Jerry Brown Sold Out

Jerry Brown, the one-time progressive icon who palled around with paladins of the progressive movement like Noam Chomsky, has sold out.

Corporate sell-out might be the worst possible insult to any radical activist, but especially to a former bleeding-heart liberal who famously urged his father to spare the life of a man on death row. Yet, it’s an entirely accurate way to describe Brown’s political transformation from liberal icon to big-money politician. And, although he’s going to easily cruise to re-election in just a week or so, Brown’s victory, funded by the big corporations liberals love to hate, should serve as a devastating blow to the “ethos” (meaning “character” in Greek) of the progressive movement.

Just two decades ago, when Brown was campaigning for the White House, he swore off big money, or what he described as “the money-media system of control.”

“Having been so much a part of that system, I had not fully grasped the radical dominance of politics by the top one percent and the complicit role of the media,” Brown wrote in the early-1990s. “All this became clear once I swore off donations above $100 and refused to attend the sacred rite of end-less political fund raising with the wealthy.”

This year, Brown’s eschewed public events have relied exclusively on “the sacred rite of end-less political fund raising with the wealthy.” According to state campaign finance disclosure reports, Brown hauled in more than $17 million directly into his reelection campaign account. More than 500 contributions to Brown’s campaign are for $10,000 or more. Just 120 checks are valued at $100 or less. The average contribution to Brown’s campaign, $15,404, is owed largely to the max-out checks from a “who’s who” of the 1 percent.

There’s more than $300,000 from energy companies, including $54,400 from Chevron, $27,200 from Occidental Petroleum, $25,000 from Phillips 66 and $10,000 Exxon Mobil. Add $373,000 from gambling interests and another $300,000 from financial firms and insurance companies, both of which liberals criticize for profiting from the poor. Brown has cashed $27,200 checks from both Coke and Pepsi, or as progressives describe them, the “Big Soda” industry that causes diabetes.

At one time, Brown decried the “Disneyfication of existence.” Disney’s family-friendly entertainment was, in Brown’s view, all a ruse to “create a perfect, corporate reality” where the masses could be “infantilized and soothed.” But the last year alone, Brown has taken home $53,900 in political contributions from the Mickey Mouse evil-empire.

“Money buys media,” Brown used to say, “media buys credibility.” To buy even more media, Brown has turned to millions of dollars in unrestricted campaign contributions to his ballot measure campaign committee. Among the checks to Brown’s initiative committee: $100,000 from tobacco company Philip Morris, $25,000 from oil company Phillips 66, and $100,000 from corporate titan Wal-Mart.

Don’t worry, big labor hasn’t been excluded from the party. The California Teachers Association has supplied $3.7 million to the initiative account under Brown’s control — with $100,000 from the Teamsters and $125,000 from the International Union of Operating Engineers just for good measure.

Brown has spent that money on ads supporting Propositions 1 & 2, which conveniently feature Governor Jerry Brown. Although the ads don’t use the magic words “vote for Brown,” they help construct Brown’s myth of the “California comeback.” In Brown’s words, “When you have a large society you have to… have a certain mythology, you have to prop up the privilege.”

With his mythology as savior of the state intact, Brown has propped up the privilege by handing out special tax breaks to defense contractors, “green” car companies, and Hollywood studios, all while raising taxes on the poor and working class. During Brown’s tenure, California has led the nation in poverty – with 8.9 million people living in poverty. Nearly a quarter of the state lives in the poverty under the leadership of a man who once worked alongside Mother Teresa to help aid the poor.

It all must be quite devastating for true liberals like Noam Chomsky. Brown abandoned progressivism and went corporate. If Jerry can sell out, is there any hope for the progressive movement?

This piece was originally published on The Blaze.

James V. Lacy is the author of “Taxifornia: Liberals’ Laboratory to Bankrupt America.”

CA Dems Battle on Key Issues

 

 

Democrats fighting logoAlthough Democrats in California are eager to celebrate major victories next Tuesday, political fault lines lie under their party.

