In Tweet if You Love Pension Reform, June 7 in Fox & Hound, Marcia Fritz pitches a Hail Mary pass, a last ditch effort to get the CA Legislature to do the right thing

Fix Pensions First Launches an Urgent Twitter Campaign, and invites everyone to participate. They’ll give you critical facts in small daily doses, so you don’t get blown away, and so you can be compelled to be a part of a last ditch effort to reform pensions at the state level, before it’s too late.

Follow @FixPensions. Take 10 seconds to consider the information on your screen and another 10 seconds to share it. Twitter will take care of the rest.


The legislature has until June 28 to place a constitutional amendment on the November ballot to require public employees to pay half the cost of their pensions, link state retirement ages with federal retirement ages and provide retirement plans to future employees that share the risk of investment losses with taxpayers.

Click here to read the full piece, and see the dramatic graphs to drive home the urgency of this reform critical reform measure.

CalWatchDog’s Wayne Lusvardi sounds a warning bell not to get comfy with the pension reform measures just passed, even if they hold–the outlook is much worse

A pension reform ballot proposition was passed by the voters in the city of San Diego by a margin of 66.2 percent in favor to 33.8 percent opposed.. A similar pension reform measure in the city of San Jose is leading with 89.8 percent of the vote in favor with 37.7 percent of the vote counted.

But the gnawing question remains: Will voters end up with the pension reforms they voted for? Or are these reforms just the proverbial calm before a possible bigger pension storm? Tentative Results of Pension Reform Measures…
Pension reform or double-dip storm in San Diego and San Jose? | CalWatchDog

And Now Act 2 of the Dramatic Situation Between the Runnaway Train, i.e. the Public Sector Union’s Crushing Weight on California & the Battle for Reform

Here’s a link and a excerpt: San Jose’s mayor addresses legal challenges – Public Sector Inc. Forum
By Steven Greenhut on June 6

Pull Quote:

San Jose’s unions didn’t really fight the Measure B pension reform that passed with 70 percent of the vote Tuesday, but they did immediately file a legal challenge. Here is Mayor Chuck Reed’s response to claims that the reform he championed isn’t legal:
“Measure B was carefully crafted to follow California law. San Jose is a charter city and the California Constitution gives charter cities: ‘plenary authority’ to provide in their charters for the compensation of their employees. i San Jose’s City Charter reserves the right of the City Council and the voters to make changes to employees’ retirement benefits: ‘.. the Council may at any time, or from time to time, amend or otherwise change any retirement plan or plans or adopt or establish a new or different plan or plans for all or any officers or employees.’ ii San Jose’s…

In “A Progressive’s Progress” Greenhut writes about what one authentic progressive is standing for in California

Steven Greenhut
A Progressive’s Progress
San Jose mayor Chuck Reed shows how Democrats can take the lead on public-pension reform.
30 May 2012

Skyrocketing compensation costs for public employees are forcing California municipalities to contemplate spending cuts and, in some cases, even bankruptcy. The question isn’t whether to rein in these pension and medical liabilities—that’s unavoidable—but precisely when and how to do so. Dominated by public-sector unions, the state legislature remains in deep denial, but some local leaders, acknowledging reality, are taking action on their own to control costs. “We’ll do this city by city a few times and that will help to move the state,” San Jose mayor Chuck Reed told me in a recent interview at City Hall. Eventually, Reed says, California will need a statewide pension-reform initiative to overcome the legislature’s intransigence. Reed, a progressive Democrat who has dragged along a slim majority of a 10-member city council, is leading the most impressive effort statewide.

Click here to read the article published in City Journal

Real Progressives who authentically care about the poor should support Gov Scott Walker

GREENHUT: Real progressives should support WI’s Scott Walker
By Watchdog Staff / May 30, 2012 /

“…once-proud movement of working people who fought oppression has morphed into an upper-middle-class movement of coddled public employees who do not care about debt levels and eroded public services. They have their gold-plated pensions and no one better touch them or else.

Progressives used to pride themselves on their desire to help the poor, but in Wisconsin these days they’d rather throw the poor under the bus — a public bus, of course, with a union driver — to protect the relatively wealthy class of workers who administer government programs.”

Click here to read the article

Public Employees, the new aristrocracy that rules CA: Slashes to services for the poor while they get pay raises

California Workers Get Pay Bump Even as Brown Seeks Cuts
By Michael B. Marois – May 29, 2012 

As California Governor Jerry Brown seeks a temporary 5 percent pay cut from public employees to fill the largest state deficit in the U.S., many of those same workers are poised for raises next year.

Labor contracts covering 140,000 workers grant increases of about 3 percent to top earners beginning in July 2013, according to the Personnel Administration Department. About 34,000 employees became eligible this year as the raises began to be incorporated.

Brown, facing a $15.7 billion deficit through June 2013, is seeking savings in a state where unionized public employees are paid more than government workers in other states, and civil- service protections hamper dismissals. The 74-year-old Democrat wants to save $400 million by shortening the work week by two hours. That will require approval from unions representing 182,000 of the state’s 214,000 workers.
Click here to read more

CA Lawmakers exemplify definition of insanity–The more harm they cause, the more they copy failed EU States, and cause yet more harm

Consider California, Illinois EU-Style Failed States
By HOWARD RICH
05/22/2012 06:09 PM ET

Brown is pushing to raise California’s sales tax (already the highest in the nation) from 7.25% to 7.5%. He also wants to slap higher income-tax rates on those making more than $250,000 — while raising the state’s marginal income-tax rate on millionaires from 10.3% to 13.3% (thus establishing the highest state income-tax rate in America).

Californians don’t have to look all the way across the Atlantic to see that this approach is destined to fail. They need only look halfway across their own continent.

In Illinois, income tax hikes haven’t solved the state’s budget crisis. That’s because most of the revenue generated by a 2011 marginal rate hike was earmarked for a $4.5 billion pension payment — not the state’s $5 billion deficit or its $9 billion backlog of unpaid bills.

