Archive for the ‘Waste and Fraud’ Category

Texas vs. California Roundup for October 9, 2014

Thursday, October 9th, 2014

Another Texas vs. California roundup:

  • If Stockton bankruptcy judge’s ruling is upheld, a lot of California cities could actually start working for citizens again, rather than public employee unions.
  • There are plenty of lessons to be learned from Stockton’s bankruptcy. Too bad Stockton’s officials seem unwilling to learn them:

    Pension contributions for public-safety workers now amount to 41 percent of payroll. That would put the total cost of salary, health benefits, and pensions at about $120,000 annually for a fifth-year officer…The long saga of Stockton’s decline dramatizes the inefficiency and illogic of union-dominated, monopolistic, government-labor markets.

  • But letting cities escape their crushing public sector union pension burdens doesn’t sit well with California’s looter class. Solution: propose eliminating Chapter 9 bankruptcy. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • According to the September labor report, California did manage to add 313,900 jobs between August 2013 and August 2014. But Texas added 395,200. (Hat tip: WILLisms Twitter feed.)
  • California legislature decides that students don’t need any of that stinking due process.
  • Hey, remember those “temporary” tax hikes Jerry Brown got voters to approve? Guess what?
  • California’s roads are among the worst in the country.
  • Someone should tell that to the city of Stanton, California, which reached for tax hikes rather than cutting the pay of unionized workers.
  • How San Jose reformed their finances using transparency. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • How California browbeat Toyota over closing a money-losing plant.
  • The California-based manufacturing facility of Colorado-based Boulder Electric Vehicle shuts down after receiving a $3 million grant from the California Energy Commission.
  • How California’s for-profit Thomas Jefferson Law School got itself into serious financial trouble through excessive dependence on loans (both the student type and the tax-exempt bond type).
  • Americans don’t want their state to secede so much as they want to kick California out of the union. (Hat tip: Karl Rehn of KRTraining.)
  • A look at PSAT participation rates in Texas. (Also via WILLisms.)
  • Californian Trip Hawkins, of EA, Apple and 3DO fame, filed for bankruptcy in 2011. This year, the 9th circuit ruled that a profligate life style (for certain values of “profligate”), does not, in fact, constitute a “willful” attempt to avoid bankruptcy. Mr. Hawkins seemed to be living well, but not necessarily living large
  • California owner of Akron, Ohio mall abandoned since 2008 declares bankruptcy. And since it’s the Halloween season, and abandoned malls are wonderfully creepy places, here’s a pic:

  • Kay Hagan’s Family Dips Their Beaks Into The Stimulus Trough

    Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

    It’s no longer a surprise when Democratic cronies rake in the benefits from pork programs created by Democratic Senators and Representatives. After all, giving out taxpayer money to connected interest groups is pretty much the Democratic Party’s business model. However, the family of North Carolina’s Democratic Senator Kay Hagan has taken it to the next level:

    Sen. Kay Hagan’s husband and son created a solar energy contracting company in August 2010, and then, using $250,644 in federal stimulus grant funds, her husband hired that same company to install solar panels at a building he owns.

    Public records show that Green State Power was formed seven weeks before JDC Manufacturing — a company owned in part by Greensboro attorney Charles “Chip” Hagan III, Sen. Hagan’s husband — received the stimulus grant for the solar project at a 300,000-square-foot facility in Reidsville, N.C.

    A story in late September on the Washington, D.C.-based website Politico revealed that JDC Manufacturing received “nearly $390,000 in federal grants for energy projects and tax credits created by the 2009 stimulus law, according to public records and information provided by the company.”

    The story reported that JDC “was one of 27 in North Carolina to be awarded funds for energy-efficient projects, to the tune of about $250,000. The company received the money in 2011, after the first phase of the project was completed in late 2010.”

    And need less to say, Kay Hagan vited in favor of the pork-laden stimulus her family so richly benefited from.

    From a purely amoral viewpoint, you have to admire the brazen efficiency of sucking down the maximum amount of taxpayer subsidies at every stag of the project pipeline. It’s like The Human Centipede of recycled graft…

    (Hat tip: Instapundit.)

