Home Health Unions, Advocates Fight Proposed Limit on Hours. Sick/Elderly to be Harmed

Guv Brown has decided that if you are a home health worker, you may not work more than 40 hours a week—no overtime allowed. How does he implement this new policy? It is part of the budget—so no separate hearings, little public discussion—pass the budget and the sick and elderly are harmed. Instead caregivers—many times family members paid by the government helping the needs of the sick, when the 40th hour comes, must stop work. Guv Brown is rich—won’t hurt him—only the poor and middle class get hurt. Even unions are opposed to this radical policy.

“The proposal would affect California’s In-Home Supportive Services, which consists of about 360,000 home health care employees who work with hundreds of thousands of individuals with physical and mental health issues, according to the Bee. About 83,000 of those employees currently work more than 40 hours per week. A recent federal order requires in-home supportive services workers to receive overtime pay.”

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image13456426

Home Health Unions, Advocates Fight Proposed Limit on Hours
California Healthline, 5/20/14
Home health care advocates and unions in California are pushing back against a provision in Gov. Jerry Brown (D)’s revised fiscal year 2014-2015 budget that would limit the number of hours such providers can work to 40 hours per week, the Sacramento Bee reports. The proposal would affect California’s In-Home Supportive Services, which consists of about 360,000 home health care employees who work with hundreds of thousands of individuals with physical and mental health issues, according to the Bee. About 83,000 of those employees currently work more than 40 hours per week. A recent federal order requires in-home supportive services workers to receive overtime pay.
However, Brown’s revised budget specifically exempts IHSS from that rule. Brown noted that the cost of IHSS increased by nearly $250 million between January and May and that the monthly caseload has increased from 317,000 in 2003 to 453,000 in the current fiscal year. As a result, Brown said federal overtime rules could cost the state an additional $186 million annually. Under Brown’s proposal, individuals who need home care services could obtain more than 40 hours of care weekly by using conglomerates of backup providers who would be available on short notice. Patient advocates and labor unions said that not permitting overtime would put financial strain on home health workers and could harm patients, the Bee reports.

Ed Ring: A “Left-Right Alliance” Against Public Sector Unions?

Is it possible that the Left and the Right can unite on key issues? We are both angered by the NSA and the IRS scandals. Both sides want the best for our children through quality education. Neither like crony capitalism or corporate welfare. We are both leery about the way Wall Street makes sure it gets paid off in any crisis, forcing the middle class to pick up the check.

Both Ralph Nadar and Pat Buchanan have written about the possibility if issue oriented coalitions. This would truly be the grand compromise. But, in this case I agree with both of them. Ed Ring, the author of this article says there are three areas we can agree on, 1) pension reform, 2) charter schools and 3) transparency. Great areas.

“In a Salon interview published on May 2, Nadar lists five areas where the left and right can agree on policy goals: (1) controlling security state overreach, (2) eliminating corporate welfare, (3) fighting military overspending and waste, (4) cracking down on Wall Street financial fraud, and (5) revisiting international agreements that undermine American sovereignty.”

Unions pension public sector

A “Left-Right Alliance” Against Public Sector Unions?
By Ed Ring, executive director, California Policy Center, 5/21/14

Consumer advocate and left-wing activist Ralph Nadar has just written a book entitled “Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State.” In a Salon interview published on May 2, Nadar lists five areas where the left and right can agree on policy goals: (1) controlling security state overreach, (2) eliminating corporate welfare, (3) fighting military overspending and waste, (4) cracking down on Wall Street financial fraud, and (5) revisiting international agreements that undermine American sovereignty.

Populist right-wing commentator Patrick Buchanan has taken notice. In a column published on May 19th entitled “A Left-Right Convergence?,” Buchanan identifies the rift within conservative ranks that provides an opening for convergence with the left. He writes:

“Undeniably, there has been a growing gap and a deepening alienation between traditional conservatives and those Ralph calls the ‘corporate conservatives.’ And it is not only inside the conservative movement and the GOP that the rift is growing, but also Middle America.”

As for the left? Here are two easily identified, escalating rifts that are dividing liberals: The first, construction unions vs. environmentalists, as exemplified by their conflict over the Keystone Pipeline. The second, public sector union Democrats vs. progressive Democrats. As San Jose’s mayor Chuck Reed, a Democrat, puts it:

“There’s a difference between being liberal and progressive and being a union Democrat.”

