Sen. Feinstein likely to face challenge from the Left in 2018

Dianne FeinsteinJust hours after U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., announced she was running for re-election, progressives in the state called for a primary challenge to the long-serving Democrat.

For example, Bay Area Congressman Ro Khanna, D-Calif., reportedly asked Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., and former Clinton labor secretary Robert Reich to run against the incumbent, believing the party needs someone further to the left to occupy the seat.

“There are other voices in our state who are far more in touch with the values,” Khanna told Politico.

While Feinstein has been a fixture of California politics for decades, her softer tone toward President Trump and stances on issues like national security and encryption have caused her to lose favor with some in her party.
“She was totally out of touch when the whole debate happened on encryption,’’ Khanna added, according to Politico, referencing the dialogue that took place in the aftermath of the San Bernardino terror attack. “She didn’t even understand some of those issues.”

Furthermore, she faced jeers from a town hall crowd this summer after suggesting that President Trump could become a “good president” if he would “learn” and “change.”

“Look, this man is going to be president most likely for the rest of this term,” the senator said at San Francisco’s Commonwealth Club in August. “I just hope he has the ability to learn and to change and if he does he can be a good president. And that’s my hope.”

Following backlash, she was forced to clarify her remarks.

At 84, she is the oldest senator in the upper chamber and the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
As some reporters noted, the announcement is seen as bad news for L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti and Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, who were viewed as likely candidates if Feinstein decided to retire. De León in particular is thought to have been eyeing the seat, as he’s termed out of the state Senate next year.

The talks about a primary challenger come as Democrats nationally have been looking to revamp their image with fresh faces and “new blood” after Hillary Clinton’s defeat last November.

“Her policies are completely out of touch with California Democrats, and we think she’d be more at home in a Republican primary,” Corbin Trent of the Justice Democrats told Vox, expressing support for a primary challenger.

With California positioning itself as the center of the so-called “Resistance” against the Trump agenda in Washington, the stage could be set for a challenge to Feinstein from the left. But with support from top Democrats in the state like U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, along with a robust campaign infrastructure and strong name recognition, any effort to take her on will present a steep challenge.

This article was originally published by CalWatchdog.com

Study confirms the California pension crisis is hitting now

Debates about California’s pension crisis almost always focus on the big numbers – the hundreds of billions of dollars (and, by some estimates, more than $1 trillion) in unfunded liabilities that plague the public-pension funds. For instance, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System is only 68 percent funded – meaning it only has about two-thirds of the money needed to pay for the pension promises made to current and future retirees.

Calpers headquarters is seen in Sacramento, California, October 21, 2009. REUTERS/Max Whittaker

CalPERS and its union backers insist that there’s nothing to worry about, that future bull markets will provide enough returns to cover this taxpayer-backed debt. Pension reformers warn that cities will go bankrupt as pension payments consume larger chunks of municipal budgets. They also warn that pensioners are at risk if the shortfalls become too great. The fears are serious, but they mainly involve predictions about what will happen a decade or more into the future.

What about the here and now? California municipalities and school districts are facing larger bills from CalPERS and from the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) to pay for sharply rising retirement costs. Most of them can come up with the money right now, but that money is coming directly out of their operating budgets. That means that California taxpayers are paying more to fund the pension system, and getting fewer services in return.

The “bankruptcy” word garners attention. This column recently reported on Oroville, where the city’s finance director warned about possible bankruptcy during a recent hearing in Sacramento. The Salinas mayor also has been waving the bankruptcy flag. The b-word understandably gets news headlines, especially after the cities of Stockton, Vallejo and San Bernardino emerged from bankruptcies caused in large part by their pension situation.

But there’s a huge, current problem even for the bulk of California cities that are unlikely to face actual insolvency. They are instead facing something called “service insolvency.” It means they have enough money to pay their bills, but are not able to provide an adequate level of public service. Even the most financially fit cities are dealing with service cutbacks, layoffs and reductions in salaries to make up for the growing costs for retirees.

