LA DA Gascon/CA Attorney General Bonta Protect Cartel Illegal Marijuana Grow in Los Angeles

There is illegal marijuana being grown in L.A. County.  Neither the DA, Gascon, or the Attorney General, Bonta want to do anything about it.  This is why I say the legalization of marijuana was just a cover for the illegal marijuana grows and sales.  Bonta and Gascon are now co-conspirators to the growing and sales of marijuana—which is also a tax evasion crime.

“Los Angeles County narcotics investigators were unable to convince District Attorney George Gascon or California Attorney General Rob Bonta to file felony charges against international cartel members after busting the largest illegal marijuana operation in the area’s history.

The months long operation culminated during 10 days in May when 287 search warrants were served by hundreds of law enforcement officials in a desert north of Los Angeles. They found harvested marijuana worth $1.4 billion along with 40 firearms, which included numerous rifles. Authorities arrested 105 people.”

Yet Gascon and Bonta are silently protecting these international criminals.  Maybe they need to be indicted for using their offices to promote crime?

California prosecutors back off punishing cartel marijuana farmers breaking environmental laws

by Tori Richards,  Washington Examiner,  8/4/22 

Los Angeles County narcotics investigators were unable to convince District Attorney George Gascon or California Attorney General Rob Bonta to file felony charges against international cartel members after busting the largest illegal marijuana operation in the area’s history.

The months long operation culminated during 10 days in May when 287 search warrants were served by hundreds of law enforcement officials in a desert north of Los Angeles. They found harvested marijuana worth $1.4 billion along with 40 firearms, which included numerous rifles. Authorities arrested 105 people.

Investigators sought to convince Gascon’s office that felony charges were warranted in this case because of the egregious nature of the farm sites. Hazardous pesticides were routinely used on 270,000 plants that have certainly infiltrated the groundwater, said Lt. Howard Fuchs with the LA County Sheriff’s Department.

The answer was a resounding no.

The sheriff’s department wanted to charge Health and Safety Code Section 11358, a felony, which alleges that the suspects violated a water code pertaining to hazardous runoff by using carbofuran. This illegal pesticide immediately kills wildlife up to the size of a bear.

Harvested marijuana dries in a Los Angeles farm busted by law enforcement in May 2022.

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department

“Our investigators were unable to convince prosecutors to file felony charges,” Fuchs said of Gascon’s satellite office in Antelope Valley, which is on the way to California’s central farm belt. “The filing DA and the presiding judge said the case was overcharged by using the felony section.”

Last month, Bonta toured Antelope Valley by helicopter to view the epidemic of illegal marijuana groves sprouting up around the state, sucking dry the water wells, aquifers, and other supplies during a drought. The recent record-breaking raid was discussed with him in a forum that included other elected officials and law enforcement.

“I told him we attempted to file these as felonies,” Fuchs said. “He was receptive. He listened intently and took notes and asked questions.”

But there has been no response from Bonta regarding holding the suspects accountable, and so far, nothing has happened. Nine people in the group faced felony weapons charges, but the rest received citations tantamount to traffic tickets. The suspects were released and are likely out scouting for a new location to resume business, Sheriff Alex Villanueva said.

California laws lack teeth when it comes to commercial marijuana cultivation and sales. Perpetrators face misdemeanor charges of operating cultivation sites without a state permit and are usually back in business immediately, officials say.

Undaunted, law enforcement destroy their camps and moved on to their next investigation.

Villanueva called the inability to hold cartels accountable “disturbing.”

“As a lifelong Sierra Club member and environmentalist, I’ve always done everything I can to protect the environment,” he said. “You can’t get much worse than cartels destroying the environment for profit. This is impacting the community in the high desert, the water supply, the environment, the wildlife. Last year, we came across the carcasses of bears who had been drinking contaminated water.”

Gascon has a stated policy of downgrading felony charges in many violent crimes, including murder, gang involvement, and sexual assault. He did not respond to a request for comment. As for Bonta, he said in a press release that illicit marijuana growers need to be held accountable.

“Illegal grow sites harm our environment and undermine businesses that do things the right way,” Bonta said. “Together, we’re fighting to stop our waterways from being polluted and pushing back on illegal and unlicensed activity. I greatly appreciate the work of all of our partners across the state to continue to take on this challenge.”

This is the type of scam you would expect Hunter Biden to promote.

Wildfires are destroying California’s forest carbon credit reserves-study

The fraud of carbon credits is the abuse of the taxpayers, in this case the wildfires may help the economy of California.  Offsets are just a gancy term for moving carbon from one area—those buying the carbon credits, to another area—those selling the offsets.  The amount of carbon on the globe is the exact same—but millions are spent pretending you are saving the Earth.

Carbon offsets generated from forests to counteract future climate-warming emissions from California’s big polluters are rapidly being depleted as trees are ravaged by wildfire and disease, new research published on Friday suggests.

One of California’s key policy tools to combat climate change may be falling far short of its goals, the researchers said – raising questions about similar carbon offset programs around the world.”

