Judges Give Kick in the Pants to Pension Reform Movement in California?

Judges have pretty much thrown out the voter’s ballot measure in San Diego and San Jose to save their pension systems. Now a judge has refused to allow the people of Ventura County to vote on a ballot measure to protect the workers’ pension system by giving them control of their pension funds. So, why spend time, effort or money to save CalPRS, CalSTRS or the local pension system if a judge will decide the systems are owned by the unions and cannot be changed?

The good/bad news is that the pension systems will collapse without reform and the unions will cry—as will the taxpayers forced to bail out a corrupt system.

“But even limiting pension cuts to new hires is not a legal sure thing. The San Diego and San Jose measures are being challenged by the state Public Employment Relations Board because they were not bargained with labor unions.

A cost-cutting Los Angeles pension reform was overturned two weeks ago by a Los Angeles labor board. A hearing officer concluded that at the moment of hire, new employees become members of the bargaining unit and therefore get the same benefits.”

Photo courtesy of secretlondon123, flickr

Photo courtesy of secretlondon123, flickr


Ventura pension vote blocked, summit this fall?

Ed Mendel, CalPensions, 8/11/14

Backers of a Ventura County pension reform initiative, which was removed from the November ballot by a judge last week, are not appealing the ruling. But they may meet with other reformers after the elections this fall to discuss a statewide pension reform initiative.

The Ventura reformers, including Supervisor Peter Foy, are talking about meeting with the leaders of pension reform measures in San Diego and San Jose approved by voters two years ago — former San Diego city councilman Carl DeMaio and San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed.

“I think we are going to get some large donors if we can all agree on something that’s workable,” said David Grau, chairman of the Ventura County Taxpayers Association and a leader of the county initiative drive.

The local pension reformers from all three areas share one common goal: cut growing pension costs that eat up funds needed for basic government services. But the methods they chose to cut pension costs are very different.

The Ventura County initiative, similar to the San Diego initiative, would have given new hires a 401(k)-style investment plan instead of a pension (the San Diego initiative exempted police) and called for a five-year freeze on pay used to calculate pensions.

The San Jose measure, while protecting pension amounts already earned, gives current workers and new hires a choice for pensions earned in the future: pay much more to earn the old pension amounts or receive a lower pension.

Instead of eventually eliminating pensions like the Ventura County plan, the statewide initiative Reed dropped last January, complaining of a misleading ballot summary, is intended to strengthen pension funding and could even increase-short term costs.

In addition to the pension choice, a little-publicized provision in the Reed initiative would require governments to propose, but not enact, annual plans for fully funding pensions and retiree health care in an unusually short 15 years.

Grau said the Ventura group had not yet talked to Reed, who has said he will continue pushing his initiative for 2016. DeMaio is interested in a statewide pension initiative, Grau said, but he is running for Congress and may not want to meet until after the November election.

Reformers think a cost-cutting pension reform Gov. Brown pushed through the Legislature two years ago falls short of what is needed. New hires get lower pensions and, among other things, some employees will pay a little more for their pensions.

The Legislature rejected one of the governor’s key proposals: a “hybrid” plan for new hires that combines a smaller pension with a 401(k)-style individual investment plan, similar to the retirement plan adopted for federal employees in 1986.

Could local pension reformers find common ground on some version of a hybrid plan? An incentive for the local reformers would be the possible support of a re-elected Brown, who has a big lead in the polls, if he were to renew his interest in pension reform.

If voters had approved the Ventura County initiative, some expected a domino-like spread of similar ballot measures to the 19 other counties with retirement systems operating under a 1937 act.

But Ventura Superior Court Judge Kent Kellegrew ruled there is nothing in the 1937 act that allows “an individual county to ‘opt out’ or terminate its participation” through a countywide initiative or a vote of the county supervisors.

The judge agreed with a union lawsuit backed by a legal opinion from the Ventura County counsel, endorsed by a 4-to-1 vote of county supervisors, Foy opposing. The change apparently can be made only by the Legislature or a statewide ballot measure.

Grau said the initiative backers were surprised by the judge’s swift decision. They had a legal opinion saying the initiative was legal and an actuarial report saying there would be no transition costs, backed by a separate actuarial report done for the county.

Among several things influencing the decision of initiative backers not to appeal, Grau said, was being told they could be liable for the opposition’s legal costs if they lost a quick appeal.

The judge said in his ruling that “allowing this measure to be considered on the November ballot would only result in a waste of public resources.” If voters approved, he said, the measure could not be implemented.

A vote for the initiative might have been used as an argument for legislation allowing Ventura County to make the change. But the initiative backers do not plan to seek legislation, assuming like many that union opposition makes that a non-starter.

Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger found that union political clout goes beyond Democrats. After a record 100-day budget holdout in 2010, he got legislation requiring most state workers to pay more for their pensions.

In his weekly radio address, Schwarzenegger said minority Republicans refused to support the required two-thirds vote for the bill. He said Republicans “sold out” to the prison guard union for campaign contributions, naming several legislators.

