Cal Berkeley: Student newspaper posts map of campus locations where students have had sex

In November of 1970, I gave a tour of UC Berkeley to three students from SMU in Dallas.  One of them, became my wife of the past 45 years.  While going around the campus, we noticed a male and female on the steps of the Student Union, with a pancho hiding everything but their faces.  These students in front of the student body and visitors were having sex—on the steps of the Student Union!   So, when the Daily Californian posts a map of places on campus to have sex, they missed the Student Union steps.  It should be corrected.

““For our special issue on sex, The Daily Californian is collecting stories to examine where sexual encounters on campus actually happen and what they actually look like,” student Ian MacGregor writes at the newspaper.

“If you feel comfortable, please share a time you had a sexual encounter on campus, where it happened and how it made you feel,” MacGregor urges students. “We want to provide a safe and anonymous space where you can feel comfortable sharing your own story, however intense, funny, casual, uncomfortable or haunting it may be.”

Actually given the choice of riots or sex, I prefer the students having sex on campus—what do you think, which would you choose?

Sather Gate, UC Berkeley

Student newspaper posts map of campus locations where students have had sex

 

Daniel Payne, The College Fix,  2/15/18   

Paper wants to examine ‘intense, funny, casual, uncomfortable or haunting’ sexual experiences on school grounds

A school newspaper at a prominent California university has begun a project documenting the various places students have had sex around the school’s campus.

“For our special issue on sex, The Daily Californian is collecting stories to examine where sexual encounters on campus actually happen and what they actually look like,” student Ian MacGregor writes at the newspaper.

“If you feel comfortable, please share a time you had a sexual encounter on campus, where it happened and how it made you feel,” MacGregor urges students. “We want to provide a safe and anonymous space where you can feel comfortable sharing your own story, however intense, funny, casual, uncomfortable or haunting it may be.”

The map thus far has at 40 different accounts of sexual encounters on UC Berkeley’s campus. One student recounts having told her boyfriend that she wanted to have sex by the campanile, a bell tower on Berkeley’s campus.

“So we tried to have sex In the tree area by the campanile but it was like 9pm on a night gameday so there were too many people,” the account reads. “We then moved to these random tables by haviland Hall I think and had pretty dope table sex. Anyways, that’s the story of the first time I hooked up with my then boyfriend.”

In an account of an apparent homosexual encounter, another student writes of ejaculating onto university property.

“Met up with a PHD student via Grindr who had lab access in VLSB,” the account reads. “We went up to his lab, I gave him head, and we both came all over the lab floor.”

Still another recounts a sexual encounter on top of the campus’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Building: “Roof of MLK – the beauty of the skyline and my ass getting eaten.”

One account reads simply: “Oops.”

According to the newspaper, the sex project was inspired by a similar initiative from The Californian called “Where We Cry,” an “interactive map for readers to share their experiences of crying at UC Berkeley.” That project had 363 total respondents, many of whom reported crying in the same places that students have also reported having sex. Six people, for instance, report crying in the Martin Luther King, Jr. Building.

 

Greenhut: Read before signing: Fearing Janus case, unions try to trap workers into dues payments

The ultra corrupt unions are trying to scam workers into paying them bribes, even when the law against that is changed.  Under the Janus decision fo the Supreme Court, due in June, NO teacher—and by extension any worker—will be forced to pay bribes to a union in order to work.  The unions calls the bribes “dues”.  Failure to pay the dues means you are not allowed to work.  In the real world that is called a bribe.

“Government union employees across the country have received a new “membership application” that locks workers into paying union dues well into the future – even if they later resign from the union or are no longer required to belong. The fine print is buried deep within the application.

For instance, an application for Teamsters 856, which represents 12,000 public- and private-sector freight checkers and clerical employees throughout Northern California, is distributing an agreement that has the usual pro-union language. “Yes! I want to stand with my co-workers and become a member … to build power at the bargaining table and strength in the workplace.”

We’d expect anyone who would sign this to support the union’s goal that “everyone represented by our union should pay their fair share to support our union’s activities.” But then there’s this line in the application: “If I resign my union membership and the law no longer requires nonmembers to pay a fair share fee, I nevertheless agree voluntarily to contribute my fair share by paying a monthly service fee in an amount equal to monthly dues.”

This is a sleazy scam that should be declared illegal.  Those promoting it should be tried for this, as if they were Bernie Madoff.  If you are currently paying bribes to a union SIGN NOTHING.  Protect your paycheck from the union goons.  Thought you should know they want to steal from California workers.

Unions2

Read before signing: Fearing Janus case, unions try to trap workers into dues payments

By Steven Greenhut, California Policy Center,  2/13/18
Sacramento — With the end of mandatory unionization on the horizon thanks to an expected U.S. Supreme Court decision, the nation’s public-sector unions are trying a variety of tactics – some laudable, others sleazy – to maintain their large ranks of dues-paying members and massive war chests.

On the laudable side, some unions have talked about revamping their organizations to better cater to the needs of their members. Good for them. But others are taking a sleazier approach, by lobbying lawmakers for special privileges such as the right for unions to lobby workers in official workday presentations. California has passed such a law.

The California Policy Center has found another troubling tactic. Government union employees across the country have received a new “membership application” that locks workers into paying union dues well into the future – even if they later resign from the union or are no longer required to belong. The fine print is buried deep within the application.

For instance, an application for Teamsters 856, which represents 12,000 public- and private-sector freight checkers and clerical employees throughout Northern California, is distributing an agreement that has the usual pro-union language. “Yes! I want to stand with my co-workers and become a member … to build power at the bargaining table and strength in the workplace.”

