Posts Tagged ‘California’

LinkSwarm for April 22, 2016

Friday, April 22nd, 2016

As today is a made-up celebration called “Earth Day,” be sure to have beef for dinner…

  • Reminder: “Officials at VA’s Phoenix hospital manipulated wait-time data to make it appear they were connecting doctors and veterans seeking appointments much faster than they actually were. This was done so VA managers at the Arizona facility could keep getting generous performance bonuses. They got their bonuses but dozens of waiting veterans died.” So how did the VA address the problem? They hired someone accused of doing the exact same thing at another hospital.
  • Huge ObamaCare premium hikes are coming down the pike in 2017. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • “The largest health insurer in the U.S. has started pulling out of select Obamacare exchanges.” (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Eight more ObamaCare co-ops are about to bite the dust.
  • Meanwhile, ObamaCare is helping enourage opioid addiction.
  • Thanks to Obama’s supergenius management, the Taliban are now winning in Afghanistan.
  • “The National Labor Relations Board suspended a top-ranking Philadelphia official after receiving complaints that he helped raise money from unions for his pro-union charity.” (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Following a congressional subpoena over Benghazi, Hillary’s state department staff hid requested files in another department. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Is Rhode Island closing 66% of polling places for next week’s presidential primaries? Something smells.
  • How Ted Cruz could beat Hillary Clinton. “Clin­ton is en­ter­ing the gen­er­al elec­tion with glar­ing vul­ner­ab­il­it­ies of her own. Her im­age is tox­ic to Re­pub­lic­ans and in­de­pend­ents, and her pop­ular­ity among Demo­crats is now at an all-time low as a pres­id­en­tial can­did­ate, ac­cord­ing to Gal­lup’s polling. It won’t take a top-tier Re­pub­lic­an can­did­ate to win.” Also: “Cruz con­sist­ently runs far more com­pet­it­ively against Clin­ton than Trump does.”
  • “It’s not just Wall Street banks. Most companies and groups that paid Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to speak between 2013 and 2015 have lobbied federal agencies in recent years, and more than one-third are government contractors, an Associated Press review has found. Their interests are sprawling and would follow Clinton to the White House should she win election this fall.”
  • Donald Trump jumps on the social justice warrior tranny bathroom bandwagon.
  • Evidently accused pedophile Terry Bean is the one whose organizations are pushing tranny bathroom bills down America’s throats. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Trump convention manager Paul Manafort engages in the time-honored traditional rhetorical device know as “lying your ass off.”
  • Thomas Sowell on campaign lies and dodgy statistics.
  • “Although our panel’s original estimates had Trump finishing with 1,175 pledged delegates, my revised deterministic projections have him at 1,155, and the probabilistic version has him at 1,159.”
  • Ted Cruz has done heavy organizing in California.
  • Man indicted for selling school supplies to Detroit schools he didn’t actually deliver…with the connivance of several principles receiving kickbacks. Now, remind me: Which party has controlled Detroit for half a century?
  • Venezuela instituting four hours of blackouts a day, in addition to the previously mentioned three day weekends. That socialist paradise just keeps
  • Brazil impeaches their President.
  • Won’t someone please think of poor, penniless Boeing?
  • When low-fat dogma trumped science: hamburger study data showed exacpt opposite of study’s conclusions.
  • Navy chief starving Marine air corps.
  • What Women Really Want Is The Patriarchy.”
  • ‘White Privilege’ Is a Racial Slur.”
  • Walden is less a cornerstone work of environmental literature than the original cabin porn: a fantasy about rustic life divorced from the reality of living in the woods, and, especially, a fantasy about escaping the entanglements and responsibilities of living among other people.”
  • Mexico’s Popocatepetl volcano erupts. Popocatepetl is less than 50 miles from Mexico City…
  • Goldman Sachs pays $5 billion fine to “settle claims that it misled mortgage bond investors during the financial crisis.” (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Pratt & Whitney pushing a B-52 engine upgrade.
  • The woman who can’t remember her own past. (Hat tip: Bill Crider.)
  • Lileks: “Who wouldn’t want to lounge around in a set from a 1970s failed Gene Roddenberry pilot?” (Hat tip: Ed Driscoll at Instapundit.)
  • Son, that’s no way to treat steaks. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Texas vs. California Update for April 18, 2016