This is the type of scam you would expect Hunter Biden to promote.

By Nichola Groom, Reuters, 8/5/22  

(Reuters) – Carbon offsets generated from forests to counteract future climate-warming emissions from California’s big polluters are rapidly being depleted as trees are ravaged by wildfire and disease, new research published on Friday suggests.

One of California’s key policy tools to combat climate change may be falling far short of its goals, the researchers said – raising questions about similar carbon offset programs around the world.

The study, published in the journal Frontiers in Forests and Global Change, was conducted by CarbonPlan, a San Francisco-based non-profit that researches the integrity of programs designed to offset carbon emissions. The group’s research has questioned the value of the California forest carbon offset program in fighting climate change in the past.

“The problems we observe here aren’t unique to the California program and raise broader concerns about the integrity of offsets’ permanence claims,” Freya Chay, one of the study’s authors, said in a statement.

Under California law, large emitters face carbon limits and can buy allowances if they exceed them. They may offset up to 4% of their emissions with offset credits, such as those generated from the program’s forest conservation projects in 29 states, according to the California Air Resources Board.

A portion of those credits are put into a buffer account, an insurance mechanism tapped in the event that projects are lost to wildfire, disease, pests or financial risks such as bankruptcy. Those credits are meant to guarantee carbon stocks for at least 100 years. But that promise is falling short as climate change fuels intense wildfires, drought and disease, the researchers said.

Wildfires have depleted nearly one fifth of that buffer pool in less than a decade, the analysis found.

The researchers also projected potential losses associated with the disease sudden oak death, which has killed millions of trees in California and Oregon in the last two decades. Widespread tree mortality due to sudden oak death could wipe out all the credits set aside for disease and insect risks to offset projects, the study estimated.

In an emailed statement, a spokesman for the California Air Resources Board (CARB) said its Compliance Offsets Program was “a prudent part of our program,” and that its risk metrics were based on the information available to the state agency at the time the policy was developed.

“We will of course again assess all relevant science and new information when we conduct our next protocol update,” CARB spokesman David Clegern said, without giving a timeline.

Disney is a PHONY on Gay Productions and Views

When Florida passed a law, stopping teachers from promoting sexual lifestyles, Disney yelled and screamed—threatened the State and clearly stated they wanted to kill off the State of Florida for supporting education over indoctrination.

Now the countries in the middle East, that actually kill gay people and openly hate the, gay community.  So what does the Pro-gay Disney folks do?  They bow to the gay haters and change their movies and policies.  Instead of denouncing the gay haters, they are moving to AGREEING with the Middle East gay haters by being silent and subservient.

“After picking a political fight with Florida over the state’s Parental Rights in Education Law, and declaring itself an LGBTQ ally to boot, Disney is reportedly censoring gay and transgender content on the version of the Disney+ streaming service that it launched in the region in June.

Among the titles that won’t stream are the animated movie Lightyear, which features a lesbian kiss, and the Baymax series, which has a transgender “man” who menstruates.

Disney cited “local regulatory requirements” in a statement to Esquire Middle East.

“Content offerings differ across our many Disney+ markets, based upon a number of factors. Content available should align with local regulatory requirements,” the studio said.”

Disney is a PHONY on Gay Productions and Views

Disney Won’t Say Gay in Middle East: Censors LGBTQ Content in Gulf Countries While Fighting Florida Law

DAVID NG, Breitbart, 8/5/22  

The Walt Disney Co. won’t say gay in the Middle East.

After picking a political fight with Florida over the state’s Parental Rights in Education Law, and declaring itself an LGBTQ ally to boot, Disney is reportedly censoring gay and transgender content on the version of the Disney+ streaming service that it launched in the region in June.

Among the titles that won’t stream are the animated movie Lightyear, which features a lesbian kiss, and the Baymax series, which has a transgender “man” who menstruates.

Disney cited “local regulatory requirements” in a statement to Esquire Middle East.

“Content offerings differ across our many Disney+ markets, based upon a number of factors. Content available should align with local regulatory requirements,” the studio said.

Disney+ Middle East recently launched in several predominantly Muslim countries — including the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Qatar — where homosexuality is either illegal or considered taboo.

The UAE already banned Lightyear from showing in local cinemas.

This year, Disney CEO Bob Chapek declared the company will be a staunch ally of the LGBTQ community. He said Disney will continue to fight Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Law, which forbids the teaching of sexuality and gender ideology — including transgenderism — to children in kindergarten through third grade.

Disney used the Democrat slogan “Don’t Say Gay” when referring to the Florida law in a statement in March.

“Our goal as a company is for this law to be repealed by the legislature or struck down in the courts,” the company said.

Desert-based water agency eyes multi-million dollar deal to buy water out of Kings County

Water is getting very expensive.  And that is the purpose of the Democrat policy of no new dams and no expansion of current dams, for the past forty years.  While our population has grown by about 20 million people in that time period, we have lost water sources.  Worse, Newsom is spending over $350 million of your tax dollars to close down four dams in Oregon, that help provide us with water and energy—without any replacement.

