Brown omits funding for transitional kindergarten in May Revise

Walton_High_School_New_ClassroomThe teachers’ unions are going to be very angry at the confused Guv Brown. They thought they owned him. One thing thy really want in money. With money they can buy more legislators. The California Teachers Association, using dues forced from teachers has spent about $.13 million on just one candidate in the Bay Area. The idea of transitional kindergarten is similar to that is the failed Head Start program. All studies done on this multi-billion boondoggle prove that after three years the effect of the program is ZERO.

Transitional kindergarten is to force districts to hire many more teachers—have the unions take part of their paychecks and buy more elected officials. Remember the push to lower class size? Most studies show that is also a waste of time—but cause more teachers to be hired—and more money for the unions. Brown in already facing a $10 billion cash deficit for this years and $340 billion debt—and a collapsing pension system. So even the unions can not be paid off, this year.

Brown also proposed a dramatic increases in contributions toward the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, which is only 67 percent funded and is projected to run out of money to pay teacher pensions. The governor would have teachers, school districts and the state increase their contributions to CalSTRS by a combined $450 million in the first year. The added contributions would increase annually and reach $5 billion, or 35.7 percent of teacher payroll. If enacted, it would eliminate CalSTRS’s unfunded liability in about 30 years.”

Brown omits funding for transitional kindergarten in May Revise

Governor Brown omitted the program funding in May Revise

By Melissa Simon, Times-Standard, 5/14/14

Gov. Jerry Brown’s revised budget, released Tuesday, omits funding for Democrats’ top priority this year: transitional kindergarten, the public school program to ready 4-year-olds for the rigors of elementary school.

Humboldt County Office of Education Superintendent Garry Eagles said he was very pleased that Brown isn’t including transitional kindergarten because it would have diverted money from the K-12 programs.

“In my opinion, this is not the transitional kindergarten program we have now,” Eagles said. “I don’t believe that this model is the best to promote early childhood education – and my office and I are strong proponents of that – and in particular, I don’t believe rural schools and communities would have the capacity to carry out this model.”

Humboldt State University assistant education professor Lyn Scott said a sudden change in funding like this isn’t a wise decision after all the groundwork that has been laid in recent years.

“Any funding changes need to be done in a balanced approach,” Scott said. “I think that keeping focus on the benefits of transitional kindergarten will put pressure on the governor to put it back in the budget.”

Scott said a number of local teachers and principals he works with have been very positive about the benefits of transitional kindergarten.

“Educators in recent years have spent a lot of time developing transitional kindergarten programs for their classrooms, and it wouldn’t be beneficial to now put that back onto the local general funds,” Scott said.

With rosy revenue projections, Brown said he would focus education dollars on repaying money the state borrowed from school districts during the Great Recession and on shoring up the teachers’ pension system. Brown’s revised budget proposes accelerating the repayment schedule of $6.2 billion owed to schools, so that it all would be repaid by the end of the 2014-15 school year. The state had borrowed the money by deferring payments it owed school districts.

Brown also proposed a dramatic increases in contributions toward the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, which is only 67 percent funded and is projected to run out of money to pay teacher pensions. The governor would have teachers, school districts and the state increase their contributions to CalSTRS by a combined $450 million in the first year. The added contributions would increase annually and reach $5 billion, or 35.7 percent of teacher payroll. If enacted, it would eliminate CalSTRS’s unfunded liability in about 30 years.

The governor’s plan projects district contributions rising from 8.25 percent to 19.1 percent of teacher salaries.

“I was surprised that the governor suggested employers – like myself and the districts – increase the percentage going toward teachers’ retirements,” Eagles said. “It’s a big jump and he is asking us to double what we are doing now.”

For next school year, one-quarter of the state’s 4-year-olds will be eligible for state-funded transitional kindergarten. Legislative Democrats have proposed expanding the program to cover all 4-year-olds.

Scott said it’s important to emphasize that the group of students in transitional education classes aren’t a new group of children, but they are just being served in a developmentally appropriate setting.

“These children would’ve been served in kindergarten before the entry date was changed,” Scott said. “What transitional kindergarten did was allow the state to change the entry date but still serve the children that missed the cut-off in age-appropriate classrooms.”

Other highlights of Brown’s education budget include:

Allocating $26.7 million for schools to assess their Internet and network needs and to provide high-speed connections. That network is key to schools participating in the state’s all-electronic annual standardized testing. But the sum is a little more than one-fifth of the amount that the state allocated last year for schools to put into place the new Common Core state standards, which change what and how students learn and how they’re tested.

Allowing schools to count students from poor families only once every three or four years, making it easier for school districts to qualify for supplemental funding to teach low-income students.

Making it easier for schools to offer independent study using computers on campus.

 

Supervisors introduce ballot measure to support transportation infrastructure

Photo courtesy of skew-t, flickr

Photo courtesy of skew-t, flickr

Supervisors introduce ballot measure to support transportation infrastructure 

by Joshua Sabatini, SF Examiner, 5/14/14

With Tuesday’s introduction of a $500 million general-obligation transportation bond for the November ballot, city officials are hoping residents’ frustration with Muni will translate into votes.

