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FlashReport Weblog on California Politics

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Kevin Dayton

Fresh Out of Bankruptcy, Stockton Plans a Union Monopoly on Construction Contracts

The City of Stockton filed a petition for Chapter 9 municipal bankruptcy relief on June 28, 2012, and the petition was accepted onApril 1, 2013. Earlier this year, on February 25, the City of Stockton exited bankruptcy protection.

Stockton’s city manager declared that “We emerge from bankruptcy a renewed city, perhaps better prepared for our future than any other city in the State, with a new value system, a thorough understanding of our operations and finances, and the tools to maintain solvency and adjust to economic conditions for decades into the future.”

With that inconvenience out of the way, the Stockton City Council is proceeding to implement a “value system” similar to what brought it to bankruptcy in the first place. It is giving its most favored constituency –unions –a potentially costly monopoly on… Read More

Kevin Dayton

Union-Infected Community College Board Unexpectedly Respects Its Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee

A stunning vote occurred at the October 20, 2015 meeting of the elected governing board of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District, located in the eastern suburbs of San Diego (“East County”). To the dismay and outrage of construction union officials anticipating a 4-1 victory, the board voted 3-2 to table a motion to negotiate a Project Labor Agreement with unions until the college consulted with its independent citizens’ bond oversight committee.

Although the vote was a temporary setback for construction unions, its greater significance was its endorsement for a concept of taxpayer protection in California under duress in recent years. Three college board members, two of whom solidly supported a union Project Labor Agreement, declared publicly that their citizens’ bond oversight committee was valuable and important.

The Origins of Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committees

In November 2000, California voters heeded the pleas of a huge coalition of powerful interest groups and enacted Proposition 39. This statewide ballot measure changed the California Constitution by reducing the percentage threshold needed… Read More

Kevin Dayton

Will a Few Republican State Legislators Open Floodgates for Costly Union Control of California Water Projects?

Union lobbyists try to be discreet when they influence the California State Legislature to gain advantages in public contracting. That secrecy is now crumbling in the case of a new “urgency” bill that authorizes a Monterey County water agency to use an alternative bidding procedure to build a pipeline project.

Can unions whip this bill through the legislature before new revelations about backroom deals undermine local support for it? It depends on how many Republicans in the Assembly and Senate see construction union support as useful to their political futures.

A Mundane Objective: Awarding a Contract for a Water Storage Project

The Monterey County WaterResources Agency proposes a $25 million pipeline to improve water storage by transferring water between two reservoirs. It wants to use a construction procurement procedure called “design-build.” Instead of awarding separate design and construction contracts to the lowest responsible bidders, the agency would award one combined contract for the project based on subjective scoring criteria.

Since the early 1990s, the California legislature has passed… Read More

Kevin Dayton

Regional Sports and Entertainment Facilities in the Urban Core Attract Costly Political Meddling: Sacramento Kings as a Case Study

Any fiscal conservative who joins a bipartisan coalition to advance a common cause needs to be wary about becoming one of the Left’s “useful idiots.” A classic example is now unfolding in Sacramento, where sports fans and corporate interests are clamoring for exceptional efforts – including a $258 million public subsidy – to retain the region’s one major league professional sports team, the Kings of the National Basketball Association.

Emotionalism and financial self-interest are overwhelming critical thinking about mundane issues such as opportunity costs, municipal debt finance, property rights, regional transportation planning, and the role of government in redistributing capital. And the selected location for the new arena was a strategic error that may send the Kings packing to more lucrative pastures.

Either by design or by default, the new arena is planned for downtown Sacramento, rather than a suburban site or even next to the current arena. As a result, the arena and anticipated development around the arena are being subjected to costly political meddling, led by downtown’s State Senator Darrell Steinberg and his political… Read More

Kevin Dayton

Unions Tempt Republicans with “Bipartisanship” Lure: Five Tips for Resistance

Two Republicans in the California State Legislature are now voting for legislation sponsored by the state’s construction unions, following several years of unified, principled caucus resistance to such schemes. One might think that former Republican legislators Brett Granlund, Anthony Pescetti, and Ken Maddox are back from term-limited exile, in disguise.

Union leaders and lobbyists are thrilled! They can now label their costly, self-serving bills as “bipartisan” while labeling their more principled critics as “extremist.”

A Bipartisan Attack on Constitutional Rights, Local Control, and Fiscal Responsibility

Most prominent among the union-backed bills with Republican support is Senate Bill 7. This bill would withhold state funding for any of the state’s 121 charter cities that exercise their right under the state constitution to set their own government-mandated wage rate policies for purely municipal construction.

SB 7 undermines the principle of local control over local funds and the fundamental structure of constitutional federalism. It also punishes fiscally responsible cities that recognize how state-mandated… Read More

Kevin Dayton

Rare Exposure of a Union Backroom Deal: Former San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders Surrenders to Former Top Union Official Lorena Gonzalez

Since 2009, the City of San Diego has been planning a major expansion of its downtown convention center. It is expected to cost $520 million, or more than $1 billion if interest payments to bond investors are included in the total cost.

The city’s downtown business and civic leaders are eager to expand the convention center to maintain trade shows such as Comic-Con and attract new trade shows.

That eagerness presented the devious union leaders of the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council with an opportunity to establish themselves as the chief opponents and obstacles to the proposed project. Opposition could be withdrawn – for a price.

After exploiting the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and filing a lawsuit to challenge the financing plan, unions were able to obtain several economic and political benefits through the office of former Mayor Jerry Sanders. In exchange for these payoffs, the unions withdraw their obstacles and committed to end their opposition and support the convention center expansion.

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Kevin Dayton

Pugnacious Defense of Economic Freedom in Orange County Can Inspire California’s Free-Market Activists

Californians whowant fiscally responsible governments and freedom of choicefor government contractors and their employees have another reason for dismay.

Construction union lobbyists are once again advancing their costlyagenda for local governmentsbeyond the corrupt and mismanaged urban centers of Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area.

In their latest move, union officials and their elected sycophantsare nowpushing formonopoly control of almost $1 billion in planned construction at Coast Community College District in Orange County (California).

This is not the firstinfiltration of government-mandatedProject Labor Agreementsinto Orange County. About a dozen years ago, union lobbyists managed to get control of the taxpayer-funded construction programs of three local governments: Orange County, Santa Ana Unified School District, and Rancho Santiago Community College District. In the case of Orange County, three Republican supervisors voted for it andaRepublican state legislatordefended it.

But California’s supporters of economic and personal freedom shouldnot be discouraged! This… Read More

Kevin Dayton

Highlighting the Top Union Abuses of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)

I’m still convinced that the business coalition supporting reform of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) made a strategic decision to join State Senator Michael Rubio (D-Bakersfield) in never addressing – or even acknowledging – how unions have perfected the widespread and pernicious abuse of CEQA to win labor agreements and block non-union competition.

If Republicans in the legislature buy into this strategy, www.FlashReport.org publisher Jon Fleischman will be right when he tweeted this prediction:

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