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FlashReport Weblog on California Politics

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Edward Ring

Why Are Public Safety Unions Supporting Teachers Unions?

During the Los Angeles teachers strike earlier this year,an articlein the ultra-left publicationThe Nationoffered an excellent glimpse into the mentality of strikers and their supporters. The article begins by describing a scene in front of an LAUSD middle school on day three of the strike. A truck driver has arrived to make a delivery to the school, and the picket line won’t budge. Police have been called.

What happens next? According toThe Nation, “The line holds. The police don’t make good on their threats to cite or arrest teachers, and the truck and police cars drive off. One of the officers even gets on his radio before he leaves and says, ‘Don’t let them come between us. We support you!’”

It would take an expert to determine whether this conduct falls within the boundaries of normal police discretion or constitutes a minor act of civil disobedience in solidarity with the strikers, but it doesn’t take an expert to determine whose side this officer was on. “We support you.”

Police, along with the… Read More

Edward Ring

Citizen Reformers Set to Transform Oxnard’s Politics

Oxnard has got a problem. The city’s contributions to CalPERS, which totaled $23 million in their fiscal year 2016-17, are going to increase to $45 million by 2024-25.

Where is this money going to come from? Asreported last week, the “skyrocketing pension costs” have already led Oxnard’s Mayor to call for “painful cuts.” But if pension payments are set to double in just the next six years, where will all these cuts come from?

Meanwhile, in Oxnard, a small group of local activists, led by Aaron Starr, a local executive with a financial background including a CPA, are working to qualify five reform initiatives. If they gather the signatures required for each initiative, residents of the City of Oxnard will vote on them in November 2020.

The process of filing a citizens initiative is relatively straightforward. One reference is Ballotpedia, which provides a good summary oflaws governing the local ballot measuresin… Read More

Edward Ring

City of Oxnard Pension Contributions Set to Double by 2024

As reported by the Ventura County Star, the City of Oxnard faces budget headwinds.Quoted in the article, Mayor Tim Flynn had this to say:

“We’re making decisions that should have been made 10, 20 years ago to put the city on a sustainable path,” Flynn said. “These are very painful cuts, but we have to live within our means. The city historically has not lived within our means.”

City Manager Alex Nguyen was more specific:

“Skyrocketing pension costs and spikes in health care are some of the reasons for the budget shortfall. With projected expenditures approximately $10 million more than anticipated revenue, there is no choice but to recommend programmatic cuts to the City Council.”

Skyrocketing pension costs. You can say that again. Depicted on the chart below is a summary of what’s happening to Oxnard, thanks to “skyrocketing pension costs.” The biggest takeaway from this chart is the fact that Oxnard’s pensions have just begun to “skyrocket.” If you want to skip the details and cut to the… Read More

Edward Ring

Estimated Impact of Janus on California’s Public Sector Unions So Far: $50M/year

On June 27, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the caseJanus vs AFSCME. An immediate consequence of this ruling was that public sector unions could no longer collect so-called “agency fees” from workers in their bargaining units who had opted out of full union membership.

The other main consequence of theJanusruling was that those workers who were full dues paying members of public sector unions would have the right to terminate their memberships. In anticipation of a result unfavorable to them, whichJanuscertainly was, public sector unions have used their influence with lawmakers topass numerous pieces of legislationdesigned to make it harder for union members to quit. As a result, the full impact of union members terminating their membership will not be felt immediately.

With nearly a year passed since theJanuscase was decided, however, it is possible to begin to quantify the impact so far on union membership and on union… Read More

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

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