From anti-rape legislation, to education reform, to health costs and beyond, an anticipated left-leaning consensus has failed to materialize in the Golden State. The resulting controversies, disagreements and difficulties in politicking have thrown a suprising degree of doubt on Democrats’ broader election-year routine.

National Democrats had grown accustomed to a clear, reliable dividing line between identity politics and more general issues. The distinction helped strategists protest the status quo for allies with powerful institutional interests — while microtargeting voters based on criteria like race or ethnicity, sex or gender, age, immigrant status and sexual orientation.

But the new cleavages among California liberals have upset that carefully calibrated approach, leading to close scrutiny and, in some cases, close state elections.

Yes means yes

The phenomenon became hard to ignore when the national political media picked up on sharp disagreements over California’s new “yes means yes” legislation, which requires affirmative sexual consent at universities receiving state funding. Initially, the controversial bill seemed poised to become law without incident.

Outside the state, however, commentators influential among establishment liberals and progressives found themselves at loggerheads over the implications of its strict, invasive rules. As the Los Angeles Times observed, the scuffle — which drew in figures at publications ranging from Vox to The Nation to New York magazine — escalated into “a clash between those who believe the law is too intrusive and those who believe intrusiveness is the entire point.”

For Democrats, the political point has become clear: rather than helping cement a consensus among liberal voters about how to advance legislation concerning sex, “yes means yes” has given voters a stark reason to reassess what they want out of Democrats in that regard.

Given the significance Democrats have placed on the women’s vote in recent years, and the hope they have placed in rising generations of younger voters, the news is especially unwelcome.

Teachers unions

California also gave Democrats a preview of even broader and more fundamental divides on the left.

When Judge Rolf Treu handed down the Vergara ruling, which held public teacher tenure protections to unconstitutionally infringe students’ rights, Democrats split immediately. Some, like Gov. Jerry Brown, went to bat for the teachers unions.

Others, like U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, presented the ruling as a clarion call to improve educational opportunities for all students. Because many underperforming schools and teachers have been found in districts with substantial (or majority) minority populations, some Democrats recognized they could be forced into an uncomfortable choice.

On the one hand, Democrats wished to stand publicly for the interests of minority children and families. On the other, they wanted to defend teachers unions, which have long played a decisive role in Democrats’ political success, especially in California.

These broad political challenges quickly crystallized into a pitched battle over the tenure of one man: California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, a dedicated ally of the teachers unions. Torlakson’s incumbency has become a referendum on his staunch opposition to the Vergara decision.

His challenger, former charter schools executive Marshall Tuck, also is a Democrat — creating an intra-party race as close and bitter as any in recent memory, even though officially the post is non-partisan.

If Tuck wins, an even bigger confrontation will arise, pitting him against Brown and Attorney General Kamala Harris, his fellow Democrats, assuming both are re-elected. Brown handily is leading Republican challenger Neel Kashkari, who applauded the Vergara decision.

Harris filed the state’s appeal of Vergara on behalf of Brown. Her opponent is Republican Ronald Gold, who urged her not to appeal VergaraHe asked, “Is she with students, particularly inner city and economically disadvantaged ones, or is she with the teachers unions that support her campaign?”

Even after their expected victories next Tuesday, that’s the kind of headache California Democrats can do without.

Health insurance costs

Finally, the remarkable divides among California Democrats on Proposition 45 could establish another pattern of disagreement for liberals nationwide. It would give the California insurance commissioner the power of approval over changes in health-insurance rates — including over Covered California, the state’s implementation of Obamacare.

Prop. 45 is sponsored by the left-leaning Consumer Watchdog organization.

It comes down to this: Will Covered Care rates be set as part of the federal legislation, or by the state insurance commissioner because of Prop. 45?

The official Ballot Pamphlet from the California Secretary of State features the dueling liberal visions.

