Is California one of the least generous states in the U.S.? YUP

California is the eighth least charitable State in the Union.  That should be no surprise.  We have 12 million people in poverty by government standards.  The rest of us need to pay high taxes, high housing costs, spend extra time on streets and freeways, we are trying to get our kids through failed government schools—and Democrats are forcing everyone into a union.  Who can afford to be charitable—government is where our money goes.

“The bad news is that all of the states are not equally charitable. In fact a new WalletHub study shows that California is giving Scrooge a run for its money. WalletHub ranked the most charitable of the 50 states by comparing them across 19 key indicators of charitable behavior. The data set ranges from volunteer rate to income donated to share of sheltered homeless.

California ranked as the eighth least charitable state in the nation. The Golden State came in a disappointing number 43 out of 50 states. The volunteer rate is particularly low, the report notes, and the problem of homelessness is quite large.

The state “ranked dead last for volunteering. Some of the reasons for this include the fifth lowest volunteer rate — about 25 percent, a small number of volunteer hours per capita, as well as a low share of residents who do favors for their neighbors, 46 percent,” says WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez. “Adding to this, the state also has a low share of population collecting and distributing food for charity, just 27 percent, and a low percentage of residents who supply transportation for others — less than 17 percent.”

Who has time to volunteer?  Between working, getting to and from work, grocery shopping and family errands, we barely have time to sleep.  Volunteering—government is taking lots of our tax dollars and giving it for social justice, climate change scams and radicals.  Another reason to leave California.

Is California one of the least generous states in the U.S.?

And how about volunteering?

By Karen D’Souza, Bay Area News Group,   12/9/19    

The Salvation Army is out in full force ringing its bell. Charities are calling to ask for donations. And your friendly neighborhood food banks and soup kitchens are scrambling to restock cupboards and beef up on volunteers during the holidays.

Welcome to the season of giving. The good news is that World Giving Index shows that the United States has been the most generous country of all for the last ten years. U.S. donors in 2018 gave more than $427 billion to charity, with 68 percent of the funds coming directly from individuals, according to the National Philanthropic Trust.  On top of that, nearly 63 million people volunteer across the country, serving a combined total of 7.9 billion hours per year, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports.

The bad news is that all of the states are not equally charitable. In fact a new WalletHub study shows that California is giving Scrooge a run for its money. WalletHub ranked the most charitable of the 50 states by comparing them across 19 key indicators of charitable behavior. The data set ranges from volunteer rate to income donated to share of sheltered homeless.

California ranked as the eighth least charitable state in the nation. The Golden State came in a disappointing number 43 out of 50 states. The volunteer rate is particularly low, the report notes, and the problem of homelessness is quite large.

The state “ranked dead last for volunteering. Some of the reasons for this include the fifth lowest volunteer rate — about 25 percent, a small number of volunteer hours per capita, as well as a low share of residents who do favors for their neighbors, 46 percent,” says WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez. “Adding to this, the state also has a low share of population collecting and distributing food for charity, just 27 percent, and a low percentage of residents who supply transportation for others — less than 17 percent.”

Other key factors that contributed to California’s dismal ranking are the small number of food banks per capita and the low share of sheltered homeless, which is just above 30 percent, the study says.

All of this may be a little surprising given the massive wealth generated in Silicon Valley and Hollywood, just to name two of the state’s famed economic engines. Heck, California became the world’s fifth largest economy last year, surpassing the United Kingdom. California’s gross domestic product rose by $127 billion from 2016 to 2017, surpassing $2.7 trillion, according to federal data.

So who really takes the spirit of the season to heart? That would be Minnesota, long known for its niceness, coming in at first place in the country. The rest of the top five in the giving rankings are Utah, Maryland, Oregon and Ohio.

In case you’re wondering, Arizona earns the distinction of coming in last. That state scores poorly on the percentage of the population collecting and distributing food, fewest charities per capita and the lowest percentage of population who donate time.

Walters: ‘Tax exhaustion’ may be on the horizon

On the March 3, 2020 ballot will be a $27 billion education bond (principal plus interest).  On the November, 2020 ballot there is a amendment to Prop. 13—costing about $13 billion a year, a direct transfer from business to government.  That is money not used for innovation, research or job creation.  It will also tank the value of commercial and industrial properties, causing a LOSS of property tax revenues.

Then you have local tax and bond measures.

“Earlier this year, Los Angeles political leaders, including Mayor Eric Garcetti, were shocked when their pleas for more taxes to benefit Los Angeles Unified School District fell on deaf ears.

Measure EE, which would have raised about $500 million a year from new taxes on mostly commercial property, not only didn’t get the required two-thirds voter support, but it did not even get a simple majority.

The sponsors had taken great pains not to tell the truth about Los Angeles Unified’s financial travails. Although an early version of the measure, approved by the school board, had mentioned pension costs, district officials later removed the direct reference in an obvious effort to mislead voters.

An isolated case? Perhaps not. A new study of school taxes in very affluent, very liberal Marin County, entitled “The Canary in the Gold Mine,” suggests that voters are becoming more resistant to local tax requests.”

When Marin County and Los Angeles reject bond measures you know there is trouble.  Oh, it is already planned for ANOTHER $27 billion education bond for the 2022 ballot.  Can you afford it?  Doesn’t Texas look good?!!!

 ‘Tax exhaustion’ may be on the horizon

By Dan Walters, CalMatters,   12/9/19    

California’s local governments — cities especially — and school districts have been packing ballots with tax increase measures in recent years and another batch is on tap for next year.

Voters have, more often than not, bought into officials’ pleas for more revenue and promises to spend it on popular services and facilities.

As often noted in this space, those officials rarely mention the real reasons they need more money, which are the fast-rising costs of employee pensions and health care.

However, there is some evidence that voters are tiring of being constantly asked for more tax money.

Earlier this year, Los Angeles political leaders, including Mayor Eric Garcetti, were shocked when their pleas for more taxes to benefit Los Angeles Unified School District fell on deaf ears.

Measure EE, which would have raised about $500 million a year from new taxes on mostly commercial property, not only didn’t get the required two-thirds voter support, but it did not even get a simple majority.

The sponsors had taken great pains not to tell the truth about Los Angeles Unified’s financial travails. Although an early version of the measure, approved by the school board, had mentioned pension costs, district officials later removed the direct reference in an obvious effort to mislead voters.

An isolated case? Perhaps not. A new study of school taxes in very affluent, very liberal Marin County, entitled “The Canary in the Gold Mine,” suggests that voters are becoming more resistant to local tax requests.

The study was not the work of some anti-tax organization but rather Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE), a consortium of the state’s major universities devoted to scholarly research on education issues.

While voters in Marin’s school districts had been quite willing in previous years to approve parcel taxes, PACE noted, “In 2016, something shifted. Voters in upscale Kentfield rejected the renewal of a previously popular school parcel tax, which had most recently passed with 72% of the vote in 2008. In nearby Mill Valley, a parcel tax that made up approximately 20% of the district’s budget passed by fewer than 25 votes, even though it had passed with 74% of the vote in 2008.”

PACE researchers delved into the strained finances of Marin’s school districts, interviewed those involved and concluded that while schools clearly needed more money for pensions, teacher salaries and other fast-rising costs, voters had become disenchanted.

Widespread criticism of how California’s schools were spending money allocated by the state to help poor and English-learner students “had particular resonance among the well-educated electorate in Marin County, including the many finance professionals who live in the area and understand the complexities of the public sector pension system and its funding mechanisms,” PACE found.

“These residents coalesced into informal networks and a formal advocacy group known as Coalition of Sensible Taxpayers (CO$T) to pressure school districts to rethink their spending and funding. Advocates had become concerned that some local leaders were choosing to increase taxes rather than grapple with necessary fiscal reforms.”

PACE also suggests that changes in federal tax law, tightly limiting the deductibility of state and local taxes, contributed to “a growing sense of tax exhaustion.”

The PACE report asks, “If the highly progressive residents of Marin County have become less willing to financially support their local school districts, what does this mean for less wealthy regions of California?”

