County payroll hikes stay ahead of population increases

Government is out of control—even in small counties. “Sierra County, tucked in the foothills once traversed by the Donner Party along the Nevada border, has seen its population dip 7 percent since 2010 to 3,000 souls.

Meantime, though, the county’s payroll increased from $7 million in 2013 to $8 million in 2014, while the county’s top wage earner, former Sheriff John Evans, saw his overall pay package increase 13 percent.” This is mainly because of mandates and regulations from Sacramento. The people of Sierra are frugal fiscally responsible folks. Sacrament is a spend and tax place—spend what you want, they raise taxes to pay for it.

In 2014 the GOP gave the people of California an Obama supporter as its candidate. The folks had no choice but NOT to voice—which is why at 42%, the November, 2014 turnout for at an historic low. Just as the 25% for the June primary was an historic low.

The time has come for the Republican Party to act like Republicans. Until then even the small counties will be harmed. The Democrat “moderates” vote like socialists and the Progressives vote like Bernie Sanders. Not much of a choice.

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County payroll hikes stay ahead of population increases

Steve Miller, CalWatchdog, 1/30/16

Sierra County, tucked in the foothills once traversed by the Donner Party along the Nevada border, has seen its population dip 7 percent since 2010 to 3,000 souls.

Meantime, though, the county’s payroll increased from $7 million in 2013 to $8 million in 2014, while the county’s top wage earner, former Sheriff John Evans, saw his overall pay package increase 13 percent.

Inyo County’s population dropped a modest seven-tenths of a percent, and managed to keep its payroll package total to a minor jump, from $35.3 million in 2013 to $36.6 million in 2014.

But the price of mental health apparently increased in Inyo; Jeanette Schneider, a county psychiatrist, received an 18 percent hike in her employment package in a year, from $164,000 to $195,000.

In isolated pockets around the state, government salaries, with their accompanying benefits, continue to go up.

Even in areas in which there seems little need due to declining population, politicians like Sierra County’s Evans, who worked first as a reserve officer and moved up the ranks, are rewarded with pay increases that rival those in the private sector.

The state still stings from the public salary debacle in Bell, where in 2010 it was revealed that city officials were taking outsized salaries. The discovery led to a 12-year prison sentence for former City Manager Robert Rizzo.

At publicpay.ca.gov, the public can see who is getting paid what at all levels of government

Today, anyone can check salaries in a number of cities, counties and schools via State Controller Betty Yee’s payroll database. Go to publicpay.ca.gov or transparentcalifornia.com, an endeavor hatched by the Nevada Policy Research Institute. The latter is used for this report.

Numerous smaller counties have refused to produce the requested information. Most of the refusals have come from smaller counties losing population, including Trinity, Alpine and Modoc counties.

The state’s population increased 4.2 percent between 2010 and 2014, according to Census Bureau data. Few municipalities lost people, making Sierra County an outlier.

In cities with modest growth, though, double-digit raises have been handed out freely.

San Benito County experienced growth of 4.5 percent between 2010 and 2014. Between 2011 and 2014, the county’s payroll increased 10 percent. The county’s highest paid employee is District Attorney Candice Hooper, whose compensation went from $190,870 in 2011 to $233,061 in 2014, a 22 percent raise.

Then there’s Kern County, which grew 5 percent while County Administrative Officer John Nilon received an $83,210 raise between 2011 and 2014.

The county pay increases have wide variances, and in some cases, both population and overall payroll has remained the same.

The population of Nevada County, for example, has remained the same for five years at around 98,000. Its payroll, at $68 million, has also stayed the same.

“We have wide differences in the state’s 58 counties, and the number of people and the pay scale will vary just as widely,” said Greg Fishman, a spokesman for the California State Association of Counties. He ventured that some of the larger increases in pay are being made up after some years of zero raises, or “catching up.”

The pay of county administrators like Nilon has always been high, and some might say outsized when considering the number of people in a county.

In a number of counties, the boards of supervisors have set higher pay rates for both administrators and elected positions such as sheriff or tax assessor.

Sometimes, pay cuts don’t take.

In El Dorado County, the Board of Supervisors in 2013 vowed to cut the pay of some top positions in the government, including the auditor-controller and the treasurer-tax collector.

The culprit was pay package add-ons, the board said.

“They just started getting more and more and more,” Board of Supervisors Chairman Ron Briggs told a reporter. The changes were to go into effect last year. Current total payroll is not yet available, but the episode typifies how compensation can get out of control, especially when collective bargaining contracts are in play.

Epitomizing the “more and more” concept are three physicians in Kern County, all of whom earn over $1 million in total compensation.

But despite calls for reform of the financially-troubled Kern Medical Center, where the three are employed, there has been little reform of the generous publicly-funded pay practices.

In December 2013, county leaders said the salaries at the medical center needed attention.

“We need to have a payroll review over there,” Kern County Supervisor Mick Gleason told a local newspaper. “Cost control has to be paramount in everything we do over there.”

His colleague, Supervisor Leticia Perez, added that “we are making dramatic and significant changes at KMC — to better the organization. It’s good to revisit these contracts.”

In 2014, one of the three physicians, Andrea Snow, saw no boost to her regular salary of $498,429 or the cost of her benefits. Instead, her “other pay,” which can include allowances and bonuses, was boosted by $300,000, a 29 percent compensation increase.

Iraqi Refugee Arrested in CA on Terror Charge

Terror suspect

Aws Mohammed Younis Al-Jayab — Facebook

Two Iraqi refugees, one in California, have been arrested on joint terrorism-related charges.