Of course this $4.5 billion barely made a dent in the state’s long-term pension problem.

Click here to read the article

CA Assembly passes bill to protect “public servants” from investigative reporters who seek to out fraud, waste, and abuse of public funds, trust, & welfare

“The state is about to destroy the most significant source of public records, and create an open invitation to fraud and theft in order to combat a phantom threat. The bill was introduced by a legislator who ought to know better, Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles). Not long ago, Feuer argued that openness is the key to stopping abuse in his city’s terminally troubled children’s court system, but now he is the champion of secrecy.”

The California Assembly, in a move that reminds me of my my childhood friend who’d take the Candy Land deck of cards under the table to “shuffle” them, just passed AB 2299 by a vote of 68-0.   This bill reinforces the evidence that the CA legislators are beholden to the new aristocracy of California, the public employee unions and their members.   If the bill becomes law, it eliminates the inconvenience of laws that allow reporters and citizen journalists to investigate and expose fraud, waste, abuse and corruption.   It still has to pass the CA Senate, and be signed by the Governor.

This gives Organized Crime a whole new meaning.  Click here to read Steven Greenhut’s article

Uh-oh, more than one in five cities in California face bankruptcy

By Troy Senik on May 24, 2012 1:53 PM

At least three California cities — Stockton, Mammoth Lakes and Montebello — have declared that they are exploring the [bankruptcy] option. And at least 100 of the state’s 482 cities are on track to face a similar predicament by the end of the year, according to Barbara O’Connor, a professor at California State University at Sacramento.

More than one in five. No wonder the state’s unions are fighting for a bigger role in local bankruptcies. How that fight resolves will be crucial to the fiscal future of local government in the Golden State. Click here to read more

Why is the GOP forever shrinking in CA? It’s the incongruity!

Steven Greenhut: If you wonder why the GOP is having such hard times, one need only look at the goings-on in Orange County, where Republican Party Chairman Scott Baugh is pulling out all the stops to ensure the election to the board of supervisors of Todd Spitzer, the former Assemblyman who is a close union ally and someone who proudly increased pensions for his deputy sheriff union friends and then stood by that action right until he started getting political heat for doing so.

Click here to read the article.

Jerry Brown is the Great Dissembler

Steven Greenhut | More Gimmicks, Less Honesty | California continues to play budget games | 17 May 2012

As the Sacramento Bee reports, “The state budget deficit had grown by a remarkable 70 percent since January, but fiscal experts said the economy had little to do with it.” If not the economy, then what could possibly explain the shortfall? The answer: Brown and his administration embraced overly optimistic budget projections—what the Legislative Analyst’s Office described as “an aggressive forecast.” In January, Brown had claimed a budget deficit of $9 billion; today, it stands at $16 billion.

Click here to read the article.

Should I Stay or Should I go? Greenhut says Conservatives should stay in CA

Yes, There’s a Case for Staying in California: Steven Greenhut

“Just as California progressives view their first-in-the-nation ideas such as cap-and-trade as a means to push the entire nation to the left, so too could conservatives and centrists use California as a model for a back-from-the-brink rescue.”

Click here to read the article.

Jim Manzi discusses “Uncontrolled: The Surprising Payoff of Trial-and-Error for Business, Politics, and Society”; Plus: American Dream Goin’ South and California’s Proposed Cigarette Tax, This Week on Gadfly Radio

Join us live Tuesday, 10 a.m. PDT, on CRNtalk.com, CRN1, for another spirited edition of Gadfly Radio with Martha and CalWatchDog.

Martha Montelongo could not stay away from the microphone for long, so she’s returning from her road trip a week early!

In the first half of the program, we’ll talk to Jim Manzi, author of the new book, Uncontrolled:  The Surprising Payoff of Trial-and-Error for Business, Politics, and Society. Manzi, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and the founder and chairman of Applied Productive Technologies, argues “we have much less formal knowledge about society than economists and other social scientists often claim, and that therefore we need to rely predominantly on practical expertise, federalism and trial-and-error learning to make useful progress.” It’s a fascinating book, and should make for a fascinating discussion.

Then, John Seiler, Ben Boychuk and Martha Montelongo will discuss some of the latest developments in California, including the pitch battle over Proposition 29, the “Tobacco Tax for Cancer Research Act.” If approved, Prop. 29 would raise the cigarette tax by $1, with the money ostensibly earmarked for cancer research.

Prop. 29’s backers are trying to portray the measure’s opponents—which do, in fact, include tobacco companies—as objectively “pro-cancer.”  L.A. Times columnist George Skelton flatly asserts that Prop. 29 will save countless lives, and that opponents of the tax increase are simply lying to protect Big Tobacco. And in a column at California Progress Report headlined “The Friends of Lung Cancer,” former Sacramento Bee editorial page editor Peter Schrag writes:

There are lots of good reasons to support Proposition 29, the tobacco tax initiative on the June 5 ballot, not least those named Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds. Together, the two tobacco giants have so far kicked in about $40 million to the sleazy campaign to defeat it. If you count the nearly $700,000 that the Republican Party contributed to their cause you have yet another reason.

Incredibly, Schrag comes out in qualified opposition to Prop. 29, saying, “Anything that big tobacco is against – or big pharma or big oil – is usually good enough to be for. But let’s save it for a more worthy purpose next time around. There’s a long list of underfunded programs that can badly use the money.” Well, alrighty then!

The problem with Prop. 29—well, one of them, anyway—is that it would create yet another new agency with an unreliable revenue stream in a state beset with a multi-billion dollar deficit. Remember Prop. 71? That was a 2004 bond measure that set up a mostly unaccountable new agency responsible for spending billions on stem-cell research. The Sacramento Bee reported Monday that the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine is now in danger of running out of money.

And as CalWatchDog’s Katy Grimes noted last month, Prop. 29’s backers have plenty to gain if the measure passes: “Don Perata, a former state legislator, has been using the June ballot measure’s election fund as his own personal checkbook. Perata has paid nearly $40,000 to an Oakland City Councilman in order to win a contract for one of his lobbying clients, the San Francisco Chronicle and Contra Costa Times reported.” Grimes also reports that Prop. 29 includes “a clause prohibiting any changes in the spending decision that its politically appointed commission makes, for a full 15 years.”