Schwarzenegger said the Republican blockade was lifted by getting the signature of Secretary of State Debra Bowen at 3 a.m. at her home, clearing the way for a special legislative session and passage of the bill by Democrats on a majority vote.

One of the statewide initiative issues facing local pension reformers, in addition to finding a consensus plan and funding, is the view that the courts have said the pensions of current workers are a “vested right” that cannot be cut, unless offset by a new benefit.

The watchdog Little Hoover Commission and others think the key to quickly making major cuts in pension costs, and easing the strain on government budgets, is cutting the pensions current workers earn in the future.

As the Legislature worked on Brown’s pension reform two years ago, the mayors of eight of the state’s 11 largest cities sent legislative leaders a letter urging that cities be given “clear authority to modify future pension accruals,” a plea that was rejected.

Last December the provision in the San Jose measure giving current workers the pension choice, pay more or receive less, was ruled a violation of vested rights and overturned by a superior court judge, despite a city charter specifically allowing pension changes and repeals.

While awaiting an appeal, San Jose also awaits an IRS decision on whether choosing a lower benefit prevents tax-deferred status for plans. Orange County, which negotiated a similar pension option with employees, has been waiting for an IRS decision on the issue since 2009.

The San Diego and Ventura County measures avoid vested-rights challenges by switching new hires, but not current workers, to 401(k)-style plans. The plans are now widely used in the private sector, shifting investment risk from the employer to the employee.

Similar to previous polls, a statewide survey issued by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California last January found that switching new government hires to 401(k)-style plans is supported by 73 percent of likely voters.

Critics say a 401(k)-style plan would harm recruitment and retention of employees (the reason San Diego exempted police) and often is uncertain and inadequate, particularly if investments are hit by a stock market crash shortly before retirement.

But even limiting pension cuts to new hires is not a legal sure thing. The San Diego and San Jose measures are being challenged by the state Public Employment Relations Board because they were not bargained with labor unions.

A cost-cutting Los Angeles pension reform was overturned two weeks ago by a Los Angeles labor board. A hearing officer concluded that at the moment of hire, new employees become members of the bargaining unit and therefore get the same benefits.


U.S. Post Office Runs ANOTHER $2 Billion Loss in Three Months

For several years now the Post Office has run an $8 billion deficit. Looks like this year will be no different. In the 3rd quarter of this fiscal year it lost $2 billion. Unions own and control it, modernization takes years due to negotiations with the unions and politicians demand post offices facilities stay open no matter how much the system loses.

It will get worse—“ Postal Service Chief Financial Officer Joseph Corbett said in the statement that the agency won’t be able to make its required $5.7 billion retiree health benefit prefunding payment to the Treasury by Sept. 30.”

Like most of government it is mismanaged and run by unions (sorry about being redundant). At some point the finances collapse—maybe by the end of this year?

post office



USPS records another quarter loss in the billions, calls for Postal reform

By Ryan McDermott, Fierce Government, 8/11/14

The Postal Service ended the third quarter of fiscal 2014 with a $2 billion loss. That’s nearly $1.3 billion more of a loss than the same period last year, an Aug. 11 USPS statement says.

The Postal Service has recorded a loss in 21 of the last 23 quarters, the excepted quarters being the two in which Congress rescheduled the Retiree Health Benefits prefunding payments, USPS says in the statement.

But even with the losses, USPS is gaining ground in revenue due to a January mail price increase and a growing package business.

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Total operating revenue of $16.5 billion increased by $327 million, or 2.0 percent, compared to the same period last year, USPS says.

Shipping and package revenue were both up almost 7 percent and Standard Mail revenue increased by 5 percent over the same period last year. First-Class mail volume dropped, but revenue still went up due to the price increase at the beginning of the year.

“We’re seeing momentum in our package business and continued use of direct mail as an advertising medium,” said Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe in the statement. “We’ve been effective in developing and marketing our products, and we’re improving how we leverage data and technology–all providing a higher return on mail for many customers and causing them to take a fresh look at the Postal Service.”

USPS once again called for help from Congress to overhaul the agency and help it return to solvency.

Postal Service Chief Financial Officer Joseph Corbett said in the statement that the agency won’t be able to make its required $5.7 billion retiree health benefit prefunding payment to the Treasury by Sept. 30.

Comprehensive postal legislation is necessary to eliminate this liability and provide a basis for the Postal Service to return to long-term financial health, the statement says.

For more:
– read the USPS statement


Seiler: Groundwater takeover would prove costly

When you steal someone’s private property and get caught, you pay restitution and get jail time. When government steals, it is a lengthy process before the private owners get their property back—and if it something like water, there is no way to get it back once government redistributes it to others. That is why Sacramento is looking to steal groundwater from the owners, give it to their friends and donors—water becomes an asset to be given to those chosen by government instead of bought by the free market.