The Pro side insists: “Proposition 45 will lower healthcare costs by preventing health insurance companies from jacking up rates and passing on unreasonable costs to consumers.”

The Anti side retorts: “Prop. 45 creates even more expensive state bureaucracy, duplicating two other bureaucracies that oversee health insurance rates, causing costly confusion with other regulations and adding more red tape to the health care system.”

These political fault lines are just opening up, and are likely to get even larger.

This article was originally published on CalWatchdog.com

CHiPS pass around stolen nude photos of suspects

 

 

chipsCalifornia has come a long way from the innocent days of the “CHiPS” TV series of more than 30 years ago, starring Larry Wilcox and the heartthrob of teenage girls of that time, Eric Estrada, as state motorcycle cops.

Here’s latest, from the Contra-Costa Times:

MARTINEZ — The California Highway Patrol officer accused of stealing nude photos from a DUI suspect’s phone told investigators that he and his fellow officers have been trading such images for years, in a practice that stretches from its Los Angeles office to his own Dublin station, according to court documents obtained by this newspaper Friday.

CHP Officer Sean Harrington, 35, of Martinez, also confessed to stealing explicit photos from the cellphone of a second Contra Costa County DUI suspect in August and forwarding those images to at least two CHP colleagues. The five-year CHP veteran called it a “game” among officers, according to an Oct. 14 search warrant affidavit.

Harrington told investigators he had done the same thing to female arrestees a “half dozen times in the last several years,” according to the court records, which included leering text messages between Harrington and his Dublin CHP colleague, Officer Robert Hazelwood.

Contra Costa County prosecutors are investigating and say the conduct of the officers — none of whom has been charged so far — could compromise any criminal cases in which they are witnesses.

It also makes you wonder about the intelligence of the officers hired nowadays as CHiPS. Didn’t they know that, if they could leer into the digital lives of suspects, somebody eventually also could uncover their digital leering?

This also is another reason to cheer the recent decision by Apple to automatically encrypt all the communications on its devices — and to reject the FBI’s objections about the action supposedly compromising national security. Wired wrote:

At issue is the improved iPhone encryption built into iOS 8. For the first time, all the important data on your phone—photos, messages, contacts, reminders, call history—are encrypted by default. Nobody but you can access the iPhone’s contents, unless your passcode is compromised, something you can make nearly impossible by changing your settings to replace your four-digit PIN with an alphanumeric password.

Rather than welcome this sea change, which makes consumers more secure, top law enforcement officials, including US Attorney General Eric Holder and FBI director James Comey, are leading a charge to maintain the insecure status quo. They warn that without the ability to crack the security on seized smartphones, police will be hamstrung in critical investigations. John Escalante, chief of detectives for Chicago’s police department, predicts the iPhone will become “the phone of choice for the pedophile.”

But what if the perverts are in the government?

This article was originally published on CalWatchdog.com

Teachers Now Lack Faith In Common Core Too

One day after a poll showing that a plurality of parents split opinions on Common Core, another survey by Gallup shows that public school teachers are having major doubts about the new multi-state education standards as well.

According to Gallup’s survey, only 41 percent of teachers view Common Core very or somewhat positively.

That’s less than the 44 percent who view it very or somewhat negatively (16 percent have no opinion). After accounting for the margin of error, the poll essentially measures a tie between supporters and opponents of the standards.

That’s a bad sign for Common Core supporters, however, who have fought to defend the standards from a rising tide of opposition by emphasizing their popularity with professional educators. Those who know the most about the standards, they say, are the most enthusiastic about them. If teachers are no more upbeat on Common Core than parents, that claim holds less water.

Supporters can take heart, however, that in states that have progressed the farthest in implementing Common Core, teachers are more likely to view it favorably. In states where Common Core has been fully implemented already, 61 percent of teachers are favorable to it, and just 35 percent view it negatively.

Where the implementation is still a work in progress, only 37 percent think positively of the Core, while 43 percent dislike it. In states that have never used Common Core or have abandoned it, only 26 percent view the standards positively and 59 percent view them negatively.

