Sheriffs Condemn Gavin Newson’s Gun Control Efforts

Gavin newsomRiverside County Sheriff Stan Sniff and San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon are criticizing Gavin Newsom’s current gun control push as a misdirected effort that restricts law-abiding citizens and the Second Amendment, rather than criminals.

Sheriff McMahon, in particular, suggests that Newsom’s push exemplifies the habit of enacting more and more gun controls when there has been no effort to enforce the laws that are already on the books. McMahon said, “We still have people running around with guns that aren’t supposed to have them.”

According to the Press-Enterprise, McMahon sees Newsom’s push as just another way to restrict law-abiding citizens’ rights. And that — in addition to the lack of enforcement — is why he opposes it: “I generally oppose any legislation that puts any more restrictions or control on citizens having an ability to possess firearms,” Sheriff McMahon is reported to have said.

Sheriff Sniff reportedly expressed the same sentiments, but went even further by suggesting the added restrictions on law-abiding citizens harm public safety. According to the Press-Enterprise, he said, “In some cases, these proposed bills actually make our communities less safe, and remove inherent rights of our citizens to self-defense, or worse, allow only the wealthy, elite or the well-off to protect themselves.”

Newsom responded to the sheriffs’ concerns by suggesting Sniff and McMahon hold “a different point of view” than the sheriffs who had been in office before them. And he suggested that Sniff and McMahon are known to oppose “law after law after law.” Newsom added, “I think these things save lives. They can disagree … but the data does not support their point of view.”

If passed, Newsom’s gun control ballot initiative will enact a statewide “high capacity” magazine ban and put ammunition background checks in place.

It is interesting to note that in one of the most high profile attacks in recent memory — the May 2014 Santa Barbara attack, in which three innocents were gunned down, after others were stabbed — the gunman only used 10-round magazines. Newsom argues that limiting citizens to 10-round magazines is a way to reduce crime.

AWR Hawkins is the Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at awrhawkins@breitbart.com.

This piece was originally published by Breitbart California

Lawmakers send sweeping gun package to Jerry Brown

As reported by the Sacramento Bee:

California’s Democrat-controlled Legislature on Thursday approved far-reaching bills to bolster the state’s strong gun restrictions, sending Gov. Jerry Brown a package of measures revived after the deadly attack last year in San Bernardino.

Lawmakers, led by Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, moved a dozen bills, including those expanding California’s historic 1989 ban on assault weapons, barring possession of high-capacity magazines that accommodate more than 10 rounds of ammunition, instituting tighter deadlines for owners to report lost or stolen firearms and regulating ammunition sales.

While California’s gun-control laws are among the toughest in the nation, the latest effort comes amid a series of unabated massacres dominating the headlines – from the December shooting in San Bernardino where two terrorists killed 14 people to the recent attack at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., where an aggrieved shooter gunned down 49 people and injured more than 50 others, the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

De León authored the ammunition regulation bill after a past attempt requiring in-person ammo sales was tossed out in court for being too vague. He called it “ridiculous” that terrorist sympathizers and some gang members are using America’s broken gun laws system to harm communities. …

Property Taxes to Increase by 13 Percent in Coming Year

property taxIn Chicago, escalating property taxes are headline news. With the average property tax bill due to go up by 13 percent – and more increases in subsequent years virtually guaranteed – home ownership in the Windy City is in deep peril. No one seems happy except the moving companies.

This drastic tax increase is the result of bad decisions by corrupt officials who have caved to city employee pension demands that are unsustainable without massive borrowing. And that borrowing will be paid for by massive property tax hikes. But if homeowners are considering fleeing exorbitant taxation, they may have to travel a good distance. Illinois residents, even without the Chicago pension tax, are already paying the highest effective property tax rate in the nation at 2.67 percent, according to a recent study by CoreLogic, an Irvine, California-based provider of data to the financial and real estate industries.

Nationally, the study shows the median property tax rate is 1.31 percent of value.

