Posts Tagged ‘California’

LinkSwarm for November 13, 2015

Friday, November 13th, 2015

The big story this week has been the Children of the Corn running amok in Missouri. I hope to have a longer piece on that by and by. In the meantime, enjoy your Friday LinkSwarm:

  • ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion is blowing holes in state budgets across the nation.
  • How the Clinton Foundation money-laundering machine works.
  • Maryland’s “bullet fingerprint” database cost $5 million to set up and maintain. Number of criminals caught by it? Zero. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • How much money each state is sending to the Presidential race. Texas is number one in SuperPAC money, and number two (behind California) in hard money.
  • Kurdish Pesh Merga forces retake Sinjar from the Islamic State.
  • China makes tiny under-reporting error on coal usage. Any by “tiny,” I mean “equal to entire U.S. coal use.” (Hat tip: Ace of Spades.)
  • Sell books critical of the Chinese government in Hong Kong? Prepare to be disappeared.
  • Secret Service agent arrested in child sex sting. The country is in the best of hands. (Hat tip: AceofSpadesHQ.)
  • Kafkatrap vs. Honeytrap. “If you are any kind of open-source leader or senior figure who is male, do not be alone with any female, ever, at a technical conference.”
  • Woman starts making documentary about Men’s Rights Movement. Funny things happens: When she starts making an actual, even-handed documentary, the funders who wanted a feminist hit piece drop her like a hot potato, but Kickstarter backers step up to the plate after a plug from Milo Yiannopoulos.
  • UT academic critics of open carry should step out of their ivory tower and take a look at the real world.
  • Dear Formula 1: If your race requires subsidies to survive in Austin, I’m happy to see you fold.
  • An inside-baseball look at the Ted Cruz super PAC ad buy that wasn’t.
  • Texas vs. California Update for November 12, 2015

    Thursday, November 12th, 2015

    Time for another Texas vs. California roundup:

  • Is the Los Angeles Unified School District headed for bankruptcy?
  • If it does, pensions are one of the main culprits. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • A tale of two pension plans. Atlanta successfully reformed theirs. San Jose didn’t. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • All five of the most expensive housing markets in the U.S. are in California.
  • California ranks among the bottom five in standardized school tests.
  • Part four of a long, detailed piece on the fall of Pacific Grove, and why it matters. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Spending $15 billion for a tunnel for fish in the midst of a drought isn’t going over well with California voters.
  • Who is the water-wasting Wet Prince of Bel Aire?
  • The fight over California mining company Molycorp’s bankruptcy.
  • Roses are Red/Violets are Blue/The State of California has/Blood samples from you.
  • The WNBA’s Tulsa (formerly Detroit) Shock relocate to Dallas. In other news, the WNBA is evidently still in business.
  • TPPF’s Dr. Vance Ginn on why the Texas model works.
  • Shrimp Boy Chow Trial Begins

    Wednesday, November 11th, 2015

    Looks like it’s going to be all crime blotter news today.

    First up: Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow’s racketeering trial started November 9.

    Chow, 56, is charged with running the Ghee Tung Kong, a Chinese American community organization he has led since 2006, as a racketeering enterprise that trafficked in guns, drugs and stolen goods. He is also charged with arranging the murder of the organization’s previous leader, Allen Leung, and with conspiring to seek the murder of an alleged gang rival, Jim Tat Kong, who was shot to death in Mendocino County in October 2013. He has been held without bail since his arrest in March 2014.

    First Democratic State Senator Leland Yee was supposed to be the big fish, but then he plead guilty to one piddling count of racketeering. That leaves Chow as the big fish, especially since so many lesser defendants have plead guilty to lesser charges.

    The biggest charge against him is, of course, murder, but the evidence presented thus far on that is hardly conclusive.

    (Hat tip: Dwight.)