The measure’s introduction is the first step toward coming up with the $10 billion investment a recent city task force identified is needed during the next 15 years for an adequate transit system. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is facing a projected $6.3 billion funding shortfall over that time, which the bond would help close.

Transit and city officials are also pushing a second ballot measure — a vehicle license fee increase from .65 percent to 2 percent — that is expected to be introduced in subsequent weeks. Combined, the two measures would generate $1.5 billion to support transportation efforts in The City.

“I believe that this bond will be a turning point for transportation in San Francisco,” said Supervisor Katy Tang, who introduced the bond measure with the support of Mayor Ed Lee and the Board of Supervisors.

Tang said that the most frequent complaint she hears from residents is about the unreliability of Muni. The system is a “great source of frustration for people trying to get to work, to school, to run simple errands or to get to and from events,” she noted.

Tang said that the transit system has fallen into disrepair “after decades of underinvestment.”

The Board of Supervisors is expected to vote to place the bond on the November ballot by the deadline of July 22. It would require two-thirds of the vote to pass.

The measure, which is backed by property taxes, would not result in an increase in taxes on property owners since it is timed to keep the taxes at their existing rates as other debt retires.

The $500 million bond would include $230 million for capital projects to improve the Muni system, $30 million for transit-stop accessibility, $70 million for maintenance and $68 million for pedestrian-safety projects. Additionally, $52 million would be directed toward new and improved bike lanes and other street improvements, and $22 million for new traffic signals.

Similar past bonds have generated revenue for such things as roads, parks, libraries and fire stations.

 

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Finally, Parents are Fighting Back Against Mediocre Government Education

school education students

 

It takes a courageous Mother to say “the Emperor Wears No Cloths’. Thanks to Common Core, education, the classroom, is about teaching to the test, to make the teachers and administrators look good—NOT to educate children. As long as the standardized test scores go up—everybody is happy—except the parents and the students who did not get an education.

“The current culture of school is not meeting his needs. He has to learn what the standards tell him to learn. Teachers are being forced to get students where the state tests say students should be for each grade level by the testing dates.

What makes matters worse is that with all the budget cuts made at the district and school levels to pay for these state tests, class sizes are getting bigger because there is no money to hire more teachers; therefore, Ian cannot get the individual attention he needs to catch up.

She will not allow her son to take the standardized tests—she wants him educated for his future, not the honor of an administrator or teacher. If enough parents stood up to government schools, we would not need charter schools—each school would be run for the educational benefit of the students not the unions and special interests.

Opting Out: Why My Son Will Never Take State Tests

Written by Pauline Hawkins, City Watch, 5/13/14

EDUCATION POLITICS-I’m taking a stand this year: My son is not taking the standardized state tests that are being mandated by the government. His school will receive a zero for my opting him out, which will lower his school’s proficiency standings.

On one hand, I feel bad that his school is being punished for my decision; his school has wonderful teachers and administrators. But it is not me who is punishing the school: Our government is punishing them.

On the other hand, as Ian’s mom, I am ultimately responsible for his education. I believe 100 percent that this test will do more harm than good to my child.

Let me explain why I am opting Ian out: 

1)    Ian does not learn the way other children learn. When he was four years old, we discovered Ian had a cancerous brain tumor. He had it surgically removed, which was followed by radiation and chemotherapy. 

The treatments were successful, but it came at a price: A void was left where the tumor was, and brain cells were damaged from the treatments. His brain has had to make new neurological connections. I am confident that Ian’s brain will eventually make those connections and learning new things will become easier for him, but it will take time.

In the meantime, we have to find innovative ways to help Ian be as successful as possible in school right now, much like other children who are more creative than logical/sequential learners.

Even though Ian is functioning well physically, visually, and verbally, the biggest problem is his memory. He struggles with holding onto new information, which is essential when learning to read and learning math facts.

I know this about him. His teachers know this about him. If the government wants to know this about him, they could immediately get the information by asking his school; they don’t need to collect data on him in the spring, just so they can share their evaluation of him in the fall. 

2)    Ian doesn’t need the stress of a high-stakes test that adds nothing to his education. First, this test will be used as an evaluation of his teacher.

His teacher has nothing to do with his learning issues. As a matter of fact, she is working hard to make Ian as successful as possible. The thought that his poor performance on this type of test could result in a bad evaluation of his teacher devastates me. I don’t want to do that to her or any other teacher.

I know my high-school students are worried about how their performance will affect me. Children don’t need that kind of pressure. Second, Ian doesn’t need the stress of a test that will label him as “partially proficient” or “below proficient.”

Ian will deal with enough labels in his lifetime; he doesn’t need some arbitrary label from a test that only measures a small portion of his abilities. These tests don’t measure the things Ian excels at like art, music, spatial reasoning, and verbal communication.

3)    State tests weaken his education. Because of the new importance placed on these state tests, most elementary schools halt normal educational practices, so students can participate in a number of standardized test preparation activities that have nothing to do with real learning — it’s just test-taking strategies. 

