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FlashReport Weblog on California Politics

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Edward Ring

Resistance is NOT Futile

The union assault on charter schools in California has intensified, but resistance isnotfutile. Parents, students, conscientious teachers, lawmakers and concerned citizens are stepping up. There are many ways to fight for charter schools, which represent one of the few bright spots in an otherwise dismal performance by California’s K-12 system of public education.

In anApril 2019 reportin the respected websiteCalMattersentitled “Charter-mageddon: Lawmakers advance a raft of union-backed charter school curbs,” the ongoing battle between charter school advocates and their foes is updated as follows: “While the two sides have battled for decades—typically to a draw—the political momentum has shifted in favor of organized labor this session.”

This is an understatement. On April 4th, three charter-killer bills cleared the State Assembly’s Education Committee, and all of them have a good chance of moving on to the Governor’s desk, where Gavin Newsom is considered far more likely to sign them than former Gov. Brown would… Read More

Edward Ring

Why is San Diego’s Pension Settlement Estimate So Much Money?

In 2012, San Diego voters approved Proposition B, a pension reform measure that replaced pensions for new hires with a 401K plan. Seven years later, it is possible this reform will be completely unwound, because union attorneys have successfully argued that the city didn’t “meet and confer” with the unions before putting the reform measure on the ballot for voter approval.

As reported two weeks ago, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the city’s argument that the San Diego’s mayor, who supported Prop. B, was exercising his right to free speech, and to force him to meet and confer with the unions prior to supporting Prop. B would have been a violation of that right.

Since then, the case has been returned to the original appellate court, which on 3/25 ruled that the city must “meet and confer over the effects of the initiative and to pay the… Read More

Edward Ring

Curbing Corporate Welfare and Government Funded Political Campaigns

Should the government spend money to benefit private companies? Should the government spend money to influence voters? In California, they do it all the time. There are laws specifically written to prevent this, but they are undermined by aggressive exploitation of loopholes combined with lax enforcement. And to be fair, genuine ambiguity often makes it hard to know where the lines belong. Let’s consider these one at a time.

Using Taxes to Benefit Private Companies – Corporate Welfare

Gifts of government resources to private organizations – in the form of subsidies to corporations, for example, or payments made under unlawful contracts – are illegal in California.

Article 16 Sec. 6 of the California Constitution, the “gift clause,” prohibits the giving or lending public funds to any person or entity, public or private. Here’s the actual language:

“The Legislature shall have no power to give or to lend, or to authorize the giving or lending, of the credit of the State, or of anyRead More

Edward Ring

How “New Way California” Can Find Its Way

In November 2018, former Assembly Republican leader Kristin Olsen wrote aguest commentaryforCalMattersentitled “GOP is dead in California. A new way must rise.” She’s right on both counts. California’s GOP is dead. And a new way must rise.

Unfortunately, theNew Way Californiapolitical action committee that Kristin Olsen, Chad Mayes, and Arnold Schwarzenegger have formed, at least so far, is heavy on inclusive rhetoric but short on the sort of bold policy proposals might actually excite voters. Snippets from theNewWayCA website:

“The most durable solutions have bipartisan support.” “We will work collaboratively to advance solutions on issues that are important to all Californians.” “Not everyone has the same chance to develop their abilities.” “Often it is clear that a helping hand is needed because too many people are excluded from achieving their dreams.” “Race, religion, gender do not determine a person’s abilities or natural rights, and should not… Read More

Edward Ring

San Diego’s 2012 Pension Reform at Risk

“The ruling is also an implicit endorsement of the state Public Employment Relations Board’s conclusion that the employees hired since the measure took effect must be made whole and get a pension equivalent to what they would have received pre-Proposition B.” Editorial, San Diego Union Tribune, March 18, 2019

The ruling in question is the California’s Supreme Court’s August 2018 decision which found that “San Diego’s six-year-old pension cutbacks were not legally placed on the ballot because city officials failed to negotiate with labor unions before pursuing the measure.” It’s in the news again this week because the U.S. Supreme Court has just announced they will not hear the City’s appeal of the California ruling.

What’s going to happen now is uncertain. Back in 2012, a super-majority of San Diego voters, 65 percent, approved pension… Read More

Edward Ring

California Cronyism and its Consequences

Crony capitalism is an economy in which businesses thrive not as a result of risk, but rather as a return on money amassed through a nexus between a business class and the political class. This is done using state power to crush genuine competition in handing out permits, government grants, special tax breaks, or other forms of state intervention. Wikipedia, Feb. 2019

If the goal of public policy is to optimize the role of government, cronyism must be identified and curbed wherever possible. Cronyism wastes the limited resources of governments, at the same time as it reduces the efficiency of the private sector by using subsidies and other incentives to undermine healthy competition.

The harm caused by crony capitalism can best be illustrated by example. In California, cronyism is a major culprit in one of the worst policy failures in recent decades, the housing and the related homeless crisis.Several types of cronyism played into California’s housing debacle. The most significant was cronyism that took the form of regulations that favored the wealthiest, most established… Read More

Edward Ring

California Rule Does Not Protect “Airtime”

Earlier this week the California Supreme Court ruled in the caseCalFire vs CalPERS. The case challenged one of the provisions of California’s 2014 pension reform legislation (PEPRA) which had eliminated the purchase of “Airtime.”

This was the practice whereby retiring public employees could purchase “service credits” that would lengthen the number of years they worked, which would increase the amount of their pensions, even though they hadn’t actually worked those additional years. While the amount these retirees would pay was always estimated to cover how much they’d eventually get back, with interest, in their pensions, in practice these estimates were always too low.

The plaintiffs in the case argued that airtime was protected by the “California Rule,” which, the argued, prevents pension benefits from being reduced unless some other benefit of equal value is offered in return. But… Read More

Edward Ring

The University of Diversity Will Destroy America

America’s educational system is breaking, and the primary culprit is the diversity bureaucracy, now an industrial strength special-interest group that grows more powerful and more expansive every year. For years they have dominated America’s social sciences and humanities, and now they’re launching an assault on the hard sciences. If they are not stopped, they eventually will destroy America as a first-world democracy.

They’re well on their way. But it isn’t “racism”—the currency of the diversocrats—that is denying opportunities to “people of color.” It is failures in the social culture of the inner cities, even more than aggregate economic disadvantages, or the lousy, unionized public schools, that result in the chronic academic underachievement of their children.

There’s no money to be made, or votes to be had, however, in telling this tough truth, even though it might do a lot of good if enough people said it or heard it. The commitment to “diversity” in American university enrollment is absolute and all-powerful, despite the… Read More

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