What’s more, the measure, “is written in a way to exempt the CEO from normal state salary requirements, and why that CEO can hire whomever he wants, at whatever salary he chooses.”

How bad is California’s economy? People are voluntarily returning to Mexico. John Seiler at CalWatchDog lays out the numbers in “American Dream Goin’ South,” which highlights the reverse migration of Mexicans from California. John writes:

Although the official California unemployment rate is 10.9 percent, the real level — including those working part time who want to work more and those who have given up looking for work — is 25 percent, just as during the 1930s, as I have reported.

A difference this time from the 1930s is that Mexico’s economy is not also in a slump, but is a hot tamale:

“First-quarter growth was 4.6 per cent compared with a year earlier, the fastest pace since the third quarter of 2010, prompting several analysts to upgrade 2012 growth forecasts.”

Other items of note: 

  • “California’s salary setting commission is bracing next week to consider a 5 percent pay cut for legislators and other statewide officeholders, in keeping with a similar cut proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown for state workers,” reports Jim Sanders at the Sacramento Bee.
  • Executives at California State University campuses would be prohibited from getting public pay increases during the next two years and then limited to 10% raises during the next four years under legislation approved Monday by the state Senate,” according to the Los Angeles Times. CalWatchDog’s John Hrabe has been on the cutting edge of reporting on the Cal State executive compensation scandal. Read his latest report here.
  • During last week’s episode, Ben and John discussed California’s exploding budget deficit, including the state’s high hopes for billions in new revenue from the Facebook IPO. City Journal contributing editor Joel Kotkin argues at The Daily Beast that Facebook won’t save the Golden State. Meantime, Facebook shares on Monday closed near $34 on the second day of trading—or about $4 below the stock’s initial offering price. Yikes.

This Week on Gadfly Radio: Troy Senik on the “Worst Union in America”; Plus: Jerry Brown and California’s Greek Ways

Join us live on Tuesday, 10 a.m. PDT, on CRNtalk.com, CRN1, for another lively edition of Gadfly Radio!

Troy Senik, has a dynamite article in the Spring issue of City Journal: “The Worst Union in America: How the California Teachers Association betrayed the schools and crippled the state.” Really? The worst? Worse than the SEIU? Worse than the NEA? Yes, yes, a thousand times, yes. But we’ll have Senik make his case, which will be excerpted in the Los Angeles Times in the next few days. And CalWatchDog.com editor-in-chief Brian Calle opines in his latest column at the Orange County Register.

We’ll also discuss Governor Jerry Brown’s May budget revision, which was released officially Monday but previewed over the weekend. Anyone not paying attention would have been shocked to learn that California’s current budget deficit is several billion dollars higher than Brown’s office reported in January—$16 billion, as opposed to around $9 billion at the beginning of the year. Anyone else wouldn’t have been the least bit surprised.

“This means we will have to go much farther and make cuts far greater than I asked for at the beginning of the year,” Brown said. “But we can’t fill this hole with cuts alone without doing severe damage to our schools. That’s why I’m bypassing the gridlock and asking you, the people of California, to approve a plan that avoids cuts to schools and public safety.”

Brown delivered the “news” on YouTube, where he doubled down on his pitch to voters to approve a tax increase in November.

“Please increase taxes on the most affluent,” Brown urged. “It’s reasonable and fair.”

”By the time I leave here, California’s budget will be balanced and the state will be back on road to prosperity,” Brown added. ”I am a buoyant optimist.”

It’s phony-baloney. All of it.

Katy Grimes at CalWatchDog: “Jerry Brown twists out ‘pretzel palace’ budget,” which reports legislative Republicans’ reaction to the governor’s news.

“Tax revenue is up two years in a row, but not enough to satisfy the spending demands of Sacramento Democrats,” retorted Assembly Republicans. “It will be interesting to see if the liberal majority in the Legislature accept the Governor’s cuts, or reject them as they did earlier this year when they blocked the Governor’s health and welfare reforms and grew spending by $1 billion,” wrote Assembly Minority leader Connie Conway, R-Visalia, and Assemblyman Jim Nielsen, R-Biggs.

Tom Del Beccaro, chairman of the California Republican Party: “Amazingly, a year and a half into Brown’s Governorship and we still hear nothing of the unemployed. California will continue to face chronic budget deficits because so many people remain out of work; the conversation about revenues should always begin with how to restore jobs. So many people are wondering when Brown will offer plans to make California competitive, so that business will return to this state and bring jobs with them.”

Calle at CalWatchDog: “If nothing else, the budget situation points to the power teachers’ unions have within the Brown administration and California government in general. This is particularly true of the juggernaut CTA, which was recently dubbed by City Journal as the ‘Worst union in America’ because of the lopsided influence it has on public policy in California. Education spending is perhaps the Holy Grail of politics in the Golden State. So it is no surprise Brown’s administration is using education as a justification for increasing taxes. Improving education is popular with voters. But money is not the major problem facing California’s education. Instead, the state is in need of structural reform.”

Robert Wenzel at Economic Policy Journal: “California is fast becoming the new Greece.” And Brown’s proposal to reduce the work week of many state workers—a move that would need to be bargained with the unions because the Democratic-controlled Legislature isn’t about to impose that change unilaterally—would be equivalent to a 5 percent pay cut.

Bill McGurn at the Wall Street Journal (subscription required): “Jerry Brown vs. Chris Christie.”

Hard economic times bring their own lessons. Though few have been spared the ravages of the last recession and the sluggish recovery, those in states where taxes are light, government lives within its means, and the climate is friendly to investment have learned the value of the arrangement they have. They are not likely to give it up.