    Monday, April 18th, 2016

    Time for another Texas vs. California roundup, with the top news being California’s hastening their economic demise with a suicidal minimum wage hike:

  • Jerry Brown admits the minimum wage hike doesn’t make economic sense, then signs it anyway. (Hat tip: Ed Driscoll at Instapundit.)
  • Who is really behind the minimum wage hike? The SEIU:

    California’s drive to hike the minimum wage has little to do with average workers and everything to do with the Golden State’s all-powerful government employee unions.

    Nationally, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is known for representing lower skilled workers. But, of the SEIU’s 2.1 million dues-paying members, half work for the government. In California, that translates to clout with much of the $50 million SEIU spent in the U.S. on political activities and lobbying spent in California. In fact, out of the 12 “yes” votes for the minimum wage bill in the Assembly Committee on Appropriations on March 30, the SEIU had contributed almost $100,000 out of the three-quarters of a million contributed by public employee unions—yielding a far higher return on investment than anything Wall Street could produce.

    Unions represent about 59 percent of all government workers in California. Many union contracts are tied to the minimum wage — boost the minimum wage and government union workers reap a huge windfall, courtesy of the overworked California taxpayer.

  • “The impacts of the increase in minimum wage on workers at the very bottom of the pay scales might be just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the ramifications of the minimum wage increase.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Indeed, that hike will push government employee wages up all up the ladder.
  • “California minimum wage hike hits L.A. apparel industry: ‘The exodus has begun.'” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “Texas’ job creation has helped keep the unemployment rate low at 4.3 percent, which has now been at or below the U.S. average rate for a remarkable 111 straight months.”
  • “Number of Californians Moving to Texas Hits Highest Level in Nearly a Decade”:

    “California’s taxes and regulations are crushing businesses, and there are more opportunities in Texas for people to start new companies, get good jobs, and create better lives for their families,” said Nathan Nascimento, the director of state initiatives at Freedom Partners. “When tax and regulatory climates are bad, people will move to better economic environments—this phenomenon isn’t a mystery, it’s how marketplaces work. Not only should other state governments take note of this, but so should the federal government.”

    According to Tom Gray of the Manhattan Institute, people may be leaving California for the employment opportunities, tax breaks, or less crowded living arrangements that other states offer.

    “States with low unemployment rates, such as Texas, are drawing people from California, whose rate is above the national average,” Gray wrote. “Taxation also appears to be a factor, especially as it contributes to the business climate and, in turn, jobs.”

    “Most of the destination states favored by Californians have lower taxes,” Gray wrote. “States that have gained the most at California’s expense are rated as having better business climates. The data suggest that may cost drivers—taxes, regulations, the high price of housing and commercial real estate, costly electricity, union power, and high labor costs—are prompting businesses to locate outside California, thus helping to drive the exodus.”

    (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)