“The deal requires approval from the Dudley Ridge Water District and the Department of Water Resources and will total $6.4 million. 

The cost per acre-foot would come to $8,528, and the deal will not be a one-time purchase, but rather a permanent sale. 

Oh, this will inflate the cost of food produced in the Central Valley and add to inflation.

Desert-based water agency eyes multi-million dollar deal to buy water out of Kings County

DANIEL GLIGICH, The Sun,   8/4/22   

A Kern County water agency is looking to purchase water from a state contractor located in Kings County. 

Earlier this week, the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority, located in eastern Kern County, signed a letter of intent to buy the lifetime rights to 750 acre-feet of Kings River water from Utica J.L.J. LLC. 

SJV Water first reported the deal. 

Utica J.L.J. is a State Water Project contractor located in Kings County that is developing a truck stop and industrial center south of Kettleman City on a 400-acre location at Utica Ave. and Interstate 5. 

The deal requires approval from the Dudley Ridge Water District and the Department of Water Resources and will total $6.4 million. 

The cost per acre-foot would come to $8,528, and the deal will not be a one-time purchase, but rather a permanent sale. 

This is not the first time that state water from Dudley Ridge has been permanently sold. 

In 2009, water giant John Vidovich sold 14,000 acre-feet of state contracted water to the Mojave Water District in Apple Valley for $77 million, coming out to $5,500 per acre-foot. 

While the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority is not a state contractor, the water publication reported that it has held discussions with the Antelope Valley-East Kern Water Agency to store the Dudley Ridge water. 

A feasibility study is currently in the works to explore extending an existing pipeline from California City to the Indian Wells Valley, which would be funded by a $7.6 million grant from the Department of Water Resources. 

Why is the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority looking to purchase state water? 

That’s because the authority only has 7,600 acre-feet of natural flow annually while pumping out 28,000 acre-feet of groundwater. 

The outflow to inflow discrepancy led the authority to impose a replenishment fee to all groundwater pumpers of $2,130 per acre-foot over a five-year period, which is expected to raise $50 million to be used to purchase more water.

UCLA will miss carbon neutral goal by 43 years: report

How can you be off by 43 years to meet a goal?  Either the goal was a fraud, or this was an effort to pretend you cared about the goal.  In this case, the real problem is that UCLA can not raise tuition high enough or fast enough to pay for the non productive carbon goals of the drugged out policy makers.  Drugs can be the only excuse for the disaster to this policy.

““Based on UCLA’s current carbon emission trends, The Stack projects that UCLA will reach zero net carbon emissions in 2068, 43 years after its 2025 goal,” the data blog for the student newspaper reported.

“Although UCLA is offsetting its carbon emissions, the university’s total carbon emissions continue to increase by an average of 1.7% each year since 2007,” the paper reported.

Universities can offset their carbon emissions by buying credits from organizations that are taking steps to reduce carbon.

“Becoming carbon neutral means that the total amount of carbon emissions from an organization is balanced with the number of carbon offsets that the organization funds, and thus net carbon emissions are zero,” the paper explained. “Some types of carbon offsetting include reforestation, renewable energy projects and landfill management.”

In a world where the air does not know campus, State or national boundaries the ide you can “buy” carbon credits is a joke.  All that means is that you are moving your bad air to other parts of the State or world.  This is what happens when you get a degree from a college that does not believe in science.

UCLA will miss carbon neutral goal by 43 years: report

GRACE SHOEMAKER, The College Fix,  8/3/22   

The University of California Los Angeles will miss its goal to be carbon neutral by 43 years, according to an analysis conducted by the student newspaper.

However, UCLA disputed the Daily Bruin’s claim.

“The university is on track to meet its climate neutrality goals. For more information, please see our climate action plans,” media director Bill Kisliuk told The College Fix. He did not respond to a follow-up email that asked for specific flaws in the campus newspaper analysis.

None of the three authors of the article responded to College Fix emails about the disagreement with the university and if officials had discussed problems with their analysis with them.

Former University of California system president Janet Napolitano set a goal in 2013 for all UC campuses to be carbon-neutral by 2025, but the paper projected UCLA will not reach its goal until 2068.

The Carbon Neutrality Initiative announcement in 2013 stated:

The University of California is a national leader in sustainability and effective actions to reduce greenhouse gases to mitigate climate change. The University galvanized its position for environmental stewardship in 2007 when all ten Chancellors became signatories to the American College & Universities Presidents’ Climate Commitment. To reach our next goal, which is to bring the University to carbon‐neutrality in its operations by 2025, we will need to take bold efforts to change the fundamental profile of our energy sources.

All the other UC campuses, with the exception of Merced, are also projected to miss their targets.

That report found that the campus’ carbon emissions were rising an average of 4,750 metric tons each year.

“Based on UCLA’s current carbon emission trends, The Stack projects that UCLA will reach zero net carbon emissions in 2068, 43 years after its 2025 goal,” the data blog for the student newspaper reported.