Meanwhile, leaders in some struggling states have taken notice. They know the road to fiscal hell is paved with progressive intentions. The question regarding the sensible ones is whether they have the will and wherewithal to impose the reforms they know their states need on the interest groups whose political and economic clout is so closely tied with the public purse.

Mr. Brown’s remarks Monday suggest the answer to this question is no.

McGurn’s column follows on the Journal‘s editorial fusillade Monday:

Among the biggest surprises is a 21.5% or nearly $2 billion decline in personal income tax payments from what Governor Jerry Brown had anticipated. This reinforces the point that when states rely too heavily on the top 1% of taxpayers to pay the bills, fiscal policy is a roller coaster ride.

California is suffering this tax drought even as most other states enjoy a revenue rebound. State tax collections were up nationally by 8.9% last year, according to the Census Bureau, and this year revenues are up by double digits in many states. The state comptroller reports that Texas is enjoying 10.9% growth in its sales taxes (it has no income tax), while California can’t seem to keep up despite one of the highest tax rates in the land.

This would seem to suggest that California should try cutting tax rates to keep more people and business in the state, but Sacramento is intent on raising them again. Governor Brown and the public-employee unions are sponsoring a ballot initiative in November to raise the state sales tax by a quarter point to 7.5% and to raise the top marginal income-tax rate to 13.3% from 10.3%. This will make the state even more reliant on the fickle revenue streams provided by the rich.

The Orange County Register: “More bad news ahead of Brown’s revised budget”:

This is a man for all intents and purposes bought by, and in the pocket of, government employee unions. Likewise, so is the Democratic-controlled Assembly and state Senate, which all but precludes a legislative fix.

Sadly, California deserves better than it has gotten for more than a decade in Sacramento. An unwillingness to properly adjust government spending and an insistence on draining even more billions from the private sector is symptomatic of the runaway fiscal catastrophe under way in Europe.

Bottom line, courtesy of Reason‘s Tim Cavanaugh: “Where are the devastating cuts of the austerity of bare-bones of the starving beast in a state that will increase spending by six percent — from $86.5 billion in outlays last year to $91.4 billion this year?” Mighty good question.

 

 

The Occupy Protesters are a mish mosh of divergent factions, but at least they’re angry. Greenhut ponders why are most people not angry over the harm done under guise of Government?


“The problem is not with one agency, but with the vast expansion of federal and state government, which takes our money and freedoms and leaves a path of destruction wherever it goes.

Sure the Occupy protesters are annoying. But the real surprise is why the rest of us aren’t at least as angry as they are.”

Click to read Legislature worse than occupiers,
May 7, 2012
By Steven Greenhut

Should the Govt make it harder for parents to opt out of vaccinations for their kids? Govt is killing CA

Tuesday, May 8, on Gadfly Radio,  join Martha Montelongo, with John Seiler, managing Editor at CalWatchDog.com, and Ben Boychuk, Associate Editor with City Journal.

Tune in LIVE at 10:00 a.m. PDT on CRNtalk.com or on USTREAM TV’s CRNStudioLive!”

Related Links:
Schwarzenegger’s Bizarre Analysis
by Steven Greenhut

“…suggesting that the Republican Party is “too narrow” and rigid. In Politico, he points to the departures from the GOP of Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, a man whose only political principle is the advancement of his own career, and Anthony Adams, as terrible losses for the party…

“…In what bizarro world are those unprincipled, tax-hiking, union backers up and comers in the GOP? In what way is their departure any sort of loss for the GOP?…

…The problem with GOP moderates — who often are far less tolerant toward differing opinions than the right-wingers — is they end up standing for nothing at all. Try to explain in a few sentences what any of the above-mentioned politicians believe in beyond advancing their own political power and careers?…

Head to Head: Should we make it harder for parents to opt their kids out of vaccinations?
By Ben Boychuk and Pia Lopez

Vaccine bill injects drama into Capitol hearing
April 18, 2012
By Katy Grimes

Legislature worse than occupiers
May 7, 2012
By Steven Greenhut
The problem is not with one agency, but with the vast expansion of federal and state government, which takes our money and freedoms and leaves a path of destruction wherever it goes.

Sure the Occupy protesters are annoying. But the real surprise is why the rest of us aren’t at least as angry as they are.

Darrell Steinberg wants you in an ant farm
May 2, 2012
By John Seiler

Bob Huff Embraces Nanny State
By Steven Greenhut

College is ‘a racket’
May 4, 2012
By John Seiler

Does Being GOP “Moderates” equal Being Unprincipled, Tax Hiking, Union Backers.

Schwarzenegger’s Bizarre Analysis

Steven Greenhut: I love it when politicians have their chance in power, squander their opportunities, then spend the rest of their career lecturing us about how to reform government. Arnold Schwarzenegger was not just a disappointment, he was a fraud — and a particularly embarrassing one at that. Now he is playing martyr, suggesting that the Republican Party is “too narrow” and rigid. In Politico, he points to the departures from the GOP of Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, a man whose only political principle is the advancement of his own career, and Anthony Adams, as terrible losses for the party:  Click here to read the post on CalWatchDog.com

Government is not the answer! How does Govt make life worse? Steven Greenhut spells it out!

Entrepreneurs take risks. They often fail, but they sometimes make great strides forward. Government employees, on the other hand, go to jobs where they cannot be fired except in the most extreme circumstances. They regulate us and provide “services” few of us want. They retire at young ages with pensions that make them the envy of their neighbors. They consume an ever-larger share of the money earned by those who take risks and create growth. Then their unions lobby for more government. And unfortunately, writes Steven Greenhut, our fellow citizens willingly vote for the politicians who perpetuate this system. Read the rest at Reason.com here

On Education, More Money Doesn’t Equal Better Results–This truth is factually buttressed, but buried by rhetoric, again, as usual

Stanford studies showing no correlation between spending, school quality hijacked again | Calwhine.com

“Getting Down to Facts,” I actually read about a thousand pages of the reports. And as I wrote back in 2007, buried in all the multiple studies, here is the lead: A review of all California school districts shows “essentially no relationship between spending and student outcomes” and that spending more is futile until “extensive and systemic reforms” are in place. In other words, the problem is much more about the stupid way money is spent than the lack of money.