This second rift has immediate importance in California, and it has immediate potential for what could become California’s regional version of a left-right alliance. Here are three areas where California’s left and right can unite:

(1) Charter schools: California’s public schools have failed millions of students. Charter schools, unconstrained by union work rules, have become laboratories of innovation. They have consistently delivered better educational outcomes at lower cost. Their proliferation should be encouraged.

(2) Pension reform: California’s cities, counties and state agencies now face unfunded pension liabilities that – depending on what assumptions you make – total between $200 and $500 billion. Annual pension contributions now consume as much as 25% of the general fund budget in major cities. Reform is vital.

(3) Transparency: Closed door negotiations enable sweetheart deals between policymakers and public sector union leaders; these secret negotiations also occur between policymakers and government contractors. Open negotiations allow citizen watchdogs early warning and prevent corruption. They should be mandatory.

Enacting these reforms and others requires taking on the immense political power of public sector unions. The prerogatives of unions, embattled in the private sector, are sacred to liberals, and to some extent perhaps they should be. But public sector unions are fundamentally different from private sector unions. Their goals are inherently in conflict with the public interest. They have no natural checks on their power because they elect their own bosses, and, unlike unions in the private sector, their survival is not dependent on the financial health of a competitive company. And because their members enforce the law, approve permit applications, conduct inspections, etc., they have a coercive power over the business community that co-opts it. Finally, public sector unions enrich the very bankers they rhetorically demonize, because their bloated payrolls and overbuilt government agencies – the measure of their success – cause deficits that earn billions for bond underwriters. Similarly, their over-generous pension funds pour hundreds of billions each year directly into Wall Street investment firms. These monopolistic vested interests – public sector unions, large corporations, and the financial sector – share a common agenda to squelch competition and increase the cost of living for the rest of America. Only a left-right coalition can hope to counter their power.

For the left and the right to unite on these critical issues, they have to acknowledge what Ralph Nadar and Patrick Buchanan have realized – partisan lines in America are blurring. The simplistic polarity of right vs. left is a myth. Why else would the increasingly authoritarian, corporatist status-quo be something that public sector unions have just as much interest in preserving as multi-national corporations? The “left” must stand up to public sector unions. The “right” must stand up to crony capitalists. They must work together.

In the recent Salon interview, Nadar said “the most manipulated voter is a single-issue voter.” He’s right. In order to work together on issues of fundamental importance, whether they are regional issues here in California, or issues that face the entire nation, both sides will have to accept that their incongruous partners still bitterly oppose many of their most cherished ideals.

*   *   *

Ed Ring is the executive director of the California Policy Center.

 

 

Covered California Charges a TAX on its Policies $13.95 per month—surprised?

If you bought an expensive, but inferior health care plan through Covered California, did you know you were also paying a tax of $13.95 a month—with the money going to finance the Administration of the plan? The plan you bought includes the cost of Administration, this is a double tax on your plan. Government knows how to tax in a way the people paying do not know.

“Various states have proposed solutions to handle the cost of running an exchange going forward. For example:

  • California has authorized a $13.95 monthly assessment on plans purchased through its exchange.”

  • taxes

States Seek Alternative Exchange Funding Before Federal Aid Expires

California Healthline, 5/20/14

There is concern among state officials, particularly in the 14 states and the District of Columbia that run their own health insurance exchanges, about how to fund those exchanges once federal funding ends in 2015, Modern Healthcare reports.

According to Modern Healthcare, states have received at least $4.7 billion to build and operate the exchanges so far.

Various states have proposed solutions to handle the cost of running an exchange going forward. For example:

  • California has authorized a $13.95 monthly assessment on plans purchased through its exchange;
  • In Colorado and Minnesota, officials have approved taxes of at least 3% on 2015 premiums for exchange plans; and
  • The Washington, D.C., city council earlier this month unanimously passed a tax of as high as 1% on premiums for coverage purchased by D.C. residents, even if the plans are not purchased through the district’s insurance exchange (Demko, Modern Healthcare, 5/16).

 

Pro-Criminal/Anti Second Amendment Activists Organize Against Jail Expansion

The Left loves criminals. They really like to be sensitive, supporting the early release of vicious folks from prison. They want the criminals to be safe, so they oppose honest people having guns to protect themselves. To make sure the criminals are not in jail, now they want to stop the development of new jails. Keep the criminals safe and on the streets. Why are gun sales exploding? The Left implements its values and the people demand to be safe.

Honest citizens need guns, remember when seconds count the police are only minutes away, maybe.

“More concerns were raised last week at the May 8 Senate Budget subcommittee on corrections hearing. The subcommittee voted 3-0 against Brown’s inclusion of the additional $500 million and instead voted to have such funds available for alternative projects like transitional housing and mental health services.”