“Although UCLA is offsetting its carbon emissions, the university’s total carbon emissions continue to increase by an average of 1.7% each year since 2007,” the paper reported.

Universities can offset their carbon emissions by buying credits from organizations that are taking steps to reduce carbon.

“Becoming carbon neutral means that the total amount of carbon emissions from an organization is balanced with the number of carbon offsets that the organization funds, and thus net carbon emissions are zero,” the paper explained. “Some types of carbon offsetting include reforestation, renewable energy projects and landfill management.”

Sustainability at UCLA did not respond to requests for comment on projected failure to achieve its carbon neutrality goals and what mistakes were potentially made in its analysis.

“As the University works to accomplish that goal, we will continue to challenge ourselves by harnessing the best available science and technology to achieve greater carbon reductions,” Nurit Katz, the chief sustainability officer for UCLA, stated in an email to the Daily Bruin.

Crime rate is up, but Stanford public safety board ‘fiercely focused’ on equity

The bigots that run Stanford University do not care if your child is a rape, murder or robbery victim.  They are concerned that too many of the CRIMINALS are of color, rather than concerned about the crime. 

“The head of Stanford University’s Department of Public Safety noted the crime rate is up around campus, but the school’s Community Board on Public Safety nonetheless remains “fiercely focused” on issues of equity.

At the CBPS’s second annual meeting last week, Chief Laura Wilson even admitted that this focus “has not gone without consequence,” The Stanford Daily reports.

Over the last year, CBPS began “anti-bias and de-escalation education programs” and “collaborated with consulting firms to remodel campus safety.” As such, Wilson said Stanford Public Safety “shifted its attention ‘from trying to prevent crime to investigating reported crimes’ by decreasing the presence of armed officers.”

Would you send your child to Chicago for four years and live in the crime center of that city?  Then why send your child to a University that, like Chicago, L.A. New York and other woke cities, protect criminals and do not care about the victims.  Want to watch crime—visit Stanford University.

Crime rate is up, but Stanford public safety board ‘fiercely focused’ on equity

DAVE HUBER, College Fix,   8/3/22    

The head of Stanford University’s Department of Public Safety noted the crime rate is up around campus, but the school’s Community Board on Public Safety nonetheless remains “fiercely focused” on issues of equity.

At the CBPS’s second annual meeting last week, Chief Laura Wilson even admitted that this focus “has not gone without consequence,” The Stanford Daily reports.

Over the last year, CBPS began “anti-bias and de-escalation education programs” and “collaborated with consulting firms to remodel campus safety.” As such, Wilson said Stanford Public Safety “shifted its attention ‘from trying to prevent crime to investigating reported crimes’ by decreasing the presence of armed officers.”

This meant fewer campus police patrols around student housing.

“We’re not quite sure what the community wants from us at this point in time, because it’s hard to stop crime if you’re not out there, contacting people,” Wilson (pictured) said. She added that “responses to crime have become more delayed due to reduced police engagement on campus.”

But to which community is Wilson referring? Is it activist groups such as the Committee for Change and Abolish Stanford … or average students who just want to pursue their studies in safety?

In addition to Chief Wilson, the conference included Stanford Center for Racial Justice Director George Brown, Riseling Group President Sue Riseling and CBPS Co-Chairs CBPS Patrick Dunkley and Claude Steele.

From the story:

According to Riseling, the decline of armed officers in areas with high student activity is an important move to decrease the presence of weapons on campus, which has an associated higher risk of armed violence.

Brown agreed, noting that to build a safe and equitable policing system, police departments should limit usage of weapons as a last resort and introduce training with less focus on force. “Use the minimum amount of force required and ensure that the force will not injure innocent third parties and that the level of force is necessary and proportionate,” he told police departments at the meeting.

The issue of biases in the Stanford policing system was revisited throughout the meeting. Based on the board’s analysis of data collected from 2018 to 2020, [Steele] reported a pattern of Latinx and African American drivers being disproportionately cited more frequently.

While Steele reiterated CBPS’s focus on “discriminatory policing,” he said “a definitive conclusion still can not be drawn” and that a complete report will issued later this year.

The CBPS was created following the killing of George Floyd two years ago. Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne said at the time the board was “only the first in a series of initiatives […] to confront anti-Black racism on campus and in our communities as we focus on the critical issue of racial justice.”

Amid housing crisis, California cities look to target vacant homes with taxes

How do you increase the cost of owning a property and at the same time devalue it?  You tax homeowners for NOT renting out their homes.

“‘’Unfortunately, Alameda County’s housing remains unaffordable for many of its residents, and this burden does not fall evenly across income and racial groups,” Harrison’s report said. “While 47% of renters in Alameda County are rent burdened, the rate is 58% for Black renters and 87% for extremely low-income renters. Meanwhile, as this crisis continues to unfold, Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board data indicates that 1,128 fully or partially regulated units have been classified by their owners as not available to rent.’’