We’d expect anyone who would sign this to support the union’s goal that “everyone represented by our union should pay their fair share to support our union’s activities.” But then there’s this line in the application: “If I resign my union membership and the law no longer requires nonmembers to pay a fair share fee, I nevertheless agree voluntarily to contribute my fair share by paying a monthly service fee in an amount equal to monthly dues.”

The agreement renews automatically on the anniversary of the date signed. The only “out” is for the worker to send the union a revocation letter postmarked between 75 and 45 days before the automatic annual renewal rate. This is typical of the applications we’re seeing.

In another example, the California State University Employees Union, which is part of the Service Employees International Union Local 2579, is distributing a “power in numbers” application that authorizes employees to voluntarily accept membership in the union. Later in the application, it likewise stipulates that the dues payments are “irrevocable unless I revoke it” by sending a written notice to the union within 30 days of the automatic renewal.

This is trap language, the sort of provision that traps an employee into paying dues unless they affirmatively opt out during a small, annual window of opportunity. Some union members who have tried to stop paying the portion of their dues used for political purposes have complained of the difficult time they have in forcing unions to abide by their opt-out requests. Obviously, unions have no incentive to let a dues-payer go.

Similar trap language also is found in applications in New York, but are meaningless under New York state law because “government workers who voluntarily join a union have been able to withdraw from union dues deduction ‘at any time’ simply by notifying their employer,” reports Kenneth Girardin, an analyst with the Empire Center for Public Policy. That’s why the top priority for New York’s unions this year is Senate Bill 5778, which “would supersede that, letting workers withdraw ‘only in accordance with the terms of the signed authorization,’” he wrote.

The dues issue centers on the case known as Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which is expected to have far-reaching consequences for public-sector unionization in states such as California and New York that don’t have right-to-work laws. Under current law, which dates back to the 1977 Abood decision, public employees need not be members of unions, but must pay dues for collective-bargaining purposes. Abood made it possible for these public employees to demand a refund of any part of their dues the union used for explicitly political purposes. Guess who determines what‘s “political”? Union leaders.

In Janus, an Illinois municipal worker argues that all mandatory dues payments – even those taken for bargaining-related purposes – are a violation of his First Amendment right of free speech. The argument is that all of the union’s spending is inherently political. For instance, if the union secures higher pension benefits for its members, that means there is less money available for other public services. If a teachers’ union gains extra protections for its members, that affects the ability of public schools to fire and reassign underperforming teachers. It’s all political. Everything the union does have public-policy implications involving public money.

A previous case, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, addressed the same issue, but the court deadlocked 4-4 in 2016 after the death of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia. With conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch replacing him, the vast majority of court observers expect a decision that will limit or end mandatory union dues collections. Therefore, unions are going to great lengths to trap people into committing to ongoing dues payments.

When government employees receive forms like the SEIU and Teamsters recurring-billing agreements in the mail, will they understand that a signature is likely to forfeit some of their future rights? “It’s an effort to stop people from exercising their Janus rights before they know they have Janus rights,” Girardin told me.

If union membership is as valuable to government employees as the applications suggest, then unions should just level with their potential members about their future choices rather than try to trap them into making continued payments. To do otherwise is sleazy.

Steven Greenhut is contributing editor to the California Policy Center. He is Western region director for the R Street Institute.

 

Feds to Repeal 298 Tax Regulations–Treasury seeking to eliminate outdated regs dating back to 1941

President Trump is rolling back regulations that kill jobs and those that are no longer needed.  The question is raised, if a regulation has not been used since 1940, why worry about it and repeal it?  Because a 1799 Act (not a typo, is the basis of the phony Mueller effort to indict President Trump:  “The Logan Act (1 Stat. 613, 18 U.S.C. § 953, enacted January 30, 1799) is a United States federal law that criminalizes negotiation by unauthorized persons with foreign governments having a dispute with the United States.”

How many times has this Act been used against an American?  NONE—even Jane Fonda who openly denounced our nation and supported the North Viet Namese and Viet Cong was not indicted under the Logan Act.  This is why old regulations and laws need to be repealed, so they can not be used to abuse Americans.  No Logan Act?  No Muller persecution.

irs-building1

Feds to Repeal 298 Tax Regulations–Treasury seeking to eliminate outdated regs dating back to 1941

 

BY: Elizabeth Harrington, Washington Free Beacon, 2/15/18

The Treasury Department plans to eliminate nearly 300 outdated tax regulations, getting tax rules off the books that in some cases have not applied since the 1940s.

The department announced its proposal to eliminate unnecessary tax regulations this week, in compliance with two executive orders signed by President Donald Trump last year to reduce regulatory burdens and simplify the tax code.

“We continue our work to ensure that our tax regulatory system promotes economic growth,” said Secretary Steven Mnuchin. “These 298 regulations serve no useful purpose to taxpayers and we have proposed eliminating them.”

“I look forward to continuing to build on our efforts to make the regulatory system more efficient and effective,” he said.

Executive Order 13789, signed last April, instructs the Treasury to “bring clarity” to the tax code and identify all tax regulations that “impose an undue financial burden on United States taxpayers,” “add undue complexity to the Federal tax laws,” or “exceed the statutory authority of the Internal Revenue Service.”

The department’s latest action addresses the complexity of the tax code. The proposed rule would remove tax regulations that have already been repealed; repeal regulations that have been significantly changed from their original purpose; and repeal regulations that are no longer applicable.

“This notice of proposed rulemaking proposes to streamline IRS regulations by removing 298 regulations that are no longer necessary because they do not have any current or future applicability under the Internal Revenue Code and by amending 79 regulations to reflect the proposed removal of the 298 regulations,” the department said in a rulemaking notice published Thursday.