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image16843792

Activists Mobilize Against CA’s Proposed $500 Million Jail Expansion

Andrew Szeto, Beyond Chron, 5/20/14

After the revised proposed state budget was released last week, activists from around the state are calling on Gov. Jerry Brown to remove the $500 million outlined for jail expansion. With $15 billion in cuts to social safety net programs, prison reform groups like Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB) are questioning why that state is increasing spending on prisons and jails instead of social programs and public education.

The budget revision released May 13 includes additional funding to the $500 million for jail expansion already granted to 15 counties in January, which puts the total jail spending at $1.7 billion over the last three years. San Francisco’s replacement jail project, spearheaded by Sheriff Ross Mikrarimi, was denied funding early in January.

Brown proposed the $500 million for jail expansion in his initial budget in January, and in his revised budget, it appears that additional funding will be allocated with the Corrections budget set to increase 2.9% to $9.8 billion.

In February, a Legislative Analyst Office report questioned the need for an additional $500 million for jail expansion. With very little research compiled in counties across the state the report stated that the “administration has not carried out an adequate analysis of the extent to which counties need additional funds.” Since the LAO report was released, it does not appear that more studies have been conducted, or that the Governor took these concerns into consideration.

More concerns were raised last week at the May 8 Senate Budget subcommittee on corrections hearing. The subcommittee voted 3-0 against Brown’s inclusion of the additional $500 million and instead voted to have such funds available for alternative projects like transitional housing and mental health services.

Fighting Prison Expansion

The statewide coalition CURB has been fighting against prison and jail expansion for the past few years, and has been putting pressure on state legislation to focus on alternatives to incarceration. Their community mobilizing and action has played a large part in changing the perspectives around prison and jail reform.

“The $500 million, because of significant community opposition, has gotten a lot of attention,” CURB Statewide Coordinator Emily Harris told Beyond Chron.

In late April, CURB organized and was able to get both SB 1377 and AB 2356 struck down in the State legislature. The bills would have added 32,000 beds to the prison system and increased jail construction funds to $1.2 billion respectively. If both of those measures had passed, an additional $4 billion would have been allocated for new prison and jails across the state.

Harris credits the mobilizing done to defeat the two bills with helping to get the Corrections subcommittee to vote in opposition to Brown’s proposed budget.

“Because of all that opposition against those two bills, they ended up losing,” Harris said.

The CURB coalition is made up of 46 organizations from across the state, all with a diverse range of interests and constituencies.

“It was an example of a diverse group of organizations in California who showed that we don’t want this in our backyard,” Ashley Nguyen, organizer with Sin Barras from Santa Cruz, told Beyond Chron.

“We are all tackling it from different angles, whether its healthcare, childcare, abolition, incarceration, policy reform — and that brings rich and full perspective to people who are making these decisions and enables us to make big wins and big changes.”

CURB’s ability to unite these groups has led to more community power, and they are pushing for the state to spend the $500 million on other vital social services that are alternatives to incarceration.

“There has been movement in the direction toward what communities that have been working on realignment are calling for,” Harris said.

San Francisco Jail Replacement

In January, Sheriff Mirkarimi was denied $80 million of state grant money for the replacement of the Bryant St. jails, which have seen increased scrutiny for their horrid conditions and seismically unsafe structures. A Board of Supervisor hearing was also held that month, where dozens of activists protested the construction of a replacement jail, citing the already low number of people in the city’s jails and their declining population.

The replacement jail process is still a year to two in the making, but Mirkarimi believes that with the current conditions of the jails, something needs to be done.

“Everybody agrees we need a facility,” he told Beyond Chron.

With a possible $500 million on the table if Brown’s budget passes as is, the city could apply for funding again.

“If in fact we still need the jail replacement facilities, and at this point we do, using state money is better than our municipal money,” Mirkarimi said.

The jail replacement project was left off June’s emergency response bond, which proponents believed would not be favorable to voters.

“If the money comes from Sacramento, then the counties will try to get it,” Harris said. “If the money wasn’t available to San Francisco, it would be more likely to see the supervisors move away from a jail construction project and towards building out alternatives.”

Recent reports, though, have shown that the jail population is declining, and Mirkarimi says that jail replacement may not even be necessary if the trend continues.

“If the numbers continue to drop in the jail population, and it’s evaluated where it’s going to hold steady, then this question can be up in the air about the jail itself.”

