• Pinboard Links

    Flap’s Links and Comments for May 3rd on 08:17

    These are my links for May 3rd from 08:17 to 08:28:

    • Budget Cuts In California Red Districts Could Make Sense – Last week, Treasurer Lockyer and Senate President Pro Tem Steinberg each called for targeted cuts in Republican districts.  They were both non-specific, but the clear target was to both shake the trees for a few Republican votes and to make voters in the district hold their leaders accountable.  The generality of the threat made it political rather than policy.
      But that's not Peter Schrag's style.  Schrag, the longtime columnist for the Sacramento Bee and author of several books on California governance, knows his policy.  So, rather than just saying cutting in red districts, he has some ideas with specifics.

      The obvious first question: are these serious ideas or just threats? And to what extent could the legislature's Democratic majority do it even if they wanted to? But in some instances, targeting Republican districts might be good policy even if it's not unequivocally good politics.
      The most obvious example is the state's costly class-size reduction program (CSR). Ever since Gov. Pete Wilson, in a blatantly political maneuver intended to punish the teacher unions, arm-twisted the legislature into the hasty adoption of CSR in grades K-3 some fifteen years ago, there have been serious doubts about its effectiveness. … Nonetheless, despite the program's erosion under the budget pressures of the past couple of years, it still costs the state over a billion dollars a year. CSR probably shouldn't be abandoned, but it should be focused on the low income students and English learners who most need the additional attention and who, according to most research, are the most likely to benefit.

      That change of focus would hit affluent Republican districts harder than those represented by Democrats, but it would almost certainly be the more effective use of resources that conservatives always demand. (CPR)


      The class size expenditure was worthless when initiated 15 years ago and is ripe for some cuts.

      California has spent too much on a failed education system and instead would have been better served with a break up of failed school districts and a voucher system such as what Indiana just adopted.

      So, Democrat legislators, cut away but I know you won't.

    • San Diego case hits right note on redevelopment – The timing could not have been more perfect – or more ironic.

      As the Legislature mulls Gov. Jerry Brown's proposal to abolish local redevelopment activities, a San Diego judge has issued a denunciation of one redevelopment agency for running rough- shod over private property owners in its zeal to underwrite a big condominium.

      National City, a suburb of San Diego, wanted to seize their property under eminent domain to facilitate construction of a 24-story condominium building. To make the seizure legal, the city declared the property to be blighted and needing to be cleared for new construction.

      Taking property in that way was given broad clearance by the U.S. Supreme Court in its now-famous – or infamous – Kelo decision having to do with a similar case in Connecticut. But to exercise that power, National City still had to meet the state's requirement that it prove blight.

      One property owner, the Community Youth Athletic Center, resisted and challenged the city's blight designation. The center, which gives boxing lessons to underprivileged youth, received support from groups opposed to the broad exercise of eminent domain. And San Diego Superior Court Judge Steven Denton sided with the gymnasium as well.

      Last month, Denton issued a 50-page ruling that found National City's claim of blight to be bogus. "Because most or all of the conditions cited as showing dilapidation or deterioration are minor maintenance issues, the court cannot determine with reasonable certainty the existence or extent of buildings rendered unsafe to dilapidation or deterioration," he wrote.

      Dana Berliner, a lawyer for the Virginia-based Institute for Justice, an anti-eminent domain organization that backed the Community Youth Athletic Center, put it this way: "Their blight designation was a total sham."


      Jerry Brown is correct about redevelopment in California.

      Most of what I have seen is local developers getting rich at the expense of California taxpayers with local government capturing tax revenue that ordinarily go to the state of California.

      Look at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza and Thousand Oaks City Hall. This area was considered blighted?

      The auditorium ha sucked up all of the Redevelopment Agency funds and Thousand Oaks Blvd. remains well – the same.

      The California Legislature and the Governor should either amended the redevelopment law or abolish them all together.

  • Pinboard Links

    Flap’s Links and Comments for April 30th on 18:43

    These are my links for April 30th from 18:43 to 18:55:

    • Gov. Jerry Brown undergoes surgery to remove cancerous growth on his nose – Gov. Jerry Brown had a cancerous growth removed from the right side of his nose in an outpatient procedure Friday in Oakland, according to a statement released Saturday by the governor’s office.

      After the procedure to remove basal carcinoma cells and some reconstructive surgery, Brown was released to return home. Basal cell carcinoma is one of the most common forms of skin cancer, can be caused by sun exposure and is very treatable.

      Brown’s office said the procedure was conducted under a local anesthetic at a doctor's office in Oakland. The procedure is called Mohs surgery, in which physicians remove microscopic layers of skin and examine them under a microscope to see if there are cancerous cells. If they are present, additional layers are removed and viewed until there is no more evidence of cancer.

      While Brown continues to work on gubernatorial duties, the statement said, he will not appear in public until his stitches are removed. An aide said stitches would be removed starting Friday.

      That decision forced the cancellation of Brown’s planned Sunday speech to the state Democratic Party convention in Sacramento. Democratic Party officials said the program would otherwise continue as planned.