Those numbers have supporters of the standards sticking to the narrative that familiarity with Common Core breeds support rather than contempt.

“Teachers who have implemented the standards like the standards,” Michael J. Petrilli, president of the pro–Core Thomas B. Fordham Institute, told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

However, it is also possible that Common Core’s stronger reception in states with full implementations simply reflects political realities, with states that are more enthusiastic for the standards also adopting them more swiftly.

Interestingly, opinions differ sharply based on teachers’ grade levels. Elementary school teachers are the most positive on Common Core, with 43 percent viewing it positively and 41 percent negatively. Among high school teachers, however, the situation is reversed, with only 39 percent happy with Common Core and a hefty 49 percent viewing it negatively.

Respondents to the poll had the opportunity to explain in a free response what they thought Common Core’s best and worst aspects were. While Common Core has been touted by supporters for allegedly being more rigorous or encouraging greater critical thinking, 56 percent of teachers said the best aspect of Common Core has nothing to do with its content at all. Instead, they say Common Core’s supreme feature is that it makes standards identical between states, something they view as good regardless of what the standards actually are.

On Common Core’s negative aspects, teachers were far more divided, with five different criticisms garnering between 10 and 15 percent of responses. Teachers faulted Common Core for being unrealistic, for being badly implemented, for placing too much emphasis on standardized tests, and for creating a “one size fits all” approach that hurts student achievement.

The survey was conducted from Aug. 11 through Sept. 7, and had a sample size of 854 public K-12 teachers. The margin of error was plus or minus 5 percentage points.

This piece was originally published at the Daily Caller News Foundation

CA’s $12.3 Billion in Proposed School Bonds: Borrowing vs. Reform

“As the result of California Courts refusing to uphold the language of the High Speed Rail bonds, the opponents of any bond proposal, at either the state or local level, need only point to High-Speed Rail to remind voters that promises in a voter approved bond proposal are meaningless and unenforceable.”

-  Jon Coupal, October 26, 2014, HJTA California Commentary

If that isn’t plain enough – here’s a restatement: California’s politicians can ask voters to approve bonds, announcing the funds will be used for a specific purpose, then they can turn around and do anything they want with the money. And while there’s been a lot of coverage and debate over big statewide bond votes, the real money is in the countless local bond issues that collectively now encumber California’s taxpayers with well over $250 billion in debt.

Over the past few weeks we’ve tried to point out that local tax increases - 166 of them on the November 4th ballot at last count, tend to be calibrated to raise an amount of new tax revenue that, in too many cases, are suspiciously equal to the amount that pension contributions are going to be raised over the next few years. For three detailed examples of how local tax increases will roughly equal the impending increases to required pension contributions, read about StantonPalo Alto and Watsonville‘s local tax proposals. It is impossible to analyze them all.

As taxes increase, money remains fungible. More money, more options. They can say it’s for anything they want. And apparently, bonds are no better.

At last count, there are 118 local bond measures on the November ballot. And not including three school districts in Fresno County for which the researchers at CalTax are “awaiting more information,” these bonds, collectively, propose $12.4 billion in new debt for California taxpayers. All but six of these bond proposals (representing $112 million) are for schools. Refer to the list from CalTax to read a summary of what each of these bonds are for – “school improvements,” “replace leaky roofs,” “repair restrooms,” “repair gas/sewer lines,” “upgrade wiring,” “renovate classrooms,” “make repairs.”

To be fair, there are plenty of examples of new capital investment, “construct a new high school,” for example, but they represent a small fraction of the stated intents. On November 4th, Californians are being asked to borrow another $12.3 billion to shore up their public school system. They are being asked to pile another $12.3 billion onto over $250 billion of existing local government debt, along with additional hundreds of billions in unfunded retirement obligations for state and local government workers. They are being asked to borrow another $12.3 billion in order to do deferred maintenance. We are borrowing money to fix leaky roofs and repair restrooms and sewers. This is a scandal, because for the past 2-3 decades, California’s educational system has been ran for the benefit of unionized educators and unionized construction contractors who work in league with financial firms whose sales tactics and terms of lending would make sharks on Wall Street blush. These special interests have wasted taxpayers money and wasted the educations of millions of children. Their solution? Ask for more money.