“From his pictures on Facebook, Aws Mohammed Younis Al-Jayab looks like any other millennial with a wardrobe of Nike sneakers, Ray-Ban sunglasses and flannel shirts. But federal officials say the 23-year-old was living a double life — one as a refugee starting a new life in America and another as a young man anxious to return to the Middle East to fight in the Syrian Civil War,” the Daily Mail reported. “The Iraqi-born Palestinian man was arrested Thursday in Sacramento, California on charges he was plotting to travel to Syria to join the al-Nusra Front terrorist organization.”

Under the radar

As the New York Times reported, Jayab’s alleged partner in the scheme, 24-year-old Omar Faraj Saeed Al Hardan, “was arrested in Houston and charged with three counts of attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State, according to a statement from the Office of the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Texas.”

“Prosecutors said that Mr. Jayab entered the United States from Syria as a refugee in October 2012, living in Arizona and Wisconsin before settling in Sacramento. Mr. Hardan, who lives in Houston, entered the United States as a refugee in 2009 and was granted legal permanent residence status in 2011, according to law enforcement.”

“Prosecutors allege Al Hardan was coordinating efforts with another Iraqi refugee living in California, Aws Mohammed Younis Al-Jayab,” the Associated Press reported. “The two men communicated through Facebook messenger from April 2013 to October 2014 and talked about getting weapons training and eventually sneaking into Syria to fight alongside the terrorist group,” according to prosecution witness Department of Homeland Security Special Agent Herman Wittliff.

In custody

While Al Hardan’s family has been evicted from their apartment, “Al-Jayab remains jailed in Sacramento, California,” the AP added. “Authorities say Al-Jayab fought twice in Syria, including with a group later affiliated with the Islamic State between November 2013 and January 2014.”

Hardan was denied bond by U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes. Based on details relayed by Wittliff, he ruled “there would be a serious risk that the Iraqi refugee would flee if released from federal custody,” reported Fox News. According to the channel, Wittliff “said that in addition to Al Hardan wanting to set off bombs at the two Houston malls, including the popular Galleria mall, the Iraqi man was also learning how to make electronic transmitters that could be used to detonate improvised explosive devices. Al Hardan wanted used cellphones — a collection of which were found in his apartment — to detonate the devices, Wittliff said.”

Fueling national fears

The arrests have fueled election-year concern, especially among Republicans, that U.S. screening processes have not been adequately tightened amid the rise of ISIS and the recent waves of Mideast migration it has caused. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a consistent critic of President Obama’s border and security policies, took the opportunity to press home the point. “I once again urge the president to halt the resettlement of these refugees in the United States until there is an effective vetting process that will ensure refugees do not compromise the safety of Americans and Texans,” he said, according to the Daily Mail.

And Texas Rep. Michael McCaul, currently pushing a bill that would mandate additional procedures, tied Hardan and Jayab to the broader security situation in a statement. “While I commend the FBI for their hard work, these arrests heighten my concern that our refugee program is susceptible to exploitation by terrorists. The president has assured us that individuals from Iraq and Syria receive close scrutiny, but it is clearly not enough,” he concluded, according to the Christian Science Monitor.

“McCaul introduced the American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act last year, which calls for Federal Bureau of Investigation background checks in addition to initial Homeland Security screenings for all ‘covered aliens,’ or refugees with ties to Iraq or Syria. The bill passed 289 to 137 in the House in November.”

Originally published by CalWatchdog.com

Sand: The Unions’ Assault on Truth

Union Lie. Unions steal. Unions blackmail. Unions harass. Unions bully and threaten. Sadly, these are all facts that even the unions can not deny. Fail to pay the union a bribe and in many schools you will not be allowed to teach. Want the freedom to choose whether or not to join a union, your car and family are in danger. So, when my good friend Larry Sand notes that unions assault the truth, that is not the only thing unions assaults.

Where does your bribe money go from teachers unions? “What Pechthalt doesn’t mention is that their spending goes to only leftist causes and many donations go to groups that have nothing to do with education whatsoever. A brief look at the union’s parent organization’s latest labor department filing shows that teachers’ dues money went to organizations like The National Newspapers Publishers Association and the Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless. And what teacher isn’t going to be thrilled that the union donated $250,000 to the Clinton Global Initiative and another $250,000 to the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation? (Only about 13 percent of money given to the latter winds up as charitable grants for those in need. The rest is spent on salaries, benefits, travel and fund-raising.)”

The worst part of this is that government protects and promotes and protects the corrupt unions. Then, government becomes the bagman for these blackmailers/extortionists—government steals money form workers paychecks and gives it to the unions. The government/union cabal is killing freedom and the Rule of law—when government is allowed to steal from workers, when unions are allowed to threaten the jobs of honest people for refusing to pay bribes, we are in trouble.

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The Unions’ Assault on Truth

By Larry Sand, Union Watch, 11/3/15

The teachers unions continue to mislead its members and everyone else.

In the latest issue of the California Federation of Teachers quarterly newsletter, CFT president Josh Pechthalt writes “The lawsuits that educators and unions must defeat,” which is referred to as a “special report” – special because it is especially filled with half-truths, omissions and lies.

Pechthalt starts his piece with, “Education unions and public sector unions are facing legal attacks designed to destroy our ability to represent our members. Not surprisingly, these cases are supported by the usual anti-union law firms and wealthy backers. What follows is a snapshot of the cases CFT and other unions are now fighting.”

He then delves into four lawsuits he claims are an “attack on union treasury driven by wealthy education ‘reformers.’”

