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Jon Fleischman

A Few Random Thoughts For A Monday Morning…

*  So it turns out that California voters, by a near super-majority of 64%, want a revote on $9.95 billion in general obligation bond funding that would go towards a high speed rail system in California.  When voters approved this funding back in 2008 (barely, by a 52.8% margin) — it turns out it was on the strength of what have turned out to be bogus numbers.  Turns out that high speed rail is a heck of a lot more expensive than ballot arguments led voters to believe.  In addition to wanting a re-vote, according to the Public Policy Institute of California, 37% of those who voted for the bonds last go around would vote against them if given another chance.  So, two action items for the legislature:  1) Place the bonds back on the ballot next year.  2) Apparently the HSR bonds require legislative approval to sell.  Don’t give it.

*  In his “Willie’s World” column in the San Francisco Chronicle yesterday, Willie Brown romanticizes a recent junket to Cuba.  He talks about how the Cuban authorities will not abide anyone messing with tourists. Left out of Brown’s column is that those same authorities also will not abide Cubans trying to exercise freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of association, freedom, and more.  Starting this year the Castro regime says you can buy a home.  Of course with the average worker pulling down a cool $20 a week, that may take a while to build up that down payment…

*  You can’t make this stuff up.  In Fresno, a big controversy has arisen over a police auditor’s report that apparently doesn’t paint a rosy picture.  But no one can really say for sure because City Manager Mark Scott has been keeping the report away from the public.  He says it is because the draft report is “difficult to read” and “needs editing” — right.  The Fresno Bee is right to jump Scott on this, and they are correct that this is a black eye on the first-term of Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearingin.  Release the report.  We’ll forgive the poor grammar.

*  If you haven’t already, you should check out a stunning article by Brian Calle that appears at the City Journal: California website, entitled Premium Abuse.  We are all aware of the massive unfunded public pension liabilities in the hundreds of millions of dollars facing state and local governments.  But it is important to understand how public employees are gaming the system right now, and how their gaming of the system spikes their pensions.  It’s shameful.

*  Since a group of people seem determined to place a repeal of our state’s death penalty on the 2012 ballot, it would be instructive for you to read this column by Debra Saunders in the San Francisco Chronicle.

*  By now all those who follow politics in the Golden State are aware of the fact that Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi has been charged with felony ttheft for taking a bunch of expensive clothes from a Neiman Marcus store.  Hayashi’s criminal defense attorneys have been working hard to delay her appointment with justice. At her latest court hearing last week her lawyers got the preliminary hearing moved into early 2012. One can assume her delaying tactics are for two reasons. The first, which is rather obvious, is that if she is convicted on a felony count, she will have to resign from the legislature.  The other reason would be that is she can drag this out for a long time, maybe it will make it hard for potential opponents for a State Senate race (up in 2014) to raise funds…