Elias: Will Voters Create a De Facto Third Party?

My guess is that only about 30% of the registered voters will vote in the June primary. Why vote, under the current law NO third party will be allowed on the November ballot. In fact, the American Independent Party, the largest third party in California is not running a single candidate—not one. Then in November, the Democrats will win every statewide race—just based on money. Neither GOP candidate will have a dime—and Guv Brown has north of $20 million in the bank.

It is possible that an “independent” candidate will get on the November ballot for Secretary of State (Dan Schnur was once a Republican). But that is it for a “third-party”.

“Most movement, Grose found, occurred among Democrats. This may partly be because, as noted in an investigation by former Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Gary Cohn, increasing numbers of Democratic legislators are less beholden to labor unions for their campaign money and more dependent on corporations and the state Chamber of Commerce.

Cohn found that some of these lawmakers – he  named Marin County’s Marc Levine and Republican-turned-Democrat Steve Fox of Palmdale as prime examples – skipped or abstained from several key votes. Abstentions affected the fate of bills aiming to help farm workers, require economic impact reports for proposed new big box stores and require more disclosure from some health insurance companies before they raise rates.”

Moderation? This is a legislative session that has been the most radical in years, from tax policy, to the environment to private property (about to take over privately owned groundwater, ending plastic grocery bags, etc.) Tom Hayden ideology is the winner and freedom the loser.

vote

Will Voters Create a De Facto Third Party?

Tom Elias, Santa Monica Mirror, 5/17/14

California voters created tectonic changes in state politics four years ago, when they approved the “top two” primary election system that takes effect in races for statewide offices next month.

There is no longer any guarantee Democrats and Republicans will face off in November runoff elections. In fact, four years ago, primary election voters set up more than two dozen intra-party runoffs matching Democrat on Democrat or Republican on Republican in legislative and congressional contests. It could happen in more than one statewide race this year.

Every poll in 2010 showed that voters acted because they were sick of polarization and gridlock in Sacramento. They got what they wanted, says a new report from a University of Southern California institute funded primarily by ex-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Voters also may have inadvertently set up a de facto third political party in Sacramento, a moderate one, even if it’s not formally recognized by anyone. For lack of a better term, this group might be called the “Blue Dogs,” borrowing a name from a group of moderate to conservative Democrats who served in Congress in the 1990s and carefully picked and chose which liberal causes to support.

Just such a group now exists in Sacramento, and it promises to grow larger after the June primary that’s already taking place via ballots mailed out this month. The group has no formal organization, but that might come as its numbers grow.

Based on an analysis of all roll-call votes in both the state Legislature and Congress, USC political scientist Christian Grose found the average state legislator was more moderate over the last 18 months than for many years previously (http://issuu.com/lesliebakergraphicdesign/docs/schwarzenegger_institute_report/1?e=0/6824134).

Diminished polarization of the parties in the Legislature took place against a background of ever-increasing partisanship in Congress, a phenomenon applying in both the House and Senate.

Most movement, Grose found, occurred among Democrats. This may partly be because, as noted in an investigation by former Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Gary Cohn, increasing numbers of Democratic legislators are less beholden to labor unions for their campaign money and more dependent on corporations and the state Chamber of Commerce.

Cohn found that some of these lawmakers – he  named Marin County’s Marc Levine and Republican-turned-Democrat Steve Fox of Palmdale as prime examples – skipped or abstained from several key votes. Abstentions affected the fate of bills aiming to help farm workers, require economic impact reports for proposed new big box stores and require more disclosure from some health insurance companies before they raise rates.

One possible addition to the Blue Dog ranks this year might be Steve Glazer, until last year a top advisor to Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown, who later worked as a consultant to the chamber. Glazer, an Orinda city councilman, now seeks an Alameda County seat in the Assembly.

“I am trying to redefine what it means to be a Democrat,” Glazer told one reporter.