Included in the roughly 300 tax rules to be removed from the tax code are exemptions that were repealed more than seven decades ago in the Public Debt Act of 1941. The law raised the debt limit to $65 billion. The current debt ceiling sits at $20.5 trillion.

A tax exemption for dividends from shares and stock that was repealed in 1942 would also be removed.

Regulations from the Excise Tax Reduction Act of 1965, the Tax Reform Act of 1976, and the last substantial tax reform in 1986, would also be removed.

 

State Gas Tax Increase Gives $10.5 Million For New COASTER Trains

Government lies.  We all know that, but are shocked when we find another example.  SB 1 was a gas tax increase to fix our roads.  As expected, the money is NOT being spent on roads, but on money losing trains and government transportation.  The roads will continue to crumble as deficits go up on the train system.

“State lawmakers narrowly passed the gas tax and vehicle increase last year. The law, called SB 1, raised the gas tax by 12 cents per gallon and imposed new vehicle fees ranging from $25 to $175, depending on the value of the car. It is expected to provide $54 billion in new transportation funding over the next decade, $7.6 billion of which will go to public transit agencies across the state.

SB 1 is also paying for a plan by the Metropolitan Transit System to increase the frequency of its most popular bus routes. That plan went into effect on Sunday.

Grants from SB 1 were also awarded to Metrolink, which connects Oceanside with Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura Counties, and the Pacific Surfliner rail corridor, which runs from San Diego to San Luis Obispo.”

They lied about the tax—a good deal of that money is going to the choo choo to nowhere and now we find out billions more going to other money losing government transportation systems.  Still, except for the effort to repeal this tax, few in California seem concerned that Sacrament Democrats, including the Governor openly lied to the public.  Ready to move to Texas, where they take it seriously when office holders lie—unlike California.

whitehousemoney-300x166

State Gas Tax Increase Gives $10.5 Million For New COASTER Trains

By Andrew Bowen, KPBS,  1/30/18

 

The North County Transit District is getting $10.5 million to purchase seven new, low-emission trains for its COASTER rail system with money from the recent gas tax and vehicle fee increase, state transportation officials announced Tuesday.

The money will cover roughly a fifth of the trains’ total coast of $53.9 million. The trains are more fuel efficient, meaning NCTD will save money on diesel costs in the long run, and officials say the trains will provide faster and more reliable service. The COASTER runs from Oceanside to downtown San Diego.

“The current COASTER locomotives have reached the end of their useful life and operate with outdated emissions technology,” NCTD spokeswoman Kimy Wall said in an emailed statement. “The new funding provided by SB 1 will help NCTD to procure new locomotives that meet the highest standards for emission reduction and pave the way for increased COASTER frequencies as contemplated in our regional plans.”

State lawmakers narrowly passed the gas tax and vehicle increase last year. The law, called SB 1, raised the gas tax by 12 cents per gallon and imposed new vehicle fees ranging from $25 to $175, depending on the value of the car. It is expected to provide $54 billion in new transportation funding over the next decade, $7.6 billion of which will go to public transit agencies across the state.

SB 1 is also paying for a plan by the Metropolitan Transit System to increase the frequency of its most popular bus routes. That plan went into effect on Sunday.

Officials estimate that California has an infrastructure backlog of about $130 billion, due in part to drivers needing to purchase less gas as they drive more fuel efficient cars. The gas tax has also not been pegged to inflation, meaning the tax’s real cost to drivers has effectively been going down. SB 1 begins pegging the gas tax and vehicle fees to inflation over time.

A citizens’ initiative is underway to repeal SB 1, and campaigners have until May 21 to gather the 585,000 signatures necessary to place the measure on the November ballot. The measure would amend the state constitution and require all future gas tax increases to win approval from two-thirds of California voters.

Grants from SB 1 were also awarded to Metrolink, which connects Oceanside with Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura Counties, and the Pacific Surfliner rail corridor, which runs from San Diego to San Luis Obispo.

 

CalPERS’ Big Move on Amortization: What Does It Mean for Cities?

CalPERS has doubled down on creating dozens of cities being pushed into bankruptcy due to their mismanagement and corruption.

“In a major decision Tuesday, the California Public Employees Retirement System voted to shorten the amortization period for new pension liabilities from 30 to 20 years. The move will speed up the rate of debt payments to CalPERS, likely increasing cities’ annual pension costs and heightening pressure on the state’s municipalities.

At todays rates, cities are cutting basic services, road repairs public safety, libraries—imagine this April when cities start preparing their budget for next year and they are forced to increase their payments to CalPERS by 20%–will they like Oroville cut cops pay by 10%–or worse, fire police officers like Oakland did a few years ago.

Next to a terrorist attack, the biggest danger facing California is CalPERS—demanding the economic destruction of your town.

Pension money

CalPERS’ Big Move on Amortization: What Does It Mean for Cities?

California County News, 02/15/2018

In a major decision Tuesday, the California Public Employees Retirement System voted to shorten the amortization period for new pension liabilities from 30 to 20 years. The move will speed up the rate of debt payments to CalPERS, likely increasing cities’ annual pension costs and heightening pressure on the state’s municipalities.

CalPERS says the new schedule will save cities money over the long term — a sentiment echoed by Newport Beach Finance Director Dan Matusiewicz. But just three months ago, a cavalry of municipalities appeared before the board warning that such a change would test their ability to cope.

“Each new approach only adds to the costs of cities and therefore to the taxpayers,” Hayward City Councilwoman Sara Lamnin told the CalPERS board in November as it was considering speeding up debt payments.

Dane Hutchings, a lobbyist for the League of California Cities, also said the impact could be dire for some cities.

“When you have a city that is already on the brink, applying a 20-year amortization policy will put them over the edge.”

