Bachmann believes GOP can take California electoral votes in 2012

Is Republican presidential candidate Congresswoman Michele Bachman a little too optimistic or just naive?

In her remarks Friday night at the California Republican Party Fall Convention Bachmann suggested Republicans can win in California against Democratic incumbent president Barack Obama: “I believe that 2012 will be a wave election that goes all across the United States and will even take in the Golden State.”

Optimism by political candidates is usually appreciated but assuming Republicans will take California in a presidential race in 2012 might be a stretch. Not to say the Republican Party is doomed from winning elections in California, it just has some groundwork to do first…especially coming off of such a disappointing state gubernatorial election in 2010.

Leadership on Large Development Project in Irvine

I witnessed firsthand on August 30 an amazing display of calm, deliberative and ultimately decisive leadership by Irvine Mayor Sukhee Kang.  The only agenda item  for the Irvine City Council was a major development project—Great Park Neighborhoods by FivePoint Communities.  At stake, nearly 5,000 homes surrounding the Great Park, transportation improvements, bringing 16,500 jobs to the City and contributing more than $865 million in local infrastructure investment.

Three people testified in support:  business leader Tom Nielsen, former State Senator Marian Bergeson, and yours truly on behalf of OCBC.  Not one person appeared in opposition, yet the public hearing lasted for more than six hours with two council members out of the five taking the majority of time peppering staff with questions about the plan.

Questions they already knew the answers to.  Questions they would have already asked in personal council briefings. Questions that, to this ear, seemed to be “gotcha” questions.  But they were questions well-answered, I might add, by a well-prepared city staff and development team.  City staff had done its homework and represented the residents of Irvine very well, assuring the public of the significant public benefits of the project.

Mayor Kang heard it all.  He skillfully led his fellow council members into a thoughtful motion to approve the project, subject to conditions to satisfy most of the questions asked, and called for a vote.  Amazingly, the council voted three to two to support the project, with two Republicans—Steven Choi and Jeffrey Lalloway—supporting Democrat Mayor Sukhee Kang!

I suspect that is the first time bi-partisan support occurred in Irvine over the Great Park.  An historic vote and none too soon.

The project deserved unanimous council approval.

California’s economy is suffering, and so are its people. We have the second highest unemployment rate in the nation at 12.4%.  And it is no secret that Irvine is the heart of Orange County’s economy.  As Orange County leads Southern California out of the recession, a lot of credit goes to Irvine, a jobs magnet, a housing innovator.

Nationally recognized investment advisors PIMCO (Pacific Investment Management Company) visited OCBC recently and shared a dire prediction: there is a 30-35% chance of re-entering the recession. They emphasized that recovery of the housing market is critical to the nation’s recovery.  Irvine, of course, is ground zero for housing:  not only has The Irvine Company started successfully building and selling new homes again, but FivePoint Communities’ project furthers the objective, and these companies then give confidence to other communities to begin to dust off the plans and start building again—a major boost to any economy.

Equally as important, said PIMCO: politicians need to stop bickering and start working together on practical solutions to the country’s economic problems.  We need to replace the “teenagers leading our country with adults,” they said.

The back-and-forth political carryings-on are still daily fodder for the press in Sacramento and Washington.  Fortunately, here in Orange County, we have an example of an elected official who understands what it means to lead in tough times.  He and his council brethren know that in this economy, with so many folks out of work, those who have the ability to create a job have a duty to do so.

Kudos to Mayor Kang.  And thank you.

 

(Lucy Dunn is the president and CEO of the Orange County Business Council.)

Rick Perry speaks at rally in Orange County Sept. 8 (part 1)


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GOP candidates debate Social Security, Cain and Perry get it right

Governor Rick Perry has been on the record calling Social Security a “Ponzi scheme” and the comments came under fire by Mitt Romney during the GOP presidential debate while Herman Cain offered up the best solution.

Romney said you cannot say that to the tens of millions that social security is a failure. He believes that Republicans ought to nominate “someone who is not committed to abolishing social security” but instead saving social security. He argues that the program must be kept and made financially secure. Romney used Social Security as an issue to distinguish himself from Perry, but he sounded more like an apologist for the program which Perry accurately regards as a failure.

While Romney and Perry disagreed rhetorically on Social Security, Herman Cain jumped in with the keenest solution: use the model deployed successfully in Chile. “I believe in the Chiliean mode,” Cain said, it will help transform the United States “from an entitlement society to the empowerment society.”  The Chilean approach requires a payroll contributions for individuals but allows them to invest and manage the accounts themselves, personal accounts. “That is a solution to the problem. Let’s just fix it.” Hopefully some of the other GOP candidates will follow Cain’s lead on this one.