Government creates a crisis by taking water from people and giving it to fish. Then limits use of water by people. Now the crisis hits—created by government—and they want to take advantage of us, to steal property and end private property rights:

Groundwater regulation has been politically poisonous since the state’s founding. But lawmakers and Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration are hoping to capitalize on the current parched conditions, and cautious cooperation from once-resistant interest groups, to pass a plan for a groundwater management system by the end of the month.

“This falls under the category of: Never let a crisis go to waste,” said Assemblyman Roger Dickinson (D-Sacramento), an author of the legislation.”


Groundwater takeover would prove costly

By John Seiler, Calwatchdog,   8/11/14

In 2010, I did some freelance work for Susan Trager, one of California’s top water lawyers. Unfortunately she died in 2011.

Even though I had been writing about California since 1987 and had a general idea of state water policy, until I worked for Susan I had no idea how complex, developed and even rational water policy is.

In California, water rights and use mostly are “adjudicted.” The rights are mostly private, as are the lawyers involved; but the state courts system referees disputes. Other than the courts, the state is involved only if the state itself has water rights. Even the federal government, because of federal law, follows state adjudication decisions. The ultimate adjudicator is the California Supreme Court.

The adjudications sometimes can take decades. Yet somehow, it works. Along with federal bankruptcy court, California water adjudication is one of the few areas of government that actually works fairly well.

This system, which is more than 100 years old, now is endangered because state legislators are using the drought as an excuse to increase their control over private water. The Los Angeles Times reported:

California continues to endure a calamitous lack of water from the sky, the state could, for the first time, start to regulate water drawn from the ground.

Groundwater regulation has been politically poisonous since the state’s founding. But lawmakers and Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration are hoping to capitalize on the current parched conditions, and cautious cooperation from once-resistant interest groups, to pass a plan for a groundwater management system by the end of the month.

“This falls under the category of: Never let a crisis go to waste,” said Assemblyman Roger Dickinson (D-Sacramento), an author of the legislation.

That last quote was a paraphrase of Rahm Emanuel when he was President Clinton’s first chief of staff, “You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.”


My colleague Wayne Lusvardi has been writing about this here on CalWatchDog.com. From my political perspective, here are a couple of things:

1. Given that the current system is old, well established and works fairly well, anything else will be more expensive. That means we’ll all end up paying more for water.

2. Much of the higher water expense will go to lawyers. Usually when government uses eminent domain to grab property, it goes after Jose’s Muffler Shop or Anita’s small home. This time they would be going up against some of the sharpest lawyers in the state.

3. The U.S. Supreme Court strongly has established “takings” law, in which any property taken from citizens through eminent domain must be compensated. Here’s a summary from Public CEO of the Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Management District decision just last year:

In a potentially groundbreaking land-use decision, the U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled in a sharply divided decision that the denial of a permit to develop wetlands property in Florida could be a taking of property under the Fifth Amendment. What this decision means to local government agencies that issue development permits remains to be sorted out. The justices who dissented warned that the majority opinion places a dark cloud of uncertainty over land use permit fees relied upon by local governments throughout the United States. The majority opinion, on the other hand, suggests that the dissent’s fears are exaggerated, if not entirely off the mark. In California, it would not be surprising if some developers attempt to use the decision to challenge land use decisions and permit fees. But existing California law already lines up to some extent with the decision rendered by the nation’s highest court.

You can bet the Koontz  decision would be cited in any lawsuits against the state insisting that any state legislation taking groundwater, or reducing groundwater rights, be compensated out of the state treasury. That could cost billions.

And where is the Legislature going to get those billions? The only way would be to add a fee to your water bill.


San Diego Police Sweep for Trolley Fare Violators—NOT for Illegal Aliens

If someone jumps on a San Diego Trolley, it could cost the taxpayers $5 in fare and subsidies. If an illegal alien sneaks into San Diego, goes to schools, uses health care and welfare programs, the cost to the taxpayer could be upwards of $50,000. Yet the San Diego police are more concerned about the fare violator than the illegal alien. After searching Google for the past three years, I could not find a single instance that a concerted effort was made to find, detain and deport criminals from foreign countries.

In fact, the San Diego police must feel that every day is bass fishing—catch the criminal and release. This is why crime can not be controlled, budgets explode and citizens have little trust or respect for the Police—they are more concerned about a $5 fare violator than a $50,000 illegal alien. Shame on us for allowing this.

from the L.A. Times

from the L.A. Times


19 Arrested at Trolley Depot in Ongoing Sweep

Posted by Aleksandra Konstantinovic, Times of San Diego, 8/9/14

Nineteen people were arrested and another 63 were cited for not paying their fares in a crackdown at two trolley stops, deputies said Saturday.

Sheriff‘s deputies teamed with officers from the Metropolitan Transit System to patrol the Lemon Grove Depot and Massachusetts Avenue trolley stations from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, Sgt. Mike Krugh said.

The sweep was at least the third since July in the ongoing “Operation Lemon Drop” along the MTS Orange Line trolley, which runs from Downtown San Diego through Lemon Grove to El Cajon.

During the check, deputies and officers made 1,253 contacts to determine trolley fare compliance, which resulted in about 40 probation and other searches, Krugh said. Deputies and officers made six felony arrests, 13 misdemeanor arrests and issued 63 trolley citations.