Nobody should suggest that California’s public schools don’t require investment and upgrades. But before borrowing more money on the shoulders of taxpayers, why aren’t alternatives considered? Why aren’t educators clamoring for reforms that would cut back on the ratio of administrators to teachers? Why aren’t they admitting that project labor agreements raise the cost to taxpayers for all capital investments and upgrades, and doing something about it? If their primary motivation is the interests of students, why aren’t they supporting the Vergara ruling that, if enforced, will improve the quality of teachers in the classroom at no additional cost? Why aren’t they embracing charter schools, institutions whose survival is tied to their ability to produce superior educational outcomes for far less money? Why don’t they question more of these “upgrade” projects? Is it absolutely necessary to carpet every field in artificial turf, a solution that is not only expensive but causes far more injuries to student athletes? Is it necessary to spend tens of millions per school on solar power systems? Does every high school really need a new theater, or science lab? Or do they just need fewer administrators, and better teachers?

And to acknowledge the biggest, sickest elephant in the room – that massive, teetering colossus called CalSTRS, should teachers, who only spend 180 days per year actually teaching, really be entitled to pensions that equal 75% of their final salary after only 30 years, in exchange for salary withholding that barely exceeds what private employees pay into Social Security? Thanks to unreformed pensions, how many billions in school maintenance money ended up getting invested by CalSTRS in Mumbai, Shanghai, Jakarta, or other business-friendly regions?

How much money would be saved if all these tough reforms were enacted? More importantly, how much would we improve the ability of our public schools to educate the next generation of Californians? Would we still have to borrow another $12.3 billion?

Here’s an excerpt from an online post promoting one of California’s local school bond measures: “It will help student academic performance, along with ensuring our property values. If you believe that strong schools and strong communities go hand in hand, please vote…”

Unfortunately, such promises are meaningless and unenforceable. The debt is forever.

*   *   *

Ed Ring is the executive director of the California Policy Center.

CA is NOT the highest taxed state

You’ve probably heard California has the nation’s highest taxes.

Wrong.

We’re only third-worst, behind even worse New York and New Jersey, according to a new survey by the Tax Foundation’s new 2015 State Business Tax Climate Index.

Broken down, California ranks 50th — worst — on the income tax, for which we are gouged not just to the bone, but into the bone and down to the marrow.

Corporate taxes — 34th best — and salex taxes — 42nd best — only are a little better.

We’re somewhat better –14th best for both — on the unemployment insurance tax and the property tax — the latter due to the much-reviled Proposition 13, the 1978 tax cut. I hear rumors Democrats and their government-employee union controllers are going to move big time to gut Prop. 13 in the 2016 election. We’ll see. The defenders of Prop. 13 also have resources to keep California from going all the way to North Korea.

The Index noted:

“Anecdotes about the impact of state tax systems on business investment are plentiful. In Illinois early last decade, hundreds of millions of dollars of capital investments were delayed when then-Governor Rod Blagojevich proposed a hefty gross receipts tax. Only when the legislature resoundingly defeated the bill did the investment resume. In 2005, California-based Intel decided to build a multi-billion dollar chip-making facility in Arizona due to its favorable corporate income tax system. In 2010, Northrup Grumman chose to move its headquarters to Virginia over Maryland, citing the better business tax climate. Anecdotes such as these reinforce what we know from economic theory: taxes matter to businesses, and those places with the most competitive tax systems will reap the benefits of business-friendly tax climates.”

Blagojevich was convicted of extortion and currently is serving time at the Federal Correction Institution in Englewood. At least in that case taxpayers know where their stolen tax money ended up.