This time could be spent on teaching children to think for themselves instead of how to “perform” properly for the government and the big businesses making these tests. The actual time spent taking the tests does the same thing. If people are wondering why our students are falling behind other countries, they need to look no further than the hours spent every year on preparing and testing our students for these standardized tests.

4)    These tests will measure whether Ian is at the same level as the rest of the students in 3rd grade, which we already know he is not. He is making progress, but Ian is still at least 6 months behind most of his classmates. 

Testing him at a level we all know he is not at is a waste of time and money. Opting Ian out may not get the time and money back, but it is sending a message to the state that they will continue to waste their time and money on Ian and other students who have parents opting their children out.

5)    Because of the current culture in education, Ian hates school. Outside of school, Ian is a curious boy who loves to learn and teach other people what he has learned. This is why my heart breaks every time Ian says he hates school. 

How can a boy so full of curiosity hate school? Because to Ian, school is punitive; it is not a place where he gets rewarded for his natural curiosity; it is not a place where he is taught what he is ready to learn when he is ready to learn it.

The current culture of school is not meeting his needs. He has to learn what the standards tell him to learn. Teachers are being forced to get students where the state tests say students should be for each grade level by the testing dates.

What makes matters worse is that with all the budget cuts made at the district and school levels to pay for these state tests, class sizes are getting bigger because there is no money to hire more teachers; therefore, Ian cannot get the individual attention he needs to catch up.

Opting Ian out of these state tests will help Ian become a healthier, more confident student — I am certain of that. If I allowed Ian to follow the same path of so many children before him, children who learned differently but were told they didn’t measure up to the state’s expectations of them, I’m afraid the beautiful light in his eyes will fade until he becomes one of my sad juniors who cannot engage with their education anymore, or one of my repeating seniors who will eventually drop out of school because school did not meet their needs.

Ian will not become another dismal statistic — not on my watch.

I know Ian’s story is not unique; there are too many students like him. I see what they become when they get to high school. I don’t want that sad fate for my child or anyone else’s for that matter.

I believe 100 percent that this test does more harm than good for children. I hope more parents take a stand this year and fight against state testing. Let’s send a message to the government that enough is enough.

If anyone is interested in taking a similar stand, here is a link to the United Opt-Out Organization for additional information on movements around the country.

(Pauline Hawkins is an English instructor at Liberty High School in Colorado Springs, CO, where she has been teaching for 11 years. She also initiated the student-run newspaper, The LHS Revolution, and is its adviser; the paper is in its tenth year of publication. This post originally appeared on Pauline’s blog

 

Ghost of Prop. 16 haunts the Capitol

felipe calderonSan Fran tried to create a city owned Energy Company—millions was spent on this socialist effort. Finally, since so few agreed to participate, it was shut down. Other communities, using tax dollars have started government energy companies, forcing less revenues from private firms—meaning the people of the community were being taxed to close down private efforts and taxed to subsidize high energy costs.

Surprisingly, a Democrat is proposing a bill that would force the government to have people opt-in, instead of opting out. Doubt if too many people want to voluntarily pay more for energy—and raise taxes to subsidize the government agency.

“Currently, communities can set up CCAs and residents who don’t wish to participate can “opt-out” of the program. The new bill, AB 2145 by Assemblyman Steve Bradford, D-Gardena, prohibits the creation of CCAs unless the residents “opt-in.”

Bradford said his bill makes sure that “communities can know how well the community choice aggregator will meet these goals” and provides “consumer choice and transparency for future community choice aggregator customers.”

Ghost of Prop. 16 haunts the Capitol

by JOHN HOWARD, Capitol Weekly, 5/13/14

In the Capitol, nothing really dies.

Four years after California voters in a bruising, $46 million ballot fight turned down a plan to limit the ability of local communities to set up their own utility districts and energy providers, the issue is back.

This time, voters won’t be weighing in: It‘s in the form of a bill before lawmakers.

Proposition 16, bankrolled largely Pacific Gas & Electric Co., was defeated in June 2010. It would have required a two-thirds vote in communities seeking to create their own public utility districts, expand the existing service areas or set up local systems to purchase “green” or alternative energy.

Currently, communities can set up CCAs and residents who don’t wish to participate can “opt-out” of the program. The new bill, AB 2145 by Assemblyman Steve Bradford, D-Gardena, prohibits the creation of CCAs unless the residents “opt-in.”

Critics, led by environmentalists and alternative energy activists, said the requirement for a two-thirds vote, a difficult-to-reach threshold, actually was an attempt by the utility to stave off competition. Supporters of Proposition 16, in addition to PG&E, included the California Taxpayers Association and the state Chamber of Commerce; all said the proposition gave local voters greater control over their own energy future.

The new plan, backed by PG&E and several major labor groups, deals with a key piece of Proposition 16 – the creation of the local systems known as Community Choice Aggregators, or CCAs, that serve residents with alternative energy, rather than rely on the energy from their traditional utility, such as PG&E.

Marin County established a CCA – it serves 124,000 customers, including some in Richmond — and a Sonoma County CCA is operational this month. Nationally, about 5 percent of energy flows to consumers through CCAs, according to CCA supporters. The first CCA in California emerged in 2007 at the Kings River Conservation District on behalf of the San Joaquin Valley Power Authority, but it ceased operations in 2009, according to a Capitol consultant’s analysis. A CCA was formed in San Francisco four years ago, but it withered after the local Public Utilities Commission declined to authorize its rate schedule.