That is socialist thought—that government controls your property.  The real reason people can not afford housing is government policy.  This will make the problem worse.

Amid housing crisis, California cities look to target vacant homes with taxes

Some of California’s most expensive cities will ask voters if empty homes should be taxed to relieve pressure on the housing market.

NATALIE HANSON, courthouse News,  8/3/22  

BERKELEY, Calif. (CN) — The city of Berkeley joins a growing list of California cities planning to ask voters whether property owners with vacant homes should be taxed to relieve unprecedented pressure on the housing market.

San Francisco, Napa, Santa Cruz and other cities all rank high in desirability and median rent rates, and are moving forward with vacancy tax measures to address a worsening housing availability crisis. Voters this November will weigh claims the strategy will free up revenue to create more affordable housing and push more units onto the strained market amid widespread home bidding wars

Some city leaders say forcing vacant homes onto the market via tax or fine will help prevent valuable units from standing unused for long periods of time. But others argue committing to building more housing would be more effective.

The 2020 UCLA Affordable Housing Brief found 17% of homeowners and 30% of renters pay more than half of their household income for housing, while the state’s population grows faster than the housing supply. Meanwhile, the California Association of Realtors estimated that around 1.2 million units, apartments and single-family homes may sit vacant around California.

Berkeley City Council Vice Mayor Kate Harrison pushed her colleagues for an empty home tax ordinance on this year’s ballot on June 14.  It was finally approved for November’s ballot on Wednesday, with many calls of both support and opposition coming from the community.

‘’Unfortunately, Alameda County’s housing remains unaffordable for many of its residents, and this burden does not fall evenly across income and racial groups,” Harrison’s report said. “While 47% of renters in Alameda County are rent burdened, the rate is 58% for Black renters and 87% for extremely low-income renters. Meanwhile, as this crisis continues to unfold, Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board data indicates that 1,128 fully or partially regulated units have been classified by their owners as not available to rent.’’

Harrison cited a report in San Francisco finding vacancies are disproportionately in multi-family apartment complexes and in areas with older housing stock and higher rates of new construction. She said this suggests property owners are holding older units vacant to capitalize on new construction, and she wants a tax to send a message to these owners and “out of towners” who let property sit empty in a city they may not live in.

Berkeley, where 55% of residents are renters, saw median rents increase by more than 50% between 2005 to 2019, hitting $3,165 — not affordable to people earning under $130,000 per year. Zillow shows that median has dropped to about $2,975 this year. Like most Bay Area cities, there is plenty of housing priced above the median income, but not enough for any other categories of income earners.  

“The extraordinary gap between the housing needs of residents and the availability of housing can only be bridged through the use of numerous policy interventions, including a vacancy tax intended to incentivize owners of housing property to bring units back on the market and discourage speculation,” city staff wrote.

Across the bay, San Francisco also approved a measure asking for a vote on whether to tax empty units and add revenue to an affordable housing fund.

The proposed tax would launch in 2024 and start applying to owners of buildings with three or more units vacant for more than 182 days per year, taxing them between $2,500 to $5,000. The strategy could bring 4,500 units back on the market and generate as much as $38 million annually for affordable housing, according to city staff. 

This policy is unique from other cities by keeping vacant single family homes and duplexes exempt. Supervisor Dean Preston told the San Francisco Chronicle that’s because he is targeting real estate speculators who operate high end downtown developments currently standing empty.

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Down the coast, Santa Cruz — where the median rent has skyrocketed to $4,000 per month — also OK’d a similar measure being presented this November. 

Housing Department staffer Elizabeth Smith said the voter-led initiative proposes taxing landlords whose properties were occupied for less than 120 days a year, for $3,000 to $6,000. City staff reported that if approved, it would cost $607,000 to launch — but should cost $420,000 and generate up to $4 million annually.

Cyndi Dawson, campaign manager of Yes on Empty Homes, said her team thinks it’s key to put a levy on homes which stand empty to create a revenue stream for building subsidized homes. 

“The community is looking around and seeing friends, families and colleagues pushed out by skyrocketing housing costs,” Dawson said. “If a property owner opts to keep their housing vacant, this creates a pathway for that property owner to support this community they want to be a part of and meet the number one need.” 

While Dawson acknowledged an opposition campaign running against the empty homes measure, called Santa Cruz Together, she said the campaign hired a tax lawyer to confirm the proposed ordinance aligns with local best practices to make sure it is the “lowest burden” option for homeowners.

Lynn Renshaw of Santa Cruz Together said their group thinks the measure is “poorly written” and would open property owners to being charged for multiple offenses because they won’t understand how to comply.

In Los Angeles, officials have grappled with putting the question to voters for years, after a report in 2020 showed approximately 85,000 to 100,000 units may be empty throughout the city. A new report from the ACCE Institute reflects the city has more than 46,000 units suspended in non-market vacancy or “more than one for every unhoused person.” 

While nearby West Hollywood City Council pushed off discussing the same policy until next spring, this past April the Los Angeles City Council asked staff to draft options for a future ballot measure. A city spokesperson said the city is still designing a draft ordinance and would not comment on a timeline for approval.