CalPERS said the new schedule is needed to ensure stability for the $345 billion pension fund. The changes will take effect in 2019, with the first payments due in 2021.

What does CalPERS’ decision mean for your city? Check out the reaction from the League of California Cities here.

See also:

New pension plan will squeeze California cities

California cities’ pension bills may rise with Calpers move

The pension nightmare for California’s cities is getting scarier

 

SAND: Grad rates have become the education establishment’s Potemkin village

How does LAUSD keep its graduation rates growing?  In 2015 it gave diploma’s to 45% of its graduates that had a “D” average.  They give diplomas away.  A couple of years ago they spent over $24 million in credit recovery classes—no classes, just gave credits.  In 2017-18, they are spending $15 million to give students unearned credits—just to keep their rates up.

Other districts are just as sneaky:

“A couple of months ago, the education establishment told us that “U.S. Graduation Rate Hits New All-Time High, With Gains in All Student Groups.” But in the real world this is nothing more than a façade – a Potemkin village. Some schools improve their graduation numbers by conveniently omitting some low-performing students in their graduation class calculation. Other schools transfer students who are at risk of dropping out to alternative schools where, should they quit, are not counted in the “official” grad statistics. And many school districts employ empty “credit recovery classes” to pad their numbers.”

Having a diploma from a California government school is meaningless—it just shows the adults running the system can game it—at the expense of educating students.  Years ago the then Governor of Oklahoma, Bartlett, gave me a certificate making me “An Honorary Okie.”  The Governor of Nebraska gave me a certificate making me an “Admiral of the Nebraska Navy”—both are just as valuable as a diploma from LAUSD and many other California government schools.

LAUSD school bus

Grad rates have become the education establishment’s Potemkin village

By Larry Sand, California Policy Center,  2/13/18
Too many schools are failing, and parents need a way for their kids to escape from them.

A couple of months ago, the education establishment told us that “U.S. Graduation Rate Hits New All-Time High, With Gains in All Student Groups.” But in the real world this is nothing more than a façade – a Potemkin village. Some schools improve their graduation numbers by conveniently omitting some low-performing students in their graduation class calculation. Other schools transfer students who are at risk of dropping out to alternative schools where, should they quit, are not counted in the “official” grad statistics. And many school districts employ empty “credit recovery classes” to pad their numbers.

It used to be that a high school diploma was typically a gateway to a college degree. Now, way too often, unprepared students spend time in college before dropping out, frequently in debt to the institution that they were not ready to go to in the first place. The situation is especially bad for minority students. Only 40 percent of black enrollees at four-year public universities graduate within six years – 18 percentage points below the nationwide average.

Perhaps the poster child for the grad fudge rate is Washington D.C., where Ballou High School saw every one of its 164 seniors graduate in June. But half of the graduates missed more than three months of school last year and 20 percent were absent more than present, missing more than 90 days of school. The 2017 standardized tests showed that just 9 percent of the students were proficient in English.

Turns out that Ballou is barely an outlier. An investigation released January 28th found that D.C. schools foster a culture of passing undeserving students. The report revealed that one-third of graduates from the District’s public schools last year missed too many classes or improperly took make-up classes. A combination of teachers feeling sorry for failing students and administrative pressure on teachers to pass students if they wanted a good annual review are the reasons given for the fraud. American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten weighed in, claiming that, “It’s yet another wake-up call about this flawed logic that metrics are the be-all and the end-all. When these metrics and targets become more important than learning, they create a fertile climate, an environment, for scandal and for abuse.”

Righto, Randi. If we just didn’t have those danged tests, the kids would all be Harvard-bound scholars. Okaaay.

And now the FBI, taking a break from the FISA scandal, has decided to intervene in D.C.

Is California any better than Washington? Hardly. As I chronicled recently, the Golden State, where the official grad rate reached 83 percent in 2016, saw it rise that high because the California High School Exit Examination was eliminated by the state legislature in 2015 due to the fact that too many kids couldn’t pass it. The test was hardly taxing – the English-language component of the test addressed state content standards through tenth grade and the math part of the exam covered state standards in only grades six and seven and Algebra I.

The state also lets school districts dump at-risk students into continuation schools, community schools, and opportunity schools, where only 25 percent will go on to get a high school diploma. These kids are conveniently not included in the official district and state dropout rates. And many districts pad their grad statistics by letting students take the aforementioned dubious credit recovery classes.

Now yet another feel-good intervention is on the books in California. The legislature has cooked up AB 705, which does away with remediation for all California Community College students, who will no longer have to make up for their k-12 failings by playing catch-up. They will be treated just like undergraduates who mastered their high school studies. The honchos in Sacramento must think they are doing the three quarters of California Community College students who need remediation a favor by fast-tracking them to graduate college. (Maybe we can get the FBI to have a look-see at California’s legislative machinations.)

The answer to the frankly criminal ways of the educational establishment is to give parents the right to use taxpayer funds to send their kids to a non-government school. Clearly many would do so if they had that option. According to a recent EdChoice poll, if parents could choose between public and private, only 33 percent would opt to send their child to a traditional district school. But as things stand now, 83 percent do. Forty-two percent said they would opt for a private school, but presently only 10 percent actually do.

It’s long past time to address the failures of our zip-code-mandated education system. Forget the FBI; we need to give parents more latitude.

Larry Sand, a former classroom teacher, is the president of the non-profit California Teachers Empowerment Network – a non-partisan, non-political group dedicated to providing teachers and the general public with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues.