In addition to Illinois, states with median property tax rates of greater than 2 percent include New York, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Texas (which some may find surprising considering its reputation as a low tax state), Connecticut and Pennsylvania. On the low end is Hawaii at 0.31 percent.

California, at 1.12 percent, ranks 30th compared to other states. Tax seeking politicians and their special interest allies will likely consider this a failure. After all, thanks to them, California has the highest state sales tax, highest marginal income tax rates and, due to carbon charges, the highest gas levies in the nation. “Why shouldn’t we be number one in every tax category?” they are, no doubt, asking themselves.

California property tax rates are reasonable for one reason and one reason only – Proposition 13. Arguably the most famous of all initiatives in the history of the United States, Prop. 13 was the brainchild of the late Howard Jarvis. He led the effort to put the tax limiting measure on the ballot where it was approved by nearly two-thirds of California voters in 1978. By limiting annual property tax hikes to two percent per year, it made tax bills moderate and predictable.

Still, California property taxes are not low. Because of high property values, the median priced home now costs nearly $519,000 according to the California Association of Realtors. Thus, while our effective tax rate ranks 30th of the 50 states, when measuring property tax revenues per capita, we rank 14th. This belies government complaints that California is starved for property tax revenues.

Proposition 13 protections should not be taken for granted. Consider the cities of Stockton, Vallejo and San Bernardino which were driven into bankruptcy by officials who, like Chicago’s aldermen and mayor, agreed to inflated and unsustainable pension benefits for government workers. The difference is that Proposition 13’s tax limiting provisions prevent California cities and counties from arbitrarily increasing property taxes. At least for now.

Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association — California’s largest grass-roots taxpayer organization dedicated to the protection of Proposition 13 and the advancement of taxpayers’ rights.

An Apple a Day Keeps Nationalism Away

AppleTaking a bite out of crime took on a whole new meaning for the iPhone producing giant Apple, finding itself under pressure from the FBI to help with the San Bernardino terrorism investigation. The G-Men want Apple to digitally crack open a seized iPhone found in the possession of the Islamist terrorist murderer Syed Farook. The problem for the feds is that the software installed on the device wipes the phone clean if a passcode attempt is entered more than 10 times unsuccessfully. To change that, apple would have to provide new custom code (even if intended only for this one phone), thus potentially redefining the security capability of the system for all users permanently.

Advocates for cracking the phone have said that Apple should do it, claiming it’s their patriotic duty to help crack the phone, but this oversimplification misses the point that programming can be reverse engineered to allow other phones to be opened the same way. This raises questions about the responsibilities versus the rights of Apple from a product liability standpoint and for the future for information technology providers.

They say all publicity is good publicity, and for Apple an opportunity to use public attention to its advantage is rarely missed. That’s partly why they so quickly came forward, in an orchestrated fashion, with their statements refusing the request.

They gain the perception of solidarity with their customers by looking like they are standing up to government pressure.

The feedback they have received says a lot about the public distrust of government, given the growing concern over terrorism. Is this the healthy fear of government that Jefferson referenced when writing about preferring dangerous freedom, or is it a cynical backlash against an incurably ineffective government that is overstepping our liberties?

The real story here isn’t just about iPhone security or patriotism, it’s about the interplay between government officials and a large multinational corporation. It’s about a society at the intersection of conflicts of technology, privacy and government. It’s illustrative of the pressures building between consumers and citizens, governments and multinational corporations, and the public versus private split in a connected world.

The globalized economy is among the largest growing contradiction of capitalism, one that puts national borders and governments in a race for relevance against forces they can no longer fully control. Both governments and multinational corporations are becoming increasingly defined by exchange driven relationships.

In the best case scenario, multinationals see governments as generating taxes from the business operations within defined borders, a cost of doing business that generates revenue drawn from transactions through their shared spheres of influence. Governments theoretically provide security, stability, a functioning legal framework, important infrastructure, and most of all, access to well established markets. Without a sound marketplace and ready purchasers, multinationals would struggle to connect with the right consumers in a predictable way.