A new study from Stanford University’s prestigious Institute for Economic Policy Research has detailed the depth of this ongoing problem. For instance, the institute found that over the past 15 years, employer pension contributions have increased an incredible 400 percent. Over the same time, operating expenditures have grown by only 46 percent – and pensions now consume more than 11 percent of those budgets. That’s a tripling of pension costs since 2002. Contributions are expected to continue their dramatic increases.

“As pension funding amounts have increased, governments have reduced social, welfare and educational services, as well as ‘softer’ services, including libraries, recreation and community services,” according to the study, “Pension Math: Public Pension Spending and Service Crowd Out in California, 2003-2030” by former Democratic Assemblyman Joe Nation. In addition, “governments have reduced total salaries paid, which likely includes personnel reductions.”

These are not future projections but real-world consequences. The problem is particularly pronounced because “many state and local expenditures are mandated, protected by statute, or reflect essential services,” thus “leaving few options other than reductions in services that have traditionally been considered part of government’s core mission.” Many jurisdictions have raised taxes – although they never are referred to as “pension taxes” – to help make ends meet, but localities have a limited ability to grab revenue from residents.

The report’s case studies are particularly shocking. The Democratic-controlled Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown often talk about the need to help the state’s poorest citizens.Yet, the Stanford report makes the following point regarding Alameda County (home of Oakland): Pension costs now consume 13.4 percent of the county’s operating budget, up from 5.1 percent 15 years ago. These increases have “shifted up to $214 million in 2017-18 funds from other county expenditures to pensions,” which “has come mostly at the expense of public assistance, which declined from a 33.6 percent share of expenditures in 2002-03 to a 27 percent share in 2017-18.”

The problems are even more stark in Los Angeles County. As the study noted, pension costs have shifted approximately $1 billion from public-assistance programs including “in-home support services, cash assistance for immigrants, foster care, children and family services, workforce development and military and veterans’ affairs.”

It’s the same, basic story in all of the counties and cities analyzed by the report. For instance, “the pension share of Sacramento’s operating expenditures has increased over time, from 3.2 percent in 2002-03 to 12.5 percent in the current year.” That percentage has gone from 3 percent to 12 percent in Stockton, and from 3.1 percent to 15.2 percent in Vallejo.

These are current problems, not future projections. But the future isn’t looking any brighter. “The case studies demonstrate a marked increase in both employer pension contributions and unfunded pension liabilities over the past 15 years, and they reveal that in almost all cases that costs will continue to increase at least through 2030, even under the assumptions used by the plans’ governing bodies – assumptions that critics regard as optimistic,” Nation explained.

So, yes, the public-sector unions and pension reformers will continue to argue about when – or even if – the pension crisis will cause a wave of California bankruptcies. But overly generous pension promises are destroying public services and harming the poor right now.

Steven Greenhut is a contributing editor for the California Policy Center. He is Western region director for the R Street Institute. Write to him at sgreenhut@rstreet.org.

This piece was originally published by the California Policy Center.

Take a scalpel to $345 million in California’s stem-cell research waste

Stem Cell researchJust as good scientists are drawn to conclusions by solid data, the decision whether to spend another $345 million by California’s state-run stem-cell research project should be based on an objective analysis as to whether it would be cost-effective. A rigorous cost-benefit analysis is not only fiscally prudent, it avoids being drawn into the moral dilemmas posed by stem-cell research, especially with respect to cells from human embryos.

Created in 2004 with the passage of Proposition 71, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine was authorized to spend $3 billion in bond proceeds. But as is typical with most bonds, the interest payments would double the cost to $6 billion. CIRM has made $2.4 billion in grants and used $255 million for administration and prepaid interest — leaving $345 million remaining to disburse.

Should CIRM distribute the remaining $345 million (which, with interest, would amount to $690 million in repayment costs)? Should this remaining pool of funds be doled out?

To read the entire column from the Orange County Register, please click here.

How pension costs reduce government services

A think tank at Stanford University, known for bringing investment earnings forecasts into the public pension debate in California, issued a new study last week that looks at how rising pension costs are reducing government services.