There is a debate about whether this strategy will help open housing for homeless residents, by pushing property owners to not hold vacant units. Dawson said annual counts of homeless residents show a “huge spike” in Santa Cruz residents who lost longtime homes. She hopes to motivate property owners to rent their units as they are legally required to accept people holding housing choice (Section 8) vouchers. 

“That’s guaranteed income from the government, and people who hold those vouchers are great tenants,” she said. 

Ryan Finnigan, senior research associate at UC Berkeley’s Turner Center, said while the concept is relatively new, he does not think taxing empty units will necessarily directly address homelessness. He said even if approved, there are not many units which the tax would apply to.

“I don’t think it’ll move the needle in a profound way, it might not be a huge contributor to addressing homelessness,” Finnigan said. But he called the concept reasonable: “Especially if we don’t just think of housing as a profitable commodity, but when we consider the value of housing as being of both public importance and relevance.”

Sharon Cornu, executive director at the senior homeless services organization St. Mary’s in Oakland, said she thinks such measures do directly address homelessness. She supported Oakland’s passing an empty homes tax measure in 2018, Measure W, from Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan. That tax of $3,000 to $6,000 based on property type collected more than $7 million in its first year. Oakland has the lowest median rent, $2,595, compared to market reports from other cities considering this strategy.

Cornu said St. Mary’s has helped senior clients who were stably housed until a new landlord bought their property, raised rents and evicted people. She said often many properties stay empty after such evictions.

“We believe the exemptions for affordable housing and development underway  are important to incentivize appropriate infill development,” Cornu said. “National real estate corporations buying up single family homes, duplexes and affordable private apartments have also put barriers between people in need and housing.

“Those vacant homes could help people off the streets and are a critical resource,” she said.

Association of Realtors chapters in Santa Cruz, San Francisco and the North Bay did not respond to requests for comment by press time. 

Inflation act will fuel higher insurance premiums

Every aspect of the Income Reduction Act (the accurate name) will cost every taxpayer money.  From the 16 cent per gallon gas tax increase via new taxes on oil companies, to insurance, those who earn $24,000 and those who earn $240,000 will see increased cost for goods and taxes.

“This river of federal cash is driving up prices throughout the health sector. The Kaiser Family Foundation reports that insurers have proposed raising exchange premiums by a median of 10% next year. They can do so with relative impunity since taxpayers are effectively picking up the entire increase.

It’s mystifying that the Democrats can gift insurers $65 billion in taxpayer dollars over the next three years, watch as those insurers raise premiums, and crow about reducing inflation. Don’t be fooled.”

Inflation act will fuel higher insurance premiums

Photo courtesy of kenteegardin, flickr

SALLY PIPES, Washington Examiner,  8/4/22 

The Senate is set to consider the Inflation Reduction Act, the Democrats’ massive budget reconciliation legislation.

President Joe Biden has stumped for the bill’s hundreds of billions in tax hikes on corporations as a way to ensure they “pay their fair share.” But many of those dollars will subsidize the purchases of people who hardly need help. In so doing, they’ll distort the market in ways that lead to higher prices for everyone.

A married couple with an income of up to $300,000 can look forward to a check from their fellow taxpayers to help pay for an electric vehicle costing up to $80,000. People shopping for health insurance on the exchanges can rest assured they’ll continue to pay no more than 8.5% of their income for coverage, no matter how much they make. In practice, that means a four-person household making eight times the poverty level (about $212,000 a year) would be eligible for a $12,000 handout from taxpayers to help with the cost of exchange coverage, according to research from the Paragon Health Institute.

It’s dubious to subsidize health insurance for households with incomes roughly three times the national median. But it makes even less sense when three-quarters of that spending goes to people who already had insurance before these subsidies came into being in 2021. In other words, Democrats are picking up part of the tab for people who were previously content to pay for coverage on their own.

This river of federal cash is driving up prices throughout the health sector. The Kaiser Family Foundation reports that insurers have proposed raising exchange premiums by a median of 10% next year. They can do so with relative impunity since taxpayers are effectively picking up the entire increase.

It’s mystifying that the Democrats can gift insurers $65 billion in taxpayer dollars over the next three years, watch as those insurers raise premiums, and crow about reducing inflation. Don’t be fooled.

Sally C. Pipes is the president, CEO, and Thomas W. Smith Fellow in Healthcare Policy at the Pacific Research Institute.

San Fran Homeless Suffering Due to Failed Governance by City

San Fran decided to have a homeless tax, to finance the needs of the homeless.  That of course added to the cost of living in this former world class city.  With the scamdemic and the abusive taxes of California, this is a city that has now collapsed.  One example that proves this is the revenues from this tax.

The money San Francisco collected from a controversial 2018 business tax known as Prop C fell from $394 million for July 2019 to June 2020 to $218 million for the following year, according to the city controller’s office. 