 

Ring: How to Restore Financial Sustainability to Public Pensions

We all know that CalPERS is collapsing and taking your city down with it.  Thanks to two decisions of this out of control agency, your city is on the verge of bankruptcy.  First, it announced a five year doubling of mandatory contributions over five years—after raising rates by 19-20% this year.  Then they decided to amortize the $1.4 trillion unfunded liability over twenty years instead of thirty years.

That means the doubling of contributions is just the start—and it will last for twenty years.

How does CalPERS suggest it be saved?  How is one of their proposals:

““Consider local ballot measures to enhance revenues: Some cities have been successful in passing a measure to increase revenues. Others have been unsuccessful. Given that these are voter approved measures, success varies depending on location.”

2 (reading between the lines) – RAISE TAXES. Do what you’ve been doing incessantly ever since pension benefits were enhanced right before the financial crisis of 2000 wiped out the pension fund surplus. Raise taxes. Say it’s “for the children” and to “protect seniors,” and based on the last several years of data, there is an 80% chance voters will approve the new tax.”

calpers

How to Restore Financial Sustainability to Public Pensions

by Edward Ring, California Policy Center,  2/14/18

Last month the League of California Cities released a “Retirement System Sustainability Study and Findings.” The findings were not surprising.

“Key Findings” were (1) City pension costs will dramatically increase to unsustainable levels, (2) Rising pension costs will require cities to nearly double the percentage of their general fund dollars they pay to CalPERS, and (3) Cities have few options to address growing pension liabilities.

These findings corroborate the California Policy Center’s concurrent recent updates on the pension situation in California. In the January 31st update “California Government Pension Contributions Required to Double by 2024 – Best Case,” and the January 10th update “How Much More Will Cities and Counties Pay CalPERS?,” using CalPERS own “Public Agency Actuarial Valuation Reports,” it is shown that over the next six years, participating cities will need to increase their payments to CalPERS by 87%, from $3.1 billion in the 2017-18 fiscal year to $5.8 billion by the 2024-25 fiscal year.

This 87% rise in pension payments, officially announced by CalPERS, is definitely a best case. The report from the League of California Cities offers the following footnote on page 1 that underscores this fact: “Bartel Associates used the existing CalPERS’ discount rate and projections for local revenue growth. To the extent CalPERS market return performance and local revenue growth do not achieve those estimates, impacts to local agencies will increase. Additionally, the data does not take into account action pending before the CalPERS Board of Administration to prospectively reduce the employer amortization schedule from its current 30 year term to a 20 year term. Should the Board adopt staff’s recommendation, employer contributions are likely to increase.”

The report from the League of California Cities includes a section entitled “What Cities Can Do Today.” This section merits a read between the lines:

ANALYSIS OF RECOMMENDATIONS TO CITIES CONFRONTING UNSUSTAINABLE PENSIONS

1 – “Develop and implement a plan to pay down the city’s Unfunded Actuarial Liability (UAL): Possible methods include shorter amortization periods and pre-payment of cities UAL. This option may only work for cities in a better financial condition.”

1 (reading between the lines) – PAY CALPERS MORE. Reduce the unfunded liability by making your annual catch-up payment even more than CalPERS is instructing you to pay in their “Public Agency Actuarial Valuation Reports.” Doing this will save money over several years. But only if you can afford it.

2 – “Consider local ballot measures to enhance revenues: Some cities have been successful in passing a measure to increase revenues. Others have been unsuccessful. Given that these are voter approved measures, success varies depending on location.”

2 (reading between the lines) – RAISE TAXES. Do what you’ve been doing incessantly ever since pension benefits were enhanced right before the financial crisis of 2000 wiped out the pension fund surplus. Raise taxes. Say it’s “for the children” and to “protect seniors,” and based on the last several years of data, there is an 80% chance voters will approve the new tax.

3 – “Create a Pension Rate Stabilization Program (PRSP): Establishing and funding a local Section 115 Trust Fund can help offset unanticipated spikes in employer contributions. Initial funds still must be identified. Again, this is an option that may work for cities that are in a better financial condition.”

3 (reading between the lines) – PAY CALPERS MORE. Make payments into a separate investment fund, over and above your annual pension payments, earmarked for CalPERS. Then draw on those funds when the annual pension payments increase. But only if you can afford it.

4 – “Change service delivery methods and levels of certain public services: Many cities have already consolidated and cut local services during the Great Recession and have not been able to restore those service levels. Often, revenue growth from the improved economy has been absorbed by pension costs. The next round of service cuts will be even harder.”

4 (reading between the lines) – CUT SERVICES.

  1. “Use procedures and transparent bargaining to increase employee pension contributions: Many local agencies and their employee organizations have already entered into such agreements.”

5 (reading between the lines) – MAKE BENEFICIARIES PAY MORE. Good idea. The League of California Cities might expand on the feasibility of this recommendation and provide examples of where it actually happened (cases where employees agreed to pay more towards their pension benefits but received an equivalent pay increase do not count).

6 – “Issue a pension obligation bond (POB): However, financial experts including the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) strongly discourage local agencies from issuing POBs. Moreover, this approach only delays and compounds the inevitable financial impacts.”

6 (reading between the lines) – GO INTO DEBT TO PAY OFF DEBT. Pension obligation bonds are at best a dangerous gamble, at worst a deceptive scam. The recommendation itself (above) dismisses itself in the final sentence, where it states “this approach only delays and compounds the inevitable financial impacts.”

WHAT CAN LOCAL ELECTED OFFICIALS DO ABOUT UNSUSTAINABLE PENSIONS?

1 – Learn what really happened and communicate it to everyone – employees, elected officials, journalists, citizens. CalPERS, an independent entity largely controlled by public employee unions, joined with powerful union lobbyists to push through pension benefit enhancements beginning in 1999. Despite a sobering and ongoing stock market correction that began only a year later in 2000, over the next several years these two special interests successfully lobbied to roll these financially unsustainable benefit enhancements through nearly every state and local agency in California.