The study found that while pension costs in a large sample of retirement systems increased an average of 400 percent during the last 15 years, the operating expenditures of the government employers only grew 46 percent.

Because of the “crowd out” from soaring pension costs, money for services have been reduced, including some “traditionally regarded part of government’s core mission,” said the study by Joe Nation of the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.

“As pension funding amounts have increased, governments have reduced social, welfare and educational services, as well as ‘softer’ services, including libraries, recreation, and community services,” said the study. “In some cases, governments have reduced total salaries paid, which likely includes personnel reductions.”

The Stanford institute drew national attention in 2010 when graduate students calculated state pension debt was much larger than reported. To discount future pension debt, they used earnings forecasts for “risk-free” bond rates, rather than stock-based investment portfolios.

Nation’s study uses both the actuarial assumptions baseline of the retirement systems and a bond-based alternative to project that pension costs, even without a big stock-market drop, will continue to crowd out funding for government services during the next decade.

“Employer contributions are projected to rise an additional 76% on average from 2017-18 to 2029-30 in the baseline projection and 117%, i.e., more than double, in the alternative projection,” said the study.

There have not been many attempts to show how rising pension costs reduce services. A report last year from a citizens committee appointed by Sonoma County supervisors found $269 million in “excess costs” in the county retirement system between 2006 and 2015.

With $10 million a year, said the committee, Sonoma County could fund 44 more deputy sheriffs or pay for 40 miles of road improvement. Some Sonoma officials said concern about pension costs played a role in voter rejection of a 1/4-cent sales tax for transportation.

A Los Angeles Times story last month said a big part of a tuition increase at the University of California is going for increasingly generous pensions, including $357,000 a year for a former president, Mark Yudof, who worked for UC only seven years.

David Crane, a Stanford lecturer ousted from the CalSTRS board a decade ago for questioning overly optimistic earnings forecasts, showed in April and July reports how rising retirement costs are “shortchanging students and teachers” despite large school revenue gains.

The new Stanford institute study has 14 separate case studies: the state, six local governments in CalPERS including formerly bankrupt Vallejo and Stockton, the independent Los Angeles system, three county systems, and three school districts in CalSTRS.

The study said their “pension contributions now consume on average 11.4% of all operating expenditures, more than three times their 3.9% share in 2002-03,” and by 2029-30 will consume 14 percent under the baseline, 17.5 percent under the alternative.

In contrast, a survey of the public retirement systems done for former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Public Employee Post-Employment Benefits Commission found pension contributions had been stable for more than a decade prior to the report in January 2008:

“Even though State pension contributions have risen in the past decade, they have remained at a relatively stable 3.5% to 4% of total General Fund revenues from the mid-1990s to present. The exception is 1999 to 2002 when contributions were significantly lowered.”

Table - stanford2

The Stanford institute’s case study of state spending on CalPERS and CalSTRS said $6 billion was shifted from other expenditures to pensions this fiscal year, much of the money apparently coming from social services and higher education.

The calculation was based on the growing cost of pensions during the last 15 years that, despite an expanding state budget, took 2.1 percent of operating expenditures in 2002-03 and an estimated 7.1 percent of operating expenditures this fiscal year.

The pension share of state operating expenditures in the baseline projection reaches 10.1 percent in 2029-30 and 11.4 percent in the alternative, crowding out an additional $5.2 billion or $7.4 billion.

“This expansion in pension funding requirements could be accommodated with additional 27% reductions in DSS and Higher Education expenditures (or reductions in other agencies and/or departments), or with slightly more than 4% across-the-board budget reductions,” said the study.

In an unrelated coincidence of numbers, the state got a $6 billion low-interest loan from its large cash-flow investment fund this year to double its annual payment to CalPERS, saving an estimated $11 billion over the next two decades by more quickly paying down debt.

The big loan, criticized by some who wanted more study, was bolstered late last month by a state Finance department analysis of the cash management, repayment plan, interest rates, investment earnings, and expected savings.