“The goal was to identify and contact prolific offenders and their associates,” Krugh said.

Many of those arrested “fell into a category of realigned offenders,” Krugh said, or were previously convicted non-violent offenders who were shifted from being supervised by the state into the responsibility of local law enforcement agencies as a way to cut costs and reduce overcrowding at state prisons.

In two previously reported sweeps as part of “Operation Lemon Drop,” deputies and other law enforcement officers made 65 arrests — including 26 felony arrests — and caught nine probation violators.

Law enforcement question some trolley riders at the Iris Street station as part of Stonegarden Southern Trolley Operation on Saturday. Photo from County News Center.

Last week, police conducted a similar sweep at the Iris Avenue Trolley Station near San Ysidro along the MTS Blue Line. Known as the Stonegarden Southern Trolley Operation, the sweep was a joint venture between six law enforcement agencies, including the San Diego Sheriff’s Department and U.S. Border Patrol. Officers arrested 29 people with outstanding warrants, probation violations, or possession of controlled substances, and cited 213 more for transit violations.


Racists try to Expand Los Angeles Board of Supervisors—ONLY ONE RACE NEED APPLY

Racism is alive and well in Los Angeles. As expected, the last remnant of racism in this country is by liberal Democrats. In this case, the racists want to expand the number of members of the LA Board of Supervisors from five to nine, for the purpose of electing at least FOUR Hispanics to the Board. Sounds like the KKK. George Wallace and the Democrats have joined forces. (Right, the KKK was founded by Democrats, Wallace during his segregationist days was a Democrat). Yet the media is refusing to note the racist’s purpose of this effort—instead tries to make racism a respectable part of the political process.

When will the media and political leaders call this for what it is, a return to 1950’s Alabama. Why not be honest—do not allow white people to run for office—the voters may want them.

“Judicial expansion of the board to nine members would make possible the drawing of more supervisorial districts with substantial numbers of Hispanic voters, giving Latino candidates a good chance of winning. Now Gloria Molina is the only one in a county where 48 percent of the 10 million residents are Latino. A judge could also clear the way for a new district where an Asian American could win election to the board for the first time. Asian Americans amount to 14.6 percent of the county’s population.” Where do the Democrats hide their hoods?

Democrat Donkey


Latinos try an end run around supes

By Bill Boyarsky, LA Observed,   8/6/14

The drive to increase Latino representation on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has taken a fascinating turn. In an audacious move to bypass the supervisors, Latino leaders, public policy reformers and civil libertarians are backing state legislation that would give a judge the power to expand the five-member board.

An increase in the size of the board has been long sought by Latino leaders wanting more representation and by county government critics who say five supervisors aren’t enough to lead such a big county. Most of the supervisors have opposed this.

Judicial expansion of the board to nine members would make possible the drawing of more supervisorial districts with substantial numbers of Hispanic voters, giving Latino candidates a good chance of winning. Now Gloria Molina is the only one in a county where 48 percent of the 10 million residents are Latino. A judge could also clear the way for a new district where an Asian American could win election to the board for the first time. Asian Americans amount to 14.6 percent of the county’s population.

The proposal is part of a bill, SB1365, by State Sen. Alex Padilla of Los Angeles, designed to strengthen state laws protecting minority voting rights by toughening the California Voting Rights Act. Padilla and his supporters focused on this after the U.S. Supreme Court weakened the federal Voting Rights Act. Padilla, who is running for secretary of state, California’s chief election officer , said the measure was designed to protect the state from the Supreme Court Voting Rights Act decision.

The bill makes it easier for civil rights groups and others to go to court and sue local governments for denying voter rights to minorities. This has been an issue in Santa Barbara, Palmdale, Whittier, Bellflower and some school districts

Under the Padilla bill, a superior court judge, seeking ways to increase minority representation, can issue an order “increasing the size of the governing body.” It applies to the entire state but is particularly relevant to Los Angeles County because of the long redistricting dispute.

Bardis Vakilli, attorney for the American Civil Liberties of Southern California, supporting Padilla’s bill, told me a judge would have authority to order such a Los Angeles County board expansion. The judge, he explained, would have to find county has drawn the districts in a way that diluted minority votes. If a judge decided such discriminatory conduct could be fixed by enlargement of the board, “the bill would give the judge authority to do that.”

Two redistricting experts who have long been active in trying to get more Latino representation on the board criticized Padilla’s bill. Alan Clayton and Saeed Ali wrote Padilla and members of the Latino Legislative Caucus that the bill violates the Supreme Court’s Voting Rights Act decision, and could result in the high court eventually overturning the entire California voting rights law.

But with the supervisors so recalcitrant, going to court may be the only way to assure fair representation. Democracy is strengthened when everyone—all ethnic groups—have a chance to participate.


