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.

Colman: THE ESSENTIAL REAGAN

I am proud to say I worked on Ronald Reagans’ 1966 gubernatorial race.  In 1980 he appointed me to the Electoral California for California—and I actually got to vote for him as President!!  Happily, I live about 1.5 miles from the Reagan Library.  To leave town I have to use the 118 Freeway, named “The Ronald Reagan Freeway.”

With his smile, sense of humor and determination, President Reagan transformed our nation and gave a generation of young people hope.

THE ESSENTIAL REAGAN

By Richard Colman, Exclusive to the California Political News and Views, 8/5/22

Essentially, Ronald Reagan wanted innovation.

Reagan, who served two terms as governor of California (1967-1975) and two terms as president of the United States (1981-1989), knew how to win elections.

The essence of Reagan was captured in remarks he made around the time he was elected president in 1980.

In a television program involving Bill Moyers, a former press secretary to President Lyndon Johnson, Reagan talked about an inventor who developed a devise for keeping a can of beer cold.

Reagan said that he was at a party and grabbed a can of beer from a tub of ice.  A few moments later, a young man came up to Reagan and said that he (the young man) had invented a special handle that could be attached to a can of cold beer.  By attaching the handle, the young man said, the beer in the can would remain cold.

Reagan told Moyers that the young man would go on to make “a million dollars.”

Moyers commented that the “essential” Reagan was a person who believed that everyone in America was clever enough to invent a special beer-can handle.  Moyers observed that that not every American was sufficiently capable of inventing something.

But Reagan had a point, which was that getting rid of government regulations would encourage more Americans to become more innovative and, thereby, increase America’s standard of living.

During Reagan’s presidency, the Dow Jones Industrial Average went from 3300 to 5700, an increase of 73 percent.  There were no wars during Reagan’s presidency.

The present-day Republican Party needs someone like Reagan, who not only encouraged innovation but also stood for a strong defense and less government overall.

Reagan wanted a 600-ship Navy to assure that America would be able to project power around the world and not be subject to an attack on the nation’s own territory. 

Reagan said that a nation does not get into war by being too strong.  Rather, he said, a nation becomes vulnerable to attack when a nation is too weak.

Unlike President Donald Trump, Reagan did not show nativism, protectionism, and xenophobia.  Trump, who was president from 2017 to 2021, did not talk about the importance of innovation.  Moreover, Trump often insulted the leaders of allied nations.

Reagan held five meetings with Mikhail Gorbachev, the head of the Soviet Union.  No American president has ever held more meetings with his Soviet counterpart than Reagan.  At one meeting, the two leaders signed a historic disarmament agreement.

Shortly after leaving office in 1989, the Soviet Union’s control over such Eastern European Soviet satellites as Poland, East Germany, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Romania, and Bulgaria collapsed.

Reagan, unlike Trump, never mentioned leaving the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.  And Reagan had smooth relations with such Asian allies and Japan and South Korea.

When it came to presidential elections, Reagan know how win both the popular vote and the Electoral College vote.  In his 1980 campaign, he received 489 electoral votes.  His opponent, President Jimmy Carter, got 49 electoral votes.  In his 1984 re-election campaign, Reagan won 49 of 50 states, losing only Minnesota.

The time has come for the Republican Party to re-embrace Reaganism.  America needs a strong leader who has a vision of what America should be.

Stein: BEFORE WE RID THE WORLD OF CRUDE OIL, IS THERE A BACKUP REPLACEMENT?

Some people what something so bad, they refuse to use their common sense and recognize reality.  If we cut off all fossil fuel use today, by tomorrow the globe will be dark and in chaos.  In fact, even fifty tears from now if we depend on solar and wind turbines for energy, the world will be dark and in chaos.  Plus, there will be NO energy to fuel electric vehicles or all electric homes.  The demented Biden and his friends.

“Those clean renewables, like wind turbines and solar panels, can only generate ELECTRICITY, and intermittent electricity at best from available breezes and sunshine. The undisputable science is that renewables CANNOT manufacture any of the oil derivatives that are the basis of the thousands of products that are the foundation of societies and economies around the world.

In fact, these renewables cannot exist without crude oil as all the parts of wind turbines and solar panels are made with oil derivatives manufactured from crude oil.

We have spent trillions on chasing a fantasy—and the world is now paying for it by high energy costs—and an oncoming famine.  This was not a murder—it is a suicide.

BEFORE WE RID THE WORLD OF CRUDE OIL, IS THERE A BACKUP REPLACEMENT?

By Ronald Stein, P.E., Heartland Institute,  7/22/22  

We know what the decarbonized world of the 1800’s was like, so how about proving the new parachute, i.e., the replacement for crude oil, works before we jump out of the plane?

Those clean renewables, like wind turbines and solar panels, can only generate ELECTRICITY, and intermittent electricity at best from available breezes and sunshine. The undisputable science is that renewables CANNOT manufacture any of the oil derivatives that are the basis of the thousands of products that are the foundation of societies and economies around the world.

In fact, these renewables cannot exist without crude oil as all the parts of wind turbines and solar panels are made with oil derivatives manufactured from crude oil.

Crude oil is useless unless it can be manufactured into something usable like the fuels for the heavy-weight and long-range transportation infrastructures of ships and jets and the derivatives that make the thousands of products that have made our lives more comfortable. But wind and solar cannot manufacture anything for society. Before we jump out of an airplane without a tested parachute, we need to be able to support the demands of all the infrastructures that exist today that did not exist a few hundred years ago.