The first lawsuit on Pechthalt’s hit list is the Friedrichs case which, if successful, would make paying dues to a public employee union voluntary. The union boss skirts the essence of the suit and instead focuses on a secondary aspect. He writes, “While a complete elimination of agency fee is unlikely, the Supreme Court could make it more difficult to collect agency fee payments, which would have a serious financial impact on unions, weakening our ability to advocate for our members and be engaged in politics.” First, if his scenario is correct, dues collection could be more difficult, but only for teachers who don’t want to join the union. And he doesn’t mention the benefit to the taxpayer who, at least for the latter group, could be out of the dues collection business. Secondly, the ability to be “engaged in politics” is rather humorous. What Pechthalt doesn’t mention is that their spending goes to only leftist causes and many donations go to groups that have nothing to do with education whatsoever. A brief look at the union’s parent organization’s latest labor department filing shows that teachers’ dues money went to organizations like The National Newspapers Publishers Association and the Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless. And what teacher isn’t going to be thrilled that the union donated $250,000 to the Clinton Global Initiative and another $250,000 to the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation? (Only about 13 percent of money given to the latter winds up as charitable grants for those in need. The rest is spent on salaries, benefits, travel and fund-raising.)

Pechthalt’s next hit is on the Students Matter or Vergara case, which he uncleverly dubs “Students Don’t Matter.” In this well-publicized case, the judge struck down the tenure, seniority and dismissal statutes in California’s constitution. Pechthalt claims that these statutes “protect teachers’ ability to teach free of coercion and favoritism.” Baloney. No one in the private sector is entitled to have a job for life and gets to keep their position over a more talented colleague thanks to nothing more than an earlier hiring date; why should public employees merit such extraordinary privilege? All these statutes do is guarantee that mediocre and worse teachers are on equal footing with the good and great ones. And our poorest children have paid the price for decades.

The union president then rolls into Doe v Antioch, litigated by Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, the same firm that was responsible for Vergara’s success. This suit is based on a 2012 ruling in which Sacramento-based nonprofit EdVoice correctly maintained that teacher evaluations require, in part, the use of standardized test scores and the judge promptly ordered their inclusion. However, in a report released earlier this year that sampled 26 districts’ compliance with the decsion, EdVoice found that half of them were ignoring the court-ordered requirement to use the test scores. Pechthalt claims that, “While a 1999 law amended the 1971 Stull Act to broadly include the use of test scores, the advocates for education unions contend districts were given latitude to negotiate language relevant to their needs.” Fine. But the law says that student test scores still must be used as some part of a teacher’s evaluation. “Latitude” doesn’t mean “none.”

Pechthalt’s last broadside is saved for Bain v CTA, which he subtitles, “I-want-it-all-for-free.” This is a lie, plain and simple. The plaintiffs in this case want to belong to the union, are willing to pay dues, but don’t want to support the union’s political agenda. Maybe they don’t feel like supporting the Clintons. Or maybe they’d like to decide for themselves if their hard-earned money should be given to the Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless. Or maybe they are actually in favor of the reforms that teachers unions regularly fight against in Sacramento.

Sad to say, Pechthalt is not unique. Distorting the truth is very common with union bosses. AFT president Randi Weingarten has proclaimed, “If somebody shouldn’t teach – if somebody can’t teach – they shouldn’t be there.” Nice words, but she doesn’t mean a word of it. During her reign as head of the New York City teachers union, just 88 out of 80,000 teachers lost their jobs for poor performance over a three year period.

The AFT also got caught in a whopper when it claimed in 2014 it had no agency fee payers – teachers who still have to pay money to the union but have exempted themselves from paying for the union’s political agenda – even as AFT locals reported that thousands have gone the agency fee route. In 2015, the union reported exactly one agency fee payer. One.

It’s not only teachers unions that have a loose relationship with facts. UnionWatch’s Ed Ring has given us a primer in Deceptive and Misleading Claims – How Government Unions Fool the Public. It is up to teachers, citizens and journalists to learn the truth and start calling unions on their BS. Maybe then their lies will stop, or at least slow down a bit. Maybe.

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

 

Barriers to Care Persist Despite Massive Expansion of Medi-Cal

As said before in the California Political News and Views, Medi-Cal in California now has given out 12 million health care cards. At the same time we have a major doctor shortage, hospitals are closing and the availability of needed specialists is almost non-existent. The card is as valuable as a W.T. Grant credit card (anybody remember that out of business retailer?)

“Many of the clinic’s patients come from the communities just south of LA’s central core, where incomes are low and many people live in crowded conditions. The area suffers a severe shortage of primary care doctors and dentists and is considered medically underserved by the federal Department of Health and Human Services.

On a rainy Thursday afternoon as Core prepares for an afternoon clinic, he learns that one woman he’d planned to see that day just passed away after battling kidney cancer.

“She should have seen an oncologist right away,” Core said.”

Obama and Jerry Brown lied, and people died. No surprise.

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Barriers to Care Persist Despite Expansion of Medi-Cal

By Robin Urevich, HealthyCal, 4/6/15

The Affordable Care Act, with its promise of health care for most Americans, represents a welcome step forward for physicians who have cared for the uninsured.

Michael Core, a primary care doctor at The USC Eisner Clinic, treats some of the city’s poorest people in a spare no-frills office just south of downtown Los Angeles. Core says it’s great that his previously uninsured patients have access to a range of specialists that they never did before—at least on paper.

Many of them are part of the ACA’s huge expansion of the state’s Medi-Cal program. State officials say the increase in recipients—3 million new enrollees in 2014— hasn’t affected the quality of service they receive, but both patients and physicians report potentially dangerous long waits for specialty care.

Many of the newly insured are baffled by insurance and have trouble navigating the health care system. Core now spends much of his time deciphering his patients’ paperwork and helping them cut through insurance company red tape.

Many of the clinic’s patients come from the communities just south of LA’s central core, where incomes are low and many people live in crowded conditions. The area suffers a severe shortage of primary care doctors and dentists and is considered medically underserved by the federal Department of Health and Human Services.

On a rainy Thursday afternoon as Core prepares for an afternoon clinic, he learns that one woman he’d planned to see that day just passed away after battling kidney cancer.

“She should have seen an oncologist right away,” Core said.

