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FlashReport Weblog on California Politics

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Edward Ring

How Project Labor Agreements Elevate Costs to Taxpayers

When considering the labor movement in the United States, there is a huge distinction between government unions and private sector unions. Government unions elect their own bosses, they operate within agencies that collect taxes instead of having to make a profit by enticing consumers to buy their products, and they operate the machinery of government which means their more zealous members have the ability to intimidate their political opponents. Private sector unions have none of these advantages. They negotiate with managers hired by CEOs who report to shareholders. They negotiate with companies that will go out of business if they over-compensate their workers. And with rare exceptions, workers in private companies are not approving our business permit applications, inspecting our workplaces, or auditing our tax returns.

So where does this put construction unions who compete for government contracts?

This question matters a lot to reformers, because private sector unions, properly regulated, not only have a vital role to play in American society, but their members have the potential to lobby effectively against many of the special interests who are killing… Read More

Katy Grimes

Arena Derangement Syndrome Update: Whining About Legal Costs

The Sacramento arena deal has prompted questions over the lack of public debate about key details, dubious financial numbers from the city and the public subsidy the project requires. And, last-minute legislation last year by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, is allowing the arena’s construction proceed without a credible environmental impact review.

Last week, the city of Sacramento announced it expects to spend up to $750,000 to defend a lawsuit related to the planned downtown arena. The lawsuit accuses city officials of making a secret deal to provide an extra $80 million of public money to help the investors’ group beef up its offer against a well-funded Seattle group that wanted to buy the Kings and move them to Seattle.

I have… Read More

Katy Grimes

Sacto arena bill signed, but it’s not over yet

I hate “I told ya so” moments.

Gov. Jerry Brown just signed SB 743, “easing environmental regulations for developments in California cities, including a new basketball arena in downtown Sacramento,” the Los Angeles Times said.

In March I predicted Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento would jam legislation through exempting the Sacramento Kings new arena plan from the restrictions of the California Environmental Quality Act, in order to meet a dubious deadline imposed by the NBA.

March 30, after Steinberg’s office told me he did not plan on authoring legislation to streamline or bypass the required environmental process for the proposed Sacramento NBA arena, I predicted they weren’t being straight with me.

Steinberg’s office denied any plan to do this. But the reason I wrote the story and asked about this was I knew this was the next step in scamming the public with the publicly subsidized arena.

The need to bypass California’s absurdly strict environmental guidelines and restrictions prevent most large scale projects from ever taking place without legislative intervention. And Sacramento officials shoved the… Read More

Katy Grimes

Sacto arena deal violates public policy and public trust

The dubious arena deal in Sacramento has strange bedfellows aligning. The lack of public debate, the fishy numbers put out by the city, and the deceit about the growing public subsidy has angered many voters. Now legislation by Sen. President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento would let the stadium developers avoid a real environmental impact review in order to forge ahead without public debate.

But it gets even uglier. I have written extensively about this bad “public-private deal” — a bureaucratic expression which should always generate skepticism.

The Steinberg bill, which will be formally introduced today, would allow the city to bypass addressing real traffic impacts in its Environmental Impact Report on the arena project. According to several analysts I’ve spoken with, the bill… Read More

Katy Grimes

Prevailing wage scams steal from taxpayers

In what strange world do janitors get paid $45 per hour? In California, the land of the prevailing wage.

The dirty secret is that janitors often are not really getting paid $45 per hour, but the taxpayers are being charged this amount on public works projects.

Designed to help the worker, the prevailing wage was created to set a minimum hourly rate paid on all public works projects, primarily for construction workers. But the classification has been expanded and greatly abused.

One contractor’s saga

I recently met with a Southern California contractor who has owned a final construction cleanup business for more than 25 years. Final cleanup on government construction projects is always the last task in the project, and usually takes place within days of the occupants moving in, depending on the size and scope of the cleanup. The contractor said that the work he and his crews do includes cleaning the construction dust off of walls, washing and polishing floors, cleaning windows and mirrors, power-washing all surfaces, wiping down fixtures and hosing down the roof and parking lots.

He is hired as a subcontractor by large… Read More