The U.S. Supreme Court on June 30, 2022, dealt a major blow to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) power to regulate carbon emissions.

  • The Supreme Court just confirmed that the EPA cannot pick winners and losers to meet the electricity and products demanded by society. Clean Energy is only Clean ELECTRICITY.

Those clean renewables, like wind turbines and solar panels, can only generate ELECTRICITY, and intermittent electricity at best from available breezes and sunshine. The undisputable science is that renewables CANNOT manufacture any of the oil derivatives that are the basis of the thousands of products that are the foundation of societies and economies around the world.

Without a backup plan to replace crude oil, ridding the world of crude oil will be depriving citizens of the more than 6,000 products that were non-existent before 1900, made from the oil derivatives manufactured from crude oil. Ridding the world of oil, without a replacement in mind is immoral and evil, as extreme shortages will result in billions of fatalities from diseases, malnutrition, and weather-related deaths.

The domino effects of tinkering with the supply chain of fossil fuels, is supply shortages and soaring prices for not only electricity, but for the thousands of products that support the entire medical industry, all branches of the military, airports, electronics, communications, merchant ships, container ships, and cruise liners, as well as asphalt for roads, and fertilizers to help feed the world.

The major unintended consequence of divesting in crude oil that was responsible for the world populating from 1 to 8 billion in less than 200 years is that efforts to cease the use of crude oil could be the greatest threat to civilization, not climate change.

Having confidence in humanity’s ability to adapt to climate changes, like they have done since the beginning of time, in my heart of hearts I dream of the day when the public recognizes climate change will not bring on an end of the world as we know it, or even a long-term net decline for human civilization.

However, efforts to cease the use of crude oil could be the greatest threat to civilization’s eight billion, and may result in billions, not millions, of fatalities from diseases, malnutrition, and weather-related deaths trying to live without the fossil fuels that have been benefiting society.

Here is a reminder of what wind turbines and solar panels CANNOT manufacture, as these are all manufactured from crude oil.  These manufactured items from oil did not exist before 1900. Most importantly, they are needed to support the growing demands of the world’s economy and for the health and well-being of the world’s eight billion residents:

Fuels for the:

  • 50,000 heavy-weight and long-range merchant ships that are moving products throughout the world.
  • 50,000 heavy-weight and long-range jets used by commercial airlines, private usage, and the military.
  • The 290 million registered vehicles in the U.S. as of 2021, that were comprised of about 56 percent trucks, 40 percent cars, and 4 percent motorcycles.
  • The cruise ships that now move twenty-five million passengers around the world.
  • The space program.

Oil derivatives to make thousands of products such as:

  • Tires for the billions of vehicles.
  • Asphalt for the millions of miles of roadways.
  • Medications and medical equipment.
  •  
  • Communications systems, including cell phones, computers, iPhones, and iPads.
  • Water filtration systems.
  • Sanitation systems.
  • Fertilizers that come from natural gas to help feed billions.
  • Pesticides to control locusts and other pests.
  • Wind turbines and solar panels as they are all made with products from fossil fuels.

Life Without Oil is NOT AS SIMPLE AS YOU MAY THINK as renewable energy is only intermittent electricity from breezes and sunshine and NEITHER wind turbines, nor solar panels, can manufacture direct energy for society. Climate change may impact humanity but being mandated to live without the products manufactured from oil, will necessitate lifestyles being mandated back to the horse and buggy days of the 1800’s and could be the greatest threat to the planet’s eight billion residents.

Everything that needs electricity, from lights, vehicles, iPhones, defibrillators, computers, telecommunications, etc., are all made with the oil derivatives manufactured from crude oil. There would be nothing to power in a world without fossil fuels!

Banks and investment giants that are driving today’s Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) divesting in fossil fuels are all the rage on Wall Street to divest in all three fossil fuels of coal, natural gas, and crude oil.  It is appalling that both President Biden and the United Nations support allowing the investment community to collude to reshape economies and our energy infrastructure.

Before divesting in all three fossil fuels of coal, natural gas, and crude oil, where is the replacement or clone for crude oil, to keep today’s societies and economies running in the healthy and wealthy developed countries?

LAUSD Caves to Parents, Public: No Vaccine, Mask, COVID Test Mandates

LAUSD is now down to about 400,000 students.  Then have a 9% long term absentee problem—that means another 40,000 students almost never show up for class.  Enrollment, so far is down 10-20,000 for this coming semester.  But, of those enrolled, they expect many thousand NOT to show up.  That si why that got rid of the silly, worthless mask and vaccine mandates—afraid tens of thousands more students will ghost the system.

“The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) has conceded to public and parental opposition and announced Tuesday that it will not demand that students be vaccinated this fall, nor that they wear masks or that they provide coronavirus tests.

The concession came in the midst of a contentious political season, as voters had began making their voices heard across the state — in school board recall elections, in campaigns to recall left-wing prosecutors, and in political primaries as well.”

Could it be that finally the totalitarians running the failed LAUSD feel the need to listen to parents?  Are they watching school districts all over the country being turned away from special interests and returning to the control of parents?

LAUSD Caves to Parents, Public: No Vaccine, Mask, COVID Test Mandates

JOEL B. POLLAK, Breitbart,  8/3/22 

The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) has conceded to public and parental opposition and announced Tuesday that it will not demand that students be vaccinated this fall, nor that they wear masks or that they provide coronavirus tests.

The concession came in the midst of a contentious political season, as voters had began making their voices heard across the state — in school board recall elections, in campaigns to recall left-wing prosecutors, and in political primaries as well.

