Posts Tagged ‘unions’

Life Imitates a Joe R. Lansdale Story

Monday, March 30th, 2015

There’s a Joe R. Lansdale story called “The Pit” where two prisoners are forced to fight each other to death in a pit for sport. The story details suggest it takes place somewhere in the deep south. Who could have imagined that a real-life version of the story (thankfully minus the “to death” part) would take place in San Francisco?

San Francisco sheriff’s deputy Scott Neu is accused of leading a ring of corrupt jail guards who coerced prisoners into gladiatorial combat with threats of rape and violence.

Neu serves at County Jail No. 4 at 850 Bryant St despite having settled claims that he raped a woman prisoner and two transgendered prisoners while working at the jail. He sports a tattoo reading “850 Mob,” believed to describe the name used by the corrupt deputies to describe themselves. At least four other deputies are implicated in the program of sexualized torture.

Snip.

Neu and his co-conspirators gambled on the outcome of fights. One fight pitted the smallest inmate in the jail against the largest, and the fighters say they were threatened with rape and beatings by the guards if they didn’t spar. Neu is also said to have coerced prisoners into training for the fights with threats of rape and violence. Neu has a reputation for sadistic practices overall, including making prisoners gamble to receive their food, clothes and comfort items. Even when prisoners won the games Neu forced on them with the red dice and the deck of cards he carried, he would sometimes take away their “winnings” and give them to other prisoners.

Well, just sounds like a lovely fellow all around, doesn’t he?

Of course, these are just accusations, and Mr. Neu has not yet been proven guilty in a court of law. Maybe his attorney will offer up evidence of his innocence.

The Deputies’ Union attorney Harry Stern claims the Public Defender is making a big deal out of nothing. He says that the prisoners were encouraged to “wrestle to settle disputes about who was stronger,” and were “encouraged” to work out. He dismissed the entire affair as “little more than horseplay.”

Holy crap! When a guy’s defense attorney starts out essentially admitting the basic charge against him but dismissing it as “horseplay,” you’ve got to think the guy is guilty as sin.

And he doesn’t even have the excuse of being in a “high stress, low pay” job since this is, after all, California. According to public records, Scott Neu pulled down a cool $150,912 in the 2012-2013 timeframe (and I’d bet more last year).

Evidently paying unionized public employees more than the market demands doesn’t lead to a higher quality of employee…

Texas vs. California Update for March 26, 2015

Thursday, March 26th, 2015

Time for another Texas vs. California roundup:

  • Forget all those snide liberal cracks about Texas’ public education system, since we have some of the highest graduation rates in the country.

  • “San Bernardino has defaulted on nearly $10 million in payments on its privately placed pension bond debt since it declared bankruptcy in 2012.”

    The missed payments illustrate the trend among cities in bankruptcy to favor payments to pension funds over bondholder obligations, which has increased the hostility between creditors and municipalities.

    San Bernardino declared last year that it intends under its bankruptcy exit plan to fully pay Calpers, its biggest creditor and America’s largest public pension fund with assets of $300 billion.

    The city continues to pay its monthly dues to Calpers in full, but has paid nothing to its bondholders for nearly three years, according to the interest payment schedule on roughly $50 million of pension obligation bonds issued by San Bernardino in 2005.

    If you’re a bank, a retirement fund, or a hedge fund, why on earth would you buy California municipal debt when there are safer alternatives? (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ Doom roundup.)