      Wishing the best for Governor Brown. Cancer is not fun…..

    • The White House Correspondents’ Dinner weekend, via Twitter #whcd #nerdprom – Before the White House Correspondents' Dinner even began, Twitter was buzzing with the "#whcd" and "#nerdprom" hashtags — the self-mocking nickname Washington's twitterati use for the dinner, which is the big night on the capital's social scene.

      With all the press real estate mogul Donald Trump has been getting lately, a fair share of tweets were about him. Trump is a guest at The Washington Post's table.

      Roll Call associate editor Paul Singer, an investigative journalist, wondered if the journalists in attendance could keep work and play separate.

      "Can you party w/a politician Sat nite; investigate his $$ on Mon? http://wapo.st/mLBDD9 #nerdprom #HowGovtWorks," Singer also tweeted Friday.

      Mother Jones Washington Bureau chief David Corn wondered if Trump could make a headline grabbing gaffes before the dinner.

      "Which reminds me: with 28 hours to go before #nerdprom, #Trump can still do even more to embarrass his WaPo hosts. Any predictions, mf'ers?," Corn tweeted.

  • Pinboard Links

    Flap’s Links and Comments for April 29th on 10:20

    These are my links for April 29th from 10:20 to 15:37:

  • Pinboard Links

    Flap’s Links and Comments for April 28th on 18:27

    These are my links for April 28th from 18:27 to 21:13:

    • Jerry Brown pulls plug on building San Quentin’s new death row – Gov. Jerry Brown pulled the plug today on plans to construct a new housing facility for condemned inmates at San Quentin.

      Brown said in a statement that he believes it would "be unconscionable to earmark $356 million for a new and improved death row while making severe cuts to education and programs that serve the most vulnerable among us."

      That bill would add an estimated $28.5 million general fund costs in annual debt service payments, his office said.

      "At a time when children, the disabled and seniors face painful cuts to essential programs, the State of California cannot justify a massive expenditure of public dollars for the worst criminals in our state," said Brown. "California will have to find another way to address the housing needs of condemned inmates."


      Jerry Brown is grandstanding again. He knows inmates will go to court which will order the expenditure.

      Besides Brown opposes the death penalty anyway and will try to derail California executions by any backhanded method he can.

      Remember Chief Justice rose Bird who was appointed by Brown and recalled by the people of California?

    • President 2012: The silver lining of the Trump show – But I don’t agree that this is all bad news for the Republican field of candidates and for the party as a whole. For one thing, those potential candidates not yet in the race can take their time, secure in the knowledge that nothing aside from the Trump travesty is going on for now. And the other candidates and potential candidates, some of whom I would argue have been too hastily dismissed by the punditocracy — e.g. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and those who seem to lack gravitas now seem more grounded and serious in comparison to the egomaniacal buffoon who has punchlines, not positions, on the issues. So Tim Pawlenty isn’t that exciting, but see how “exciting” has its limits? Maybe Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) has been too focused on one issue (the debt) to the exclusion of all others, but at least he’s obsessed with something important. (Certainly, any political coverage of the 2012 race that doesn’t concern RomneyCare is good news for the former Massachusetts governor.)

      And we shouldn’t get carried away here. It is far from clear Trump will actually run for office, and unimaginable that a majority or even plurality of Republican primary voters will throw their votes and their chance to retake the White House down the drain by backing Trump. Eventually, a serious candidate or two will rise to the top of the heap and Trump will be a regrettable but ultimately irrelevant footnote in our political history.


      Absolutely agree….

  • Pinboard Links

    Flap’s Links and Comments for April 28th on 16:25

    These are my links for April 28th from 16:25 to 16:35:

    • California Pensions: Public hospital president’s retirement pay highlights issue of ‘supplemental’ pensions – When he turned 65 two years ago, Samuel Downing received a $3-million retirement payment from a public hospital district in Salinas, Calif., where he serves as president and chief executive.

      But Downing continued working at his $668,000-a-year job for another two years, and after he retires this week, he will receive another payment of nearly $900,000. That comes on top of his regular pension of $150,000 a year.

      The payments amount to one of the more generous pension packages granted to a public official in California and come amid growing debate about "supplemental" pensions that some officials receive on top of their basic retirement benefits.

      Though Downing's case is extreme, it follows the disclosure of extra pension benefits received by employees in municipalities including Bell and San Diego. Earlier this year, a state watchdog group called for stricter pension rules, saying California's retirement plans are "dangerously underfunded, the result of overly generous benefit promises, wishful thinking and an unwillingness to plan prudently." Seventy percent of Californians support a cap on pensions for current and future government workers, according to a recent Los Angeles Times/USC Poll.


      Come on.

      There needs to be a cap and reform NOW.