In an announcement, LAUSD said that “[I]ndoor masking is strongly recommended at all Los Angeles Unified schools and workplaces,” but stopped short of requiring it. It added: “Testing will only be required for those experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or those who have been in close contact with a person who has tested positive.” And on vaccination, LAUSD said: “Our employees are already vaccinated. We encourage all eligible students to be vaccinated as well, and all members of the school community to receive any boosters for which they are eligible.”

LAUSD had once hoped to impose a vaccine mandate on students returning to school, but kept voting to put off the demand.

Enthusiasm for vaccine mandates has also waned as many people who are vaccinated and boosted have contracted COVID-19 anyway, albeit with more manageable symptoms and lower hospitalization and death rates.

Californians have subsidized Hollywood for a decade. Has it been worth it?

President Newsom is about to give $1.6 BILLION to his friends and donors in Hollywood.  He claims this helps the California economy.  The money goes to haters, bigots and sexual perverts in Hollywood

“Starting in 2015, the film commission began tracking the fate of projects that applied for tax credits but were denied. They found two-thirds left California and were made out of state. Those so-called runaway projects accounted for $3.55 billion in spending — money that California could have kept if there were more tax credits.

Actually the payments make up for the added wage, union and regulatory costs that California puts on the movie industry.  But those who run it are billionaires—let them make the decision where to operate, rather than scam money from the poor and middle class.

Californians have subsidized Hollywood for a decade. Has it been worth it?

BY ADRIA WATSON, Calmatters,  1/15/20 

IN SUMMARY

California has extended its tax program three times despite concerns about effectiveness. The real motivation? A desire to defend Hollywood.

https://calmatters.org/economy/2020/01/is-california-hollywood-tax-credit-worth-it/?utm_source=CalMatters%20Newsletters&utm_campaign=9a860477c3-WHATMATTERS&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_faa7be558d-9a860477c3-71241373&mc_cid=9a860477c3&mc_eid=290a9bff6f

When Oscar night rolls around, Californians rooting for “Once Upon A Time…in Hollywood,” “Marriage Story,” or “Ford v Ferrari” will be able to thank themselves as well as the Academy. In all three cases, Golden State audiences not only paid for the movie tickets and Netflix subscriptions underwriting their production, but also let their tax dollars be leveraged by movie studios to produce those Best Picture nominees in-state. 

Intended to promote and help keep film and TV production in California, the state’s Film & Television Tax Credit, now in its third iteration, just celebrated its 10th year in business. Once controversial, it has become, over the years, a sort of “Titanic” of fiscal programs — sprawling, sentimental and popular across the political spectrum despite its formidable expense. 

State lawmakers, Democratic and Republican alike, overwhelmingly vote in the industry’s favor — so much so that annual funding has grown threefold from $100 million to $330 million. And there’s no letup: last year, the state renewed its commitment through 2025, ensuring that Californians will help churn out more content in the streaming era. 

But while the tax credit is just a sliver of the state’s $222 billion budget, policy analysts say there’s conflicting evidence the program pays for itself. In fact, California has extended the credit three times with politicians ignoring concerns that, for example, it plays favorites with Tinseltown over other important industries in California and that it continues to be debated how much taxpayers get out of it.

Love it or hate it, everyone agrees there’s really one motivation for it: California’s desire to defend Hollywood. 

“We’re doing it because other states are doing it,” said Brian Weatherford, the state fiscal analyst at the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office.

California is home to more than half of U.S. motion picture production with a high concentration of jobs within a 30-mile radius of Los Angeles. But there’s a history of other states and countries luring production out of state. New York, Canada, and the United Kingdom have long provided subsidies and reports of lost market share helped spur California to offer its own tax credit. In 2009, the actor-turned-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the first bill, arguing it would help retain film and television production and put Californians back to work during the recession. 

Proponents say the economic benefits are huge because productions have a multiplier effect from hiring actors, artists, crew and extras down to boosting business for caterers, hotels and other supportive services. Critics, however, say the program is a political giveaway to a flush industry. 

Disney exceeded $7 billion at the global box office last year while Warner Bros., NBCUniversal and Sony also reported significant profits. Naysayers suggest that money is better used to tackle more pressing issues, such as homelessness, college costs and pension liabilities.

The California Film Commission, which administers the tax program, released a progress report in November showing that productions that received $1.1 billion in subsidies between 2015 and 2020 stand to generate nearly $8.4 billion in direct spending. Put another way, the tax credits have helped put over 27,000 actors, 36,000 crew members and 558,000 extras to work.

Colleen Bell, the commission’s executive director, says that’s proof enough. 

“I’m an advocate for this program and its proven success,” she said.

But here’s the rub: the report is simply a tally of the spending tied to every production that got some credit. So what would have happened if that film or TV show hadn’t received a credit. Would the production have gone somewhere else? Would it not have been made? Or would it have been made in California anyway?

Starting in 2015, the film commission began tracking the fate of projects that applied for tax credits but were denied. They found two-thirds left California and were made out of state. Those so-called runaway projects accounted for $3.55 billion in spending — money that California could have kept if there were more tax credits.

Still, analysts say it’s difficult to judge the overall success. There’s no way to know what would have happened to the industry without this subsidy. Would Universal Studios have uprooted its movie lot to Vancouver? Would Pixar have relocated animators from Emeryville to New York?

“There’s no way for us to know that,” Weatherford said. 