Perry and Romney battle early in GOP presidential debate

It took only minutes in the GOP Presidential debate for the two front runners, governors Rick Perry and Mitt Romney to spar over job creation, in particular their records creating jobs in their home states.

MSNBC’s Brian Williams set the tone of the debate with an opening question on jobs and the economy.  A recent poll, he said, showed that a majority of people in the country believe the economy is going to get worse before it gets better. Also, a majority believe this is a result of the Republican policies of the first eight years of this decade but also believe President Obama is not taking the country in the right direction.

Governor Perry said that economic relief will come when we “Free the entrepreneur,” lower the tax burden, free the capital of businesses and and reduce the impact of regulation, allowing businesses to do what they do best: create jobs.

“What Americans are looking for is for someone to get this country working again,” Perry said.  He touted creating one million jobs in Texas. He asked rhetorically, Who on this stage can get America working again and  said “we know by now the current resident of the White House cannot.”

When Williams suggested the jobs created  in Texas were no t necessarily good jobs, Perry said that 95% of all the jobs in Texas created were above minimum wage and added that it would be hypocritical of the White House or anyone else to be critical of any job creation in this country.

Romney said when he became governor of Massachusetts the state was “in a real free fall.”  Comparing his performance to President Obama he said “We created more job in Massachusetts than this president has done for the entire country.”

Of Romney’s record Perry said “While he had a good private sector record, his public sector record was not very good.”

Romney defended his record by saying that states are different with different political realities. Perry took a jab and said that Michael Dukakis, the former governor of MA, created three times more jobs than Romney. Not missing a beat, Romney said George Bush and his predecessor created jobs faster than Perry.

Perry and Romney are jockeying to prove who is more credible on the economy and job creation pulling no punches in their first official debate against each other.

Live coverage of the GOP Presidential Debate at the Reagan Library

In about an hour the 8 GOP presidential hopefuls will take the stage here at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley to debate. We will have live blog coverage here throughout the debate.

To watch the debate streaming live go to www.politco.com or www.msnbc.com.It starts at 5pm PST.

To submit questions for the candidate visit www.politico.com/reagandebate

Candidates appearing at today’s debate include Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Rep.s Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul, former House speaker Newt Gingrich, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman and former Godfather Pizza CEO Herman Cain.

Voters Fed up with Teachers Unions, poll shows

Apparently voters are becoming more and more fed up with the power of teachers unions and the way the adversely impact education and classroom outcomes for students. And a new Gallup poll confirms the increasingly negative view held about teachers unions.

As reported in the Education Radar newsletter:

According the Gallup survey, 71 percent of respondents said they have trust and confidence in the country’s teachers, while 47 percent said they believe the teachers unions have hurt education. A mere 26 percent believed unions have improved education.


“The general public is seeing the union as a … very hyper-political organization and they are realizing that they are often the biggest impediment to reform,” said Alexandra Schroeck, spokeswoman for the Association of American Educators, the nation’s largest non-union teacher organization. “The American public is waking up, and it’s interesting to see.”


The negative perception of teachers unions likely is fueled by recent debates on collective bargaining in Wisconsin, Indiana and other states, where the radical political positions of the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association have bubbled to the surface.

Los Angeles teachers union obstructing reform for LA schools

Larry Sands, writing forCity Journal California, outlined how the faltering LA Unified School District will have a hard time getting reforms enacted because of opposition from the powerful teachers union:

A major study on teacher quality makes clear just how sclerotic the Los Angeles Unified School District has become—but while the diagnosis and prescriptions are clear, the prognosis is far from certain. The National Council on Teacher Quality’s 58-page report, “Teacher Quality Roadmap: Improving Policies and Practices in LAUSD,” was commissioned by the United Way and several civil rights groups and paid for by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. While the report focuses on Los Angeles, many of its findings are applicable to other school districts around California, where collective bargaining agreements have hamstrung administrators and state laws supersede local policies.

Such studies are vital because they spotlight problems and prescribe a course of action, but they’re only half the battle. The other half, of course, requires implementing needed reforms. New LAUSD superintendent John Deasy welcomed the report, but he knows as well as anyone that the most effective reforms would require fundamentally revising the district’s collective bargaining agreement with the United Teachers of Los Angeles—something that the union and its bought-and-paid-for board of education are simply unwilling to do.