    LinkSwarm for September 22, 2014

    Monday, September 22nd, 2014

    A Monday LinkSwarm of some recent(ish) news:

  • Surprise, surprise, surprise: ObamaCare covers abortions.
  • Alaska doctor shuts down practice due to ObamaCare.
  • Obama’s own Secretary of Defense says we left Iraq too soon.
  • Strangely enough, Gaza landlords are no longer wild about renting to Hamas.
  • Another day, another 36 people killed by Boko Haram in Nigeria.
  • “A Pakistani academic known for promoting liberal views on Islam has been shot dead by gunmen.” And people wonder why we don’t hear from more moderate Muslims…
  • The progressive media consensus on Islam is stultifying, and deliberately so. It’s a series of simplistic claims intended to drown out any adult discussion on the issue in favor of childish happy-talk which serves no purpose except to preserve the fragile progressive voting coalition.”
  • How well is the war against ISIS going? David Gergen compares it to the rollout of ObamaCare.
  • Meanwhile, ISIS continues to advance in Syria.
  • “The ‘social justice warriors are only happy when they’re destroying someone. That’s because they’re awful people with mental and emotional issues.”
  • Are you a whistle-blower who has spoken truth to power? Then expect to be investigated by the media, if the power you spoke truth to has a (D) after their name…
  • Global warming has been missing for 19 years.
  • Fareed Zakaria: Plagiarist. (Via Instapundit.)
  • Mary Burke: Plagiarist. (Also via Instapundit.)
  • C. David Heymann: Serial Liar. (Hat tip: Dwight.
  • Federal Reserve makes a $7 Trillion (with a T) cut-and-paste error. I would think that when you’re dealing with trillions of dollars, you’d want to have additional auditors checking your math. Silly me…
  • With antisemitism on the rise, Jews decide that Glocks go with lox.
  • The college rape “epidemic” is complete bunk.
  • Last year: Socialist Party Vice Presidential candidate. This year: Texas Democratic Party state House candidate.
  • Wallace Hall update: Remember how Rep. Dan Flynn was part of the “impeach Hall” committee? Guess what?

    Flynn, however, is one of the lawmakers who tried to pull strings for a family friend, and never disclosed that fact throughout his yearlong investigation, even as the question of legislative influence became the subject of two official investigations and independent media investigations, and ultimately led to the forced resignation of the university’s president, Bill Powers.

    Flynn wrote a letter to Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa on behalf of a family friend who was applying to UT; the name of the applicant and the letter’s date are redacted on a copy of the letter that was published Thursday by the Texas Tribune.

    The Texas Tribune published 112 pages of correspondence with Cigarroa’s office involving letters of recommendation; five of those letters were from state legislators: Reps. Flynn, Tryon Lewis and Brandon Creighton, and Sens. Carlos Uresti and Mario Gallegos.

    (Hat tip: Push Junction)

  • S. T. Joshi on why replacing H. P. Lovecraft’ visage on the World Fantasy Award statuette (an idea pushed by the usual radical feminist Social Justice Warriors) is a bad idea. Keep scrolling, there’s a lot of slagging of a very foolish idea at a very high level of diction…
  • Feminism is about women’s equality. Period. It’s not about capitalism or socialism or racism.” Well, first wave feminism, anyway…
  • Dripping Springs ISD administrators have decided that the children in their charges are the perfect laboratory for social justice engineering via “Meatless Mondays.”
  • We just passed the 40 year anniversary of Evel Knievel’s Snake River Canyon jump. Kids: Ask your parents what an “Evel Knievel” was. Or, urm, your grandparents. And get the hell off my lawn!
  • Austin wants to spend $1 billion to extend their toy trains. Citizens Against Rail Taxes explain why that’s a bad idea.
  • Texas vs. California Update for September 17, 2014

    Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

    Time for another Texas vs. California roundup:

  • The Texas economy continues to hum along:

    During the second quarter, Texas employers added 148,200 net nonfarm jobs—an average of 49,400 per month. This amounts to an 18 percent share of all jobs created nationwide over this period in a state with only 8 percent of the country’s population and about 10 percent of total economic output. Over the last year, the addition of 382,200 net jobs in Texas was more new jobs than any other state. These employment gains increased the annual job growth rate to 3.4 percent, which is higher than those of the national average and other highly populated states.