Instead, she saw the specialist months after her diagnosis, delaying chemotherapy that should have begun within weeks.

Her managed care plan, LA Care, had denied her referrals to some of the specialty care she needed. Core’s patient was also repeatedly denied medication for potentially fatal blood clots because the insurer said a pulmonologist should have written the prescription, not Core, the primary care physician.

“Authorizations would come super late, so she’d go a week or two without blood thinner,” Core said. “You’re trying to coordinate care, and then you’re getting denied.”

“A story like that is absolutely unacceptable,” said John Wallace, LA Care’s interim CEO. “There are a lot of safeguards to make sure things don’t deteriorate. The health plan can be their advocate. What you find in the Medi-Cal population is that people are disenfranchised. They don’t know that regulations are in place to help them.”

It’s impossible to know if Core’s patient would have survived or lived longer had she gotten the care she needed on time.

“But it doesn’t help the perception,” Core said. “Someone has a terminal disease, and you don’t seem to be getting help, but barriers. The system is designed to provide barriers.”

Some 70 percent of Medi-Cal beneficiaries are enrolled in managed care plans. In exchange for a per person payment from the state, the plans are required to offer medically necessary care to all of their members. Medi-Cal beneficiaries who are not in managed care are in what’s called fee for service Medi-Cal in which the state reimburses physicians directly.

Two managed care plans serve Los Angeles County. LA Care is a non-profit overseen by the county Board of Supervisors and contracts with commercial plans to cover  nearly two thirds of beneficiaries. Health Net, a commercial plan, insures the rest.

But Core and other physicians report that some of their sickest patients can’t get timely specialty appointments, or have trouble obtaining the medications they’re prescribed.

The obstacles are particularly irksome to Core, who chose family medicine to offer quality health care to poor people.

Growing up poor in East Los Angeles, he was especially sensitive to the divide between rich and poor.

“I’d see the disparities on TV, and wonder, why isn’t my life like that?” he said. Then his family moved to the suburbs, and he saw first-hand that middle class people enjoyed better opportunities than those in his old neighborhood. The class divide loomed even larger when he was accepted to Yale University as an undergrad.

“It didn’t feel right,” he said, “that I could advance socially and economically and my friends couldn’t.”

He figured he’d do his part to close the gap as a family doctor in an area where physicians and especially Latino physicians are in short supply.

On this day, his first patient is 65-year-old Wassell Grissom, who wears a plaid fisherman’s cap and comes in with a sheaf of papers and an oxygen tank attached to a walker. Grissom has lung disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and hepatitis C, from which he thinks he’s recovered with new medication, and perhaps a cold.

Core listens to his lungs, which sound pretty good, except for a crackle, which may be the cold he’s developing.

But most of the visit is taken up with untangling Grissom’s insurance troubles.

Grissom, whose managed care plan is Health Net, has come to the clinic because he ran out of medications and can’t get his prescriptions filled. He’s also having trouble getting all of the oxygen tanks he needs.

“The pharmacy only gave me a few pills because the doctor wasn’t registered through the insurance plan. Another problem, I’m on so many medications. The insurance company only allows four to six medications at a time each month. I have to get all my meds. At least I get my choice [of which medications to purchase],” Grissom said.

Core began practicing medicine just a few years before President Obama’s first term, when the Affordable Care Act was conceived, and although he backs the reforms, he says they don’t go far enough.

Many doctors won’t accept Medi-Cal patients at all, or do so selectively because Medi-Cal payments to California physicians are among the lowest in the country, while the costs of doing business are among the highest.

What’s more, physicians are in short supply altogether, and in rural areas or poor neighborhoods like those in South LA they’re even scarcer.

Just 32 physicians practice in zip codes 90011 and 90037, which include the communities just south of the Eisner clinic, according to Medical Board of California data. By contrast, 834 doctors are listed in zip codes 90049 and 90024, which include the wealthy communities of Pacific Palisades and Brentwood.

Still, Medi-Cal managed care plans like Health Net and LA Care report that their physician networks are sufficient to serve their patient loads in every region of the county.

So-called provider network reports for both plans for the third quarter of 2014 show compliance with state standards, which require that a single physician’s patient load not exceed 2,000 people.

But those reports provide little solace to patients whose assigned doctors can’t give them appointments for more than a month, or to those who might be seeking care from physicians who are out of business altogether or who no longer accept Medi-Cal.

A check of LA Care’s primary care doctors in the 90011 and 90037 zip codes shows that of 16 physicians’ offices contacted, two are no longer in business. One number was disconnected and the other rang up a skilled nursing facility whose medical staff didn’t include the doctor that LA Care listed.

Three medical offices couldn’t offer adult appointments for three weeks or more, even though state standards and the plans’ contract with the Department of Health Care Services require that non-emergency primary care appointments be available within ten working days.

Of 21 specialty care physicians’ offices contacted in the area, five in the LA Care directory were no longer in business, or were no longer located in the area. Two didn’t accept Medi-Cal patients at all.

All but one of those who said they did accept Medi-Cal, however, could book an appointment within 15 working days, meeting the state’s standard of care.

“First and foremost, the information should be up to date,” Wallace said, adding that it’s not easy to update because thousands of providers are changing addresses and affiliations. “We put a lot of resources into keeping data accurate.” Wallace also noted that a member who wanted to change doctors would go to the plan’s member services department, and wouldn’t necessarily need the published provider directory.

Medi-Cal is heading for a crisis, with a huge increase in enrollment in recent years, Leah Newkirk said in an email. Newkirk is the vice president of the San Francisco-based California Academy of Family Physicians. The organization has collected 70 responses from family doctors to a survey on Medi-Cal access. Most of them noted difficulties in getting specialty care for their patients, especially neurologists, endocrinologists, psychiatrists, rheumatologists, pain management specialists, orthopedists, and referrals for imaging or drugs

“Most respondents describe patients being shuttled in and out of the system as primary care physicians scramble to find a specialist who will accept a Medi-Cal patient,” wrote CAFP’s Abhinaya Narayanan in a summary of the results.