 

Friant Is the Last to Know! Water NOT Coming

Over 400,000 acres of farm land in the Central Valley will go fallow this year due to lack of water. How is the water being used? (Remember, we have a drought, but do not have a lack of water) It is being used for environmentalists, refuges and fish.

“Unbelievably, at the same time, the Bureau increased supplies to refuges and environmental interests instead of delivering water to Friant growers.  Until recently, the agencies representing Friant growers have been quiet.  They should have been screaming as loud as the west side growers.

To top it all off, the Friant water was going down the San Joaquin River for the bogus restoration, and Friant still did nothing.  Friant agencies appear to be the only signees to an agreement who think they have to abide by it.”

Why the massive increase in food prices? Government water policies is the direct answer.

Water

Friant Is the Last to Know!

 Families Protecting the Valley,   5/20/14

When farmers can save this year’s water for next year it’s called rescheduled or carryover water.  This year Valley westside contractors had over 300,000 acre feet of carryover water that was paid for.  The Bureau of Reclamation initially said it would not deliver the water, but instead would ‘appropriate’ it to satisfy other demands.

After the understandable outrage by the growers who paid for the water, the Bureau decided to deliver the water.  A big stink should have been raised by everyone concerned about water in the Valley, but there was no outcry from others.  No one apparently wanted to create the big stink.  So, the Bureau escaped the scrutiny it should have had.

Meanwhile the flexible pumping rules didn’t allow what could have been several hundred thousand acre feet of water into San Luis because the rules just aren’t flexible enough.  The Bureau claimed that the Exchange Contractors could not be supplied out of the Delta, and, therefore, for the first time in history gave Friant growers a zero allocation so they could supply the Exchange Contractors out of Friant Dam.

Unbelievably, at the same time, the Bureau increased supplies to refuges and environmental interests instead of delivering water to Friant growers.  Until recently, the agencies representing Friant growers have been quiet.  They should have been screaming as loud as the west side growers.

To top it all off, the Friant water was going down the San Joaquin River for the bogus restoration, and Friant still did nothing.  Friant agencies appear to be the only signees to an agreement who think they have to abide by it.

So, water was flowing right by the pumps, right down the river, and other interests were not only receiving their water but in some cases even more.   Now, all the water is gone, and Friant growers are beginning to see there will be no water.

 

No Evidence of a STEM Worker Shortage New study examines government data

Why do we allow tens of thousands of foreigners into our nation for the purposes of working mostly in the technology industry? At the same time we have qualified Americans not hired. Don’t we owe Americans the right to pursue a job without foreigners being brought into this country and given the job? Remember, this is an industry that just settled for over $300 million an anti-trust lawsuit—this is where the heads of the major firms conspired to hold down wages and divvied up the workers—without the workers permission or knowledge.

We have more than enough qualified workers for jobs that are for our honest hard working citizens.

““By allowing in many more immigrants than the STEM labor market can absorb, Congress is almost certainly holding down wage growth, crowding natives out of these jobs, and reducing the incentive for Americans to undertake the challenging course work necessary for a STEM career,” said Dr. Steven Camarota, the Center’s Director of Research and co-author of the report. “This may be a great situation for employers, but it is hard to see how this is in the best long-term interest of the American people.”

Need Work

No Evidence of a STEM Worker ShortageNew study examines government data

Center for Immigration Reform, 5/20/14

While employers argue that there are not enough workers with science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) degrees, a new analysis of government data by the Center for Immigration Studies finds no evidence that a general shortage of such workers exists. Consistent with most research on the subject, the findings show that the country has more than twice as many people with STEM degrees as there are STEM jobs. Also consistent with most other research on the subject, we find only modest levels of wage growth for such workers for more than a decade. Both employment and wage data indicate STEM workers are not in short supply in the United States.

View the entire report at: http://cis.org/no-stem-shortage.

“By allowing in many more immigrants than the STEM labor market can absorb, Congress is almost certainly holding down wage growth, crowding natives out of these jobs, and reducing the incentive for Americans to undertake the challenging course work necessary for a STEM career,” said Dr. Steven Camarota, the Center’s Director of Research and co-author of the report. “This may be a great situation for employers, but it is hard to see how this is in the best long-term interest of the American people.”

Among the report’s findings:

• Using the most common definition of STEM jobs, total STEM employment in 2012 was 5.3 million workers, but there are 12.1 million STEM degree holders.

• If STEM workers are in short supply, wages should be increasing rapidly. But wage data from multiple sources show little growth over the last 12 years.