The later rejection by Los Angeles Unified’s much less affluent voters may have been one answer.

Next year’s elections, which will probably include at least one statewide tax hike for education, could answer it further.

No More Canceling Fire Coverage, Says Insurance Commissioner

This is NOT good news. This is going to turn into a massive long turn disaster for the people of California.  Against market forces, the Insurance Commissioner, the ethically challenged Ricardo Lara is not allowing insurance companies to cancel or not renew fires insurance policies in the area of the massive fires of the past couple of years.  That does not mean the premiums will be affordable—but government will demand they will be offered.  Then in one year watch as hundreds of thousands are cancelled, since the companies will not want to take a change on government mandating a lifetime of coverage.  Then watch as more insurance companies stop offering fire insurance in California—that means everyone will suffer.

“Lara himself authored the underlying legislation, Senate Bill 824, when he was the state senator for Long Beach in 2018 before being elected as insurance commissioner that year. Insurers cannot now cancel anyone who’s suffered a total loss.

The commission is also asking all insurers to voluntarily observe the moratorium until December 5, 2020, since Governor Gavin Newsom’s declared fire emergency in October affected cities and counties statewide. At that time, the Tick Fire was burning across 4,600 acres near Santa Clarita and the Kincade Fire in Sonoma County had exploded across 200,000 acres. “A statewide moratorium,” Lara’s press release states, “would allow time to stakeholders to come together to work on lasting solutions, help reduce wildfire risk and stabilize the insurance market.”

AB 5 is going to kill California jobs—Lara is going to kill California housing.

No More Canceling Fire Coverage, Says Insurance Commissioner

By Jean Yamamura, Independent,   12/7/19   

Ricardo Lara expanded California’s state-mandated fire insurance program in November, and on Friday the state insurance commissioner announced a block on insurance companies canceling, or not renewing, homeowner policies for residents near a declared wildfire disaster. As many as 800,000 property owners could be affected by Lara’s moratorium. Earlier research by his agency showed that 10 percent more people lost their policies after last year’s massive wildfires than in previous years and that the number of people seeking new policies with the state’s insurer, the FAIR Plan, increased dramatically.

Lara himself authored the underlying legislation, Senate Bill 824, when he was the state senator for Long Beach in 2018 before being elected as insurance commissioner that year. Insurers cannot now cancel anyone who’s suffered a total loss.

The commission is also asking all insurers to voluntarily observe the moratorium until December 5, 2020, since Governor Gavin Newsom’s declared fire emergency in October affected cities and counties statewide. At that time, the Tick Fire was burning across 4,600 acres near Santa Clarita and the Kincade Fire in Sonoma County had exploded across 200,000 acres. “A statewide moratorium,” Lara’s press release states, “would allow time to stakeholders to come together to work on lasting solutions, help reduce wildfire risk and stabilize the insurance market.”

The additional time Lara cites here is being echoed by the state’s insurance pool, the California FAIR Plan, which only two weeks before was ordered by Lara to add more comprehensive homeowner insurance to its existing bare-bones fire insurance coverage. In a letter to Lara from Anneliese Jivan, president of FAIR, which stands for Fair Access to Insurance Required, Jivan raised objections to the time frame imposed — FAIR must offer a homeowner policy by June 2020 — and the cost to customers.

Standard homeowner coverage, known as HO-3 in the industry, includes liability and workers’ compensation coverage, neither of which are in the “basic property coverage” that FAIR offers. Jivan stated her agency has no expertise in covering the complicated issues of water and liability claims; the voluntary market, however, has dealt with those issues for decades. She noted that FAIR plan policyholders must already purchase separate earthquake or flood policies, and it’s therefore consistent to require them to purchase separate liability or “difference in conditions” policies, as well. Besides, she writes, they can get discounts when they buy those additional policies together. And, after the Woolsey and Camp fires, her agency has been stretched thin, and these additional requirements come at the wrong time, she said, asking Lara to withdraw his HO-3 order.

As for the other elements of Lara’s order, Jivan writes that FAIR is moving to raise the insurance limit from $1.5 million to $3 million, and FAIR has filed the rate changes with his office. Of the order to add no-fee electronic payments by February 2020, she states her office believed changes in payment methods can take months to years to implement. Without a fee, she cannot cover the costs associated with credit card, electronic fund transfers, or monthly payments, Jivan claimed. She proposed instead a survey of customers by February to understand the options most in demand.

Jivan sent her letter on December 5. Lara’s response today is simply that the “Department has received the FAIR Plan’s letter and will meet with them to work on implementing the commissioner’s order.”

Environmental activists urge VTA (San Jose) to shift funds from highway projects to mass transit

San Jose is making it clear—cars are not wanted.  They want money meant to fix roads and streets, to make it safer to drive around town to be used for money losing government transportation and dangerous bike riding.

“The group — including many local high school students — asked the board to commit to a zero carbon emission bus fleet, forswear future cuts to bus service and to use money currently pegged for highway expansions for better mass transit options instead. The board is expected to address the issue at its January meeting.

Chloe Wang, a senior at Milpitas High School, said she watches the clock at the end of every school day.

“As soon as that bell rings, I’m out of the door, not because I don’t like my sixth period class but because I want to catch the next 66 bus that stops at Milpitas High,” Wang said. “Students commute all the time — on school days, during the weekends furthering their passions — doing the things that really matter to them.”

Obviously these kids do not know the business people go to meetings across town, that families take kids to visit family and to get to a movie or miniature golf takes a car—or two hours waiting for a bus.

Another reason to reform our schools.  Also, another reason to move to a free State—imagine high taxes and you will take hours to get to work!

Environmental activists urge VTA to shift funds from highway projects to mass transit

by Adam F. Hutton, San Jose Spotlight,  12/7/19   

Dozens of young environmental activists implored the Valley Transportation Authority’s Board of Directors to declare a climate crisis during its last meeting of the year this week.

The group — including many local high school students — asked the board to commit to a zero carbon emission bus fleet, forswear future cuts to bus service and to use money currently pegged for highway expansions for better mass transit options instead. The board is expected to address the issue at its January meeting.

Chloe Wang, a senior at Milpitas High School, said she watches the clock at the end of every school day.

“As soon as that bell rings, I’m out of the door, not because I don’t like my sixth period class but because I want to catch the next 66 bus that stops at Milpitas High,” Wang said. “Students commute all the time — on school days, during the weekends furthering their passions — doing the things that really matter to them.”

Jamie Minden, 16, co-founded the Silicon Valley Youth Climate Strikes — which organized a large student protest in San Jose in September — and says more needs to be done.

“Public transportation is important to kids and not just because we need a ride,” Minden said Thursday. “I’m here representing 3,000 local youth, educators and passionate citizens who marched with me on Sept. 20, because they don’t believe our government is doing enough to tackle the climate crisis.”

“We are fighting because we are terrified,” Minden continued. “Kids my age know that if we don’t act with urgency now, we will live to see the apocalypse in my lifetime.”

The young activists got a boost from Congressman Ro Khanna, whose district includes much of Silicon Valley.

“Santa Clara County expects continued population growth that cannot be matched by just expanding roadways,” the congressman wrote in a letter. “Shifting bus lines from overall coverage to ridership corridors can have negative impacts on those with low incomes, persons with disabilities, the student population and the elderly population. Reversing VTA’s recent reductions and increasing bus service will benefit riders and decrease the severe congestion on San José roadways.”

Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese on Thursday directed VTA staff to put a resolution on the agenda for January.

“I would like to add to the next regular agenda a resolution declaring a climate emergency that demands immediate action to halt, reverse, restore and address the consequences and causes of global warming,” Cortese said.

Director Rob Rennie, a Los Gatos Town councilmember, said the resolution should have substantive effects on how the board and VTA staff approach public transit.

“I’d like to see something substantial,” he said. “I don’t like just passing resolutions. I’d like to figure out what we are actually going to do because of it.”