But it was the creation of the Marin’s CCA triggered the move by PG&E to go to the statewide ballot in 2010. The measure lost by about 300,000 votes.

Berkeley City Councilwoman Kriss Worthington described Bradford’s bill as a “poison pill” that  “limits a CCA’s ability to viably exist at the local level.”

Currently, communities can set up CCAs and residents who don’t wish to participate can “opt-out” of the program. The new bill, AB 2145 by Assemblyman Steve Bradford, D-Gardena, prohibits the creation of CCAs unless the residents “opt-in.”

Bradford said his bill makes sure that “communities can know how well the community choice aggregator will meet these goals” and provides “consumer choice and transparency for future community choice aggregator customers.”

“If we’re talking about trying to end CCAs, that measure was four years ago,” he said at a committee hearing. “This gives voters that same right of choice.”

But a number of critics said the ultimate effect of Bradford’s bill would be to limit the spread of CCAs, which could prove financially beneficial to PG&E.

Berkeley City Councilwoman Kriss Worthington described Bradford’s bill as a “poison pill” that  “limits a CCA’s ability to viably exist at the local level.”

” By allowing this bill to pass, stricter rules and regulations would hinder the process and make CCAs more difficult to achieve,” Worthington wrote in a May 6 letter to the council.

Other foes of the bill include the Greenlining Institute, the California State Association of Counties, the League of California Cities, Sierra Club California and the California Solar Energy Industries Association, among others.

Some in organized labor support the measure, too, saying the job creation promised by the backers of CCAs never really materialized.

“They said they were going to deliver it (energy) cheaper than the utility, they were going to do it greener and they were going to create a lot of jobs in the community, and all of these have failed,” said Sacramento lobbyist Scott Wetch, whose clients include the State Pipe Trades Council and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, among others. The State Building and Construction Trades Council also support the bill.

The power really isn’t environmentally better, Wetch contended, because much of it is produced through the use of renewable energy credits, or RECs, a sort of permission slip that allows companies to operate – at least temporarily – as “green,” even though their energy remains fossil-fuel based.

“So they really aren’t delivering green power, they are delivering phony green power,” Wetch said. “There should be truth in advertising. They should have to report the same way the utilities report,” he said, although he said he supported the new CCA that set up in Sonoma County.

Bradford chairs the Assembly’s Utilities and Commerce Committee, which recently approved his bill. The measure has not yet reached the floor of either house and Gov. Brown has not taken a position on the bill, although two of his top aides worked at PG&E when the fight over Proposition 16 was under way.

But others noted that the current system has been in effect for 12 years, and there has been no popular move to change it.

“I don’t understand why we need to change the model,” Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, D-Bell Gardens, said at a committee hearing. “We have a number of CCAs that are about to launch …. I don’t see how this opt-out, opt-in piece is necessary for that.” She added that “it’s something I’m uncomfortable with at this point.”

She noted in a separate interview that the CCAs that are being put together “were developed on the opt-out model. It’s unfair to change the model while these others are still in the pipeline.”

 

City of Anaheim has too much money: $158 MILLION Subsidy to Hotel!

Photo courtesy of 401(K) 2013, Flickr

Photo courtesy of 401(K) 2013, Flickr

Lawsuit Seeks to Invalidate Massive Hotel Subsidy

By ADAM ELMAHREK, Voice of OC, 5/13/14

A $158 million hotel tax subsidy — one that triggered a contentious Anaheim City Council split and a wave of political activism — is once again the target of a lawsuit that, if successful, could invalidate the deal.

The suit – filed last week by Orange County Communities Organized for Responsible Development (OCCORD) – claims four Anaheim City Council members violated conflict of interest laws by accepting over-the-limit campaign contributions that can be traced back to hotel developer, Bill O’Connell, and then voting on the subsidy.

Council members named in the suit — Lucille Kring, Jordan Brandman, Kris Murray and Gail Eastman — engaged in a “quid-pro-quo” when they took the cash in exchange for voting in favor of the subsidy, the complaint alleges.

The suit also claims that a criminal conflict of interest was triggered when city officials hired a law firm, Rutan and Tucker, to defend the City of Anaheim against OCCORD’s previous lawsuit because the same firm was representing O’Connell’s partnership during the subsidy negotiations.

A common law conflict of interest violation also occurred because Murray and Eastman sit on the Support Our Anaheim Resort (SOAR) advisory board with O’Connell, the lawsuit alleges.

O’Connell and a representative of Rutan and Tucker did not return phone calls seeking comment.

The subsidy first ignited controversy when a former council cast a split, 3-2 vote to approve the deal on Jan. 24, 2012. The subsidy — which allowed an O’Connell partnership to collect 80 percent of the hotels’ generated room tax revenue over 15 years – was necessary to kick-start construction of two four-star hotels and create thousands of jobs, supporters said.

OCCORD activists argued the council had agreed to giveaway a huge tax revenue stream without negotiating community benefits – such as living wage jobs – in return.