• Real annual wages (adjusted for inflation) grew 0.4 percent a year on average from 2000 to 2012 for STEM workers. Wage growth has been very modest even for most subcategories of engineers and technology workers.

• Only one-third of native-born Americans with an undergraduate STEM degree who have a job actually work in a STEM occupation.

• There are more than five million native-born Americans with STEM undergraduate degrees working in non-STEM occupations: 1.5 million with engineering degrees, half a million with technology degrees, 400,000 with math degrees, and 2.6 million with science degrees.

• An additional 1.2 million natives with STEM degrees are not working — unemployed or out of the labor force in 2012.

• Well less than half of immigrants with STEM degrees work in STEM jobs. In particular, just 23 percent of all immigrants with engineering degrees work as engineers.

• In total, 1.6 million immigrants with STEM degrees worked outside of a STEM field and 563,000 were not working in 2012.

• Despite the economic downturn, between 2007 and 2012, about 700,000 new immigrants with STEM degrees were allowed to settle in the country.

• Of these new immigrants with STEM degrees, only a little more than a third took a STEM job and about the same share took a non-STEM job. The rest were not working in 2012.

Fraud Case Still Hangs Over Planned Parenthood. Surprised?

Did you know that Planned Parenthood (PP) is 97 years old? That was when the eugenics promoting bigot Margaret Sanger started the organization. In that time there have been 57 million abortions recorded. At the same time PP offices around the nation refuse to report rape of young women by older men. Abort and be gone. In California it was found they cheated government in reporting of services. Now in Texas, once again Planned Parenthood is being charged with fraud and ripping off the taxpayers.

If Planned Parenthood wants to exist, they have that right. There is no right for them to use my tax dollars for their views and services. If the Hollywood Elite likes Planned Parenthood, let them pay for the abortions.

“Since the Trades Center teens were eligible Medicaid recipients, Planned Parenthood said there was nothing illegal about it billing Medicaid for testing services it actually provided.
But Carroll countered that Planned Parenthood acted illegally when it created charts to give the appearance that the teens had visited its Huntsville clinic, and billed Medicaid using a code indicating the blood tests were done at Planned Parenthood’s “office.”
Carroll further contended that only doctors are eligible to use the billing codes Planned Parenthood used.”

Planned Parenthood Abortion Pro Choice

Fraud Case Still Hangs Over Planned Parenthood

By CAMERON LANGFORD, Courthouse News, 5/20/14

Planned Parenthood must face claims that it defrauded Medicaid with regard to blood tests performed on Texas teens, a federal judge ruled.
Patricia Carroll brought the complaint in late 2012 after serving as the accounts receivable manager for Houston-based Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast Inc. for five years. In March of that year, she had allegedly noticed that a Planned Parenthood clinic in Huntsville experienced a revenue increase of more than 300 percent.
Carroll investigated and claimed to have found that Planned Parenthood was billing Medicaid for STD and HIV blood tests performed by a nonphysician on teens at a private charter school, using billing codes to give the appearance the tests were done at its Huntsville clinic by a doctor.
The tests were allegedly performed on Medicaid-eligible youths at the Gulf Coast Trades Center, which contracts with Texas to provide job training for teens sent to the school under court order.
Carroll resigned that October and then filed a sealed qui tam action, an avenue for whistle-blowers with knowledge of fraud against the government to file a lawsuit on the government’s behalf and receive a cut of any settlement.
Neither the United States nor Texas intervened in the action against Planned Parenthood, however, leaving Carroll as the sole plaintiff alleging violations of the False Claims Act and the Texas Medicaid Fraud Prevention Act.
The Houston resident filed her first amended complaint Monday after a partial dismissal from U.S. District Judge Sim Lake last week.
Planned Parenthood had alleged that Carroll failed to state a claim and that her fraud claims were not specific enough. It also argued that Carroll’s claims were barred by the statute of limitations.
Since the Trades Center teens were eligible Medicaid recipients, Planned Parenthood said there was nothing illegal about it billing Medicaid for testing services it actually provided.
But Carroll countered that Planned Parenthood acted illegally when it created charts to give the appearance that the teens had visited its Huntsville clinic, and billed Medicaid using a code indicating the blood tests were done at Planned Parenthood’s “office.”
Carroll further contended that only doctors are eligible to use the billing codes Planned Parenthood used.
Acknowledging that Carroll’s allegations require deference at this stage of the case, Lake said Wednesday “that Carroll has adequately pleaded factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that Planned Parenthood knowingly filed false claims.”
Lake also found that Carroll’s claims were not barred by the False Claims Act’s six-year statute of limitations because the Wartime Suspension of Limitations Act “applies in civil FCA cases to suspend the statute of limitations when the United States is at war.”
In reserving decision on Carroll’s claims under the Texas Medicaid Fraud Prevention Act, the judge found that he need not decide her state-law claims at this time since Carroll had adequately pleaded False Claims Act allegations.
Lake had ordered Carroll to amend her action to clarify her allegations that Planned Parenthood also defrauded Medicaid by not reporting or returning overpayments.
Carroll’s attorney Kurt Arbuckle told Courthouse News that the United States’ decision not to intervene in the case doesn’t imply that it lacks merit. He said Carroll is still bringing the case on the government’s behalf and will get a percentage of any recovery.
Planned Parenthood’s attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