Tea Party to Support Democrats Who Support Obama Immigration Policies and More? NO

A couple of days ago—for a full day—I had an email debate with Ro Khanna, the Leftist Democrat running for Congress against the Leftist Congressman Mike Honda. Neither candidate wants to repeal ObamaCare, both support the Obama foreign policy (supporters of Israel have no candidate in this race) and both love Prop. 30—the $6 billion a year slush fund created by our confused Guv Brown. Khanna does want to roll back some of the corporate taxes—paid for by ending oil subsidies—but continuing the Ex-Im Bank, subsidies for solar, wind turbines and all forms of “alternative” energy. Both support Obama importing illegal aliens into this nation.


In other words, both Honda and Khanna hate oil. The only real difference between them is age—Khanna is younger. Into this, a former member of Congress Mr. Konnyu, has inserted himself trying to decide for the Tea Party who to support. It should be noted that the Charles Munger led Santa Clara Republican Party is internally debating an endorsement of Democrat Mike Honda. (Which is why we need to repeal Prop.14—so we can have Republicans on the November ballot—not allow Munger and his group to decide which socialist Democrat HE wants)

As a person active in the Tea Party movement statewide, I can assure you the hundreds of Tea Party clubs in California will NOT endorse amnesty for illegal aliens nor candidates that support it. The Tea Party Express is a unique non membership, non meeting organization run by a public relations firms—it is not the people in California that walk precincts or help candidates in their volunteer effort. Yet, in the end they want no part of two Progressive Democrats.



The Tea Party Is Considering Backing An Obama Democrat In California

“Not one single supporter of mine jumped at financing the idea.”

Evan McMorris-Santoro, Buzzfeed, 8/9/14

WASHINGTON — Late last month, a former Republican congressman sent an unusual email to supporters: Help me bring the Tea Party Express to California’s Silicon Valley — to support a Democrat.

To finance the effort, former Rep. Ernie Konnyu wrote, supporters would need to raise $50,000 to help out Democrat Ro Khanna, who is now challenging Democratic Rep. Mike Honda.

The Tea Party Express — a California-based group that raises money for grassroots conservative candidates — is interested, even if none of Konnyu’s supporters appear to be so far. Should the plan come to fruition, it would be the first time a major tea party organization played in a race between Democrats — and on behalf of a Democrat who recently worked in the Obama administration.

Khanna, a former presidential appointee at the Department of Commerce, is running against longtime Democratic Rep. Mike Honda in one of California’s “jungle primary” system. The scheme strips out partisan primaries, forcing the top two vote-getters from a field of primary candidates to face off in the general election, even if they’re both from the same party.

Honda won the most votes in the jungle primary in June, and has establishment and progressive backing, but Khanna has raised a lot of money and has tapped the resources of top Obama 2012 field campaign architect Jeremy Bird and his 270 Strategies consulting firm to develop his field campaign.

The race is nasty, with Khanna accusing Honda of skipping out on his duties as a member of Congress and Honda backers accusing Khanna of being a Republican.

The GOP is actually playing an outsize role in the race, with Honda touting the endorsement of the Republican he defeated in 2000 to take the Silicon Valley seat.

Konnyu, the Republican, represented Silicon Valley as a member of the House for one term in the late 1980s, a seat he lost in a more traditional primary with another Republican. He’s thrown his weight behind Khanna and urged Republicans to do the same. On June 23, in an email to supporters obtained by BuzzFeed and addressed “TO: All Republicans and Independent Voters,” he tried to take that effort up a notch by pulling in help from the Tea Party Express.

“It’s OK! Even Honda called Ro ‘Republican-Lite,’” Konnyu told his Republican list before asking them for money to help pay Tea Party Express for mailer attacking Honda.

“I contacted my old campaign manager at the Tea Party Express in Sacramento for help. I asked him about sending out a mailer to the voters on what Honda has been doing,” Konnyu wrote. “His Tea Party Express is willing to do that mailer provided we cover the postage, printing, and handling expenses. As you probably know it’s expensive. Printing, postage and handling can cost perhaps $0.50 cents at minimum or $50,000 for 100,000 letters.”

“Let me know by reply to this email…how much you are willing to pledge toward our $50,000 goal to do a NO ON HONDA mailer with the Tea Party Express,” Konnyu concluded.

At the end of the email, there was a big chunk of research designed to rile up Republicans about Honda (“Throughout Honda’s 14 years in Congress, 18 of 20 of his largest donors have been unions,” was one hit) that looked a lot like the kind of background material campaigns send out to reporters when trying to attack their opponents. Konnyu wrote in the email that he got the material from someone else. “I received a well researched and referenced document I requested,” he wrote.

Several weeks after his email request, Konnyu told BuzzFeed his Tea Party Express scheme had fallen flat, both with Republicans and the Khanna campaign.

It seems no one was interested in unleashing the tea party on Silicon Valley.

“Not one single supporter of mine jumped at financing the idea,” Konnyu said. “As much as local folks dislike Honda for his 447 missed House votes and his around a dozen foreign junkets on fat cat paid joy rides, they were not interested in this venture with my former campaign consultant, the Tea Party strategist, Sal Russo.”

