What will it take to wake up an apathetic CA … prisoner release?

As the U.S. budget exploded with the twin trillion dollar TARP and Stimulus bills, Cash for Clunkers and $440 billion in losses at Fannie and Freddie, the voting public responded with the Tea Party movement that swept through America in 2009 and 2010. During the 2010 election cycle, while the nation was electing 80 (of 435) new representatives, California voters paid no heed, returning 96% of incumbents to office – a record that would have made the old Soviet Politburo proud.

This same West Coast voter apathy has allowed a $26 billion budget deficit to remain unresolved for years. Rather than solve the fiscal spending crisis, Governor Brown has proposed tax hikes to close the gap, while protecting the all powerful labor unions in California, whose pension, pay and healthcare tabs have placed many California cities in near bankruptcy. California voters have responded with typical apathy to the Brown tax hike proposal paying little attention and raising no alarm. The same cannot be said for the United States Supreme Court which ruled 5-4 in Brown vs. Plata that California must release up to 46,000 inmates from California prisons citing deplorable conditions which caused “needless suffering and death” and “amounted to cruel and unusual punishment”. Will Californians remain apathetic when tens of thousands of convicted felons are released to the streets and neighborhoods of their communities?

That conditions in California prisons are deplorable cannot be debated. The state’s prisons, which were built to hold 80,000 inmates, hold 143,335 inmates today, according to Matthew Cate, secretary of California’s Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, a Sacramento native, spoke of suicidal prisoners being held in “telephone booth-sized cages without toilets” and others, sick and in pain, who died before being seen by a doctor. As many as “200 prisoners may live in a gymnasium, and as many as 54 may share a single toilet,” he said.

Justice Anton Scalia, delivering his own dissent, said the majority had affirmed “what is perhaps the most radical injunction issued by a court in our nation’s history.” He added, “Terrible things are sure to happen as a consequence of this outrageous order.”

Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley agreed, stating, “Citizens will pay a real price as crime victims, as thousands of convicted felons will be on the streets with minimal supervision.”

How long can Californians remained apathetic to their political and fiscal problems? In 1999, California pols wasted the $25 billion “tobacco settlement” to pay for its current spending instead of “health care through 2025” as was planned. After recalling Gray Davis for running a $30 billion deficit in 2003, they paid scant attention as politicians built another deficit hole that the Legislative Analysts Office reports will be “$20 billion per year for years to come”.

If such fiscal insanity could not stir the California electorate, as it did Tea Party members across America, the release of 46,000 convicted felons may awaken a sleeping giant. California’s 23 million registered voters cleaned up their streets and neighborhood with a no-nonsense “three strikes” policy that put repeat offenders behind bars while creating the nation’s largest prison population. Releasing 46,000 felons, 30% of its inmates, to its relatively safe communities and neighborhoods will undoubtedly cause a spike in crime that may finally gain their attention.

But California voters, if they awaken at all, will quickly learn that they may be too late. City employee pensions, pay and healthcare have also been allowed to spike during the spending binge, resulting in city deficits and lay-offs of police, fire, and probation officers. At the very time when they are most needed, their cities will be forced to lay off these critical employees.

Will California voters remain apathetic, or will this epical Supreme Court decision trigger California’s own Tea Party movement?

About the author: Robert J Cri sti ano PhD is the Real Estate Professional in Residence at Chapman University in Orange, CA, a senior Fellow at the Pacific Research Institute in San Francisco, CA and President of the international investment firm, L88

 


California To End Carpool Lane Benefit For Hybrid Owners

From 2005 through 2007, the state of California made a pretty tempting offer to get drivers behind the wheels of hybrid cars: Buy one and you’ll get a sticker that allows you to cruise in the carpool lane without having to have that annoying other passenger (or mannequin) next to you. It was like a VIP pass on the highway. But those halcyon days are about to end.

On July 1, that yellow stickers adorning around 85,000 hybrid cars in California will only serve as a reminder to those drivers that they too once had access to the speedier carpool lane.

“I’m dreading July 1,” one Prius driver who commutes 90 miles a day tells the L.A. Times. “We’re all going to feel the full wrath of the L.A. traffic beast.”

Read More at Consumerist By Chris Morran, the Consumerist

What a Public Bank Could Mean for California

California is the eighth largest economy in the world, and it has a debt burden to match. It has outstanding general obligation bonds and revenue bonds of $158 billion, largely incurred for infrastructure. Of this tab, $70 billion is just for interest. Over $7 billion of California’s annual budget goes to pay interest on the state’s debt.

As large as California’s liabilities are, they are exceeded by its assets, which are sufficient to capitalize a bank rivaling any in the world. That’s the idea behind Assembly Bill 750, introduced by Assemblyman Ben Hueso of San Diego, which would establish a blue ribbon task force to consider the viability of creating the California Investment Trust, a state bank receiving deposits of state funds. Instead of relying on Wall Street banks for credit — or allowing Wall Street banks to enjoy the benefits of lending its capital — California may decide to create its own, publicly-owned bank.

On May 2, AB 750 moved out of the Banking and Finance Committee with only one nay vote and is now on its way to the Appropriations Committee. Three unions submitted their support for the bill — the California Nurses Association, the California Firefighters and the California Labor Council. The state bank idea also got a nod from former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich in his speech at the California Democratic Convention in Sacramento the previous day.

Read More at Huffington Post by Ellen Brown, the Huffington Post

 

California Card Check Aims to Abolish Secret Ballots

IRVINE, Calif., May 16, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Western Growers President and CEO Tom Nassif released the following statement on today’s passage by the California State Assembly of the United Farm Workers-sponsored Senate Bill 104.