  • The city of Los Angeles is at an impasse over police raises: the police union (naturally) wants raises, while the city says they can’t afford them. So what happens next? The issue goes before the Employee Relations Board, which just happens to be packed with union-approved appointees. In one-party Democratic cities and states, it’s always government together with unions against taxpayers. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • “The ugly reality is that so long as the boards of CalPERS and CalSTRS are controlled by public employee union loyalists, pension reforms enacted by state lawmakers and signed by governors will never live up to their billing.”
  • Jerry Brown lies about pension spiking.
  • Why San Antonio’s public-private partnerships are better at dealing with drought than Los Angeles.
  • A FAQ on Costa Mesa’s pension situation. Including answers to such questions as “How could the $228 million in unfunded pension liabilities affect the city budget?”
  • Watsonville, California passes a sales tax hike solely to pay for additional union pension payments.
  • A judge rules that bankrupt San Bernardino can cut firefighter pension benefits in order to exit bankruptcy.
  • A union-sponsored bill tries to increase liabilities for companies that hire contractors.
  • California is evidently cooking up a whole new batch of unconstitutional gun laws.
  • A look at phony baloney jobs numbers for California’s high speed rail boondoggle.
  • Firefly Space Systems is relocating from California to Burnet County, Texas. “King said Firefly was attracted to Texas partly because of its business and regulatory climate.” It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out California offers a lousy climate for business. Or to put it another way: My days of underestimating California’s ability to improve its business climate are certainly coming to a middle…
  • Drone-maker Ashima is relocating to Reno, Nevada from California.
  • If you hadn’t heard, Tesla is building its battery factory in Nevada, not California.
  • An actual good law out of California: A law that prevents companies from suing customers for negative reviews.
  • North Carolina offered twice as much incentive money to Toyota but still lost out to Texas for relocating their HQ.
  • Your dedicated BART employee in action:

  • LinkSwarm for August 29, 2014

    Friday, August 29th, 2014

    In addition to not having a clue, when it comes to ISIS, Obama says that “we don’t have a strategy yet.” I’m sure if someone asked Franklin Roosevelt in early 1942 what his plans were for dealing with Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany, he would have had a strategy. Then again, FDR’s polio probably severely curtailed his golfing

  • President of Ukraine dissolves Parliament. This happened before the latest Russian incursion.
  • Also, Ukraine seeks NATO membership. A little late for that…
  • Boko Haram beheads six year old boy because he’s a Christian.
  • Man threatens to slaughter Ohio school children with an AK-47 over Israel-Gaza conflict.
  • How and why journalists get the Israel story wrong. Namely because they want to. “Many in the West clearly prefer the old comfort of parsing the moral failings of Jews, and the familiar feeling of superiority this brings them, to confronting an unhappy and confusing reality.”
  • For all the talk of Obama’s suit, it wasn’t the worst fashion disaster this week.
  • “Women who are sane, normal and happy do not become feminists, because such women do not need feminism.”
  • It turns out that Louisiana Democratic senator Mary Landrieu doesn’t actually live in her home state. Awkward. And unconstitutional. See also: Lugar, Richard, electoral defeat of.
  • New Republic writer Yishai Schwartz wants to get rid of that fascist “innocent until proven guilty” nonsense. You know, if I were writing a piece that hinged on “the details of Missouri law,” I think I would actually cite, verbatim, the relevant sections of Missouri law that supported my central thesis. Having conspicuously failed to do so, evidently Schwartz feels that such niceties (like the presumption of innocence in criminal trials) are beneath him… (Hat tip: Legal Insurrection.)
  • Christian student groups are no longer welcome at Vanderbilt University.
  • You will be made to care.
  • British wind farms being paid not to produce energy:
  • A checklist for arguing with Social Justice Warriors.
  • Back when stewardesses were allowed to wear sexy uniforms. (Hat tip: Bill Crider.)
  • Everything you’ve ever known is a lie.
  • Texas vs. California Update for August 25, 2014