  • More on the same theme. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • It’s not just pensions: “The state paid $458 million in 2001 (0.6 percent of the general fund) for state worker retiree health care and is expected to pay $2 billion (1.7 percent of the general fund) next fiscal year — up 80 percent in just the last decade.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Texas border control succeeds where the Obama Administration fails. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • California and New York still lead Texas in billionaires. But for how long?
  • “The housing bubble may have collapsed, but the public-employee pension fund managers are still with us. If anything they’re bigger than ever, still insatiably seeking high returns just over the horizon line of another economic bubble.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • How to fix San Francisco’s dysfunctional housing market. “Failed public policy and political leadership has resulted in a massive imbalance between how much the city’s population has grown this century versus how much housing has been built. The last thirteen years worth of new housing units built is approximately equal to the population growth of the last two years.” Also: “The city is forcing people out. Only the rich can live here because of the policies created by so-called progressives and so-called housing advocates.” (Hat tip: Ed Driscoll at Instapundit.)
  • UC Berkley to cut 500 jobs over two years.
  • What does BART do faced with a $400 million projected deficit over the next decade? Dig deeper. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Stanton, California, is the latest California municipality facing bankruptcy. “One of the main reasons the city can’t pay its bills without the sales tax is that it gives outlandish salaries and benefits to its government workers.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Yesterday was Tax Freedom Day in Texas.
  • Politically correct investing has already cost CalPERS $3 billion. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • “A federal jury on Wednesday convicted former Los Angeles County Undersheriff Paul Tanaka of deliberately impeding an FBI investigation, capping a jail abuse and obstruction scandal that reached to the top echelons of the Sheriff’s Department.” (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • Top California Democratic assemblyman Roger Hernandez accused of domestic violence.
  • Calls for UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi to resign, she of the supergenius “pay $175,000 to scrub the Internet of negative postings about the pepper-spraying of students in 2011” plan.
  • California beachwear retailer Pacific Sunwear files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
  • California retailer Sport Chalet is also shutting down.
  • 75% of current Toyota employees are willing to move to Texas to work at Toyota’s new U.S. headquarters.
  • California isn’t the only place delusional politicians are pushing a “railroad to nowhere.” The Lone Star Rail District wants to keep getting and spending money despite the fact that Union Pacific said they couldn’t use their freight lines for a commuter train between Austin and San Antonio. The tiny little problem being that the Union Pacific line was the only one under consideration…
  • LinkSwarm for April 1, 2016

    Friday, April 1st, 2016

    Happy April Fools day! No tricks here, just the usual Friday LinkSwarm:

  • ObamaCare didn’t do jack to lower costs. (Hat tip Instapundit.)
  • Indeed, Obamacare is the fail that keeps failing: “As a result of the ACA, between 4 million and 9 million fewer people are projected to have employment-based coverage each year from 2017 through 2026 than would have had such coverage if the ACA had never been enacted.” (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Great news! The Nigerian Army has rescued rescued 800 Boko Haram hostages. That’s compared to the number of those hostages rescued by the #BringBackOurGirls hashtag, which is (stops, counts, carries the one) Zero.
  • Bad news: They just kidnapped 300 more. (Hat tip: Weasel Zippers.)
  • Following the Brussels attack, the standard ruling class rituals of aversion are in full bloom.
  • Donald Trump suggested targeting the families of terrorists. Putin’s Russia does exactly that.
  • The Obama Administration treats Little Sisters of the Poor worse than Exxon, Visa and Pepsi, all of whom have health plans lacking the abortion mandate. Then again, as Instapundit noted: “To be fair, that was basically because they hate those groups and wanted to punish them.”
  • Xi Jinping has accumulated more power than any leader since Mao. “He has been fighting dissent with even more ruthlessness than he has been waging war on graft. Not since the dark days after the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989 has there been such a sweeping crackdown on critics of the party.”
  • Belgium’s current crises sounds an awful lot like where California is headed: Expensive government that’s congenitally incapable of solving problems.
  • Canadian bank depositors are now officially at risk of bail-ins.
  • David Brin says the Amendment that most protects the right of citizens to film interactions with the police is the Sixth.
  • Rob Ford was more than just a loud-mouth drunk. “Ford was a political pragmatist who simply didn’t give a damn what anyone thought about him other than his constituents. It was that gumption that endeared him to hundreds of thousands of Torontonians.”
  • Supergenius New Yorker writer thinks Arizona is next to Texas.

    Screen shot 2016-03-23 at 10.56.52 PM

    (Screen shot has been included because the article has been edited and no notice made of the deleted error.)

  • Illegal alien rapes 12-year old. (Hat tip: Director Blue.
  • Lake Travis hits full again.
  • Hulk Hogan may have just destroyed Gawker.” Well, we can only hope…
  • Lunatic hoplophobe associate professor of English calls 911 to report ROTC maneuvers on campus at the University of North Dakota. (Hat tip: Tam.)
  • Old and Busted: The Suicide Prevention Hotline. The New Hotness: The Suicide Encouragement Hotline. Not an April Fools joke, alas…
  • Why grackles love supermarket parking lots.
  • Texas vs. California Update for March 31, 2016

    Thursday, March 31st, 2016

    Lots of Texas vs. California linky goodness, much of it via Jack Dean at Pension Tsunami, who’s been emailing me links of significant interest.