State regulators do not believe the crisis that Newkirk cites exists. Sarah Brooks, Chief of the Managed Care Quality and Monitoring Division at the Department of Health Care Services said the huge increase in Medi-Cal beneficiaries has not affected the quality of their care.

But LA Care’s Wallace argued that the influx of members has indeed required some adjustment in his network. Medi-Cal members used to be primarily moms and kids, but now adults with complicated conditions are entering the system.

“We have lots of work going forward to refine our delivery model now that we have the new membership,” Wallace said.

Still, Medi-Cal beneficiaries’ problems with access to health care have caught the ear of legislators, regulators and advocates.

The state legislature’s Joint Legislative Audit Committee has ordered the state auditor to investigate the adequacy of Medi-Cal managed care networks, as well as the state’s oversight of the plans, and the governor has signed legislation to tighten managed care regulation, including for Medi-Cal beneficiaries.

In his office near the end of his day, Core says he’d like to get the insurance companies out of the business of medicine altogether. “We just need single payer,” he said.

Still, Core argued that even if all the obstacles to care were removed, there still wouldn’t be enough physicians to serve all of California’s patients, especially those who depend on public

 

CA Following Massachusetts Model When It Comes To Voters & Voting?

New statistics show a big jump in “no party preference” voters in California while registration in both major political parties has declined. While this change in voter registration mirrors some national trends, California may be heading boldly in the direction of another thickly populated blue state – Massachusetts.

In California the recent report from the Secretary of State shows Democrats make up 43.1 percent of the registered voters, Republicans 27.9 percent, while independent registration gained more than two full percentage points to 23.5 percent or a nearly 12 percent overall gain.

VotedMany observers predict it is only a matter of time before voters who do not declare affiliation with any political party will outnumber Republicans.

That’s the way it is in Massachusetts. In fact, unaffiliated voters outnumber both major parties combined in the Bay State. Independents make up 52.5 percent of the Massachusetts voter roll, Democrats 35.7 percent and Republicans 11.1 percent. Like Massachusetts, the majority of independent voters lean toward the Democrats assuring heavy majorities in the state house. The Massachusetts House has 125 Democrats, 35 Republicans; the Senate has 34 Democrats and 6 Republicans. No threat to supermajority there.

But the similarity ends at the executive office door. Over the past 25 years, only one Democrat has been elected governor of Massachusetts. Or to put it another way, over the past quarter of a century Republicans have won five of seven gubernatorial elections in Massachusetts. Democrat Deval Patrick just concluded his second term in office. Charles Baker, the fourth Republican governor to be elected over that time period, replaced him.

Is this a sign of hope for California Republicans that they might again capture the top statewide office? Could it be that voters want a check on a one-sided government?

No one will accuse Jerry Brown of being a Republican. However, a number of political observers have suggested Brown is the best Republicans could hope for to occupy the governor’s chair in this blue state.

The trend toward independent voters capturing a larger segment of the voting rolls will probably intensify when the already authorized Election Day registration kicks in. It is quite likely that a majority of those who register the day of the election will choose the No Party Preference label.

Further increasing the No Party Preference portion of the roll would be the effort to mandatorily register all eligible voters as proposed by Secretary of State Alex Padilla and Assembly member Lorena Gonzalez.

More than 27 percent of the eligible voters have not registered to vote in California. If a voter who had no interest in registering to vote is required to register the odds are many of those voters will choose to be classified as independents so the percentage of independent voters will grow.

However, it is not certain that the percentage of voters participating at an election will grow. In fact, the opposite is likely to happen. If voters who have no desire to register are added to the rolls automatically will many of them actually vote? The theory that participation will increase dramatically under this effort probably can be filed under the “You Can Lead a Horse to Water but You Can’t Make it Drink” philosophy.

Joel Fox is Editor of Fox & Hounds and President of the Small Business Action Committee

Originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily

Judge in Immigration Case Questions Trust in Obama

Obama lied and people are dying in the Middle East. Barack lied and people are paying more for health care and getting much less. Obama has brought down the unemployment rate—but most of the newly employed are working temporary or part time work, under 30 hours a week so employers do not have to pay the exorbitant cost of ObamaCare.

Now Obama had a U.S. Attorney lie to a Federal Judge and got caught—again.

“The federal judge presiding over the Texas-led challenge to President Obama’s immigrant amnesty programs asked a Justice Department attorney Thursday, “Can I trust what the president says?”
It was a fair question from U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen, after the Justice Department revealed earlier this month that U.S. Customs and Immigration Services had extended lawful presence rights from two to three years for 100,000 undocumented immigrants after telling the judge USCIS would not process any applications for such extensions until March 4.
“You were the one who said nothing would happen until March 4. I look like an idiot,” Hanen told federal attorney Kathleen Hartnett at a hearing on Thursday.”

Finally someone willing to tell the truth, Barack Obama and his Administration lie.