Earlier in the meeting, the students received support from the South Bay chapter of Mothers Out Front Mobilizing for a Livable Climate.

“San Jose is expected to grow its population to 1.3 million,” said coordinator Martina Keim. “We are already experiencing a high density of traffic. And it is crucial for all of us to make this change now. It will help to reduce congestion, improve air quality and public health and go toward San Jose’s goal to be carbon free, since vehicle traffic is the leading source of carbon emissions.”

Longtime transit advocate Eugene Bradley, who founded Silicon Valley Transit Users in 2000, chastised the board for slowly cutting bus service over the last two decades. Bradley pointed out that the VTA is the only public transit agency in America that is also responsible for highway and freeway expansion projects.

”Declare a climate emergency,” Bradley said. “And don’t just talk about it, back it up with actions like reallocating money from highways to bus service.”

VTA spokeswoman Brandi Childress told San José Spotlight in previous interviews that the transit agency has consistently improved and enhanced public transit in Silicon Valley over the years.

Public safety at new VTA transit stations

Also on Thursday, VTA Board members approved a three-month extension of a longtime contract with the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office to provide public safety services at VTA facilities — including two unopened transit centers in Milpitas and the Berryessa neighborhood of San Jose. The $4.2 million extension, which runs through March 2020, was approved as a part of the board’s consent agenda.

The Milpitas and Berryessa BART stations were expected to open in 2016, but last month officials announced another delay until 2020.

Meanwhile, local law enforcements agencies are jockeying for a contract to oversee policing at the stations when they open.

BART has its own police that will have jurisdiction on its trains and platforms, but the Milpitas and San Jose Police Departments have both submitted bids to the VTA board to police the stations in their jurisdictions and the Sheriff’s Office has renewed its bid to provide public safety services throughout the entire system. San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo told San José Spotlight his city’s police department will push for control of the Berryessa station.

The board will consider awarding new public safety contract(s) in 2020, VTA officials said.

Rider: Minor “food stamp” reform draws apoplectic responses from welfare pimps

Contrary to the lies of AOC and the Democrats, food stamps will continue to go to over 34 MILLION people.  But, there are 700,000 SINGLE people under the age of 49 that will be forced to WORK if they want to get food stamps.  Imagine, the taxpayers want something for their money—effort and work.

“The reform is limited to able-bodied adults without minor children. It does not include people over age 49 (the age limitation is NOT included in the article).  Also it exempts people with “a disability” — a loosey-goosey designation in itself.  Again, not mentioned in the story.
https://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/fr-120419

This reform also applies only to LONG TERM SNAP recipients — most can score this benefit for 3 months simply by being unemployed.   Of course, that’s not mentioned in this story.”

We have more than seven million jobs open in this country.  We are talking about 700,00.  If they can not find a job, they can do 80 hours a month of community service, to qualify for food stamps.  Democrats prefer watching Seinfeld than working.  What do you think?

Minor “food stamp” reform draws apoplectic responses from welfare pimps

Richard Rider Rants,   12/8/19   

Below is a WONDERFUL example of media bias in a “news” story.  It’s a NEW YORK TIMES article decrying a modest proposed “Trump” food stamp (SNAP) eligibility reform. 

Given that it’s a NY TIMES article, arguably it is BY DEFINITION biased.  But more important for me, it’s printed in my local SAN DIEGO U-T.    And doubtless printed in hundreds of other papers across the nation — plus it serves as the basis for scores of bleating TV stories.  It’s defined as news — the NY TIMES doesn’t even bother to name the author/reporter.

Start with the U-T headline — “Nearly 700,000 set to lose Access to Food Stamps.”  That a big number — until you realize that 36,400,000 people now receive the SNAP food subsidy.  That’s a tepid reform that AT MOST affects only 1.9% of current recipients.  Nowhere is this fact mentioned.
https://fns-prod.azureedge.net/sites/default/files/resource-files/29SNAPcurrPP-11.pdf

The reform is limited to able-bodied adults without minor children. It does not include people over age 49 (the age limitation is NOT included in the article).  Also it exempts people with “a disability” — a loosey-goosey designation in itself.  Again, not mentioned in the story.
https://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/fr-120419

This reform also applies only to LONG TERM SNAP recipients — most can score this benefit for 3 months simply by being unemployed.   Of course, that’s not mentioned in this story.

There’s potential exemptions for areas with over 6% unemployment.  Need I mention that this fact was not revealed in the NY TIMES propaganda piece?

The sensible government rationale for this reform is that in this booming labor market, such unemployed SNAP recipients should be able to find a job — and get off this welfare benefit.  That IS mentioned in the article, followed by welfare pimps claiming that too many such people can’t find a job.

But MOST IMPORTANT,  what the NY TIMES fails to mention is that there’s two OTHER ways one can qualify for food stamps.  Either participate in a work training program 80 hours month, or “volunteer” to work a few hours (the number is undefined) a month in community service — largely useless jobs like picking up trash or raking leaves.  It’s IN the regulation, but apparently no one bothered to read the damn thing.
https://www.usda.gov/sites/default/files/documents/abawd-factsheet.pdf

Now, if someone is so high, or drunk, or crazy that they can’t pick up trash, then they probably can’t figure out how to qualify for SNAP benefits in the first place.  If they CAN figure it out and they meet the other requirements, then they likely can pick up trash.

BTW, if you think my NY TIMES example is an aberration, Google “SNAP reform” and limit your search to the last 30 days or so.  Granted, many use the NY TIMES article as the basis for their own story, but that’s no excuse for these gross misrepresentations by most of the media.

Will this program really save taxpayers money? Let’s look at a real world example.  In Maine, when they required able-bodied single adults to work, get job training, or perform 26 hours of community service a month, 80% of those bums (yes, BUMS) decided not to receive their food stamp welfare rather than comply.

How can 80% of these “needy” people turn down free food for a little labor?    I suspect that closer analysis would show that most of these 700,000 single able-bodied adult SNAP recipients ARE working — off the books. Millions of Americans work for cash — including (but not limited to) drug dealers, prostitutes, burglars, robbers, panhandlers, handymen, nannies, maids, gardeners — and many, many others.  They really DO have a better option than performing public service gigs.

Maine’s stunning fiscal success upsets progressives.  Which tells us a lot about progressives.
https://riderrants.blogspot.com/2016/02/maine-required-childless-adults-to-work.html

People don’t starve in America.  Millions do suffer from malnutrition, but that’s usually their choice — fast food, starches and empty calories. 

The DC government idiots allow SNAP recipients to use their benefit at fast food joints — low quality food at much higher prices (compared to grocery store items). Arguably the fattest people in America are the poor.

Leave California, Keep Paying California Taxes…Really

Just because you leave California, does not mean that the State will not try to take your money.  If you stay in the State for nine months in a year, it is PRESUMED you are a resident.  But, it takes 18 months out of the State to presume you are NOT a resident!  What a joke.  This is how California steals.

“Today In: Money

The spouse of an individual covered by the safe harbor can qualify too. Return visits to California that do not exceed a total of 45 days during any tax year covered by the employment contract are considered temporary. But what happens if you don’t meet the safe harbor? It becomes more complicated. Individuals not covered by the safe harbor determine their residency status based on facts and circumstances. That’s where California’s tough Franchise Tax Board (FTB) comes in, policing the line between residents and non-residents. Even if you think your facts are not controversial, be careful. A California resident is anyone in the state for other than a temporary or transitory purpose. It also includes anyone domiciled in California who is outside the state for a temporary or transitory purpose. The burden is on you to show that you are not a Californian.

If you are in California for more than 9 months, there is another presumption: you are presumed to be a resident. Yet if your job requires you to be outside the state, it usually takes 18 months to be presumed no longer a resident. Your domicile is your true, fixed permanent home, the place where you intend to return even when you’re gone. Many innocent facts might not look to be innocent to California’s tax agency, and make no mistake, if you are fighting a California tax bill, procedure counts.”

A wife can not come back to the Sate for over 45 days in a year—so make sure a relative gets well quickly—or California will kill you with taxes.  California is a thief.  Beware.

