FlashReport Weblog on California Politics

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Kevin Dayton

Six California School Districts Will Ask Voters on November 3 to Borrow $1.2 Billion From Bond Investors

In July 2015 the California Policy Center publishedFor the Kids:California Voters Must Become Wary of Borrowing Billions More from Wealthy Investors for Educational Construction. This report exhaustively details howCalifornia voters from 2001 through 2014 authorized the State of California and 642 local educational districts to borrow a total of $146 billion for facility construction, resulting in an astonishing $200 billion in debt now owed to bond investors. It also reveals the many obscure bond finance and expenditure schemes adopted by school and college districts over the past 15 years to circumvent taxpayer protections and voter intentions.

Obviously the study has been criticized by politicians and the many interests that make money from bond measures. But data-based assessment of bond measures has also been criticized by advocates for fiscal responsibility. On August 16, I received an… Read More

John Wood, Jr.

Abusing the Voting Rights Act

[Publisher’s Note: As part of an ongoing effort to bring original, thoughtful commentary to you here at the FlashReport, we are pleased to present this column from John Wood, Jr., who serves as 2nd Vice-Chairman of the Republican Party of Los Angeles County.]

Two years ago, this author was sifting through his mail when he came across a political leaflet from Congresswoman Maxine Waters sent to fellow residents of South Los Angeles, Watts and Compton. The leaflet was about Janice Hahn, who was gearing up for a campaign to represent the above urban areas, as well as parts of the Harbor area, in the newly drawn 44th congressional district (a seat she is already preparing to leave as she gets ready to run now for Board of Supervisors).

On the leaflet, in bright, harsh letters, Congresswoman Waters accused Janice Hahn of potentially violating the Voting Rights Act, by running to represent a largely urban area when there were many qualified African-American candidates available to take the job.

Shameless race-baiting aside, the mailer provocatively demonstrates what has gone wrong with the politics surrounding the Voting… Read More

Jon Coupal


Although comparisons to actual wartime fighting should be used sparingly, California taxpayers can’t help but feel a bit like the 20th Maine Regiment at the battle of Gettysburg during the American Civil War. The actions of the 20th Maine, depicted in the Pulitzer Prize winning book “Killer Angels” by Michael Shaara, are well known to Civil War buffs.

Led by Joshua Chamberlain, who later became Governor of Maine, the 20th Regiment became famous for its defense of Little Round Top, a small hill on the flank of the Union forces. On July 2, 1863, the 20th Maine was positioned at the far left of the Union line with elements of the 44th New York, 16th Michigan, and 83rd Pennsylvania. As the Confederacy began its attack, Chamberlain was alerted that the enemy seemed to be pushing toward the regiment’s left. Chamberlain ordered a right-angle formation, extending his line farther to the east.

After an hour and a half under heavy attack and running low on ammunition, Chamberlain saw the rebels forming for another push and ordered a charge down the hill with fixed bayonets, which caught the enemy by surprise. During the charge, a second Confederate line tried to… Read More

Richard Rider

Finally! The perfect public pension solution the unions can support — but won’t

The California public employee labor unions have a set of talking points they go to whenever the subject of reforming our taxpayer-backed pensions comes up. One major point theyloveto present boils down to this: “Employees can’t invest money as smartly as CalPERS [or other pension agencies] can. CalPERS will make a higher return, and will do it for less cost.”

While this assertion is rubbish, let’s compromise and give in on this point — let CalPERS continue to manage the employees’ retirement funds — even in 401k plans. The only thing we need to change is the taxpayer guarantee on the return earned, and the guaranteed amount paid out. In other words, we transition from adefined benefit(a guaranteed) plan with all its risks of unfunded taxpayer liabilities, to an earmarkeddefined contributionplan for at least the new employees — with the payouts reflecting the success or failure of the investments made by CalPERSet al.

Surely the unions would go along with this plan, right? After all,… Read More

Richard Rider

In CA, defanging the public employee labor unions is our only hope

In California, we fiscal reformers will always be swimming vertically up Niagara Falls until we break the back of public employee labor unions. We can do it, but only through the initiative process. NEVER will we achieve success through the legislature.

“Paycheck protection” — ending government payroll deduction of union dues — is is an initiative that should be put before the voters as often as possible. If nothing else, the union will be forced to spend $30-$50 million to block it.

Another initiative should FORCE state and local governments to put government functions out for competitive bid — “managed competition.” No option (except for police, perhaps). Unfortunately it’s hard to keep labor from crippling such a mandate, as happened in San Diego. Still, we know managed competition is a way to reduce union clout and dues — and the proof is the unions’ apoplectic response whenever such a contracting out option is suggested.

Even better would be to return to the 1970′s situation (when everything was great in California, according to liberals), when there were toothless public employee labor… Read More

BOE Member George Runner

Court Grants Class Status to Fire Fee Lawsuit

On August 7, the Sacramento County Superior Court issued a ruling granting “class status” to the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association’s lawsuit against the California Fire Prevention Fee. This decision is welcome news to taxpayers.

If the court hadn’t granted class status, taxpayers might have been required to take legal action individually—an unfair, expensive and burdensome prospect.

When might the court strike down this illegal tax and force the state to issue refunds?

No one knows for certain, but here’s what’s likely to happen next:

Once the discovery process concludes—hopefully later this year—HJTA will file a motion asking the court to rule in favor of fire fee payers.

Should the judge grant the motion, there would be no need for a trial. Trials are usually reserved for cases where factual findings are necessary.

Assuming taxpayers prevail, it remains likely the state will appeal the ruling, perhaps all the way to the Supreme Court.

Still, any step forward is good news for rural… Read More

Richard Rider

Government Pensions as Economic Stimulus? Even Breaking Windows Works Better

I was asked to write the following column for the “Fox and Hounds” website as a rebuttal to some nonsense published by a CalPERS booster who claimed we all profit from the stimulus of government pensions. My column wrote itself in a record 65 minutes — I just did the typing.

Government Pensions as Economic Stimulus? Even Breaking Windows Works Better by Richard Rider

Chuck Beckwith’s columncompetently lays out all the usual public employee arguments justifying their opulent pensions. A cursory review of the logic reveals just how breathtakingly flawed this reasoning is.

First and foremost: His core point is that pensions provide economic stimulus. This is the classic “… Read More

Katy Grimes

Big Brother Jerry Brown Bans the Word “Alien”

Since 1976, Lake Superior University annually publishes a “List of Words Banished from the Queen’s English for Mis-use, Over-use and General Uselessness.” A few of the obnoxious, overused words on the 2015 list include “polar vortex,” “takeaway,” and “foodie.” “Wasn’t it called ‘winter’ just a few years ago?” one student asked.”It’s ridiculous. Do we call people who like wine ‘winies’ or beer lovers ‘beeries’?” asked another.I love semantics.

But from the “you-can’t-make-this-stuff-up” file, in 2013, Big Brother officials in Seattlecalled for a ban on “potentially offensive” language. Government workers in Seattle were told that the words “citizen” and “brown bag” were deemed “potentially offensive” and would no longer be used in official documents and discussions. Seattle officials also said the word “citizen” was banned “because many people who live… Read More

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