 

San Francisco condo prices rocket 19 percent as inventory stays scarce

San Fran is the costliest city on the mainland. High taxes, bad regulations, big spending and the citizens of this once diverse city is a community of the very rich, the very poor and the illegal aliens. They are proud they have “full employment” of 4%. What they do not mention is that when people do not have a job they cannot afford to stay in the city, so when these unemployed leave, the unemployment rate goes down.

How expensive is San Fran? In one year the cost of a condo increased by 19%. This is a town for the rich, loving the poor and forcing the middle class out. Any new inventory will also be very expensive—not a help to average families.

“April’s results are “by far its largest single month gain this year, building on an already strong market in San Francisco caused by low inventory and extremely strong demand,” said Erin Kennelly, senior director of research at the Mark Co. “However, a surge of new condominium projects scheduled to come online this year may indicate an easing of the city’s inventory crunch.”

San_Francisco_Giants_Cap_Insignia.svg

San Francisco condo prices rocket 19 percent as inventory stays scarce

Blanca Torres, San Francisco Business Times, 5/20/14

Lack of inventory keeps pushing up condo prices in San Francisco. Condo prices leaped by 19 percent in April compared with last year, to an average of $1,115 per square foot for new condos, according the Mark Co., a condo marketing and research firm.

Inventory was down by 45 percent year-over-year with only 136 units available.

April’s results are “by far its largest single month gain this year, building on an already strong market in San Francisco caused by low inventory and extremely strong demand,” said Erin Kennelly, senior director of research at the Mark Co. “However, a surge of new condominium projects scheduled to come online this year may indicate an easing of the city’s inventory crunch.”

The lack of supply issue has been going on for months. Projects selling units include Brian Spiers’ Linea at 1998 Market St., where the 115 units are close to selling out, and Oyster Development’s 114-unit Vida at 2558 Mission St., where about a third of the units are in contract.

Other developments will be coming on the market later this year including Trumark Urban’s 27-unit Amero, the company’s first San Francisco condo project of eight in its pipeline; Bosa Development’s Arden, a 267-unit building in Mission Bay; and Tishman Speyer’s Lumina, a 665-unit luxury highrise at 201 Folsom St. in Rincon Hill.

For all of 2014, less than 1,500 new condos will hit the market in San Francisco whereas well above 5,000 new apartments will be completed and ready for lease.

The issue isn’t a lack of construction, but more that for years after the recession, it was much easier to finance apartments than condos.

Yesterday, we reported on 41 Tehama, a 418-unit project in the Transbay District that will start construction by early next year. Developer Hines and equity partner Invesco preferred going rental as a way to ensure cash flow over the long term.

“Over the last few years, apartment financing has been more accessible so that’s why you’re seeing more starts for rentals,” said Dean Givas, head of Oyster Development. Apartment rents boomed during the past few years and lenders consider it less risky to lease up an apartment building than to sell condos.

Givas dived into developing condos as the economy recovered, but started with smaller developments like Vida and Marlow, a 98-unit project at 1788 Clay St. that sold out in less than a year. Now Oyster is after bigger fish. Last week, the firm locked in approvals for 261 residential units in two 13-story towers, 4,000 square feet of commercial at 1634 1690 Pine St.

“At the beginning of the cycle, I was very conscious of size,” Givas said.

With the Pine Street project, Givas hopes to break ground by October and start sales next spring, a more than a year before the project wraps up in mid-2016. Givas still has line up construction financing.

“Based on timing, the hope was that we would be developing it later in the cycle and that banks would be back to lending for condos and that was case,” he said. “There’s more lenders than there were a year ago and more than there were two years ago.”

