New Black Eye for Bullet-Train Officials

From U-T San Diego:

According to the California High-Speed Rail Authority, the estimated cost of building the 114-mile bullet-train route linking Fresno and Bakersfield has gone up $940 million — from $6.19 billion to $7.13 billion.

That’s worrisome enough. But what makes it worse is that state officials allegedly didn’t want this 15 percent increase to be made public.

(Read Full Article)

high speed rail train

The Benghazi Deniers

From Politico:

At last we have a Benghazi scandal that Democrats are willing to acknowledge — House Speaker John Boehner’s decision to form a select committee to investigate the administration’s handling of the 2012 terror attack in Libya.

This has been the occasion for outrage that Democrats haven’t been able to summon for any aspect of Benghazi to this point, including the lax security at the compound despite repeated warnings and prior attacks on Western interests.

The Democrats and their allies are in the grips of Benghazi denial. They think the Republican notion of a scandal is a complete hoax. Yes, a mistake was made here or there, but otherwise, nothing to see here.

hillary clinton benghazi

Obama Preparing Executive Orders To Push Green Energy

From The Daily Caller:

President Obama is preparing to use “the pen and phone” to push more solar power and energy efficiency measures. He wants to deal with global warming but not congressional Republicans.

Obama will order executive agencies to push a slew of new programs to promote solar power, green jobs training and subsidize investing in energy efficient appliances and equipment. Obama will also announce a plan to complete solar panel installations on the roof of the White House.

(Read Full Article)

Barack Obama

Acceptable Teacher-Discipline Bill Finally Emerges

From U-T San Diego:

In 2011, a grotesque scandal was discovered at Miramonte Elementary School in south Los Angeles. Authorities came upon indisputable evidence that a veteran teacher named Mark Berndt had been feeding semen-laced food to his students.

But Los Angeles Unified authorities concluded that because of job protections secured by the local California Teachers Association affiliate, they couldn’t immediately fire Berndt. Instead, they had to pay him $40,000 to quit.

(Read Full Article)

220px-TeacherBritishMuseum

Every $1 Billion In Regulations Costs Jobs

From The Daily Caller:

Government regulations cost American jobs as well as money, according to a study.

A new report by the American Action Forum (AAF) found that for every billion dollars in regulatory compliance, impacted industry employment declines by 3.6 percent.

This would be the equivalent of an industry that employs 225,035 workers, losing 8,101 jobs due to regulatory burdens costing the industry $1 billion.

(Read Full Article)

over regulation red tape octopus

Will Beverly Hills Ban Fracking Black Gold?

Come and listen to a story about a city named Beverly Hills and its bubblin’ crude.

The Beverly Hillbillies” still plays on TV in reruns, providing laughs about the Clampetts from Tennessee who strike it rich in oil on their farm, then move to posh Beverly Hills with its “swimmin’ pools, movie stars,” as the opening song goes.

But what’s not well-known is that there’s crude in “them thar” Beverly Hills, too.

And would a “reboot” of the series today include an episode about how the City of Beverly Hills has banned oil drilling by fracking – the horizontal fracturing of rock to extract oil and gas?

On May 6, the City Council unanimously voted to ban fracking, the first city to do so in California. According to the Beverly Hills Courier, the new fracking ordinance bans “hydraulic fracturing, acidizing or any other stimulation technique” from any area of the city.

The city press release said that, back in Sept. 2011, the council also passed an ordinance to phase out the oil wells next to Beverly Hills High School by the end of 2016. But horizontal drilling from outside the city – drilling under Beverly Hills — would continue.

So to what extent the new fracking ban will be effective is unknown because companies might set up wells in adjacent cities, then drill under Beverly Hills.

Budget

According to the U.S. Energy Information Agency, the Domestic Crude Oil Price for California hovered around $100 per barrel for 2013. That would roughly result in about $74,574,200 in gross crude oil production revenues from the Beverly Hills oil field in 2013.  According to data from the 2014 Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation Oil and Gas Industry report, the Beverly Hills oil field would contribute about $5.839 million in local property taxes (745,742 barrels x $7.83 per barrel property taxes), not all of which would go to the city or its schools.