  • So how’s that San Francisco minimum wage law working out? Exactly like everyone who understands economics expected. “Some restaurants and grocery stores in Oakland’s Chinatown have closed after the city’s minimum wage was raised. Other small businesses there are not sure they are going to survive, since many depend on a thin profit margin and a high volume of sales.” Plus this: “Low-income minorities are often hardest hit by the unemployment that follows in the wake of minimum wage laws. The last year when the black unemployment rate was lower than the white unemployment rate was 1930, the last year before there was a federal minimum wage law.”
  • California’s Legislative Analyst’s Office suggests phasing out state health care for workers entirely.
  • California is dead last in spending transparency among the 50 states, with an F rating and a piddling score of 34. Texas ranks 13th with an A- and a score of 91. (Hat tip: Cal Watchdog.)
  • “North Texas gained an average of 360 net people per day from July 2013 to July 2014, a testament to the job-creating machine in the Lone Star state, according to the U.S. Census Bureau…North Texas and Houston were the only metropolitan areas to add more than 100,000 people during that one-year period.”
  • Just because California has some of the highest taxes in the nation doesn’t mean that the state’s Democratic legislature doesn’t want to add still more.
  • Meanwhile, the Texas Senate just passed a $4.6 billion tax cut.
  • California is rolling out more subsidies for Hollywood.
  • The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power not only has the highest employe costs in the country, it also ranks last in customer satisfaction. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • While Texas is certainly in much better shape than California on public employee pensions, things here are not entirely cloudless either. “The Texas Employee Retirement System is reporting unfunded liability of $14.5 billion in 2014, compared with liability of just $6.3 billion in 2013. By comparison, all of the state government’s general obligation debt as of 2013 was $15.3 billion. The Texas Law Enforcement and Custodial Officer Supplemental Retirement Plan is reporting unfunded liability of $673.1 million in 2014, compared with $306.7 million in 2013.”
  • Unlike California, Texas looks to get ahead of the curve on pension concerns with House Bill 2608, which restores control of pension funds to the local level by eliminating legislative approval for pension changes. I”nstead of locking up significant benefits in state statute, HB 2608 would allow city pension systems, like the Houston Firefighters’ Relief & Retirement Fund, to solve pension problems at the local level by changing benefit structures, if they so chose.”
  • “Support for the “bullet train” is ebbing across California, except, perhaps, in the Governor’s mansion.”
  • California raisin packer West Coast Growers files for Chapter 11.
  • American Spectrum Realty, a real estate investment management company that operates self-storage facilities under the 1st American Storage brand, has somehow managed to file for bankruptcy in both California and Texas. I think it’s safe to say that financial shenanigans are involved…
  • Lawsuit over misappropriated funds in a Napa Valley winery leads to a murder/suicide. It’s one of those stories that sounds too strange not to link to…
  • Scott Walker Signs Right-to-Work Bill Into Law in Wisconsin

    Monday, March 9th, 2015

    “Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on Monday signed into law a measure that prohibits requiring a worker to pay union dues, striking another blow against organized labor four years after the state effectively ended collective bargaining for public-sector employees.”

    National unions poured tens of millions into Wisconsin trying to defeat Walker, and only succeeded in making him stronger and losing worse than they would have otherwise.

    Wisconsin Assembly Passes Right-to-Work Legislation

    Friday, March 6th, 2015

    So it was foretold, and so it has come to pass.

    Wisconsin lawmakers voted Friday to make their state the 25th to enact right-to-work legislation, pushing a fast-tracked bill through the Assembly after an overnight debate and sending it on to Gov. Scott Walker for his promised signature.

    The Republican governor, a likely 2016 presidential candidate who rose to national prominence by taking on public-sector unions four years ago, plans to sign it Monday. Walker planned to be in Iowa for an agriculture summit on Saturday that’s attracting other likely Republican presidential candidates.

    The Assembly passed the bill 62-35 after a marathon session that included about 20 hours of debate. It was a straight party-line vote, with no Democrats backing the measure.

    You come at the king, you best not miss…

    Texas vs. California Update for February 26, 2015

    Thursday, February 26th, 2015

    Time for another Texas vs. California roundup:

  • CalPERS believes that it has police powers to seize property to sell to support public employee pensions. “It is hard to imagine a bigger or more blatant example of collusion between business interests and government employees at the expense of ordinary private citizens.” Plus the impossibility of maintaining the 7.5% returns necessary for the pension fund to remain solvent. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • CalPERS and CalSTARS want direct proxy access for candidates for corporate boards.
  • Speaking of CalSTARS, the cost of funding it going forward looms large on California’s horizon.
  • Stockton exits bankruptcy.
  • Daughters of Charity Health Systems sues the SEIU over interference in a merger deal.
  • Part of the demands from California’s liberal Democratic Attorney General Kamala Harris to approve the merger include forcing currently Catholic hospitals to perform abortions.
  • It’s all but impossible for the Middle Class to live in Silicon Valley.
  • West coast port strike ends. Yet another reason to ship through Houston instead…
  • Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick files a bill for $4.6 billion in tax relief.
  • Texas Right to Work laws help keep the state prosperous, but more can be done.
  • Right-to-Work Bill Passes Wisconsin Senate

    Thursday, February 26th, 2015

    The passage of Right-to-Work legislation in the Republican-controlled senate is no surprise, but the quick, efficient manner they’ve done it in is gratifying.

    A right-to-work bill passed through the Wisconsin State Senate with a 15-17 majority and no amendments Wednesday as union-backing protesters gathered inside the Capitol building.

    The vote comes after a rushed Senate Labor Committee hearing Tuesday and upcoming State Assembly debates to come next week. If the bill passes, Wisconsin will join 24 other right-to-work states and would abolish laws making union dues mandatory, which critics say would dissolve private sector unions.

    Republican lawmakers unexpectedly announced on Friday they would take up the legislation in an extraordinary session to pass the bill as quickly as possible

    Majority Leader Sen. Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said Wednesday at the Senate debate it is time for Wisconsin to modernize its economy to keep up with competing states in the Midwest. He said passing right-to-work legislation is a step toward this goal and toward individual freedom.

