Posts Tagged ‘California’

Friedrichs v. California Teachers’ Association: The Ring Reaches Mount Doom

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016

While the rest of the country was tuned into The Trump Show playing before the Black Gate, Friedrichs vs. California, a plucky little court case with the power to unmake the Democratic Party, has finally reached Mount Doom.

In brief, public school teachers in California seek to invalidate state law requiring that non-union members must nevertheless pay the public teachers union fees for collective bargaining and related expenses. Those related expenses are fairly broad and include public relations campaigns on issues to be collectively bargained.

Snip.

Overturning existing law altogether is much more difficult under the related principles of stare decisis and deference to precedent. But that’s what the Friedrichs Plaintiffs are looking for, and if they succeed the new rule – banning compelled contributions to any public union activity at all – would apply to every public union in the United States.

Compelled union dues are heart and muscle of the Democratic Party, since unions dominate the top Democratic political donors list. As Scott Walker demonstrated, give workers the chance to keep their own money and they flee unions in droves.

According the Legal Insurrection, oral arguments have been going extremely badly for unions. “The teachers [the anti-union side] seem to have at least five votes and likely seven. Depending how the decision is written the Court could even reach a unanimous decision holding that compelled contributions to public unions are unconstitutional.”

Without the iron group of unions, not only is the Democratic Party critically weakened, but a host of previously difficult reforms (public pension reform, school choice) suddenly become possible.

And there’s likely nothing Sauron can do about it…

(Metaphor blatantly stolen from Walter Russell Mead.)

LinkSwarm for January 22, 2016

Friday, January 22nd, 2016

Been a trying week. Have a Friday LinkSwarm, on me…

  • Mark Steyn reiterates his central thesis. Namely secular welfare state = low birth rates = import of Muslim immigrants = extinction of the west. “It’s Still the Demography, Stupid.”
  • Welcome to the ObamaCare gaming death spiral.
  • Krauthammer: Hillary’s email scandal is now now worse than what Snowden did, because she exposed information that was far more sensitive.
  • Mark Rich may be dead, but the Clintons are still raking in dough from his associates thanks to Clinton’s pardon of him.
  • Democrat-controlled Flint, Michigan knowingly poisons its citizens with unsafe drinking water.
  • Myth: Ted Cruz is unpopular outside the GOP: Fact: He has higher favorable ratings than Donald Trump or Jeb Bush.
  • “In today’s atmosphere there can be no greater reason to support Ted Cruz than the fact that so many entrenched Washington insiders hate him.”
  • National Review takes a short break from their Trump-bashing to look at how the mainstream media has made him such a big deal through saturation coverage. “The media that so thoroughly built up Trump as a contrast to his boring, predictable, consistently conservative GOP rivals might not find him so easy to tear down.”
  • “Are the Global Warmistas Simply Juicing Up the Latest Years’ Temperatures With ‘Adjustments’ While Reducing the Temperatures of Previous Years, To Always Make the Current Year ‘The Hottest’? Sure seems that way.”
  • Global Warming advocates latest excuse: stupid lying satellites.
  • Anti-GMO scientific papers may have manipulated data.
  • Female Muslim scholar says it’s just fine and dandy to rape non-Muslim women to humiliate them.
  • “Western Europe’s elites have pretended that importing millions of Muslims from countries ranging from Morocco to Afghanistan raises no issues and creates no problems. That this is untrue has been obvious for a long time.”
  • Warning: Pretty much every aspect of this story is horrifying and disgusting.
  • Law enforcement on Open Carry in Texas: “We have no concerns and we have had no problems.” (Hat tip: Push Junction.)
  • Slashdot: California Assemblyman Jim Cooper wants to add crypto-backdoors to your phone. Wanna guess which political party Cooper is a member of? Go ahead. Guess.
  • Remembering Sergei Korolev, the legendary “chief designer” of the Soviet space program. (Hat tip: Gregory Benford’s Facebook page.)
  • Science Fiction editor David Hartwell has died. He was a hugely important figure in the field…
  • Texas vs. California Update for January 19, 2016

    Tuesday, January 19th, 2016

    Been a while since I did a Texas vs. California update, due to Reasons, so here’s one:

  • Texas ranks as the third freest state in the union, behind New Hampshire and South Dakota. California ranks second to last, just ahead of Massachusetts.
  • Texas added 16,300 Jobs in November.
  • How’s this for heavy-handed symbolism? California’s legislature plans to close one of its doors to the public, but continue to allow access to lobbyists. Because you’ve always got to see your real boss when he comes around…
  • California’s unfunded liabilities for CalPERS and CalSTARS spiked by $24 billion is fiscal 2014/2015. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • The much ballyhooed pension reform plan won’t make it on the ballot this year. Supporters are now aiming for 2018. Who knows how broke California will be by then… (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • That’s probably because the game is rigged against pension reform. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Jerry Brown unveils a budget in California. The budget increases are relatively modest, by California standards, but $2 billion into the rainy day fund isn’t even remotely going to cover California’s huge unfunded pension gap, and most of the structural bloat in the budget remains.
  • More on the same theme:

    While all the numbers are constantly in flux, in 2014-15, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System saw its status fall from 76.3 percent funded to 73.3 percent, likely due to the fact that investment returns fell far below expectations. The long-neglected California State Teachers’ Retirement System, as of June 30, 2014, was 69 percent funded. Combined, the systems report unfunded pension promises of more than $160 billion.

    The current budget shows steep and consistent increases in state funding to the two systems. Whereas CalPERS is set to receive $4.3 billion in state contributions in the 2015-16 fiscal year, which ends June 30, it could receive $4.8 billion the following year. CalSTRS is to receive $1.9 billion this year and about $2.47 billion next year.

    In comparison, CalPERS and CalSTRS received $3.1 billion and $1.26 billion, respectively, in 2011-2012.

    While it is perfectly reasonable for costs to rise over time, the rate that costs have risen for the two giant pension funds is mainly a consequence of California trying to play catch-up for years of inadequate forecasting and planning, aggravated by investment losses. But because the pension systems are run for public employees – CalPERS’ board is full of former public employee union leaders – the necessary changes and adjustments have been made far too late to avoid calamity.

    (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)

  • On the actual mechanics of pension reform, and the impossibility implementing them at the state level in California. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Part 2, examining the possibility of reform at the local level. (Ditto.)
  • “California government, however, serves one purpose. It always reminds America what not to do.” Also:

    California has given us three new truths about government.

    One, the higher that taxes rise, the worse state services become.

    Two, the worse a natural disaster hits, the more the state contributes to its havoc.

    And three, the more existential the problem, the more the state ignores it.

    California somehow has managed to have the fourth-highest gas taxes in the nation, yet its roads are rated 44th among the 50 states. Nearly 70 percent of California roads are considered to be in poor or mediocre condition by the state senate. In response, the state legislature naturally wants to raise gas taxes, with one proposal calling for an increase of 12 cents per gallon, which would give California the highest gas taxes in the nation.

  • Federal judge rejects San Bernardino’s bankruptcy proposal, saying it doesn’t contain enough information.
  • Sacramento continues to ignore the needs of rural residents. (Hat tip: Ed Driscoll at Instapundit.)
  • Half of California’s driver’s licenses are issued to illegal aliens.
  • After years at the top of the relocation list, Texas was only the 9th biggest relocation destination in 2015.
  • On the other hand, Texas was still the top destination according to Allied Van Lines.
  • But businesses continue to flee California:

    In California, costs to run a business are higher than in other states and nations largely due to the states tax and regulatory policies and the business climate shows little chance of improving. It is understandable that from 2008 through 2015, at least 1,687 California disinvestment events occurred, a count that reflects only those that became public knowledge. Experts in site selection generally agree that at least five events fail to become public knowledge for every one that does. Thus it is reasonable to conclude that a minimum of 10,000 California disinvestment events have occurred during that period….For about 40 years California has been viewed as a state in which it is difficult to do business. Gov. Jerry Brown’s Administration’s less than candid approach regarding the business climate has misled the Legislature, the news media and the public about the flight of capital, facilities and jobs to other states and nations.

    The study also shows that Texas had the most new facilities opening up in the nation in 2014, with 689. California, despite being the most populous state, tied for 12th with 170.

  • 85% of Marin County’s special district workers collected over $100,000.” Bonus: Their pensions are underfunded too. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Troubled California Wine Retailer Files for Bankruptcy. Premier Cru owes customers almost $70 million for wines it never delivered.”
  • This county-by-county breakdown of recession recovery is full of (very slow loading) data, and I haven’t come close to digesting it yet.
  • Shrimp Boy Chow Cooked

    Friday, January 8th, 2016

    Via Dwight comes word that Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow has been convicted of all 162 counts against him.