Read more: Stanford studies showing no correlation between spending, school quality hijacked again | Calwhine.com

The Best Cities For Jobs – by Joel Kotkin, Forbes

By Joel Kotkin and Michael Shires

Throughout the brutal recession, one metropolitan area floated serenely above the carnage: Washington, D.C. Buoyed by government spending, the local economy expanded 17% from 2007 to 2012. But for the first time in four years, the capital region has fallen out of the top 15 big cities in our annual survey of the best places for jobs, dropping to 16th place from fifth last year.

Another group of big cities that may be seeing light at the end of the tunnel are some of the metro areas hit hardest by the bursting of the housing bubble. Miami, Fla., which ranks 21st among the 65 largest metros, Tampa-St.Petersburg-Clearwater, Fla. (33rd), Phoenix (45th), Riverside-San Bernardino, Calif. (50th), and even Las Vegas (56th) began to show some signs of new life this past year.

So amidst all the good news, which big cities are still doing badly, or even relatively worse? Sadly, many of the places still declining are located in our home state of California, including Los Angeles (59th place among the biggest metro areas), Sacramento (60th), and, and just across the Bay from Silicon Valley, Oakland (63rd). Only the old, and to date still not recovering, industrial towns of Providence, R.I. (64th), and Birmingham-Hoover, Ala. (dead last at No. 65), did worse. And the glad tidings in manufacturing have not touched all the Rust Belt cities: Camden, N.J. (57th), Newark, N.J. (58th), Cleveland, Ohio (61st), and Detroit (62nd) still feature prominently near the bottom.

Click here to read  The Best Cities For Jobs – Forbes

California Dreaming–Brown’s tax measure, which has yet to even qualify for the June 2nd ballot is a band-aid for a critical condition

California Dreaming

The latest Public Policy Institute of California poll shows Gov. Brown’s proposed tax initiative – which hasn’t yet qualified for the ballot – currently has 54 percent support among likely voters. Historically in this state, ballot initiatives lose support over time, so it looks like an uphill climb. If the unscientific San Francisco Chronicle readers’ poll accompanying the article is any indication, the opposition is just getting warmed up.

Because CalSTRS has earned only 60 percent of its forecasted investment return since 1999, it needs school districts to boost contributions by more than $100 billion. Worse, CalSTRS waited so long to seek more contributions that its request is now for an extra $4.5 billion a year, almost double the $5 billion a year it already receives in contributions.

Click here to read to article

How Big Government Is Killing California


When you’ve lost the entrepreneurs, free-spirits, and dreamers, you’ve lost the Golden State.
Steven Greenhut | April 27, 2012

The new USC study pointing to a much-slower population growth rate in California has been greeted by demographers and urban planners as good news, in that it supposedly gives our state’s leaders a little breathing room to plan better for the future. The rate of growth has slowed to about 1 percent a year, the result of fewer immigrants coming here and so many Californians heading to other states.

 

Click here to read the article

The New Aristocracy–Public Employee Unions–The Cluprits in Los Angeles’s Insovency

Officials and agency board members enjoy perks, and Cadillac benefits, without regard to who will pay the piper.

Unions the culprit in L.A. insolvency
by Brian Calle
Published: April 20, 2012 Updated: April 22, 2012 12:11 p.m.
Orange County Register

“…the City of Los Angeles Fire and Police Pension System is $9.25 billion unfunded; the Los Angeles City Employees’ Retirement System is $11.32 billion unfunded; and the City of Los Angeles Water and Power Employees’ Retirement System is $6.59 billion unfunded. To put the numbers in context, L.A.’s 2011-12 operating budget is $6.87 billion, according to the city…”

Click here to read the article

Desperate Means to Stop a Bellwether Measure

Steven Greenhut
Reform by Any Other Name
Call it “modification” if you prefer—but San Jose’s pension initiative will be a national bellwether.
17 April 2012

San Jose union officials are celebrating a decision last week by the Sixth District Court of Appeals, which struck some city-drafted language from a June ballot measure designed to reduce pension benefits for newly hired city workers and require existing workers either to pay more for their current pension plan or switch to a lower-benefit plan. But the three-judge panel’s unanimous verdict will do little to affect the ultimate outcome of the pension measure and much to remind the public of the lengths to which the state’s public-sector unions will go to resist any reform—and keep voters from having a say. (Click to read more)

David v Goliath in San Diego in June’s CA Primary

Public Enemy Number One
San Diego’s Carl DeMaio puts pension reform center stage—and himself in union crosshairs.
19 April 2012

In 1978, Howard Jarvis launched the U.S. anti-tax movement in California with Proposition 13, which capped annual increases in property taxes and kept people from being forced from their homes during real-estate bubbles. A generation later, the Golden State could be on the brink of launching another populist movement, one driven by anger over government compensation practices. A key battleground is San Diego. In June, voters will decide on Proposition B, the Comprehensive Pension Reform Initiative. It would end defined-benefit pensions for all new city hires except for police officers, instead providing pensions similar to 401(k)s. It would prevent pay sweeteners from being added to base salary when calculating pensions, and it would require city workers to pay a bigger share of their pension costs. Finally, Prop. B would mandate a five-year salary freeze. (Click to read more)

Bill Evers: Nationalize Education? & Brian Calle: Scott Walker Recall a Nationally Pivotal Battle, Tuesday, April 17 on Gadfly Radio

Tuesday, April 17, on Gadfly Radio, ‎Bill Evers, fellow, research fellow
member of the k–12 education task force, and Brian Calle, Editor-in-Chief at CalWatchDog.com join Martha Montelongo, John Seiler, managing Editor at CalWatchDog.com, and Ben Boychuk, Associate Editor with City Journal on CRNtalk.com, CRN1. Tune in LIVE at 10:00 a.m. PDT on CRNtalk.com or on USTREAM TV’s CRNStudioLive!