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Judge in Immigration Case Questions Trust in Obama

By SARAH FLORES AND CAMERON LANGFORD,  

Courthouse News,

 

3/20/15

 
BROWNSVILLE, Texas (CN) – The federal judge presiding over the Texas-led challenge to President Obama’s immigrant amnesty programs asked a Justice Department attorney Thursday, “Can I trust what the president says?”
It was a fair question from U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen, after the Justice Department revealed earlier this month that U.S. Customs and Immigration Services had extended lawful presence rights from two to three years for 100,000 undocumented immigrants after telling the judge USCIS would not process any applications for such extensions until March 4.
“You were the one who said nothing would happen until March 4. I look like an idiot,” Hanen told federal attorney Kathleen Hartnett at a hearing on Thursday.
Hartnett apologized to Hanen for any confusion and assured him the government strives for accuracy. “You can rely on the Justice Department,” she said.
Hanen issued an injunction against the Department of Homeland Security’s expanded amnesty programs on Feb. 16, putting the estimated 5 million immigrants who could qualify in limbo and drawing condemnation from immigrant advocates who claim he was handpicked for the case by the 26 Republican-led states who sued over the policies.
Hanen has been openly critical of Obama’s immigration policies.
The Obama administration implemented the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in 2012, and last November announced it would be modified to increase the number of people eligible.
The original DACA program allows immigrants who came to the United States as children, lived here since June 15, 2007, went to school, have not committed serious crimes, and are under 31 years of age to apply for legal status and federal work permits.
The administration expanded DACA in November 2014 by removing the age cap, pushing up the date on which immigrants must have lived in the United States to Jan. 1, 2010 and extending the legal status of those who qualify from two to three years.
In his speech announcing the November changes to DACA, Obama unveiled Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA), which would make some parents of U.S. citizens or legal residents eligible to apply for the right to live in the United States without fear of deportation and for federal work permits.
Following the Justice Department’s confession about the 100,000 immigrants, Texas filed a motion for early discovery. Thursday’s hearing focused on that motion.
With supporters of DACA and DAPA shouting “Si se puede,” and holding signs stating “We Work Hard,” “We Pay Taxes” and “We Are Good For the Economy” outside the Brownsville Federal Building and Courthouse, Hanen presided over a one-hour hearing there.
Texas Assistant Attorney General Angela Colmenero came up to bat first and she had some accusatory words for the Feds.
“Defendants made representations to the status quo and assured the court that they would not make any decisions until March 4, 2015, but this did not happen,” she said.
“Defendants were actively moving forward with the applications process and no notice was provided to plaintiffs regarding the change to the status quo.”
Colmenero also went after the merits of modified DACA, claiming it will motivate new immigrants to enter the country illegally and that the “expansion from two years to three years would cause harm by a wave of immigrants flooding our borders.”
Hanen was understandably weary of government attorney Kathleen Hartnett, who had promised no modified DACA applications would be processed until March 4 at the Jan. 15 hearing.
“Can I trust what you say? Can I trust what the president says? It’s an easy question, yes or no?” he asked.
“Yes your honor, you can,” Hartnett said.
At the close she told Hanen the government is in the process of changing the 55 three-year DACA cards that went out after the injunction back to two years, and that anybody who applied for DACA before Nov. 24, 2014 was given the extension of legal status to three years.
Hanen said he “will be making a prompt ruling” on the plaintiffs’ motion for expedited discovery.
The Justice Department appealed to the 5th Circuit shortly after Hanen issued his injunction. The government also asked that court for an emergency stay of the injunction in a filing this past Friday.
The New Orleans-based appellate court gave the plaintiffs until March 23 to reply.
Numerous parties from both sides of the issue have weighed in on the case.
The attorneys general for the Democrat-led states of Washington, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and the District of Columbia asked the 5th Circuit for permission to file a friend of the court brief in support of Obama’s policies on Tuesday.
The states claim Hanen erred by deciding that Texas has standing to bring the lawsuit because they will bear the costs of processing driver’s license applications for qualifying immigrants.
“A single state cannot dictate national immigration policy, yet that is what the district court allowed here. Relying entirely on Texas’s speculative claims, the district court enjoined vital immigration reforms nationwide,” wrote Noah Purcell, Washington state’s solicitor general.
Texas was the only state of the 26 plaintiffs to present evidence of how the policies would allegedly harm them. Purcell played that up in the brief.
“At the very least, this court should stay the order outside Texas, as no other state has presented any evidence that it will suffer the irreparable injury needed to justify injunctive relief,” he wrote.
The blue states added that Obama’s policies should go into effect because they will be good for all state economies.

“Moving these people out of the shadows and into the legal workforce is estimated to increase Washington’s tax revenues by $57 million over the next five years. California’s tax revenues are estimated to grow by $904 million over the next five years, with an anticipated 1,214,000 people eligible for deferred immigration action. The tax consequences for the plaintiff states are also positive,” Purcell wrote.
“For example, if the estimated 594,000 undocumented immigrants eligible for deferred action in Texas receive temporary work permits, it will lead to an estimated $338 million increase in the State tax base over five years,” he added.
Not to be outdone by proponents of the policies, the American Center for Law & Justice, a Christian conservative law firm based in Washington, D.C. and appearing on behalf of 68 Republican Congressmen, asked the 5th Circuit on Wednesday for permission to chime in with their own amicus brief.
The firm’s chief counsel Jay Sekulow repeated what the plaintiffs have said all along: that Obama’s policy changes exceeded his authority and trampled “Congress’s exclusive authority over immigration.”
While Sekulow acknowledges that the Homeland Security Act makes the Department of Homeland Security’s secretary responsible for immigration enforcement policies, he believes Obama’s directives go beyond.
“The removal of unlawful aliens carries enormous importance to the overall statutory scheme, but the DHS directive does not just articulate priorities for removal, it grants legal benefits on a categorical basis to current illegal aliens. By granting illegal aliens lawful presence during the deferred period, appellants violate the express and implied intent of Congress,” he wrote.

 

Residential no-burn in effect Wednesday in Southern Calif.–But No One Knew

Unless you were one of the dozen people who receive the press releases from the South Coast Air Quality management District in Southern California, you did not know it was illegal to use your fireplace yesterday. You might have been one of the few thousand, out of 15 million that caught the notice as part of the evening news—but seriously, how many watch the late night news?