“If Governor Jerry Brown signs the card check bill, SB 104, he will effectively abolish a farm worker’s exclusive right to vote by secret ballot in a state-supervised election process. We doubt the governor has forgotten what he and Cesar Chavez fought for in the Agricultural Labor Relations Act of 1975—the secret ballot as the exclusive means of determining the true wishes of the workers. With a card check system, every worker’s vote is made public to the employer, the union organizers and co-workers. Union organizers trying to get signatures would be able to shove the cards in front of a worker with no one else around. This clearly exposes workers to unwanted pressure and possible intimidation by the union. This legislation is not about advancing the cause of farm workers; SB 104 is only about advancing the cause of a union that cannot persuade workers to vote for it without having a union organizer looking over the worker’s shoulder.”

About Western Growers:
Western Growers (www.wga.com) is an agricultural trade association whose members from Arizona and California grow, pack and ship 90 percent of the fresh fruits, nuts and vegetables grown in California and 75 percent of those commodities in Arizona. This totals about half of the nation’s fresh produce. Western Growers is headquartered in Irvine, Calif.

Read More at the Sacremento Bee by Western Growers Association, the Sacramento Bee

Foreclosures share of California sales inches down in April

Properties previously foreclosed on in the last year made up 36.6% of the California market in April, down from more than 38% one year ago, according to DataQuick.

Foreclosure’s share of the market reached an all-time high in February 2009 at 58.5%.

Overall sales in the state reached 35,202 in April, down 6.1% from one year ago and 3.3% down from March. Sales for the month of April remain below the historic average of roughly 44,000, dating back to 1988.

Read More at HousingWire by Jon Prior, HousingWire

 

Study: Valley among state’s ‘struggling, forsaken’

A new quality-of-life study of California finds that Central Valley counties either fit into a “struggling” 38% of the population or are among “The Forsaken Five Percent” with residents “bypassed by the digital economy.”

The new study released today is from the American Human Development Project, an initiative of the Social Science Research Council with financial support from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. Called “A Portrait of California,” the study explores “well-being and access to opportunity across the Golden State.

The report uses the American Human Development Index, a composite measure of health, education and standard of living, and uses a 0 to 10 scale. Topping out among the state’s five most populous metro areas, San Francisco’s HDI measure is 6.97, while Riverside-San Bernardino is at the bottom at 4.58.

Read More at the Business Journal

Judge: California law applies in Toyota case

SANTA ANA A federal judge said that California law could be applied to the economic-loss lawsuits against Toyota.

Some Toyota owners claim that sudden-acceleration defects in their cars negatively impacted the value of their vehicles. Last year, attorneys for the owners filed a mass economic loss complaint. The claim alleges sudden-acceleration problems in Toyota vehicles are due to defects in the vehicles’ electronic throttle-control systems.

Toyota disputes the allegation and blames sudden acceleration on sticky pedals and faulty floor mats.

Read More at OC Register By Vik Jolly, The Orange County Register

California’s “Jungle Primary” System Gets Its First Test Today

Tuesday’s special election in California’s 36th District is a prequel to what will likely be the main event on July 12. If no candidate gets a majority of votes cast — highly unlikely in the crowded 16 person field — the top two vote-getters will advance to a runoff in the first test of the state’s new “jungle primary” system.

The Frontrunners: Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn jumped into the race almost immediately after now-former Rep. Jane Harman announced in February she’d step down to head the Woodrow Wilson Center. Hahn and Harman are close, and while Hahn doesn’t have the former congresswoman’s official endorsement, Harman did provide her with a heads-up she was leaving. Hahn comes from a well-known political family — her brother, James, served as the city’s mayor from 2001 until 2005, and her father, Kenneth, was a county supervisor for forty years.

California Secretary of State Debra Bowen took a bit longer to officially decide, but since her entrance, the two women have been at the top of a very crowded pack in the all-party primary. Hahn quickly rolled out endorsement after endorsement of other Members of the state’s Congressional delegation, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, and even former House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt. She’s also garnered most of the labor endorsements in the race.

Read More at the Atlantic By Jessica Taylor, the Atlantic

Facebook fights California privacy push

Computerworld – California is considering legislation that would tighten Facebook’s privacy practices, and the social network is not happy about it.

The bill, Social Networking Privacy Act (SB 242), would require Facebook and other social networking sites to make big changes to the way they handle users’ privacy. Industry analysts say social networks like Facebook could be wary of this move for fear that it will lead to a slippery slope of government control and privacy rules.

“Facebook has been very passive about security . They put the onus on the user to figure the security out on their own,” said Zeus Kerravala, an analyst at Yankee Group. “Now it would automatically be more secure.”

Read More at ComputerWorld By Sharon Gaudin, ComputerWorld

Federal Judge Finds No Constitutional Right to Carry a Concealed Weapon

A federal judge in California has ruled there is no Second Amendment right to carry a concealed weapon.

Gun rights lawyer Alan Gura of Alexandria, Va., is planning to appeal the ruling by U.S. District Judge Morrison England Jr. of Sacramento, the Associated Press reports.

England sided with the Yolo County sheriff, who refused concealed weapons permits unless the applicant was a victim of a violent crime, was threatened with violence, was a business owner carrying large amounts of cash, or cited another specific need.

Read More at ABA Journal by Debra Cassens Weiss, ABAJournal paypal site down who is .