Prop C, aimed at housing the homeless, specifically targets companies with revenues of more than $50 million. The drop in Prop C revenue was far greater than the 12% decline in revenue over the same period from the tax that applies to all businesses, showing the extent to which mobile workers and their employers left the city during the pandemic.”  As leases expire firms will leave or close—so expect this tax to continue to decline.  It is a measure of the collapse of San Fran.

SF’s Revenue From a New Homelessness Tax Fell 45% Last Year as Companies Moved and Workers Stayed Home

Touring the Santa newly remodeled Barbara Rescue Mission

Written by Anna Tong, San Fran Standard,  8/3/22   

The money San Francisco collected from a controversial 2018 business tax known as Prop C fell from $394 million for July 2019 to June 2020 to $218 million for the following year, according to the city controller’s office. 

Prop C, aimed at housing the homeless, specifically targets companies with revenues of more than $50 million. The drop in Prop C revenue was far greater than the 12% decline in revenue over the same period from the tax that applies to all businesses, showing the extent to which mobile workers and their employers left the city during the pandemic.

SF’s tech billionaires brawled publicly when Prop C was put on the ballot in 2018, and the juxtaposition of tech money and the city’s chronic homelessness problems made national headlines. The measure passed by a wide margin, but then was challenged in court, so funds weren’t available for spending until late 2020.

It’s unclear how the decline in Prop C revenue might affect homelessness spending in the immediate future. Prop C revenues go into a fund specifically for creating solutions to homelessness, though it’s far from the only money SF spends on the issue.

Prop C advocates said they expect revenue will climb as the city recovers from the pandemic. And the $218 million amount is more in line with the original estimate of $250 to $300 million a year so she’s not concerned about the recent drop in funding, said Jennifer Friedenbach, who is part of the committee that oversees Prop C funds.

The dramatic drop in Prop C revenue highlights the risks to San Francisco’s economy as the Covid pandemic and other forces makes it easier for companies—and individuals—to locate anywhere. The tax is calculated based on the percentage of a company’s employees who work in the city, creating an incentive for firms to keep people at home at a time when the city is desperate for them to return to empty downtown offices.

“San Francisco’s approach to taxation has been to assume that they had something pretty unique and they could therefore put taxes on businesses located there without it having an impact on employment in the city,” said Alan Auerbach, a tax economist at UC Berkeley. “Covid was a shock to the system, and companies have found they can operate without employees in the city. It makes SF tax policy even more problematic, because now they can’t assume that companies will need to have their workers there.”

SF voters have approved 7 new business taxes since 2018, compared to just 1 change each for San Jose and Oakland in the past decade, according to city officials. Business taxes are the second-largest individual source of revenue for the city, behind property taxes. 

The economic health of downtown SF is not just about the tax revenue: office workers generated 75% of the city’s gross domestic product pre-Covid—every cubicle denizen spends thousands a year on food, products and services—and San Francisco’s central business district recovery is by most measures the slowest of any major city in the country.

Proponents of Prop C positioned it as a modest tax that would help address SF’s massive income disparities. Salesforce founder Marc Benioff, who put $7.9 million in personal and corporate money behind Prop C, insinuated that tech founders who didn’t support Prop C were amoral.  Benioff did not respond to a request for comment for this story.

Those who opposed, like Jack Dorsey of Square (now called Block) and the Collison brothers of Stripe, said they also wanted to fix homelessness, but that Prop C unfairly taxed financial services startups and money wasn’t the solution to the city’s homelessness crisis

The Controller’s office predicted only a very modest impact on business activity from Prop C, estimating it would lead to a loss of 725 to 875 jobs and a .1% decline in the city’s gross domestic product. But the pandemic has upended those projections.

It’s not clear to what extent the revenue decline is temporary and due strictly to pandemic-driven moves. 

Business-friendly interests warned Prop C would incentivize financial services companies like Block and Stripe to move their headquarters out of the city: Block ditched SF as its headquarters during Covid and Stripe has decamped to South San Francisco.

Neither company will confirm that Prop C was what prompted them to do it, though in the case of Stripe, the move announcement came before the pandemic hit.

The financial services division of Block that is still called Square generated revenues of $5.2 billion in 2021. It would have paid around $15 million in Prop C tax if half of its employees were working from SF, and $21 million in regular business taxes, according to a Standard analysis. With most employees working from home and no big offices in SF, Square’s tax revenue to SF is likely just a fraction of that now.

Friedenbach disputed that the tax was encouraging companies to keep their workers out of SF.

“Companies are not leaving due to a tiny little half a percent tax on income over $50 million,” she wrote in an email. “That has always been hyperbole.”

She also said the recovery of downtown recovery is linked to reducing homelessness.

“Without Prop C, thousands more would be on the streets and business interests would be complaining about that,” she wrote. “It is a fair way to ensure the very poorest in SF have an opportunity to thrive. And that benefits all of us.”

Kaiser mental health workers signal open-ended strike in Northern California

People who on the edge of sanity, and beyond, are going to find out on August 15 in the Bay Area that they are alone and without any support or help.