That vote was also the beginning of a long running and often bitter split between Mayor Tom Tait and the rest of council, which is generally supportive of tax subsidies for corporate interests. Tait voted against the subsidy and led a public charge to overturn it.

If a court invalidates the subsidy based on OCCORD’s suit, it would be the second time that happens. An OCCORD lawsuit in 2012 alleged that the first approval of the subsidy was illegal because it wasn’t properly noticed under the state’s open meetings law.

A Superior Court judge agreed and voided the deal.

Council then approved the subsidy again at their May 15, 2013 meeting. This time O’Connell would collect 70 percent of the room-tax revenue over 20 years.

In an interview, OCCORD Executive Director Eric Altman said the idea for the suit started with questions about Kring’s flip flops over a ballot measure that would require citywide votes for future hotel tax subsidies.

Kring supported the measure during her election campaign. Then after she won, Tait motioned to place the measure on the ballot, but Kring let it die for lack of a second.

The lawsuit argues that campaign contributions influenced Kring to change her mind.

“In asking why, we found all of these campaign contributions, so that’s the genesis of the lawsuit,” Altman said.

Kring, Brandman, Eastman and Murray did not return phone calls seeking comment.

As Voice of OC reported last year, Kring changed her position on four key city policies while receiving thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from groups and businesses that lobbied for her change of heart, including those connected to O’Connell.

In “mid-April” last year, Kring met with O’Connell’s lobbyist and former Mayor Curt Pringle, O’Connell and his business partner Ajesh Patel to discuss the tax subsidy, Kring wrote in an email obtained by Voice of OC.

Then two weeks after the May vote to approve the subsidy, Pringle held a fundraiser for Kring at The Catch restaurant near Angel Stadium, campaign finance records show.

Kring had loaned her campaign $75,000, so at least some of the campaign contributions went to pay off that debt and therefore straight into her own pocket.

Generally, campaign contributions don’t create a conflict of interest as defined under California gov. code section 1090, the criminal conflict of interest law that OCCORD’s lawsuit alleges was violated.

However, if campaign contributions influenced the vote, then that could be a violation of the law, OCCORD argues.

OCCORD counsel Cory Briggs said that the circumstantial evidence is strong enough to convince a jury that campaign money corrupted the process.

“We only have to prove a conflict with one person for this thing to go down,” Briggs said. “All of them are going to have to persuade a jury that the only thing on their minds was the public interest. Given the money trail, it strikes me as something that will be difficult.”

The suit argues that council members accepted contributions over the city’s $1,900 aggregate limit.

Under the city’s law, which mirrors Orange County’s ordinance, contributions from entities controlled by the same person are combined and subject to the limit.

The suit claims that Kring illegally received $7,250 in contributions from entities and people connected to O’Connell, including Anaheim Park Place Inn, Orangewood, LLC, Stovall’s Inn, LLC and members of the Support Our Anaheim Resort (SOAR) advisory board, among others.

The allegation is similar to when Voice of OC revealed that former Councilman Harry Sidhu, who voted to approve the subsidy in 2012, received $1,700 over-the-limit by taking cash from two different entities controlled by O’Connell.

That article triggered a DA inquiry, which found Sidhu had broken the county’s campaign finance law. Sidhu was forced to pay $1,700 to the county as a result.

 

Texas Two Step by Siracha: First Texas Expansion THEN Closing California Operation

The people that run Siracha, the hot sauce makers are smart—smarter than the confused Guv Brown. They need to continue producing their product, but they also need to leave California.   They have figured out how to get out of crazy California and into Texas—while growing their business.

They will “expand” to Texas. This will happen shortly. Once in place, once able to further expand, they will be able to close down their California plant, earn real money in Texas and grow the business without communities forcing them to hire attorneys and public relations experts—instead of marketing people.

“The city of Irwindale last month declared Tran’s Huy Fong Foods factory a public nuisance because residents complained about harsh odors emanating from the plant. Tran, upset at the city’s decision, invited Villalba and San Fernando Valley Congressman Tony Cardenas to tour the facility and judge for themselves.http://www.dreamstime.com/-image21552155

“This is not a pirate mission, as it’s been called, or a poaching mission,” said Villalba, who wore a Sriracha-themed pocket square. “This is a mission about explaining what the value proposition is for Texas.”

Calling business expansion in the Lone Star State the “Texas Two-Step,” Villalba cited Toyota, which recently announced it will move about 3,000 jobs from Torrance to Texas by 2017, as a prime example.”

Sriracha owner says he will stay in Irwindale, consider expanding to Texas

By Sarah Favo,t, Pasadena Star-News, 5/13/14

IRWINDALE >> With the Lone Star flag flying over his plant, Sriracha sauce maker David Tran gave Texas officials a first-hand look at the 650,000-square-foot plant that neighbors say stinks.

Tran, wearing a suit instead of his usual casual dress, gave Texas state Rep. Jason Villalba, a Republican from Dallas, and other Texas officials a tour of his facility. He hung the Texas state flag in their honor.