This piece was originally published at CalWatchdog.com

See Tax Increases, Think Pensions

Despite the ridicule heaped on bonuses offered public workers for simply doing their jobs – just one prime example: a librarian earning a bonus for helping members of the public find books – the California Retirement System (CalPERS) board last week made sure the bonuses added to salaries will be part of pension calculations.

While the exact cost to taxpayers is uncertain, the price tag for pensions because of this move is certain to go up. State and local governments have contributed four times to CalPERS what they contributed just a decade ago.

Local budgets are being eaten away by the pension and health care obligations. In the City of Los Angeles, for example, pensions costs took 3% of the city budget in 2002-3, it was eating 18% of the budget in 2012-13.

Or as an official with the Wall Street rating service Fitch was quoted in a recent Los Angeles Times article concerning the 99 new bonuses that increase pensions, “Cities and taxpayers will undeniably face higher costs. Pensions are taking a bigger share of the pie, leaving less money for core services.”

So, what’s the magic formula officials and activists look to cover these increased costs? Taxes.

They’ll never say that, of course. They’ll argue that new tax money is needed for direct services for residents. But, the bonuses, which appear less than deserved, and their inclusion in the pension calculations, shows there is little regard for taxpayers.

As the Los Angeles Times article noted, “With $300 billion in investments, CalPERS estimates it still needs an additional $100 billion from taxpayers to deliver on its promised pensions to 1.7 million public workers and retirees. That amount would be enough to operate the 23-campus California State University system for 16 years.”

Expect a push for more taxes.

As reported here last week by David Kline of the California Taxpayers Association, 53 jurisdictions are seeking sales tax increases and 40 are asking voters to approve parcel taxes. When you see tax increases on the ballot think pension costs. Money in government budgets is fungible to some extent. If you cover specific agency costs with a tax increase, that frees up general fund money for other items, including pensions.

There are groups of liberal activists who are spending time right now trying to figure out how they can convince voters to agree to a number of tax increases all at once on the 2016 ballot – an extension of Proposition 30, a property tax increase for commercial property, an oil severance tax, a cigarette tax and who knows what else.

If and when you see those tax increases on the ballot, think pensions.

Until there are reforms put in place in the pension system so that taxpayers are not forced to cover someone else’s unreasonable pension costs – like costs tied to bonuses that are part of the job description — while struggling to save for their own retirement, the argument for more tax revenue is impossible to justify.

A sidebar to the Times article listed some of the 99 bonuses that will boost pensions. You can find them here.

This article was originally published on Fox and Hounds Daily.

Could the High Speed Rail Ruling Imperil the Water Bond?

Proposition 1, the $7 billion water bond, has broad support from both Democrats and Republicans.  Unlike the previous version of the bond – which had an $11 billion cost – the updated version has less pork and a few more promises for actual water storage.  While HJTA opposed the previous version (and indeed we signed the ballot argument against it) we have taken no position on Proposition 1.  Our neutrality is compelled, at least in part, by the recognition that California does indeed have legitimate needs for improvements in our statewide water infrastructure.

But now we have a new concern.

The California Supreme Court has recently declined to hear an appeal in one of the many lawsuits challenging the California’s High Speed Rail project.  This is a case we originally won in the trial court which blocked the issuance of the High Speed Rail bonds because the project bore no relationship to the project that was promised to the voters back in 2008.  But in a ruling that stunned taxpayers, the Court of Appeal reversed the trial court which correctly found that the Constitution expressly requires the state prove that issuance of the bonds is “necessary or desirable.”   This constitutional mandate ensures that government lives up to the promises it makes to the voters.

A proper interpretation of the California Constitution would require voter approval of, not just the amount of the debt, but specification of the project to be funded.  In our lawsuit, we argued that the current HSR plan so deviates from the proposal presented to voters in 2008 that voter approval of the former proposal should not be deemed approval of today’s plan.  We presented evidence showing that today’s plan is not the true high-speed train that voters were promised.  The HSR bond measure promised that the project would be built with federal and private matching funds.  But today’s plan calls for a system that is not truly “high speed” and is funded primarily by California taxpayers.  (And, by the way, the projected costs have now tripled).