For sure, Glazer has parted company with the labor unions that support most Democratic campaigns. But that doesn’t make him any less liberal on issues from gay rights to gun control and abortion, areas of relatively little interest to business.

How many Blue Dogs get elected this fall will in large part be a product of the current primary. The more Democrat-on-Democrat races ensue, the more contests will pit union contributions against business dollars.

Their outcomes can be surprising, too, as when former Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom two years ago won in an Assembly district created by reapportionment over Democratic Assemblywoman Betsy Butler, a strong labor ally who previously represented a district that marginally overlapped the new one. Butler now seeks a vacant state Senate seat and will very likely this fall face another Democratic rival not funded by unions.

No one can be quite certain how all this will play out in the long term: A moderate wing for the most liberal state Democratic Party in the nation? A three-party system?

These are the kind of non-automatic, unpredictable developments that make voting both worthwhile and fun.

Why CA has an affordable housing crisis—27 years and STILL NO Approved Development plan

How much more will a development cost if it takes 27 years to get approved? Why is California in a Depression? Monterey County policies are a great example. This is why more homes are built in Houston, Texas than the whole State of California. 27 years to get an approval and now it is again tied up in a court case that will last years.

“There was a breakthrough in 2012 when PBC cut a deal with the California Coastal Commission that allowed the company to build 90 homes (as well as a 100-room hotel) in exchange for permanently preserving 635 acres of forest land it owned.

The Monterey County Board of Supervisors also approved the development plan, with the stipulation that PBC build a small affordable housing project (as opposed to paying an “in lieu” fee of $5 million, with which the county could build the affordable housing itself).

Two years later, PBC still hasn’t built the affordable housing project the county ordered. Not because the company has not acted in good faith. But because a citizens group – Del Monte Neighbors United – is determined to keep the 24-unit rental townhouse project from being built anywhere near their backyards.”

house california

Why CA has an affordable housing crisis
April 12, 2014 – By Joseph Perkins, Calwatchdog, 4/12/14

What a long strange trip it’s been for the Pebble Beach Company since it unveiled its Del Monte Forest development plan all the way back in 1987.

In the ensuing 27 years, PBC has revised its plan innumerable times only to have state regulators or local government bodies block the company from breaking ground on any construction project on any of the undeveloped land it owned.

There was a breakthrough in 2012 when PBC cut a deal with the California Coastal Commission that allowed the company to build 90 homes (as well as a 100-room hotel) in exchange for permanently preserving 635 acres of forest land it owned.

The Monterey County Board of Supervisors also approved the development plan, with the stipulation that PBC build a small affordable housing project (as opposed to paying an “in lieu” fee of $5 million, with which the county could build the affordable housing itself).

Two years later, PBC still hasn’t built the affordable housing project the county ordered. Not because the company has not acted in good faith. But because a citizens group – Del Monte Neighbors United – is determined to keep the 24-unit rental townhouse project from being built anywhere near their backyards.

It’s not that the citizens group is opposed to affordable housing, its members insist. It’s just that PBC’s townhouse project “is not in keeping with the single-family zoning and rural-lane, forested character of adjacent neighborhoods,” they explain.

And there’s one other issue, they say: The complex “will have a negative impact on property values of adjacent properties to the detriment of individual property owners and the community.”

Least affordable

This is why California has the least affordable housing on the United States mainland, according a recent report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition. It’s why an average household here in the Golden State requires annual earnings of $54,168 to afford a two-bedroom rental home.

Land use restrictions and mandates by both state and local government grossly inflate the cost of market-rate housing. And nimbyism by activist neighborhood groups limits the supply of affordable housing available to households with yearly income less than $54,168.

Yet the state’s population continues to grow at 1 percent a year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and now stands at 38 million. (Click on the chart above.)

Monterey County has an opportunity to break that vicious cycle when Pebble Beach Company’s planned affordable housing project comes up for consideration by its Board of Supervisors.

In January, the county’s Housing Advisory Committee recommended that board members give PBC its long-awaited go-ahead to break ground on the modest 12-unit development.