Then, for years, whether intentionally or via a culture that encouraged wishful thinking, CalPERS obfuscated the deepening financial challenges from local officials and the public, deferring the day of reckoning. For more on this, read “Did CalPERS Use Accounting “Gimmicks” to Enable Financially Unsustainable Pensions?”

2 – Support legislation that will make it easier to take steps to reduce financially unsustainable pension benefits. For example, state senator John Moorlach – the only actual CPA currently serving in California’s state legislature – has just introduced Senate Bill 1031. According to Moorlach’s recent press release, this bill “would protect the solvency of public-employee pensions by making sure each yearly COLA – cost-of-living-adjustment – isn’t so large it tips the underlying fund into insolvency. If a pension system is funded at less than 80 percent, then the COLA would be suspended until the funding status recovers.” Great idea.

3 – Fight for either legislation or a citizen initiative to implement the “Pension Sustainability Principles” that the California League of Cities’ Board of Directors adopted in June 2017. In particular, “converting all currently deemed ‘Classic’ employees to the same provisions (benefits and employee contributions) currently in place for ‘PEPRA’ employees for all future years of service.”

4 – Understand that public employee unions are likely to fight any substantive revisions to their pension benefits, and be prepared to incur their wrath. When they fund candidates to challenge you and destroy you in the next election, own the pension issue. Make it the centerpiece of your campaign and challenge your union-funded opponent on the basis of financial reality.

5 – Thoroughly familiarize yourself with the dynamics of pension finance and the underlying concepts. A good place to start is the CPC primer “How to Assess Impact of a Market Correction on Pension Payments.” Quoting from that article – “Any policymaker who is required to negotiate over pension benefits, explain pension benefits, consider changes to pensions, or understand the impact of pensions on current and future budgets, or for that matter, contemplate any sort of increase to local taxes and fees, needs to understand the basic financial concepts that govern pensions. They should understand the difference between the total pension liability and the unfunded pension liability. They should understand the difference between the normal payment and the unfunded payment. They should understand the difference between unfunded payment schedules that use the “percent of payroll” method vs. the “level payment” method. They should know what “smoothing” is. They should thoroughly understand these concepts and related concepts.”

6 – Local elected officials might consider ways to exit CalPERS. The option of leaving CalPERS should not be dismissed merely because the terms of departure require a large payment. While the buyout terms CalPERS imposes on agencies that want to leave the system are onerous, the funds a city must muster for the buyout are still retained as funds reserved to service their pension liability. This is one situation where financing scenarios might make sense, because once an agency leaves CalPERS, they are no longer subject to many of the restrictions CalPERS places on the ability of agencies to modify pension benefits. The savings realized by having the latitude to make more substantive changes to benefit formulas could mitigate the financing risk.

7 – Finally, remind the members of public employee unions that merely opposing their leadership on pension policies does not automatically make you their enemy. Defined benefit pensions are superior to individual 401K plans, because they do not carry the market risk nor the mortality risk that is inherent in anyone’s individual 401K. But defined benefit plans must be fair to taxpayers, they must be financially sustainable, and the participants must pay their fair share. Appeal not only to their desire to see their pension funds stabilized so they don’t face draconian cuts in the future instead of measured cuts today, but also to the reasons they entered public service, their altruism, their civic pride, their patriotism, their desire to make a contribution to society.

 

Calif. School Features Classroom by IKEA: Bean Bag Chairs, Rocking Chairs, Padded Blankets…

California is known as the “Flake and Shake State”, flakey and earthquakes.  This story about a teacher in Newport Beach, and by extension the Principal of the school and District, have determined to make the students California comfortable in the classroom.

“Kids in her class can relax in bean bag chairs, rocking chairs, padded blankets and other more casual décor from IKEA:

“Gone are traditional desks and chairs — they were moved to a separate room at the Newport Beach school. In their place is IKEA furniture such as high and low tables. Two couches are placed on opposite ends of the room. Bean bags, rocking chairs, squishy yacht buoys and padded blankets are scattered on the carpet near the front.”

At least these kids will be ready for the beach and drug society of California—education?  Not a priority.  Silly time in government education.

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Calif. School Features Classroom by IKEA: Bean Bag Chairs, Rocking Chairs, Padded Blankets…

 

By Craig Bannister, cnsnews.com,  2/15/18

 

A Newport Beach, California elementary school teacher has replaced the desks and chairs in her classroom with more comfortable furniture by IKEA.

The teacher wants her classroom to emulate a “Google office,” the San Diego Union-Tribune reports:

“Anderson Elementary School teacher Alexandria Gladstone-Lamas wants her classroom to be more like a Google office.”

Kids in her class can relax in bean bag chairs, rocking chairs, padded blankets and other more casual décor from IKEA:

“Gone are traditional desks and chairs — they were moved to a separate room at the Newport Beach school. In their place is IKEA furniture such as high and low tables. Two couches are placed on opposite ends of the room. Bean bags, rocking chairs, squishy yacht buoys and padded blankets are scattered on the carpet near the front.”

“I didn’t care about their body language so long as they could get their work done,” Gladstone-Lamas says.

The Union-Tribune did not report whether or not the children had to assemble any of the IKEA furniture.

 

Sonoma Based Government Transportation System Ends TWO Opportunities for Affordable Housing

When will private development firms understand that government is mean, nasty and harmful to the economic health of the firm and community.  In the latest case, SMART, a government transit monopoly used as an excuse a missed conference call to end three years and millions of dollars of investment by a private firm to build parking spaces, housing and provide funding for a train station.  It is the SECOND time this agency manipulated a private firm into financial losses.