So how does the high court’s inaction impact today’s Proposition 1, the Water Bond?  The fact that the judiciary will not uphold expressed requirements in a bond proposal raises the specter that, no matter what a bond proposal promises about what will be built with the bond proceeds, those promises are meaningless.  In other words, when California voters are asked to approve a bond, are they just approving debt for any purpose at all?  This is the very definition of a blank check.

As the result of California Courts refusing to uphold the language of the High Speed Rail bonds, the opponents of any bond proposal, at either the state or local level, need only point to High-Speed Rail to remind voters that promises in a voter approved bond proposal are meaningless and unenforceable.

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.

This article originally appeared on HJTA.org

Prop. 48: Pechanga Opposes Expansion of Tribal Gaming

 

 

Pechanga logoA Native American tribe is spending big bucks to limit the expansion of tribal gaming in California.

The Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians recently contributed $1 million to oppose Proposition 48, a controversial compact that would pave the way for off-reservation casinos in California. In the tribe’s view, the state’s agreement with the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians would set a “bad precedent” and violate the spirit of Proposition 1A, the measure approved by voters in 2000 that authorized gaming on reservation land.

“Proposition 48 would allow a Nevada gambling company to use a rural tribe to build a casino on off-reservation land,” Mark Macarro, the tribal chairman of the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians, tells voters in a new ad. “48 would set a bad precedent — allowing off-reservation casinos.”

The tribe’s opposition to Prop. 48 is notable in that it has no vested financial interest in the outcome. Tribes with nearby casinos commonly use ballot measures and legislative approval of compacts as another front in their battle for the $7 billion tribal gaming market. In this case, Pechanga’s popular resort and casino in Temecula would be unaffected by the North Fork’s plans to build a casino in the Central Valley.

Its opposition to Prop. 48 seems motivated by an interest in preserving voter support for a system that has allowed the tribes to lift themselves out of poverty.

Referendum of controversial North Fork compact

In 2013, the Legislature narrowly approved Assembly Bill 277, a gaming compact that authorized the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians to build and operate a casino with up to 2,000-slot machines. The 305-acre site is conveniently located off Highway 99 north of Fresno — nearly 40 miles away from the North Fork reservation.

That location would give the North Fork tribe a competitive advantage over the Table Mountain Rancheria tribe, which “played by the rules” and built a smaller casino on its reservation lands.

No on Prop 48

“Years ago, California Indian Tribes asked voters to approve limited casino gaming on Indian reservation land,” opponents of Prop. 48 write in their ballot argument. “While most tribes played by the rules, building on their original reservation land and respecting the voters’ wishes, other tribes are looking to break these rules and build casino projects in urban areas across California.”

Last week, the Table Mountain Rancheria, along with Pechanga, contributed $1 million to the No on 48 campaign, according to Capitol Weekly. In all, Table Mountain Rancheria has spent more than $10 million to oppose Prop. 48.

Prop. 48 bankrolled by Station Casinos

The North Fork tribe says that the land located off Highway 99 was associated with the tribe centuries ago.

“We’re getting back to the historical land that served as a reservation for our tribe in the 1850s,” Charles Banks-Altekruse, a spokesman for the tribe, told the Associated Press.

In addition to its controversial site, the compact would exempt the project from the state’s environmental regulations and benefit its Las Vegas casino operator, Station Casinos. According to the Los Angeles Times, the Las Vegas-based casino company would “reap 30 percent of the profit.”

Unsurprisingly, Station Casinos has bankrolled the “Yes on 48″ campaign. After the North Fork tribe, Station Casinos is the biggest contributor to the Yes on 48 campaign. According to state campaign finance disclosure reports, the Las Vegas-based casino giant has spent $375,000 to convince voters to approve the compact.