    Texas vs. California Update for November 2, 2014

    Monday, November 2nd, 2015

    California continues to suffer from drought while central Texas just suffered through torrential rains. Time for another Texas vs. California update:

  • Texas Adds 26,600 Jobs in September.
  • Texas and Florida rank at the top of education index for biggest states, while California ranks last.
  • The University of Texas is ranked the number one public university in America.
  • Meanwhile, at the University of California system: “The number of those making at least $500,000 annually grew by 14 percent in the last year, to 445, and the system’s administrative ranks have swelled by 60 percent over the last decade – far outpacing tenure-track faculty.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Another example of California’s perpetual trial lawyer enrichment act: “cumulative trauma” awards for employees after termination, even if they’ve never reported symptoms before. Shouldn’t every former member of the Raiders, Chargers and 49ers file a lawsuit?
  • Why CalPERS contributions are soaring. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • So now the California high speed rail boondoggle is going to cost $68 billion and require 36 miles of tunnels, including some dug right through an active tectonic fault. That’s ten times the length of tunnel Boston needed to dig for the Big Dig. And the cost is equivalent to the Gross Domestic Product of Sri Lanka. For a train line. It would probably be cheaper to buy cab rides for everyone traveling between Los Angeles and San Francisco, but that wouldn’t provide enough opportunities for graft…
  • “The parent company of the Orange County Register and Riverside Press-Enterprise filed for federal bankruptcy protection.”
  • Also filing for bankruptcy, yet another West coast grocery chain, Fresh & Easy.
  • Another bankruptcy filing: Fresno’s One Club Casino. California casinos are different from Nevada casinos, and I believe One Club is what is called a “card room”. Still, when you can’t make a profit off gambling…
  • California plastics company opens plant in Pflugerville. “Medway, founded in 1974, will also relocate its research and development laboratory to the new Pflugerville facility. Though Medway Plastics will continue operations in California, the company may consider relocating its headquarters to Pflugerville within the next five to eight years, the company said.”
  • Plans continue apace to build a Texas Gold Depository.
  • California Ballot initiatives weaponize emotion to centralize power.
  • TPPF: Why the Texas Model Supports Prosperity

    Wednesday, October 21st, 2015

    I could roll this up into the next California vs. Texas update, but I thought this Texas Public Policy Foundation paper by Vance Ginn on why Texas’ low tax, low regulation model generates prosperity was meaty enough to be worth a separate post.

    The Texas model has been touted as an approach to governance that other states and Washington, D.C. would be wise to follow. This approach promotes individual freedom through lower taxes and spending, less regulation, fewer frivolous lawsuits, and reduced federal government interference. Does this Texas restatement of the unalienable rights of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” actually promote freedom, prosperity, and jobs when compared to the largest states and U.S. averages?

    To answer this question, this paper (in most cases) compares various measures in California, Texas, New York, and Florida—the states with the largest populations and economic output—and U.S. averages during the last 15 years. Five fiscal measures of economic freedom and government intervention for these states show that Texas generally leads the pack as the most free with the least government intrusion. Eight measures of the labor market indicate that Texas provides the best opportunities to find a job. Five measures of income distribution and poverty show that Texas leads in most categories with a more equal income distribution and less poverty despite fewer redistributionary policies than these large states, particularly California and New York.

    Though a mere 15 pages, the paper offers up an in-depth survey of various economic metrics and studies, where Texas repeatedly comes out on top, and New York and California repeatedly come in last and second-to-last.

    A few more tidbits:

  • In a “Soft Tyranny Index” (measuring state government bureaucracy, state spending, income tax, and tax burden) “Texas ranks first with the least government intrusion, Florida 17th, California 49th, and New York 50th.”
  • “Texas outpaces the rest of the U.S. in nonfarm job creation since December 2007.”
  • “Texas’ distribution of income is more equal compared with other large states.”
  • Read the whole thing.