A caution sign in front of storm clouds warning of “Socialism Ahead.”

Leave California, Keep Paying California Taxes…Really

Robert W. Wood, Forbes,   12/9/19 

  •  

If you leave California, can the state say you really didn’t and keep taxing you? Yes, and it happens more than you might think. California taxes have always been high, and for that reason, many people do their best to try to avoid paying them. This is especially true for someone expecting a big spike in income. Some people vote with their feet, although in some cases, California can assess taxes no matter where you live. How high are California taxes? After decades of high taxes, things got worse in 2012, and then worse still in 2018. In 2012, California’s Proposition 55 placed a temporary extension (through 2030!) on a 13.3% tax rate on California’s high-income earners. It applies to 1.5% of Californians, singles with an income of $263,000, or joint filers with incomes of $526,000. It is still the highest marginal tax rate in the nation. As a result, tax-free states such as Nevada, Texas, Washington, and Florida can hold considerable allure.

Many millionaires fled California after the 2012 tax increase, with one report saying that, “We estimate that California lost 0.04 percent of its top earner population over the two years following the tax change.” The 2012 tax change is now old news, and yet there is still talk about its impact. The 2018 tax changes made it worse, since now only $10,000 of state and local taxes can be claimed as deductions on a federal tax return. That can make paying big state taxes smart even more. People may want to move out of state, and then collect big. A good example is founder legal settlements, which might be tax free or tax deferred. But timing and caution in how you document a move are important. After all, many fear being chased by California’s Franchise Tax Board.

Fortunately, there is a safe harbor for certain individuals leaving California under employment-related contracts. The safe harbor says that an individual domiciled in California, who is outside California under an employment-related contract for an uninterrupted period of at least 546 consecutive days, will be considered a nonresident unless either: (1) The individual has intangible income exceeding $200,000 in any tax year during which the employment-related contract is in effect; or (2) The principal purpose of the absence from California is to avoid personal income tax.

Today In: Money

The spouse of an individual covered by the safe harbor can qualify too. Return visits to California that do not exceed a total of 45 days during any tax year covered by the employment contract are considered temporary. But what happens if you don’t meet the safe harbor? It becomes more complicated. Individuals not covered by the safe harbor determine their residency status based on facts and circumstances. That’s where California’s tough Franchise Tax Board (FTB) comes in, policing the line between residents and non-residents. Even if you think your facts are not controversial, be careful. A California resident is anyone in the state for other than a temporary or transitory purpose. It also includes anyone domiciled in California who is outside the state for a temporary or transitory purpose. The burden is on you to show that you are not a Californian.

If you are in California for more than 9 months, there is another presumption: you are presumed to be a resident. Yet if your job requires you to be outside the state, it usually takes 18 months to be presumed no longer a resident. Your domicile is your true, fixed permanent home, the place where you intend to return even when you’re gone. Many innocent facts might not look to be innocent to California’s tax agency, and make no mistake, if you are fighting a California tax bill, procedure counts.

You can have only one domicile, and it depends on your intent. Yet objective facts can bear on your intent. Start with where you own a home. Where your spouse and children reside counts, as does where your children attend school. Your days inside and outside the state are important, as is the purpose of your travels. Where you have bank accounts and belong to social, religious, professional and other organizations is also relevant. Voter registration, vehicle registration and driver’s licenses count.

Where you are employed is key. You may be a California resident even if you travel extensively and are rarely in the state. Where you own or operate businesses is relevant, as is the relative income and time you devote to them. The state can have a long memory. Although the IRS can audit 3 or 6 years, California can sometimes audit forever. In fact, several things give the FTB an unlimited amount of time to audit you. California gets unlimited time if you never file an income tax return. You might claim that you are no longer a resident and have no California filing obligation.

It can make filing a non-resident tax return—just reporting your California-source income as a non-resident—a smart move under the right facts. Some Californians look to flee the state before selling a business. Some get the travel itch right before a public offering, a sale, or settling litigation. Many would-be former Californians have a hard time distancing themselves from California, and they may not plan on California tax authorities chasing them. Plan carefully, and get some professional advice.

Fight or switch? One Republican legislator ditches GOP, the other gets primaried

Chad Mayes left the Republican Party years ago.  For the past three years he has been undermining the Party, denouncing it, shredding President Trump and used the time to endorse candidates for party leadership and public office that believe as he does.  Assemblyman Tyler Diep

“Baugh was particularly irritated by Diep’s decision to speak at a public hearing last week in favor of a hiring agreement between the city of Anaheim and the regional builders’ union.

“For far too long,” the Republican Party has “tried to demonize the working people,” Diep told the council. He also noted that he was departing from the statement his staff prepared for him. 

Baugh also recalled a conversation he allegedly had with “knowledgeable Democrats” in Sacramento who told him that Diep has plans to defect from the Republican Party “after the election.” Baugh declined to disclose who those Democrats were.

Diep was the only Republican to vote for AB 5, the bill to force workers to pay unions a bribe if they wanted to work.  This is the Democrat bill that kills independent journalists in the State, hospital workers, 80,000 independent truckers and hundreds of thousands o ride share drivers now forced to pay from their meager earning tribute to a union, if they want to work.  If you call yourself a Republican it has to mean something.  In his district how do you tell workers to join the GOP, when the Assemblyman is forcing you to pay a bribe to a union?  I am NOT endorsing any candidate in this race—but these concerns need to be answered.

Fight or switch? One Republican legislator ditches GOP, the other gets primaried

Ben Christopher, CalMatters,  12/8/19 

As Republican Party popularity plummets in California, two moderate legislators —Chad Mayes and Tyler Diep — take opposite tacks to try to keep their jobs. Politicos will be watching.  

Chad Mayes is embarking on a political experiment.

On Thursday, the former Republican leader in the state Assembly finally pulled the plug on what had long been a fraught relationship with the California GOP. Next year he’ll run for re-election in his Yucca Valley-area district as an independent, no doubt taking flak from both a Democrat and a member of his former party.

Running without the imprimateur or financial backing of one of the state’s major political parties’ has never been a winning strategy in California. Several candidates who’ve attempted it statewide have crashed, including most recently former Republican Steve Poizner in his independent 2018 bid for state insurance commissioner. He told CalMatters: “I really do want to be a pioneer for this because if I’m successful I’m hoping lots of people will run as an independent” — right before he lost.

Legislative districts, however, may offer better prospects for independents than a statewide contest. And in a state where “no party preference” voters now outnumber registered Republicans, where GOP political power in both chambers of the Legislature and the congressional delegation sits at a generational nadir, and where the California unpopularity of President Donald Trump has helped flip some of the GOP’s longest-held bastions of support into the Democratic camp, it’s not clear that running with an “R” next to your name is such a great idea either.

“A major political party, even one as weakened as the California Republicans, still gives a candidate structural advantages,” said Dan Schnur, a professor at UC Berkeley and the University of Southern California who ran unsuccessfully for secretary of state as a political independent in 2014. “The question that Mayes is testing is whether the party is so damaged that the downside of associating with it outweighs those structural benefits.”

The California Republican Party, he added, has “a Three Mile Island, long-term toxicity that is going to exist even after Trump leaves the political landscape.”

Hence, Mayes’ experiment. At issue: Can a center-right Trump skeptic alienated from the GOP still find a way to elected office in California? And if he can — and other candidates and large donors catch on — what will that mean for the future of the state’s second largest party?

“I’ve never seen it before,” said Mayes. “We’ll find out.”

In his Assembly district, which winds from east Riverside County up into the high desert, once-dominant Republicans have now seen Democratic registration pull even with them.

As the second state GOP legislator to abandon the party this year (San Diego Assemblyman Brian Maienschein became a Democrat in January), Mayes announced his decision a day before the 2020 candidate filing deadline, leading Riverside County GOP chairman Jonathan Ingram to accuse him of “waiting ’til the 10th hour,” forcing Republicans to scramble to enlist a party-loyal challenger.