Were I a developer, I would blacklist SMART—the government agency—and determine to stay away from those that have no problem is lying to the public and construction firms.

“A deal to build an east side Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit station, 225 commuter parking spots, and more than 400 housing units to Petaluma appears to have collapsed after differences emerged between the rail agency and a developer.

Lomas Partners, LLC, has been working with SMART for three years to develop its proposal to create housing and 150 parking spots on the site of the future SMART station at Corona Road and North McDowell Boulevard. As part of the deal, the Sherman Oaks-based developer was to buy and develop a SMART-owned piece of land on D Street near the existing station, where Lomas proposed adding 300 rental apartment units and 75 additional parking spaces for SMART riders.

SMART would use the proceeds from the sale of the downtown land to build the station at Corona Road.

Thanks to SMART, no housing, no station, no parking.  Did they ever really intend to develop—or is it an effort to harm the private sector?

Housing apartment

Deal for second Petaluma SMART station falls apart

HANNAH BEAUSANG, PETALUMA ARGUS-COURIER STAFF, 2/15/18

 

This story originally appeared on Petaluma360.com.

A deal to build an east side Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit station, 225 commuter parking spots, and more than 400 housing units to Petaluma appears to have collapsed after differences emerged between the rail agency and a developer.

Lomas Partners, LLC, has been working with SMART for three years to develop its proposal to create housing and 150 parking spots on the site of the future SMART station at Corona Road and North McDowell Boulevard. As part of the deal, the Sherman Oaks-based developer was to buy and develop a SMART-owned piece of land on D Street near the existing station, where Lomas proposed adding 300 rental apartment units and 75 additional parking spaces for SMART riders.

SMART would use the proceeds from the sale of the downtown land to build the station at Corona Road.

SMART claims that tweaks to the plan, including a proposal to build a parking lot rather than a parking garage at Corona Road and relocating the parking lot to a location closer to the station, as well as a missed conference call, constitute breaches in the agreement. The agreement terminated under its own terms because of Lomas’ changes, SMART’s general counsel, Thomas Lyons, wrote in a letter.

Lawyers for the developer claim SMART breached the agreement. The tumult calls into question the future of Petaluma’s east side station and sets the stage for a legal battle.

Farhad Mansourian, SMART’s general manager, did not return multiple calls and emails seeking comment.

The erosion of the deal marks the second setback for SMART in its quest to develop transit-oriented housing along the rail line. Last month, a developer walked away from plans to build 268 units of market-rate and affordable housing, retail spaces and a public plaza on a SMART-owned lot in Santa Rosa’s Railroad Square. The deal collapsed amid finger pointing over who was responsible for its demise, with SMART arguing the developer wasn’t committed and the developer deeming SMART’s board unreasonable.

Todd Kurtin, a partner at Lomas, said his lawyer is drafting a letter of complaint stating that SMART’s termination of the contract is not in good faith. He said he’s willing to build a parking garage should SMART prefer that option, but said he has been stonewalled by the agency. If his lawyer’s calls to the agency are not returned, he plans to file the legal complaint.

Even without a SMART station, Kurtin said he plans to develop the Corona Road land with housing, though he would prefer to locate his development near a transit hub.

He hopes to salvage the deal with SMART, which would bring 112 homes, 15 percent of which would be affordable, for-sale units, to a currently underutilized Corona Road parcel. It would also unlock the potential for an east Petaluma station that would provide much-needed parking and cut down on congestion some west side merchants say is negatively impacting business.

“I’m trying to move this forward, I’m trying to get the station built at Corona, I’m trying to get the housing built — that’s exactly what the public wants and what the public policy should be and I don’t understand where SMART’s coming from,” Kurtin said.

A series of letters between SMART and the developer dating back to December outline a contentious back-and-forth leading up to SMART’s Jan. 19 “final notice” that the agreement was terminated. Part of the issue appears to be a Jan. 8 missed phone conference to discuss the change in plans, a scheduled meeting in which Kurtin says he inadvertently missed after failing to see the call-in number.

He called Mansourian on his office line shortly after the scheduled time, and followed up with an email a little more than an hour later. Still, a Feb. 8 letter from the rail agency’s general counsel said “Mr. Kurtin neither called the conference call number nor SMART’s main office phone at the agreed upon time.”

SMART also took issue with the relocation of the parking lot — a move Kurtin said was necessary to circumvent the need for state and federal permits because of the proximity to a waterway and to avoid building on a potentially contaminated site. It would also increase convenience for riders, who would otherwise have to walk a greater distance to the station, he said. Initial plans to build a modular garage were not feasible because of state regulations, he said.

Sonoma County Supervisor David Rabbitt, who represents Petaluma on SMART’s board of directors, said it doesn’t matter to him how parking is delivered, as long as it’s provided.

“I’ve said this publicly before, it’s a matter of having the most parking spaces available, if it’s in a structure or not, I don’t really care,” he said.

Rabbitt said soil and groundwater contamination at the site and the potential hang-ups related to cleanup and monitoring are of greater concern. The developer is proposing to split the lot, separating the parking lot and the future station from the rest of the plot, where contamination has been found and would require cleaning and monitoring.

“The overriding concern is not having surety that the land is clean and with the lot split that we’re sure the requirements don’t come with a long-term mitigation and unknown costs for both soil and groundwater,” Rabbitt said, adding that the public agency would be hesitant to own a potentially contaminated parcel.

David Tanouye, an engineering geologist with the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board, said in a letter that the footprint of the station and parking lot are outside of the known petroleum contamination at the site and the board has “no objections to the construction of the SMART station at its proposed location.”