  • Texas continues to grow:

    As last week’s US Census Bureau population estimates indicated, the story of population growth between 2014 and 2015 was largely about Texas, as it has been for the decade starting 2010 (See: “Texas Keeps Getting Bigger” The New Metropolitan Area Estimates). The same is largely true with respect to population trends in the nation’s largest counties, with The Lone Star state dominating both in the population growth and domestic migration among 135 counties with more than 500,000 population.

    Snip.

    Houston, which is the fastest growing major metropolitan area (over 1 million population) in the nation includes the two fastest growing large counties. Fort Bend County added 4.29 percent to its population between 2014 and 2015 and now has 716,000 residents. Montgomery County grew 3.57 percent to 538,000. In addition to these two suburban Houston counties, Harris County, the core County ranked 16th in growth, adding 2.03 percent to its population and exceeding 4.5 million population.

    Dallas-Fort Worth, the second fastest-growing major metropolitan area has two counties among the top 20. The third fastest-growing county is Denton (located north of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport), which added 3.42 percent to its population over the past year and now has 781,000 residents. Collin County, to the north of Dallas County, grew 3.17 percent and now stands at 914,000 residents. Its current growth rate would put Collin County over 1 million population by the 2020 census.

    Travis County, with its county seat of Austin, grew 2.22 percent to 1,177,000 and ranked 12th. Bexar County, centered on San Antonio grew 2.01 percent and ranks 17th.

    Overall, Texas had four of the five fastest growing large counties, and seven of the top twenty. California had none. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)

  • The Austin metropolitan area passes 2 million people.
  • The California Policy Center has a devestating roundup of what’s wrong with California’s economy. To wit:
    • “A now has by far the nation’s highest state income tax rate. We are 34% higher than 2nd place Oregon, and a heck of a lot higher than all the rest”

    • “CA has the highest state sales tax rate in the nation. 7.5% (does not include local sales taxes).”
    • “California in 2015 ranked 14th highest in per capita property taxes (including commercial) – the only major tax where we are not in the worst ten states. But the 2014 average CA single-family residence (SFR) property tax is the 8th highest state in the nation. Indeed, the median CA homeowner property tax bill is 93% higher than the average for the other 49 states.”
    • “California has a nasty anti-small business $800 minimum corporate income tax, even if no profit is earned, and even for many nonprofits. Next highest state is Rhode Island at $500 (only for “C” corporations). 3rd is Delaware at $175. Most states are at zero.”
    • “California’s 2015 ‘business tax climate’ ranks 3rd worst in the nation – behind New York and anchor-clanker New Jersey. In addition, CA has a lock on the worst rank in the Small Business Tax Index – a whopping 8.3% worse than 2nd worst state.”
    • “The American Tort Reform Foundation in 2015 again ranks CA the ‘worst state judicial hellhole’ in U.S. – the most anti-business.”
    • “CA public school teachers the 3rd highest paid in the nation. CA students rank 48th in math achievement, 49th in reading.”
    • “California’s real poverty rate (the new census bureau standard adjusted for COL) is easily the worst in the nation at 23.4%. We are 57.3% higher than the average for the other 49 states.”
    • “Of 100 U.S. real estate markets, in 2013 CA contained by far the least affordable middle class housing market (San Francisco). PLUS the 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th and 7th.”

    It’s like a whole bunch of Texas vs. California roundup statistics all in one big green ball of fail. Read the whole thing. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)

  • “California’s 50% [minimum wage] increase would eliminate nearly 700,000 jobs—which means higher unemployment for the poor and least skilled in particular.”
  • Why did Carl’s Jr. flee California? Taxes, regulations and lawsuits.

    CKE Restaurants CEO Andy Puzder told the Wall Street Journal in 2013, “California is not interested in having businesses grow.”