Republican Andrew Kotyuk, who ran against Mayes last year but didn’t make it past the primary, jumped in just in time to qualify for 2020.

Mayes insists his decision wasn’t an electoral strategy, but born of frustration with the hyperpartisanship which he says defines policymaking on both sides. “You have Republicans defending the indefensible and you have Democrats also defending the indefensible, and it’s as if the truth doesn’t matter — the truth is defined by your team,” he said.

But he’s particularly frustrated with the activist wing of his former party.

“You have to be with them 100 percent of the time or they won’t have you,” said Mayes, who lost his leadership position in 2017 after helping Democrats reauthorize the state’s cap-and-trade system to combat climate change. “That’s been part of the problem with the Republican Party for a long time: They exclude people.”

“We feel confident in the future of our party, and are doing all that we can to ensure that each and every Republican feels welcome and supported within our party,” said California Republican Party chair Jessica Patterson in a prepared statement. “Unfortunately, there have been some headline-grabbing moves made this week that are shortsighted and politics at its worst.”

Mayes offered some late breaking political drama out of coastal Orange County as a well-time illustration of his point.

On Friday, Janet Nguyen, a former state senator, announced she would challenge fellow Republican Tyler Diep for his Assembly district in Orange County’s Little Saigon.

Nguyen’s campaign said she was motivated in part by an email to activists last week from former Orange County GOP chair Scott Baugh. In it he assailed Diep, among the most moderate Republicans in Sacramento, for “cowardice” and “abandonment of principle.”

“We don’t have a Republican in that seat and we should fight to put one there,” Baugh wrote, calling upon a conservative to “rise to the occasion.” The next day Nguyen took up the charge.

For Mayes, the challenge against Diep represents exactly the kind of ideological litmus test that drove him from the party. Baugh insists his dispute with Diep is about more than a policy disagreement. 

“We’re not upset because he’s a moderate,” he said.  “Chad Mayes has miles of integrity. He’s honest about what he believes. Tyler is not.”

Baugh was particularly irritated by Diep’s decision to speak at a public hearing last week in favor of a hiring agreement between the city of Anaheim and the regional builders’ union.

“For far too long,” the Republican Party has “tried to demonize the working people,” Diep told the council. He also noted that he was departing from the statement his staff prepared for him. 

Baugh also recalled a conversation he allegedly had with “knowledgeable Democrats” in Sacramento who told him that Diep has plans to defect from the Republican Party “after the election.” Baugh declined to disclose who those Democrats were.

Diep responded to a request for comment by text message. 

“I am committed to the party and vote with my colleagues in the assembly on the majority of issues — that is why I have been endorsed by the Republican Party of Orange County and the CAGOP,” he texted CalMatters. “The GOP candidate who a few activists recruited to challenge me has an established liberal record — indicating this is more about personalities than it is principles. Republicans would be far better served by spending our time and resources taking on Democrats, not trying to defeat our own.”

This isn’t the first time Diep has angered the party’s conservative base. Earlier this year, he was the lone Republican to vote in favor of a bill making it harder for companies to designate gig workers as independent contractors. Diep has also been a vocal critic of President Trump’s immigration policy. 

“This doesn’t have anything to do with the president,” said Dave Gilliard, a consultant for Nguyen. “This is really about local politics.”

So with the Republican Party struggling in California, two of its incumbents offer what Schnur characterized as “different options for dealing with the same challenge.” Do you stay within the party and try to carve out some space in the political center or do you run on your own?

“They’re both inherently flawed options, but we’ll have a much better sense a few months from now whether one is a better path to take for Republicans who are uncomfortable with the party’s trajectory,” Schnur said. 

Bill Wong, the political consultant for Assembly Democrats, predicts good fortune for his own party either way.

In Diep’s Little Saigon district, the California Democratic Party has endorsed Diedre Thu-Ha Nguyen, a Garden Grove councilmember. A factional fight between Diep and Janet Nguyen means Democrats won’t have to spend resources attacking Diep in the lead-up to the March 3 primary.

“Janet will handle that part of it for us,” said Wong. 

Wong also offered an optimistic take on Mayes’ race too, where Democrats are backing DeniAntoinette Mazingo, a lawyer who unsuccessfully challenged Mayes in 2018. 

“I respect Chad Mayes for the decision,” said Wong. But because party loyalists are more likely to turn out to vote in primaries than independents, he said, “he might be the one left out” of California’s top-two election against Mazingo and the Republican Kotyuk.

Mayes said it’s worth the risk. 

“I’m not in a place in my life any longer that I’m thinking about running for re-election because some day I want to be a member of Congress,” he said. “It will be interesting to see how this plays out. But I don’t fear it.” 

Oakland Victimizes Residents in Name of Climate Change

The jokers running Oakland really think they can save the Earth by making housing more expensive, raising taxes on the poor and making it more expensive to live in the city.  This is not a joke—they think Oakland is the center of the universe—and if they make things worse, using the junk science of climate change—the world would be saved from a meltdown.  Anybody test the IQ or education level of these hacks?

“Motivated by these disproportionate environmental burdens, the city of Oakland and local environmental justice groups sought ways to link urban planning, public health and climate change. They developed an approach that displaced the expert-driven processes that often characterize climate action plans nationwide. Previous research has shown that, similar to the state of California, local governments develop standards and climate policy through the establishment of task forces populated by scientists, university experts and technical organizations that rarely address public health and equity issues. Bucking these expert-driven norms, Oakland in December 2012 adopted one of California’s highest city-scale greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets, following a three-year collaboration with the coalition. In the process, environmental justice groups defined a holistic concept of the environment that identified geographically and socially uneven risks and impacts of climate change and opportunities to promote community-based solutions.

Crime is a problem in Oakland—getting worse.  Homelessness is a problem in Oakland—getting worse.  Income inequality is a problem in Oakland—and “climate change” policies are making it worse.  This is a town that thinks making it expensive to live in will stop China and India from polluting the Earth.  Oakland is fooling it self—and the victims are the residents.

Changing the Climate from the Streets of Oakland

How a broad-based community coalition influenced the creation of a just, equitable energy and climate plan for the city.

Story by Michael Méndez, Next City,   12/9/19   

With a population of more than 400,000, of whom almost two-thirds are people of color, Oakland has a long and rich history of civil rights and environmental activism. As the birthplace of the Black Panther Party, Oakland has benefited from a culture of self-determination and resistance developed through local experiments to improve the living standards of communities of color. Notable among these are the Free Breakfast for Children Program (which would go on to serve as a national model for public schools) and community health clinics to address issues such as food insecurity and limited access to healthcare. Oakland’s culture of capacity-building and experimentation has led its activists to participate in national efforts to disrupt governance practices, deviate from existing rules and contest sources of authority.

The sophisticated culture of activism in Oakland, like that of Richmond, is also derived from a legacy of inequitable development practices. Toxic facility sitings, low socioeconomic status, proximity to one of the nation’s busiest container ports and lack of a fair distribution of environmental goods continue to degrade the built environment in many Oakland neighborhoods. In those neighborhoods, residents face increased exposure to pollution-related public health risks, such as asthma, heart disease, cancer, premature death and neonatal problems. According to CalEnviroScreen, the environmental health screening tool developed by the California Environmental Protection Agency, more than 50,000 Oakland residents live in neighborhoods listed in the top 20 percent of California census tracts for cumulative environmental impact across the state. These communities sit next to a busy shipping container port, airport, railyards or freeways. Residents there are exposed daily to far greater levels of multiple forms of pollution from vehicle exhaust and commercial operations than people living in other census tracts. These pollution sources also often contribute to the greenhouse gas emissions that fuel climate change. In pinpointing such hot spots, CalEnviroScreen highlighted Oakland’s role in global-local environmental health degradation.