It remains to be seen if the board backs up the affordable housing mandate it imposed on PCB or if the majority of supervisors bow to the obstructionist citizens group Del Monte Neighbors United.

California New Plan to “Voluntarily” Take Farmers Water to Protect Salmon

Government thinks that farmers are unsophisticated. They have come up with a voluntary “plan” to take water from farmers and use it to protect fish. Why would water rights holders agree to this? “In return, those water users will be granted what the agencies are calling “greater regulatory certainty” in complying with wildlife protection laws, which seems to be agency code for less stringent enforcement of those laws.”

Anybody trust government? Once the water rights holders sign over their water, the environmental groups will sue that on grounds the “exemptions, less stringent enforcement” is a violation of law. At the end, the water owners will pay for attorneys, lose their water and the public becomes the biggest loser.

Water

A New Plan to Share Water With California’s Salmon

by Chris Clarke, ReWire, 5/16/14

The state and federal agencies responsible for monitoring the health of California’s salmon and steelhead runs have announced a new program to help private water rights holders protect fish from the current unprecedented drought.

Called a “Voluntary Drought Initiative,” the program provides a way for water users to work with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Fisheries wing (NOAA Fisheries) to leave some water in Northern California streams so that fish have a better chance of weathering the drought. In return, those water users will be granted what the agencies are calling “greater regulatory certainty” in complying with wildlife protection laws, which seems to be agency code for less stringent enforcement of those laws.

“This is one of many measures we’re attempting to get us through this extreme drought and keep enough water in the state’s rivers and streams to protect our fish resources,” said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham. “I am thankful that water users and landowners came to our agencies with ideas about working together in Northern California, which allowed us to take this immediate, voluntary action during this important spawning time and improve regulatory certainty for rural communities.”

The initiative doesn’t apply statewide at the moment: targeted watercourses include the Shasta and Scott rivers, both tributaries of the Klamath, and the Russian River, which flows into the Pacific north of San Francisco. Antelope, Deer, and Mill creeks, which flow out of the Sierra Nevada into the Sacramento River between Red Bluff and Corning, are also included in the initiative.

“This is one of the toughest water years in recent memory for people, cattle and fish,” said Initiative participant Archie “Red” Emmerson, owner of the timber firm Sierra Pacific Industries, in a press release. “We have learned a great deal about salmon spawning and rearing on our properties. This year we are volunteering to keep additional cold water in the creek to help salmon. We hope working with the fish agencies will give the salmon a better chance to survive this difficult drought.”

Salmon advocates might be excused for raising an eyebrow at the “greater regulatory certainty” being offered water users under the initiative, which could include things like agencies taking a a more lax approach to participants’ incidental “take” of protected salmon and steelhead in the course of taking water from the relevant streams. Still, it’s hard to think of a better time for leaving water in the rivers. As the weather warms and creeks dry up fry run a greater risk of becoming trapped in shrinking pools, and the tiny hatchlings that stay buried in their gravel nests for several weeks after hatching can die by the thousands if their gravel nests dry up.

 

Battle Brews Over Design Of Driver’s Licenses For Undocumented Immigrants

Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez believes letting authorities know that a driver’s license belongs, upfront, to an illegal alien, would cause trouble. Guess she does not know that being an illegal alien in the United States is ILLEGAL—it is against the law. Why does she want to hide that—on the backside of a driver’s license? In fact, why does she want to assist those that are breaking our laws—isn’t that called a co-conspirator? She also believes in open borders, amnesty and that the law does not count when her special interests are at stake.

The Feds and the State are debating where to put the notice. Instead they should be determining how they are going to enforce our immigration laws and which how to deport those (like the 38,000 vicious criminals Obama refuses to deport) that openly violate our laws.