The inability to make an assessment has opened the door to criticism. University of Southern California public policy professor Michael Thom posited in a policy journal review that most beneficiary films would still have been produced in California without tax credits.The film commission’s own tracking found one-third of projects were made in the state anyway. One can simply look to past Oscar-nominated movies “La La Land,” a musical ode to Hollywood dreams, and “Lady Bird,” where director Greta Gerwig heaped spoonfuls of Sacramento scenery, as examples of films made in California without an incentive.

Thom said tax incentives have less effect on the film industry than the economic growth of the past decade or technological advances.

“Time after time, studies show that tax incentives for the entertainment industry do not pay off,” Thom wrote in an email response to CalMatters.

“Time after time, studies show that tax incentives for the entertainment industry do not pay off.”

— MICHAEL THOM, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

And while California has set some safeguards for claiming credits to reduce corporate taxes, personal income taxes and sales taxes, other states have experienced abuse. In Georgia, a scathing state audit found production companies have been able to claim credits even though they were ineligible or they claimed more credits than allowed. 

Still, supporters say California can’t stand idly by while other states and countries try to poach production. 

More than half of U.S. states offer tax incentives for film and TV production. Most spend less than $330 million a year, but a few top the Golden State. Georgia, for instance, spent $667 million on film tax credits in 2016, growing to $915 million in 2017. New York allocates $420 million a year. 

“Without our tax credit program,” Bell said. “It’s more difficult to maintain the necessary competitiveness with other jurisdictions who are also trying to encourage production in their states or countries around the world.”

So far, California’s film commission has handed out credits to some of the major releases of the last decade, such as “Captain Marvel,” “Bumblebee” and “A Wrinkle in Time.” Millions have been set aside for some upcoming high-profile films — think NBA superstar LeBron James teaming up with Bugs Bunny in “Space Jam 2” and “La La Land” director Damien Chazelle’s “Babylon,” which remains under wraps.

If anything, California may be willing to double down on one of its flagship industries. Assemblywoman Luz Rivas has proposed a bill, AB 1442, to give production companies even more credit if they leave Southern states with restrictive abortion laws.

Without endorsing Rivas’ Share Our Values Film Tax Credit, Gov. Gavin Newsom used the opportunity to encourage productions to return to California. 

“For those of you that have left to do productions in states like Georgia, consider the investment there and what it’s promoting, versus investing in your state and what we’re promoting,” Newsom said in a video posted on Twitter. “This is the moment, come back home.”

Inside the donor network reshaping CA politics

Now we know who is financing the moderate socialist wing of the California Democrat Party—it is the special interests.

“Govern For California’s 18 chapters have so far donated more than $3 million to candidates across California in the 2022 election cycle. One of the top beneficiaries: Assemblymember Robert Rivas, a Salinas Democrat.

“Govern For California is mostly funded by a small group of tech leaders, financiers and other wealthy donors from the Bay Area. Their goal: Counter the sway of special interests, especially labor unions, in the state Capitol. 

The organization is the brainchild of Stanford lecturer David Crane. One of its longtime political advisors is Rick Rivas, Robert’s brother. 

Literally, this group is trying to buy the next Assembly Speaker—the person who can move or block legislation, add special interest language to a bill, create subsidies, loans and grants to the special interests.  Think you have voice with your legislator?  Only if you are a part of this, a union, or other special interest buying Sacramento.

Inside the donor network reshaping CA politics

Emily Hoeven, What Matters,  8/4/22 

Meet the biggest spending group of mega donors trying to reshape California politics you’ve probably never heard of.

Govern For California’s 18 chapters have so far donated more than $3 million to candidates across California in the 2022 election cycle. One of the top beneficiaries: Assemblymember Robert Rivas, a Salinas Democrat.

Rivas isn’t facing an especially tough reelection campaign, but he has plenty of ways to spend the $116,000 he’s received from 16 Govern For California chapters in the past 14 months. 

Since May, he’s been jockeying to become the next speaker of the Assembly, a powerful position that helps shape the Legislature’s policy agenda and influences which bills stand a chance of making it into law.But Rivas is making his move over the objections of the current man in the top job, Anthony Rendon, a Lakewood Democrat who said as recently as Tuesday he has no plans to step down

Both are now wooing current and incoming members as Rivas tries to take the crown and Rendon tries to hold onto it.

And, as a new CalMatters analysis of Govern For California’s campaign spending reveals, Rivas has friends in high places.

Govern For California is mostly funded by a small group of tech leaders, financiers and other wealthy donors from the Bay Area. Their goal: Counter the sway of special interests, especially labor unions, in the state Capitol. 

The organization is the brainchild of Stanford lecturer David Crane. One of its longtime political advisors is Rick Rivas, Robert’s brother. 

My colleagues Ben Christopher and Alexei Koseff spoke to eight campaign finance experts for this story. Some said Govern For California’s network of chapters — which are legally independent and can each raise $8,100 per donor per year, but which communicate, coordinate and often donate to the same candidates on the same day — pushes the envelope of California campaign finance law. 

  • Ann Ravel, former head of the Federal Election Commission and California’s campaign finance agency: “This seems to be contrary to the spirit of the idea of having contribution limitations.”

Ravel said the structure was similar to the way many unions spend their money, but other experts said this represents something brand new in California politics.

  • Election and campaign finance lawyer Amber Maltbie: “This is totally different than anything I’ve seen before … it’s a very creative way to maximize electoral strength.”

Though Crane refused to answer Ben and Alexei’s questions for this story, he objected to the premise that what Govern For California is doing is at all novel and said he got the idea from — of all places — labor unions.

  • Crane wrote in an email: “For too long, only special interests organized political activity in Sacramento. The only thing that’s new is that, in 2011, someone started organizing for the general interest.”