    Also: “Two gallery members interrupted Fitzgerald’s testimony to loudly express their opposition to right-to-work and as a result, Capitol Police escorted them out of the parlor. Senate President Sen. Mary Lazich, R-New Berlin, warned gallery members another interruption would lead to the expulsion of the entire gallery.”

    It’s almost as if the ridiculous recall circus completely united the Republican majority against union bullying!

    Republicans hold a 63 to 36 edge in the Wisconsin Assembly, so Right-to-Work legislation should pass easily there and go on to a quick signature from Governor Walker.

    Nice job, Wisconsin union goons and left-wing allies! If you hadn’t alienated so many ordinary Wisconsinites with your embarrassing, hysterical temper tantrum, none of this would have been possible…

    Wisconsin Unions Double Down On Stupid

    Tuesday, February 24th, 2015

    If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, then Wisconsin union leaders may be clinically insane.

    Their suicidal idée fixe is on Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and his labor law reforms. You may remember how the rude, narcissistic, and counterproductive intimidation tactics employed during the Walker’s recall election backfired on them.

    Indeed, it was the recall election that made Scott Walker what he is today:

    The ferocity of the anti-Walker attacks during the recall attempt cannot be understated: no stone was left unturned, no “scandal” or slip of the tongue left unmentioned, and this may only help candidate Walker going into 2016. The Democrats spent millions of dollars and thousands of hours digging, scooping, ad-cutting, and hammering. They threw the kitchen sink at the guy in 2012, threw their neighbor’s sink at him in 2014, and now nobody on the block will let them inside to pee. Out of useful topsoil, what do they do now?

    Had the Democrats not targeted Walker with a recall, that massive fundraiser network, the national profile, the party unity, and his highly developed get-out-the-vote team almost certainly wouldn’t exist. He may have still won re-election, but he would be just another Midwestern Republican governor who enacted reforms and faced push-back, not the conservative folk hero of a party longing for a win. He would most likely resemble Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, a reformer but hardly a man with a cult following. There would still be plenty of new problems with the governor his opposition could cite, instead of leaving him mostly vetted for 2016.

    They shot the king and missed, making a balding, sleepy-eyed executive into a god among a growing horde of followers. That’s bad enough for the Progressive set. In the unlikely event he wins the Republican nomination and the presidency? They struck the match that ignited their own national hell.

    And what happened after Walker’s reforms went through and public employee unions could no longer force people to join? Union membership plummeted. Over 100,000 workers availed themselves of the opportunity to escape union clutches when they were finally allowed to. That’s why unions will never forgive Scott Walker: his reforms proved that workers hated the unions that supposedly represented them.

    And Walker’s success has emboldened Republicans in other states to take on unions, which has the Democratic Party terrified. “Public-employee unions are a mechanism for the involuntary transfer of taxpayers’ money to the Democratic party.”

    Now Walker and the Republican legislature aim to make Wisconsin a full right to work state. Naturally, Democrats and unions (the latter being an extension of the former) are gearing up to fight it.

    Strategically, I understand why Democrats and unions have to fight this fight. What I don’t understand is why the anti-Walker crowd continues to employ the same “stuck on stupid” tactics against Walker that have lost them the last three elections.

    Loud, annoying protest in the capitol rotunda guaranteed to alienate swing voters? Check.

    Marches? Chants? Check.

    Clenched fist Socialist Realism iconography? Check.

    About the only thing they’re missing from the recall circus is the drum circle.

    They even sent union goons to harass Walkers’ parents at their home. Because that’s such a sure fire way to win over people.

    Now word comes that Wisconsin Unions are contemplating a general strike. Presumably because they couldn’t think of anything else so likely to: A.) Fail, and B.) Lose the supporting of those few remaining independents their previous tactics hadn’t already turned off.

    It’s like Wisconsin unions are doing everything they can to get Scott Walker elected President in 2016…

    Texas vs. California Update for February 19, 2015

    Thursday, February 19th, 2015

    Time for another Texas vs. California roundup:

  • U.S. bankruptcy judge presiding over the Stockton case says pensions are not sacred and can be cut in bankruptcy. “CalPERS has bullied its way about in this case with an iron fist insisting that it and the municipal pensions it services are inviolable. The bully may have an iron fist, but it also turns out to have a glass jaw.”
  • Public employee pensions: Stealing from the young and poor to give to the old and rich. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • California’s entrepreneurs still think the business climate sucks. “In the 2014 survey, 63.5 percent called the small business climate poor, with just 10 saying it’s good. This year 60 percent still consider the business climate poor with 16.5 percent finding it good.”
  • By contrast, low oil prices won’t torpedo Texas’ economy. “Texas’ economy today is more resilient to oil price fluctuations thanks to industrial diversification and pro-growth policies.”
  • California’s combined capital gains tax rate is the third highest. Not third highest in the U.S., third highest in the world, lower only than Denmark and France.
  • How environmentalists made California’s drought worse.
  • Two unions are on different sides of a proposed sale of six struggling Catholic hospitals to a private company.
  • Defense contractor “Advantage SCI, LLC announced today that the company will relocate its headquarters to Alexandria, Virginia (Fairfax County in Old Town Alexandria) from El Segundo, California, after recognizing the high costs related to worker’s compensation, liability, and taxes that plague businesses in California.”
  • Coffee roaster Farmers Brothers is leaving California for either Oklahoma or Texas.
  • More on the Farmer Brothers relocation. “After surviving depressions, recessions, earthquakes and wars, Farmer Brothers is leaving California, finally driven out by high taxes and oppressive regulations.”
  • California Democrats file bills to force the state to get 50% of its energy from renewable energy by 2030. They’re basically putting up yet another big red sign to manufacturers: “We’ll make it impossibly expensive for you to do business here.”
  • Why health care in California is less affordable than elsewhere.
  • The mess that is California’s homeowner earthquake insurance.
  • California property owners aren’t wild about being forced to sell their land for the high speed rail boondoggle.
  • Arlene Wohlgemuth on why Texas should avoid the siren song of Medicare expansion. (Also, best wishes to her for a speedy recovery from her motorcycle accident.)
  • California’s top lifeguard pulls in a cool $236,859 in total compensation. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • “Lewd yoga dentist filed for bankruptcy.” A San Diego dentist, which is my pretext for including it here, but really, how could I not link a headline like that?
  • Texas vs. California Update for January 29, 2014

    Thursday, January 29th, 2015

    To a certain extent, this Texas vs. California roundup is incomplete, since we’re hot and heavy into the new legislative session and I haven’t had a chance to fully digest the proposed budget numbers yet. By the Legislative Budget Boards numbers, they’re only projecting a 1.5% increase in the 2016-2017 biennium budget over 2014-2015. But see the first link…

  • Setting the story straight on the Texas budget. TPPF uses a different baseline…
  • California’s public employee unions would prefer that you not know how well they’re compensated.
  • How California’s public employees use sick leave to spike their pensions.
  • Supreme Court may take on California union mandatory dues case.
  • Though not nearly as bad as California, Texas state and local public employee pensions are also in need of reform.
  • California’s Kern County declares a fiscal emergency over dropping oil prices. “Collapsing crude prices are squeezing the finances of Kern County, home to three-fourths of California’s oil production.” Thankfully, oil and gas extraction is a lot more widespread in Texas.
  • The City of Sacramento’s unfunded liabilities have reached $2.3 billion. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • “Fresno? No one goes to Fresno anymore!” Except for job growth percentage, that is, where Fresno outpaced Silicon Valley.
  • Remember the Newport Beach police department firing a whistler-blower? Via Dwight comes a followup: “A husband and wife who sued Newport Beach and its police department for alleged retaliation and wrongful termination have settled their lawsuits for $500,000, according to city officials.”
  • “Physician-assisted suicide has returned to California’s political agenda.” Well, why not? California’s ruling Democrats have been attempting fiscal suicide for well over a decade now…
  • Toyota breaks ground on its new Texas headquarters.
  • A public school in California is having a Hijab Day.
  • Texas vs. California Update for January 21, 2015

    Wednesday, January 21st, 2015
  • The working poor benefit from a lower cost of living in red states.
  • Five of the top ten U.S. cities in economic growth in 2014 were in Texas: Austin, Houston, Ft. Worth. Dallas and San Antonio. (There were also two in California: San Francisco and San Jose.)
  • The Texas Comptroller has released the Biennial Revenue Estimate 2016-2017, which estimates $113 billion in general revenue-related funds available. The report details also notes that “In the past six years, Texas created two-thirds of all net new jobs in the U.S.”

  • By contrast, with the California budget more or less temporarily balanced, Democrats want to start spending like drunken sailors with a stolen credit card again. Legislative analyst: You don’t want to do that.
  • The average CalPERS pension is up to five times comparable Social Security payouts.
  • Jerry Brown says he wants to tackle California’s pension crisis. Good luck with that. While Brown has occasionally been willing to buck his party, and may feel he has nothing to lose in his last term, there’s no reason to believe the Democrat-dominated state House and Senate share his sentiments. I predict a few cosmetic measures passing combined with a whole lot more can kicking until actual default looms. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • “Central Valley farmers say farming is doomed in their areas.” California’s water regulations are driving them out of business.
  • Stockton’s bankruptcy judge: screw secured debtors, we’ve got to start paying retirees.
  • Key figure in CalPERS pension fraud case apparently committed suicide. Hmmm…..
  • California’s Set Seal retail chain files for bankruptcy.
  • John G. Westine of California convicted of 26 counts of mail fraud in a phony Kentucky oil well scheme.
  • Bankruptcy lawyers gone wild!