07 Aug

Episode 15 – Fanfare for the Common Man

Jerry Brown's Magnum Opus.

We are back! After a brief work vacation, we’re back at it jumping into all the important stories around Orange County and California. We have an update on the latest news concerning the recall of State Sen. Josh Newman. We also dive into some economic news about California’s future. The common man is a big topic of interest for our own Jerry Brown. He want to appeal to us common men to get the democrats more seat at the table. As if they don’t have enough already.

Recall Update(s) – Ling Ling is in the Race + FPPC Ruling

http://www.latimes.com/politics/essential/la-pol-ca-essential-politics-updates-former-assemblywoman-ling-ling-chang-1501285858-htmlstory.html

  • She obviously feels that she is the best choice to challenge Newman (even though she’s lost to him once already).
    • She lost to him by less than 1% of the vote during the last election
    • She feels her voting record (anti-tax) stands in stark contrast to Newman’s (Cap and Trade, SB1)
  • Newman campaign spokesman Mike Roth responded: “This is political opportunism to the extreme – just 8 months after voters fired Ms. Chang she’s betting her political future on them believing the bucket of lies they’ve been fed about the recall.”
    • Hey, I agree with him here. Chang has no business running in this recall.

http://www.sacbee.com/opinion/op-ed/bill-whalen/article164877247.html

  • Bill Whalen is against the recall.
    • “Recalls are also a symptom of the political disease that ails this state and the nation: exaggerated outrage and inappropriate remedies.”
    • He basically makes the same arguments everyone against the recall has been making.
      • Newman is low-hanging fruit.
      • Recalls are ineffective and waste money.
      • “In Newman’s case, does voting for a tax increase rise to the level of Doris Allen, who was recalled by Orange County voters in 1995 for scheming with Willie Brown to give Assembly Democrats half the committee chairs and the operating budget despite Republicans having a majority?”
    • “The same is true of the movement to oust Newman. He voted at his party’s beck and call. If that’s a hanging offense, good luck getting a legislative quorum.”
      • Basically, if you recall politicians for voting with your party, there will never be a winning coalition in Sacramento again.
        • HELL TO THE YEAH.

SD29 Story – Industry’s Solar Farm

http://www.sgvtribune.com/government-and-politics/20170805/how-industry-could-lose-a-9m-bet-on-solar-farm-at-tres-hermanos-ranch

  • City of Industry has spent $9+ million (and plans to spend more) to acquire the 2,450 acre Tres Hermanos Ranch, which sits between Los Angeles, San Bernardino, and Orange Counties.
    • Consequently, it’s just north of where I live in Brea.
    • They are trying to buy the land so they can build a 444-megawatt power generating solar farm.
      • The problem is they haven’t acquired the land for the project yet.
        • “Still, in an unusual public criticism from within Industry’s City Hall, one council member has warned the multimillion dollar outlays could be a ‘waste of taxpayer money’ if Industry’s bid to purchase a historical, 2,450-acre Chino Hills ranch, Tres Hermanos, is rejected.”
          • They’re spending millions of taxpayer dollars to bid on construction for the solar farm, but if they don’t acquire the land, that money will have been spent for nothing.
  • One major issue about the project is the secretive nature of the planning.
    • “Elsewhere, State Sen. Ed Hernandez, D-West Covina, has asked for a fuller accounting of public spending on the solar farm project, proposed outside Industry’s city limits. Hernandez made the request in a letter to former state attorney general William Lockyer, who was appointed to monitor a series of financial reforms in Industry following a highly critical state controller’s audit of the city’s contracting and spending practices.”
      • In a city of around 100 residents and tons of businesses, how much oversight is there for government spending? Who will stop them from doing whatever they want?
    • “Industry’s bet on San Gabriel Valley Water and Power hinges partly on acquiring Tres Hermanos. But a state oversight board tasked with selling the land has delayed voting on Industry’s $100 million offer for nearly eight months. Members of the panel have demanded — and not yet received — details on Industry’s plans for the land.”
      • The two cities whose jurisdictions cover Tres Hermanos (Diamond Bar and Chino Hills) do not allow zoning for solar farms.
        • They aren’t opposed to solar farms, but they have criticized Industry for not being transparent about their plans.
      • There are also questions about the environmental impact of building the solar farm on the native animals in the area.
        • Industry apparently completed an impact report, but has not yet released it publicly.
  • This is a story with tons of information. We should read up more on it and continue reporting.