    The article points out that many factors, including local building regulations, make one community less desirable than another for businesses.

    For example, it takes 60 days in Texas, 63 in Shanghai, and 125 in Novosibirsk, Russia for one of CKE’s restaurants to get a building permit after signing a lease. But in Los Angeles, Ca. it takes a whopping 285 days.

    Puzder added, “I can open up a restaurant faster on Karl Marx Prospect in Siberia than on Carl Karcher Boulevard in California.” The street in California is ironically named for the restaurant chain’s founder.

    California’s labor regulations may also play a role in a company’s desire to seek alternative locations. In that same interview with WSJ, Puzder said his company had spent $20 million in the state over the past eight years on damages and attorney fees related to class-action lawsuits.

    (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)

  • Justice Scalia’s death dooms the Friedrichs vs. California Teacher’s Association lawsuit.
  • “If a Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research’s estimate is accurate, public pension debt in California is even worse than feared. Preliminary calculations from a forthcoming SIEPR study peg the unfunded retirement tab for state and local government employees at more than $1.2 trillion.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Texas unemployment rates drops to 4.4%.
  • San Bernardino’s bondholders get screwed so the bankrupt city can continue sending money to CalPERS. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • California’s colleges are so money-hungry they’re screwing in-state students out of admissions so they can charge more to out-of-state applicants, including those who wouldn’t normally be able to get in. Sort of like the UT admissions scandal, but less politically connected and more widespread and money-grubbing… (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • But there’s one type of student California admissions isn’t keeping out: antisemites. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Even the supposed beneficiaries of California’s high speed rail fantasy have become disillusioned with it.
  • A hot relocation to Texas rumor just in: “Plano – new home of Toyota Motor’s North American headquarters – has been mentioned as a possible relocation site for a Wichita-based subsidiary of conglomerate Cargill.”
  • Texas vs. California Update for March 24, 2016

    Thursday, March 24th, 2016

    Time for another Texas vs. California update:

  • California’s underfunded pension debts put it $175.1 billion in the red. “More than 51 percent ($89.9 billion) of the negative $175.1 billion consists of unfunded, employee-related, long-term liabilities.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • A initiative to hike California’s minimum wage to $15 an hour has made the ballot. Also known as the “Send as much business as possible to Texas” act.
  • Speaking of which, Texas’ unemployment rate fell to 4.5% in January.
  • Germany and Sweden have lower median incomes than Texas. Indeed, were Germany and Sweden to join the union, they would instantly be among the poorest states.
  • Big Government advocates in California are fighting to renew a “temporary tax” on all those millionaires earning $250,000 or more a year. “The extension measure is again supported by the California Teachers Association and Service Employees International Union.”
  • California traffic fines have turned into a huge tax on the poor. “California is filled with people who are one traffic ticket away from losing their means of independent transportation. They get a ticket for a busted taillight or a small-change moving violation. On paper, the fine is $100, but with surcharges, it adds up to a lot more.” Which is why they’re having an amnesty to pay a reduced rate on outstanding tickets. But there’s a catch: “The practice of throwing in extra sources of revenue is so ingrained in Sacramento that there is a $50 amnesty program fee.” (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Fresno’s pension system “is the only public pension program in California – and one of only a few in the United States – that has a surplus instead of unfunded pension liabilities.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • “When unfunded pension, medical and other liabilities are formally included on its balance sheet, the [Orange County] Fire Authority’s debts exceeded its assets by $169 million for the fiscal year that ended in June,” the Register’s OC Watchdog wrote. “That’s a plunge of more than 680 percent in its ‘net position,’ or more than $420 million, over a single year.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • California has a problem cutting pensions even when they’re going to convicted felons. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Assisted suicide becomes legal in California June 9.
  • How long will California continue to consider itself part of the United States? (Hat tip: Ed Driscoll at Instapundit.)
  • Over 200 BART employees earned over $200,000 a year in total compensation.
  • California’s already long-delayed and already over-budget high speed rail fantasy is planning to put much of the initial segment underground due to community and environmental concerns. Problem: Digging those tunnels will probably cost $1 billion a mile.
  • California short-hauler Total Transportation Services Inc. files for bankruptcy.
  • “The parent company of Carl’s Jr., founded in Anaheim 60 years ago, is relocating its California headquarters to Nashville, Tenn.”
  • Kohl’s is closing nine stores in California, out of 18 total closing nationwide (none in Texas).
  • On the other hand, Sports Authority is closing slightly more stores in Texas (24) than California (19). Meh. I liked the stores more when they were Oshman’s…
  • California’s Quantum Fuel Systems Technologies Worldwide Inc., which manufactures and sells fuel systems and storage tanks for vehicles fitted for compressed natural gas, filed for bankruptcy. The fact the company has already gone through two reverse splits suggests long-running troubles…
  • Of course, being in Texas won’t prevent some municipalities of spending like they’re in California: San Antonio to spend almost $100,000 on a toilet.
  • Likewise, Houston’s credit rating been downgraded by both Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s due to “the city’s large unfunded pension liability.” Maybe former Houston Mayor Annise Parker should have spent more time on trimming expenses and fixing crummy surface streets than suing churches and tranny bathrooms…
  • Black Helicopters and Gas Prices