    After all his co-defendents (including California State Democratic Senator Leland Yee) had plead guilty to lesser charges, Chow is the one taking the fall for “arranging the murders of two gang rivals and overseeing crimes ranging from money laundering to drug trafficking.” I’m not able to find a list of all of those 162 charges against him, but presumably that includes the gun-running charge as well.

    Los Angeles Schools Closed Over Terror Threat

    Tuesday, December 15th, 2015

    It seems that the entire Los Angeles School District is closed today due to a bomb threat.

    If it’s that easy to close down the country’s second largest school district, what’s to prevent Islamic State sympathizers from getting the district shut down every day?

    Texas vs. California Update for December 7, 2015

    Monday, December 7th, 2015

    Finally, some news from California that doesn’t involve radical islamic jihadis killing innocent people…

  • California lost 9,000 business HQs and expansions, mostly to Texas, 7-year study says. “It’s typical for companies leaving California to experience operating cost savings of 20 up to 35 percent.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Remember those “temporary taxes” that made California’s state income taxes the highest in the country? Well, to the all-devouring maw of a broke welfare state, no tax is temporary.
  • Los Angeles County: center of American poverty:

    The Census Bureau’s 2012 decision to begin releasing an alternative measure of poverty that included cost of living has appeared to have far-reaching effects in California as politicians, community leaders and residents react to the new measure’s depiction of the Golden State as the most impoverished place in America.

    The fact that about 23 percent of state residents are barely getting by has helped fuel the push for a much higher minimum wage and prompted renewed interest in affordable housing programs. It’s also put the focus on regional economic disparities, especially the fact that Silicon Valley and San Francisco are the primary engine of state prosperity.

    While the tech boom and the vast increase in housing prices it has triggered in the Bay Area are national news, prompting think pieces and thoughtful analyses, the poverty picture in the state’s largest population center isn’t covered nearly as fully. Although the fact is plain in Census Bureau data, it’s not commonly understood that Los Angeles County is the capital of U.S. poverty. A 2013 study by the Public Policy Institute of California and the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality based on 2011 data found 27 percent of the county’s 10 million residents were impoverished, the highest figure in the state and the highest of any large metro area in the U.S.

  • Why California’s cities are in trouble: “The problems here, as the bankruptcies of San Bernardino and other cities have shown, are mismanagement and high costs incurred as a result of the state’s public-employee unions.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • How CalPERS created a ticking time bomb. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • CalPERS also paid $3.4 billion in private equity firm fees since 1990, despite returns that were not that great. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • And CalPERS also has a huge problem with self-dealing and conflicts of interest. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Texas’ largest employer is Wal-Mart. California’s largest employer is the University of California system.
  • But I doubt Wal-Mart has 35,065 employees who make more than $100,000 a year…
  • What good is California’s open meetings law if officials still feel free to ignore it? “Six decades after Brown Act passage, elected leaders still hold illegal meetings.” (Note: The Brown Act is named after Assemblyman Ralph M. Brown, D-Modesto, not either Jerry Brown.) (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Though Texas is doing much better at fiscal restraint than California, TPPF notes that Texas’ could still use additional spending restraint:

    “Though Texas legislators did an excellent job by holding the total budget below population growth plus inflation during the last session, the state’s weak spending limit remains a primary cause of excessive budget growth during the last decade,” said Heflin. “Legislators can strengthen the limit by capping the total budget, basing the growth on the lowest of three metrics, and requiring a supermajority vote to exceed it. These reforms would have helped keep more money in Texans pockets where it belongs.”

  • All segments of Texas housing market show strong gains in 2015.”
  • Mojave solar project operator files for bankruptcy.
  • “Fresh off of a major expansion, iconic San Francisco craft brewery Magnolia Brewing Co. filed voluntarily for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.” So a brewery that opened in 1997 is “iconic”?
  • “Fuhu Holdings Inc, a maker of kid-friendly computer tablets, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, according to a court filing on Monday.” Eh, included for completeness. That sounds like a bad business model for a startup no matter what state it was in…
  • Fresno Democratic assemblyman resigns to make more money in the private sector. Evidently a year to wait until his term expires was just too long to avoid climbing aboard the revolving door gravy train…
  • 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.