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FlashReport Weblog on California Politics

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Katy Grimes

‘No Blank Checks Initiative’ To Cure California Lawmakers’ ‘Debt Addiction’

California currently owes $157 billion in general obligation bond and revenue bond debt. That is more than the current estimate to build the High Speed Rail train to nowhere. This is largely because state agencies are allowed borrow billions of dollars without the public knowing about it, amounting to a blank check.

Stockton-area farmer and food processor Dean “Dino” Cortopassi’s “No Blank Checks Initiative”,Proposition 56, seeks to amend the State Constitution to require voter approval for revenue bonds issued by the state and used to finance the state’s largest public-works projects, including Gov.Read More

Katy Grimes

Guilty Until Proven Innocent: San Bernardino Case Drags On For Years

A legal tale of drama rivaling the magnitude of the infamous 2006 Duke Lacrosse rape case, has been dragging on in California courts for more than seven years. But the case could now be tossed out, on charges that prosecutors with the State Attorney General’s office destroyed the evidence they had been withholdingfrom an indicting Grand Jury.

Charges of misconduct have been levied at the California Attorney General and San Bernardino District Attorney offices.

Defense Attorney Stephen Larsonhas filed a motion in Superior Court seeking dismissal of a public corruption case on grounds that the state Attorney General’s Office destroyed emails attorney Larson requested through a California Public Records Request.

Larson, a former federal… Read More

Katy Grimes

Gov. Brown Holding Road and Hwy Projects Hostage for Tax Votes

California state budgets no longer require a two-thirds vote of the Legislature to be passed, butthere are still budget games, deals and hinky promises that happen in the process.. However, tax increases do still require two-thirds vote.

This year, Gov. Jerry Brown had proposed tax increases – a gas tax hike, a road tax for miles driven, a car registration hike, and a health plan tax… to name a few.

In order to get these tax increases approved, Brown and his administration use arm-twisting and extortive tactics on lawmakers who show resistance.

In January, the California Transportation Commission sent a letter to all members of the California State Legislature, warning that because of a reduction decided by the Commission of $750 billion in state transportation projects over the next five years, many of the ongoing or new projects on… Read More

Katy Grimes

Sen. John Moorlach: The Fiscal Conscience of the CA Legislature

Former Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach won his Senate race in March, and already has become a standout. Now-Senator John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, has waged challenges to Democrat Gov. Jerry Brown’s May Budget revise, minimum wage hikes, Democrats’ lack of fiscal restraint and perpetual overspending.

Moorlach, eloquently, but authoritatively, has become the Legislature’s outspoken expert on California’s Department of Transportation’s 3500 unneeded engineers and gross careless spending, while the governor simultaneously asked taxpayers to foot the bill for even more transportation taxes.

In 1994, Moorlach accurately predicted Orange County’s bankruptcy. He then was appointed county treasurer, where he helped the county recover, and eventually thrive once again. Re-elected treasurer twice, Moorlach then ran for and won Orange County Supervisor. Prior to serving Orange County Moorlach was a Certified Public… Read More

Katy Grimes

The Road to Caltrans is Pitted With Potholes

As the California Legislature returned from summer recess yesterday, top on most political insiders’ minds is Gov. Jerry Brown’s special legislative session to increase taxes through approval of a group of transportation bills. Brown and Democrats claim the tax increases are needed ostensibly to improve California’s deplorable roads and crumbling bridges, long neglected by Caltrans. However, it was Brown who failed to properly fund transportation needs through the new budget -the largest state budget in California history.

Sen. John Moorlach R-Costa Mesa, says the “transportation” special session appears to be an exercise “designed to pressure legislators into supporting a tax hike on gasoline – even though Californians already pay the nation’s highest taxes.” And especially concerning is this regressive tax would hurt low income families, and the working poor the most. “How can you do this to the… Read More

Katy Grimes

Judge Rules Caltrans DBE Bidding Process ‘Arbitrary and Capricious’

Vida Wright and Cheryl Bly-Chester, two minority owned, small business owners, bid a contract with Caltrans to administer the education and mentoring program for the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program. They complied with the rules of the process, spent hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars preparing their Request For Proposal, and they qualify as a DBE. But they lost the contract by tenths of a point after Caltrans employees changed the documents of the incumbent contractor, as well as the scoring on the incumbent contractor bid, so Caltrans could award it to the incumbent.

The American Civil Rights Institute filed a lawsuit in Superior Court asking the contract be removed from GCAP Services, Inc., aconsulting firm, and awarded to… Read More

BOE Member George Runner

California Needs a Simpler Gas Tax, Not a Higher One

My latest op-ed as seen in The Sacramento Bee.

With prices at the pump heading back up, news of a possible cut to the state’s gas tax will surely cheer California drivers.

On Tuesday, the State Board of Equalization will consider a proposal to cut the state’s gas tax by 7.5 cents a gallon. The proposal stems from a complicated formula enacted by the Legislature in 2010.

While California drivers will surely welcome news of a possible cut, there are some who would rather see gas taxes go up. They think you should be sending more dollars, not fewer, to Sacramento.

But let’s be honest, government already has more than enough of your dollars. Californians pay about 64 cents per gallon in taxes and fees – the second-highest rate in the nation. In reality, we have the nation’s highest gas tax once you include the new hidden gas tax imposed by regulators to help fund the state’s anti-global-warming efforts.

Californians must even pay taxes on their taxes. That’s double taxation – and it’s wrong.

California’s gas tax is so confusing… Read More

Katy Grimes

What would C.C. Meyers do to solve Bay Bridge debacle?

The Caltrans Bay Bridge debacle is worse than just a case of embarrassment for government infrastructure projects. The bridge is unsafe, according to engineering experts across the country, after the discovery that a third of the of the 96 massive, high-strength steel rods, installed for seismic safety, cracked under pressure when the nuts affixed to the rods were tightened.

Under construction for more than a decade, the Bay Bridge project has not only taken much longer to build than planned, but cost overruns have escalated the total cost to build it to a whopping $6.4 billion. And that’s not the half of it.

According to CBS San Francisco, retired Bechtel metallurgist Yun Chung recently prepared an unsolicited 32-page report stating that Caltrans engineers “were ignorant to the threat of hydrogen embrittlement — a process in which high strength metals, such as steel, become… Read More

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