Annual state payments to CalPERS are expected to average about 2.2 percentage points less over the next two decades. Peak miscellaneous rates would drop from 38.4 percent of pay to 35.7 percent, peak Highway Patrol rates from 69 percent of pay to 63.9 percent.

“It is expected that any deviation from assumed CalPERS returns, or projected U.S. Treasury rates, will still result in significant net savings, and that any issues with funds’ ability to repay its share of the loan can be absorbed by the repayment schedule and effectively resolved,” said the Finance analysis given to the Legislature.

The California Public Employees Retirement System, like many public pensions, has not recovered from huge investment losses in the financial crisis a decade ago. The CalPERS state plans only have 65 percent of the projected assets needed to pay future pensions.

CalPERS estimates the $6 billion extra payment will increase the funding level of the state plans by 3 percentage points. The Finance analysis also said the extra payment would “partially buy down the impact” of a lower CalPERS discount rate.

Last December CalPERS lowered the investment earnings forecast used to discount future pension costs from 7.5 percent to 7 percent, triggering the fourth employer rate increase since 2012.

The annual valuations CalPERS gave local governments this fall reflect a drop of the discount rate from 7.5 percent to 7.35 percent next fiscal year, the first step in a three-year phase in.

number of cities unsuccessfully urged the CalPERS board last month to analyze two ways to cut pension costs: suspend cost-of-living adjustments and give current workers lower pensions for future work.

The Oroville finance director, Ruth Wright, told the CalPERS board: “We have been saying the bankruptcy word.” Salinas Mayor Joe Gunter created a stir by using the “bankruptcy word” at a city council meeting on Sept. 26 while talking about rising salaries and pension costs.

“How do we get this under control? How do we keep this city sustainable so we don’t have to file for bankruptcy?” Gunter asked.

Reporter Ed Mendel covered the Capitol in Sacramento for nearly three decades, most recently for the San Diego Union-Tribune. 

This article was originally published by Calpensions.com.

California school officials use President Trump to mask their own failures

LAUSD school busThe nuance – the back-and-forth – was lost on many Obama-haters who celebrated the president. But it was also lost on Trump-haters, including public education officials and union leaders in California. They’ve used President Trump’s non-decision as an opportunity to rally their faithful by terrorizing undocumented families in the state.

California schools Superintendent Tom Torlakson denounced the president’s message as a “mean-spirited, political attack on students who are working hard to succeed.” Randall Booker, superintendent of Piedmont Unified in the Bay Area, said the president had launched a “direct attack on California families and their children.” In a letter to the California congressional delegation, University of California President Janet Napolitano called the president’s non-decision “callous and misguided” and said it “unnecessarily punishes hundreds of thousands of bright young people.”

Within a week of the announcement, closer to home, the board of the Santa Ana Unified School District voted to condemn the president’s move – or rather “non-move,” if you like. The resolution claimed “great uncertainty exists amongst students about what specific immigration policies will be pursued by the federal government, and immigrants and other populations within the SAUSD community are fearful of policies that may result in deportation or forced registration based on immigration status, religion or beliefs.”

I was the sole vote against the resolution, in part because we already passed a resolution in December 2016 asking Congress to act on immigration reform. But I was especially opposed to the resolution because the “uncertainty” it highlights has been caused by the very people behind this and similar resolutions. They are certainly the cause – and, if you believe them, the cure – of communal anxiety.

But I also voted against the resolution because I see it for what it really is: a tactic to transform Washington politics into local anxiety. Panic is useful for teacher’s union leaders and school officials who hope to distract us from the real issue: their failure to educate out students.

Their failure is documented in state tests that show a majority of our school children cannot read or perform math at grade level. Despite that undeniable evidence, SAUSD graduates these students from high school even though they’re unprepared for college or career. That’s a fraud.

Instead of correcting this social injustice, my fellow board members voted last week to condemn the president. That same night, teachers union leaders took their three minutes at the public-comments dais to condemn me for documenting the catastrophic, decades-long slide in student performance.