Motivated by these disproportionate environmental burdens, the city of Oakland and local environmental justice groups sought ways to link urban planning, public health and climate change. They developed an approach that displaced the expert-driven processes that often characterize climate action plans nationwide. Previous research has shown that, similar to the state of California, local governments develop standards and climate policy through the establishment of task forces populated by scientists, university experts and technical organizations that rarely address public health and equity issues. Bucking these expert-driven norms, Oakland in December 2012 adopted one of California’s highest city-scale greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets, following a three-year collaboration with the coalition. In the process, environmental justice groups defined a holistic concept of the environment that identified geographically and socially uneven risks and impacts of climate change and opportunities to promote community-based solutions.

Building the Coalition

The coalition’s strength and success were due to the diversity of its members, who were recruited throughout Oakland’s diverse neighborhoods. Together, they were a powerful force that provided multisector expertise on a host of issues, including transportation, affordable housing, energy, urban agriculture, adaptation planning and community engagement. According to Emily Kirsch, founding coalition coordinator and green jobs organizer for the Ella Baker Center, “Having a diverse coalition with strong expertise is important in these types of policy initiatives…. When you talk about climate change, it’s food, water, transportation, housing, energy, health equity and everything you possibly can think of. So we went around to our friends and allies to find out what sort of climate-related projects they were working on and the type of expertise they could bring to the coalition. Then we strategized how we could get these projects included in the climate action plan and on the books as part of the city’s plans.”

Working with Asian Communities for Reproductive Justice, the coalition also built an intersectional campaign around the links between women’s reproductive justice and climate change. They held organizing and educational events questioning how the presence of toxic chemicals and greenhouse gases harm reproductive health and also contribute to climate change. The coalition specifically focused on a holistic life-cycle analysis of chemicals and how pollution exposure in nail salons and electronics factories is impacting the natural environment and women’s bodies.

The coalition’s climate policy development process disrupted conventional climate planning by reducing the primacy of scientific advisors and validating embodied knowledge held by communities.

Photo by Basil D. Soufi

The coalition’s broad range of expertise and priorities, moreover, enabled it to work with the city to move the climate action plan beyond just technical metrics to a community-based plan. In developing the framework for the plan, Oakland officials had initially followed conventional methods. Officials identified greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets, environmental priority areas and strategies to address targets by consulting with experts at nongovernmental organizations such as ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, and the private consulting firm Circlepoint, Inc. The city also adopted standard approaches to public participation that environmental justice groups saw as too “top-down.”

Putting the Community Front and Center

The initial city workshops (attended by around 200 people representing the coalition, government agencies, utilities, interest groups, businesses and individual residents) focused on informing the community about the methods that city staff had selected to develop the plan. Early in the process, however, the coalition approached the city and requested more direct involvement. The coalition asked the city not to establish a formal expert task force and to instead allow a community-based approach. The coalition included long-established community members; due in part to their political influence, the city council ultimately allowed the coalition to facilitate and fund a parallel community advisory process. The city’s comparatively small scale (as opposed to the state) made this strategic opportunity possible, through personal connections and closer interaction between influential community members and policymakers. As one coalition member recalled, “The city did host their own workshops, but they are pretty boring and held at 2 p.m…. We attended and gave our input. That is because we get paid to attend. But we wanted to hold workshops that were more accessible to the public and were fun and engaging…. So we hosted a series of workshops in the flatlands of East and West Oakland, knowing that communities most impacted by climate change are often least represented in terms of decision-making.”

Through this collaboration with the coalition, Oakland adopted one of California’s highest municipal greenhouse gas reduction targets: a 36 percent reduction from 2005 levels by 2020 and an 85 percent reduction by 2050. Although other California cities have also set such goals, Oakland’s target levels are some of the first to comply with the recommendations of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Oakland’s targets also surpass California’s statewide requirement to reduce carbon emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and are more than double the state’s recommendation that local governments reduce emissions 15 percent by 2020.

Prioritizing Equity

The coalition strategically pushed for higher reduction targets as leverage for additional measures to address their equity concerns. One coalition member recalled, “We knew if we pushed for a high greenhouse gas target, the more comprehensive the plan had to be. And it could include measures that were community-based, in addition to the standard greenhouse gas mitigation solutions.” As a result, Oakland is also one of the first cities to explicitly link evaluative criteria with benefits for disadvantaged communities when weighing climate policy choices. In this process, the plan’s authors considered whether its benefits outweighed the burdens on disadvantaged communities. For example, they worked to preserve affordable housing in transit-oriented development projects, in a bid to ensure that this greenhouse gas emissions reduction measure would not displace low-income residents.

The coalition argued that transit-oriented development projects (that is, housing, retail and office uses located next to public transit) in existing high-density neighborhoods could be an effective greenhouse gas mitigation measure, but resulting displacement of low-income people, senior citizens and renters could undercut mitigation goals. Lower-income residents might be forced out to cheaper suburbs with fewer transit options if their neighborhood’s older housing stock was replaced with new market-rate units. Many individuals might have to buy a car to commute to work and access community services, thereby increasing the region’s vehicle miles traveled and its greenhouse gas emissions. Oakland was the nation’s first city to link climate change policy with affordable housing in this manner. The coalition also fought to include neighborhood scale adaptation planning in the climate action plan to address the most harmful near-term effects of climate change on socially vulnerable communities. In contrast, conventional adaptation studies at the time often focused only on protecting hard assets, such as vital city infrastructure or ecological systems.

The coalition helped create a climate policy model based not just on greenhouse gas reductions but also on ensuring multiple community benefits in the form of green jobs, affordable housing and health co-benefits.

Photo by Oscar Perry Abello

In addition to its role in promoting community-based policies, the coalition was key in the overall framing of the climate action plan. Garrett Fitzgerald, Oakland’s city sustainability coordinator, praised its efforts: “The [coalition] made my job a lot easier by providing smart, specific recommendations for the plan and doing a lot of work to bring more of Oakland’s voices into the process. It’s rare to find community partners as dedicated and willing to collaborate with city staff as the

[coalition]

.” Even before city staff released their first draft of the climate action plan, the coalition had already developed and presented its own comprehensive plan to city officials, based on the community workshops they had hosted. According to a member of the coalition’s steering committee, “What drew these unlikely partners together is the goal of a just and equitable energy and climate plan for the city. Whether they were a green enterprise looking to grow their business in a green and sustainable way or a labor union looking to ensure jobs in a new economy for their members or an environmental group that has done the research to know the catastrophic effects of global warming — they all had a stake in making sure that the plan was done right for the city of Oakland.”

Through this parallel policy development process, the coalition produced 50 of the 150 greenhouse gas reduction measures and goals in the final version of the climate action plan that the city council adopted. The coalition’s policy committees used research and embodied knowledge to build justifications for specific greenhouse gas reduction measures and public health targets. These committees addressed areas such as transportation, affordable housing and land use; building and energy use; consumption and solid waste; food, water and urban agriculture/forestry; and adaptation, resilience and community engagement. The committees convened several times a month and were led by two cochairs — one from a policy-based organization and the other from a grassroots group — to balance expertise in policy development with on-the-ground experience in their recommendations.

Many municipalities acknowledge that public participation should play a role in formulating climate change risks and strategies. However, officials frequently claim they cannot garner significant public interest because the science is complex and climate change is a long-term and uncertain process. As a result, many cities opt to establish an expert task force and hire environmental consultants instead. Compared to most municipal climate policy planning, Oakland represents an innovative case in six key ways:

  1. It included local, embodied knowledge in the development of climate policy.
  2. Public participation was embedded in the regulatory science and policy processes.
  3. Its understanding of climate risks and impacts focused on the human scale.
  4. Measures were chosen for their potential health benefits.
  5. Adaptation plans focused on socially vulnerable communities.
  6. The climate action plan included explicit references to equity and environmental justice.

The coalition’s climate policy development process disrupted conventional climate planning by reducing the primacy of scientific advisors and validating embodied knowledge held by communities. Oakland’s climate action plan is an innovative case, moreover, because the coalition is officially listed as a major contributor to the plan’s development. This is a rare occurrence. As a long-serving member of the Oakland City Council noted, city collaboration with the coalition produced a plan that stands in sharp contrast to previous environmental documents produced by the city: “I’ve been a Council member for 16 years and I’ve seen a lot of environmental plans. Oakland’s Energy and Climate Action Plan is unique because it lifts the voices of low-income communities and communities of color.”

