FlashReport Weblog on California Politics

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Doug Lasken

Report on the California GOP Spring 2014 convention

The convention at the San Francisco airport Hyatt Regency was convivial, fun, optimistic and remarkably well run, considering the consensus among virtually all participating groups that the party is facing a battle for survival.

The awareness of this struggle has inspired each group to argue the key role it should play to “rebuild, renew and reclaim” the party (the convention theme). The forces jockeying for party dominance can be divided roughly into two groups: the far right and the middle (I saw no signs of a left and certainly no far left).

The far right’s views were expressed abundantly in the Tea Party California Caucus and the Conservative Republican meetings. I was frequently in agreement with the “far right” views, and I would argue to the middle and the left that a view is not in error simply by virtue of being far right. Candidates and speakers, self-identified either as conservative or Tea Party, spoke eloquently for positions that should be adopted by the entire party. These include opposition to NSA access to the private lives of Americans, which violates the 4th amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure, and opposition… Read More

State Senator Mimi Walters

Legislature must act now to reduce CalSTRS unfunded liability

The California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) liability is growing by $22 million per day, and California must act now before the shortfall becomes even more catastrophic. In response to this systemic deficit, I have introduced SB 984, new legislation that could appropriate up to $2 billion in emergency funding over the next two years to CalSTRS. In addition, the bill forms a working group to look at long-term solutions, as suggested by Governor Jerry Brown in his 2014-15 Budget proposal.

Yesterday, in a joint hearing of the Senate and Assembly PERS Committees, when asked if any appropriations this year might provide relief, CalSTRS Deputy CEO Ed Derman said that “anything is helpful.” California Teachers Association (CTA) representative, Jennifer Baker, added, “We support funding solutions for this year, and any long-term funding solutions.”

CalSTRS has a $71 billion unfunded retirement liability and so far no one has taken any meaningful action. The Governor and legislative Democrats have all publicly expressed concerns about finding a solution and that is a good start. The Legislature has held multiple informational hearings, but has… Read More

James V. Lacy

Did CTA Kill Campaign Finance Reform Bill?

In a column today, Dan Walters of the Sacramento Bee laments that SB 27, a campaign finance reform bill by Democrat State Senator Lou Correa, was unable to pass the Legislature, losing by one vote in the State Senate. The bill was intended to address disclosure of donors to out-of-state organizations that contribute to campaigns and ballot measures in this state. It would close a loop-hole (created and perpetuated by liberal Democrats over the years) in our campaign finance system that allows nonprofit organizations to make contributions to ballot measures but not disclose the source of their funds under certain circumstances. In 1998, Rob Reiner’s “Proposition 10″ tobacco tax measure benefited from millions of dollars in such contributions from nonprofit organizations, including out-of-state organizations that failed to disclose – legally – the source of their funds.

In 1998, liberals raised no hue-and-cry about the non-disclosure where the underlying issue was taxing cigarettes, but when an out-of-state nonprofit made a record contribution to try to help defeat Jerry Brown’s Proposition 30 tax hike “for the… Read More

Greg Raths

Can America be fixed? Of course it can. We’re Americans aren’t we?

I must admit that I spent a few sleepless nights after I made the commitment to run for office to represent California’s 45th Congressional District. Anyone who wouldn’t is either a fool or a career politician. All they worry about is getting elected. Obviously, career politicians don’t think much about solving problems. If they did we wouldn’t be in the position we are today, would we?

If you stop and think about the problems facing America you may just bury your head in your hands and give up. Yes, it’s really that bad, but it’s not beyond hope. Nothing is beyond hope for Americans. That’s one of the reasons I love being one of you and it’s that hope that allows me to sleep peacefully.

The current session of Congress doesn’t appear to be solving much of anything, does it? The House keeps passing legislation that Harry Reid won’t even allow to come to a vote in the Senate. And, if a bill were to sneak past him, President Obama is waiting in the West Wing with his veto pen in hand. Thus it appears that we’ll have to wait for the next session of Congress for any solutions.

