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Edward Ring

Ed Ring: Median Total Compensation for Redwood City Firefighters – At Least $226,365

Back in February 2014 the California Policy Center publicly announced the Transparent California website, developed in partnership with the Nevada Policy Research Institute. An article covering this announcement was posted on the Forbes Magazine website, entitled “Hundreds Of California Government Employees Are Paid Over $400,000 A Year,” which a review of2013 Transparent California data(2014 data is still being assembled) easily confirms. As a matter of fact, in 2013, total compensation in excess of $400,000 was paid to 1,292 public servants in California. A staggering 2,818 of California’s public employees collected total compensation in excess of $300,000 in 2013.

Some have argued that it is misleading to claim people are making, for example, over $400,000 per year, when in fact the $400,000 being referenced is total compensation, not regular earnings. We reject this argument categorically. It is incumbent on anyone who assesses compensation to treat total… Read More

Edward Ring

San Jose City Council Capitulates to Police Union Power

“He told the class to take advantage of the academy, and then find jobs elsewhere. The police union tries to get us to leave the department.” – Anonymous source to NBC Bay Area, television report “Another San Jose Police Recruit Says Union Tried to Get Cadets to ‘Find Jobs Elsewhere’,” Oct. 28, 2014 (excerpt begins at 1:38 in report).

A precedent setting new development in San Jose last week provides abundant evidence of just how powerful local government unions really are in California.As reported today inSan Jose Insideand elsewhere, an embattled city council has tentatively approved a new contract with San Jose’s police union that awards them“a 5 percent ‘retention’ bonus and an 8 percent raise over the next 16 months. In addition, former officers who return to the force in the next year can claimRead More

Edward Ring

California’s Official Antipathy to Educational Innovation and Accountability

“With a hearing now scheduled for Aug. 21, LA Unified’s teachers union, UTLA, will have the chance to argue before a neutral party that Alliance College-Ready Public Charter Schools, violated state education law by blocking the union’s efforts to bring Alliance teachers into its membership.” – Mike Szymanski, “UTLA outlines accusations against Alliance for anti-union efforts,” LA School Report, August 6, 2015

The “neutral party” to which Szymanski refers is California’sPublic Employee Relations Board(PERB), “a quasi-judicial administrative agency charged with administering the eight collective bargaining statutes covering employees of California’s public schools, colleges, and universities, employees of the State of California, employees of California local public agencies,” etc.

“Neutral.” Really?

A quick look at the directors of PERB provides yet another example of just how stacked the deck has gotten in favor of public employee unions. Following their names… Read More

Edward Ring

Tough Education Reform, not More Borrowing and Spending, is What Students Need

Last week the California Policy Center published amajor new studythat compiled, in exhaustive detail, both the amount that Californians have borrowed to finance public school construction and upgrades, as well as documented the abuses that have diminished the return on these substantial investments. Californians simply don’t realize how much borrowing is going on.

“For the Kids,” Construction spending of $10 billion per year for the last 14 years, despite enrollment in slight decline.

In 2001, voters passed Prop 39, which lowered the threshold for passage of a school bond from 66% to 55%. Prior to the passage of Prop. 39, only 42% of school bond proposals would pass – since then,88%… Read More

Edward Ring

The CTA Empire Strikes Back

Emperor Palpatine: There is a great disturbance in the Force. Darth Vader: I have felt it. Emperor Palpatine: We have a new enemy, the young Rebel… Darth Vader: How is that possible? Emperor Palpatine: Search your feelings, Lord Vader. You know it to be true. He could destroy us.The Force is strong with him. – Quote (edited for brevity) fromStar Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, 1980

There are indeed great disturbances in the force. There are indeed challenges to the imperial monopoly that, for nearly 40 years, has eroded the quality and escalated the costs for California’s system of public K-12 education. And the imperial stormtroopers who enforce their educational edicts on California’s state legislature, its thousands of public school boards, and by extension, millions of parents and children, are all part of an evil empire called the California Teachers Association, or CTA. In plain English, the teachers union.

A comprehensive summary of just how harmful… Read More

Edward Ring

Why Pension Reform is Inevitable, and How Reforms Can Benefit the Economy

“The six-year bull market is admittedly long in the tooth.” CalSTRS Chief Investment Officer Chris Ailman,Sacramento Bee, July 17, 2015

If what Mr. Ailman really means is equity investments may not be turning in double digit returns any more, that makes the recent performance of CalSTRS and CalPERS all the more troubling. Because according to their most recent financial statements,CalSTRS only earned 4.8% last year, andCalPERS only earned 2.4%. That leaves CalSTRS 68.5% funded, and CalPERS 77% funded.

Are we at the top of a bull market? Take a look at this chart:

S&P 500, Last Twenty Years Through June 21, 2015

Read More

Edward Ring

City of Stanton Faces Taxpayer Revolt

Back in November 2014, in a 54% to 46% decision, less than 20% of Stanton’s registered voters approved “Measure GG,” whichincreased their sales tax rate from 8.0% to 9.0%. Needless to say, this measure will not encourage retail businesses to relocate to Stanton, nor will it encourage residents to shop there. But likelocal tax proposals that passed in 116 other cities in California last November, this measure was represented to the public as necessary to adequately fund public safety.

Back in October we published an analysis, “City of Stanton Proposes Higher Taxes Instead of Cutting Pay and Benefits,” which documented the city’s official estimatethat the new sales tax would add $3.1 million to their projected annual sales tax revenues, in order to alleviate a $1.8… Read More

Edward Ring

San Ramon Fire Protection District Pay and Governance Exemplifies Union Power

In a democracy, the assumption is that civilians exercise the ultimate authority over their government. The citizens elect representatives who will act in the public interest. But what happens when government agencies are disbursed over thousands of jurisdictions, and the people who run these local agencies are virtually unknown?

Evencitizenswho follow politics and vote diligently are challenged to make an informed selection when considering the many candidates vying for obscure boards and commissions and special district elected positions. In some cases they will know about a particular obscure race, but in most cases they will not. So they either don’t select a candidate, or select a candidate almost randomly based on the brief ballot description, “small business owner,” “retired teacher,” whatever.

Only one group of voters consistently makes informed choices in these elections to supposedly minor elected positions. The people who these elected officials are going to manage and negotiate with over pay, benefits, and work rules.

The problem with dismissing these bottom-of-the-ballot elections as inconsequential, of course, is that these… Read More

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