“This is a good place. I moved in. I will stay here,” Tran said at a press conference at his $40 million, 650,000-square-foot facility on Azusa Canyon Road, which opened last year.

Tran said as long as there is a demand for the popular hot sauce from his “Sriracha friends,” he would keep the Irwindale factory open and add a second plant.

The city of Irwindale last month declared Tran’s Huy Fong Foods factory a public nuisance because residents complained about harsh odors emanating from the plant. Tran, upset at the city’s decision, invited Villalba and San Fernando Valley Congressman Tony Cardenas to tour the facility and judge for themselves.

“This is not a pirate mission, as it’s been called, or a poaching mission,” said Villalba, who wore a Sriracha-themed pocket square. “This is a mission about explaining what the value proposition is for Texas.”

Calling business expansion in the Lone Star State the “Texas Two-Step,” Villalba cited Toyota, which recently announced it will move about 3,000 jobs from Torrance to Texas by 2017, as a prime example.

According to Villalba, the “Texas Two-Step” follows a similar pattern: a business will expand into Texas where taxes and regulations are low and then bring the rest of the company over due to what he termed a “business-friendly climate.”

Tran’s reservations about expansion to the Lone Star State centered on ensuring Texas soil can grow the specialized jalapeño pepper variety which is crushed into the hot sauce.

Villalba said Tran’s farmers would speak with agriculture experts in Texas before Tran travels to Texas to pick out a site for his second plant.

Tran said he imported chilies from Mexico 25 years ago, but the hybrid plant he grows now is spicier than Mexican chilies.

“We send the seed (to Mexico) and it cannot grow,” he said.

Monica Salembier, a greenhouse manager in the plant science department at Cal Poly Pomona, said the gulf region of Mexico is especially conducive to growing peppers because it has heat and humidity.

“I’m sure he can fine-tune and find an area in Texas and not have the dense population where he can put the factory without people getting the respiratory napalm,” Salembier said.

The McIlhenny Company, which makes Tabasco, grows its pepper seeds in Louisiana, but the fruit is grown in Latin America, according to the company website.

Tran has said that he will outgrow his Irwindale facility by 2017 if the demand for his product continues. He has been expanding at a rate of at least 20 percent each year for the past several years.

Tran said Texas is the only state he has had deep discussions with about a possible expansion. He has vowed he will not expand outside of the U.S.

“If I can create jobs for U.S.A., I will,” Tran said.

Irwindale city officials Wednesday night will recommend the City Council delay, for a second time, voting on a resolution that would put Tran under a 90-day deadline to reduce the factory’s odors during the fall chili grinding season. A Los Angeles Superior Court judge also ruled in favor of the city.

City Manager John Davidson said the city is hoping to reach an informal resolution with Huy Fong Foods.

 

Tuolumne Community’s Only Source Of Water May Go Dry By Summer’s End

The Obama/Brown policies of giving water to fish not people is going to cause the quaint town of Twain Harte (named about Mark Twain and Bret Harte, writers of the 19th Century) financial collapse. This is a town of 1600. Congressman McClintock noted recently that enough water is used to protect salmon that could provide water for 500,000 people for a year! But, Jerry and Barack put fish first.

This is the first town to go under due to water. Most major growers in the Central Valley have already announced they will not plant this season—tens of thousands of people will lose their jobs or not get hired. We have a drought, but the lack of water is due to government policy.

“People in Twain Harte in Tuolumne County are trying to cut their water use by 50 percent. The town’s only source of water may go dry before the end of summer.

Twain Harte is home to 1,600 people who depend on Lyons Reservoir for their water.” Water

Tuolumne Community’s Only Source Of Water May Go Dry By Summer’s End

By Rich Ibarra, Capitol Public Radio, 5/12/14

People in Twain Harte in Tuolumne County are trying to cut their water use by 50 percent. The town’s only source of water may go dry before the end of summer.

Twain Harte is home to 1,600 people who depend on Lyons Reservoir for their water.

The reservoir is full now but runoff from the snow melt is expected to end May 25th, that’s 6 weeks ahead of normal and after that the town could be short of water.

Tom Trott heads Twain Hart Community Services District and says people need to cut water use by 50 percent but so far usage is only down 32 percent.

“Shorter showers, putting the bucket under the faucet while the water is heating up and using that to flush toilets and water plant,” says Trott. “We have businesses that have cut out buffets because they produce more dishes. People using disposable dishes and cups and things like that.”

Twain Harte’s economy relies on tourism and its summertime population will double with tourists renting vacation cabins.

Trott says it will be difficult to tell tourists they must take shorter showers.

But without drastic cutbacks, the mountain community could find itself without water this summer.

 

 

San Fran’s public health subsidies ‘unsustainable,’ could top $4.3 billion by 2019

In the next five years, the San Fan government health care program will need $4.3 billion in subsidies, just to keep the doors open. This is an expensive, mandated program that is totally unsustainable, will cause police and firefighters to be fired and other government services cut back. Socialism is a failure—watch over the next five years as San Fran collapses from its high taxes and Third World quality government services.

The poor and middle class will start revolting. Google and other high tech, wealthy firms will continue to receive subsidies and tax breaks as the rest of society will be forced out of town. Visit San Fran now, before the collapse.