Crane, Rick Rivas and Robert Rivas all declined to answer questions about whether they were using the Govern For California network to advance Robert Rivas’ leadership ambitions in the Legislature. A spokesperson for Rendon also declined to comment. Crane and several donors to Govern For California are also financial supporters of CalMatters, which retains full authority over editorial content and makes news judgments independent of donor support.  

Newsom backs bill expanding California film and TV tax credit

Who gets your tax dollars?  Billionaire movie studios, production company owners, actors who hate America and want your taxes to go up (so they can get tax dollars to subsidize their luxuries and lifestyle while flying in private planes harming our climate.

“Gov. Gavin Newsom is throwing his support behind a bill moving through the state legislature that would spend $1.65 billion to expand California’s film and TV tax credit through 2030.

If passed, Senate Bill 485 would expand the film and TV tax credit for an additional five years, providing $330 million per year in tax credits for filmmakers. The current film and television tax credit program is financed through 2025.”

Actually, this is a payoff to Democrat donors, using your tax dollars.  It is a scam and outrageous.

Newsom backs bill expanding California film and TV tax credit

By Madison Hirneisen | The Center Square,  8/3/22 

 (The Center Square) – Gov. Gavin Newsom is throwing his support behind a bill moving through the state legislature that would spend $1.65 billion to expand California’s film and TV tax credit through 2030.

If passed, Senate Bill 485 would expand the film and TV tax credit for an additional five years, providing $330 million per year in tax credits for filmmakers. The current film and television tax credit program is financed through 2025.

Newsom’s endorsement comes as the governor has made strides in the past to paint the Golden State as a beacon for abortion rights after several states imposed new abortion restrictions following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe. v. Wade in June. On Wednesday, Newsom ran an ad in Hollywood urging the film industry to continue to film in California as opposed to states like Georgia and Oklahoma, who “have waged a cruel assault on essential rights.”

“As other states roll back people’s rights, California will continue to protect fundamental freedoms for all and welcome businesses that stand up for their employees,” said Governor Newsom. “Extending this program will help ensure California’s world-renowned entertainment industry continues to drive economic growth with good jobs and a diverse, inclusive workforce.”

The state’s film and television tax credit had existed since 2009 when the state introduced a five-year program to provide $100 million in tax credits annually. The allocation was increased to $330 million per year in 2015, and the most recent five-year iteration of the program launched in July 2020.

Independent films, feature films, new TV series, mini-series and pilots can apply for a tax credit that ranges from 20-25% so long as they have a $1 million minimum budget and are produced in California. For independent films, the tax credit applies to only the first $10 million of qualified expenditures, while the credit applies to the first $100 million in qualified expenditures for feature films.

The state also offers a tax credit of up to 25% for TV series that filmed its most recent season outside of California and relocates to the state. The series must have a $1 million minimum budget per episode, and the credit reduces to 20% after the first season is filmed in California.

Films including “A Star is Born” and “Top Gun: Maverick” qualified as approved projects in Program 2.0, as well as TV series including “Euphoria” and “This is Us.”

“A Star is Born” grossed $436.2 million worldwide and was approved for over $7 million in reserved credits, while “Top Gun: Maverick” has topped $1.3 billion worldwide and was approved for over $21 million in reserved credits. 

Supporters of the legislation to expand the tax credit say it is an important tool to bring jobs to the state and keep film production in California. Since launching in 2009, 604 projects have been approved for tax credits, and $2.5 billion in credits have been allocated, according to the California Film Commission

Backers of the bill also tout the economic benefits of the program. A study by the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation released in March estimated that, for every tax credit dollar allocated, the state saw $24 in economic output.

“The Governor’s actions today speak to the values held by so many people across the film and TV production industry,” California Film Commission Executive Director Colleen Bell said in a statement Wednesday. “More than ever, California offers the best value and the best values.”

The bill is currently working its way through the state legislature and was heard in the Assembly Appropriations Committee on Wednesday.

California Layoffs Grow—Big Companies and Small

These are just three of the many stories, each day, about a California small business cutting employment, closing down or leaving the State.  Big companies are leaving, Newsom wants to use $1.67 billion of your tax money to bribe billionaires in the movie business to stay in California—while you have to decide between food or fuel.

Let me know of other firms that are closing or cutting—the recession has hit the former Golden State.

TELUS International, once Folsom’s ‘call center of the future,’ lays off 267 people — The idea was to create a fun working environment that would result in atypically strong customer service that would be especially attractive to high-tech companies willing to pay more than the typical call center services in The Philippines or India or in rural parts of the U.S. Randy Diamond in the Sacramento Bee$ — 8/4/22

Robinhood, headquartered in Bay Area, announces mass layoffs amid regulatory scrutiny — Robinhood, the controversial, fledgling stock and cryptocurrency tech firm headquartered in the Bay Area, announced mass layoffs on the same day that it was slapped with a $30 million fine by the state of New York. Joshua Bote in the San Francisco Chronicle — 8/4/22

Owens Corning follows up Santa Clara plant closure decision with job cuts — The resulting layoffs will eliminate 225 jobs, according to an official notice that the company filed with the state Employment Development Department. The plant is slated to close sometime around Halloween of this year, the EDD filing states. George Avalos in the San Jose Mercury$ — 8/4/22

Can Californians afford electric cars? Wait lists for rebates are long and some programs have shut down 

This is a giant scam.  How does low income person, probably on food stamps, housing vouchers, needing free health care, afford a $53,000 car.  No way, even with an almost $10,000 tax credit can they afford the car and insurance.  This article seems off to me.