There is a crisis haunting our community. But it’s not a crisis the president caused. It’s not a crisis emanating from distant Washington, DC. Indeed, in the last several days, the president has begun talking with congressional Democrats about a deal that would permanently resolve the problem of people covered by the DACA program.

No, the crisis that should concern everyone has its origin right here in Santa Ana, California. It has been created by teacher’s union leaders, their allies and school officials who fail to educate generations of our children – and who attempt to distract us by sowing terror.

Under the law, all children, including immigrant children, have the right to a quality public education. Any other conversation is at best a sideshow meant to keep our community down.

This commentary appeared first in the Orange County Register. Cecilia Iglesias is a Santa Ana Unified school board trustee, president of the Parent Union, and director of community relations and education at the California Policy Center in Tustin. Researcher Stuart Clay contributed to this commentary.

California is now a sanctuary state. Is non-citizen voting next?

Protesters chant during a May Day demonstration outside a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in San Francisco on Monday. Thousands are expected to take to the streets across the United States to participate in May Day demonstrations.

With Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature on Senate Bill 54, California now calls itself a sanctuary state. There is strong symbolism in the move, although California governments’ actions relative to individuals in the country illegally will change little in many parts of the state.

Brown’s demand that some 700 additional crimes be added to the list that federal agents could use in examining immigrants changed the bill author Sen. Kevin de León’s original intent to offer sanctuary to most immigrants except those who committed the most heinous crimes.

Brown went out of his way to write in his message accompanying his signature that the bill “strikes a balance that will protect public safety.”

Opponents of Brown’s action disagree. State senator Ted Gaines predicted that California would become “a giant magnet pulling every illegal alien criminal in the country to our state.”

For many supporters of the sanctuary state bill, SB 54 did not go far enough. They accepted the final version for the message it sent, the symbolism. But they want more. Where does the push for gaining more protections for illegal immigrants go now and how far will California voters allow it to go?

It is doubtful that the list of crimes that Brown insisted be added before he signed the bill would be reduced. Even a new governor will not do that. The public safety community still remains split over the effects of the bill.

Likely there will be a push for more empowerment for immigrants. Already illegal immigrants have been granted drivers licenses. Some local governments have set up taxpayer-funded legal aid to immigrants in the country without legal documents. San Francisco voters approved a measure last November to allow parents of children in the school system, whether the parents are legal citizens or not, to vote in school board elections. Now, California declares itself a sanctuary state.

Don’t be surprised if the next push is to grow the voting franchise for non-citizen immigrants.

Symbolic measures do matter in moving public affairs debates.

Joel Fox is editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily.

This article originally appeared on Fox and Hounds Daily.

Here’s How Las Vegas Should Respond to the Mandalay Bay Massacre

Photo courtesy disneybrent, flickr

As a Las Vegan, there’s only one appropriate American way to respond to the horrific Las Vegas shooting tragedy: Defiantly.

Last night, I had a dream. Consider this choreographed event if you will …

Nevada Day is coming up on October 31st. We should celebrate it with a big “Concert for Las Vegas” at the exact same outdoor venue on the Strip where the Route 91 Harvest concert was being held before Stephen Paddock opened fire from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort across the street.

We will mourn those whose lives were prematurely snuffed out senselessly, as well as honor the multitude of heroes who responded to the carnage.

Former Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman – the only politician, current or past, allowed anywhere near the stage – would open up the event at 4:00 pm with a martini toast, of course.

He’ll then introduce a group of local kids who will recite the Lord’s Prayer while everyone in the audience takes a knee. Why the “Our Father”? Because of the last four words: “Deliver us from evil.”

At the end, former Nevada college football player Colin Kaepernick would walk up the microphone and say, “Please rise, remove your hats, place your hand over your heart and join me in honoring America, our military service members and our law enforcement officers as we play the National Anthem.”

Hey, I said it was a dream, didn’t I?

At that point Mr. Las Vegas himself, Wayne Newton, walks on stage and sings the Star Spangled Banner.

As he gets near the end, the Las Vegas-based Thunderbirds flight demonstration team out of Nellis Air Force Base does a Strip flyover, ending above the concert crowd with their signature “Missing Man Formation.”