    Texas vs. California Update for October 14, 2015

    Wednesday, October 14th, 2015

    Time for another Texas vs. California update:

  • Texas is the best state for small businesses.
  • Supreme Court to hold hearing on mandatory union dues in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association.
  • “Transparent California, a watchdog website provided by the Nevada Policy Research Institute, revealed 19,728 former government retirees across California received monthly stipends of $8,333.34 or more — adding up to at least a $100,000 a year for each person.”
  • [Orange County] government workers receive an “average full-career pension of $81,372 for miscellaneous [employees], which includes all nonsafety retirees, and $99,366 for safety [mostly police and fire] retirees of all Orange County cities enrolled in CalPERS.”
  • Republicans manage to defeat California tax hikes.
  • California politicians excel at corruption and self-dealing. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • “If money and household wealth follow people, then Texas is doing better than any other state in nearly every way.”
  • San Francisco drives last existing gun store out of the city with burdensome regulations.
  • Judge strikes down law requiring landlords to pay up to $50,000 in relocation fees to evicted tenants.
  • Texas continues to earn the highest possible credit ratings.
  • New law mandates that CalPERS and CalSTARS must stop investing in coal. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Stockton update: “After only one full budget year, the city has already broken three fundamental promises and is destined to return to insolvency within four years.”
  • Bankrupt supermarket chain Haggen has found buyers for some of its California stores.
  • This story is so strange I suspect it could only happen in California. (Playboy link, so it may be blocked at your place of work.) Despite the large number of guns. ($5 million for 1,200 guns? I call BS. That would mean each gun was slightly more expensive than the list price for a bolt-action Barrett .50 BMG sniper rifle. The photos mostly show pretty common hunting rifles.)
  • Kevin Johnson vs. Deadspin

    Tuesday, October 13th, 2015

    I had previously reported on the coup of Sacramento’s Democratic Mayor Kevin Johnson in taking over the National Conference of Black Mayors (NCBM), though at the time the reasons behind it seemed murky.

    But I missed this follow-up in Deadspin, because it’s pretty far from my regular reading list, plus the Gawker ickiness factor.

    But there does seem to be enough smoke there to suggest some sort of fire:

    Johnson is a youngish, attractive Democrat with a reputation as a national leader on education issues, a gift for making powerful friends, and a superficially impressive background—UC Berkeley, a long run as a top NBA star, a successful business career. He’s just the sort of politician a lot of people want to believe, and a lot of people have done so. His mayoralty will even soon be the subject of a laudatory entry in ESPN’s acclaimed 30 For 30 documentary series.

    The scandals didn’t much matter in 2008, when he easily won election in the face of credible accusations that he’d molested teenage girls, defrauded the federal government of hundreds of thousands of dollars, and lorded over an empire of slum holdings. And they haven’t much mattered since, as he’s gone from success to success, his star rising ever higher in the Democratic Party firmament through most of his career.

    As mayor, he’s incurred sexual harassment charges in the course of waging a bizarre war on an obscure non-profit organization; soaked taxpayers in his hometown for hundreds of millions of dollars to build a new arena for the Sacramento Kings; and used public employees to do his own private political work while attempting to hide the evidence by keeping email records off the books, Hillary Clinton-style.

    Deadspin lays the cause of Johnson’s recent actions to his desire to profit from private charter schools.

    Johnson’s latest scandal involves:

  • “He got a major national law firm to sue both the city of Sacramento and the Sacramento News & Review simply because the tiny weekly newspaper had filed a public-records request.”
  • He’s claiming attorney/client privilege for any records related to the NCBM.
  • He’s asserting that “40 people besides Johnson whom they claim are covered by attorney/client privilege, including 10 lawyers from the firm who worked for Johnson on NCBM-related matters,” also including “every member of his official mayoral staff—including communications director Ben Sosenko, chief of staff Daniel Conway, and advisors[sic] Patti Bisharat, Cassandra Jennings, Helen Hewitt, and Adrianne Hall.”
  • “Lots of folks who used Sacramento city government titles and worked out of City Hall while doing Johnson’s dirty work in the NCBM fiasco were in fact not employed by the city government. They were instead charter school advocates, funded by charter school ideologues, who kept their true allegiances and mission hidden.”
  • “Johnson has a history of not abiding by disclosure rules. In 2012, the California Fair Political Practices Commission (CFPPC), a panel charged with enforcing state financial disclosure laws, found that Johnson had failed to report at least 25 donations totaling $3.1 million made at his direction to his non-profits…To settle the case, Johnson agreed to pay a fine of $37,500, the largest penalty ever handed down to a public official in the state for non-disclosure violations.”
  • One need not embrace Deadspin’s, er, spin, which seems to be an attempt to keep money keep money going to failing unionized public schools (which I take to be their real reason in going after Johnson) to see many of Johnson’s actions as unethical and probably illegal.

    All of this may go a long way to explain why ESPN has shelved an installment of their acclaimed 30 for 30 documentary series about Johnson.

    Now, I happen to be a lot more pro-charter school than Deadspin evidently is. So if Kevin Johnson’s people want to contact me and explain his side of the story, I’d be happy to run a follow-up…

    Texas vs. California Update for October 1, 2015:

    Thursday, October 1st, 2015

    Ah, that October chill…is not evident yet here in Austin. It’s supposed to hit 94° today.

    Time for another Texas vs. California roundup:

  • The joys of working in Los Angeles: a $30,000 tax bill on $500 worth of freelance income.
  • California nears passage of another trial lawyer full employment act.
  • Texas had five of the ten fastest growing metropolitan areas in 2014. Austin isn’t on this list, but Midland and San Angelo are numbers one and two. (San Jose, California’s lone entry, checks in at eight.)
  • 72% of Californians polled thinks the state has a pension crisis. Too bad this thinking doesn’t seem to influence their voting patterns yet… (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • And yet a new bill would exempt some new hires from paying their fair share of pension costs. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • New pension accounting rules are about to show that a lot more California municipalities are insolvent.
  • “Instead of building freeways, expanding ports, restoring bridges and aqueducts, and constructing dams, desalination plants, and power stations, California’s taxpayers are pouring tens of billions each year into public sector pension funds.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Stockton’s bankruptcy didn’t solve it’s pension crisis.
  • Texas had a net gain of 103,465 people in 2014, the largest number of which came from California.
  • San Francisco wants to keep housing affordable…by restricting supply. Looks like somebody failed Economics 101…
  • Pension reform initiative to be refiled?
  • Unions are trying to undo San Diego’s voter-approved pension reforms. Because of course they are.
  • Texas is like Australia with the handbrake off. There is no individual income tax and no corporate income tax, which explains the state’s rapid economic and population growth. A recent downturn has sparked some concern, however. Apparently Texas will only create another 150,000 jobs during 2015 – about the same number as Australia, from a population only a few million larger. In a good year, that number of jobs is easily generated by a single Texan city.” Also: IowaHawk’s illegal human organ trafficking!
  • Texas ranks 13th in budget transparency. California? Dead last.
  • Even some California Democrats balked at increasing the state’s already high gas prices.
  • As part of the bankruptcy of northwest supermarket chain Haggen (which bought a bunch of Albertson’s stores just six months ago), they’ll be closing all their California stores. And if you guessed that Haggen is unionized, you would be correct.
  • Jerry Brown revives the state’s redevelopment agency…and its potential for eminent domain abuse.
  • Reminder: Texas is enormous.
  • A scourge spreads out upon California. Crack gangs? Illegal aliens? Try “short term rentals.”
  • Historical note: 105 years ago today, three union guys bombed the Los Angeles Times, killing 21 people.
  • Six of Shrimp Boy Chow’s Co-Defendents Plead Guilty

    Thursday, September 10th, 2015

    Via Dwight comes word that “Six defendants in the sweeping criminal prosecution of Raymond ‘Shrimp Boy’ Chow, part of a public corruption and organized crime investigation that ensnared a once-prominent Democratic politician, pleaded guilty on Wednesday, prosecutors said.”