What can the next… Read More

Ed Ring

Retirement Security in America – A Tale of Two Contracts

Two people walked into a bank, somewhere in California. Both individuals needed to prepare financially for their retirement. Both of them earned about $80,000 per year.

The first individual, Mr. Jones, was presented by the banker with a contract called “Social Security.” The contract read as follows:For as long as you work, you will give us 12.4% of your gross earnings, and we will invest the money. When you retire, we will pay you an annuity for as long as you live. Your annuity will be based on a guaranteed rate of interest – depending on how long you live – of about 1.5% per year, compounded! When you die, you will have nothing left of your investment to pass on to your heirs.

The second individual, Mr. Smith, was presented with a very different contract, called “Collective Bargaining Agreement.” It read:For as long as you work, you will give us 5.0% of your gross earnings, and we will invest the money. When you retire, we will pay you an annuity for as long as you live.Your annuity will be based on a guaranteed rate of interest of exactly 7.5% per year, compounded. When you die, you too will have nothing left of your investmentRead More

David Salaverry

The Bench and the Wave

Coverage of the just-completed CRP convention has been predictable… and inadequate. Bored reporters seem to have found and filed the same-old-same-old stories, with a few welcome exceptions.

The Mercury News profiled our San Francisco Chair and CRP Vice Chair Harmeet Dhillon, quoting her:

“[it's about] renewing “the enthusiasm of our grass-roots volunteers and supporters — and rebuilding “the nuts and bolts” in the wake of candidates “who parachute in to the top of the ticket” without being tested in smaller races.

Chair Jim Brulte was quoted at length, “… So we have a significant rebuilding operation on our hands,” while referencing significant wins like Falcouner in San Diego. Condolezza Rice was covered robustly.… Read More

Jon Fleischman

The Wrong Way To Elect A Speaker; And The Local Government “Pension Reform” Shell Game

Yesterday San Diego Assemblywoman Toni Atkins was formally elected to be Speaker of the Assembly. She will assume her office later this year, succeeding current Speaker John Perez. Ideologically there is hardly a lick of difference between these two liberal Democrats, though many have shared with me privately that Atkins style of doing business may be more pleasing to those participating in the legislative process than that of Perez. Whatever.

Let me add to the chorus of those wishing Speaker-Elect Atkins congratulations on her election — what a tremendous personal achievement! She and her family can be quite proud, indeed.

That said, let me just express after-the-fact, as the vote was held yesterday, my disappointment that Atkins was elected to the Assembly’s top spot via a unanimous voice vote. Let’s get real. The office of Assembly Speaker is a partisan office at the top of a partisan institution. Toni Atkins may be Speaker of the entire Assembly, but she is the leader of the Democrats, chosen by them behind closed doors and put up by the Democrats as their choice for Speaker. Republicans weren’t part of that… Read More

Pete Peterson

A Chief Engagement Officer for California Businesses

Late last spring, when I told an accountant friend of mine that I was running for California Secretary of State, there was a long pause on the other end of the phone line, then, catharsis: “Pete! We have to get together for coffee this week. You need to know how tough it is for business owners to work with our Secretary of State’s office!”

Days later at the Coffee Bean on Wilshire in West Los Angeles, Carl escorted me into a world of red tape, paper, and problems, which greet the California entrepreneur as she attempts to launch her dream. We don’t think of the office in these terms, but the California Secretary of State is the first person a small business owner sees when they start up a business (filing registration forms), and the last person they see when they leave (filing dissolution forms).

The sight isn’t pretty…coming or going.

As Carl explained to me, “You know, Pete, when a new business owner wants to start their business here in California, we start the paperwork with Sacramento, and knowing that’s going to take a couple weeks, we go online with the Nevada Secretary of State just so we can register that day and my client can… Read More

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