The friction comes not only between countries and companies, but between countries at odds with non-state actors, leaving companies in the middle. Events may arise that see a national government’s agenda directed against a rival state, and in so doing jeopardize the wellbeing of a resident company and its brand. Form the company’s perspective, it may no longer be possible to remain loyal to one country without jeopardizing their business position with others.

Consider that Apple is the most valuable brand in the world. At $536 billion the market cap dominates most other tech companies by a wide margin. With sales of $234 billion, its revenue producing activities are greater than the total national economy of New Zealand, or Slovakia, or Ecuador. Apple operates 481 retail stores across 18 different countries. Their online services are available to consumers in 39 different countries. It employs some 92,000 workers with an additional supply chain that creates economic value employing factory workers, technicians, developers, programmers, producers of every type, across every industry involved in the creation and management of its products. This is a staggering amount of positive human output from vendors and allies of Apple. But all this does not a national company make.

In the brave new world of the global economy, we are familiar with transnationalism, but we relegate its true impact to the subconscious. We are comforted in our belief that an American company is one that has historical ties to America.

But increasingly how can a company remain tied to any one country the way we that individually pledged citizens do? Loyalty is to production, profitability, investor return, and progress as arguably it should be. So why then do we personify companies, and what reason should we have to think they would behave any different than we would when pressured?

In the strictest sense a corporation is a legal person. But that is not at the same as a legal citizen. Well run corporations operate by evaluating economic factors and conduct cost benefit analysis devoid of emotionalism. Can it be said that Apple is an American Company? What does that really mean? Are they exercising rights or responding to governance that does not fully apply?

Is a company’s national identity found in its incorporation? Is its perceived nationality determined by their corporate headquarters geography? What of the employees it hires, when they are comprised from among several different countries? Does a majority of their workforce having citizenship in one country or another make them definitively loyal to one country over another?

“We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us” said Marshall McLuhan, as such the world that shapes us also defines us. The economics of globalization are inseparable from their influence on culture. The spirit of entrepreneurship has doubtlessly benefitted from interaction with international market opportunities, but what we have gained in innovation, lower costs, and greater prosperity, we have partly lost in identity, community, and fidelity to the intangibles that make us American’s. This question of nationalism, and therefore corporate loyalty is a multidirectional question that affects both companies and citizens.

The story of the Apple iPhone hack isn’t simple. It’s not about whether Apple is patriotic, it’s about whether corporate citizenship is a meaningful concept and whether it applies in a substantive way.

The nostalgia for a simple binary world of American Corporations and foreign corporations is fading. What does a Patriotic American company, grounded in American values and traditions even look like in a globalized world? How can we reasonably expect companies who represent shareholder interests to trust an anti-prosperity equality obsessed government with detailed functionality of products that define a brand?

The people are searching for answers, and the Apple issue is but one of many fissures in our collective understanding of ourselves. The “Make America Great Again” rhetoric, whatever you may think of its standard-bearer, the phrase encapsulates an indisputably brilliant insight reflecting this paradigm. It plays to a unifying concept running counter to meaningless, ever changing policy nuance and word bending. The empty promises of the old politics just won’t do anymore. It reflects a passion for a simpler time, a place we used to call home.

A country that was indivisible, united, and was one nation under God. That was the time of great things, when citizens were called forward to sacrifice their lives to protect their families at home and save the world, preserving a free future.

The greatest generation ran America’s companies transitioning from war production and leading the world, carrying American ideals forward as exemplars of our way of life. Such times have passed and the winds of change may be blowing ever counter to those ideals.

There remains though, deep with many of our people a longing for a connection to the ordered liberty that a limited and healthy government gave us. That government of the people, for the people, and by the people is under attack from many different directions.