He said soil beneath structures and “geophysical anomalies” that are slated to be removed from the parking and station areas still needs to be tested. Groundwater monitoring is scheduled for coming weeks, he said.

“There has not been evidence of contamination of soil or groundwater in the proposed construction area from recent data so far,” he said. “These measures are being taken to be protective of human health and the environment.”

Though city officials have long advocated for the Corona Road parcel and provided a credit for building the parking garage there, Rabbitt said a second location on Old Redwood Highway is still in play. Corona has been the assumed location of the city’s second station since SMART was first proposed more than a decade ago, and was incorporated in Petaluma’s 2013 master planning document to guide future development around station areas.

“Farhad and I want to sit down with (Petaluma City Manager) John Brown to talk to him about that,” Rabbitt said. “Is that the only site and are you willing to wait two, three, four or five years for it? No one can guarantee if it will be a year, or two or three or four or five. It’s already been five.”

Rabbitt said there are limited options for other east side locations, and though the Old Redwood Highway lot is outside of city limits, it could be annexed into Petaluma. While the Corona Road site is closer to housing, the Old Redwood Highway site, where Adobe Lumber was formerly located, could serve up to 5,000 people from nearby businesses, he said.

The Old Redwood Highway site, across the road from SMART’s headquarters, is owned by Cornerstone. The developer this week announced plans to turn the site into a “maker space” for food production companies. A rendering of the project shows future plans call for a “rail connection.”

City Councilman Mike Healy, a longtime supporter of the Corona Road station, said the city could consider taking the deed to the land where the station and parking would be located and leasing it back to SMART for $1 a year until the agency is satisfied there’s no contamination and can take independent ownership of the site. He said the Old Redwood Highway site is in the flood plain, which is a cause for concern.

“Corona Road is the most convenient location available on the east side of Petaluma,” he said. “For Petaluma residents commuting into Marin, the Adobe Lumber site is further away — people are driving in the wrong direction to catch a train.”

City Manager Brown said the city council isn’t likely to be open to changing plans.

“The council’s preference is the Corona Road site,” he said. “We’ve developed station area plans in partnership with SMART focusing on the Corona site and so we have a lot of history with that. I don’t think the council is going to be ready to give up on that anytime soon and they’d be very reluctant to start talking about other sites. I’m going to be looking for a way to try to keep that Corona Road site in play.”

 

ICE arrests 212 illegals, targets 122 businesses in LA sweep–Thanks to Mayor Garcetti Actions

The big news is not the arrest of 212 illegal aliens in Los Angeles.  The real news is that 122 business in the L.A. area received audit notices.  Unmentioned in this article is the list of 77 business in the Central Valley that also received audit notices.  This means the illegal aliens working for the almost 200 firms will be caught.  The smart ones will leave their jobs and run.  Those not smart enough will be caught and deported.  The bigger news is that if any illegal aliens are found working for these firms, fines will be given.  If a large number of illegal aliens are found working for any one company, management can be indicted on Federal criminal charges.

This should send a message to crony capitalists using cheap illegal alien labor that punishment is on the horizon.  It also means illegal aliens now know they will be caught.  Yes, illegal aliens are now living in fear—but as law breakers, should they be comfortable that Jerry Brown, Eric Garcetti and the police of California are going to protect them?

“Federal deportation officers staged one of the biggest enforcement actions in years against businesses in Los Angeles this week, arresting 212 people and serving audit notices to 122 businesses who will have to prove they aren’t hiring illegal immigrants.

Nearly all of those arrested were convicted criminals, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

ICE said it targeted Los Angeles because it’s a sanctuary city, meaning it refuses to fully cooperate with federal authorities on deportations from within its jails.”

In this case, the illegal aliens arrested and about to be deported need to thank Eric Garcetti for this action.

eric garcetti

ICE arrests 212 illegals, targets 122 businesses in LA sweep

 

By Stephen Dinan, The Washington Times, 2/16/18

Federal deportation officers staged one of the biggest enforcement actions in years against businesses in Los Angeles this week, arresting 212 people and serving audit notices to 122 businesses who will have to prove they aren’t hiring illegal immigrants.

Nearly all of those arrested were convicted criminals, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

ICE said it targeted Los Angeles because it’s a sanctuary city, meaning it refuses to fully cooperate with federal authorities on deportations from within its jails.

That means agents and officers have to go out into the community, said Thomas D. Homan, the agency’s deputy director.

“Fewer jail arrests mean more arrests on the street, and that also requires more resources, which is why we are forced to send additional resources to those areas to meet operational needs and officer safety,” Mr. Homan said. “Consistent with our public safety mission, 88 percent of those arrested during this operation were convicted criminals.”

The actions and notices came even as Congress was debating — and failing to pass — legislation that would have legalized about a sixth of the illegal immigrant population in the U.S.

ICE said some of those nabbed will be prosecuted for illegal entry or re-entry after a previous deportation, while others whose cases aren’t prosecuted will face deportation.

Perhaps more striking that the arrests, however, is the renewed focus on business that employ illegal immigrants.

The 122 notices come on top of 77 notices served on businesses in northern California earlier this year.

ICE said California’s sanctuary city status notwithstanding, businesses are still required to follow federal law, which demands they conduct verification checks before hiring employees.

Democrats in Congress had objected to ICE’s attempts to enforce immigration laws at businesses.

In a Jan. 31 letter, 17 of the chamber’s more liberal lawmakers said they were “troubled” by the justifications ICE had cited for the previous round of business enforcement.

“ICE officers have a mission to promote homeland security and public safety, not to act as an arm of the government designed to intimidate and harass business owners, their employees or their patrons, and certainly not to use raids as a threat of ‘what’s to come,’” said the Democrats, led by Rep. Karen Bass, California Democrat.