    Monday, March 7th, 2016

    Two observations, linked only that I saw each on the same day when traveling back to Austin from Houston:

    1. The black helicopters are back. By “black helicopters” I mean military helicopters without visible markings (though I didn’t stop to see if I could spot them) hovering over a highway, in this case I-10 near Katy. It wasn’t the only military activity I saw, as there seemed to be a lot of military transports, either in desert tan or olive drab cammo patterns, on the roads (couldn’t have been anything secret, since they were moving in broad daylight; I don’t assume Uncle Sam is aiming for stealth when he parks a military gasoline tanker in the parking lot of the Bastrop Buc-ees on a Friday afternoon). I’ve seen them over Austin before (usually hovering right over Mopac), but it’s been quite a while. What I don’t mean is NWO paranoia, space aliens, or any of that crap. If I had to guess they’re testing some sort of ground radar equipment, possible a smaller, more portable version of JSTARs. But the first order of business is reportage; people aren’t making black helicopters up out of thin air.

    2. Speaking of Buc-ees, I stopped there for gas on the way back. Since pay-at-the-pump wasn’t reading my credit/debit card, I went in and paid them $20 to put on a pump. What I had forgotten was that gas has gotten so cheap that I couldn’t put $20 worth of unleaded, at $1.39 a gallon, into my nearly empty tank. I had to go back in and get a $2 refund. One reason I mention this is that, right now, in some places in California, gas is more than $5 a gallon

    Texas vs. California Update for February 25, 2016

    Thursday, February 25th, 2016

    Been too long since I did a Texas vs. California roundup, so here it is:

  • Dark Age California:

    There are large areas of Central California that resemble life in rural Mexico. Within a radius of five miles I can go to stores and restaurants where English is rarely spoken and there is no racial or cultural diversity—a far cry from Jeb Bush’s notion of an “act of love” landscape.

    With unemployment at 10% or more in the interior of the state, with the public schools near the bottom in the nation, and with generous entitlements, it is no accident that one in six in the nation who receive public assistance now live in California, where about a fifth of the population lives below the poverty line.

    One in four Californians also were not born in the United States; more than one in four who enter the hospital for any cause are found upon admittance to suffer from Type II diabetes. The unspoken responsibility of California state government is to bring state-sponsored parity to new arrivals from Oaxaca, and to do so in ideological fashion that ensures open borders and more government. It is the work of a sort of secular church, and questioning its premises is career-ending blasphemy.