Then a non-stop jam session featuring celebrity musicians from every musical genre under the sun.  Even rap.

We’ll wind things down at 10 pm, when Sheriff Joe Lombardo will take the stage, be recognized and honored on behalf of all Metro police officers, and lead the crowd in a moment of silence starting at exactly 10:08 pm – the moment the shooter began his deadly assault.

At 10:09 pm a solo Scottish bagpipe performer will play “Amazing Grace.” When finished, members of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir will lead the crowd in singing “God Bless America.”

At that point, Las Vegans Penn & Teller take the stage. Penn directs everyone in the crowd to turn and face Mandalay Bay, look up to the 32nd floor, extend their middle finger, and on the count of three shout in unison, “#$%& you, Stephen Paddock!”

The nice Mormon folks, of course, will be warned to plug their ears first.

At that point an orchestra will begin playing a rousing rendition of John Phillip Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes Forever” as a fireworks display, the likes of which has never been seen before, is launched from the rooftop of the Mandalay Bay.

What a way to honor those fellow Americans we senselessly lost at the hands of an evil Merchant of Death … even if only for a few minutes in our imagination.

This article was originally published on muthstruths.com

Trump’s Incentive-Packed Tax Plan

 

Tax reformMuch as he did in his command performance before the United Nations, when he took back control of U.S. foreign policy, President Donald Trump has seized and energized the tax cut issue. Almost daily, he is pounding away on the themes of faster economic growth and more take-home pay, arguing that his plan will make America’s economy great again.

“Under my administration,” Trump just told the National Association of Manufacturers, “the era of economic surrender is over.”

The Trump plan would slash large- and small-business tax rates, double the standard deduction for middle-income folks, make the whole tax code simpler by eliminating unnecessary deductions, repeal the death tax and end the alternative minimum tax.

As usual, Democrats say the president’s plan is a handout to the rich. But in a recent speech in Indianapolis, Trump asked: Why can’t this be a bipartisan tax cut bill?

The argument that the U.S. is doomed to 2 percent or less growth — “secular stagnation” no matter what we do in terms of tax policy — is nonsense. Across-the-board tax cuts produced 5 percent annual growth during the JFK period. And after tax cuts were fully implemented in 1983, real growth averaged 4.6 percent for the remainder of Reagan’s presidency.

OK, let’s take one example from the Trump tax plan. Corporations today are taxed at 35 percent. That means, for every extra dollar of profit, a company keeps 65 cents. But the president has agreed on a 20 percent corporate tax rate. So, for the extra dollar earned, the private company would keep 80 cents.

On the individual side, the sleeper tax detail is the doubling of the standard deduction. This is a huge positive for young millennials (who don’t own much) and folks with no mortgages or homes. It puts more cash in worker’s pockets, simplifies the code and means that near 80 percent of taxpayers won’t have any deductions.

Slimming income-tax rates from seven to three brackets and cutting income-tax rates in general add even more supply-side incentives to the Trump package.

More money for rich people? Well, the not-rich family of four will be a lot better off with a $24,000 standard deduction. And the center-right Tax Foundation calculates that the bottom 80 percent of households get a lower tax burden, while the top 20 percent get a higher burden.

Click Here To Read The Full Article

Jerry Brown’s Delta tunnels would triple water rates

Delta TunnelsGov. Jerry Brown’s $17 billion California Delta WaterFix tunnels are in trouble over a threat to triple water costs and a federal probe of $84.8 million in illegal payments.

The board of the Fresno-based Westlands Water District, America’s largest water supplier, voted 7 to 1 on September 19 to pull out their $4.5 billion, 26 percent participation in the $17 billion WaterFix, which planned to build two 40-foot wide tunnels stretching for 35 miles to protect fish and divert water from the Sacramento River to the California aqueducts that service the San Joaquin Valley farmers and Southern California cities.