“From a current subsidy level of $554 million per year from San Francisco’s general fund, the gap will likely climb to $831 million annually by 2018-2019, absent big changes, according to a March 5 report on the San Francisco Department of Public Health by the city’s Office of the Controller and City Services Auditor.(total in five years is $4.3 billion taken from other areas of the budget)”

San Francisco’s public health subsidies ‘unsustainable,’ could top $4.3 billion by 2019

Mayor Ed Lee and the San Francisco Department of Public Health have a huge amount of work to do to keep the city’s public health system from becoming a huge drain on the general fund.

Chris Rauber, San Francisco Business Times, 5/12/14 ShakingHandsWithMoney

City of San Francisco subsidies to its public health system could surge to an unsustainable $4.3 billion over the next five years without major structural reforms and an influx of patients with health coverage, according to an early March city report that so far has netted no public scrutiny.

The department’s revenue will slump 16 percent over that period, as federal and state safety net dollars vanish, the city report warns. New revenue opportunities could replace that funding, it says, but the city isn’t prepared yet to sign new contracts, improve efficiency, ensure timely access to care and take other steps to attract patients who now have options to go elsewhere if they’re not impressed by the city’s system.

From a current subsidy level of $554 million per year from San Francisco’s general fund, the gap will likely climb to $831 million annually by 2018-2019, absent big changes, according to a March 5 report on the San Francisco Department of Public Health by the city’s Office of the Controller and City Services Auditor.

Consulting firm Health Management Associates helped on the project, which included input from DPH officials including Greg Wagner, Colleen Chawla and Tangerine Brigham, among others.

The report, entitled “A Summary of Health Reform Readiness,” lists major cuts in federal funding to city programs, a lack of contracts by the city with Covered California health plans to date, and the need to change from a role as “provider of last resort” to a provider “of choice” as being key challenges for the city in the new health reform era.

Wagner, the Department of Public Health’s CFO, said the report summarized studies undertaken over the last year and a half, and was largely internally focused. “We’re taking it seriously,” he said. “That growth (in annual city subsidies to the public health department) to $831 million cannot happen. That is not a world we can live in.”

Wagner argues that the city is making progress on multiple fronts, especially in terms of changing the Department of Public Health’s culture to make it more amenable to making the necessary course alterations to keep the system afloat.

Except for insiders, however, no one seems to know the report even exists. And critics aren’t so sanguine about the city’s progress to date.

“Everybody knew three years ago” that large numbers of uninsured San Franciscans would move into the expanded Medi-Cal program and new Covered California health plans, said SEIU Local 1021’s Nato Green. But he said the city is still “dickering around” with plans to accommodate the changes.

Green, a consultant and lead contract negotiator for the union, which represents 1,300 fully benefited nurses who work for the city and an additional 500 or so part-time or temporary nurses, blamed the lack of progress on “a lack of political will from Mayor Ed Lee‘s office.”

Roughly 15,000 new Medi-Cal enrollees are projected in San Francisco this year, the report says, and the nurses union sees no evidence the city is ready to deal with the influx — or to sign managed care contracts with one or more of the Covered California plans.

Talks between the city and the Chinese Community Health Plan reportedly fell apart last month, so no negotiations are now under way.

Other major cities, including New York, Los Angeles and San Jose have reached the kind of agreements San Francisco has failed to ink, Green said.

But Wagner disputes the idea that the city has been dithering. Although he didn’t respond directly to questions about the Chinese health plan negotiations, Wagner said the city “looked at a number of potential scenarios” for the initial round of Covered California enrollment that didn’t pan out, but “is looking into that as a possibility for the future.”

It wasn’t “a blown opportunity,” he said. “We did a lot of careful analysis and ultimately decided it didn’t pencil out for us” on the available timeline.

But the city is well aware of the need to retain as regular customers people who were previously uninsured but now are covered by Medi-Cal or private insurance, Wagner said.

Union dissatisfaction with progress

Local 1021’s members, including RNs and nurse practitioners who work at San Francisco General Hospital, Laguna Honda Hospital & Rehabilitation Center, the city’s jail and network of community clinics, often work in understaffed situations, Green said, and aren’t getting the leadership needed to reform and upgrade the public health system. Things have deteriorated from “doing more with less to doing less with less.”

The lack of managed care contracts and other structural reforms could be a huge issue for the city’s public health network, according to the controller’s office. Assuming current levels of services without increases in enrollment and capitated (HMO-style) revenue, “the financial outlook is not sustainable,” the report states.

Before Obamacare took effect, the city had 84,000 uninsured residents, according to the report. About 56,000 of them now have access to coverage, but many are choosing private coverage over public options. Medi-Cal managed care options include Anthem Blue Cross and the San Francisco Health Plan, according to the city. Covered California options include Anthem, Blue Shield of California, Chinese Community Health Plan, Health Net and Kaiser Permanente.

New Covered California health plans and an expanded Medi-Cal program offer opportunities to San Francisco, but only if it reconfigures services, staffing, and outlook to take advantage of them, the report suggests. To turn things around, the report suggests, the city needs more managed care, more insured patients and much greater efficiency.