  • “California has come a long way to dig itself out of budget deficits, but the state remains on shaky ground due to nearly $400 billion in unfunded liabilities and debt from public pensions, retiree health care and bonds.” More: “It’s California’s debt and liabilities that are concerning financial analysts, particularly the state’s rapidly growing unfunded retiree health care costs, which grew more than 80 percent over the past decade. California has promised $74 billion more in health and dental benefits to current and retired state workers than the state has put aside.” (Hat tip: CalWatchdog.)
  • And new accounting rules make those unfunded liabilities harder to ignore.
  • The problem might not be quite as bad as it is did not CalPERS and CalSTARS insist on politically correct investments. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • San Francisco political officials indicted:

    A retired city employee and a former city commissioner who are at the center of bribery allegations involving Mayor Ed Lee were charged with multiple felonies including bribery and money laundering, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon announced at a news conference Friday afternoon.

    Also charged Friday was political consultant and former San Francisco Unified School District Board of Education President Keith Jackson, who pleaded guilty last year to racketeering charges.

    The district attorney’s office charged recently retired Human Rights Commission employee Zula Jones, ex-HRC commissioner Nazly Mohajer and former political consultant Keith Jackson.

    Remember that Zula Jones and Nazly Mohajer were fingered by Leeland Yee’s attorneys as being the go-betweens for bribing Lee. This brings up the question (yet again): Why hasn’t Lee himself been indicted?

  • And speaking of California government officials being indicted: “Retired Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca pleaded guilty Wednesday to lying to federal investigators, a stunning reversal for the longtime law enforcement leader who for years insisted he played no role in the misconduct that tarnished his agency.” (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • Jerry Brown vetoes kangaroo court minimums for college sexual assault cases.
  • “Brown pushed for the giant pension fund CalPERS to lower its assumed investment return from 7.5% to 6.5%. Given that the world is headed towards deflation and that CalPERS earned only 2.4% for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2015, Brown’s request seemed entirely reasonable. Instead, the board approved a staff proposal to move to the 6.5% target over 10 years.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • CalPERS board President Rob Feckner, serving his twelfth term, casts deciding vote against proposal for term limits for board members. “Feckner was president of the California School Employees Association for four years and executive vice president of the California Labor Federation for five. Such a conflict of interest wouldn’t be tolerated with the president of other boards of directors. But with CalPERS, it’s par for the course.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • San Diego voters: We want pension reform! Union-stacked Public Employment Relations Board (PERB): Get stuffed, peasants! Result: Lawsuit. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • The middle class is fleeing California. “In 2006, 38 percent of middle-class households in California used more than 30 percent of their income to cover rent. Today, that figure is over 53 percent.”
  • California tech industries continue their exodus to Texas:

    The tech industry in the Bay Area has become a victim of its own success – and state policies. Like many other California businesses, tech firms are relocating or expanding operations in others states – particularly Texas – at an alarming rate.

    Some companies spend significant amounts of time and money finding and training the right workers, only to see them poached by a flashy startup within a number of months. The need for a more stable workforce was one of the main reasons cloud-computing company LiveOps Cloud moved from Silicon Valley to a suburb of Austin, Texas, CEO Vasili Triant told the San Francisco Chronicle.

    Other reasons to move or expand out-of-state are government-created: high taxes, burdensome regulations, unaffordable housing due to excessive development fees and restrictive land-use policies. California’s highly-educated workforce is not so unique anymore, and its quality of life has been tarnished by regulatory and affordability issues. Texas, by contrast, has no personal income tax and no corporate income tax (though it does have a less-onerous gross margins tax), and is universally hailed for having one of the friendliest business climates in the nation.

    Google, Facebook, Apple, Dropbox, Oracle and nearly two dozen other Bay Area tech companies have all built or expanded facilities in Texas just since 2014, the Chronicle reported. There have been more than 1,500 publicly reported California “disinvestment events” across all industries over the past seven years, according to a November report from Spectrum Location Solutions, an Irvine-based business relocation consulting firm, although it estimated the actual tally at as high as 9,000. A California business “can save 20 percent to 32 percent of labor costs by relocating a facility out of state,” Spectrum president Joe Vranich told us last year.

  • More on the theme:

    Between 1997 and 2000, during the peak of the dot-com boom, the Bay Area was a net importer of Texans: About 1,500 more households moved into the region from Texas than vice versa, bringing an additional $191 million (2015 dollars) in taxable income into the region, according to IRS data, which tracks the movement of taxpaying residents.