Konnyu said Khanna’s campaign didn’t throw any money in, either, despite the fact that his polling shows them down double-digits to Honda.

“Nope. But if Khanna were interested they would have helped with financing probably indirectly because they are still down,” he said.

For their part, the Tea Party Express is keeping an eye on Silicon Valley battle of the Democrats.

“Konnyu expressed interest in having Tea Party Express support Ro. Sal was out of the country but was open to talking about it when he returned,” said Tea Party Express spokesperson Taylor Budowich. “I believe that’s how it was left. We remain undecided as far as if we will or will not be involved in the race, but it’s on our radar.”

Tea Party Express has faced criticism over the group’s spending practices — a 2013 ProPublica report showed the group had only put 10% of its money toward elections. Russo, the chairman of Tea Party Express, also came under scrutiny this week for Move America Forward, a charity that claims to provide care packages for troops overseas, centering around discrepancies found in the group’s claims, as well as questions about how the group spent its money.

The Khanna campaign didn’t respond to questions about the Honda opposition research, but distanced themselves from Konnyu’s Tea Party Express plan.

“Ernie has publicly endorsed Ro and we’re happy to have his support,” said campaign spokesperson Tyler Law. “That said, he is acting on his own.” Law accused Honda supporters of trying to tie Khanna to the tea party.


County OWNED Pet Washing Machines: Waste of the Week

Santa Barbara County government believes it is its role to make sure Fido can get a shower at the beach. To make sure this happens, they spent $13,000 of TAX money. Add insult to the injury a private firm tried this and could not make any money—so the yo-yo’s running government bought it—and are planning three more!! Seriously, would you pay $10 to shower Fido at the beach? The proof is that a private firm could not sell the idea.

So, when you want less of something, when you want to do what private investors won’t because it is a money loser—look at the government in Santa Barbara—give Fido a shower, while the taxpayers also take a bath!


County-Owned Pet Washing Stations Warmly Welcomed at Arroyo Burro Beach

Self-contained clean machines installed after previous operator’s departure; Lookout Park in Summerland, Santa Maria’s Waller Park may get gear, too

By Gina Potthoff, Noozhawk, 8/9/14

Pups can once again be pampered with warm-water baths at Arroyo Burro Beach in Santa Barbara, where dog owners have welcomed the new credit card-operated machines.

Santa Barbara County Parks installed two self-service pet washing machines at the popular off-leash dog beach in May, volunteering to fill a void left when the previous vendor vacated and ceased operations late last year.

The parks department even foot the bill, paying $13,000 for each machine that allows pet owners to place their dogs into a metal tub and pay $10 for 10 minutes of rinsing, shampooing, moisturizing, drying and more.

If use remains high, the county could next install pet-washing machines at Lookout Park in Summerland and Waller Park in Santa Maria — where former vendor Monarch Pet Spas also facilitated washes, according to parks operations manager Jeff Lindgren.

“Since (May) it’s just been picking up steam,” Lindgren said.

“There’s no cash handling involved. It seems to be well accepted.”

The county opted to end its contract with Monarch Pet Spas and owner Ed Bertling at the end of last October, claiming he did not meet certain agreements.

According to the contract, penned in February 2009, Bertling was supposed to pay 20 percent of gross revenue from locations back to the county. That percentage was to rise to 25 percent in 2014, lasting through the remainder of a contract ending in 2019.

Monarch Pet Spas operated three pet-washing stations consisting of tile tubs instead of two in the new system, which puts dogs on a raised platform instead of in the dirt and grime they just washed off, Lindgren said.

Water is heated to 72 degrees and pet products are available through a rotating selector.

He called the new machines more sanitary and reliable, since some Summerland residents used to complain the old machines weren’t working.

Bertling, who could not be reached for comment, has threatened to sue the county for ending the contract, but so far nothing official has materialized.

Bertling has recently been involved in a separate breach of contract case, however.

A Santa Barbara judge last month ruled Bertling must pay more than $36,000 to Michele Rangel, who filed suit against his company in January. She alleged Monarch Pet Spas wrote a contract allowing her to franchise a county pet spa location in Summerland in fall 2012 — only the company didn’t have the authority to do so.

Rangel also alleged Bertling took a higher percentage of profits than agreed upon, according to the filing.

County parks staff plan to wait about a year before deciding to buy more machines, the revenues of which go directly back to the department, Lindgren said.

A peak weekend of nearly 100 washes in two days makes officials optimistic.

“We’re trying to be conservative about it,” Lindgren said.

“The public seems to be enjoying them. I think it’s a great alternative to throwing your sandy dog in your car and getting your car detailed later.”


San Luis Obispo County: Two Days a Week of Outdoor Water Usage on Tap

The water crisis created by Obama and our confused Guv Brown is about to get worse for people. It almost appears to be the Democrat goal of forcing decent, honest citizens out of the State. That would leave behind the very rich, the very poor and the illegal aliens. In San Luis Obispo they already have a regulation that you cannot expand your farm or build a bathroom without cutting water usage elsewhere. Watch this County dry up.

