and its Hiring Tax Credit should be gone by the end of this year, after spending $4.8 billion since its inception in the 1980s, but the thirst for free money is still strong.

A few weeks ago, the enthusiastically-nicknamed state Office of Business and Economic Development (Go-Biz) announced that 396 applicants had sought $559 million in tax credits as an incentive for them to relocate to California―or just stay put.

However, the first phase of the California Competes Tax Credit program, created as a consolation prize for the demise of the Enterprise Zone, only doled out $30 million to a few lucky winners in the first phase of its debut. One-quarter of the money was targeted at small business. A total of $150 million will be made available for the fiscal year beginning in July.

Enterprise Zones, which cost the state $760 million in 2010, aimed a disproportionate amount of money at the less than one-half of 1% of California businesses with assets of more than $1 billion. Lawmakers liked them for either pro-business ideological reasons or because enterprises in their districts benefited directly from them.

A second phase of California Competes will include a bunch of companies that fell short in Phase I, including those seeking money for just being who they are and not leaving. It’s called “retention,” and Go-Biz is sensitive to accusations that the program isn’t giving enough attention to attracting new business and expansion.

A second phase has 149 qualified applicants asking for $155 million, but again only $30 million will be handed out. EZ Policy Blog, which tracks the program, claimed that applications for retention projects “represent over 60% of the applications accepted in the second round.”

Go-Biz said that number was wrong and told the Sacramento Bee retentions were only 10%. EZ Policy Blog stood by its calculation, kind of. Just 10% of the applications were, indeed, for retentions, but they represented a much larger percentage of the money. But upon reviewing information from Go-Biz, the blog revised its number down to 46% and the state concurred.

In addition to the programs created to mollify folks over the loss of Enterprise Zones, the state also targets the film business with a special program of its own. It is a hot ticket, and the California Film Commission has already stopped accepting any more applications this year from companies in the TV and film industry who really, really want to do their business here.

The commission received a record number of applications, 497, but 23 projects gobbled up the $100 million. The tax-credit program drew 117 more applicants than last year. The Assembly unanimously passed a bill on May 28 that would greatly expand the program and, according to a legislative analyst, would probably cost hundreds of millions of dollars annually.

California has stiff competition to see which state can expend the most public resources to subsidize corporations. A survey by the New York Times estimated that states lose around $80 billion a year in corporate tax revenues alone while also granting cash, free use of public buildings, property tax exemptions and other inventive incentives. Jack Rasmus at Counterpunch contrasted that to the $581 billion in budget shortfalls experience by states between 2008 and 2012.

 

Charter schools’ $100,000 opposition helps sink district’s bond measure–no charter school–no bond

The West Contra Costa Unified School District made it clear—if your child does not have a union teacher, they will not be allowed to have a Charter School. Most charter school teachers vote against paying tribute to unions just for the right to teach. The District made it clear—children belong in uniform government schools, not classrooms geared to education quality based on the needs of the students.

The Charter School supporters decided they had enough—thanks to a statewide organization—they spent money to defeat a bond measure to give more slush find money to a union run school district. The kids won this battle and the unions lost. This is a great example of forcing the issue—quality schools or no slush fund money.

“The charter schools organization has thrown money behind bond measures and parcel taxes in the past decade: a facilities bond in Los Angeles Unified, a parcel tax in Oakland Unified and both a parcel tax and a construction bond in San Diego Unified, said Wallace. In the June primary, CCSA Advocates gave $5,000 in support of a construction bond measure for the Sequoia Union High School District in San Mateo County and $10,000 toward a parcel tax for the Livermore Unified School District. In both cases, the districts had promised to share proceeds proportionately with charter schools serving students from their districts, Wallace said. Both measures passed.”

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Charter schools’ $100,000 opposition helps sink district’s bond measure
By John Fensterwald, EdSource, 6/19/14

Earlier this month, and for the first time, the political arm of the California Charter Schools Association campaigned heavily against a proposed school construction bond in a district that hadn’t agreed to share the proceeds with charter schools.

The California Charter Schools Association Advocates paid for this anti-Measure H mailer, opposing West Contra Costa Unified’s school construction bond. “The School Board is wasting our money and hurting our children. It’s time to say ‘no more,’” it said.

The $100,000 that it spent helped defeat the West Contra Costa Unified School District’s $270 million Measure H. It also sent a larger message to other districts with charter schools, said Jed Wallace, executive director of the California Charter Schools Association, a nonprofit education and advocacy organization representing most of the state’s 1,130 charter schools.

“If districts include us equitably, we will be partners with you,” he said. “You are on notice if you don’t. We will raise funds to defeat those measures that don’t treat charters fairly.”

Wallace also is a board member of the California Charter Schools Association Advocates Issues Committee, an affiliated nonprofit with some overlap in board members that funds candidates and campaigns. CCSA Advocates raised $1.7 million and spent about $1 million in the June primary, according to the Secretary of State’s Cal-Access website, leaving it plenty of money to back up its promise to watch other school districts putting bond measures on the November ballot.