““I would never have signed any letter asking to do something, especially with driver’s licenses that make it more convenient for illegal immigrants to be here, and to encourage even more illegals to come here because now it’s more convenient to live here,” (Congressman Dana) Rohrabacher said.”

janet napolitano immigration

Battle Brews Over Design Of Driver’s Licenses For Undocumented Immigrants

CBSLA, 5/16/14

A battle is brewing over the design of driver’s licenses for more than a million undocumented immigrants in California.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security wants the licenses to have “Driving Privileges Only” clearly marked on the front, while the state wants the license to have similar marking on the back.

Nearly 20 members of the California congressional delegation, including Rep. Loretta Sanchez from Garden Grove, have signed a letter to Homeland Security asking why they need the words on the front of the license.

“Can’t you train your people to just turn it over and look on the back side? It’s not that difficult to do that,” Sanchez said. “We would like them to allow the driver’s license that we have designed for the state of California, one in which on the back side, in plain letters, we say, ‘This person is a foreign national.’”

Congressman Dana Rohrabacher and Sanchez are miles apart on the issue, reported KCAL9’s Dave Bryan.

“I would never have signed any letter asking to do something, especially with driver’s licenses that make it more convenient for illegal immigrants to be here, and to encourage even more illegals to come here because now it’s more convenient to live here,” Rohrabacher said.

He said that California’s idea to hide the relevant information about a person’s status on the back of the license is a terrible idea and would have bad consequences.

“The whole idea about giving someone a driver’s license who is here illegally and giving them one that could be mistaken for a legitimate license to a U.S. citizen will do nothing but confuse the issue and make things worse,” Rohrabacher said.

Sanchez, however, said the marking on the front would single out undocumented immigrants.

“We believe that that can be seen from afar and that would create problems with shysters and other people who prey on immigrants in this country,” she said

ObamaCare and Covered California Promoted Bait and Switch Health Care Plans

Under the terms of ObamaCare and Covered California insurance companies must list the names of the doctors and hospitals that a patient may use to be in the “network”. Nowhere did it say they had to be honest. Hence, tens of thousands of people are now finding out they were rooked by Blue Shield (and many other insurance companies around the nation. “They sued on behalf of a class of people who had purchased so-called “preferred provider organization” plans from the insurer only to realize that the doctor and hospital networks for their plans were limited.”

If a private firm did this, without the government protection, they would be closed down and executives criminally charged for fraud and theft. My guess is Obama will give the people at Blue Shield a medal.

Every day we find more fraud and corruption in ObamaCare. Wonder if voters will rebel in November?

Mega Millions Obamacare

California consumers say duped by Blue Shield’s limited Obamacare plans

By Terry Baynes, Reuters, 5/15/14

TO SEE COMPLETE STORY CLICK ON HEADLINE

Harrington bought a so-called silver plan on California’s online exchange while Talon bought a platinum plan through the insurer’s website. They said they made their choices based on Blue Shield’s alleged representations that their doctors would be covered.

The lawsuit accuses Blue Shield of advertising “one of the largest networks in the state” – with more than 60,000 physicians and 351 hospitals – and of failing to disclose that the networks for certain plans were substantially smaller.

After receiving medical treatment numerous times between January and March, Harrington and Talon later discovered that their providers were not covered, forcing them to pay the charges out-of-pocket, the complaint said.

The lawsuit alleged claims of false advertising, unfair business practices and breach of contract under California law.

 

California Groundwater: Government Will Take Control?

California government no longer believes in freedom, the right to choose or private property. Thanks to State and Federal policy, California farmers will be mostly closed down this year due to lack of water. We have water, it is the fish that are getting it—not farmers or families. Want to build? AB 32 and other State laws will raise the cost. Now there is a movement to take historically private property and allow government to control it—groundwater.

If the law passes, your groundwater could by fiat be used by your neighbor—but not you. When passed the private drilling for wells will end—why spend tens of thousands of dollars on a well if you are not assured of using the water? This will keep California in a Depression and even deepen it.