The report, published in June, urges major changes to the union contract and to state law. Teacher evaluations should be overhauled, along with tenure rules and work schedules. Rules should be changed that assign teachers to particular schools based on seniority considerations. Compensation should reward performance, not just advanced degrees and years of experience. Another prescription would incorporate standardized test scores into teacher evaluations—a reform already in effect in Washington, D.C., Florida, Maryland, and Colorado. And the report recommends delaying tenure or permanent status until a teacher has been in a classroom for four years, instead of the two years the current contract stipulates.

Unlike most other teacher contracts, L.A. Unified’s arrangement with UTLA specifies that though full-time employees must work a full eight-hour day, those eight hours needn’t necessarily be in the classroom with kids, or even at school. According to the contract: “The varying nature of professional duties does not lend itself to a total maximum daily work time of definite or uniform length.” The report concludes that the contract lends itself to abuse and that teachers should be at their worksites for a full eight hours.

The report also advises giving principals considerably more power to hire teachers of their choosing and making it easier for administrators to get rid of incompetents. At the moment, what the report calls “perverse incentives” compel principals to overlook poorly performing teachers, which, over time, makes it even more difficult to get rid of them. “For example,” the report notes, “the online evaluation system includes a pop-up warning telling principals who have selected ‘needs improvement’ for three or more of the 27 indicators to contact Staff Relations and present documentation to reinforce the ratings.” In short, if a principal thinks a teacher needs to improve, he’ll need to receive approval from the district’s human resources bureaucracy before he can act. Who needs that kind of aggravation?

The report is particularly tough on seniority. California is one of only 12 states in which the most recent hires get pink slips first—regardless of teacher quality—when layoffs become necessary. The report proposes that a teacher’s performance should be one of the considerations used to make such decisions.

(Click here for the rest of his piece.)

Job Killer: A Ridiculous Bill by CA Assemblyman Jose Solorio

Given that California’s unemployment rate is at 12 percent now, one would think legislators in Sacramento would begin to realize the dire need to craft legislation, or better yet, scrap existing bad legislation, in the interest of economic growth and job creation.

Instead, members of the state legislature, like Orange County’s lone Democrat Assemblyman Jose Solorio, are crafting legislation that will further hamper the economy and hurt job creation. In the case of the Solorio’s bill AB350, not only does it tie the hands of business it also gives special favors to unions. AB 350 forces successor contractors who provide services like maintenance, food service, window cleaning, etcetera to retain employees from previous contractors for 90 days which also means the union reps would have an additional 90 days too. Basically Solorio wants to tell businesses who they must hire and how long they have to keep them employed. Solorio is missing the bigger picture: Economic growth and job creation for the state.

The ill-advised bill is called the “Displaced Property Service Employee Opportunity Act”  and is an expansion of another bill that should have never seen the light of day: “Displaced Janitor Opportunity Act.” Just the names of these bills should serve as a reminder that members of the state legislature have far too much time on their hands.

Here is a summary of the bill from the Total Capitol website:

Existing law, the Displaced Janitor Opportunity Act, requires contractors and subcontractors, that are awarded contracts or subcontracts by an awarding authority to provide janitorial or building maintenance services at a particular job site or sites, to retain, for a period of 60 days, certain employees who were employed at that site by the previous contractor or subcontractor. The act requires the successor contractors and subcontractors to offer continued employment to those employees retained for the 60-day period if their performance during that 60-day period is satisfactory. The act authorizes an employee who was not offered employment or who has been discharged in violation of these provisions by a successor contractor or successor subcontractor, or an agent of the employee, to bring an action against a successor contractor or successor subcontractor in any superior court of the state having jurisdiction over the successor contractor or successor subcontractor, as specified. This bill would rename the act the Displaced Property Service Employee Opportunity Act and make the provisions of the act applicable to property services, which would consist of licensed security, as defined, window cleaning, food cafeteria and dietary services , janitorial services, and cleaning-related or light building maintenance services. This bill would exclude from the definitions of contractor and subcontractor specified types of food service providers. The bill also would make conforming changes.

 

(Originally blogged at the OC Register Orange Punch blog.)

Kelly Thomas police beating video

Below is a video of the beating by police of Kelly Thomas in Fullerton, California. Be forewarned: The video is incredibly graphic and disturbing, mostly because of the sounds made by tasers and screams of agony. More coverage of this disgusting issue to come.