FlashReport Weblog on California Politics

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Ed Ring

Why Aren’t Unions Fighting California’s Bullet Train Boondoggle?

Back in 2008, voters in California approved Prop. 1, a statewide initiative to spend, “$9 billion for building a new high-speed railroad between San Francisco and Los Angeles.”

Total cost, $9.5 billion. Remember that?

Quoting further from the original initiative’s ballot language:

“Bond Costs. The costs of these bonds would dependon interest rates in effect at the time they are sold andthe time period over which they are repaid. The statewould make principal and interest payments from thestate’s General Fund over a period of about 30 years.If the bonds are sold at an average interest rate of 5percent, the cost would be about $19.4 billion to payoff both principal ($9.95 billion) and interest ($9.5billion). The average repayment for principal andinterest would be about $647 million per year.Operating Costs. When constructed, the high-speedrail system will incur unknown ongoing maintenanceand operation costs, probably in excess of $1 billion ayear. Depending on the level of ridership, these costswould be at least partially offset by revenue from farespaid by passengers.” (ref.UC Hastings ScholarshipRead More

Katy Grimes

Sen. Pres. Kevin De Leon’s Fractured Fairytale on Climate Change

California’s Political Climate Needs to Be Cleaned of Polluted Politicians

Tuesday’s Sacramento Bee has an op ed from Senate President pro Tem Kevin de Leon, a Democrat from Los Angeles, on full attack of the Bee’s own Dan Walters for daring to point out that California is not booming economically, despite what de Leon and Gov. Jerry Brown tell us.

Fuzzy Math

De Leon claims in his op ed (‘Climate Change Policies Will Help Poorest Californians), “California’s job growth outpaced all other states in 2014 and unemployment is 5.8 percent, the lowest since October 2007.”

This is only true if like de Leon, Gov. Brown, and the Obama administration, an employed Californian is defined as a worker who performs at a job one hour a week, and therefore can be counted as “employed.”

A full time “job” used to be defined by the government and Bureau of Labor Statistics as 30 or more hours per week for an organization that provides a regular paycheck. Labor Law attorneys still consider 30+ hours of work… Read More

Jon Coupal


With the recent terror attacks against France, America’s oldest ally, most Americans are rightfully concerned for the welfare of our friends abroad as well as our own safety.

With the French, we share a common heritage of a dedication to liberty. The Statue of Liberty that stands proudly in the harbor of New York is a gift from the people of France.

Acknowledging the contributions of French officer the Marquis de Lafayette to the success of our revolution, Lieutenant Colonel Charles Stanton a commander of the American Expeditionary Force in WW I, told Parisians on arrival, “Lafayette, we are here!”

While Americans and the French are victims of terrorism because of our beliefs and way of life, both nations continue to value and be grateful for our republican form of government that allows citizens to elect their representatives. And we share a common conviction that we will prevail over adversity.

To read the entire column click here http://www.hjta.org/california-commentary/for-what-are-taxpayers-thankful-in-2015/Read More

Katy Grimes

Pepperdine Grad Students’ Head-On Collision With Local Govt. Officials

Why does it take 54 days, more than 30 emails, 25 phone calls, 3 faxes, and 2 trips to the city of West Covina to obtain records available to the public? The short answer is that some local government officials don’t believe they have to make the public records available to the public.

A group of graduate students working to achieve a Masters Degree from the Pepperdine School of Public Policy were assigned with obtaining all official campaign contribution forms 410, 460, and 700 for elected officials in the city of West Covina from 2012-2015.

The class is taught by Matthew J. Peterson, Ph.D. on the intersection of media with state and local government – and these grad students just had a head-on collision in the intersection with local… Read More

Richard Rider

My Applebee’s robot waitress auditioning for the human waiter’s job

Last night I took my wife and our two young grandchildren to Applebee’s. It went great — our 4 and 2 year old charges were more decorous than half the patrons.

But I digress. Here’s what caught my attention: Applebee’s is testing a new ordering policy — using the technology that is rapidly becoming prominent in fast food restaurants. Every table had an online electronic tablet, with the menu, ordering and payment process built in. One can place the order and have the busboy bring your food.

For now, one can still use a waiter for service, but obviously the plan is to reduce or eliminate that service. That makes PARTICULARLY good sense in California, which is rapidly becoming the home of the $15 minimum wage. Moreover, California is one of only 7 states that requires “tip” employees to be paid a FULL minimum wage IN ADDITION TO all tips collected. That can make a meal too pricey — reducing the number of times patrons choose to dine out.

Because of the hectic nature of two tykes seeking guidance in meal selection, we opted to use the waitress — much to her delight. I had a nice salad as my… Read More

Katy Grimes

Gov. Brown’s Droughts, Wildfires, Water Shortage, and other Climate Change Ignis Fatuus

California Governor Jerry Brown inherited the Golden State, the land of opportunity. However, everything he touches turns Brown.

Climate change has been the top priority of his governorship… not the flailing economy, or California’s largest-in-the-country-and-growing poverty class, or the 47th in school performance issue, or the $600 Billion in unfunded public employee pension and health liability, or the desperate need for water storage, or even the illegal immigrant problem.

For Brown who has said “Latin makes you smarter than everybody,” Climate change is his ignis fatuus – his fata morgana, his hallucination, myth, hocus pocus, or head trip.

Climate Change: “one of the fundamental issues of our time”

Brown has never specified how to achieve his radical emissions target, despite it’s… Read More

Kevin Dayton

Fresh Out of Bankruptcy, Stockton Plans a Union Monopoly on Construction Contracts

The City of Stockton filed a petition for Chapter 9 municipal bankruptcy relief on June 28, 2012, and the petition was accepted onApril 1, 2013. Earlier this year, on February 25, the City of Stockton exited bankruptcy protection.

Stockton’s city manager declared that “We emerge from bankruptcy a renewed city, perhaps better prepared for our future than any other city in the State, with a new value system, a thorough understanding of our operations and finances, and the tools to maintain solvency and adjust to economic conditions for decades into the future.”

With that inconvenience out of the way, the Stockton City Council is proceeding to implement a “value system” similar to what brought it to bankruptcy in the first place. It is giving its most favored constituency –unions –a potentially costly monopoly on… Read More

Ed Ring

How Project Labor Agreements Elevate Costs to Taxpayers

When considering the labor movement in the United States, there is a huge distinction between government unions and private sector unions. Government unions elect their own bosses, they operate within agencies that collect taxes instead of having to make a profit by enticing consumers to buy their products, and they operate the machinery of government which means their more zealous members have the ability to intimidate their political opponents. Private sector unions have none of these advantages. They negotiate with managers hired by CEOs who report to shareholders. They negotiate with companies that will go out of business if they over-compensate their workers. And with rare exceptions, workers in private companies are not approving our business permit applications, inspecting our workplaces, or auditing our tax returns.

So where does this put construction unions who compete for government contracts?

This question matters a lot to reformers, because private sector unions, properly regulated, not only have a vital role to play in American society, but their members have the potential to lobby effectively against many of the special interests who are killing… Read More

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