“Church and county Supervisor Frank Mecham, whose district encompasses most of the basin, said there is enough evidence that the basin is facing a crisis to begin the process of forming a district to manage it. Residents of the 300,000-acre basin report falling aquifer levels, causing wells to go dry and deeper ones drilled.”

Courtesy Smabs Sputzer, Flickr

Courtesy Smabs Sputzer, Flickr

Paso Robles groundwater district at least a year away, LAFCO says

Proponents waiting on legislation before turning in application for panel’s analysis

By David Sneed, San Luis Obispo Tribune, 5/16/14

TO SEE COMPLETE STORY CLICK ON HEADLINE

The bill allows the water district’s nine-member board of directors to be composed of a combination of property owners of various acreages and residents elected by popular vote. Proponents say the hybrid board would balance the needs of residents and agriculture and prevent any one group from dominating the district.

Backers of the district are a coalition of two North County water groups. PRO Water Equity represents rural residents and small landowners, and the Paso Robles Agricultural Alliance for Groundwater Solutions represents irrigated agriculture, mostly vintners.

The proponents estimate that in order to generate the estimated $1.2 million annual district budget, rural residents would be charged $60 to $80 a year, irrigated agriculture would be assessed $14 to $15 an acre and rangeland would be assessed 50 cents an acre.
 

Environmentalists Could Save Taxpayers $67 Billion for Special Interest Delta Tunnel Boondoggle

Sometimes people do the right thing. The confused Governor, Jerry Brown, wants to spend a minimum of $67 billion to move water from north to south, but not create a single new drop of water. This is about paying off the unions and special interests-not about the needs of the people.

Environmentalists love alternative energy, until you try to build it. They want parks to be used by the public—but make sure the public cannot get into them, like the closing of Yosemite to people and cars, while severely curtailing camping opportunities. Now they are taking on the Delta Tunnel, they will be able to keep this issue in courts for years.

“They say they’ve looked and looked, but nowhere in the more than 40,000 pages of the draft Bay Delta Conservation Plan and its draft environmental impact report-environmental impact statement can they find the “implementing agreement” that is required by federal and state law, says an environmental group in a letter to officials pushing the plan.

And that may make the controversial plan illegal, says Friends of the River.”

ManInWater

Environmental group says Delta tunnels plan violates federal and state laws
Central Valley Business Times, 5/16/14

•  Lack of “implementing agreement” cited

•  “It is absurd to expect the public to trust the BDCP process”
They say they’ve looked and looked, but nowhere in the more than 40,000 pages of the draft Bay Delta Conservation Plan and its draft environmental impact report-environmental impact statement can they find the “implementing agreement” that is required by federal and state law, says an environmental group in a letter to officials pushing the plan.

And that may make the controversial plan illegal, says Friends of the River.

“The Natural Community Conservation Planning Act requires each conservation plan to include an IA which contains, among other things, ‘provisions for establishing the long-term protection of any habitat,’ ‘provisions ensuring implementation of the monitoring program and adaptive management program,’ and ‘mechanisms to ensure adequate funding to carry out the conservation actions…,’ says the letter, citing the state law to the state and federal agencies trying to push through the BDCP.

An implementing agreement is a commitment from each party specifying how much it’s going pay toward the costs of the plan with its massive water tunnels that could cost as much as $67 billion including interest on the money borrowed to build them.

“The IA is an integral and indispensable necessity to the development and function of the BDCP. However, the parties to the BDCP, water contractors who expect to benefit from the BDCP, have failed to enter an IA which establishes each party’s contribution to the cost, construction, and operation of the BDCP,” says the letter, sent to John Laird, head of the California Natural Resources Agency; David Murillo, regional director of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation; Mark Cowin, director of the state Department of Water Resources; Ren Lohoefener, regional director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Will Stelle, regional director of the National Marine Fisheries Service; and Chuck Bonham, director of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Friends of the River says that without the draft implementing agreement, it is not possible for the public to meaningfully review the draft BDCP and its EIR/EIS.