The work of the coalition to develop, pass and implement the city’s climate action plan makes Oakland a model for what communities across the country can do to shape their climate change policy to local needs. Its direct engagement represents an experiment in how local climate governance can be established and defined. First, the plan focused on socially vulnerable communities with the most to lose from the impacts of climate change and suggested neighborhood adaptation plans, not only mitigation measures. Second, the coalition helped create a climate policy model based not just on greenhouse gas reductions but also on ensuring multiple community benefits in the form of green jobs, affordable housing and health co-benefits. Finally, it brought together a diverse community and created a transformative space to challenge the power relations around climate change policy at the local level.

What Does Community Engagement for Climate Change Look Like?

The coalition influenced climate knowledge, thus transforming a global phenomenon into a local one with practical applications. It did so through community engagement, political mobilization, education and an experimental approach. Taken together, these exceeded the formalities of neocommunitarianism (as in the case of the state’s AB 32 implementation) to involve members of the public in identifying local problems associated with climate change and in finding equitable solutions. The coalition’s work with residents — in particular, low-income families and communities of color — was highly popular and inclusive. This was a key factor in the adoption of the coalition’s recommendations in the final plan.

These collaborative projects aimed to help diverse people and organizations imagine and implement solutions to protect residents from the localized threats of climate change: heatwaves, floods, wildfires, poor air quality and rising utility costs.

Credit: Oakland Climate Action Coalition, via Facebook

To transform how climate change was perceived in Oakland, the coalition convened and funded 14 workshops. These workshops, along with convenings and rallies, engaged more than 1,500 residents to develop local solutions to climate change, compared to the 200 individuals who attended the city-sponsored events. Several workshops were conducted in multiple languages — for example, the nonprofits Movement Generation and the Asian Pacific Environmental Network (which has offices in Richmond and Oakland) facilitated Spanish- and Chinese-language workshops for immigrant residents. The inclusive process produced widespread support for and engagement with the plan by Oakland residents most impacted by pollution and poverty.

The coalition used youth engagement programs to further localize climate knowledge. For example, the coalition hosted a solar-powered concert, featuring legendary hip-hop artists Pete Rock and C. L. Smooth, to promote a Climate Adaptation Work Day at Laney Community College. More than 350 Oakland residents, many of them youth, helped install a garden and rainwater catchment system at the college. Coalition member organization Forward Together organized 80 East Oakland high school students in role-playing activities designed to envision what climate solutions in their homes, schools and neighborhoods could look like. A Community Convergence for Climate Action was also held to showcase a theatrical performance by high school girls on climate change, live hip-hop concerts and a report- back session from residents who had attended the coalition’s climate workshops. The Community Convergence event demonstrated the high level of interest from local residents in developing the climate action plan and created a space for them to articulate climate solutions that would make a real difference in their own lives.

The coalition also facilitated workshops on disaster preparedness for low-income communities that focused on the risks and impacts of climate change through interactive games and learning initiatives. These included the “Are You a Climate Change Survivor?” activity workbook; board games such as Climate Justice Human Bingo and Community Resilience Lifeboat and fact sheets with activities designed to raise awareness about climate change impacts. Through such collaborative projects, Oakland set the trend for a holistic approach to climate action planning. These activities aimed to help diverse people and organizations imagine and implement solutions to protect residents from the localized threats of climate change: heatwaves, floods, wildfires, poor air quality and rising utility costs. Brian Beveridge, co-executive director of the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project and coalition member, noted, “We started by bringing people together and talking about assets and vulnerability — talking about things they want to protect. It starts as a mapping exercise; we look at all the places we are strong before we look at our vulnerabilities…. At the community level, it is not technocratic. You can’t just say there is some technological fix for people, because we are really not protecting hard assets; we are talking about people surviving as a community during a disaster.”

Battle lines are drawn over oil drilling in California

For a generation oil drilling has been a key issue in California campaigns.  Mention offshore drilling and someone will accuse you of trying to poison all of the State.  Discuss fracking and you are accused of trying to sink the State and provide a chemical cloud over our heads.  Nationally, for the first time in history, America is a next exporter of oil.  President Trump has decided to bring California into the 21st Century even if the Democrats do not want it.  He will bring thousands of well paying jobs into the State—and tax revenues they desperately need.

“After a five-year hiatus on auctions for oil-drilling rights on federal land, Washington finalized a plan to allow themon more than 700,000 acres in 11 Central California counties. A more significant proposal to include parcels on more than 1 million acres in the Bakersfield area is due in the next few months.

Meanwhile, California’s oil and gas regulator announced a range of measures including a moratorium on certain types of well injections, more oversight of hydraulic fracturing — fracking — and an independent audit of the state’s process for granting drilling permits. After a flurry of activity at the beginning of the year, the state has not approved any fracking permits since June.

The policy divergence underscores the difference between state and federal views on the future of fossil fuels in California: The state is moving to ramp down oil production while Washington is expediting it. State officials are taking a closer look at the environmental and health threats — especially land, air and water contamination —  posed by energy extraction, while Washington appears to have concluded that existing federal regulations sufficiently protect its sensitive landscapes as well as public health.

Just as Trump is bringing water to California as Newsom is limiting it, oil is another example of the Democrats working hard to tank the economy of California.

Battle lines are drawn over oil drilling in California

Julie Carl, CalMatters,  12/5/19 

In Summary

California is clamping down on oil exploration. Washington is expediting it on nearly 2 million acres of federal land here. How will this schism play out?

Two announcements with implications for California’s oil industry whizzed past each other in recent weeks, revealing starkly conflicting visions for energy development.

After a five-year hiatus on auctions for oil-drilling rights on federal land, Washington finalized a plan to allow them on more than 700,000 acres in 11 Central California counties. A more significant proposal to include parcels on more than 1 million acres in the Bakersfield area is due in the next few months.

Meanwhile, California’s oil and gas regulator announced a range of measures including a moratorium on certain types of well injections, more oversight of hydraulic fracturing — fracking — and an independent audit of the state’s process for granting drilling permits. After a flurry of activity at the beginning of the year, the state has not approved any fracking permits since June.

The policy divergence underscores the difference between state and federal views on the future of fossil fuels in California: The state is moving to ramp down oil production while Washington is expediting it. State officials are taking a closer look at the environmental and health threats — especially land, air and water contamination —  posed by energy extraction, while Washington appears to have concluded that existing federal regulations sufficiently protect its sensitive landscapes as well as public health.

It is unclear how this schism will play out, beyond aggravating the already fraught relationship between the Golden State and President Donald Trump — though the federal plans date to the Obama administration.Experts caution that even with nearly 2 million acres now open to drilling leases, there’s no certainty that energy companies will show any interest. Overall, oil production in California has fallen by about 60% since the mid-1980s.

“The Trump administration has moved federal agencies’ policies toward aggressive expansion of fossil fuel development on public lands,” California Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot said in an email. “The Newsom administration disagrees with this direction….The governor has been clear that we need to reduce our reliance on oil and gas.”

Indeed, in a plainly worded statement last month, Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state was taking its steps “as we phase out our dependence on fossil fuels and focus on clean-energy sources.” He stopped short of a fracking ban, which he said he supported during his campaign. Environmental groups have lobbied to outlaw fracking, but many nevertheless applauded the state’s moves. 

They derided the federal plans, which could allow drilling at the edges of such treasured landscapes as the Carrizo Plain National Monument in San Luis Obispo County and near Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks in the Central Valley. A few of the potentially affected parcels overlap the Pacific Crest Trail, a popular hiking route that traces California’s spine.

Kassie Siegel is director of the Climate Law Institute of the Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental group whose 2013 lawsuit halted federal leasing of land for oil and gas exploration in parts ofCalifornia. She said the state’s slowdown is necessary to achieve its greenhouse-gas-reduction goals and eventually run the state without fossil fuels.