The Mark Co. also produces a pricing index for penthouse units. In April, the average San Francisco penthouse, meaning a 30th-floor, 2,000-square-foot unit, went for $1,915 per square foot. For existing condo resales, the average price in San Francisco was $927 per square foot in April based on about 307 units trading hands.

 

Pension costs burden CA budget

The California pension crisis is a disaster for the budget. CalSTRS takes over $4 billion a year from the budget—under the new budget another $5 billion must go to this collapsing fund—for a total of almost $10 billion per year. CalPRS and CalSTRS have a combined $840 billion in unfunded liabilities, per Federal accounting criteria. Cities are going bankrupt paying for pensions, starting July 1, agencies must pay an extra $459 million. Within three years the CalPRS mandated contributions goes up 50%.

At the same time pension costs are exploding, MediCaid costs are also exploding. Guv Brown had to add $1.2 billion to pay for MediCaid, being on MediCaid does Not guarantee you receive health care coverage, just a card. Few doctors or hospitals are willing to take the new enrollees. Pensions and health care are killing any chance to end the $10 billion cash deficit and the $340 billion debt.

“That’s significant because a ruling along those lines would affect CalPERS statewide. CalPERS is locked in a closely watched mediation process with the city of San Bernardino, which hopes to avoid millions in back payments to CalPERS as a consequence of declaring bankruptcy.

CalPERS, however, isn’t the only pension system at the center of the LAO report. There’s also CalSTRS, the California State Teachers’ Retirement System. There, the LAO fingers “$200 billion in liabilities” that “merit further legislative attention.”

ShakingHandsWithMoney

Pension costs burden CA budget

By James Poulos, Calwatchdog,   5/19/14 

Gov. Jerry Brown still hasn’t gotten his state’s budget problems beat.

A high-profile new report showed California still faces massive liabilities extending far into the future. The study, released by the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office, tallied over $340 billion in debts, deferred payment and other budgetary burdens “that will affect the state’s financial health in the future.”

According to the report, “Addressing California’s Key Liabilities,” there was some good news mixed in with the bad. The LAO was relatively sanguine toward a substantial portion of California’s long-brewing public pensions crisis. The report’s Executive Summary lauded “recent actions taken by the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) board … to address the unfunded liability for state employee pension benefits in about 30 years.”

Given the legal controversy surrounding CalPERS’ role in city bankruptcies, however, the LAO’s praise may not go far. Litigation concerning the bankruptcy of Stockton, for instance, has pulled CalPERS back into potential liability. “Even though the city decided not to try to cut its CalPERS payments,” the Sacramento Bee reported, “Judge Christopher Klein said he could rule that the pension fund could be treated like other creditors.”

That’s significant because a ruling along those lines would affect CalPERS statewide. CalPERS is locked in a closely watched mediation process with the city of San Bernardino, which hopes to avoid millions in back payments to CalPERS as a consequence of declaring bankruptcy.

CalPERS, however, isn’t the only pension system at the center of the LAO report. There’s also CalSTRS, the California State Teachers’ Retirement System. There, the LAO fingers “$200 billion in liabilities” that “merit further legislative attention.”

In his revised May budget, Brown has a plan to address the shortfall. It’s already drawing criticism. He aims to make a down payment on CalSTRS’ $74 billion shortfall — followed by $5 billion in increased funds every year for 30 years, once it’s fully phased in after seven years of stepped-up payments. Notably, $3.7 billion a year will be expected to come from school districts themselves — not a popular policy at the local level.

It’s also a disappointment for statewide education activists, who want big state dollars spent on universal preschool and Common Core implementation. They’d counted on the support of legislators like state Sen. Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, who had raised hopes for a universal preschool initiative in his final year in office.

Brown’s bipartisan critics

Brown, however, has been keen to spend state dollars as quickly as he shifts costs downward. Under his watch, California has racked up some $7 billion in tax increases, drawn from income and sales taxes from Proposition 30, which voters passed in 2012.

But they’re only temporary measures. Accounting analysts and budgetary experts expect Brown to show that California can attack what Brown calls its “wall of debt” before the short-term tax increases expire. Hoping to meet expectations, Brown has vowed to pay down half of the debt wall, build a rainy day fund, and tackle CalSTRS’ $74 billion shortfall.

Brown’s efforts have encountered resistance from state Democrats, who want to forge ahead with broad new initiatives on social programs. New Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, gave a sense of Democrat lawmakers’ priorities in a statement. “As we finalize the budget over the next few weeks, we will also look to expand opportunity by combating child poverty, improving access to higher education, increasing funding for transportation projects, and taking strides to expand affordable housing,” she said.