“When Tulare resident Quentin Nelms heard California was offering a hefty state subsidy to help lower-income residents buy electric cars, he applied right away.

But it wasn’t as easy as he thought it would be. 

Nelms spent four months on a waitlist before he was accepted into one of the state’s clean-car incentive programs in January. He qualified for $9,500 that he planned to use to buy a 2022 Ford Mustang Mach-E. But after discovering that several dealerships had raised the car’s price by more than $10,000 during the time it took to get the grant, he could no longer afford the roughly $53,000 cost.”

Plus, an EV is MORE harmful to the environment than a gas powered car.  My guess is that if this guy actually got the EV, within 3-4 months it will be repossed for lack of payments—after all, this is a low income person.

Can Californians afford electric cars? Wait lists for rebates are long and some programs have shut down 

BY NADIA LOPEZ, Calmatters,   8/2/22  

IN SUMMARY

State funding is insufficient so lower-income residents have trouble getting their subsidies. The problems jeopardize California’s climate and air pollution goals as electric car prices keep rising.

When Tulare resident Quentin Nelms heard California was offering a hefty state subsidy to help lower-income residents buy electric cars, he applied right away.

But it wasn’t as easy as he thought it would be. 

Nelms spent four months on a waitlist before he was accepted into one of the state’s clean-car incentive programs in January. He qualified for $9,500 that he planned to use to buy a 2022 Ford Mustang Mach-E. But after discovering that several dealerships had raised the car’s price by more than $10,000 during the time it took to get the grant, he could no longer afford the roughly $53,000 cost.

“We got into this program and it’s not helping like it’s supposed to,” Nelms said. “It’s useless at this time because there’s nothing out there and the cars that you do find, everything’s gone up in price.”  

Affordable and efficient electric vehicles are critical to California’s efforts to tackle climate change and clean up its polluted air — by 2035, the state plans to ban all new sales of gas-powered cars.

But the state’s incentives and rebates for lower-income people who purchase electric cars have suffered from inconsistent and inadequate funding.

This year’s funding for some of the programs ran out in April — the waitlists have been shut down because of the backlogs. And even for the rebates that are still available, the obstacles are substantial: Program administrators are inundated with requests for the money, resulting in months-long waits — at the same time that prices are surging and electric cars are in short supply.

The troubled state subsidy programs raise a crucial question: Can California enact a mandate that requires 100% of all new cars to be zero emissions when a large portion of the population can’t buy them? 

If most Californians can’t afford to replace their old, higher-polluting gas-powered cars, many of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s climate goals are in jeopardy, along with statewide efforts to clean up the nation’s worst air pollution.

New electric cars range in price from $25,000 to $180,000. Many models, including Ford’s popular Mustang and F150 Lightning electric truck, are sold out, with long waiting lists.

“As California transitions to an electric future, these vehicle markups are definitely pricing our clients out,” said Maria Ruiz, a supervisor at the EV Equity Program, which was launched by a Central Valley coalition of clean-air advocacy organizations. “We’ve seen markups as high as $15,000. So that sadly has been a big challenge.”

So far, it’s unclear how successful the state’s subsidy programs have been in cutting greenhouse gases because the Air Resources Board has failed to adequately measure it, according to an audit by the state’s Legislative Analyst’s Office. 

“As California transitions to an electric future, these vehicle markups are definitely pricing our clients out. We’ve seen markups as high as $15,000.”

MARIA RUIZ, THE EV EQUITY PROGRAM

Since 2010, California has allocated more than $1.84 billion to a hodgepodge of three programs: the Clean Cars 4 All Program, the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project and the Clean Vehicle Assistance Program, according to Air Resources Board data. In exchange, over those 12 years, about half a million Californians have received grants or rebates for buying cleaner cars or replacing older cars.

The Clean Vehicle Rebate Project, which receives the bulk of the state’s funding, has distributed 478,364 rebates since its launch in 2010, while the Clean Vehicle Assistance program has assisted buyers in purchasing 4,438 clean vehicles since 2018. Clean Cars 4 All, which only serves residents in the state’s most polluted regions, has taken 12,800 pre-2007 model year cars off the road since its launch in 2015.

All of the programs, which award up to $7,000 or $9,500 toward the purchase of an electric car, have income limits. The rebate project is for residents with incomes up to $135,000. Clean Vehicle Assistance and most Clean Cars 4 All programs accept applications from residents with incomes at or below 400% of the federal poverty level — equivalent to $54,360 for an individual. (The U.S. Senate also appears poised to enact a $7,500 federal tax credit for individuals with incomes less than $150,000.)

“Before the pandemic and the rise in prices, we do have evidence that these (state) programs were sort of effective and encouraged people to buy electric vehicles,” said Erich Muehlegger, an associate professor of economics at University of California, Davis. “But the challenge right now is that these programs are facing really, really strong headwinds because of the high prices of electric vehicles.”

Muehlegger said supply chain delays and high demand have triggered a widespread shortage of new and used cars.

While pandemic-induced price hikes have hit both gas-powered and electric cars, he said the sticker shock is likely most extreme in the electric vehicle market due to higher demand and shortages of components, like microchips.Fewer electric cars are in supply, straining the market, creating long wait lists for new models and driving up prices for the new and used vehicles that remain on dealers’ lots.

“We have to make sure there’s a whole range of vehicles that are zero emission, and we’ve essentially got just a little over a decade to try to get there,” said Ethan Elkind, an attorney who directs the climate program at the Center for Law, Energy and the Environment at UC Berkeley Law. 