    The trend changed in the early 2000s, and Texas has been a net importer of Bay Area households ever since. Between 2009 and 2012, as the recession was winding down and the second tech boom was revving up, the region lost about 1,430 households to Texas, and nearly $390 million in taxable income.

    Snip.

    I had a guy working for me (in the Bay Area) making $200,000 a year, struggling to pay his bills,” company CEO Triant said. “In lots of places in the country you’re living high on the hog on $200,000. … As far as work life balance and employee morale, we have absolutely seen a remarkable increase since moving here; it’s night and day.”

    The firm still keeps a small Bay Area office, and Triant speaks fondly of his hometown of San Diego and California in general.

    But when it comes to building a company and running a business, he has found a new home in Texas. “I want my employees to be able to have a good quality of life, live in a city with low crime rates, good schools,” he said. “And that’s what we’re doing here.”

  • “It’s no coincidence that Texas and Florida have thrived while New York and California have not. High levels of taxes, spending, and regulations make it more difficult for entrepreneurs to be successful. When entrepreneurs cannot expand their businesses and hire new workers, everyone is hurt, not just the rich.”
  • In the course of verifying a Rep. Joe Straus campaign ad, Polifact confirms that Texas has grown twice as fast as the rest of the country.
  • The University of California, Berkeley, is running a $150 million deficit this year. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • UC Academic Senate rejects task force’s proposed retirement benefits plan that, keeping with Jerry Brown’s modest pension reforms, would pay them a measly $117,020 pension benefit. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • “What’s more important: High-speed rail or water? Proponents of a proposed ballot measure would force voters to choose just that. The measure would redirect $8 billion in unsold high-speed rail bonds and $2.7 billion from the 2014 water bond to fund new water storage projects.”
  • Speaking of water restrictions, looks like Californians will get to enjoy them for another year.
  • Sure, Covered California (California’s ObamaCare) may be incompetent. But it’s also corrupt. The state auditor “criticized the exchange for not sufficiently justifying its decision to award a number of large contracts without subjecting the contractors to competitive bidding.”
  • California is releasing many felons as part of a “mass forgiveness” program. Including a murderer who tied up a husband and wife and beat them to death with a pipe.
  • California adds Aloe Vera to list of cancer-causing substances. “The problem is that the 800+ chemicals listed in Proposition 65 are not devised to protect consumers, but rather serve as a cash cow for private trial lawyers to sue small business and reap the hefty settlement payout. Since 1986, nearly 20,000 lawsuits have been filed, adding up to over half a billion dollars in settlement payments by business owners.” (Hat tip: Ed Driscoll at Instapundit.)
  • San Francisco’s planning process is designed for gridlock.
  • Bankrupt San Bernardino has reached a settlement with its firefighters union.
  • Heh. “The movement to emblazon state legislators with the logos of their donors has collected tens of thousands of signatures for its would-be ballot initiative.The measure, formally called the ‘Name All Sponsors California Accountability Reform (or NASCAR. Get it?) Initiative,’ would require all state legislators to wear the emblems or names of their 10 top donors every time they attend an official function.” The ballot initiative has already collected 40,000 signatures…
  • Huge soda pop collection is coming to the Dr Pepper museum in Waco.
  • Leland Yee: From the State House to the Big House

    Wednesday, February 24th, 2016

    Former California State Democratic Senator Leland Yee today was sentenced to 5 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.

    “Yee also agreed to forfeit about $33,000, mostly from his campaign account for secretary of state, according to a court filing by prosecutors.”

    Huh? If it’s in a campaign fund, unless Yee donated it to himself, shouldn’t it go back to his campaign contributors?

    It being California, it would not surprise me at all to see him paroled well before that five years is up. (Update: Mike wrote to remind me that Yee coped to Federal rather than State charges, as Uncle Sam’s parole tends to be a lot tougher to earn.)

    Reminder: Former Yee co-defendant Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow has been convicted on 152 counts, but has not been sentenced yet.

    (Hat tip: Dwight.)

    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…