Then, if you did illegally use your fireplace, who knew, unless a snitch turned you in. Does the agency have monitors driving around the communities of Southern California looking for a recalcitrant trying to stay warm using their fireplaces? The good news is that only electrons were disturbed, no trees were killed to send the unnoticed notice. Here is an idea, the agency can save money by not having personnel send out notices nobody reads or abides by.

“Under the alert issued by the South Coast Air Quality Management District, residents are barred from burning wood in fireplaces until midnight.” What a waste of electrons.

220px-Al_Gore

Residential no-burn in effect Wednesday in Southern Calif.

Posted by Debbie L. Sklar, My NewsLA, 2/4/15

 

A residential no-burn alert will be in effect Wednesday in the South Coast Air Basin — which includes the greater Los Angeles area, Orange County and the Inland Empire — due to a forecast of fine particle air pollution.

Under the alert issued by the South Coast Air Quality Management District, residents are barred from burning wood in fireplaces until midnight.

“No-burn alerts are mandatory in order to protect public health due to a high concentration of fine particle air pollution forecast for the area,” according to the SCAQMD. “The no-burn prohibition also applies to manufactured fire logs, such as those made from wax or paper.”

The prohibition does not apply to mountain communities above 3,000 feet, the Coachella Valley or the high desert.

 

Sacramento City Council Uses SECRET Tax Funds to Donate to Planned Parenthood

Council members in Sacramento get “discretionary” money to spend—without telling anyone, making it public or taking a public vote on the expenditure. That is one of the ways the taxpayers of Sacramento promote the organization founded on the theory of eugenics, Planned Parenthood. We have been told that the money is for welfare and scholarship programs. Of course, that makes more money available for the abortion of minority babies—the vast number of abortions are of minorities.

Should council members have private slush funds financed by your taxes? Los Angeles city and county has these slush funds. Now we know that the city of Sacramento believes in slush funds as well.

“Liz Figueroa, vice president of Planned Parenthood Mar Monte, said they get a great deal of funding from tax dollars and education reduces a lot of taxpayers costs.

But Mariotti takes issue with the fact the contributions were never voted on in a public forum.

“I think if people were aware of it, you would have an overwhelming amount of people showing up at a City Council meeting complaining.  I think you would have calls to their offices. I think you would have long lines if there was an open forum for people to discuss. I think it would be a big issue,” Mariotti said.”

Planned Parenthood Abortion Pro Choice

Sac City Council funds Planned Parenthood programs

Discretionary funds allow funding without vote of council

Kevin Oliver, KCRA, 12/17/14

 

City Council member Angelique Ashby is among the most fiscally conservative of her colleagues, when it comes to spending her discretionary funds.

Compared to other City Council members, last year Ashby spent the least — about $35,000 on community service programs and local events.

But that included giving tax dollars to Planned Parenthood Mar Monte.

When we asked Ashby about that expenditure, it led to the end of our interview.

“I donated to a scholarship. The money that I gave only could go to a scholarship fund for young single moms already selected to go to college,” Ashby said. “At one point in my life, sir, that was me.  So I hope that in doing so, that some of those young women grow up, love their city enough to come back, run for City Council and be the next Mayor Pro Tem of the City of Sacramento.”

Ashby wasn’t the only one.

Since 2012, every City Council member gave some of their discretionary funds to Planned Parenthood, a total of $11,000.

Sacramento resident and mother of four, Christina Marotti, said she doesn’t want her tax dollars going to Planned Parenthood programs — period.

“I don’t think they as elected officials should have the ability just to spend where they please,” Marotti said. “It almost seems like it’s kind of hidden. If it’s not voted on, it’s not announced. (KCRA 3) found it, but I never knew about it before.”

Most of the city funds went to a scholarship and a program that provided support groups for teenage mothers.

Planned Parenthood says the teen success program costs $50,000 a year to help 12 single mothers.

Liz Figueroa, vice president of Planned Parenthood Mar Monte, said they get a great deal of funding from tax dollars and education reduces a lot of taxpayers costs.

But Mariotti takes issue with the fact the contributions were never voted on in a public forum.

“I think if people were aware of it, you would have an overwhelming amount of people showing up at a City Council meeting complaining.  I think you would have calls to their offices. I think you would have long lines if there was an open forum for people to discuss. I think it would be a big issue,” Mariotti said.

Council member Steve Cohn defended his use of City Council discretionary funds for the programs.

Cohn said in an email, “I believe that is a undeniably worthy community purpose.  These funds do not go to abortions or other controversial programming.”

Planned Parenthood officials said it is their policy to keep funding for educational programs separate from other services.

Sacramento State professor Charles Gossett said City Council members aren’t going to be able to make everyone happy when deciding how to spend tax dollars.

“That’s always a problem in a democracy.  Sometimes the city will purchase things from a vendor that some people don’t think you should be buying from that vendor but it may have been the best vendor,” Gossett said.

Gossett said there are ways to alleviate concerns about giving tax dollars to organizations that some might find controversial by establishing clear policies or even citizen commissions to make those decisions.

Two groups, Eye on Sacramento and the League of Women Voters, are trying to get the city to enact several reform measures, including an ethics code and citizen commission as well as new sunshine laws to improve transparency in city government.

 

Palo Alto Rich Must Live With Homesless–Results of Their Votes and Policies

I love it when Liberals need to live the way they vote. They want your community and mine to have affordable housing—but not theirs. They insist the homeless be taken care of, in my community and yours—but not theirs. Now the Leftists of Palo Alton are being forced to allow the homeless live in their cars on the streets in front of their multi-million dollar homes!

“The City of Palo Alto has repealed a 2013 ordinance prohibiting individuals from sleeping in their cars, campers, or RVs amid heavy criticism from homeless rights advocates and fears over a potential lawsuit.