“Accordingly, the absence of the draft IA has resulted in a violation” of the National Environmental Policy Act, Endangered Species Act, the California Environmental Quality Act and the Natural Communities Conservation Planning Act, the group says.

“In order to remedy these violations, the government must release the Draft IA and open a new, four-month Draft BDCP comment period with every BDCP document available for public review and comment. Beyond these violations of law, the government must open a new public comment period to restore any public confidence in the integrity of the BDCP,” says the letter.

“It is absurd to expect the public to trust the BDCP process without full disclosure of the project’s impacts, costs, and who will pay those costs,” it says.

Drilldown

 

Download a copy of the letter here (5-15-14-BDCP-ext-comment-ltr-2.pdf, 105 KB)

 

Obama Administration Caught Lying About Medicare Doctors Reimbursement

Barack Obama is claiming doctors in Medicare are making “bundles” from the program. How, his Administration took the total amounts reimbursed to the doctors. Sounds reasonable. What his people did not note was that drugs, chemo therapy and other therapies, costly ones, were part of the reimbursement—charged to the doctors.   This is how Obama demonizes doctors. Shame on him.

“Madara also highlighted several flaws with the data that he said have undermined the information’s usefulness. For example, he said the data:

  • Exclude services for which a physician met with fewer than 11 patients;

  • Lump together physician payments for expensive drugs into overall physician payments, which inflates totals for specialties that rely on high-cost drugs, such as ophthalmology and oncology; and

  • Fail to note that some physician practices or hospitals submit payments requests under a single provider (Modern Healthcare, 5/15).”

  • Photo courtesy of RambergMediaImages, flickr

    Photo courtesy of RambergMediaImages, flickr

AMA: Recently Released Medicare Claims Data Inaccurate, Confusing

iHealthBeat, 5/16/14

On Thursday, the American Medical Association sent a letter to CMS arguing that critical flaws in the recently released Medicare physician payment data have produced a swath of “sensationalist” media stories and limited the data’s usefulness to the industry, Modern Healthcare reports (Carlson, Modern Healthcare, 5/15).

Background

A federal judge in May 2013 lifted a 33-year-old injunction that barred the government from giving the public access to a confidential database of Medicare insurance claims.

The court injunction stemmed from a lawsuit that the American Medical Association and the Florida Medical Association filed to prevent former President Jimmy Carter’s administration from publishing a list of annual Medicare reimbursements.

The database, known as the Carrier Standard Analytic File, contains information on physicians and other health care providers participating in Medicare who are paid on a fee-for-service basis. It incorporates all physician claims that Medicare paid directly.

The newly released data include information on payments made under Medicare Part B in 2012 to all providers who participated (iHealthBeat, 4/9).

Letter Details

In the letter, AMA CEO James Madara wrote, “Untrained observers are using the data to make flawed regional, specialty or other comparisons that CMS should do more to discourage.”

Specifically, he noted the data have spurred “a series of sensationalist news stories, the majority of which inaccurately reported on the data, confused the public and, in some cases, may have encouraged patients to make care changes that were not in their best interest.”

Madara also highlighted several flaws with the data that he said have undermined the information’s usefulness. For example, he said the data:

  • Exclude services for which a physician met with fewer than 11 patients;
  • Lump together physician payments for expensive drugs into overall physician payments, which inflates totals for specialties that rely on high-cost drugs, such as ophthalmology and oncology; and
  • Fail to note that some physician practices or hospitals submit payments requests under a single provider (Modern Healthcare, 5/15).

In addition, he wrote that a “code-by-code comparison” of the publicly released data and a separate set of comprehensive 2012 Medicare payment claims revealed up to 40% of billing codes were absent, as well as about 179,700 physician claims.