For example, the report said, staffers in the city’s network now are responsible for patient panels or populations of 826 per full-time-equivalent employee, as of last October, but the new goal is 1,350. Each doctors now sees 1.5 patients per hour, HMA found, far less than industry standards. The new goal is 50 percent higher, at 2.25 patient visits per hour.

Innovations such as a centralized call center are also called for. The city is also looking into integrating some functions of its San Francisco General Hospital, the city’s primary safety net hospital and trauma center, and its Laguna Honda Hospital long-term-care facility.

Meanwhile, the city continues to study the “intersection” of the federal Accountable Care Act and the city’s Healthy San Francisco program, so far without resolution, the report indicates. The Business Times has covered the city’s perusal of the situation, which so far hasn’t been clarified.

Among other recommendations, the report says the city needs a Managed Care Office to focus on performance improvements, greater efficiency and “new contracts with health plans in the state insurance exchange.”

The city’s public health network will lose revenue any time a current patient moves out of its system and transfers to private coverage, the report notes, leaving it with less money to support its current infrastructure.

Projections call for San Francisco’s public health system to serve 85,500 five years from now. What’s counts, financially speaking, however, is how many of those are covered by insurance that helps supports the system.

For example, as many as 2,000 current “clients” are expected to enroll in Covered California plans by January 2015, but so far San Francisco hasn’t figured out a way to capture any of the revenue their coverage will generate.

But altering the infrastructure and attitude at the Department of Public Health is a huge undertaking, said political consultant Jim Ross. “It’s very difficult to change. A lot of moving parts and very far reaching.”

“Any politician in the city (would approach this) very gingerly,” Ross told the Business Times.

Wagner agreed that it’s impossible to change a huge department like his overnight, by flipping a switch, but insists that the doomsday elements of the report were meant as a “bleak call to action” rather than as prediction of impending disaster.

The outlook should be more clear by June or July when metrics on the “initial enrollment activity shake out” for Medi-Cal, Covered California and other programs, Wagner indicated. At that point, he said, the city may need to ask “Do we have the right strategy?” and if necessary try different approaches.

 

Medicaid: Half of Doctors Won’t Accept New Patients

Thanks to Barack Obama, millions have been forced onto MediCaid for health care coverage. But, getting coverage on paper and getting a doctor are two different things. Half of America’s doctors refuse to take new MediCaid patients, though millions have been signed up. That means those doctors that accept these patients will force them to wait twice as long to be seen. It means that the doctors will be stressed, which means the quality of care will suffer.

From a world class health care system to a Third World system took just a few weeks. Americans will not be healthy, diseases will become chronic and people will die. Just 981 more days till Obama leaves office—can we survive?

“The survey’s key finding: The average rate of Medicaid acceptance by physicians in all five specialties and in all 15 markets surveyed was only 45.7 percent. This is lower than the acceptance rate found by the same survey in 2009 (55.4 percent) and in 2004 (49.9 percent).

The survey found that, in 2013, Boston had the highest rate of Medicaid acceptance by physicians in the 15 markets surveyed—73 percent—while Dallas had the lowest, a mere 23 percent.”

Photo courtesy of RambergMediaImages, flickr

Photo courtesy of RambergMediaImages, flickr

Medicaid: Half of Doctors Won’t Accept New Patients

Joshua de Gastyne, Heritage Foundation Foundry, 5/8/14

Merritt-Hawkins, a national health care search and consulting firm, recently released the results of a telephone survey that measures physicians’ ability or willingness to accept new Medicaid patients across five specialties in 15 metropolitan markets.

The survey’s key finding: The average rate of Medicaid acceptance by physicians in all five specialties and in all 15 markets surveyed was only 45.7 percent. This is lower than the acceptance rate found by the same survey in 2009 (55.4 percent) and in 2004 (49.9 percent).

The survey found that, in 2013, Boston had the highest rate of Medicaid acceptance by physicians in the 15 markets surveyed—73 percent—while Dallas had the lowest, a mere 23 percent.

Why do Medicaid patients face such barriers to accessing care? As the survey’s authors explain:

The rate at which physicians accept Medicaid can vary for a number of reasons. In some cases, reimbursement rates provided by Medicaid to particular specialists may be below their cost of providing services. If not actually below costs, Medicaid reimbursement often is relatively low compared to that offered by other payers, and therefore busy physicians may have no economic incentive to see Medicaid patients. In other cases, the process of billing for and receiving Medicaid payment can be problematic and some physicians choose to avoid it.

Medicaid patients’ difficulty accessing care is well-documented and has a long history. Despite these existing issues, one of the major ways Obamacare expands coverage is through the Medicaid program. The Congressional Budget Office projects that 7 million additional people will be added to the program in 2014. But having health coverage doesn’t necessarily mean these beneficiaries will be able to access health care. As Heritage Foundation policy analyst Kevin Dayaratna explains:

By further expanding this broken program, Obamacare will only exacerbate the situation, continuing to harm many low-income Americans who have no option other than Medicaid. Policymakers should reform Medicaid to allow Medicaid patients access to private insurance in a consumer-driven market.