The lack of inventory and high prices have forced some program participants like Nelms to give up the state money they qualified for. Nelms is no longer planning to buy a car anytime soon; he will keep using his 2016 Honda Civicfor now — which means California lost the opportunity to replace a higher-polluting car with a zero-emission one.

Since 2010, California has allocated more than $1.84 billion to three programs. In exchange, about half a million Californians have received subsidies for cleaner cars.

“This program is what I was hoping to count on, but once all the prices were going up, that hope just kind of disappeared,” Nelms said. “Right now I’m not able to do anything, so I just had to let the grant go.” 

In addition to the $9,500 in state money that would have gone to a dealer, Nelms knew he needed to scrape together other funds to afford the roughly $800 in monthly payments for a Mach-E. He was approved for a loan and planned on applying for another federal rebate program. His 20-year old son also picked up a part-time job to help with the payments. 

But the dealership markups quickly changed Nelms’ mind. He didn’t want to risk having negative equity – when the amount of money owed on a car is more than the amount that it’s worth.

Though he had to forfeit the grant, he said he’d consider applying to the Clean Vehicle Assistance program again when the car market stabilizes.

For now, he said, he’ll have to pay high gas prices. 

“Inflation, it’s never been this bad,” Nelms said. “There’s always things that happen in life that can hold you back, but that’s what growth is, having to work harder and push yourself and get through these tough things.”

Programs run out of funding

Following a 2020 executive order from Newsom, the Air Resources Board has drafted a proposed regulation that would phase out gas cars, beginning with 35% of 2026 models. The aim is to put 5 million zero-emission cars on California’s roads by 2030 and slash tailpipe emissions, California’s largest source of planet-warming pollutants. 

But one of the biggest challenges with the transition to electrification is the financial obstacles faced by lower-income households. 

The state’s programs designed to help them have been plagued with inconsistent and inadequate funding ever since they were launched years ago.

Most of the funding — $1.27 billion of the total $1.84 billion over the past decade — has come from the state’s cap-and-trade program, a market for buying and selling greenhouse gas credits that fluctuates in quarterly earnings. The rest is supplied in the state budget, which is approved by the Legislature and governor.

Lisa Macumber, an Air Resources Board official who oversees vehicle incentive programs, said insufficient funding has shut down the programs several times throughout the years. Some years, there are so many applicants that there’s barely enough money to keep the programs open for six months, let alone an entire year, she said.

While applications for the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project, the biggest of the programs, are still being accepted, the volumes are high and the delays substantial: People must wait on average more than two months to be notified if they’re selected or rejected, and then they must wait longer to receive the money.

Last fall and winter, it was even worse because of the pandemic. People were waiting an average of eight months before their requests were processed, Macumber said. 

Another program, Clean Vehicle Assistance, closed in April because funds ran out; the waitlist is closed to new applicants due to backlogs. The San Joaquin Valley’s and San Diego’s Clean Cars 4 All programs also are shut down due to depleted funds, although those programs in the Los Angeles basin, Bay Area and Sacramento recently reopened for applications.  

Macumber said more funding from a $10 billion zero-emission vehicle investment in the state budget is on the way, but it’s unclear when that money will come through. 

“It’s a very challenging landscape,” Macumber said. “Our programs have to be able to adjust based on the funding we receive each year.” That leads to confusion for residents, she said.

Californians who need the funds the most — those with incomes below 225% of the federal poverty level — are not accessing the program as quickly as other income groups. (The federal poverty level is $13,590 for an individual.)

“Higher income groups were able to go through the process and purchase new zero emission vehicles faster, resulting in depleting funds quickly,” Macumber said. “The majority of very low-income consumers need help through the application process and need more time to find proper, mostly used, vehicles. By the time they’re at the point to purchase their vehicles, funds were not available.”

Efforts to streamline subsidies

Some lawmakers worry that these problems are standing in the way of making cars accessible to those who would benefit the most because they live in regions with some of the poorest air quality.

State Sen. Monique Limón, a Democrat from Santa Barbara, said a bureaucratic application process is creating obstacles for the state’s neediest residents.

This year, Limón introduced a bill, SB 1230, that would streamline the application process and expand Clean Cars 4 All to residents who don’t live in the participating regional air districts. An online portal would allow people to submit one application for all of the programs.

The bill will be heard by the Assembly Appropriations Committee on Aug. 3. 

“Often people will have an urgent need for a new vehicle and it can take up to several weeks to months to get approved through some of these programs,” Limón said. “We are trying to speed up that application process. Getting more zero emission vehicles on the road will help us equitably reach our climate goals while also correcting systemic problems that have allowed communities of color to bear the brunt of the climate crisis.”

The air board also is working on combining the Clean Vehicle Assistance and Clean Cars 4 All programs and expanding them statewide to provide access to 4 million more residents in or near low-income communities outside of the regions that already participate. 

Eligibility criteria also will change. They currently operate on a first-come, first-served basis for income-eligible residents in ZIP codes considered disadvantaged. The board plans to change to a “needs-based” approach that also prioritizes applicants who qualify for public assistance programs, such as Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income, CalWorks or Section 8 housing.

“There are so many low-income consumers that don’t reside in a disadvantaged community,” Macumber said. “If you live in a disadvantaged community, you’re immediately prioritized. It’s also important to ensure that low-income consumers that reside right outside still have opportunities to access these funds.” 

The statewide program will not replace the regional Clean Cars 4 All programs and instead work in tandem with them, she said.