This does not include additional city business license taxes, franchise fees for oil pipelines within city streets, or the oil extraction royalties that its mineral rights owners derive. In fact the city, Beverly Hills High School, Los Angeles County, the state of California, and some 6,200 holders of oil leases that get royalties from oil wells under Beverly Hills are secondary parties enriched by the oil field.

Even new Los Angeles City Mayor Eric Garcetti co-owns a personal trust with an oil-drilling lease with Venoco Oil with a drilling island located on the campus of Beverly Hills High School.  This does not include all the sales taxes paid by oil company employees buying goods and services in Beverly Hills and Los Angeles County.

So, despite the new law, it’s difficult to tell if Beverly Hills’ fracking ban is real or mostly symbolic. Especially because the city of 34,622 already is saturated in oil.

A portion of the city sits atop a 1,200-acre subterranean oil field that produced 874,000 barrels of oil in 2008, with no discernible negative effect on property values, human health or the environment.  No groundwater from the Hollywood Basin, which underlies Beverly Hills, West Hollywood and Los Angeles, has been contaminated.

Beverly Hills oil, wikimediaIn fact, the city itself, Beverly Hills High School, Los Angeles County, the state of California, and some 6,200 holders of oil leases that get royalties from oil wells under Beverly Hills are secondary parties enriched by the oil fields.

The wealthy people of Beverly Hills were not deterred in 1900 from locating their homes near a productive oil field.  A map of the Beverly Hills oil field shown nearby indicates drilling islands. The fields are four miles long, a half-mile wide and 10,000 feet deep.  Even new Los Angeles City Mayor Eric Garcetti co-owns a personal trust with an oil-drilling lease with Venoco Oil with a drilling island located on the campus of Beverly Hills High School.

Fracking allowed

State law would not impede fracking in the Clampetts’ back yard. Fracking in California was green-lighted in 2013 when Gov. Jerry Brown signed State Senate Bill 4. It strictly monitors fracking and regulates any fracturing of rock by acidizing techniques, but does not ban it.

Several bills are still pending in the Legislature that would ban or place a statewide moratorium on fracking. But given that Brown already gave his approval for fracking, he is unlikely to sign them.

Hedge fund manager Tom Steyer has called for a law mandating a vote of two-thirds of the people before local fracking is allowed.

Steyer also is interested in funding fracking bans in other states. Banning fracking could protect his green-power investment returns from competition from conventional oil and gas drilling.

Steyer has recently funded his own opinion poll that shows that Californians want an oil-extraction tax, and county control over fracking.

Steyer should be taken seriously because in the 2012 election he sponsored Proposition 39, a $1 billion tax on businesses that passed and has harmed California’s business climate. For five years, $550 million of the tax increase is dedicated to environmental projects.

(Wayne Lusvardi is a contributor to CalWatchdog. Originally posted on CalWatchdog.)

Neel Kashkari’s Magical Mystery Tour

I received a mailer from Neel Kashkari the other day which seems to reflect the candidate himself.  The mailer is very glossy, very expensive, and very devoid of ideas.

Given that Kashkari is surrounded by veterans of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 7 year “search and destroy” mission waged against the California GOP, it is not surprising that the sense of déjà vu and dread is overwhelming when reading Kashkari’s palaver.

In no less than four places the mailer labels Kashkari a “conservative Republican”, yet offers up no ideas or specifics, let alone conservative ones.

“We’re in a fiscal crisis” the mailer declares, yet says not one word about how the candidate would get us out of said crisis.

“We need to turn California around” says another headline, yet says nothing about how Kashkari would do so.

Kashkari, we are told by the glossy piece, will “end the wasteful spending that got us into this mess”.  But, you guessed it, offers no specifics on where said wasteful spending will be cut.  Actually he does say he’d ax Jerry Brown’s “bullet train” – hardly an act of political bravery or leadership given that about 65% of Californians now oppose the project.  Where was Kashhari when this monstrosity was being foisted on California?

Kashkari “will ensure that California invests in what matters most”. What exactly that might be remains a mystery as the mailer doesn’t say.  Kashari “will return money back to the taxpayer” we are told.  What we are not told is how he will do that or what budget items he will cut.