“A union representing 2,000 Kaiser Northern California mental health workers this morning announced plans for an open-ended strike beginning Aug. 15.

Among the reasons union representatives outlined: high clinician workloads and patients waiting weeks or even months for mental health care. Even as demand for care has surged, frustrated therapists are abandoning the health giant, said union spokesperson Matt Artz.

People having an emotional breakdown can not wait weeks or months for therapy, diagnosis or treatment.  This is a disaster in the making.  My bet is that this strike spreads to other regions as well.

Kaiser mental health workers signal open-ended strike in Northern California

BY JOCELYN WIENER, CalMatters,   8/2/22   

IN SUMMARY

The union representing 2,000 Kaiser Northern California mental health works announced plans to strike, citing high workloads and long waits for patients.

A union representing 2,000 Kaiser Northern California mental health workers this morning announced plans for an open-ended strike beginning Aug. 15.

Among the reasons union representatives outlined: high clinician workloads and patients waiting weeks or even months for mental health care. Even as demand for care has surged, frustrated therapists are abandoning the health giant, said union spokesperson Matt Artz.

“We don’t take striking lightly,” Sal Rosselli, president of the National Union of Healthcare Workers, which represents the clinicians, said in a prepared statement, “but it’s time to take a stand and make Kaiser spend some of its billions on mental health care.” 

Deb Catsavas, a senior vice president at Kaiser Permanente, said in an emailed statement that the threat of a strike is “sadly, a bargaining tactic this union has used every time it has bargained a new contract.”

Calling the union’s tactics “unethical and counterproductive,” Catsavas said the two sides were “close to an agreement” and that Kaiser is “committed to bargaining in good faith to reach a fair and equitable agreement that is good for our therapists and our patients.”

The company has drawn increased scrutiny from lawmakers for its mental health services in recent years. In May, the Department of Managed Health Care announced that it would be conducting a non-routine audit of Kaiser’s mental health services.

The union and Kaiser have one more bargaining session planned for Friday, Artz said. He said Kaiser Northern California’s mental health workers, including psychologists, social workers, therapists and addiction counselors, have gone on strike for short amounts of times six times in the past 4 years. This would be their first open-ended strike, which means the union is not establishing an end date.

Kaiser has 4.6 million enrollees in Northern California, Artz said, though that figure does not reflect how many currently access their mental health benefits. 

In a letter sent Sunday to the Department of Managed Health Care, which regulates health plans, the union asked the department to ensure that Kaiser continues providing mental health care to patients during the strike, rather than canceling appointments.

Amanda Levy, deputy director for health policy and stakeholder relations for the Department of Managed Health Care, said the department is continuing to monitor access to services for patients impacted by the strike. 

“The law requires health plans provide enrollees with medically necessary care within timely access and clinical standards at all times, which includes during an employee strike,” she said in an emailed statement.

Despite growing efforts at the state level to enforce mental health parity laws, Kaiser mental health practitioners say they still struggle to provide adequate and timely care for patients.

Sarah Soroken, who has worked as a therapist at Kaiser Fairfield for six years, said access to treatment has worsened during her time there. She said the pandemic has aggravated the situation, with more patients seeking care, even as more therapists are leaving.

“Right now we’re at a crisis point,” she said. “Things are worse than ever.” 

Kaiser is not the only provider facing a shortage of mental health practitioners. Complaints of shortages also have been raised by counties, school districts and non-profit organizations around the state. Artz said some Kaiser providers are being recruited to work at telehealth start-ups, where money is good and work-from-home options abound. Others are entering private practice.

“Right now we’re at a crisis point. Things are worse than ever.”

SARAH SOROKEN, KAISER FAIRFIELD THERAPIST

The union says the rate at which mental health clinicians are leaving Kaiser nearly doubled in the past year, with 668 clinicians leaving between June 2021 and May 2022, compared to 335 clinicians the previous year. In a union survey of 200 of those departing clinicians, 85 percent said they were leaving because their workload was unsustainable or they felt they did not have enough time to complete the work, and 76 percent said they were unable to “treat patients in line with standards of care and medical necessity.”

Some of these concerns are not new, although the pandemic has exacerbated them. 

In 2013, the Department of Managed Health Care fined Kaiser $4 million for failure to provide adequate mental health treatment.

In a hearing this spring, lawmakers raised concerns about the state’s plans to move an additional 200,000 Medi-Cal members onto Kaiser, given problems with mental health treatment. Democratic Sen. Scott Wiener of San Francisco has introduced a bill to significantly increase fines for health plans that fail to comply with state laws.

Another bill of Wiener’s, SB 221, which took effect July 1, is intended to ensure patients don’t face long delays for follow-up treatment through commercial providers like Kaiser. Specifically, the new law, which was sponsored by the union, requires thatpatients receive follow-up mental health care within 10 business days unless a provider determines that a longer wait will not be detrimental to the patient. 

At a virtual press conference in late June, Kaiser mental health practitioners said the health giant wasn’t close to meeting those requirements.