California Story – Democrats and the Common Man

http://amp.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article165757322.html

  • Jerry Brown has advised California Democrats to avoid concentrating on traditionally divisive democratic talking points like abortion and concentrate instead on the problems facing the “common man.”
    • “If we want to be a governing party of a very diverse, and I say diverse ideologically as well as ethnically country, well, then you have to have a party that rises above the more particular issues to the generic, the general issue of making America great, if I might take that word. The litmus test should be intelligence … (and) caring about the common man. We have to rise above some of our most cherished ideological inclinations and find a common basis.”
      • Basically, he’s saying ideological talking points are meaningless to most people.
        • It’s weird when Jerry Brown has moments of salience.
    • His suggestions come as several Southern California Republican congressional seats are under assault from Democratic challengers.
      • Mimi Walters, Dana Rohrabacher, Darryl Issa, and Ed Royce.
    • “And as a candidate, when you’re running in a Republican district, if you’re a Democrat, you better be extraordinary. And you have to relate to a very different kind of constituency than we have here in San Francisco or in New York City.”
    • He also made a point to say that Nancy Pelosi isn’t to blame for the Democrats’ losses in the few special elections that have been held across the country since Trump has been elected.
      • If it’s not her fault, whose is it?

California Story – Are the Boom Times Coming to an End?

https://calmatters.org/articles/californias-economy-booms-slowdown-looms/

  • When Jerry Brown released his budget back in May, he was very cautious about the state’s economic future.
    • “Moreover, by the time the budget is enacted in June, the economy will have finished its eighth year of expansion – only two years shorter than the longest recovery since World War II. A recession at some point is inevitable.”
    • So what economic indicators are out there that might signal a recession in California?
      • Income tax revenues are falling short of projections
        • We get a lot of our state revenue from income tax.
      • California’s economy only grew by 1/10 of 1% in the first quarter of 2017, year over year.
        • This is the slowest growth rate of any pacific state except Hawaii.
        • It is the 42nd slowest growth rate in the country.
          • Texas is number 1.
      • California’s labor under-utilization rate is 10.7% — the 4th highest in the nation.
        • This statistic reflects those who are unemployed, plus all marginally attached workers, plus total employed part time for economic reasons.
      • The expansion of California’s economy can be almost directly traced to Silicon Valley.
        • “Such dependence one region and one sector of the economy increases the potential downside, as we saw 17 years ago when the ‘dot com’ bubble burst, plunging the entire state into recession.”
    • The economic history of California over the past 50 years has been boom and bust. An economic correction is inevitable.

California Story – More Voters than Legal Residents in 11 Counties

http://www.breitbart.com/california/2017/08/05/judicial-watch-warns-california-11-counties-voters-voting-age-citizens/