Big government redistributionist, (self-describing as progressives) have pushed a perpetual entitlement debt encumbrance that will burden future generations with restrained growth and reduced opportunity. The left’s prescription has been and always will be for the necessity of freedom sacrifices. Excellence, wealth creation, and the risk taking leaders of the economy create naturally occurring inequalities. These (according to their thinking), must be slain to appease an insatiable appetite for fundamental fairness, a self-righteous construct of their own imaginations. As true believers, (even though they know a rising tide lifts all boats) they prefer to run such aground rather than allowing unequal ships to set sail. As Churchill said “Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery. We must continue to confront and defeat this ideology at home and abroad.

Whether Apple ultimately decides to assist the FBI with its investigation remains to be seen. Whether their decision ends up being right or wrong is becoming harder to know. But what is knowable is that the government that fails to protect us from terrorism fails not because of Apple, but because of its own lack of commitment to serious citizenship and preserving the integrity of our boarders. Apple didn’t give a special visa waiver to the terrorist black widow bride, and it doesn’t continue to allow thousands upon thousands of unknown’s to pour into our country daily.

Our national future may be slipping beyond our control. Empty promises lead to failed institutions. Runaway spending, the entitlement culture, empty pursuits of consumerism, these are the forces proliferating under weakened national identity. Multinational corporate complexity won’t fit into a neatly packaged red white and blue box anymore. Forces of our own creation have changed our people into consumers first, and citizens second, where there are markets first and nations as an afterthought.

One day when our country and all that it stood for is gone, a future generation may discover a time when prosperity was not confused with blatant consumerism. A time where the type of people leading companies and countries were leaders who “more than self their country loved, and mercy more than life!”

FBI Overreach in Pursuit of Apple Compliance

appleThe Apple-FBI saga playing out in a very public way is a classic case of overreach by a law enforcement agency. The FBI is putting extraordinary (and unprecedented) pressure on Apple following the horrific San Bernadino shootings. The U.S. government has filed a motion in court to compel Apple to re-engineer its operating system so that the FCC can investigate whether the shooter used his iPhone to communicate or plan with other potential co-conspirators.

Forcing Apple to crack open its own code might appeal to some people clamoring for a quick fix for the ever-increasing threat of terrorism in our country. Unfortunately, there are no quick fixes and the government’s move is an extraordinary threat to civil liberty. It also won’t solve the larger problem. A backdoor won’t stop terrorism, but it will weaken smartphone security systems with no likelihood of any real public benefit. The public, and policymakers, should support Apple’s public resistance to the FBI’s pressure tactics. The FBI’s proposal is dangerous for at least these four reasons:

It Won’t Stop Terrorism

The FBI wants Apple to build a post-incident forensic investigation tool to unpack what may have happened. But that will not actually deter or prevent terrorism. Terrorists will simply switch to using encrypted phones from other countries.

It Will Open Security Loopholes

If the government is allowed to force Apple to provide a backdoor to its operating system, it will weaken security for all U.S. consumers on a go-forward basis This will not force committed terrorists to think twice, but instead could make Apple’s operating system vulnerable to the hacking of consumer data on a large scale given the way this story is playing out publicly as the hacking community will be awaiting the court decision with baited breath.

It Sets A Terrible International Precedent

If the courts force this technology mandate on Apple, it’s also making this technology available to the rest of the world. That means rogue regimes and dictatorships interested in cracking down on the communications and online interests of its citizens will have access to the same security busting technology as the U.S. government. Limiting security on iPhones could put regular citizens, journalists or freedom fighters, who are often on the frontlines of fights against oppression, in peril.

It Encourages Malware

What the FBI is requesting is as akin to introducing a dangerous virus into Apple’s operating system. The FBI is demanding that Apple create malware by reformulating its software. Backdoor access not only creates access for the government but it creates a flaw that black hat hackers will attempt to exploit. There’s a good chance this will create unintended consequences for Apple and its operating system, which could create a myriad of issues for millions of iPhone users.