“We know now that when you move really fast….there’s a lot of opportunity for people to slip through the cracks or for certain populations to get left behind.”

JESSICA JAMES, GENERAL MOTORS

However, environmentalists and community grassroots organizations worry it could harm their efforts to assist people in disadvantaged areas and create more confusion.

“The number one priority for us is making sure that we’re not disrupting and not overriding the community partnerships that are currently in place,” said Chris Chavez, deputy policy director at the Coalition for Clean Air, an environmental advocacy group. “What we want to make sure is, as we’re expanding throughout the state, that we don’t lose sight and don’t lose focus on disadvantaged communities because those are the ones with the greatest burdens, the greatest vulnerabilities and greatest barriers to clean transportation.” 

Chavez worries that the statewide program could “compete” with regional incentive programs. If that happens, he said the regional programs could potentially lose funding and no longer be able to operate in the areas that they’re currently serving.

Charging is a big obstacle, too

The lack of rebates and long waitlists aren’t the only obstacles in getting Californians to universally buy electric vehicles. For many, a lack of charging infrastructure in their homes and communities is a big hurdle. 

Most public charging stations are clustered in urban, coastal areas. About 1.2 million chargers will be needed for the 8 million zero-emission cars expected by 2030. State data shows that currently there are only about 80,000 with another 123,000 on the way – falling far short. 

Elkind, of UC Berkeley Law, said the lack of available charging stations is particularly tough for renters and people in rural areas.  

“It’s a huge advantage to have an electric vehicle, especially with the rising gas prices,” he said. “It’s just a question of what public charging infrastructure is out there.” 

Many renters don’t have a dedicated place to park their vehicle and plug it in, especially if they’re in an apartment building without a parking garage, Elkind said. He said more chargers at workplaces and more superchargers in communities could be a good alternative for people who lack home chargers.

Building more charging infrastructure in rural areas is especially important because residents tend to drive many more miles than people in suburban or urban areas. They need longer-range vehicles with powerful chargers.

Lack of inventory at dealerships

Jessica James, General Motors’ program manager of its climate equity fund, said the automaker has made it a priority to eliminate gas cars in the next decade, but acknowledged that the rapid move towards electrification could leave many vulnerable communities behind. Though General Motors is trying to expand its fleet of new vehicles, supply chain problems are making it difficult. 

“We know now that when you move really fast — or take an entire industry and kind of rebuild it — that there’s a lot of opportunity for people to slip through the cracks or for certain populations to get left behind,” James said. “We’re doing everything we can to bring new EV products to market as fast as we possibly can, but those product development timelines are a little longer than we all wish they were.”

Tom Knox, executive director of Valley Clean Air Now, works with the region’s air district to help low-income and disadvantaged residents like Nelms apply for state rebates. Some nonprofit organizations are negotiating with dealers to lower used car prices for people who qualify for state incentives. But dealerships struggled during the pandemic and their supplies of electric cars are low.

“Solving the inventory problem is the single most valuable thing that could happen within the equity programs,” he said, adding that he’s optimistic that the market will improve in 12 to 18 months. “It’s starting to head in the right direction, but it’s still an enormous challenge for our customers.”

10 Great Ways For Teens To Rebel Against Their Progressive Parents

You can be sure no school will be teaching this.  Instead students will learn they are of the opposite sex, hate this country, are bigoted against white and Asian people.  Make sure you sneak this in the backpack of every radical student.  Send this via email to young people, so they know how to rebel.  Teach them to spell the word REBEL.

Sneak out late at night to volunteer at the crisis pregnancy center: Make sure you put pillows under your sheets so they’ll think you’re still in bed while you’re out saving babies.

Start every sentence with “Tucker Carlson says…”: A sure way to make lefty parents FLIP OUT!

Start dating a polite, well-raised member of the opposite sex: Then get married early and raise a loving family. They’ll be SO triggered!”

10 Great Ways For Teens To Rebel Against Their Progressive Parents

BabylonBee.com, 8/3/22 

There comes a time in every child’s life when they begin to assert their autonomy and freedom from the shackles of their upbringing: classic teenage rebellion! But how does one rebel against a set of radical progressive parents for whom morality is relative and degeneracy is celebrated? Not easy!

Here are 10 ways you teens can rebel against your progressive parents:

  1. Be straight: Your progressive parents will be FURIOUS. Even more so if you’re already white.
  2. Clean your room: A sure sign you’ve been radicalized by the Neo-Nazi Jordan Peterson.
  3. Hide your puberty blockers under your tongue and then spit them out when your parents aren’t watching: They’ll wonder whatever happened to the sweet trans kid they raised.
  4. Sneak out late at night to volunteer at the crisis pregnancy center: Make sure you put pillows under your sheets so they’ll think you’re still in bed while you’re out saving babies.
  5. Start every sentence with “Tucker Carlson says…”: A sure way to make lefty parents FLIP OUT!
  6. Start dating a polite, well-raised member of the opposite sex: Then get married early and raise a loving family. They’ll be SO triggered!
  7. Never turn off the lights to prove you’re not worried about climate change: “DAaaad! I’m not a climate denier! You’re just brainwashed by the mainstream media!”
  8. Go to church: Just tell them you’re going to a drag queen story hour and they’ll never know.
  9. Be happy: Happy?? While the planet is dying and democracy is on the brink of collapse due to Donald Trump? Disgusting.
  10. Pray when they aren’t looking: Just do it silently. God will still hear your earnest prayer for a hot conservative spouse to start a huge traditional family with!