Perhaps even more surprisingly, some Republicans have questioned Brown’s relatively modest version of budgetary thrift. “I was surprised and disappointed that he didn’t address other important priorities,” said Assembly member Kristen Olsen, R-Modesto. From “water storage and drought relief” to higher education and “other investments,” Olsen slammed Brown for failing to “grow our economy” with his focus on increasing California’s cash reserve.

That’s striking evidence that California’s budget battles won’t soon be resolved.

 

Cisco to Obama: NSA Policies Killing American Technology Companies Selling to Other Nations

The American economy is beginning to take a hit—a big one. When the world found out that President Obama was spying on them, using the NSA, countries and foreign firms started buying NON-American technology. Now that American technology sold overseas goes through the NSA—and they put spying devices and trackers in the new products, our firms understand no one will trust American technology—for good reason.

Now John Chambers, the Cisco CEO, has written Obama, begging him to stop the spying—it will kill American jobs.

“In a letter to President Obama picked up by both The Financial Times and Recode, Chambers pointed to the latest allegations that the National Security Agency intercepted Cisco routers and other equipment in order to secretly install surveillance software. Based on documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, those allegations are described in the new book “No Place to Hide” by reporter Glenn Greenwald, according to Ars Technica.

Referring to an alleged photo of Cisco gear being modified, Chambers told the president that if the allegations are true, then “these actions will undermine confidence in our industry and in the ability of technology companies to deliver products globally.”

nsa fbi obama spying

Cisco CEO asks Obama to control NSA surveillance

The CEO of the networking giant warns that revelations of NSA spying are undermining confidence in the tech industry.

by Lance Whitney, CNET, 5/19/14 

Cisco CEO John Chambers has reached out directly to the president of the United States in response to the latest revelations about NSA snooping.

In a letter to President Obama picked up by both The Financial Times and Recode, Chambers pointed to the latest allegations that the National Security Agency intercepted Cisco routers and other equipment in order to secretly install surveillance software. Based on documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, those allegations are described in the new book “No Place to Hide” by reporter Glenn Greenwald, according to Ars Technica.

Referring to an alleged photo of Cisco gear being modified, Chambers told the president that if the allegations are true, then “these actions will undermine confidence in our industry and in the ability of technology companies to deliver products globally.”

Chambers also said that the revelations of government surveillance have eroded confidence in an open, global Internet and made it difficult for companies to follow the considerations of privacy expected by people in other countries.

“We simply cannot operate this way,” Chambers added. “Our customers trust us to be able to deliver to their doorsteps products that meet the highest standards of integrity and security.”

Chambers lauded the president for certain steps taken so far to try to rein in the NSA. In March, Obama called for an end to the agency’s bulk collection of the phone records of American citizens. But those proposals, if and when approved by Congress, won’t directly address the concerns that NSA surveillance has hurt American corporations trying to do business overseas.

Many companies have complained that the revelations of NSA spying have damaged their reputation in other countries, affecting their bottom line. Some have even been accused of cooperating with the agency to weaken the security of their own products. In the wake of an atmosphere of mistrust, Cisco’s CEO wants the president to do more.

“We are asking your administration to take more steps and a leadership role to ensure that guidelines and reforms are put into place that can be honored around the globe,” Chambers said.

A spokesperson for Cisco confirmed to CNET that the company did send the letter but offered no additional comment, saying that the letter speaks for itself. Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council, told CNET that “we don’t generally comment on the president’s correspondence.”

In a blog posted on May 13, Cisco general counsel Mark Chandler spoke out against the allegations that the NSA installed surveillance software on Cisco equipment.

“We ought to be able to count on the government to then not interfere with the lawful delivery of our products in the form in which we have manufactured them,” Chandler said. “To do otherwise, and to violate legitimate privacy rights of individuals and institutions around the world, undermines confidence in our industry.”

Chandler also offered the following suggestions on what governments should do to restore confidence in the tech industry:

  • Governments should have policies requiring that product security vulnerabilities that are detected be reported promptly to manufacturers for remediation, unless a court finds a compelling reason for a temporary delay. By the same token, governments should not block third parties from reporting such vulnerabilities to manufacturers.
  • Governments should not interfere with the ability of companies to lawfully deliver internet infrastructure as ordered by their customers.
  • Clear standards should be set to protect information outside the United States which belongs to third parties, but are in the custody of subsidiaries of US companies, so that customers worldwide can know the rules that will apply and work with confidence with US suppliers.