“Prop. 48 is not about Indian gaming,” Macarro said in a statement to the Press-Enterprise. “It is about a Las Vegas casino corporation making an end run to locate a casino in an urban area.”

Prop. 48: “Transforming California into Nevada”

Station Casinos’ support for the measure validates criticism that the North Fork compact could pave the way for Nevada-style gaming in California.

“Now, the North Fork tribe aims to change the face of tribal gaming, effectively transforming California into Nevada, where casino gambling is permitted practically anywhere and everywhere,” the Orange County Register wrote in its editorial against Prop. 48. “If that is what is to become of California, the issue should be put clearly before the state’s electorate and not by a ballot measure that does not inform voters that they are being asked, effectively, to ratify the precedent of off-reservation tribal casinos.”

If approved, the compact would provide the state with a one-time payment of between $16 million to $35 million, followed by $10 million annually over the next 20 years. The compact also requires the North Fork tribe to contribute less than 4 percent of slot revenues to the Wiyot Tribe, which has agreed not to build a casino on its nearby land.

Prop 48: Ballot Summary

A “Yes” vote approves, and a “No” vote rejects, tribal gaming compacts between the state and the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians and the Wiyot Tribe. Fiscal Impact: One-time payments ($16 million to $35 million) and for 20 years annual payments ($10 million) from Indian tribes to state and local governments to address costs related to the operation of a new casino.

 

CARB Must Listen to the People about Hidden Gas Tax

Last week, I was proud to deliver 115,000 signed petitions on behalf of my fellow Californians on the controversial “fuels under the cap” regulation at the California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) Diamond Bar board meeting.

I was joined by dozens of community and educational leaders, elected officials, business organizations and concerned drivers as we gathered outside the California Air Resources Board (CARB) meeting in Diamond Bar to urge the Board to listen to the voices of its constituents and delay its regulation scheduled to take effect next January.  Along with the petitions to CARB, our group urged the Board to place its contentious “fuels under the cap” regulation on a public meeting agenda to provide an opportunity for the public to be informed and heard on the negative impacts of higher fuel prices of 16 to 76 cents per gallon come January.

Higher consumer fuel prices will reduce other spending by consumers and result in the net loss of 18,000 jobs and nearly $3 billion in economic output in 2015 alone, according to an economic analysis by Encina Advisors. Independent experts and CARB’s own advisors have raised concerns that the current design flaws in California’s cap-and-trade market could result in much higher allowance prices, in which case economic losses would balloon to 66,000 jobs and nearly $11 billion in economic activity. These projected losses take into account spending of allowance revenue by the State of California, which will grow to several billion dollars once the “hidden gas tax” takes effect.

According to the analysis, lower-income families will be hit hardest by this tax increase because they spend as much as 38 percent more as a percentage of their income on gas, and because they work in the retail and service sectors that will see the highest number of job losses.

Small businesses will be harmed twice by this policy.   Not only will it hike the cost of doing business, which hurts jobs and business growth, it will also take more money from California consumers at the pump that they won’t be able to spend at retail shops, restaurants and elsewhere. Instead of infusing local economies, these dollars will flow to Sacramento to support billions in more government spending on items such as high-speed rail that result in little or delayed economic activity, meaning the “hidden gas tax” will result in a net economic loss to California communities.

CARB members may not be elected, but they still have a duty to serve the public’s interest to meet these goals in responsible ways that do not harm our communities or our economy.

We commend what we are observing to be an increasing bi-partisan trend in Sacramento for more careful scrutiny of the economic impact of regulations and the effectiveness of state agencies. With CARB meeting in the coming months, they should hold this gas tax to same important standard.   There’s still time to act. Let’s hope CARB members do the right thing and listen to the people in an effort to protect and save California jobs.

John Kabatck is California Executive Director, National Federation of Independent Business

The article was originally published on Fox and Hounds Daily