Related Links:

Nationalizing Education Through National Defense?
ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, Santa Ana, Calif
By Bill Evers
This month, the Council on Foreign Relations issued a report calling in the name of national security for national curriculum-content standards on science, civics, foreign languages, technology, creativity, and problem-solving – for elementary and secondary education. (Click here to read the article)

Scott Walker recall must be thwarted
Orange County Register Opinion
April 11th, 2012, by Brian Calle
The importance of thwarting the recall campaign against Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker can not be understated: The Wisconsin showdown arguably is the most consequential election in the country this year. And with the release of recent polling data showing the anti-Walker effort leading, the stakes have become even higher.

A Rasmussen poll released April 2 found that a “majority of Wisconsin voters now support the effort to recall Republican Gov. Scott Walker.” Fifty-two percent of likely voters polled said they would recall the governor, versus 47 percent wanting to keep Mr. Walker in office. While the election is still nearly two months away, those numbers are still discouraging. (click here to read more.)

Guns and Roses
Jerry Brown’s high-stakes tax proposal faces a political challenge—from the Left.
5 April 2012 by Ben Boychuk

Jerry Brown wants Californians to believe that the state, facing a current budget deficit of $9 billion, has a revenue problem. In fact, what the 30 million residents of the Golden State have is an entitlement problem. From health care to state and local public-employee retirement benefits, Californians face as much as $500 billion in unfunded liabilities for pensions alone. The state’s unfunded health-care liabilities top $62 billion. Brown’s new budget actually proposes a 7 percent increase in spending, though it offers to cut some services. All of the governor’s plans assume that substantial, voter-approved tax hikes will provide billions in new revenue, helping to pay for the extra spending and shrinking the deficit. “I’m promising wine and roses,” he told reporters after a speech last month, “but not in 2012.” (Click here to read more)

California Counties Are More at Risk of Going Belly Up, than Cities…

This is the fifth in a CalWatchDog.com Special Series of 12 in-depth articles on municipal bankruptcy.
April 11, 2012

By Wayne Lusvardi

“…If the courts rule that existing pension plans are constitutionally protected and unchangeable, then we are likely looking at formal bankruptcy for many local governments.

With the basics of municipal finance explained, let’s look at the fiscal — or budgetary — situation that California cities and counties find themselves in today.
City and County Budgets on the Verge of Upset…”

Many California cities are under fiscal stress due to the protracted contraction of the economy. Many of those cities will be staring down bankruptcy waves as public pension obligations start kicking in during the coming years.

One of the largest prospects for bankruptcy is that of…”

Click here to read the report.

Senator Gloria Romero on Parent Trigger & Steven Greenhut on Pensions & Healthcare Benefits for Public Emp Retirees on Gadfly Radio Tues., April 3 @ 10AM PT

Tuesday, April 3 at 10 AM PT, Senator Gloria Romero and Steven Greenhut join Ben Boychuk, John Seiler and myself on Gadfly Radio, on CRNtalk.com or on USTEAM TV, on CRNStudioLive!

Senator Gloria Romero is the Director for the CA Chapter of Democrats for Education Reform.   On the Adelanto School Board, the Teacher’s Union blocks the Parent Trigger.  Fraud charges raised.– related links:  California’s school reform ‘parent trigger’ law doesn’t need rewriting – Los Angeles Times

Viewpoints: Failing schools dishonor civil rights heroes – Viewpoints – The Sacramento Bee

On Steven Greenhut, VP of Journalism with The Franklin Center for Govt and Public Integrity, some related links:

Steven Greenhut: Bankruptcy may be only way out for cities, states| bankruptcy, unions, reform – Opinion – The Orange County Register Feb 24, 2012
The problem in the public sector is that government never is allowed to fail. There never is a day of reckoning no matter how poorly government provides its so-called services.

What happens when failure is no option? – HUMAN EVENTS  Feb 28, 2012
SACRAMENTO — In my latest column, I documented how the state’s pro-union Attorney General Kamala Harris provided an unfair and dishonest title and summary to a pair of pension reform initiatives submitted to her office, thus effectively killing the measures. Last week the unions tried — and almost succeeded — with an even nastier stunt designed to undermine democracy.

If Stockton Is Broke, Then Why Isn’t San Diego?: Steven Greenhut – Bloomberg March 1, 2012

California Refuses to Fix Public-Sector Pensions – Reason Magazine  March 9, 2012
Golden State lawmakers close their eyes and pretend the looming pension crisis doesn’t exist.

Special Series: Broke Municipalities Look to Bankruptcy Option | CalWatchDog  March 9, 2012
This is the second in a CalWatchDog.com Special Series of 12 in-depth articles on municipal bankruptcy.

Public Unions Send Medical Bills to Taxpayers – Bloomberg  March 15, 2012
The U.S. public pension mess, with its $2 trillion to $3 trillion in unfunded liabilities, is such a volcano of gloom that it takes a potentially bigger problem to turn our eyes away from it.
Turn your attention instead to the size of the taxpayer- backed health-care obligations for public employees.

Are there Other Stocktons Out there?
By Kevin Klowden
Director, California Center; Managing Economist
Monday, April 2nd, 2012 Want to ask Steve what he thinks of Klowden’s remarks here:

“There is hope on the horizon, however. Negotiations to reduce future pension and benefit obligations are bearing fruit and will clearly show long-term improvements for cities such as Stockton. Construction of intermodal port facilities in the city are creating jobs both in the near and long term. The concern is that neither of these developments helps Stockton and cities like it right now.”

 

 

 

Steve Greenhut joins Gadfly tomorrow, April 3rd! Here’s a taste…

Steven Greenhut: Bankruptcy may be only way out for cities, states| bankruptcy, unions, reform – Opinion – The Orange County Register Feb 24, 2012
The problem in the public sector is that government never is allowed to fail. There never is a day of reckoning no matter how poorly government provides its so-called services.