  • Judicial Watch has sent a letter to California Secretary of State Alex Padilla informing him that there are 11 counties in California where there are more registered voters than there are residents of legal voting age.
    • “NVRA Section 8 requires states to conduct reasonable list maintenance so as to maintain an accurate record of eligible voters for use in conducting federal elections.1 As you may know, Congress enacted Section 8 of the NVRA to protect the integrity of the electoral process. Allowing the names of ineligible voters to remain on the voting rolls harms the integrity of the electoral process and undermines voter confidence in the legitimacy of elections…As the top election official in California, it is your responsibility under federal law to coordinate California’s statewide effort to conduct a program that reasonably ensures the lists of eligible voters are accurate.”
  • In the letter, Judicial Watch threatens to sue the state if the voter rolls are not cleaned up in a timely manner.
    • The letter states that “persons who have become ineligible to vote by reason of death, change in residence, or a disqualifying criminal conviction” should be removed from the voter rolls, and to also “remove noncitizens who have registered to vote unlawfully.”
  • The following counties have more registered voters than they do citizens of legal voting age:
    • Imperial (102%)
    • Lassen (102%)
    • Los Angeles (112%)
      • The letter notes that LA County might be as high as 144%
    • Monterey (104%)
    • San Diego (138%)
    • San Francisco (114%)
    • San Mateo (111%)
    • Santa Cruz (109%)
    • Solano (111%)
    • Stanislaus (102%)
    • Yolo (110%)
  • There haven’t been any claims of illegal voting, but the implication in there. This doesn’t mean that illegal aliens are voting. It could just be that those people who have moved or have died were not removed from the voter rolls. Secretary Padilla should make this a priority.

Orange County Story – Santa Ana River Trail Homeless City

Homeless Town AKA the Santa Ana River Trail Anaheim/Orange California

California Story – Nipton? More like Budton.

http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/06/us/california-town-bought-by-cannabis-company-trnd/index.html?sr=fbCNN080617california-town-bought-by-cannabis-company-trnd1106AMStory

  • The entire town of Nipton, California was purchased by American Green, Inc., a marijuana focused technology and growing firm based in Arizona for around $5 million.
    • They plan on making Nipton a destination resort town for marijuana enthusiasts.
      • “American Green said it will initially focus on bottling cannabis-infused water in the town. The production of marijuana edibles and the cultivation of cannabis won’t be far behind in American Green’s 18-month, $2.5 million development time frame.”
    • I honestly had no idea you could just buy a town.
25 Jul

Episode 14 – Bust a Cap and Trade

Cap and Trade

Episode 14 – Bust a Cap and Trade

Tonight we talked about the insanity that is Cap and Trade and the betrayal of the California Republican party. There’s at least there’s one Republican who hasn’t lost their mind, but she decided to give up her leadership position as a form of protest. We also delve into the lie that is Cap and Trade and the horsetrading nonsense that went on to pass it. We also talk about the lie the Republicans told themselves (and the rest of us) to justify their vote for Cap and Trade. We finish with a story about how some California legislators plan on dealing with the affordable housing crisis. Stay positive out there. All hope is not lost.

California Story – Cap and Trade

http://www.mercurynews.com/2017/07/21/assemblywoman-blasts-gop-leader-for-cap-and-trade-vote/

  • Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez (R-Lake Elsinore) resigned as assistant Republican leader because of Chad Mayes’ vote on Cap and Trade.
    • “Californians are struggling to make ends meet and unfortunately, what I have witnessed by the Assembly Republican Leader is a dereliction of duty to preserve and promote the American Dream for every single Californian. Assemblyman Mayes’ actions on cap-and-trade demonstrate we no longer share the same leadership principles. I was elected by the people of my district to fight for a more affordable and decent California, a place where every Californian knows their child will have a better life than their own. Regrettably, I can no longer, in good conscience, serve as the assistant Republican leader.”
  • Apparently, Mayes has become an environmental warrior.
    • He claims extending the program to 2030 would clean up the environment while saving “ordinary Californians” around $16 billion a year.
  • It’s nice to see at least some Republicans in Sacramento haven’t sold their souls.
  • The 8 Republicans who voted to extend Cap and Trade have said extending the program might actually help kill high speed rail.
    • “In extending California’s cap-and-trade system of controlling greenhouse-gas emissions through 2030, lawmakers approved a Republican plan this week to put a constitutional amendment before voters that seeks to give the minority party more say over how the program’s money is spent. One-fourth of that money — more than $1 billion so far and $500 million projected a year in the future — goes toward high-speed rail, a project that Republicans widely oppose.”
    • “This absolutely calls into question the viability of high-speed rail going forward,” said Assemblyman Marc Steinorth, R-Rancho Cucamonga (San Bernardino County), who voted to extend cap and trade in part because of the proposed constitutional amendment. “If the bullet train can’t prove its worth, (this amendment) provides a pathway to ending the funding for the boondoggle once and for all.”
      • If this isn’t a pie-in-the-sky day dream scenario, I don’t know what is.
      • For high speed rail to be defunded, a number of things would have to happen:
        • Voters would have to approve a constitutional amendment in June, which would provide for a one-time increase the voting threshold needed to decide where the cap and trade tax monies are spent…in 2024.
          • Until 2024, high speed rail would continue to receive funding (likely a lot of it).
          • By that time, would the legislature actually vote to defund it? After years of construction? Maybe, maybe not.
          • However, the potential for state funding to be cut off might be enough of a deterrent to keep outside funding from materializing.
  • http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-ca-jerry-brown-climate-change-law-20170725-story.html
    • Jerry Brown signed the Cap and Trade bill into law.
      • He is so proud of himself. They all are.
      • Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was there to support him and to talk trash on Republicans across the country.
        • Does Schwarzenegger still consider himself a Republican?
    • “The program, the only one of its kind in the country and an international model in the fight against global warming, is designed to provide a financial incentive for companies to pollute less. It requires oil refineries, power plants, food processors and other facilities to buy permits to release greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere.”
      • Do they really think these companies won’t pass on these costs to consumers?
    • “Cap and trade was slated to expire in 2020, but the new law extends it until 2030, turning the five-year-old program into a more permanent fixture of California’s environmental agenda. The state will also continue generating billions of dollars by selling emission permits, providing a source of funding for building the bullet train from San Francisco to Los Angeles, another priority for the governor.”
      • The balls on this guy.

California Story – Affordable Housing

http://sacramento.cbslocal.com/2017/07/21/california-lawmakers-looking-for-ways-to-close-affordable-housing-gap/

http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article163042068.html

  • There are a number of potential solutions for the housing crisis being bandied about in Sacramento.
    • SB2 would levying a new fee of $75 – $225 on real estate transactions.
    • SB3 would put a $3 billion general obligation bond to voters.
    • SB35 would streamline the approval process for new construction.
    • AB71 would eliminate the mortgage deduction for second (and third, fourth, etc.) homes.
17 Jul

Episode 13 – Cause of Death: Cap and Trade

The cause of death was Cap and Trade

Cap and Trade has been extended in California until at least 2030, and Jerry Brown couldn’t be happier. He sold his soul to ensure California businesses and, most importantly, residents will be forced to struggle for their very existence. We aren’t very positive in this episode. Yet again, a Republican has broken rank and sold out the rest of the state in order to ensure Jerry Brown’s legacy. We break down what will probably happen, and it isn’t good.

California Story – Cap and Trade Passes Out of Committee

http://www.latimes.com/politics/essential/la-pol-ca-essential-politics-updates-cap-and-trade-1500319846-htmlstory.html