Now they want people in “rural” areas of the county to use water for only two days a week. Today it is the rural resident, tomorrow it will be the city resident—while the salmon and delta smelt get all the water they need.

“Rural water customer in San Luis Obispo County could soon be restricted to only Mondays and Thursday for outdoor eastern San Luis Obispo County is the only rural county service area that has reduced water usage over last year’s figures.

RB Drought


Rural water customers could face additional limits to outdoor use in San Luis Obispo County

By Randol White, KCBX, 8/9/14

Rural water customer in San Luis Obispo County could soon be restricted to only Mondays and Thursday for outdoor water usage due to ongoing drought conditions.

The County Public Works Department will present the plan next week to the Board of Supervisors.

Affected areas include Cayucos, Shandon, Santa Margarita, and Avila Valley. Despite calls by the state to reduce water usage by 20 percent, residents in most of these areas are showing usage inline with last year.

“Of the four county service areas we have, only one of the areas has had any significant reduction and that was in Shandon, who reduced their usage by seven percent over the first six months of this year,” said Dean Benedix, the county’s Utilities Division Manager.

The Board of Supervisors will consider the plan at its meeting on August 19.



It Will Take 4800 SQUARE MILES of Alternative Energy Sources to “Clean” California Air

Radicals seem not to have any common sense or a sense for finance or logistics. They are demanding that in the next 34 years the State of California go completely green. To do this means putting in massive solar farms, wind turbine farms and other alternative energy sources. What does this mean for land use? Think anybody will want to create solar farm SEVEN times the size of the City of Los Angeles. These folks need to think before they speak. Now, anything they say will be laughed at.

“The catch is that according to the study, California would need to build miles utility-scale solar power plants and wind turbines covering 3,426 square miles of the state — more than seven times the size of the city of Los Angeles — with offshore wind installations covering an additional 1,406 square miles of the Pacific Ocean.”



It Will Take 4800 SQUARE MILES of Alternative Energy Sources to “Clean” California Air

Seriously, environmentalists has no common sense, economic literacy and must hate the environment to come up with crack pot ideas and then say if you disagree you are the hater.


Study: It’s Possible to Power All of California With Clean Energy, But…

by Chris Clarke, ReWire,   8/8/14

A new study claims that California could power itself entirely with wind, water, solar, and geothermal energy by 2050, but it would require devoting more than 4,800 square miles of the state’s land and waters to wind turbines and utility-scale solar power plants.

According to the study by Stanford engineer Mark Z. Jacobson and 27 colleagues, published in late July in the journal Energy, the state should theoretically be able to supply 95 percent of its projected demand for power with wind turbines and solar power plants, with the remaining 5 percent coming from geothermal.

The catch is that according to the study, California would need to build miles utility-scale solar power plants and wind turbines covering 3,426 square miles of the state — more than seven times the size of the city of Los Angeles — with offshore wind installations covering an additional 1,406 square miles of the Pacific Ocean.

The authors assume that California will be able to reduce its per capita energy consumption by between five and ten percent by 2050. They also project a huge increase in rooftop solar on homes, businesses, and government buildings, with more than 15 million new units generating 14 percent of the state’s total energy consumption. The new panels would provide about 390 square miles of rooftop PV in the state, a figure not included in the 3,426 square miles of new utility-scale solar and wind facilities.

3,426 square miles seems like a lot, but it’s hard to get a handle on just how much land we’re talking about here. For perspective, consider that only 15 of California’s 58 counties encompass more than 3,426 square miles. Or think of it as three times the size of Yosemite National Park — the whole thing that takes a week to hike across, not just the valley.

In addition, the study counts that 1,406 square miles of offshore wind turbine fields incorporating 7,809 turbines, none of which currently exist off the California coast. The authors suggest the state amend its Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) law to set a goal of 5,000 megawatts of new offshore wind by 2030 — about 1,000 new turbines in the next 16 years.

Jacobson et al have other policy suggestions, including expanding the RPS past 2020, when it requires California to derive 33 percent of its electrical power from renewable sources. The authors of the study suggest a ramping-up of three percent per year after 2020, so that the state would stand at 63 percent renewables by 2030.

The authors also recommend a raft of common-sense policy shifts such as making it easier to get solar permits, implementing greatly expanded urban solar incentive programs, and promoting mass transit.

The intermittent nature of wind and solar is a bugbear for renewable energy advocates: when the wind stops blowing and the sun goes down, we’d have to turn to another source of power, and that means coal or — more commonly in California — natural gas.

But according to Jacobson and his colleagues, the massive buildout of both wind and solar, plus development of energy storage capacity, would address the intermittency problem — and the study assumes that new utility-scale concentrating solar facilities would include three hours worth of thermal storage.