    • California Water agencies would be taxed under state bill – Retail water districts would pay a new tax under proposed state legislation to fund water-related supply, environmental and recreation projects. The size of the tax has yet to be calculated, but it would be significant.
      A hearing is scheduled May 4 for the bill, Senate Bill 34, in the California Senate's Governance and Finance committee. Since the bill would impose a tax, it requires two-thirds approval by the Legislature.
      SB 34 was introduced in the Natural Resources and Water committee by state Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto. The influential legislator is perhaps best known as the author of California's hands-free cellphone law. The water tax bill was approved April 12 by the committee on a 5-3 vote.
      Simitian is offering SB 34 as an alternative to an $11.4 billion water bond measure the Legislature recently placed on the ballot for November 2012. The bill doesn't specify the level of taxes but is expected to be revised later to do so.
      Backers say the bill pays for necessary upgrades to California's water infrastructure, especially in the Sacramento River delta, which showed its inadequacy during the state's recently ended drought.
      Opponents say SB 34 doesn't give specifics about where the money will be spent. They include water districts around the state and the Association of California Water Agencies, a statewide organization of water agencies.
      "It would force water agencies to pay a steep new water tax with no direct benefit to those who pay," said Phil Rosentrater, spokesman for Western Municipal Water District in Riverside County. The district covers 850,000 people concentrated along the Interstate 15 corridor, including Lake Elsinore, Wildomar and parts of Murrieta and Temecula.
      The San Diego County Water Authority, a wholesaler whose member retail agencies are subject to paying the tax, is scheduled to vote Thursday on a recommendation to oppose the bill.


      Read it all

      There is NO guarantee that the money would go to improve the Sacramento Delta and improve water delivery to Southern California.

      So, this is an easy no for the Cal GOP.

      The bill requires a two-thirds vote in the affirmative and I doubt one vote from a Republican.

    • California Legislature seeking to halt DMV notices to buy time on budget – To buy negotiating time for Gov. Jerry Brown's tax extensions, lawmakers are seeking to halt Department of Motor Vehicles notices for drivers whose vehicle registration expires in July and later.

      Under current law, DMV must send notices at least 60 days before a renewal due date. That means the department is required to notify motorists by May 2 if their vehicle registrations are up for renewal on July 1.

      Because lawmakers haven't agreed to extend the 2009 vehicle license fee increase, drivers are poised to receive a 0.5 percentage point reduction in their VLF starting July 1. The fee is currently a 1.15 percent tax on the estimated value of a vehicle. On a $15,000 car, the difference in rates would be $75.

      Democrats still hope to persuade Republicans to extend the higher VLF rate beyond June. But they don't want drivers to receive renewal notices quoting lower VLF rates now, only to have DMV ask them for more money later this year. That would frustrate drivers and likely undermine support for Brown's tax plan.

      So the Assembly approved a bill Thursday that directs DMV to delay sending renewal notices starting with drivers whose registrations are due July 1. That buys at least another month of time for Democrats to negotiate with Republicans on maintaining higher VLF rates. Democrats say the money is needed to avoid deep cuts in local law enforcement programs.


      Political machinations to capture more tax revenue.

      Good grief!

  • Pinboard Links

    Flap’s Links and Comments for April 26th on 12:32

    These are my links for April 26th from 12:32 to 12:53:

    • California budget nut remains uncracked – Jerry Brown's insider attempt to crack California's budget nut has been no more successful than Arnold Schwarzenegger's outsider attack.

      Both relied on unrealistic assumptions about Capitol reality – Schwarzenegger because he was a newbie and Brown for reasons known only to him.

      Brown offered a complex mixture of spending cuts and tax extensions tailored to the supposed predilections of a disaffected California electorate.

      Nearly four months later, however, the Capitol is stalemated – and not merely because of its deep ideological divisions.

      For weeks, Brown negotiated with a few Republican senators who were evidently willing to place an extension of temporary taxes before voters if public pension and budget reforms were part of the ballot package.

      The talks eventually collapsed. Brown says, in effect, the Republicans demanded too much, but it's also evident that he, Democratic lawmakers and their allies, especially public employee unions, got cold feet.

      Private and public polls indicated that if taxes, pension reforms and a spending limit were placed on the ballot, voters might easily reject the taxes and pass the two others.

      A new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll underscores the Democrats' dilemma, finding voters' support for a tax election and pension and budget reforms is very high but for taxes is barely 50 percent.


      California's budget will remain uncracked until either voters pass tax increases by voting for them at the ballot or the Democrats get serious about cutting spending.

      I see neither anytime soon and California's economy will stay in the doldrums.

    • Lamar Alexander: The White House vs. Boeing—A Tennessee Tale – The National Labor Relations Board has moved to stop Boeing from building airplanes at a nonunion plant in South Carolina, suggesting that a unionized American company cannot expand its operations into one of the 22 states with right-to-work laws, which protect a worker's right to join or not join a union. (New Hampshire's legislature has just approved its becoming the 23rd.)

      This reminds me of a White House state dinner in February 1979, when I was governor of Tennessee. President Jimmy Carter said, "Governors, go to Japan. Persuade them to make here what they sell here."

      "Make here what they sell here" was then the union battle cry, part of an effort to slow the tide of Japanese cars and trucks entering the U.S. market.


      Read it all…..

      This example explains why America has lost its manufacturing might…..