Recommendations

AMA made several recommendations about how CMS should proceed, including:

  • Postponing the release of any older Medicare claims data to avoid compounding the damage of the missing information;
  • Allowing physicians to “correct and explain their data;”
  • Issuing “conspicuous” warnings about the data’s limitations; and
  • Focusing on compiling and distributing “a more selective data set that could help patients and physicians make better care choices.”

Madara wrote, “In our view, the lesson to be learned from the release of raw 2012 physician-specific Medicare claims information is twofold; it requires not only access to data, but understanding the scope, exclusions and limitations of the information.”

CMS officials said the agency had received the letter but declined to comment (Mangan, CNBC, 5/15).

 

City of Los Angeles Now Has Foreign Policy—Denounces Brunei—But Not Cuba, China or Russia

The City of Los Angeles has a deficit of $250 million on its way in three years to one billion. It has a massively unfunded pension system, the Department of Water and Power seems to be run like a Chicago operation and the streets have potholes the size of a VW. Yet, they have decided to create a foreign policy, instead of solving its economic woes.

No, it has not taken a stand against the dictatorships of Cuba, China or Russia. It has not opposed Syria, the Muslim Brotherhood running of Egypt. No, it has taken the strong stand against the nation of Brunei. Its population is 412,000—smaller than a California State Assembly District—about one third the population of the San Fernando Valley. Brunei has accepted Sharia law as the law of the nation. Maybe getting rid of gangs in South Central would be better than wasting time and money on a resolution opposing a midget State like Brunei?

“Koretz said he was urging the action even though the Bel Air Hotel is within his district and nearby businesses could feel the fallout from a boycott. “We have to make it clear these kind of impossible laws have to be opposed,” he said.” Silly statement, as if the Sultan of Brunei would listen to Koretz.

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image19890499

Los Angeles joins the fray, condemns Brunei

By Rick Orlov, Los Angeles Daily News, 5/16/14

The Los Angeles City Council joined with other groups on Friday in condemning the nation of Brunei and its plans to adopt the Sharia criminal code, calling on it to sell the Beverly Hills and the Bel Air hotels.

“We need to say no to intolerance and the blatant disregard for human life,” Councilman Paul Koretz said, adding the two hotels are owned by the Brunei Investment Agency, a part of the government.

A boycott has been started against both hotels by a variety of organizations and individuals, and the Beverly Hills City Council had also urged Brunei to sell off the hotels if it chooses to continue with plans to adopt the Sharia code.

Koretz said the criminal code “will permit horrific and harsh regulatins.

“Under this, fines and jail time can be imposed for not attending Friday prayer services,” Koretz said. “A second phase will allow severing of limbs … and a third phase will allow stoning for adultery and gay relationships.”

Koretz said he was urging the action even though the Bel Air Hotel is within his district and nearby businesses could feel the fallout from a boycott. “We have to make it clear these kind of impossible laws have to be opposed,” he said.

 

Do Californians want to raise oil taxes?

In 2012 the people of California agreed to a seven year, $6 billion a year, tax increase for “schools”. We know the money went to State employees and directly and indirectly to the pension crisis—very little made it to the classroom or the education of children. Democrats want to create a tax on soda, pass tens of billions in water and park bonds—pay $200 billion for a choo choo train and $67 billion for a tunnel to move water from the north to the south.

Seriously, anybody believe the people in a Depression State will want to raise the cost of a gallon of gas? Only a billionaire, who can afford it, would promote an economically harsh policy against the poor and middle class.

A month ago the cost of gas in Simi Valley, (unleaded) was $4.23. At the same time in Dallas it was $3.29. That helps explain the exodus to Texas. The billionaire Tom Steyer wants to make it worse.

“His poll questions are only half truths, “Q17 presumes that oil companies are guilty of extracting oil in California for free, which is clearly not the case.  It is the “truth” — as in a half truth — that California does not have an oil extraction tax.  However, it has corporate, sales and individual income taxes on oil that generate about the same revenues as oil extraction taxes from other states.”

oil reserves

Do Californians want to raise oil taxes?
By Wayne Lusvardi, Calwatchdog, 5/15/14 

Are Californians ready for another tax increase?