The move followed a July 17 presentation by Goldman Sachs to the Westlands Water District titled, “California WaterFix Financing Strategies.” Goldman apparently estimated that to finance the project, the average cost of water exports from the Delta could rise by $260 per acre foot by 2033. That is two to three times the price paid to the Bureau of Reclamation this year.

The U.S. Department of Interior Inspector General also issued an audit that found that during the Obama administration, federal Bureau of Reclamation financial assistance agreements with the State of California’s Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) did not “fully disclose to Congress and other stakeholders the $84.8 million cost of its participation in the BDCP efforts, including its subsidizing of the Federal Central Valley Project (CVP) water contractors’ share of BDCP costs.”

The Inspector General also found the Bureau of Reclamation was never reimbursed for $50 million of advanced payments and improperly paid $34.8 million of the contractors’ costs through June 30, 2016. The IG stated that the Bureau of Reclamation submitted “inaccurate annual Calfed Bay-Delta certified financial reports” and “the actions it took to fund BDCP planning costs were neither transparent nor consistent with the ‘beneficiaries pay’ principle underlying Reclamation Law.”

The IG referred the matter to the “Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget for resolution,” a step that may lead to a U.S. Justice Department civil or criminal referral.

The Associated Press obtained documents on September 18 that reveal that the legal language governing California’s biggest water project in half a century has been tweaked so that the tunnels are now just an “update,” rather than a new project. That way every one of the 29 water districts that receive water from the existing California State Water Project will be jointly responsible to pay for the tunnels.

A Harris Farms’ Executive Vice President and Westlands board member told AP that there is no guarantee that the project will consistently increase future water supplies and that “obligating hundreds of family farms” to pay for the tunnels doesn’t make economic sense.

The Los Angeles Metropolitan Water District will vote on continuing as a $4 billion WaterFix investor, and the Santa Clara Valley Water District will also vote on its $2 billion participation. It is estimated that the project will cost residential water users about $3 to $4 a month. But that assumes an on-time completion, and that the project performs as advertised.

This article was originally published by Brietbart.com/california

Nine Secrets For Getting Elected

Getting elected 2Suddenly it seems that everyone is ready to dive into politics. Neighbors, people at work, friends; they all want to get involved – so they call you, someone who’s won campaigns and held elected office. Maybe the thing that finally pushed them into the political arena was small, such as another $65 parking ticket.

Or maybe it’s something big, like the daily turmoil churning Washington, D.C. They tell you the national leadership is driving them crazy and they’re ready to do something about it. Or maybe they believe it’s not being nearly aggressive enough and they’re ready to do something about it.

But your time is limited and you can’t organize their campaign for them, raise money, make phone calls, or walk the precincts they’ll need to win. You barely have enough time to deal with your responsibilities.

I’m with you. And that’s why I wrote “Nine Secrets For Getting Elected.” It’s for all the people who’ve decided it’s time to get involved but aren’t sure how to start.

“Nine Secrets For Getting Elected” looks at the questions every politician – newbie or veteran – ultimately has to answer:

•      Can you raise the money needed to win?

•      Are you prepared to deal with the special interests, political factions, and gadflies?

•      Have you figured out why exactly you want to run and are you able to explain why constituents should give you their vote?

•      How do you gain the name recognition you need to win your race?

•      Do you know how many votes you need to win, and do you have a plan to get them?

“Nine Secrets For Getting Elected” chronicles 7½ years of wonderful and bizarre encounters as an elected official in the sun-splashed Hermosa Beach. It offers a rare chance to pull back the stage curtain and observe how political rabbits are smuggled into the government hat.

Everything in the book actually happened. Only the names have been changed.

The full manuscript for “Nine Secrets For Getting Elected” is available on Amazon in digital format, paperback or hard cover.

https://www.amazon.com/Nine-Secrets-Getting-Elected-Candidates/dp/1947368052/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1507430348&sr=8-1&keywords=kit+bobko

Patrick “Kit” Bobko was a two-term Mayor and City Councilman of Hermosa Beach and a Republican candidate for Congress in 2011. Kit is a graduate of the Air Force Academy and former Captain in the U.S. Air Force. He currently practices law in Los Angeles.