Terrorism is a serious problem and one we, as a country, must face head-on. But we need to approach the situation in a way that yields results without creating new vulnerabilities. Knee-jerk reactions, like the one we’re seeing from the FBI are certainly not the answer. They only harm civil liberties and create new problems down the line. We need to hold true to our societal principles, including a right to privacy or we risk handing the terrorists their first real victory by causing us to subvert our values for a gamble that evidence collected after this attack might prevent future attacks.

Tim Sparapani is founder of the consulting firm SPQR Strategies and senior policy counsel for CALinnovates. He was the first director of public policy at Facebook and was senior legislative counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union. He is on Twitter: @TimSparapani.

This piece was originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily

Apple headed for showdown over San Bernardino shooter’s phone

As reported by the Sacramento Bee:

Apple’s refusal to help the FBI access information from the retrieved cell phone of San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook sets up a long-brewing confrontation between Silicon Valley and members of Congress including Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California’s senior senator.

Apple’s rejection of a court order demanding the company unlock the phone represents a pivotal crossroads in a growing debate over digital privacy versus security and is likely to determine whether law enforcement can access data that increasingly is being encrypted.

The outcome of the battle also will have implications not only for the growing use of cell phones in business transactions but for the ability of foreign governments such as China to pry into the personal lives of their citizens, analysts of the dispute said. …

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Trump Ad Echoes Campaign for CA Prop. 187

Donald Trump political adDonald Trump’s first TV ad of the 2016 campaign isn’t airing in California, but the images are very familiar to Californians.

The ad begins with a warning about radical Islamic terrorism, with photos of the two San Bernardino shooters over a background of flashing emergency lights and a sheet-covered body. Next, the announcer promises that Trump will “stop illegal immigration,” and the video cuts to grainy black-and-white footage of immigrants racing on foot to cross the border.

That clip is actually from Morocco, but if you lived in California in 1994, you probably remember the original version of this ad, with its grainy black-and-white footage of immigrants racing on foot to cross the border, running between the cars on Interstate 5.

“They keep coming,” the announcer said somberly in that campaign ad for Gov. Pete Wilson’s re-election. “Two million illegal immigrants in California. The federal government won’t stop them at the border, yet requires us to pay billions to take care of them.”

Also on the ballot that year was Proposition 187, which would have cut off public benefits, including education and health care, to everyone in California who was residing in the country illegally.

Pete Wilson won that election with 55 percent of the vote, and Prop. 187 passed with 59 percent.

Later, Prop. 187 was thrown out by a federal court and Wilson was widely blamed by political experts for turning a generation of Latino voters away from the Republican Party. But that’s not proof that voters feel differently today than they did in 1994.

Will Trump’s message resonate with a majority of voters in California or repel them? Let’s crunch the numbers from the 1994 vote for Prop. 187 and see if we can find the answer.

We’ll start by asking, “Who voted for Prop. 187?” According to an average of exit polls, 40 percent of Democrats, 76 percent of Republicans and 61 percent of voters registered as independent or other.

At that time, statewide voter registration in California was 49 percent Democrat, 37 percent Republican, and 14 percent independent or other party. Today, the numbers are 43 percent Democrat, 28 percent Republican and 29 percent independent or other.

How would a vote on Prop. 187 come out today if the 1994 exit poll percentages were applied to California’s current voter registration by party?

It would pass, 56 percent to 44 percent, assuming equal turnout across the board. It’s a guessing game to predict which party’s voters would be more energized to turn out, and whether that would change the outcome. It probably wouldn’t.

Like the voter registration statistics, the demographics of California have changed.

The 1994 exit polls estimated the ethnic/racial composition of the electorate as 78 percent non-Hispanic white, 9 percent Latino, 7 percent black and 6 percent Asian.

Who voted for Prop. 187? Sixty-four percent of non-Hispanic whites, 52 percent of both blacks and Asians, and 27 percent of Latinos.

The Public Policy Institute of California projects that in 2016, 60 percent of the state’s likely voters will be white, 18 percent Latino, 6 percent black, 12 percent Asian, and 4 percent multi-racial or other.