What happens when failure is no option? – HUMAN EVENTS  Feb 28, 2012
SACRAMENTO — In my latest column, I documented how the state’s pro-union Attorney General Kamala Harris provided an unfair and dishonest title and summary to a pair of pension reform initiatives submitted to her office, thus effectively killing the measures. Last week the unions tried — and almost succeeded — with an even nastier stunt designed to undermine democracy.

If Stockton Is Broke, Then Why Isn’t San Diego?: Steven Greenhut – Bloomberg March 1, 2012

California Refuses to Fix Public-Sector Pensions – Reason Magazine  March 9, 2012
Golden State lawmakers close their eyes and pretend the looming pension crisis doesn’t exist.

Special Series: Broke Municipalities Look to Bankruptcy Option | CalWatchDog  March 9, 2012
This is the second in a CalWatchDog.com Special Series of 12 in-depth articles on municipal bankruptcy.

Public Unions Send Medical Bills to Taxpayers – Bloomberg  March 15, 2012
The U.S. public pension mess, with its $2 trillion to $3 trillion in unfunded liabilities, is such a volcano of gloom that it takes a potentially bigger problem to turn our eyes away from it.
Turn your attention instead to the size of the taxpayer- backed health-care obligations for public employees.

Are there Other Stocktons Out there?
By Kevin Klowden
Director, California Center; Managing Economist
Monday, April 2nd, 2012 Want to ask Steve what he thinks of Klowden’s remarks here:

“There is hope on the horizon, however. Negotiations to reduce future pension and benefit obligations are bearing fruit and will clearly show long-term improvements for cities such as Stockton. Construction of intermodal port facilities in the city are creating jobs both in the near and long term. The concern is that neither of these developments helps Stockton and cities like it right now.”

Richard Rider, Taxpayer Advocate and Diane Goldstein of LEAP on Gadfly Radio

Click on the radio to listen live

Today on Gadfly Radio with Martha and CalWatchDog at 10 AM PT on CRNtalk.com on Channel 1, Martha Montelongo, and  John Seiler of CalWatchDog.com and Ben Boychuk of CA City Journal, welcome Diane Goldstein of LEAP and Richard Rider, Chairman of 

A test for state’s untouchable pensions Stockton, on verge of bankruptcy, running up against the 800-pound gorilla known as CalPERS

Some public pension experts think they know why pensions were not on the city manager’s list. They see the hidden hand of California’s giant state pension system, known as Cal-PERS, which administers hundreds of billions of dollars in retirement obligations for municipalities across the state.

CalPERS does not want cities like Stockton going back on their promises, and it argues that the state Constitution bars any reduction in pensions — and not just for people who have already retired. State law also forbids cuts in the pensions that today’s public workers expect to earn in the future, CalPERS says, even in cases of severe fiscal distress. Workers at companies have no comparable protection.  (Click here to read the article)

California college students protesting budget cuts miss the mark

According to Stanford and California Common Sense studies, over the past 12 years state spending on higher education has increased just 30 percent. Spending on the retirement benefits for government employees has grown more than 10 times as fast, tripling, and spending on prisons has more than doubled. The message is clear: Despite revenue growth, cash has not gone to fund higher education. So on this the students are right.

Click here to read the article

A play on Atlas Shrugged, this piece tags the 33% who pay the load of taxes that support Government on all levels, the Atlas Generation.

America’s Atlas Generation – The Forgotten 33%
By Editor, on January 9th, 2012

Pull Quote: America’s forgotten 33%, those who are neither entitled to avoid all taxes, nor members of the political class who pay no taxes, nor the super-rich, might be called “The Atlas Generation.” They carry the world on their shoulders. Their challenge is daunting – they must convince the political class to support sustainable taxpayer funded benefits under formulas that apply equally to ALL workers, public or private, without relying on Wall Street speculative investments to pay for this. Equally challenging, they must convince the entitled class that there is an alternative to identity politics, the politics of envy, and the cycle of government dependency. And they must convince a critical mass of the politically influential super-rich to embrace and advocate a political economy that nurtures competition instead of crony capitalism.

To Read the article and see the dramatic graphic, click here.

Some of the hottest on CA News concerning public policy and Fiscal sanity, or insanity, depending on how you see it.

State & Local – POLITICS
Cash-strapped California city gears up for battle with unions over pension reform
By William Lajeunesse
Published March 14, 2012

Facing an ocean of debt, San Diego is offering voters in June a potential lifeboat: public employee pension reform.

“Taxpayers have had it,” former Mayor Roger Hedgecock said. “A huge portion of the city budget is going to fund these pensions far beyond anything in private sector.”

The initiative would force new city workers into private-sector style 401(k)s. Current employees would pay more, and their retirement payments would be based solely on base salary – not accrued sick leave and vacation time, often used to inflate pension pay.

To read more and check out the video report: Click here

CalPERS reduces investment forecast – How will California cover the difference?
March 14, 2012

n the midst of massive budget deficits and recent heat over pension reform, the Board of Directors of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, known as CalPERS, voted today to lower its assumed rate of return for the first time since the recession dragged down stock and real-estate prices.

They’re readjusting from 7.75 to 7.5 percent, which might not sound like a lot, but in actual dollars, it means finding an additional $167 million in the state budget to pay pensions, for which California spent $3.5 billion in 2011. The new rate will take effect on July 1, although CalPERS has been asked to phase the change in over two years, hopefully sparing cities from more cuts.
To read more and to listen to the audio with Pat Morrison, Click here.

The Union War on School Volunteers
By Editor, on March 13th, 2012

There are so many facets to the problem of public sector unions that one of their most outrageous abuses, their war on volunteerism, is barely covered by the media. But it happens all the time, especially in public education. If any volunteer does work that could be done by a unionized worker, even if no funds exist to hire that worker, the union is likely to use all their power to stop that volunteer from providing their services.