Under the previous ordinance, sleeping in one’s vehicle could incur a fine of up to $1,000 or six months in jail. But that rule was tossed out Monday in a 7 to 1 vote by the city council.

But I doubt if they will start repealing AB 32 and other job killers causing the unemployment and homelessness. Now they can be reminded every day of the affects of their liberalism.

homeless

Palo Alto Car Camping Ban Thrown Into Reverse

California City News, 11/20/14

The City of Palo Alto has repealed a 2013 ordinance prohibiting individuals from sleeping in their cars, campers, or RVs amid heavy criticism from homeless rights advocates and fears over a potential lawsuit.

Under the previous ordinance, sleeping in one’s vehicle could incur a fine of up to $1,000 or six months in jail. But that rule was tossed out Monday in a 7 to 1 vote by the city council.

“This is the right thing to do and this is the compassionate thing to do,” said Council Member Gail Price. She and her colleagues were urged to overturn the ban by City Attorney Molly Stump and City Manager James Keene, who said the city could soon face costly legal actions as a result. “I do think [a lawsuit] is very likely if Palo Alto retains this ordinance and begins to enforce it,” Stump warned.

Palo Alto’s legal concerns were heightened after the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled a similar law in Los Angeles to be unconstitutional. The 30-year-old law prohibiting the use of vehicles as “living quarters” was described as an overly-broad gateway to discrimination and deemed incompatible with the rule of law.

Palo Alto Council Member Larry Klein was the lone dissenter during Monday’s vote. He expressed concerns that the city would be encouraging transiency by repealing the ordinance and noted that a final legal determination on the issue could still be years in the making.

Palo Alto’s ordinance was passed last year after numerous complaints by city residents. It was placed on hold pending the court’s ruling in the case out of Los Angeles.

Read more about the Palo Alto City Council’s decision here.

 

Coupal: Jarvis Asks Supreme Court To Block Sale Of High Speed Rail Bonds

Arnold and the Choo Choo train crew told us the cost of the “high” speed rail was under $40 billion—now they admit it is $68 billion, while most experts believe it is way over $100 billion. Arnold admitted he doubled the potential ridership, the measure gave us the route—which is no longer operative. They lied about money, routes and ridership. But, still believe it is Ok to go forward. Thanks to the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association the Supreme Court is asked to end this canard and abuse of the California taxpayers and voters. Oh, the train no longer meets the definition of high speed—just another train.

“”The state has broken faith with voters,” said HJTA President Jon Coupal. “The current rail plan bears no resemblance to the one put before voters in 2008,”

Similar conduct by a private entity could be prosecuted under California’s bait and switch law which states, in brief, that It is unlawful for any person, firm, corporation or association, to make untrue or misleading statements as part of a plan or scheme with the intent not to sell property or services, at the price advertised,” added Coupal.”

high-speed-rail-map-320-300x228

Jarvis Asks Supreme Court To Block Sale Of High Speed Rail Bonds

Jon Coupal, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, 9/9/14

Today (9) the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association (HJTA) has petitioned the California Supreme Court to review the high speed rail bond validation case.

After radically changing the bullet train plan promised to voters who approved $10 billion in bonds in 2008, the State asked the court to approve sale of the bonds anyway. HJTA responded on behalf of all Californians saying the rail plan no longer matches what was promised voters and the State’s request should be denied. The trial court agreed and denied the State’s request for validation of the bond sale. The Court of Appeals has reversed this decision and HJTA is now asking for intervention by the Supreme Court.

The current plan for high speed rail is nearly twice as expensive as promised and the projected travel times and fairs have nearly doubled.

“The state has broken faith with voters,” said HJTA President Jon Coupal. “The current rail plan bears no resemblance to the one put before voters in 2008,”

Similar conduct by a private entity could be prosecuted under California’s bait and switch law which states, in brief, that It is unlawful for any person, firm, corporation or association, to make untrue or misleading statements as part of a plan or scheme with the intent not to sell property or services, at the price advertised,” added Coupal.

To read the petition, click here.

BACKGROUND

In November 2008, California voters approved $10 billion in bonds to build the first segment of a bullet train system that, according to the ballot materials, would whisk riders from San Francisco to Los Angeles in under 2½ hours, for about $50 per person. The $43 billion system would be built with federal and private matching funds, and would be self-funding once operational, requiring no new taxes or government subsidies.

After the High Speed Rail Authority radically revised its business and development plan so that it no longer resembled the project approved by voters, the State filed a validation action, High Speed Rail Authority v. All Persons, asking the court to approve the sale of the bonds. The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association (HJTA) responded on behalf of “all persons.”

HJTA is fighting the sale of the rail bonds because the State’s current plans for the money break almost every promise made to the voters in 2008. The estimated cost of construction has increased by $25 billion. The federal government has pledged only a trifle, and private investors are not interested at all. A revised business plan has scrapped the idea of 220 mph trains operating on their own track, in favor of slower trains partly sharing existing track with standard passenger and freight trains. Ridership projections have been reduced, which means less ticket-sale revenue, which means higher ticket prices and annual taxpayer subsidies.

The measure approved by the voters required some oversight. An independent Finance Committee was supposed to review the proposed bond sale and approve it only if all prerequisites were met. The evidence at trial showed that the Finance Committee did not do its job. It rubber stamped the sale without ever holding a hearing to consider whether the promises in the ballot were being kept.

In January the trial court ruled in our favor of HJTA on the grounds that the Finance Committee’s approval of the sale of bonds was not supported by any evidence in the record. The court entered judgment denying validation of the bond sale—a huge win for taxpayers. The State then unsuccessfully petitioned the Supreme Court to step in and vacate the trial court judgment. The Supreme Court instead referred the case to its usual next step, the Court of Appeal.

The appellate court has now reversed the finding of the trial court, which is why HJTA is asking for review by the Supreme Court.