  • The bill has already passed in the Assembly 75-0 (with 5 assemblymen not voting)
    • Everyone voted for it. This is the extension of the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006
      • “The two measures would extend the cap-and-trade program, which requires companies to buy permits to release greenhouse gas emissions, and require tougher regulations on pollution in disadvantaged communities.”
  • Jerry Brown has been pushing hard for this bill to pass.
    • Several environmental groups are opposed to it ostensibly because they feel it isn’t hard enough on the polluters like oil companies and such.
    • I’ve heard the “polluter” companies are actually in favor of it because it provides them with clear rules and regulations, rather than being subjected to the whims of unelected air resources boards (which have traditionally been fairly draconian in their regulations).
  • This bill is part of Jerry’ Brown’s legacy.
    • He’s always pushed for environmental reforms.
      • That’s what got us the bullet train to nowhere.
    • These “reforms” have created an economically unbalanced playing field when it comes to commerce.
      • Companies outside of California do not incur as many costs as companies inside California, so their margins are going to be better.
      • I also wonder how people in areas like the LA Basin and the Bay Area would react if the solar and wind farms and whatnot that will have to be used to achieve Kevin de Leon’s plan to use 100% renewable sources to provide California’s energy were erected in their backyards. It’s fine when the people in the desert or in the Central Valley have to shoulder the costs and cede space for these projects, but what if they had to “pay” for them? Would their attitude change?
  • In all likelihood, this bill will pass. It will be considered a “bi-partisan victory” and everyone will pat themselves on the back.
    • Basically, the argument is doom and gloom if it doesn’t pass.
      • This is Jerry Brown’s go-to argument. It’s always “if you don’t pass this, the system will fall apart.”
    • If it does pass, there is a strong chance it could raise our already ridiculous gas prices another $0.45!
      • If we’re trying to recall Josh Newman over a $0.12 increase, among other things, then every single person who votes for this Cap and Trade bill should be recalled as well.
        • I’m all for this.
  • If you want a list of reasons why this bill is a bad deal for California, head over to the Flash Report.

California Story – We Need To Build More Homes. Like Now.

http://www.modbee.com/opinion/state-issues/article161303283.html

  • From 2009-2014, California only added 308 housing units per 1,000 new residents.
    • That is a recipe for disaster.
      • Housing costs have risen to 2.5 times the national average.
      • In some areas of the state, there’s no feasible way for a working or even middle class family to afford housing.
        • Average rents of nearly $3,000-$4,000 in the bay area.
        • A recent story about the need to make over $100,000 to rent a 2-bedroom apartment in some parts of LA.
  • Prop 13 (passed in 1978) is the cause of much of this.
    • It incentivized cities to zone areas for commercial development, rather than residential.
      • Cities could collect more revenue in the form of sales taxes than they could from property taxes under prop 13.
        • As a result, many areas of cities are zoned for commercial developments.
        • I know Brea gets a good deal of revenue from sales tax, especially from the Mall.
  • Environmental regulations also create a barrier to building new housing units.
    • “The California Environmental Quality Act was created for good reason, and it helped prevent sprawl. But it’s now being used to prevent new developments for reasons unrelated to the environment. A recent study found that nearly 80 percent of CEQA lawsuits targeted urban infill projects, including dense, transit-oriented units that would have lowered housing costs while helping the environment.”
  • Finally, the author argues that a change to California’s tax code is warranted to create more revenue for affordable housing.
    • Basically, if we eliminated the mortgage interest deduction for second (or third, fourth, etc.) homes, the increased revenue from those taxes could fund the construction of affordable housing units.
      • Or it could prompt those owners to sell those second homes, thus increasing the available housing stock.
  • If we don’t do something to address this through market means, we might end up with people arguing for statewide rent control.
03 Jun

Cap & Trade Fails is CA Assembly

Cap and Trade

While the internet was exploding over the Trump administration exiting the Paris Climate Accords a more local measure was slowing dying in the California Assembly.

AB378 was the renewal of the California Cap & Trade Program and it went down by a vote of 35-39-6. Owing to it amounting legally to a tax it needed the support of the (D) Super-Majority in the Assembly to make it to the 2/3 threshold to pass. Much to my surprise it didn’t even come close to the 54 needed Aye votes.

It’s not as though the (D)s in Sacramento have been gun-shy about raising our taxes this legislative session. With the newest transportation themed tax on the working poor (SB1) and the Senate passed take-over of healthcare in California (SB562) now pending in the Assembly it is curious what stopped them from extending Cap & Trade?

Since the (R)s have come to agree with (D)s on Cap & Trade, even if it is just a tactical surrender owing to the irrelevance of the CA GOP, it makes the question even more quizzical.

Are the (D)s starting to feel pressure to slow down and not just drive our state further into the ground at breakneck speeds? Is the Newman Recall having an impact? What say you?