    Monday, August 25th, 2014

    Another look at how Texas stacks up to the no-longer-so-Golden state:

  • Problem: Those lousy taxpayers get pension reform passed. Solution: CalPERS uses “99 categories of ‘special pay’” to go on a pension spiking orgy.
  • What are some of those 99 categories? “Clerks who type well. Cops who shoot straight. Librarians who are “assigned to provide direction or resources to library patrons.” I’m too scared to check if “Teachers who don’t rape their students” is an actual category or not…
  • Governor Jerry Brown is sending mixed signals on the pension spiking issue.
  • Who actually owns the CalPERS gap between actual funding and what they’ll need to pay out? “CalPERS can be risky (and it has been) with no consequences. The taxpayers have all the responsibility, but none of the control.”
  • So how much payroll and pension did Stockton trim in their bankruptcy? Zero.
  • There is no California comeback. “Personal income-tax revenues fell by 11 percent in the first quarter of this year and more than 6 percent through June.”
  • California cities are among the slowest to recover from the recession.
  • The only way California can get pensions under control is through a constitutional amendment.
  • Los Angeles Department of Water and Power is asking for more money. They’re also asking Angelinos to overlook their high salaries and lack of accountability.

    City leaders are battling with DWP’s union, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 18, to release financial records of a nonprofit trust, run jointly by labor- and management-appointed trustees, that has run through $40 million in ratepayer money. Brian D’Arcy, IBEW Local 18’s business manager, has refused to turn over the trust’s financial records, and DWP executives have said they don’t know how the money was spent.

  • California voters get to weigh in on a 7.5 billion water bill in November, which seems to have considerably less pork than a previously delayed $11 billion bill.
  • So how does bankrupt San Bernardino plan to climb into the black? Cutting back on outrageous pensions? Ha, you must be high! “Help us, weed, you’re our only hope!”
  • I know this is a shock, but California’s High Speed Rail Authority is behind schedule on buying land for it’s doomed boondoggle.
  • Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz opposes ride share programs like Uber and Lyft. Strangely enough, he’s also received $11,000 in campaign contributions from the taxi industry. Quid pro, meet quo.
  • YTexas helps companies relocating to Texas connect with local businesses.
  • Ridiculous Bureaucratic Compensation in the UK

    Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

    It’s not just California. The bureaucratic apparatus has a way of feathering its own nests across the globe.

    Take the “town hall tycoons” in the UK, for example:

  • There were at least 2,181 council employees who received total remuneration in excess of £100,000 in 2012-13, a fall of 5 per cent on the previous year’s 2,295.

  • Despite this, 93 councils increased the number of staff who received remuneration in excess of £100,000 in 2012-13.
  • Keep in mind that at current exchange rates, £100,000 is somewhere north of $180,000.

    Texas vs. California Roundup for July 30, 2014

    Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

    Another Texas vs. California roundup:

  • How Los Angeles is killing itself. (Hat tip: Karl Rehn.)
  • Texas places five cities on list of top 10 growing cities: Austin, Dallas, McAllen, Houston and San Antonio.

  • California school officials are still grossly overpaid. Including 31 janitors who make more than $100,000 each. (Hat tip (for this and a few more): Pension Tsunami.)
  • And many of these munificently compensated employees are double-dipping: “More than 1,000 retired instructors who had already begun receiving their state-funded pension continued to work and receive a salary from districts in 2013.”
  • Only in California could a bill that requires 32 years to catch up and fund parts of the California State Teachers’ Retirement System’s current $74 billion in unfunded liability be hailed as a major reform.”
  • Essential school services in California are about to be cut to pay for doubled pension payments.
  • San Francisco landlords are suing the city over a law that requires them to pay as much as two years rent for evicted tenants. Of course, many landlords were evicting people because insane rent control laws make it almost impossible to sell a building that actually has tenants…
  • How the Texas model supports job creation.
  • Evidently male students simply aren’t welcome in California colleges. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Actual headline: “LA Councilman Convicted Of Voter Fraud Will Continue To Collect $116K Annual Pension.”
  • What a conservative Texas budget should look like.
  • California retail apparel chain Love Culture files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Evidently summer bankruptcies for retail stories are very unusual, since this is the time they start stocking up for the holiday season.
  • Another California for-profit university chain shuts down.
  • Oakland Raiders to move to San Antonio?
  • Are inherited IRA’s exempt from bankruptcy hearings in California? It depends on which precedent the judge chooses to follow.
  • Not news: Houston ISD holds job fairs looking for teachers. News: In North Carolina.
  • Salon Writer Complains That Democrats Are Corporate Whores

    Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

    Well well well, what have we here?

    It’s a jeremiad by Democrat Bill Curry about how his party has abandoned its soul for the sweet smell of Wall Street crony capitalist dollars.

    Democrats hooked on corporate cash and consultants with long lists of corporate clients were less attuned to Nader’s issues.

    Democrats today defend the triage liberalism of social service spending but limit their populism to hollow phrase mongering (fighting for working families, Main Street not Wall Street). The rank and file seem oblivious to the party’s long Wall Street tryst. Obama’s economic appointees are the most conservative of any Democratic president since Grover Cleveland but few Democrats seem to notice, or if they notice, to care.

    These days, says Curry, Democrats “don’t believe in ideas because they don’t believe in people” and calls for a Nader-esque populism. (Indeed, Nader’s latest book seems to provide the spine for his piece.)

    Curry actually sees the populist Tea Party energy on the right and laments its absence on his side of the aisle. “If there’s a true populist revolt on the left it is as yet invisible to the naked eye.” (Though I note one very hot populist issue, widespread opposition to the Democratic Party’s push for illegal alien amnesty, is conspicuous by its absence from his piece.)

    “Democratic elites are always up for compromise, but on the wrong issues. Rather than back GOP culture wars, as some do, or foreign wars, as many do, or big business, as nearly all do, they should back libertarians on privacy, small business on credit and middle-class families on taxes.”

    This advice is far from the worst Democrats have received, but they are congenitally unable to follow it for numerous reasons:

  • As a party, Democrats are all in on Big Government. Access to the Gravy Train and charging a transaction fee on robbing Peter to pay Paul are the only thing that holds their coalition together. Likewise, to say Democrats are unenthusiastic about cutting taxes is to vastly understate the case.
  • Democrats can’t embrace populism because both the political and cultural soul of the party is rooted in elitism. The people who run the party in D.C. are absolutely certain that they and their brethren can run peoples’ lives better than they can run their own. And the party’s biggest supporters in blue bastions like New York City, Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles and San Francisco are convinced that they are manifestly smarter, more moral, and above all more sophisticated than those gun-toting redneck freaks of JesusLand. Asking them to embrace real populism (as opposed to candidates making meaningless promises every 2 or 4 years) is almost certainly futile.
  • A significant fraction of their supporters in those blue bastions benefit directly from the crony capitalism Currey decries.
  • There are also numerous areas where Curry appears unable to shed his blue-colored glasses:

  • When he says “Oddly, the one system working relatively well, public education, is the object of our only sustained reform effort,” he’s ignoring the huge problems in teacher union controlled schools and curricula as documented everywhere from Waiting for Superman to Vergara vs. California. And in his conclusion, the very first member of his potential future coalition mentioned is “unions,” pointedly ignoring the populist revolt against fat cat public sector unions that have helped bankrupt Detroit and numerous California cities.
  • The plight of American workers pushed out of jobs by illegal aliens, and the popular revolt against busing them to communities across the country and amnesty? No mention.
  • He seems equally enthused about small business and fighting “global warming,” with nary a mention about how the EPA’s power grab thanks to the latter is crushing small business left and right, nor how many “green” firms are riding the crony capitalist gravy train.
  • Other populist “small ball” issues that never get mentioned: cheap light bulbs that work and toilets that flush. Though Shalt Not Question Washington’s Mandates.
  • Agribusiness subsidies, crony capitalism in almost its purest form? Not mentioned.
  • The Democratic Party faithful are never, ever, ever going to reengage with Nader, because their hatred for George W. Bush is far stronger and more visceral than their theoretical attachment to populist economic policies.
  • Of course, since it’s Salon, the piece has more than one inside-the-blue-bubble howler:

  • “Nader’s belief in convergence isn’t the same as Obama’s naïve pursuit of the holy grail of bipartisanship.” Obama has pursued “bipartisanship” with much the same fervor the late Amy Winehouse pursued “sobriety.”
  • “Republicans can talk values even while defending a corrupt status quo because, recent Tea Party convulsions aside, defending the status quo is their job. The Democrats’ job is to challenge the status quo; when they don’t do it, nothing they say sounds sincere. ” Republicans certainly defend many cultural status quos, but it is the Democratic Party that has consistently defended the status quo of the lumbering monstrosity that is Big Government.
  • When he says that until 1996, congress “had not enacted any major social or economic reforms since the historic environmental laws of the early ’70s,” he’s flat out lying. (Kemp-Roth was certainly reform.) What he actual means is “No reforms that far left economic populists like myself approve of.”
  • In the next paragraph he decries the deregulation of the airline, trucking and phone industries, missing the point that these were not only reforms, but populist reforms that ended monopoly profits by entrenched special interests, and ones which radically brought down prices for consumers.
  • “But Nader always hit hard; you don’t get to be the world’s most famous shopper by making allowances or pulling punches.” I would venture to guess that the world’s most famous “shopper” is probably someone like Paris Hilton, which is probably not the image he wanted to convey…
  • “Liberals have spent the intervening years debating macroeconomic theory.” Have they? As far as I can tell, the only debate in the ideological vineyards of the Democratic Party is over how much Keynesian vs. how much Marxism.
  • “Democrats must also learn to argue history. They chortle when Michele Bachmann credits the founders with ending slavery or Sarah Palin forgets who Paul Revere rode to warn.” Tiny little problem: By and large Sarah Palin got Paul Revere’s story right, no matter how much liberals might insist otherwise.
  • “The best template of populism remains the career of William Jennings Bryan.” Well, it’s not that Curry is necessarily wrong per se, but one must view with a certain jaundiced eye the idea that current electoral models can be found in a man who probably peaked in 1896.
  • Indeed, when you get right down to it, Curry’s piece could be boiled down to “Talk vaguely about populism while pushing the same Big Government, redistributionist schemes liberals always push.” Maybe the Nader book itself is bolder (and if someone wants to pay me to review it, I’d happily give it a go), but Curry’s piece is very old and undistinguished wine decanted into a slightly shinier bottle.

    No matter how many times liberals declare “This is it! I’m finally fed up with the Democratic Party!”, the party’s fat cats know the truth. Come November 8, 2016, they’ll remember they loathe Republicans far more than they love reform, and pull the (D) lever no matter how many jeremiads Bill Curry and his ilk pen.

    We’ve seen this movie before, and we know exactly how it ends.

    Breaking: John Wiley Price Arrested

    Saturday, July 26th, 2014

    Dallas County Commissioner and longtime influential Dallas black politician John Wiley Price has been arrested:

    Price was under arrest, charged with eleven counts of bribery, mail fraud, and tax fraud.

    His life, and his image, had permanently changed.

    “All told, Commissioner Price took in more than $1.1 million that he did not report to the proper authorities,” said Sarah Saldana, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas.

    “Mr. Price allegedly defrauded the citizens of Dallas County, the state of Texas, and the federal government,” said Diego Rodriguez, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Dallas.

    Kathy Nealy, a Dallas political consultant and long-time associate of Price, was prominent in the indictment. The charges allege she paid Price to sway votes before the Dallas County Commissioners.

    “At the same time, Ms. Nealy was paying bribes to Commissioner Price, she actively evaded nearly $600,000 in income tax, which she admittedly owes,” Saldana said.

    Between them, Price and Nealy face 16 counts of bribery, mail and tax fraud.

    The FBI has been investigating Price for more than three years.