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FlashReport Weblog on California Politics

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Bruce Bialosky

The Killing Fields

For those who are under the illusion that there is salvation for Communist/Socialist governments.

During an otherwise very enjoyable vacation to Southeast Asia, we went to Cambodia. Not that Cambodia isn’t enjoyable — we visited their famous temples including the iconic Angkor Wat (best viewed at sunrise). One could think that coming all this way and not visiting the Killing Fields would be a shallow act. It was actually the first thing I asked about when we decided to visit the birthplace of Khmer Rouge.

One cannot necessarily foresee a mass murder of the kind that happened between 1975 and 1979. Especially when the killing was of a different kind. The Jews were different from the Germans, at least in the Germans’ minds. The Armenians were different from the Turks. This was native Cambodians murdering other Cambodians in unimaginable numbers. There were some minorities murdered, but they were not the focus.

It was an effort to emulate Mao’s Cultural Revolution. Their leader, Pol Pot, wanted purity. We learned that many of the soldiers ranged in age from thirteen to twenty years old, i.e., ripe for indoctrination. They were reminiscent… Read More

Bruce Bialosky

When I Grow Up, I Want to Be a Democrat

While a young man I contemplated politics and decided that I would be a Republican. It was not a perfect fit, but I thought it was a better one for me than being a Democrat. After experiencing being a Republican and seeing how things work in our political system, I have decided when I grow up, I want to be a Democrat.

When you have the appearance of conflict of interest, you will not need to explain it, nor did you contemplate it. You can be the #2 person at the FBI, a position that must maintain unquestionable impartiality, while my wife runs for a partisan political office. Not only is she running, but she has substantial (immense) financial support from one of the closest political allies of someone who is running for the presidency. Or you can have an important and powerful elected position where every country in the world knows you. You can be appointed by the President to be point person to two countries and only two countries. Your son then ends up with lucrative financial arrangements with those two countries. You don’t even consider that a conflict exists nor suggest that there is a hint of impropriety because the appearance of a conflict of interest does not… Read More

Richard Rider

My property tax bill legally went up 6.9% this year — not “2% or less” as per Prop 13

I just got my San Diego County property tax bill for this fiscal year (2019-20). It’s instructive — in a bad way.

Many Californians think that property taxes are limited to 1% of assessed value. That “assessed value” is allow to increase annually by the cost of living — or 2%, whichever is less.

But the 1% is just the BASE property tax. Added to that are miscellaneous other taxes. By going online, I got a full list of what items my property tax payment is for. Oh my!

When a school or water bond is passed, that is a tax to pay for a SERIES of bond issues. In our case, we are paying taxes for FORTY-FOUR bonds issued by various school districts. Your bill in the mail gives you a summary of those bonds, but not the details.

Then there are the special districts — street lighting, mosquito control, “MWD water standby charge,” etc., etc. We have six such charges on our bill.

Because of a new voter-approved school bond, my overall property tax bill is 6.9% higher than last year — not “2% or less” as most people think it is. Apparently passing all these school bonds for… Read More

Bruce Bialosky

California Takes on Federal Government PLUS the Other 49 States

The news that the state of California government has a distaste for the federal government under the current President is no deep dark secret. The CA Attorney General Xavier Becerra has sued the feds over 60 times. That is just part of the story as the other 49 states are also targets of California and its current government led by Gavin Newsom and two legislative chambers with veto-proof majorities.

In a law put in place on January 1, 2017 (Assembly Bill 1887) and updated June 5, 2018, California restricts any employee from traveling to a state that has enacted a law discriminating based on sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. The law applies to all government employees including the Cal State University system.

The “likeliest suspect” states (which no self-respecting Californian would travel to) are Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Kansas, Oklahoma, North Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, North and South Carolina, Iowa and, of course, Texas. There have been some grumblings as the state employees are upset they cannot attend the South by Southwest music festival in Austin, TX. That is the favorite place to meet for the teachers’… Read More

Richard Rider

The median California homeowner pays 53.6% more property tax than the national average

One of the more enduring progressive criticisms of California’s Prop 13 limits on property taxes is that it “starved” California governments. Supposedly our property taxes are lower than most other states where property owners pay their “fair share.” Attacks on CA homeowners are targeted at the long term residents — the evil old people (mostly white) who have on average lived longest in their homes.

As the table below demonstrates, facts trump progressive fictions. Compared to other states, we pay PLENTY of property taxes.

As the graphic below tells us,the median California homeowner pays 53.6% more property tax than the national average. And remember, this average INCLUDES the huge state of California!

Texas — hated by progressives — has a high property taxrate, but the median CA homeowner property taxbillis 23.5% higher than the median TX homeowner’s property tax. That’s because California’s government-mandated shortage of homes and high home building costs make our abodes far more expensive than Texas. Indeed,… Read More

Bruce Bialosky

Two Important Stories Not About Trump

When our President is not sucking up all the oxygen in the country, his political opponents are creating a hysteria that they tell us will be the end of him that turns out to be a big pile of cow dung. That leaves little room for the remaining stories of interest that have major effects on our lives. They are basically ignored because of the glow going elsewhere. Let’s spend some time on two issues that deserve some of that glow.

The first story is the medical episode that Senator Bernie Sanders had last week. We were told he had stents put in around his heart. Then we found out he had a heart attack. We were not told how much damage was sustained by his heart as a result of the attack. It may be miniscule or possibly more concerning. I am sure we all wish him good health and a long life in one of his three houses far away from our political system eating lots of beef now that it has been taken off the deadly killer list.

As someone who had three stents put in my main artery and surrounding parts of my heart which had no damage, I can testify that it is not a big deal medically. With capable medical help I was in and out of the hospital in seven hours and went… Read More

Bruce Bialosky

The Ridiculous and Irresponsible Act of Relieving Student Debt

The Democrat candidates for President have been outbidding themselves by promising relief of college loan debt to those who borrowed money through the student loan program. They are taking it a step further than President Obama. He took over the loan issuance, relieved the debt for certain favored people and told people if they worked for the government, they could be absolved of their financial commitments even while they pulled in compensation higher than in private industry. The new proposals could not be more irresponsible but consider the sources.

Remarkably, the cost of college is never a consideration as a source of the problem. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has stated that current prices for college tuition and fees have risen 391.82% since 1990. That increase compares with the overall cost increase of 102.46% during the same period. No one wants to explain why college costs have gone up almost four times the rate of inflation. You rarely, if ever, hear of the need to cut the costs related to colleges that have really driven the student debt levels.

That would be aiming a knife at friends, colleagues and financial supporters of the people proposing… Read More

Edward Ring

How Much Will YOUR City Pay CalPERS in a Down Economy?

When evaluating the financial challenges facing California’s state and local public employee pension funds, a compelling question to consider is just how much more will they demand from their clients in the next economic downturn?

It’s noteworthy that CalPERS still hasn’t issued their actuarial analyses for the period ending 6/30/2018, even though a year ago, the 6/30/2017 analyses were available. Could it be related to the fact that the DJIA index on 10/01/2018 was 26,447 and as of midday 10/01/2019 it sits at 26,599? Between 6/30/2018 and 6/30/2019, did CalPERS have a bad year? And what does that mean?

What is alarming in the case of CalPERS and other public sector pension funds is the relentless and steep rate increases they’re already demanding from their participating employers. Equally alarming is the legal and political power CalPERS wields to force payment of these rate increases even after municipal bankruptcies where other long-term debt obligations are diminished if not completely… Read More

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