That’s what California hedge-fund manager Tom Steyer sought to find out in his “People’s Poll” on whether voters would support an added oil extraction tax in California. The tax would be 9.9 percent on a barrel of oil. It would raise up to $2 billion a year.

Steyer is not new to pushing tax increases. In 2012, voters approved his Proposition 39, which increased taxes $1 billion for corporations headquartered in other states.

Steyer’s political advocacy organization, NextGen Climate, retained the Benenson Strategy Group to conduct a poll on the prospects for voter approval of a statewide oil-pumping tax.  The poll was conducted of 800 likely voters in California.

The major findings: 64 percent to 75 percent of likely voters supported a new oil extraction tax.

Loaded Questions

But the poll was based on questions such as:

Q17.  Suppose you knew California is the only one of 22 oil producing states where oil companies extract oil for free.  Given this, would you say you strongly support charging oil companies an extraction fee in California, somewhat support, somewhat oppose, or strongly oppose it? “

Results:

Strongly support 48%
Somewhat support 27%
Somewhat oppose 9%
Somewhat oppose 10%
Don’t know 6%
SUPPORT 75%
OPPOSE 19%

The above is what is called a loaded question.  Loaded questions contain a presumption that the attacked group is guilty.

Q17 presumes that oil companies are guilty of extracting oil in California for free, which is clearly not the case.  It is the “truth” — as in a half truth — that California does not have an oil extraction tax.  However, it has corporate, sales and individual income taxes on oil that generate about the same revenues as oil extraction taxes from other states.

In 2008, William Hamm, who once ran the non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s Office in California, and colleague Jose Alberro conducted a study, “Comparison of Oil Tax Burdens in the Ten Largest Oil Producing States.”  This study documented that California’s oil taxes are about average.  However, if oil-extraction surtaxes would be charged in California, the state’s combined oil taxes would be 40 percent higher than the combined oil taxes of any other state.

Age Bias

The Steyer poll respondents also were over-represented by those more than 65 years of age compared to the California population age profile of the U.S. Census:

Age-Range –
Californians Polled/Counted
Percent Steyer Poll U.S. Census Slant
18 to 64 73% 90.6% – 17.6%
65 to 84 26% 9.4% +16.6%
Don’t Know 1% —–

Younger adult Californians were under-surveyed by 17.6 percentage points. And older Californians were over-sampled by 16.6 percentage points compared to U.S. Census age profile data.

This is an important slant because older respondents who drive less or not at all would be expected to be less concerned about increasing oil and gasoline prices.

Un-Representative Sample

Steyer’s poll also subtly over-surveyed Democrats, Independent and No Party Preference voters over Republicans.

Republicans only comprised 25 percent of the respondents to the poll, but 28.6 percent of the registered voters, according to the California Secretary of State.

Independent/No Party Preference voters made up 36 percent of those polled, but were only 21 percent of registered voters.

No opposition

Another problem with the poll is that it was conducted outside the normal political environment of an election. In an actual election, oil companies and such anti-tax groups as the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association would be expected to run adds pointing out that an oil tax increase inevitably would be be paid by drivers through higher prices at the pump — at a time when prices already have been going up.

Any oil tax increase would be put on the Nov. 2016 ballot. Which means it’s also hard to see what the political climate would be in a presidential election year. For example, although the Democratic nominee for president almost certainly would win in California, if a recession occurs, Democratic voter turnout might be dampened, hurting support for a tax increase.

Earlier this year, Gov. Jerry Brown, running for his own re-election this year, rejected the Steyer tax. He said in January, “I don’t think this is the year for new taxes. When I went up and down the state campaigning for Proposition 30, I said it was temporary and it is going to be temporary. I just think we need everything we can to live within our means before going back again to try and get more taxes.”

Voters approved Prop. 30 in 2012, which increased taxes $7 billion.