    For those playing along on the home game:

  • George Nieh pleaded guilty to every count filed against him, including 146 counts of money laundering and a slew of weapons and drug charges.

  • Leslie Yun pleaded guilty to five counts of money laundering and drug-related charges.
  • Kevin Siu pleaded guilty to eight of the 24 money laundering counts against him, and
  • Alan Chiu pleaded guilty to 13 of 36 money laundering charges.
  • Yat Wa Pau pleaded guilty to trafficking in contraband cigarettes and admitted to his involvement in sales of contraband cigarettes worth more than $300,000.
  • Andy Li pleaded guilty to felony possession of a firearm along with money laundering and marijuana possession.
  • Funny how California Democratic State Senator Leland Yee, the ostensible “big fish” in the investigation, plead guilty to a single charge, while Nieh (who was reportedly one of Chow’s closest associates), plead guilty to everything.

    And Chow’s own trial is still pending…

    Texas vs. California Update for September 8, 2015

    Tuesday, September 8th, 2015

    Time for another Texas vs. California roundup:

  • Why Texas is awesome:

    First, there is no state income tax in Texas. Some people know this and some don’t—few really grasp what it means practically. It means that if you make decent money and decide to move here and rent something affordable, it’s essentially free to live in Texas. If you make $150,000 a year, your state income taxes in California are roughly $12,000 per year (in NYC it’s closer to $15,000). Or, you can put a thousand bucks a month toward your rent here. If you decide to buy, property taxes are high—but what you get for the money more than makes up for it. My editor at the Observer recently tried to cajole me into coming back to New York. Our house now—which has its own lake and is 29 minutes from the airport which never has lines—costs less than the rent we were paying for our lofted studio apartment in Midtown. Are you kidding?

    Also note the mention of walk-in gun safes…

    (Hat tip: Borepatch.)

  • 600,000 Californians have moved to Texas since 2009.
  • Another take on that data: “5 Million People Left California Over the Past Decade. Many Went to Texas.”
  • Austin and Houston are the top two relocation destinations in the country.
  • $15 billion for a fish tunnel?
  • “The average full-career California teacher receives a pension benefit equal to 105% of their final earnings. CalSTRS CEO says the plan isn’t generous enough.”
  • In 2012, Los Angeles passed some modest pension reforms for newly hired employees. Surprise! A new union contract undoes those reforms. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • California, like Texas, has a homestead exemption built into their bankruptcy laws. Unlike Texas, California’s exemption doesn’t actually protect debtors.
  • The FBI raided Palm Springs’ city hall as part of a corruption probe.
  • Mining company suspends operations at California mine because rare earths aren’t.
  • Chief of tiny California fire district to have his $241,000 pension cut. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Enviornmental idiocy and California’s drought.
  • Texas’ 2016 Fiscal Year started September 1st. “Several taxes that were eliminated on September 1 include the Inheritance Tax, Oil Regulation Tax, Sulphur Regulation Tax, Fireworks Tax, Controlled Substance Tax Certificates, and the Airline/Passenger Train Beverage Tax.”
  • Meanwhile, California’s legislature is trying to raise gas and tobacco taxes.
  • Elderly poverty in California.
  • Evidently California’s Democratic politicians stay up late at night devising ways they can make the state go broke even faster. The answer: Host the Olympics again.
  • Korean-owned businesses in LA consider relocating to El Paso. “Kim makes the case that El Paso, once home to plants for denim companies including Levi’s and Wrangler, has abundant skilled laborers, fewer regulations, much cheaper rent and direct flights from Los Angeles.”
  • A cartoon via IowaHawk’s twitter feed. That is all.