“It’s really good news for California and is globally significant,” she said. “This is the first governor of a major oil-producing state to launch the phase-out of fossil-fuel extraction. This is really a watershed for California.”

Even with all the new land opening up, experts say, there’s no certainty that energy companies will show interest in them.

The lawsuit was settled in 2017, forcing federal agencies to review the environmental effects of fracking. With that done, the plans were revived, with the same footprint.

California is the nation’s sixth-largest oil producer, but because of geology and regulation it operates differently from many other energy-producing states. For example, fracking takes place in nearly two dozen states and gets a lot of attention, but the process is used on only about 1 in 5 oil wells in California. The controversial practice has been blamed for fouling water and air in communities around the country.

On the other hand, the process of injecting steam, water and other chemicals into wells at high pressure is common, particularly given the heaviness and viscosity of California crude oil. Steam softens the crude, and the pressure pushes it to well bores to be extracted. These high-pressure injections have been put on hold while the state studies the hazards that accompany them.

Ideally, federal and state land-use plans would be harmonized for consistency and efficiency. But that is rarely achievable in California’s checkerboard of land ownership, a complex blend of federal, tribal, state, local and private property.

The federal government controls nearly 46% of the land in California, though its mineral rights extend far beyond that under a longstanding land-use doctrine. In the Bakersfield area alone, the feds control about 1.2 million acres of mineral rights. In total, the U.S. government holds about half the mineral rights in California, including rights to oil, gas and mined minerals. But few of those resources are being explored, officials said. Federal lands produce less than 10% of California’s oil.

The federal Bureau of Land Management is required to offer leases quarterly if there is an expression of interest from the energy industry. Leases are awarded to the highest bidders and are good for 10 years. But officials said they don’t expect a rush of new leasing; companies prefer to rework wells that already exist, and there has been little interest expressed in undeveloped areas. 

“I would not anticipate that we would see a large uptick on new … leases,” said John Hodge, associate field manager for the bureau’s Bakersfield office, adding that most of the recent permitting on federal land has been in areas already leased and in production for decades or more. Companies have been congregating in established fields in Kern County, he said, because “they’ve got the infrastructure in place and the oil is there.”

In fact, the federal leasing plan for its Central California properties anticipates at most a few dozen applications over the next 20 years. There are no immediate industry expressions of interest in the area, Hodge said, and the agency has no current plan to offer a lease sale there. 

Oil is a commodity, and energy companies make decisions based on the price of a barrel of oil, said Rock Zierman, Chief Executive Officer of the California Independent Petroleum Association.

“There’s some interest,” he said of the proposed new lease areas. “But in our business, you are going to invest your dollars where you can get the best return.” The leases are exploratory, so “there’s less certainty.”

Junípero Serra’s name comes off a Stanford Street as priest’s legacy is revisited

The  historical revisionism is on the move in California.  The newest victim is Father Junipero Serra.  He brought Catholic theology to California.  He also is accused of mistreating Native Americans.  So, now his name is going to be taken off a street in San Luis Obispo.  As if anyone really cares.

“I explained to Monterey Bishop Thaddeus Shubsda that I could fully understand the feeling of many Native Americans who opposed canonizing the missionary.

Junípero Serra had become a symbol of the Hispanic conquest and occupation of California. Moreover, like the trans-Atlantic movement, the arrival of the Spanish ultimately brought diseases that decimated the Native population of the so called “New World.”

Historically, California loves to celebrate its Hispanic links in naming streets, schools, parks, highways and even shopping malls. The Spanish names for geographic features, town sites and cities have been retained. Cape Mendocino is one of the earliest features named by Spanish navigators in honor of Antonio de Mendoza, viceroy of New Spain.”

In the future Clinton, Obama and other folks will have their names taken off of buildings and streets—maybe 100 years from now—but who cares.  With the opioid crisis, homelessness, affordable housing and more, streets names are wasting energy and emotion. 

Junipero Serra and the Legacies of the California Missions. Virginia Steele Scott Galleries, Erburu Wing. Aug. 17, 2013-Jan. 6, 2014. Copy of the portrait of Father Junipero Serra from Santa Cruz convent, Queretaro, by Father Jose Mosqueda, n.d. Oil on canvas, 32 x 26 1/2 in. Santa Barbara Mission Archive-Library. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Junípero Serra’s name comes off a Stanford Street as priest’s legacy is revisited

By Dan Krieger Special to The SLO Tribune, 12/8/19   

 “The renaming came after more than four years of efforts by the Stanford Native community . . . to replace campus landmarks that commemorate the legacy of Father Junípero Serra, an 18th-century Catholic missionary known for his mistreatment of Native Americans.”

Serra Mall, a main campus road and bikeway, will be renamed Jane Stanford Way.

I wasn’t surprised by what I read in the Nov. 15, 2019, Stanford Daily. A number of Native Americans believe Serra was no saint. For them, Serra’s canonization opened old wounds.

In 1987, Pope John Paul II planned a visit to Monterey County’s Laguna Seca Racetrack Recreation Area and said a Mass to 70,000 faithful. Many assumed that because of the proximity to Carmel Mission where Serra died and is buried, the Holy Father would announce Serra’s sainthood. He didn’t.

I explained to Monterey Bishop Thaddeus Shubsda that I could fully understand the feeling of many Native Americans who opposed canonizing the missionary.

Junípero Serra had become a symbol of the Hispanic conquest and occupation of California. Moreover, like the trans-Atlantic movement, the arrival of the Spanish ultimately brought diseases that decimated the Native population of the so called “New World.”

Historically, California loves to celebrate its Hispanic links in naming streets, schools, parks, highways and even shopping malls. The Spanish names for geographic features, town sites and cities have been retained. Cape Mendocino is one of the earliest features named by Spanish navigators in honor of Antonio de Mendoza, viceroy of New Spain.

The Hispanic names and thick Romanesque architecture of public buildings, resembling that of Spain, largely obscured the presence of California’s original peoples.

My mother’s family were ranchers, very close to the Natives of the Southwest. I got to know members of the Quechan at the Ft. Yuma Reservation and the Pala Band on the slopes of Mt. Palomar.

I was shocked when a fourth-grade teacher said that most of the California Indians had no names. My mouth was washed out by the school nurse (once again!) for saying that wasn’t true. Everyone knew who the Sioux, Iroquois and Cherokee were, but few knew the tribal names of the multitude of California bands.

I loved visiting museums with large Native Californian collections like the Southwest Museum along the Arroyo Seco Parkway. When I asked why so many of the baskets had their bottoms punched out, I was told that was because the user of that basket had died. I had just seen Boris Karloff in the very scary 1945 film, “The Body Snatcher,” with Bela Lugosi. I realized that many baskets that I saw on display were taken from graves.

It wasn’t until the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act was passed by Congress in 1990 that Indian burial sites received protection.

My mentor, Wilbur Jacobs of UCSB’s history department, came to speak to the County Historical Society in 1980. He brought with him a lifetime’s experience of learning about Native Americans.

He referred to the then popular comedian Rodney Dangerfield, whose signature line was “I don’t get no respect.” Will said that the lack of respect in the total meaning of that word had created more violence than any other act.

Colonizing powers have lacked respect for indigenous peoples throughout history. The Greeks, Romans, Chinese, Japanese, Incas and Aztecs all felt superior to those whose lands they occupied. Each renamed sites with their own nomenclature.

I’ve been studying California’s Missions for 70 years. I’ve read almost every surviving document by Junípero Serra. He did indeed feel that his culture was superior to others. But most of all he focused on evangelizing and bringing the “gift of salvation.”

Next week, I’ll address the evidence supporting the assertion that he was a “missionary known for his mistreatment of Native Americans.”

Was he guilty of the charge and are there other actors in the destruction of California’s Native American communities?

Dan Krieger is professor of history, emeritus, at Cal Poly State University, San Luis Obispo. He is past president of the California Mission Studies Association, now part of the California Missions Foundation.