If each group voted as it did in 1994, Prop 187 would pass by a margin of 53 percent to 43 percent. Adding the 4 percent of voters in the more recent multi-racial category to either side won’t change the result.

There’s one more question. Have attitudes and views in this state changed so dramatically since 1994 that exit polls from that election are now irrelevant and meaningless? Maybe. But a different conclusion can’t be ruled out:

Donald Trump could carry California.

San Bernardino Plans to Cut Pensions of Retired Police Officers

police-badgeSan Bernardino’s plan to exit bankruptcy, possibly next year, cuts the pensions of 23 retired police officers who receive an unusual supplement to their regular CalPERS pension.

The supplement paid through a private-sector firm, the Public Agency Retirement System, boosts pensions to the same amount now common among police and firefighters, a standard set by the Highway Patrol in a CalPERS-sponsored bill, Senate Bill 400 in 1999.

San Bernardino provided the PARS supplement from 2004 to 2008, when the 23 police officers retired, as a lower-cost way to be competitive in the job market before adopting the more expensive CalPERS formula that critics say is “unsustainable.”

“PARS plan retirees will be the only retired employees in the state of California to have their retirement compensation reduced through bankruptcy proceeding,” a member of the PARS retiree subcommittee, Robert Curtis, said in a court filing this month.

Curtis said unfairly reducing pensions up to 12 percent could result in personal bankruptcy, the loss of homes and health coverage, and other hardships. He asked for a city-provided attorney to represent the PARS retirees.

San Bernardino’s plan to exit bankruptcy would reject the PARS contracts, distribute a $1.8 million trust fund to the 23 retirees, and make no more payments to the supplement, which is said to be underfunded by about $3 million.

The city thought it had an agreement with the PARS retirees last month. But in a court filing last week, the city suggested the emergence of opposition since then could result in even less generous treatment of the PARS retirees.

New public pension supplements, like the one given the 23 San Bernardino police officers, are now banned under a pension reform pushed through Legislature by Gov. Brown three years ago.

San Bernardino can argue that phasing out the PARS supplement leaves the 23 retirees with the pension offered when they were hired, like other officers who retired before the supplement began in 2004.

But the same cannot be said of pensions from the California Public Employees Retirement System and other public retirement systems covered by the “California rule,” a series of state court decisions.

Public pensions can go up but not down — even if, as with SB 400, a pension increase is retroactive, immediately creating debt because the increase was not paid for by previous employer-employee contributions.

A San Bernardino disclosure statement filed Nov. 25 said the city had roughly $323 million in CalPERS pension unfunded liabilities when filing for bankruptcy in 2012.

“These unfunded actuarial liabilties were created primarily by the common council’s decisions to approve enhanced pension benefits to city employees in 2001 and 2007,” said the city filing.

Contributing factors, said the filing, were unfunded retroactive pension increases, heavy CalPERS investment losses during the financial crisis, and an increasing number of retirees with larger pensions and fewer active workers to help pay for them.

SBchart

Without cutting pensions, the San Bernardino plan is expected to produce a healthy general fund reserve of 15 percent or more through 2034, according to an update issued by city consultants early this month.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Meredith Jury said in October she wanted more discussion of rising pension costs, given the “media perception” that Stockton and Vallejo are in trouble (strongly denied by the city managers) because they failed to cut pensions in bankruptcy.

San Bernardino has deeper problems than the other two cities: a lower average income and weak local economy, years of factional political infighting, and mismanagement that led to a new finance director discovering the city was on the brink of not making payroll.

After an emergency bankruptcy filing in 2012, San Bernardino took the unprecedented step of skipping its payment to CalPERS for most of a fiscal year, running up a debt of $13.5 million and risking termination of its CalPERS contract.

Hoping at first to get aid from CalPERS by stretching out payments, what San Bernardino got was a legal battle and a mediated agreement to repay CalPERS with interest by June 2016, followed by a penalty bringing the total to $18 million.