The charter schools organization has thrown money behind bond measures and parcel taxes in the past decade: a facilities bond in Los Angeles Unified, a parcel tax in Oakland Unified and both a parcel tax and a construction bond in San Diego Unified, said Wallace. In the June primary, CCSA Advocates gave $5,000 in support of a construction bond measure for the Sequoia Union High School District in San Mateo County and $10,000 toward a parcel tax for the Livermore Unified School District. In both cases, the districts had promised to share proceeds proportionately with charter schools serving students from their districts, Wallace said. Both measures passed.

Under Proposition 39, which voters passed in 2000, school districts must provide charter schools with facilities comparable to those used by traditional public schools when the charter schools request it. However, they are not required to share parcel taxes or use construction bonds to renovate or build new facilities for charter schools.

There are seven charter schools either operating or about to open this fall in 30,000-student West Contra Costa Unified, and not all of them liked the idea of having the state organization fight the local bond measure. Two charters had benefited from previous district bond measures. The district had spent $2 million renovating a building for Richmond College Prep Schools, and more than $22 million for Leadership Public Schools-Richmond’s new high school, due to open in the fall.

Leadership will share a campus with Gompers Continuation High School, a district school, and share gym facilities and a health clinic. Leadership also benefited from millions of dollars more in soft costs, such as architect’s fees it didn’t need to pay. Leadership, which is used to modular construction for its new buildings, could not have afforded such a well-equipped, expansive facility on its own, said Louise Waters, Leadership’s CEO and superintendent.

Waters said she wasn’t aware of CCSA’s decision to fight the bond and wouldn’t have signed on. “Local charters usually work with districts to build relationships,” she said. “This puts us in a difficult position.”

Jorge Lopez, the CEO of Richmond Charter Academy, a middle school in West Contra Costa Unified, agreed with Waters. The CCSA Advocates’ campaign “was like throwing a nuclear bomb in an already hot area,” he said, and will complicate building new inroads with the district. He, too, said he was in the dark about the opposition campaign until it began.

But Wallace and Diane Tavenner, CEO of Summit Public Schools and chairwoman of CCSA Advocates’ board, said the campaign committee acted after reaching out to most charter schools in the district, though they wouldn’t name them. Some chose not to speak out because they are worried the district might hold it against them when they seek a charter renewal or a Prop. 39 building request, Wallace said. Summit operates a charter middle school in West Contra Costa Unified.

“The rationale is pretty straightforward,” said Tavenner. “When districts go out for bonds, part of their due diligence is to be thoughtful about their legal obligation to provide facilities for charters; they should be serving all public school kids. West Contra Costa failed to do this.”

The Sequoia Union High School District, by contrast, she said, was proactive. “I got a call from the superintendent and the board to meet with me before finalizing the bond measure language,” she said.

It’s not good enough, Tavenner said, for a district to give one charter a beautiful facility while other charter students are not served. “There needs to be consistency in meeting their responsibility,” she said.

Previous conflicts

The district and charter schools have tussled over the years. Summit and several other charters received approvals to operate from the Contra Costa County Board of Education after the district rejected their requests. The California Charter Schools Association is suing West Contra Costa after the district declined to share a portion of its parcel tax with charter schools.

Charles Ramsey, chairman of the West Contra Costa Unified school board, said no one from the charter schools organization contacted him to ask that the charters be included in the bonds. In an email, Superintendent Bruce Harter confirmed that as well. Wallace said the charter schools first heard about the bond proposal days before the board voted on it, and by then the language had been written.

CCSA Advocates donated through a nonprofit set up for the election, the Contra Costa Families for Better Schools. It wasn’t the only group opposing the bond measure, but it was the best funded. The campaign capitalized on voter worry about higher taxes and stories in the Contra Costa Times about the high cost to taxpayers of the previous six construction bond measures since 1998, which total $1.6 billion. Supporters of the bond, primarily construction companies and architects who benefited from past bonds, contributed more than $400,000, according to the Times.

CCSA Advocates spent most of the $100,000 on mailers. One quoted a Contra Costa Times analysis that the district’s building costs “appear to far exceed the norm in other districts” and added, “The School Board is wasting our money and hurting our children. It’s time to say ‘no more.’” The mailer said it was paid for by the California Charter Schools Association Advocates.

Ramsey said he was angry that CCSA Advocates attacked the district’s credibility in its campaign. “We felt blindsided that it would put that seed in the mind of voters,” he said. “It was odious and nefarious behavior.”

West Contra Costa’s Measure H was the largest by far of the nine school bond measures statewide that were defeated in the June 3 primary election. Only 45 percent of voters backed it, far shy of the 55 percent threshold for passing construction bonds. Thirty-five California districts – nearly 80 percent of the 44 districts with bonds on the ballot – passed them, according to the California Local Government Finance Almanac.

With a $691,000 donation last year from Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and $550,000 from Doris Fisher, co-founder of the Gap clothing stores, the California Charter Schools Association Advocates is becoming a campaign force, backing pro-charter candidates in local school board, Senate and Assembly races. Other donors to the charter schools campaign committee include venture capitalist Arthur Rock ($350,000) and former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan ($50,000).

Gary Borden, executive director of CCSA Advocates, said the campaign committee hasn’t yet supported a candidate in the race for state superintendent of public instruction. He said the committee will decide this summer whether to back Marshall Tuck, the former charter schools executive who will face incumbent Superintendent Tom Torlakson in the November runoff.