In Culver City, a suburb of Los Angeles, the union war on school volunteers has taken a new twist. In order to maintain supplemental language programs, as well as adequate staffing of classroom helpers in the Culver City Unified School District, a few philanthropic individuals have funded the payment of modest stipends to people to assist the teachers. They are essentially volunteers. But that’s not ok with the Culver City Association of Classified Employees – translation, the local union – who has threatened to file a complaint with the powerful, union-friendly Public Employment Relations Board (PERB), a “quasi-judicial administrative agency that is charged with upholding and administering collective bargaining statutes that cover employees working in California schools.” For more on this, refer to the following reports: “Parents lodge strong opposition to unionizing of CCUSD language school employees,” and “Parents Attracting Name Allies in Dispute with Union.”

To read more Click here.

California’s Greek Tragedy No one should write off the Golden State. But it will take massive reforms to reverse its economic decline.

By MICHAEL J. BOSKIN and JOHN F. COGAN

Long a harbinger of national trends and an incubator of innovation, cash-strapped California eagerly awaits a temporary revenue surge from Facebook IPO stock options and capital gains. Meanwhile, Stockton may soon become the state’s largest city to go bust. Call it the agony and ecstasy of contemporary California.  (Click here to read more.)

Calif. city seeks to escape soaring pension costs

March 7, 2012
By
Ben Tracy

Steven Greenhut, now vice president of the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, penned this powerful piece in the Washington Examiner Friday, March 9

Manhattan Moment: Fiscal mess coming soon to a city near you

Stockton, Calif., a hard-pressed industrial city of nearly 300,000 people in the agriculturally lush Central Valley 80 miles east of San Francisco, is grabbing national headlines because it might become the largest U.S. city yet to enter Chapter 9 bankruptcy.

First, it must go through a 90-day mediation process mandated by a new California law designed to put the brakes on an expected wave of municipal bankruptcies. But the city is out of cash, and other cities aren’t far behind.

Stockton’s situation epitomizes the reality of local government in California today: City governments don’t exist to provide services to the public, but function mainly to dispense high salaries and pensions to the people who work for the government.

Ninety-four of Stockton’s retirees, for instance, receive six-figure pensions, placing them among a rapidly growing list of 15,000 California public retirees in the $100,000 pension club. Click here to read more.

Next Tuesday at 10 am on GadflyRadio, David Crane of Govern CA joins the crew.

David Crane is a lecturer in the Public Policy Program at Stanford University and president of Govern For California.

We’ll talk with David Crane about his newly formed group called Govern CA, it’s philosophy and intention, and its chances for success.

Check out his writing at DavidGCrane.org, showcasing a plethora of penned editorials.

To read what others are writing about David Crane, here are a few stories:

A nonpartisan group aims to elect “courageous” legislators in the Golden State.
Judith Miller

The importance of the first item – underreporting the size of debt – was illustrated when Lehman Brothers and AIG used aggressive but legal accounting techniques to underreport debt, thereby encouraging uninformed investors to enter into a web of transactions with them that later threatened the world financial system. A similar occasion took place in 1999, when California’s pension funds used aggressive but legal accounting techniques to underreport pension debt in order to show they were overfunded and thereby coax a huge and unfunded pension benefit increase from an uninformed state Legislature. But as Munnell illustrated in a 2010 report, California’s pension funds were actually underfunded in 1999. The cost of that unfunded pension increase has since diverted billions from education and social services, and bigger diversions are on the way.

Viewpoints: State finance officials should face the truth on pension promises
• The state’s pension debt is greater than the state reports.• The state is counting on unlikely investment returns to meet that debt.• Because those returns are unlikely, state pension costs are likely to soar. Read more here

Chapter 4: Bond Holders Seek Governmental Transparency
Taxpayers may be on the hook nationwide for more than $2.5 trillion in pensions, according to David Crane, an economic advisor to former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, with perhaps $500 billion of that in California alone.

“State and local governments utilize a misleading method for reporting the size of public pension obligations,” said Crane, calling it “the Alice in Wonderland world of government pension accounting that allows governments to hide liabilities.”

“California wasn’t alone in this regard,” Crane told the SEC. “Unrealistic reporting of pension promises is a systemic problem. That’s why the SEC must require realistic accounting of public pension promises. For that to happen it must insist upon a realistic discount rate when reporting pension liabilities.”

Roberts is a contributing editor to Calwatchdog and a long-time Bay Area newspaper reporter.
Read more here.

“UC regent Crane ousted for telling hard truths about pensions
Posted on December 29, 2011 by admin

Editorial | San Francisco Chronicle — David Crane is not the most popular man in Sacramento. In fact, his determination to tell legislators what they don’t want to hear – yet need to hear – is about to cost him his position as a University of California regent.” Continue reading . . .

So Crane, a Democrat, and fellow big-time investors Ronald Conway, a Republican, and Gregory Penner, registered Decline-to-State, have set up an organization, Govern for California, to help finance candidates that they think will take the steps needed to confront California’s problems.
Crane insists that the plan is not to elect moderate or centrist candidates but rather “courageous” candidates. Depending how one defines those terms, some may find that is a distinction without a difference.

Crane explains the candidate his group is looking for. “Our number one priority is higher quality people who are intelligent, who are numerate.

“We’ll spend what it takes. These elections don’t cost as much as the power they get. The bang for the buck is really great. It’s like if you find a good company you like, you’ll buy more of the stock.”

Crane says his group’s successful involvement in only a few races will make a great difference in the way California is governed.  Click here to read more.

Former Schwarzenegger adviser renews call for pension reform
Posted on November 17, 2011 by admin

Hasta La Vista, Failure
By Joel Kotkin
Editor of NewGeography.com and Presidential fellow in urban futures at Chapman University
Friday, December 17th, 2010
Traditionally California Republican governors focus on the hoary economic fundamentals. But Schwarzenegger’s main economic advisor, San Francisco investment banker David Crane, has clung to the notion that California’s creative skills would allow the state to flourish amid “creative destruction.”  Click here to read more

Investigation Reveals Water Executives Spending Money Like Water (CBS News, Los Angeles-Video)

Water rates may have gone up 70 percent in the past six years but, but our undercover investigation found water executives spending money like water. David Goldstein reports.