Regular San Bernardino general fund payments to CalPERS increased from $6 million in fiscal 2000-1 to a projected $22.6 million this fiscal year, said the November city filing.

CalPERS employer rates for San Bernardino police and firefighters were 14 percent of pay in fiscal 2000-1, 39 percent of pay in fiscal 2012-13, and are projected to be 60 percent in fiscal 2019-20.

In other developments, City Manager Alan Parker, who clashed with Mayor Carey Davis, resigned effective Dec. 31. Last week Police Chief Jarrod Berguan was appointed interim manager until Mark Scott, Burbank city manager, takes the post Feb. 8.

Burrtec was selected in November to take over city waste management and retain full-time city employees, part of a strategy to cut costs by contracting for services. The city expects a one-time $5 million payment and annual savings of $2.8 million.

A federal appeals court last week upheld Judge Jury’s ruling that the city charter does not prevent contracting for fire services. Annexation of San Bernardino by the county fire district is expected to yield a $143 parcel tax and lower pension costs, netting $11 million a year.

At a hearing last week, Jury moved on from pensions and asked for an explanation of why the San Bernardino plan only gives some creditors 1 percent of what they are owed and does not raise taxes to pay more debt, the San Bernardino Sun reported.

Voters approved a 1-cent sales tax increase in Vallejo and a ¾-cent sales tax increase in Stockton. The San Bernardino plan would pay only about 1 percent of the amount owed on a $50 million pension obligation bond.

Among the major remaining opponents of the plan are the holder of the unsecured pension bond, EEPK, which is a subsidiary of Commerzbank of Germany, and the insurer of the bond, Ambac.

A request from the San Bernardino bondholders to be treated the same as pensions was rejected by Jury last May, and the ruling is being appealed. Mediation on Nov. 18 and 19 failed to produce a settlement.

Early this month in the Stockton bankruptcy, a federal appeals court rejected an appeal of a 1 percent payment on $30 million in unsecured bonds held by Franklin Templeton, which argued creditors were treated unfairly because pensions are untouched.

Jury predicted last week that the confirmation trial on the San Bernardino plan to exit bankruptcy will begin this spring or summer, the Sun reported. The fourth anniversary of the bankruptcy is Aug. 1.

Reporter Ed Mendel covered the Capitol in Sacramento for nearly three decades, most recently for the San Diego Union-Tribune. More stories are at Calpensions.com. Posted 28 Dec 15

This piece was originally published by CalPensions.com

After closing all schools, LAUSD finds threat not credible

As reported by the L.A. Daily News:

It was a tale of two cities, with New York officials shrugging and Los Angeles officials quaking.

The threat came via email to Los Angeles Unified School District board members. It named schools. It talked about bombs and guns. It came less than two weeks after San Bernardino — just about 60 miles east of downtown — was rocked by a massacre that killed 14 and was linked to international terrorism. It came less than two weeks after an American casualty in the Paris terrorist attack was buried in Downey.

It was enough.

LAUSD Superintendent Ramon Cortines decided to close more than 900 schools, an unparalleled act at the nation’s second largest district. More than 700,000 students were suddenly given the day off and many parents were given to juggling anxiety, both for the threat and their disrupted workday. …

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California’s Gun Sales Break Records

As reported by the Contra Costa Times:

Amid a new round of debate over gun control, Californians have already bought a record number of firearms in 2015, including major spikes in sales on Black Friday and the days after the San Bernardino attacks, an analysis of new federal and state data show.

Firearms purchases in California triggered 1.51 million federal background checks in the first 11 months of the year, breaking the previous annual record of 1.47 million set last year.

And December typically brings even more firearms purchases than any other month, whether for holiday gifts or getting ahead of new gun restrictions the new year might bring.

The gun dealers’ holiday season got off to a rousing start. State data requested by this newspaper show that sales transactions spiked on …

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