And oddly enough the mailer doesn’t mention that Kashkari is the quintessential Corporatist Republican, a creature of Wall Street who was knee-deep in TARP. You remember TARP – the ultimate big government program which consisted of throwing hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars up in the air and hoping that some of it landed in places to help the struggling economy. Now if that’s not a typical “conservative Republican” approach, what the heck is?

California Republicans can be forgiven if their reaction to this vapid, idea-free piece is “ho hum, yawn, been there and done that”.  For indeed we have, with Ahnolt, and that fling turned out disastrously for California at large and the GOP in particular.

This mail piece, and the Kashkari campaign itself, totally avoids the real issues that matter to California Republicans.  Perhaps by oversight, or perhaps because telling the truth about the candidate’s views would alienate most Republican voters.

For instance, 2006’s AB 32, supposedly passed to fight global warming…err  global cooling…err climate change, is an economic zombie eating the life out of California’s economy, wreaking havoc (for UCLA graduates, that means doing really bad things)  in dozens of areas that are none of the state government’s business, like local zoning and land use decisions. This mailer has lots of pictures of Kashari dressed in a flannel shirt and jeans, but no mention of AB 32.

AB 1266, passed in 2013, allows students of either gender to play on sports teams and use the locker rooms, showers and bathrooms of the opposite gender. Kashkari’s piece shows him holding a sledge hammer, apparently ready to smash what looks like the engine from a Lionel train set, but apparently didn’t have room to mention his stance on AB 1266.

Proposition 13 is under increasing attack by liberals, always desperate for more tax dollars to spend on their pet programs and favored special interest groups.  If the picture of the giant tree stump upon which the above mentioned toy train rests was made just a wee bit smaller, perhaps there would have been the space necessary to explain Kashkari’s view of these attacks.

And then there’s the 800 lb. elephant in the room – Kashkari’s vote for Barack Obama in 2008.  You will be shocked I know to hear that the mailer for this “conservative Republican” fails to mention that he preferred a community organizer for President over a bona-fide war hero.  Can I see the hands of all the other conservative Republicans who voted for the Chicago democrat for President in 2008?  Nobody?  Kashkari’s “conservative Republican” tent is apparently a small one indeed.

Frankly it is this vote that should worry California Republicans the most for it shows exactly what we don’t need in 2016 –  a feckless, nomadic mind that blows with the wind. This vote represents a grotesque lapse in judgment, calling into question why Republicans should trust Kashkari’s judgment on anything else.

I don’t expect a change from Kashkari or his highly-paid, under-performing handlers, and that’s sad.  The California GOP deserves a serious debate about the serious issues facing the state.  Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, the other major GOP candidate for Governor, deserves to be challenged on his view of all the above and other items that affect the state’s future.

Most of all, Jerry Brown deserves to be challenged every day in every way by a Republican candidate who actually believes in traditional Republican values, will be evangelical about those values and has a platform that will rescue California from its decline. This first vapid, idea-free mailing from Kashkari does nothing to indicate that he is that candidate.

(William E. Saracino is a member of the California Political Review editorial board. Originally published on California Political Review.)

Back to the Nineties


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HealthCare.gov Is Still Not Fixed

From The Daily Caller:

Major health insurance executives testified before Congress that HealthCare.gov is still not completely fixed.

“Is the website fixed?” Republican Texas Rep. Pete Olson asked six insurance executives at a Wednesday House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on Obamacare’s impact on the insurance industry.

“I think if the back end issues are considered part of the website, there are still issues outstanding,” said Mark Pratt, senior vice president for state affairs at America’s Health Insurance Plans, a national association representing health insurance plans.

(Read Full Article)

obamacare gitmo

Lawmakers to Vote on Rainy Day Fund Deal

From The Sacramento Bee:

The Legislature is expected to vote next week on a rainy-day fund agreement between Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders, the governor’s office announced Thursday, hours after details of the agreement first emerged from the Capitol.

The deal resolves a major part of Brown’s budget proposal far earlier than usual in the annual budget-making process. It includes a higher minimum set-aside of general fund revenue each year than the Democratic governor had initially proposed, a measure necessary to satisfy Republicans.

Photo courtesy of ohad*, flickr

Photo courtesy of ohad*, flickr