Where would those new concentrating solar facilities (948 square miles of them, a total area more than twice the size of Los Angeles) and an additional 525 square miles of new utility-scale photovoltaic plants go? Jacobson et al pay heed to Californians’ mounting concerns about replacing ecological habitat with industrial renewable energy facilities:

Development in “low-conflict zones,” where and biological resource value is low and energy resources are high, will be favored. Some such areas include lands already mechanically, chemically or physically impaired; brown fields; locations in or near urban areas; locations in the built environment; locations near existing transmission and roads; and locations already designated for renewable energy development.

But they then go on to caution that our concern for wildlife shouldn’t slow down development of those 1,473 square miles of industrial solar:

Decisions on siting should take into account biodiversity and wildlife protection but should not inhibit the implementation of the roadmap, because such a delay would allow fossil fuel plants to persist and cause greater damage to human and animal life.

In theory, there are a lot of places in the state where large-scale solar projects should work. But a footnote in one of the study’s tables shows what Jacobson et al have in mind. In a discussion of the numbers used to determine those big solar plants’ real-world output, known in the trade as the plants’ “capacity factor,” the footnote reads:

The capacity factor assumed for utility PV is estimated in Section S4. The capacity factor for CSP is 21.5%. These capacity factors assume that most utility PV and CSP are in desert areas.

So look for close to 2,900 square miles of California’s deserts and offshore waters to be changed drastically, if this study gains admirers in Sacramento.


Choo Choo Train Wants to Build Massive Tunnel in Earthquake County

The High Speed Rail Authority folks LIED about the costs of the choo choo train, the route, the ridership. These are people that are dishonest and cannot be trusted with the real cost of the building the system, $200 billion. Then they will turn it over to the unions to run only if they get the contracts they want.   It is so cost prohibitive that no one—even the Authority believes it can be operated without putting itself—or the State—in bankruptcy.

Now the some have decided to save “time” they want to build a gigantic tunnel to run the train through in the Los Angeles area—in the middle of earthquake country. Do you want to be on that train during an earthquake? Imagine a 15 mile tunnel in earthquake county.

Photo courtesy of Jon Curnow, flickr

Photo courtesy of Jon Curnow, flickr


Tunnel could boost high-speed rail cost
By Wayne Lusvardi, Calwatchdog, 8/9/14 

The cost of the high-speed rail project might be going above the current estimate of $68 billion.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority recently announced a strategic shift to consider an alternative for its 40-mile Palmdale-to-Burbank link. Instead of the current plan of running it parallel to the Palmdale Freeway, the new line would run through a tunnel under the San Gabriel Mountains.

According to Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich, who has advanced the idea, the tunnel would be about 15 miles long.

The CHSRA told CalWatchDog.com that it did not yet have estimates on the tunnels’ cost.

Curbed L.A. reported, “The tunnel would go under the San Gabriel Mountains and shorten the travel time along the stretch, though it’s not yet known by how much. Also not known yet: how much more it’s going to cost. The new route, plus one that runs from Burbank to Union Station will be discussed at an upcoming series of public scoping meetings over the first few weeks in August.”

Tunnel costs

But it’s possible to calculate a rough — very rough – estimate. Let’s start with something we know: the tunneling cost for the proposed extension of the Long Beach 710-Freeway: $6 billion for a 4.9-mile segment, which works out to $1.22 billion per mile.

As mentinoned, the San Gabriel Mountain tunnel link for high-speed rail would be 15 miles long. If it costs as much do dig that tunnel as the 710 freeway extension, that would be $1.22 billion per mile, or $18.3 billion total (15 miles X $1.22 billion per mile = $18.3 billion.)

Next, let’s return to the proposed high-speed rail land surface route, on which we have an official estimate. The proposal to run the 40-mile Palmdale-Burbank link on the land surface parallel to the Palmdale Freeway would cost $13.5 billion, or $337.5 million per mile, according to a June 30 report in the Los Angeles Times.

Now, let’s compare the two routes. The estimated $18.3 billion cost for the tunnel would be $4.8 billion, or 36 percent, more than the estimated cost of $13.5 billion for the land surface route.

That $4.8 billion extra cost also would increase the $68 billion cost of the entire system to $72.8 billion, a 7 percent increase.

Again, these are just rule-of-thumb estimates. We’ll have to wait until the CHSRA comes through with its won estimates of the cost of the potential tunnel to examine them more closely.


According to the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, the following public meetings will allow citizens to ask about and discuss the proposed tunnel and other aspects of the project.

Meeting times are from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m:

  • Aug. 5, William S. Hart Regional Park, 24151 Newhall Ave., Newhall.
  • Aug. 6, Buena Vista Branch Library, 300 N. Buena Vista St., Burbank.
  • Aug. 7, Chimbole Cultural Center, 38350 Sierra Highway, Palmdale.
  • Aug. 11, Acton-Agua Dulce Library, 33792 Crown Valley Road, Acton.
  • Aug. 12, Sylmar Public Library, 14561 Polk St., Sylmar.
  • Aug. 14, Lake View Terrace Recreation Center, 11075 Foothill Blvd., Lake View Terrace.
  • Aug. 19, Los Angeles Union Station, Fred Harvey Room, 800 N. Alameda St. Los Angeles.